Palestinian Catholics mark Easter Sunday at Gaza City church amid war and pain - as it happened

Ahram Online , Sunday 31 Mar 2024

Ahram Online is providing coverage of the Israeli war on Gaza on its 177th day.

Gaza church
TOPSHOT - Palestinian Christians celebrate Easter Sunday Mass at the Catholic Holy Family Church in Gaza City, on March 31, 2024


22:30 Minister of Social Solidarity Nevine El-Qabbaj announced that the Arab Fund for Social Work has opened special bank accounts for the public to donate for aid and relief to Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.

Minister El-Qabbaj announced the opening of the new account in her capacity as chairperson of the Arab Council of Ministers of Social Affairs, which oversees the fund.

Below are the numbers of the bank accounts in US dollars, Egyptian pounds, and euros.

Account number 4730120000002864 in US dollars
Account number 4730001000002690 in Egyptian pounds
Account number 4730130000000208 in euros

21:00 Tens of thousands of Israelis gathered outside the parliament building in Jerusalem on Sunday in the largest anti-government demonstration since the country went to war in October.

They urged the government to reach a ceasefire deal to free dozens of captives held by the Hamas group in Gaza and to hold early elections.

20:00 An Israeli airstrike on Al-Aqsa Hospital in Gaza killed four people and wounded another 17, WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a post on X, formerly Twitter.

Tedros said the strike was witnessed by a World Health Organization team, who were at the hospital to assess needs and collect incubators.

He added: "WHO staff are all accounted for."



19:00 Despite all the death and destruction, Palestinian Christians celebrated Easter Sunday Mass at the Catholic Holy Family Church in Gaza City on Sunday.

Around 100 people gathered by candlelight Saturday night at the church in the famine-threatened north to mark the resurrection, when Christians believe Christ rose from the dead.

The church is a short drive from the under-Israeli siege and bombardment Al-Shifa Hospital where heavy combat has been raging for two weeks.

Gaza is home to a small Christian community of around 1,000 with a majority of Greek Orthodox and a minority of Roman Catholics.

Israeli bombardment has damaged or destroyed more than 400 places of worship, including 378 mosques and three churches in Gaza since 7 October.



18:00 Minister of Foreign Affairs Sameh Shoukry discussed the latest developments in Gaza with his Iranian counterpart Hossein Amir Abdollahian in a phone call on Sunday, emphasizing the necessity of Israel committing to implementing a ceasefire in Gaza per the recent UN Security Council resolution.

According to a statement by the Egyptian foreign ministry, Shoukry and Abdollahian agreed on “the highest priority of a ceasefire and cessation of the ongoing war in the Gaza Strip.”

Both ministers voiced their rejection of the forced displacement of Palestinians outside the Gaza Strip and any ground assault on the Palestinian city of Rafah.

The two sides also called for ensuring full and sustained access to humanitarian aid to the strip. They urged Israel to remove obstacles hindering aid delivery and comply with the relevant Security Council resolutions.

Further, Shoukry voiced Egypt's deep concern about the spillover of the conflict into the region, especially in the southern Red Sea. He said such expansion in this crucial international waterway has grave effects on navigation and the flow of international trade.

The expansion of the conflict negatively affects regional and international efforts to resolve the crisis, Shoukry pointed out.



16:20 Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will undergo surgery for a hernia later today, a statement from his office said.

The operation will occur after a meeting of Israel's war cabinet this evening. 

The prime minister will be fully sedated after his doctors discovered the hernia “during a routine examination.”

“During this time, Deputy Prime Minister and Justice Minister Yariv Levin will serve as acting prime minister,” the statement said.

15:19 Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry and his Iranian counterpart Hossein Amir Abdollahian spoke by phone on Sunday to discuss the ongoing crisis in the Gaza Strip and security in the Red Sea.

The two ministers discussed the deteriorating humanitarian situation faced by the Palestinian people in the Strip, and the persistent Israeli aggression, the Egyptian ministry said in a statement.

"They agreed on the need to ensure full and continuous access of humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip and to eliminate the Israeli obstacles that impede it," read the statement.

They emphasized their commitment to a ceasefire in Gaza and called on Israel to implement UN Security Council resolutions 2720 and 2728.

They also expressed concern about widening the conflict in the Red Sea and its potential impact on regional stability.

"Shoukry warned of the serious consequences that this could have on regional stability and international peace and security."

15:13 "This is a war on children. On their childhood and their future," the UNRWA said.

Over 100 schools of the UN agency for Palestinian refugees have been directly or indirectly hit. Some were severely damaged. Many have been used as shelters for displaced families, the UNRWA stated.



15:00 An Israeli delegation of Shin Bet and Mossad representatives travelled to Cairo for indirect truce talks between Israel and Hamas, Israeli media reported.

Israel claimed it is willing to show some flexibility on prisoner releases, an official told Times of Israel but is not willing to let the population of Gaza move back to their homes in the northern part of the strip.

In recent weeks, negotiators from Egypt, Qatar and the US have held several rounds of negotiations in Cairo, Doha and Paris to reach a prisoner swap and ceasefire agreement between Israel and Hamas but failed to seal a deal.

An Egyptian security source confirmed to Al-Qahera news TV Saturday, the resumption of negotiations on a truce in the Egyptian capital today.

14:50 Here are some of the photos coming from Gaza today.


Injured Palestinian men lie on the floor at the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital in Deir al-Balah in the central Gaza Strip, following Israeli bombardment. AFP

Members of the Abul Aoun family check the rubble in their home destroyed during Israeli bombardment on the Al-Maghazi refugee camp in Deir al-Balah in central Gaza. AFP

Members of a Palestinian family leave Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip with personal belongings. AFP


14:43 Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that Israel needs to be more independent and boost domestic weapons production, Israeli Haaretz reported.

Referring to the defence budget, Netanyahu said: "We of course need to adapt it to the needs realized in this war, we need to be much more independent in the production capacity of the weapons we need." 

He explained this by saying: "we need to be immune from external pressures because we need to make our own decisions."

Tensions have risen over the spiralling civilian death toll between Israel and its chief backer the United States, especially over Israeli threats to send ground forces into Gaza's crowded southern city of Rafah. 

Washington has nonetheless approved billions of dollars worth of bombs and fighter jets for Israel in recent days, according to US media reports.

14:10 An Israeli airstrike hit a tent camp inside the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital in central Gaza, killing two Palestinians and wounding another 15, according to an initial toll.

The strike hit one of several tents in the courtyard of the hospital, where thousands of people have been sheltering for months after fleeing their homes elsewhere in the war-ravaged territory.

An international team of doctors who had recently visited the hospital, where Sunday's strike occurred, said they were horrified by the Israel war's gruesome impact on Palestinian children.



14:02 The Israeli occupation forces detained since Saturday evening at least 25 Palestinians, including six women who were later released, from the occupied West Bank.

The Detainees and Ex-Detainees Affairs Commission and the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS) stated that the detention operations focused on occupied Jerusalem and Hebron. The remaining detentions took place in the governorates of Jenin, Tubas, Qalqilya, and Bethlehem. 

They also said Israeli forces detained 16 Palestinians as they were leaving the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in occupied Jerusalem, WAFA news agency reported.

This brings the total number of Palestinians detained since 7 October to about 7,895, including those who were detained from their homes, at military checkpoints, those who surrendered under pressure, and those who were taken as hostages.

14:00 Four Palestinians succumbed to starvation at Kamal Adwan Hospital in the northern Gaza Strip, bringing the total number of malnutrition-related deaths to 34.

The new toll includes two children, who lost their lives due to malnutrition, dehydration, and the critical shortage of medical supplies, WAFA news agency reported.

The dire humanitarian crisis continues to unfold in Gaza, where access to essential resources, food, water, medicine, and fuel remains severely restricted by Israel.

The strip, particularly the northern region, is facing acute shortages across multiple essential sectors.

Even areas receiving aid in the southern part are struggling to meet the overwhelming needs, especially with the mass displacement of over 1.3 million people from northern Gaza to the south, notably to Rafah.

The World Health Organization has issued warnings about the worsening malnutrition crisis, particularly in the northern region, where infrastructure damage and shortages of water, food, and medication have persisted since the onset of the ongoing Israeli aggression. 

13:37 Israel killed at least 32,782 Palestinians and left 75,298 injured since 7 October, the health ministry said in a statement of the grim toll.

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.

12:35 In his Easter message at the Vatican, Pope Francis on Sunday renewed his calls for an immediate ceasefire in the Gaza Strip and the release of Israeli captives.

"I appeal once again that access to humanitarian aid be ensured to Gaza, and call once more for the prompt release of the hostages seized on 7 October and for an immediate ceasefire in the strip," the Pope said.

11:47 Rather than provide humanitarian aid to Gaza, the US should ensure it is destroyed in the same way the Japanese cities of Nagasaki and Hiroshima were by the atomic bomb during WWII, a Republican congressman said in shocking remarks that were recorded at a gathering with a small group of his constituents.

"We shouldn’t be spending a dime on humanitarian aid. It should be like Nagasaki and Hiroshima. Get it over quick," he said.

The comments by US House representative Tim Walberg of Michigan drew condemnation from political quarters, the Guardian reported.

Entries on Walberg’s congressional calendar – along with videos on social media – establish that he met with members of the public in Dundee, Michigan, on 25 March.

As Mediaite recounted Saturday, a clip of the session that was posted on YouTube and other sites, and recorded by an activist, showed Walberg telling his audience that the US should not spend a “dime” on humanitarian aid in Gaza.



11:00 A secret memorandum that expanded US intelligence sharing with Israel after 7 October has led to growing concerns in Washington about whether the information is contributing to civilian deaths, the Wall Street Journal reported citing people familiar with the issue.

Among the worries is that there is little independent oversight to confirm that US-supplied intelligence is not used in strikes that unnecessarily kill civilians or damage infrastructure, the people said. 

“What I’m concerned about is making sure our intelligence sharing is consistent with our values and our national security interests,” Democratic Rep. Jason Crow, a member of the House Intelligence Committee, told the WSJ. 

Washington has approved billions of dollars worth of bombs and fighter jets for Israel in recent days, the Wall Street Journal said, citing unnamed officials.

10:32 Talks aimed at brokering a truce between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip will resume in Cairo on Sunday, as reported by Al-Qahera News TV. 

"An Egyptian security source confirmed to Al-Qahera news the resumption of negotiations on a truce between Israel and Hamas in the Egyptian capital Cairo tomorrow," the channel said on Saturday.

Reports suggest that the talks revolve around a proposal for a six-week pause in Israel’s operation in Gaza, in exchange for the release of approximately 40 of the roughly 130 captives still held in the Strip.

Previous rounds of negotiations have been mediated by Egypt, Qatar, and the US, but a viable agreement has remained elusive. 

10:30 13 Palestinians were killed early Sunday morning in Israeli air and artillery bombing in the city of Khan Younis in southern Gaza, WAFA news agency reported. 

Several Palestinian civilians also were killed and injured after Israeli warplanes bombed a house in the Al-Maghazi refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip. 

Medical sources confirmed the killing of at least three citizens, with several others missing and numerous injuries reported following the Israeli army's airstrike.

10:00 The Israeli army said it conducted 80 air attacks on Gaza within the last 24 hours.

It said that the assault at Gaza City’s Al-Shifa Hospital continues. The hospital-turned-shelter has borne the brunt of the most recent violence, enduring a 13-day onslaught by the Israeli army, with over 400 Palestinians killed and hundreds more detained or tortured, the Palestinian media office reported.

About 107 patients and medical staff remain trapped within the hospital complex without essential supplies or means of evacuation, it added.

Israeli military attacks were also ongoing at two hospitals in the southern city of Khan Younis Nasser Hospital, and Al-Amal Hospital  according to the Red Crescent.

At least 75 people were killed overnight in new Israeli bombardment and ground combat, most of them women and children, the Palestinian health ministry stated.

Furthermore, airstrikes struck several buildings in the Remal neighbourhood of Gaza City.

The army claimed to have killed 15 Palestinian resistance fighters in central Gaza over the past day.

It added that some fighters in the Khan Younis area were also killed.

Short link: