Israeli airstrike kills 30 Palestinians at suhoor in Gaza - as it happened

Ahram Online , Sunday 17 Mar 2024

As the ongoing Israeli war on Gaza enters its 162nd day, more than 30 Palestinians, mostly from the same family, were killed in an Israeli airstrike on the Nuseirat refugee camp as the family gathered for suhoor. Meanwhile, truce talks will resume in Doha.

Boys sit with empty pots as displaced Palestinians queue for meals provided by a charity organisation ahead of the fast-breaking iftar meal during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip. AFP


22:00 Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed that civilians crammed into the southern Gaza Strip would be able to leave before troops enter in pursuit of Hamas militants.

"Our goal in eliminating the remaining terrorist battalions in Rafah goes hand-in-hand with enabling the civilian population to leave Rafah," Netanyahu said at a press appearance with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz.

"It's not something that we will do while keeping the population locked in place."

As others have done, Scholz raised the question:

"Where should they go?"

The United States which provides Israel with billions of dollars in military assistance has said it wants a "clear and implementable plan" to ensure civilians are "out of harm's way."

19:00 German Chancellor Olaf Scholz on Sunday called for a deal to free captives held by Hamas in war-ravaged Gaza accompanied by a "longer-lasting ceasefire."

"We need a hostage deal with a longer-lasting ceasefire ... We understand the captive families who say after more than five months, 'The time has come for a comprehensive captive deal for saving those who are still captive,'" Scholz said at a joint press appearance with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem.

17:35 President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi reiterated during meetings with EU leaders in Cairo on Sunday his warning against potential Israeli military operations in the south Gaza city of Rafah, stressing the severe implications for regional security.

16:22 "The US did not see any evidence that Hamas pilfered the humanitarian aid in Gaza," White House National Security Adviser John Kirby said. He told FoxNews that Washington has been closely watching the distribution of aid in the strip.

He also reiterated the US's objection to an Israeli plan to invade Rafah. "We will not support and can not support an operation in Rafah that does not have a verifiable and executable plan," he said.

"We welcome any credible plan, but we haven't seen any," he added.

15:40 The Palestinian foreign ministry said that Netanyahu’s constant threats to invade Rafah are a blatant challenge to the international community, and the US appeals to protect civilians and secure their basic humanitarian needs, warning that Netanyahu’s comments threaten world and regional stability.

“Netanyahu’s alleged war goals became clear throughout the 163 days of aggression, as they focused on Palestinian civilians, killing them, and pushing them to displacement after he turned the entire Gaza Strip into an uninhabitable area," the ministry said in a statement.

It explained that the Israeli government and its decision-makers chose to complete the annihilation of our people and displace them from their homeland.

The ministry added that Netanyahu's speech should increase the world's determination and boldness to stop the war in all its forms.



14:15 The Israeli army said that it carried out strikes on four different areas of southern Lebanon. 

It added that the targets included Hezbollah infrastructure and observation posts in Aitaroun, Ayta Ash-Shab, Marwahin, and Aalma El-Chaeb. 

Earlier, Hezbollah fired an anti-tank missile at an Israeli military post in northern Israel.

Israeli troops and Hezbollah positioned along the border have traded near-daily fire since the war on Gaza erupted.

Since the exchanges began, at least 322 people have been killed in Lebanon, mainly Hezbollah fighters but also including 56 civilians, according to an AFP tally.

In Israel, at least 10 soldiers and seven civilians have been killed, the military says.

13:31 Trucks of flour have reached northern Gaza for distribution to areas that have had no aid in four months, Palestinian media reported on Sunday.

A convoy of 12 trucks arrived in the north on Saturday, six in Gaza City and six in the Jabalia refugee camp, the media and residents said.

Supplies will also be distributed in the northernmost areas of Beit Lahiya and Beit Hanoun, they added.

Home Front media outlet reported that the aid was distributed by the Popular Committees, a group that includes leaders of powerful clans in Gaza.

A Hamas source told Reuters the route was secured by Hamas security personnel.



Israel is pursuing a policy of hunger in Gaza, and the UN warns that pockets of imminent famine are developing in the north. 

13:00 Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu railed against some in the international community who "are trying to stop the war now, before achieving all of its goals."

"Since the beginning of the war, we are fighting on two fronts – the military front and the diplomatic front," Netanyahu said at a government meeting, adding that "it is no secret that international pressure against us is increasing."

Israel, according to Netanyahu, "must not give in to this pressure."

To "fight till the end," Netanyahu said, Israel will operate in Rafah.

12:38 Israeli forces overnight detained at least 25 Palestinians from the West Bank, including a woman from Gaza, a child, a wounded citizen, and former prisoners.

The Palestinian Prisoner's Society (PPS) and the Commission of Detainees and Ex-Detainees explained in a joint statement that the detention was mainly conducted in Hebron, while the rest of the arrests took place in Qalqilya, Bethlehem, Jenin, Tulkarm, Ramallah, and Jerusalem.

"Additionally, the occupation forces continue to carry out widespread harassment and attacks, severe beatings and threats against detainees and their families as well as ransacking and damaging civilian homes," WAFA news agency reported.

The statement indicated that a cancer-stricken woman from Gaza was detained while she was heading to Jerusalem for a scheduled treatment.

It added that the total number of arrests since 7 October has reached 7,630, and includes Palestinians arrested from homes, at military checkpoints, and those who were held hostage.

12:15 "People in Gaza are on the verge of famine," the UNRWA said.

The UN agency added that "delivery via land remains the most efficient and safest way."

It said it needs to be able to reach as many people as possible with critical aid. 

"Safe, unimpeded, and sustained access throughout the #GazaStrip is a matter of life and death."


11:51 The Palestinian Red Crescent announced that Israeli forces released a PRCS volunteer, Tamer Fouad Salim Al-Qarm, after a 36-day detention.

He was abducted during an Israeli raid on Al-Amal Hospital in Khan Younis.

However, Israel continues to detain 13 PRCS members and volunteers, whose fate remains unknown at this moment, the organization added.


11:26 Marwan Issa, deputy to Hamas' military commander Mohammad Deif, was wounded in an Israeli assassination attempt in a tunnel in central Gaza last week. However, his fate is still unconfirmed, London-based newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat reported, citing Palestinian sources familiar with the matter.

Last Friday, Israeli security officials said at a cabinet meeting that all signs indicate Issa was killed in an Israeli strike on central Gaza. However, the Israeli army said that the matter had not yet been fully verified while Hamas refrained to comment.

Following the attack, internal communication between senior Hamas officials stopped for 72 hours, including through encrypted channels and messengers, reported Britain's Guardian newspaper. 

10:12 An Israeli missile strike on Syria in the early hours of Sunday wounded one soldier, the Syrian army said. 

The state news agency Sana, citing an unnamed military official, said air defenses shot down some of the missiles, which were fired from the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights at about 12:42 am local time.

The strikes led to “materiel losses” and the wounding of a soldier, the statement said.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an opposition monitor, reported that the Israeli strikes hit two military sites in the Qalamoun mountains northeast of Damascus.

According to the observatory, these strikes mark the 24th time Israel has targeted Syria since the beginning of 2024.

The attacks have killed 43 fighters from various groups, as well as nine civilians.

10:10 Israel's security cabinet and the war cabinet were to meet to "decide on the mandate of the delegation in charge of the negotiations before it departs for Doha," Benjamin Netanyahu's office said.

The statement from Netanyahu's office did not specify when the delegation would leave for the latest round of talks, which comes after Hamas submitted a new proposal for a pause in fighting and captives release.

After a war cabinet meeting on Friday, Netanyahu said that Israel would send a delegation to Qatar to continue talks on a potential truce “once the security cabinet discusses the Israeli position.”

However, he rejected the latest proposal put forward by Hamas, saying its demands “are still absurd.” 

On Saturday, an Israeli government official criticized Netanyahu's decision to schedule a discussion in the expanded cabinet.

"The very fact that he appointed an expanded cabinet after the war cabinet indicates that he is trying to complicate decision-making and sabotage contacts," said the source to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz.

"Why should the decision to send the delegation be transferred to ministers like Ben-Gvir or Smotrich, whose positions are known? It would have been possible to move forward at this stage even without a discussion with them."

10:00 Israel has killed at least 31,645 Palestinians and wounded 73,676 in its genocidal war on the Gaza Strip, the health ministry in Gaza said on Sunday.

Most of the casualties have been women and children, the ministry has said, and thousands more bodies are likely to remain uncounted under rubble across Gaza.

More than 30 people, mostly from the same family, were killed after an Israeli airstrike on the Nuseirat refugee camp. The bombing came at the moment when the family gathered to prepare a "suhoor" meal.

At least 92 Palestinians were killed and 130 injured in overnight Israeli bombardment.

The Palestinian Red Crescent released footage of its teams transporting 9 Palestinians who were killed and 21 injured to Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital after the Israeli occupation bombarded a house in the centre of Deir Al-Balah city, central Gaza.


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