UN says Gaza's starving children should be an alarm to the world 'like no other' - as it happened

Ahram Online , Tuesday 5 Mar 2024

Ahram Online provided coverage of the Israeli war on Gaza on its 151st day.



23:00 The UN's food agency said Tuesday that its aid convoy had been turned away by Israeli forces at the Gaza border, after which it was looted by "desperate people."

The World Food Programme said the 14-truck food convoy waited at the Wadi Gaza checkpoint for three hours before being turned away by the Israeli army.

It was the first convoy attempted since the agency halted deliveries to the north of Gaza on 20 February, after its convoy of trucks faced gunfire and looting.

At the time, the agency described the situation in northern Gaza as "complete chaos and violence due to the collapse of civil order."

In Tuesday's incident, after the trucks were rerouted, they were stopped by "a large crowd of desperate people who looted the food," taking about 200 tons, the WFP said in a statement.

The agency said that it was exploring all ways to bring food to northern Gaza, but that roads were the only way to transport large quantities of food needed to avert famine.

An airdrop earlier Tuesday, in conjunction with Jordan's air force, dropped six tons of food, enough for 20,000 people, it said.

"Airdrops are a last resort and will not avert famine. We need entry points to northern Gaza that will allow us to deliver enough food for half a million people in desperate need," the agency's deputy executive director Carl Skau said.

Skau told the UN Security Council last week that a famine was imminent in northern Gaza if conditions remained unchanged.

The UN estimates that 2.2 million people most of Gaza's population are on the brink of famine, particularly in the north where Israeli forces block aid from entering.

On Tuesday, the WFP said hunger had reached "catastrophic levels" in the north.

"Children are dying of hunger-related diseases and suffering severe levels of malnutrition," it said, calling for more entry points into Gaza, including the north.

It said a ceasefire was urgently needed.

22:30 Under international pressure to relax its deadly crackdown on Palestinians in the West Bank, Israel said it would allow as many Muslim worshippers to access Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem during the first week of Ramadan as in previous years.

"In the first week of Ramadan, worshippers will be allowed to enter the Temple Mount, in similar numbers to those in previous years," read a statement from the office of PM Netanyahu, using the Jewish term for the site.

"Every week there will be a situation assessment in terms of security and safety and a decision will be made accordingly," it added.

Every year, tens of thousands of Muslim worshippers perform Ramadan prayers at the Al-Aqsa Mosque, the third holiest site in Islam.

21:00 A Lebanese couple and their son were killed Tuesday in an Israeli strike on a house in the southern border village of Hula, Lebanon's official National News Agency reported.

Lebanon's Hezbollah movement and Israel have traded deadly cross-border fire on a near-daily basis since the start of the Israeli war on Gaza.

"The three civilians, Hassan Hussein, his wife, Ruwaida Mustafa, and their 25-year-old son, Ali Hussein, were killed in the enemy raid on a three-story house in Hula," NNA said.

"Search operations and the removal of rubble are continuing," it added.

Shortly before the strike, Hezbollah said it had targeted the Israeli city of Kiryat Shmona in response to Israeli attacks on "civilian homes," particularly Bint Jbeil.

The Lebanese Shiite movement also said it carried out several attacks on Israeli military positions on the border on Tuesday.

NNA had reported on Monday evening that Israeli air raids targeted Bint Jbeil, but no casualties were reported.

On Monday, a missile fired from Lebanon killed a foreign worker in Israel, according to the army, and three Hezbollah-affiliated paramedics were killed in an Israeli raid on southern Lebanon, according to Hezbollah.

It came as US envoy Amos Hochstein said a diplomatic solution was key to ending nearly five months of intensifying hostilities between Hezbollah and Israel.

20:30 US President Joe Biden warned Tuesday of a "very, very dangerous" situation if Israel and Hamas fail to reach a Gaza ceasefire by the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

Biden added that it was up to Hamas whether to accept an offer for a six-week truce while warning Israel there were "no excuses" for failing to allow aid into the Palestinian territory.

"It's in the hands of Hamas right now," Biden told reporters as he prepared to fly back to the White House from the Camp David presidential retreat in Maryland.

"The Israelis have been cooperating, the offer (of a ceasefire) is rational. We'll know in a couple of days. But we need the ceasefire."

He added: "There's got to be a ceasefire because of Ramadan if we get into circumstances where this continues to Ramadan, Israel and Jerusalem could be very, very dangerous."

Ramadan will start on 10 or 11 March depending on the lunar calendar.

Biden did not elaborate, but the United States last week urged Israel to allow Muslims to worship at the flashpoint Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem during Ramadan after a far-right minister proposed barring Palestinians from the occupied West Bank.

The US president, who last week ordered the United States to start airdropping humanitarian relief into the besieged territory of 2.4 million people, also said he was pushing Israel to let more aid in.

"I'm working with them very hard," he said. "We must get more aid into Gaza. There's no excuses, none."

Biden also brushed off suggestions of tensions with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as Washington presses Israel over civilian deaths, and after one of Netanyahu's rivals in the Israeli war cabinet visited the White House on Monday.

He said their relationship was "like it's always been."

20:00 Palestinian Canadians and human rights lawyers are suing Foreign Minister Melanie Joly over Canada's military exports to Israel, which they argue violate Canada’s obligations under domestic and international law.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has strongly backed the Israeli military campaign against Gaza and opposed calls for a permanent ceasefire in the war.

However, in late February, under increasing domestic opposition to the war, Trudeau called for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza.



19:00 Belgium sent a military transport plane on Monday to join an international operation to drop aid in Gaza also involving the United States, France, and Jordan, officials said on Tuesday.

The aid was taken to Jordan, where Jordanian officials were to inspect it before seeking an Israeli green light for an airdrop, which was to take place on Wednesday at the earliest, according to the Belgian defense ministry.

"We are not deciding when we go in. We are being told when we can go in and we will abide by that," said Colonel Bruno Beeckmans, the commander of the air base outside Brussels from where the aircraft took off.

"It's absolutely a no-go fly zone because it's a war zone. So we need to be precisely coordinated," he told AFP.

The military Airbus A400M transporter was to make another flight from Brussels to Jordan's Zarqa air base outside Amman, to take in more aid and personnel for the drop.

Zarqa has been a hub for what Belgian Defence Minister Ludivine Dedonder said was a "humanitarian coalition for Palestine."

Jordan has conducted at least 16 airdrops of aid into Gaza since the war broke out on 7 October. One was made with a French military plane.

18:00 The health ministry in Gaza said on Tuesday that at least 30,631 people have been killed in the Israeli war on Gaza.

A ministry statement said there were 97 deaths over the past 24 hours, while another 72,043 people have been wounded since the war broke out on 7 October.

17:00 The United Nations on Tuesday called on the international community to "flood" Gaza with aid amid reports that children are dying of starvation in the war-torn territory.

"With children starting ... to die from starvation, that should be an alarm like no other," Jens Laerke, spokesman for the UN humanitarian agency, told reporters in Geneva.

The health ministry in Gaza has said up to 15 children have died from starvation and dehydration with others ailing and humanitarian agencies say the territory, under assault by Israel since 7 October, faces a dire food crisis.

The World Health Organization reported "grim" findings and scenes of starving children after reaching two northern hospitals with aid last weekend for the first time since October.

Doctors at Kamal Adwan Hospital, the only pediatrics hospital in northern Gaza, told the team that "at least 10 children had died due to starvation," Ahmed Dahir, who headed the mission, told a Geneva press briefing from the under-siege Palestinian territory.

The health ministry has since reported that the number of child deaths at the hospital due to malnutrition and dehydration had risen to 15, with another six acutely malnourished infants at dire risk.

"If not now, when is the time to pull the stops, break the glass, and flood Gaza with the aid that it needs?" Laerke asked.

"That is what we need to see happen."

16:00 US Secretary of State Antony Blinken called Tuesday on Hamas to accept an "immediate ceasefire" with Israel as the militants met Qatari and Egyptian mediators in Cairo.

"We have an opportunity for an immediate ceasefire that can bring hostages home, that can dramatically increase the amount of humanitarian assistance getting to Palestinians who so desperately need it, and can also set the conditions for an enduring resolution," Blinken said as he met the Qatari prime minister in Washington.

"It is on Hamas to make decisions about whether it is prepared to engage in that ceasefire," he said.

Qatar's Prime Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani, a key mediator on the deal, promised to be "persistent to make sure that this deal happens."

15:00 American cargo planes airdropped more than 36,000 meals to Gaza Tuesday in a joint operation with Jordan, the US military said, as the international community scrambles to curb a growing humanitarian crisis there.

Airdrops by the United States and other countries are aimed at supplementing what officials say is an insufficient supply of aid being brought in by ground to Gaza, where the United Nations has warned that famine is "almost inevitable."

"US Central Command and the Royal Jordanian Air Force conducted a combined humanitarian assistance airdrop into Northern Gaza on March 5, 2024, at 2:30 pm (Gaza time) to provide essential relief to civilians affected by the ongoing conflict," the military command said in a statement.

"US C-130s dropped over 36,800 US and Jordanian meal equivalents in Northern Gaza, an area of great need, allowing for civilian access to the critical aid," CENTCOM said, adding that "we continue planning for follow-on aid delivery missions."

The United States launched its first airdrop of food into Gaza on Saturday, and the White House official said it was "prepared to do more to increase aid, including through airdrops" and a possible maritime corridor.

However, some Gazans are rejecting American aid.

Posts on social media showed some Palestinians throwing American aid into the trash.

One man in Gaza said he could not accept aid "from a country that is a partner in our starvation and genocide."

"I could accept aid from Arab countries or Brazil or South Africa and countries that support Gaza but not from the US," he said in a video post on X.



14:45 Hamas rejected a UN report claiming Palestinian groups committed “sexual violence” during the Al-Aqsa Flood operation on 7 October, saying the findings were simply “false claims.”

The report by the UN special representative on sexual violence in conflict, Pramila Patten, “did not document any testimony from what she calls the victims of these cases,” Hamas said in a statement.

"She relied on Israeli institutions, soldiers, and witnesses, who were chosen by the occupation authorities to push towards an attempt to prove this false accusation, which was refuted by all investigations."

Hamas reiterated that the UN report "came after failed Zionist attempts to prove those false accusations, which confirm they are baseless, except for demonizing Palestinian resistance and covering up the UN rapporteurs' report on compelling evidence of horrific human rights violations against Palestinian women and girls by Zionist occupation forces."

"Mrs Patten's allegations contradict the testimonies of Israeli women about the decent treatment they received from the resistance fighters, as well as the testimonies of released Israeli female prisoners who confirmed the decent treatment they received during their captivity in Gaza," Hamas added.

Israeli women who were captured and then released by Palestinian fighters during the Gaza war confirmed to Israeli media that Hamas captors treated them with respect. One of them, Avital Aladjem narrated to an Israeli news anchor that her Palestinian captors provided her with decent clothes and protected the two little children with her during highly intense moments.

Yocheved Lifshitz, 85, said Hamas fighters were “very kind” and “took care of all of our needs."

In another video interview, which also refutes Israeli claims of "barbaric Palestinian acts" and published by Israeli Channel 12, another Israeli woman, by the name of Rutam, stated that she informed Palestinian fighters who entered her home that she has two children and one of them replied to her: "I am a Muslim. Do not worry ... We will not attack any of you."

Smiling, Rutam said one of the Palestinian fighters asked her if he could have one of the bananas sitting on a table and asked if he could have one, to which she replied: "Yes, you can have one!"

Danielle Aloni, another former captive, wrote a "thank you" letter to Hamas saying, "I thank you from the bottom of my heart for your extraordinary humanity shown towards my daughter, Emilia."

Accordingly, Hamas asserted that the false accusations will not overshadow the Israeli army’s “genocidal crime and ethnic cleansing” of Palestinians in Gaza, stressing that Israel’s actions are “a deliberate disregard for the decisions of the International Court of Justice and other international reports, which documented Israeli crimes and atrocities in Gaza.

A team of United Nations experts reported on Monday that there were “reasonable grounds to believe” sexual violence, including rape and gang rape, occurred at several locations.

The UN team visited Israel between 29 January and 14 February.

It said that 33 meetings were held with Israeli representatives, and more than 5,000 photographic images were examined and 50 hours of video footage.

However, the report said the team was unable to interview any of the potential victims.

13:38 "Hunger and malnutrition are on the rise among children, breastfeeding women, and pregnant women in Gaza," the WHO said.

"The only pediatric hospital in northern Gaza is overwhelmed with patients and is facing acute shortages of food, water, fuel, health workers, and medicines. The need for access to humanitarian aid is dire."

WHO representative for Gaza and the West Bank, Richard Peeperkorn, says that malnutrition in northern Gaza was “particularly extreme.”

Peeperkorn said that one in six children under two years of age is acutely malnourished.



13:14 "Babies are dying of malnutrition and dehydration," UNRWA said. "Man-made famine is looming," the UN agency added.

UNRWA reported that "doctors are amputating limbs of injured children without anesthetic."

Despite all the horrors, the worst might be yet to come, it added.



13:02 Ceasefire talks between Hamas and mediators broke up on Tuesday in Cairo with no breakthrough, with just days left to halt the war in time for the start of Ramadan, Reuters said.

Senior Hamas official Bassem Naim told Reuters the resistance group had presented its proposal for a ceasefire agreement to the mediators during two days of talks, and was now waiting for a response from the Israelis, who stayed away from this round."Netanyahu doesn't want to reach an agreement and the ball now is in the Americans' court" to press him for a deal, Naim said.
An Egyptian source tells Sky News Arabia that talks are ongoing while acknowledging “difficulties.”

Egyptian security sources said on Monday they were still in touch with the Israelis to allow the negotiations to continue without an Israeli delegation present.

12:00 Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas arrived in Turkey on Tuesday, marking his first visit since the beginning of the war in the Gaza Strip, to discuss an aid mechanism for Palestinians that would bypass Israeli permissions.

Ahead of the visit, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that he and Abbas would go over steps that could be taken to alleviate the situation in Gaza and ensure the smooth delivery of humanitarian aid to the Palestinian territory.

Additionally, Abbas and Erdogan are expected to address reconciliation efforts between rival Palestinian factions, including Fatah and Hamas.

According to the official Palestinian WAFA news agency, Abbas is scheduled to meet with various Turkish officials during his three-day visit.

11:20 More than 34 Palestinian civilians were killed, in the cities of Gaza and Khan Younis, during the past 24 hours following Israeli airstrikes that targeted citizens’ homes, according to medical sources at Al-Shifa Medical Complex and the Gaza European Hospital.

Medical sources at Shifa said that nine people were killed, while the Gaza European Hospital said that Israeli airstrikes killed 25 civilians, 17 of whom were killed in the bombing of the Al-Faqawi family home.

Several other citizens were injured in an Israeli bombing of Al-Rashid Al-Sahel Street.

The occupation artillery bombed the western areas of the Al-Zaytoun neighbourhood, south of Gaza City, and warplanes launched violent raids targeting various areas in the northern Gaza Strip.

11:00 Israel killed at least 30,631 Palestinians in the war on Gaza, according to the most recent toll by the health ministry. 

A ministry statement said there were 97 deaths over the past 24 hours, while another 72,043 people have been wounded since the war broke out on 7 October.

10:05 Israeli soldiers have been killing Palestinian civilians in Gaza by running them over with tanks and armored vehicles, a report by the Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor states.

According to the report released on Monday, one of those killed was a Palestinian man in Gaza City's Zaytoun neighbourhood on 29 February.

Eyewitnesses told the rights monitor that the man had his hands restrained and was stripped and that he was alive while he was run over on asphalt. 

The Israeli army has also carried out other similar incidents, the rights monitor stated.

On 23 January, an Israeli tank ran over members of the Ghannam family, while they were sleeping in a caravan in the Taiba Towers area of Khan Younis.

The attack resulted in the deaths of the father and his eldest daughter, while the remaining three children and his wife were wounded. 

The killing was confirmed by the 13-year-old daughter, Amina, who said that her father and older sister were killed when the tanks repeatedly drove over the caravan, where the family had been sleeping. 

Euro-Med also documented bulldozers and tanks crushing displaced Palestinians in their tents in the courtyard of the Kamal Adwan Hospital on 16 December.

09:15 Several Palestinian citizens were killed while others were injured at dawn on Tuesday following a raid by Israeli occupation aircraft that targeted various areas in the Gaza Strip, according to WAFA news agency.

Medical resources in the Gaza Strip said that at least seven people were killed and dozens were injured after Israeli occupation warplanes bombed a residential square on Al-Hoja Street in Jabalia Camp, northern Gaza Strip.

The warplanes also targeted a house owned by the Al-Kilani family, north of Beit Lahia, wounding several people with various injuries.

The occupation artillery intensively bombarded the city of Khan Younis, south of the strip.

09:10 Envoys from Hamas and the United States were expected to meet with Qatari and Egyptian mediators, in Cairo, for a third day of negotiations over a six-week truce, the exchange of dozens of remaining captives for hundreds of Palestinian detainees, and the flow of aid to Gaza.

Israeli delegates have so far stayed away from the negotiations, despite growing diplomatic pressure for a truce before Ramadan, early next week.

Israeli media reported that the country's mediators boycotted the talks after Hamas refused to provide a list of living captives.

Senior Hamas leader Bassem Naim told AFP, however, that details on the prisoners "were not mentioned in any documents or proposals circulated during the negotiation process."

09:02 US Vice President Kamala Harris met on Monday with a member of Israel’s wartime cabinet, who came to Washington in defiance of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as the Biden administration intensifies its efforts to push more humanitarian aid into war-battered Gaza.

White House officials said Benny Gantz, a political rival of Netanyahu, requested the meeting and that the Democratic administration believed it was important that Harris sit down with the prominent Israeli official despite Netanyahu's objections.

US President Joe Biden, Harris, and other senior administration officials have become increasingly blunt about their dissatisfaction with the mounting death toll in Gaza and the suffering of innocent Palestinians as the war nears the five-month mark.

The White House, in a statement following the meeting, said Harris and Gantz discussed the urgency of completing a hostage deal to free more than 100 people believed still to be in detention in Gaza.

She also reiterated the administration's support for a temporary extended ceasefire that would facilitate the release of captives and allow for a surge of humanitarian assistance throughout Gaza.

Although Gantz holds many of the same hardline views as Netanyahu, he has been seen as more open to compromise on critical issues, including the increased delivery of humanitarian assistance to the Palestinians now starving to death in Gaza.

Harris on Sunday called for an “immediate ceasefire” in Gaza, saying that parties should agree to the six-week pause currently on the table and that Israel should increase the flow of aid into the besieged territory amid a humanitarian crisis.

Harris assailed the dire conditions in Gaza, calling the situation a “humanitarian catastrophe.” It was her most forceful assessment to date of the Israeli war.

“What we are seeing every day in Gaza is devastating,” Harris said. “We have seen reports of families eating leaves or animal feed, women giving birth to malnourished babies with little or no medical care, and children dying from malnutrition and dehydration. As I have said many times, too many innocent Palestinians have been killed.”

“And given the immense scale of suffering in Gaza, there must be an immediate ceasefire, for at least the next six weeks.”

09:00 At least 16 civilians, including children, have been confirmed killed in an Israeli airstrike targeting the Faqaawi family home in Khan Younis, according to medical sources.


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