Israel pounds Gaza as truce talks to resume in Cairo

AFP , Sunday 31 Mar 2024

Deadly Israeli airstrikes pounded the Gaza Strip overnight as talks towards a truce were set to resume in Cairo Sunday, according to Egyptian TV station Al-Qahera.

Palestinians inspect the ruins of a residential building for the Abu Muammar family after an Israeli airstrike in Rafah, southern Gaza Strip, March 2024. AP


Heavy fighting raged on in the besieged Palestinian territory, including around several hospitals, in the nearly six-month-old war.

As an Israel siege amid the war has deepened the humanitarian crisis, an aid delivery inside Gaza descended into deadly chaos on Saturday. The Israeli troops opened fire at desperate Palestinians at aid delivery point in north Gaza.

At least five people were killed, according to a Red Crescent paramedic.

To help alleviate the suffering of Gaza's 2.4 million people, another aid ship was sailing from the Mediterranean island-nation of Cyprus to bring 400 tonnes of food relief, as part of a small flotilla.

Foreign powers have ramped up aid airdrops, although UN agencies and charities warn this falls far short of the dire need. Several people have died in stampedes or drowned trying to retrieve packages from the sea.

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

The Israeli attacks has raged on unabated despite a UN Security Council resolution last Monday that demanded an "immediate ceasefire" and the release of all captives.

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

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

Under intense pressure to bring the captives home, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday approved a new round of ceasefire talks to take place in Doha and Cairo.

Egyptian TV station Al-Qahera, said that the talks would resume in Cairo on Sunday.

An anchor said on Saturday that "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".


Battles near hospitals

In Gaza, vast areas of which have been reduced to a rubble-strewn wasteland, heavy fighting has rocked areas around several Gaza hospitals.

The Israeli occupation army said Saturday that it had continued to operate around the largest hospital, Al-Shifa in Gaza City, claiming that around 200 resistance millitants were killed after 13 days of fighting.

The Palestinian health ministry said 107 patients remained inside Al-Shifa, including 30 with disabilities, and that the occupation army had stopped attempts to evacuate them.

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

The UN World Health Organization warned that Gaza now has just 10 "minimally functioning" hospitals, down from 36 before the war.

Its chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said 9,000 patients need to leave Gaza for "lifesaving health services, including treatment for cancer, injuries from bombardments, kidney dialysis and other chronic conditions".


* This story has been edited by Ahram Online.

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