Aid groups accuse countries arming Israel of being complicit in genocide in Gaza - as it happened

Ahram Online , Thursday 4 Apr 2024

The Palestinian death toll from Israel's deadly offensive on Gaza has soared to 33,037, as the war on the Strip enters its 181st day. The toll includes at least 62 deaths over the past 24 hours.

A makeshift tent city is set up for displaced Palestinians in front of the Shuhada al-Aqsa Hospital in Deir el-Balah in the central Gaza Strip. AFP


 The United States opposed a Palestinian push for full membership at the United Nations, with Washington claiming it backed statehood but after negotiations with Israel.


21:45 Major international aid groups warned it was now almost impossible to work in Gaza, with one asserting that countries providing arms to Israel are complicit in what "amounts to genocide".

Isabelle Defourny, president of Doctors Without Borders (MSF), spoke out about the risk of genocide as 13 major humanitarian groups blasted Israel for restricting aid getting into the Gaza Strip.

The killing of seven aid workers from the US-based World Central Kitchen (WCK) by Israeli air strikes Monday has sparked an outcry.

Defourny said the United States, Britain, France and other nations were "morally and politically complicit with what to our eyes amounts to genocide" by providing military support to Israel.

The aid groups also demanded that Israel abandon its plans to launch a ground assault on Rafah in the south of Gaza, where well over one million civilians are sheltering.

While WCK has suspended its operations in Gaza, none of the 13 groups including Oxfam and Save the Children who made the joint call said they were pulling out.

19:50 President Joe Biden spoke by phone with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Thursday amid growing domestic pressure to set conditions on US military support amid domestic outrage over the killing of seven aid workers in Gaza. 

Biden told Netanyahu 'immediate ceasefire is essential' in the Gaza war and urged Israel to reach a deal 'without delay.'

18:10 Israel is systematically destroying Gaza's healthcare system, Doctors Without Borders (MSF) said, describing scenes of carnage that no hospitals in the world would be able to handle.

MSF said deadly attacks on humanitarian staff from Israel showed either deliberate intent or reckless incompetence and called for a change in how the war is being conducted.

"Now we're seeing the systematic and deliberate destruction of the healthcare system," Amber Alayyan, MSF deputy programme manager for the Middle East told a press conference at MSF's headquarters in Geneva.

Alayyan said the vast majority of injuries seen by MSF medics in Gaza were explosive injuries: the effects of bombs hitting homes.

"You get crush injuries to the abdomen, to the thorax; amputations are required for the legs and arms; and on top of that, patients suffer severe burns," she said.

"No healthcare system in the world can cope with the volume and type of injuries, and the medical conditions, that we're seeing daily.

"You could add 1,000 field hospitals; you're not going to be able to replace the healthcare system that was in Gaza before the war."

16:00 Several projectiles were fired from Lebanon at Western Galilee northern Israel. One home is reportedly damaged in the border Israeli settlement of Shlomi. Hezbollah claims responsibility, saying it fired missiles at an Israeli army position in the area. 

The occupation army said it was shelling the launch sites with artillery.

15:00 Hamas official Osama Hamdan said there had been no progress in Gaza ceasefire talks despite the movement showing flexibility, Reuters reported. 

During a press briefing in Beirut, Hamdan accused Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of placing obstacles hindering both parties from reaching an agreement. Hamdan also said that Netanyahu is “not interested” in releasing Israeli captives. “The occupation government is still evading, and negotiations are stuck in a vicious circle,” he said.

Netanyahu has been accused domestically of prolonging the war for political reasons, and protesters in Tel Aviv today were carrying pictures of him as they appealed for the Israeli government to do more to release the captives.

14:30 A new diplomatic crisis between Poland and Israel has erupted following the death of a Polish aid worker in Gaza, with the Polish president denouncing remarks by the Israeli ambassador as “outrageous” and the Foreign Ministry in Warsaw saying it was summoning him for a meeting.

Israeli ambassador Yacov Livne gave an interview late Wednesday in which he stopped short of apologising for the incident despite being repeatedly asked to do so.

"If the ambassador decides to make public appearances in our media, he should use this opportunity to offer a simple, human apology," Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk said. Polish authorities have called for Israel to provide compensation to the victim's family. "Compensation by the Israeli state should simply be paid for the sake of decency, for the sake of principles," Duda said.

14:00 Gaza municipality warned that diseases are spreading due to waste pile-up and sewage overflow as a result of Israel’s bombardment.

In a statement on X, Gaza municipality called on local and international institutions "to help improve the health and environmental conditions in Gaza and enable the municipality to provide services that the aggression has caused near complete paralysis in."

The United Nations, international aid agencies and non-governmental organizations have also been sounding the alarm about the catastrophic impact of poor sanitation and the healthcare system collapse in Gaza. 
Last month, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reported that “catastrophic healthcare conditions are impeding the disease management of thousands of chronically ill patients in Gaza.”

13:00 More than 600 prominent lawyers in the UK have signed a letter that calls for an end to UK arms exports to Israel, as a “measure to prevent” genocide, the Guardian reported.

The letter, sent to Prime Minister Rishi Sunak on Wednesday evening, says that “serious action” is needed to “avoid UK complicity in grave breaches of international law, including potential violations of the Genocide convention.”

Meanwhile, the UK's three major opposition parties, the Labour Party, Liberal Democrats, and Scottish National Party (SNP) are calling on Sunak to justify its arms trading with Israel following an Israeli strike which killed seven aid workers on Monday.

SNP leader and Scottish First Minister, Humza Yousaf who is the head of the devolved Scottish government wrote to Sunak personally to "demand an immediate end to arms sales to Israel from the United Kingdom." 

In the letter dated 3 April, Yousaf criticized Sunak's failure to address the arms issue following the aid worker killings particularly as Israel he said shows no sign of "paying heed to the International Court of Justice’s ruling or the recent United Nations Security Council Resolution."

12:00 Israeli troops have been instructed to halt all home leave, as reported by Israeli media sources.

The Israeli occupation army announced last night its reinforcement of air defence systems and the mobilisation of reservists, citing a recent reevaluation of security concerns.

These actions follow the suspected Israeli strike on the Iranian consulate in Damascus, resulting in the killing of Iranian commander Mohammad Reza Zahedi on Monday. Concurrently, residents in central Israel have reported significant disruptions to GPS navigation applications, indicating preparations by the military to counter potential guided drone and missile assaults.

11:30 A Palestinian youth was killed Thursday morning by Israeli occupation forces’ bullets in the town of Ya’bad, south of Jenin, WAFA news agency reported.

Asaad Issam Al-Qaniri, 28, a former prisoner, was killed after the occupation forces surrounded his house, executed him, and prevented ambulance crews from trying to help him.

More than 434 Palestinians have been killed in the occupied West Bank, including 421 by Israeli forces and nine by settlers since the war on Gaza began on 7 October.

10:30 US President Joe Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will speak on Thursday, a US official said, in their first call since an Israeli strike killed seven aid workers in Gaza.

The call comes after Biden expressed outrage over the deaths of the employees of the US-based World Central Kitchen group and said Israel must do more to protect aid workers and civilians.

"I can confirm President Biden and Prime Minister Netanyahu will speak tomorrow," a US official with knowledge of the matter told AFP on Wednesday.

The White House admitted that Biden was becoming increasingly frustrated with Israel's failure to protect aid workers and civilians despite repeated appeals to Netanyahu.

But the White House said that Biden continued to support Israel and there were no plans to curb arms deliveries to the key US ally.

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