Israeli army opens fire on desperate Palestinians at aid delivery point in north Gaza - as it happened

Ahram Online , Saturday 30 Mar 2024

Ahram Online provided coverage of the Israeli war on Gaza on its 176th day.

Gaza
People take part in Stop the Genocide in Gaza national demonstration in Trafalgar Square, central London, Saturday March 30, 2024. AP

 

22:45 An aid delivery in Gaza descended into chaos on Saturday, as almost six months of Israeli bombardment has left hundreds of thousands in the Palestinian territory in desperate need.

A Red Crescent paramedic at a nearby hospital said five people were killed and dozens injured by gunfire and a stampede during a rare aid distribution in north Gaza, which has received the least help.

According to media reports, Israeli troops nearby opened fire on the crowd, and panicked lorry drivers drove quickly away, hitting people trying to get the food.

Aid deliveries have become increasingly fraught as the needs of Gazans increase.

Foreign powers have ramped up airdrops of aid but several people have been killed by falling crates, or stampedes or drowned trying to retrieve packages from the Mediterranean.

UN agencies have said repeatedly that overland deliveries are the only way of supplying aid in the volume needed.

20:30 Hundreds of pro-Palestinian activists and supporters took to the streets of central London to protest the violence exercised by the Israeli army against women and girls in the Gaza Strip.

The protesters dressed as pregnant women to draw attention to the plight of thousands of pregnant women in Gaza who are struggling to stay alive and deliver new children to the world.

They also decried the silence of many Western feminists on the Israeli killing of thousands of women and their children in Gaza.

 


Pro-Palestinian activists and supporters hold placards against rape as they gather for a protest in central London on March 30, 2024, calling for a ceasefire in the Israel/Hamas conflict. AFP

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19:30 The foreign ministers of Egypt, France, and Jordan called on Saturday for an immediate and permanent ceasefire in Gaza as well as the release of all detainees with rapid and unhindered access to humanitarian aid to the strip.

In an 11-point-press joint statement issued following their meeting in Cairo to discuss the situation in Gaza, Foreign Ministers Sameh Shoukry, Stéphane Séjourné, and Ayman Safadi also demanded the full implementation of United Nations Security Council Resolutions 2712, 2720, and 2728, including the facilitation of humanitarian unhindered access to Gaza and condemning all violations and abuses of International Law and International Humanitarian Law.

17:00 A three-ship convoy left a port in Cyprus on Saturday with 400 tons of food and other supplies for Gaza as concerns about hunger in the territory soar.

World Central Kitchen said the vessels and a barge were carrying ready-to-eat items like rice, pasta, flour, legumes, canned vegetables, and proteins that were enough to prepare more than 1 million meals.

Also on board were dates, which are traditionally eaten to break the daily fast during the holy month of Ramadan.

It was not clear when the ships would reach Gaza. An Open Arms ship inaugurated the direct sea route to the Palestinian territory earlier this month with 200 tons of food, water, and other aid.

16:00 The foreign ministers of Egypt, France, and Jordan met in Cairo on Saturday to discuss joint tracks to achieve a permanent ceasefire in Gaza, the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said.

Sameh Shoukry of Egypt, Stéphane Séjourné of France, and Ayman Safadi of Jordan underlined in their meeting the necessity of ending the humanitarian crisis faced by people in Gaza.

Séjourné said on Twitter earlier that he would discuss with Shoukry and Safadi the Middle East crisis, the release of captives, and coordination on their countries’ humanitarian efforts in Gaza.

14:00 A tripartite meeting of foreign ministers from Egypt, Jordan, and France is scheduled to take place in Cairo shortly.

Both Egypt and Jordan have cautioned against the severe repercussions of any Israeli ground offensive in the Palestinian city of Rafah, emphasizing that such actions would only worsen the already dire humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip.

Before his departure to Egypt, Séjourné announced that he would discuss the Middle East crisis, the Israeli war on the Gaza Strip, the release of Israeli captives, and the coordination of humanitarian efforts in the region with his Egyptian and Jordanian counterparts, Sameh Shoukry and Ayman Safadi.

 

 

13:57 "With only 10 hospitals minimally functional across the whole of Gaza, thousands of patients continue to be deprived of health care," Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the WHO director-general said.

"Around 9,000 patients urgently need to be evacuated abroad for lifesaving health services, including treatment for cancer, injuries from bombardments, kidney dialysis, and other chronic conditions," he added in a post on X.

So far, over 3,400 patients have been referred abroad through Rafah, including 2,198 wounded and 1,215 who are ill and require other medical services.

He urged Israel to speed up approvals for evacuations so that the many more patients who need treatment can be accommodated.

 

 

13:16 The US Treasury Department pushed back against Israel's claims it had eased sanctions against West Bank settlers after pressure from Israel's finance minister.

The US recently sanctioned seven Israeli settlers and two farming outposts in the West Bank in response to a surge in violence, freezing their assets and preventing them from carrying out financial transactions with US banks and individuals.

Earlier this week, Israel's daily Israel Hayom reported that the Biden administration had "dramatically" softened its sanctions against these individuals after pressure from Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich.

Simcha Rothman, an Israeli extremist politician from Smotrich's radical Religious Zionism party, later shared a screenshot of the article on social media, congratulating Smotrich for pushing the US to understand that its sanctions had "crossed the line."

On Friday, the US Treasury Department published the letter it had sent to the Israeli authorities on Tuesday in response to questions from Israeli banks about "subsistence payments for persons sanctioned under this authority."

The letter said Israeli banks could still process transactions for sanctioned individuals "that are ordinarily incident and necessary to basic human needs or subsistence," as long as they did not involve "the US financial system or US persons."

This step, which was "consistent with Treasury's approach across multiple sanctions programs," included staples like food, healthcare, basic housing, and taxes.

"Israeli banks would also not be exposed to sanctions risk for processing transactions for expenses essential for the survival of animals on farms that are blocked as a result of a designation of their owners," it added.

A Treasury spokesperson told AFP that the Biden administration still "fully intends to enforce" the sanctions, adding that "humanitarian exceptions" exist for all US sanctions programmes.

At least 444 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces or terrorist settlers across the West Bank since the Israeli war on Gaza began.

13:00 Israeli authorities denied 30 percent of humanitarian aid missions to northern Gaza and 10 percent of missions to southern Gaza in March, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said in its most recent report.

"The siege imposed on Gaza, including closed crossings, lack of water, and electricity, has been key ingredients for the major humanitarian catastrophe unfolding in Gaza," OCHA stated.

"Israeli soldiers too often delay or deny convoys from crossing checkpoints, with rejected requests for safe passage, searches, detentions, and sometimes violence against aid convoys and awaiting crowds," it added.

Combined with intensive Israeli ground and air operations, this has severely compromised the ability of humanitarian actors to ensure there is a reliable and predictable supply chain and safe humanitarian access to reach people in need, leaving the humanitarian operation “on its knees.”

A new assessment by the Education Cluster of school damages in the Gaza Strip concludes that at least 67 percent of schools in Gaza will either need full reconstruction or major rehabilitation work to be functional again. The assessment is based on an analysis of satellite imagery due to access limitations, especially in northern Gaza, intensive Israeli bombardment, and recurrent telecommunication shutdowns.

"The analysis also provides evidence that complements reports, photos, and videos previously received by the Cluster “showing that schools are being used for military operations by Israeli Security Forces including use as detention, interrogation centers, and military bases," the UN agency revealed.

 "People in Gaza are trapped, bombed, killed, injured, displaced, starved," OCHA added.

"Humanitarians are facing insurmountable challenges, navigating a brutal obstacle course, to reach those in desperate need."

"Israel's restrictions on aid must be lifted. The war must stop."

 

 

12:46 Dozens of Palestinian civilians were killed as Israeli warplanes launched a series of intense airstrikes on Gaza City.

Medical sources reported that the warplanes bombed a house for the Musa family in the Maghazi camp in the central Gaza Strip, killing several civilians and injuring dozens. The strike also destroyed nearby houses, WAFA news agency reported.

In Khan Younis, in the southern Gaza Strip, Israeli tanks and warplanes have been bombarding different areas, particularly the eastern and western regions, targeting the vicinity of the Nasser Medical Complex, and the Abasan Al-Kabira area. Three civilians were killed.

Israeli also targeted the Khuzaa area, east of Khan Younis, and the Abasan and Sufa areas, northeast of the city of Rafah.

Aircraft and artillery also targeted homes and displaced people in the Shujaiya Club, the Karni crossing area, the vicinity of Al-Shifa Hospital, and the Al-Maghazi camp, killing 40 civilians and injuring dozens.

Aircraft also struck the vicinity of the Wadi Gaza Bridge, north of the central governorate in the Gaza Strip, WAFA added.

Additionally, the Israeli army targeted the headquarters of the municipalities of Bureij and Zawaida in the central governorates of the Gaza Strip, putting them out of service.

12:29 Earlier, we reported on an Israeli strike that targeted a UN observer's car in Lebanon.

The UNIFIL, the UN peacekeeping mission in southern Lebanon, reacted, stating that three military observers and one Lebanese translator on foot patrol along the Blue Line, which divides the border between Lebanon and Israel, were injured in an explosion near their location.

They have been evacuated for medical treatment, and an investigation into the origin of the explosion is underway.

The attack occurred near the town of Rmeish in southern Lebanon.

"Safety and security of UN personnel must be granted," UNIFIL emphasized.

"All actors have a responsibility under international humanitarian law to ensure protection for non-combatants, including peacekeepers, journalists, medical personnel, and civilians."

"We repeat our call for all actors to cease the current heavy exchanges of fire before more people are unnecessarily hurt."

 

 

12:25 The Palestinian Ministry of Health announced an increase in the death toll from Israeli attacks on the Gaza Strip to 32,705 fatalities since the beginning of the war. The majority of the victims are women and children.

Within 24 hours alone, Israel killed 82 Palestinians,  a statement from the ministry indicated, while the number of injured rose to 75,190 since the start of the war nearly six months ago.

 

 

11:32 A 13-year-old Palestinian boy was shot and killed by Israeli soldiers during a military raid near the city of Jenin in the occupied West Bank on Saturday, Palestinian official news agency WAFA said.

The boy, Moatasem Abu Abed, was one of three Palestinians shot by Israeli forces in the town of Qabatiya, south of Jenin, WAFA said. One young man was seriously injured.

Israeli forces deployed military vehicles around neighbourhoods in the town and stationed snipers on the rooftops of several buildings and shops, WAFA said. 

Video footage shows Abu Abed’s bleeding body being dragged in the street.

WAFA also reported that Israeli forces prevented ambulances from transferring the wounded to the hospital.

Two other Palestinians were injured during an Israeli military incursion of the city of Tubas in the northern West Bank.

Medical sources reported that the two Palestinian young men were shot and were rushed to a nearby hospital for medical treatment.

Earlier, a large Israeli force raided the city of Tubas and deployed their forces across the streets and alleys, where they carried out wide-scale home raids and searches. 

The Israeli occupation forces also renewed their military incursion of the city of Jericho and tightened their military measures at the checkpoints set up at its entrances, including the town of Al-Auja, for the third consecutive day.

11:22 The United States has welcomed the formation of a new Palestinian autonomy government, signaling it is accepting the revised Cabinet lineup as a step toward Palestinian political reform.

In a statement late Friday, US State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said the United States looks forward to working with the new group of ministers “to deliver on credible reforms.”

The Biden administration has called for “revitalizing” the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority in hopes that it can also administer the Gaza Strip once the Israeli war ends. 

“A revitalized PA is essential to delivering results for the Palestinian people in both the West Bank and Gaza and establishing the conditions for stability in the broader region,” Miller said.

The Palestinian Authority administers parts of the Israeli-occupied West Bank. It is headed by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who has not faced an election in almost two decades, as Israel has been preventing elections in the occupied Palestinian territories since 2007.

Earlier this month, Abbas tapped Mohammad Mustafa, a US-educated economist, as prime minister. On Thursday, Mustafa named his new lineup. It includes relatively unknown technocrats, but also Abbas' interior minister and several members of the secular Fatah movement he leads. Several of the ministers are from Gaza, but it's not clear if they are currently living there.

11:08 An Israeli drone hit a military vehicle belonging to the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) in the village of Rmeish in southern Lebanon on the border with Israel on Saturday, leaving several soldiers and a Lebanese injured.

A UNIFIL helicopter was transporting the injured from the site, Lebanon's National News Agency reported. 

A security source told Reuters that a car was carrying three UN technical observers and one Lebanese translator when it was struck.

11:05 The Palestinian Red Crescent has reported the loss of 26 members of its teams since the beginning of the Israeli war on Gaza.

This includes 15 individuals who were targeted by the occupation forces while performing their humanitarian duties and wearing the protected Red Crescent emblem, confirmed by the PRCS.

 

 

10:27 US officials are in preliminary “conversations” about options for a proposal for the Pentagon to help fund either a multinational force or a Palestinian peacekeeping team, Politico reported.

The options being considered would not involve US troops on the ground, instead, the funding would go toward the needs of the security force and complement assistance from other countries, said the report.

“We are working with partners on various scenarios for interim governance and security structures in Gaza once the crisis recedes,” a senior administration official said.

“We’ve had a number of conversations with both the Israelis and our partners about key elements for the day after in Gaza when the time is right.”

It could be weeks or months before Washington and its partners approve any plan, especially since regional players want to see a commitment to a two-state solution before seriously engaging with the options, according to Politico.

Israeli media reported that Tel Aviv is pushing for the establishment of an international peacekeeping force to secure the Gaza Strip and facilitate the delivery of humanitarian aid in it. 

The reports said Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant informed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that he had made headway on the matter during his visit to Washington this week.

The idea is backed by the United States, the reports said. The force would likely be armed to uphold law and order and would be managed by the US, but with no American forces on the ground

10:09 Amid the escalating intensity of Israeli attacks, a group of Palestinian civilians was forced to evacuate from their homes this morning near Gaza City's Al-Shifa Medical Complex.

Israel's escalating attacks in the area pushed residents to relocate eastward in search of safety.

 

 

10:00 Joe Biden's administration authorized sending thousands of bombs and dozens of fighter jets to Israel, despite concerns about an anticipated Israeli military attack on southern Gaza that could threaten the lives of hundreds of thousands of Palestinian civilians, The Washington Post reported on Friday.

The new arms packages include more than 1,800 MK84 2,000-pound bombs and 500 MK82 500-pound bombs, according to Pentagon and State Department officials familiar with the matter.

The MK84 is one of the largest bombs used by the Israeli Air Force, creating craters up to 18 metres in diameter.

An investigation by the New York Times in December 2023 found that the Israeli Air Force routinely used them against populated areas previously labeled as safe for civilians. 

Last week, the State Department authorized the transfer of 25 F-35A fighter jets and engines worth roughly $2.5 billion, US officials told the newspaper. 

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