Starvation grips northern Gaza as Washington takes tougher line towards Israel over civilians - as it happened

Ahram Online , Monday 4 Mar 2024

Shortages of crucial goods in the north of the Gaza Strip have imposed severe suffering on its remaining civilian population, with at least 16 children reported to have died of malnutrition. Meanwhile, US Vice President Kamala Harris has called for a proposed six-week ceasefire deal while criticizing Israel over insufficient aid deliveries to Gaza.

An injured man is stretchered into Al-Aqsa hospital in Deir al-Balah in central Gaza. AFP


"Given the immense scale of suffering in Gaza, there must be an immediate ceasefire for at least the next six weeks, which is what is currently on the table," Harris said during a speech in Selma, Alabama.

Her comments were the strongest to date by a US administration official on Israel, as President Joe Biden comes under acute pressure over his support for Israel and the civilian death toll in Gaza soars.


21:00 A Hamas leader said Monday that the Palestinian movement does not know how many of the captives forced to the Gaza Strip in its 7 October attack on Israel are still alive.

18:00 An aid mission to two hospitals in northern Gaza found horrifying scenes of children dying of starvation, amid dire shortages of food, fuel, and medicines, the World Health Organization said Monday.

WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the agency’s visits over the weekend to the Al-Awda and Kamal Adwan hospitals “were the first since early October 2023 despite our efforts to gain more regular access to the north of Gaza."

The findings were “grim,” he said on X, adding that “the situation at Al-Awda was particularly appalling, as one of the buildings is destroyed.”

In all, the Gaza Ministry of Health has said at least 16 children have died of malnutrition in aid-deprived northern Gaza.

17:00 Hamas said on Monday it was pressing on with talks on securing a ceasefire in Gaza despite Israel's decision not to attend, while Washington appeared to take a tougher line in demanding its ally Israel ease the plight of suffering civilians.

The ceasefire talks, which began on Sunday in Cairo, are billed as a final hurdle to establishing the first extended ceasefire of the five-month-old war, in time for the Ramadan Muslim fasting month which is expected to begin on Sunday.

16:00 An incident in the Red Sea has cut three underwater sea cables providing internet and telecommunications around the world as the waterway remains a target of Yemen's Houthi rebels, officials said Monday. 

A statement by Hong Kong-based HGC Global Communications acknowledged the cuts but did not say what caused the lines to be severed. There has been concern about the cables being targeted in the Houthi campaign, which the rebels describe as an effort to pressure Israel to end its war on Hamas in the Gaza Strip. The Houthis have denied attacking the lines, however. 

While global shipping already has been disrupted through the Red Sea, a crucial route for cargo and energy shipments from Asia and the Middle East to Europe, the sabotage of telecommunication lines could further escalate the months-long crisis.

Meanwhile, a suspected Houthi attack targeted a new ship in the Gulf of Aden.

15:00 US Special Envoy Amos Hochstein said in Beirut on Monday that a limited war across Lebanon’s southern border would not be containable. 

"Escalation of violence is in no one's interest, and there is no such thing as a limited war," he told reporters after meeting Lebanon's parliament speaker Nabih Berri, who is close to Hezbollah.

Hochstein said friction on the Lebanon-Israel border had increased in recent weeks.

"A temporary ceasefire is not enough. A limited war is not containable," he said.

The US diplomatic effort to end exchanges of fire between Hezbollah and Israel comes as the two sides have engaged in the worst hostilities since the 2006 war.

13:00 One person was killed and seven others wounded in an anti-tank missile attack from Lebanon that struck an orchard near the border Israeli settlement of Margaliot, Times of Israel reported.

The casualties are all foreign laborers, apparently from Thailand, according to the Israeli outlet.

Earlier, UN human rights chief Volker Turk said: "The military escalation in southern Lebanon between Israel, Hezbollah, and other armed groups is extremely worrying," warning that the war in Gaza is a "powder keg" with the potential to spark broader conflict in the Middle East.

12:30 US President Joe Biden refused to speak with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu after the deadly aid truck attack on the northern Gaza Strip, in which more than 100 Palestinians were killed, a source told Sky News Arabia.

"What contributed to the widening of the gap between the two is Netanyahu's failure to stand by his promise to Biden to keep the aid crossings open," the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said.

However, shortly after publishing the report, the office of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu denied it, telling The Times of Israel that it is “fake news.”

The office said that Israel “did not request a phone call from Biden after the incident, and the Americans, who in any case do not blame Israel for the incident, did not request a phone call with the prime minister.”

11:40 The Israeli war on Gaza is a "powder keg" with the potential to spark broader conflict in the Middle East, UN human rights chief Volker Turk said on Monday.

"The war in Gaza has already generated dangerous spillover in neighbouring countries, and I am deeply concerned that in this powder keg, any spark could lead to a much broader conflagration. This would have implications for every country in the Middle East and many beyond it," Turk said in his global update to the United Nations Human Rights Council.

11:15 Amid the ongoing Israeli aggression on the occupied West Bank, a Palestinian young boy was shot and killed by Israeli forces during a military raid in the Al-Amari camp in the city of Ramallah, the health ministry said according to WAFA news agency.

Meanwhile, Israeli settlers early Monday assaulted a Palestinian citizen, beating him and spraying him with pepper gas as they stormed the eastern area of the city of Nablus.

Security sources told WAFA that colonists stormed the eastern area of the city and tried to enter Joseph's Tomb; then they stormed Qadri Tuqan School in the area and destroyed one of its gates.

Over 800,000 Israeli settlers are living in colonial settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem in violation of international law.

Moreover, the occupation forces stormed the city of Tulkarm and caused damage to its infrastructure.

The Israeli troops pushed large military reinforcements of their vehicles and bulldozers toward Nour Shams camp and imposed a tight cordon on it, before storming its neighbourhoods, according to WAFA.

10:40 The health ministry in Gaza said on Monday that at least 30,534 people have been killed during the Israeli war on the Palestinian territory.

A ministry statement said there were 124 fatalities over the past 24 hours, while another 71,980 people have been wounded since the war broke out on 7 October.

10:30 Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rebuked Benny Gantz, a war cabinet minister who is on a personal visit to the US for talks with US officials, according to Israeli media reports, signaling widening cracks within the country’s leadership nearly five months into its war with Hamas.

The trip by Gantz, a centrist political rival who joined Netanyahu’s wartime cabinet following the 7 October attacks, comes as friction between the US and Netanyahu is rising over how to alleviate the suffering of Palestinians in Gaza and what the postwar plan for the territory should look like.

A source close to Netanyahu told the Israeli daily Ynet that the premier “made it clear to Minister Gantz that the State of Israel only has one prime minister.”

An official from Netanyahu’s far-right Likud party told the Associated Press that Gantz’s trip was planned without authorization from the Israeli leader. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Netanyahu had a “tough talk” with Gantz.

Gantz is scheduled to meet on Monday with US Vice President Kamala Harris and national security adviser Jake Sullivan and on Tuesday with Secretary of State Antony Blinken, according to his National Unity Party.

10:00 Mediators and Hamas envoys have made "significant progress" towards a Gaza truce, Al-Qahera News reported as the talks in Cairo entered a second day.

After weeks of diplomatic efforts, Egypt, Qatar, and the United States have been scrambling to lock in a proposed six-week truce in the Gaza war before Ramadan starts next week.

The proposal also includes the release of Israeli captives held in Gaza in exchange for Palestinian prisoners held by Israel.

Al-Qahera News quoted an unnamed senior official as saying: "Egypt continues its intense efforts to reach a truce before Ramadan," the Muslim fasting month which begins on 10 or 11 March.

"There has been significant progress in the negotiations," the report said after the latest talks began Sunday in Cairo without Israeli representation.

According to a senior US official, Israel has broadly accepted the terms of the proposed six-week truce, which would also see stepped-up aid deliveries into Gaza.

09:00 The Kamal Adwan Hospital in northern Gaza is struggling to cope with acute malnutrition and dehydration cases without electricity and with its intensive care unit relying solely on solar energy.

At least 15 children in northern Gaza died of malnutrition in recent days, according to health authorities in the strip. UN health authorities say Gaza is on the brink of famine as aid deliveries into the enclosed territory have rapidly decreased and Palestinians struggle to find food.

Short link: