Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Israel-Palestine conflict LIVE: Qatar says negotiations to secure another pause in Gaza fighting continue

Palestinian group, Hamas, which runs the Gaza Strip, has announced the start of military the operation Al-Aqsa Flood against Israel. Thousands of rockets have been fired from the blockaded enclave towards the occupied territories as far away as Tel Aviv, killing over 1,200 Israelis, including both military and settlers. More than 15,000 Palestinians have been so far killed in an exchange of fire between the two sides.

Wounded civilians are “lying on floor” in hospitals after fighting resumes: Health ministry

Civilians have flooded hospitals in Gaza following the resumption of hostilities between Israel and Hamas, further overwhelming the medical infrastructure in the war-torn territory.

Most of the victims of the bombardments in Gaza since the truce ended on Friday are women and children, according to the health ministry in Gaza.

“Medical teams have been dealing with large numbers of wounded since the end of the humanitarian pause yesterday morning, with the continued bombing of civilians,” Ashraf Al-Qidra, a spokesman for the health ministry, told CNN.

“The wounded are lying on the floor in emergency departments and in front of operating rooms as a result of the accumulation of cases.”

Conditions are also worsening in southern Gaza. Israel has recently started carrying out strikes there after previously concentrating military activity in the enclave’s north.

“Hospitals in the southern regions of the Gaza Strip have become unable to provide medical services. The emergency department is unable to receive more casualties,” the director of the European Hospital in Khan Younis, Dr. Youssef Al-Akkad stated.


Israel orders more Palestinians in south Gaza to leave homes

The Israeli military has published several maps ordering Palestinians in Gaza to leave their homes and head towards what it calls “shelter centres”, though no such secure and safe areas exist in the besieged strip.

Palestinians in a number of zones in northern Gaza’s Jalabiya, Shujayya and Zeitoun were told to move to Daraj and Tuffah areas of Gaza City.

Those in several zones in southern Gaza’s Khirbat Ikhza’a, Abasan, Bani Suheila and Ma’an were instructed to head for Rafah near the border with Egypt.

The map effectively splits the Gaza Strip into countless isolated islands. Many Palestinian being forced to move have already been displaced several times.

In the past, the zones Israel designated as safer have proved just as deadly.


Erdogan: ‘I cannot accept Hamas as a terror group’

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has rebuffed US efforts to ostracise Hamas in the country.

On his way back from the United Arab Emirates after attending the Cop28 summit, Erdogan said: “I stand by my position. No matter what anybody says, I cannot accept Hamas as a terror group.”

The comments came days after Brian Nelson, the US Treasury’s top terrorism financing official, expressed “profound” concern over alleged Hamas “ability to continue to fund raise and find financial support” from within Turkey.

Regarding Israel’s ongoing assault in Gaza, Erdogan added: “This is state terrorism. We cannot stay silent against this state terrorism,” as reported by the Turkish media outlet Anadolu Agency.

“The Netanyahu administration’s massacre in Gaza is etched in history as a black stain. Countries supporting this unconditionally are stained as well,” Erdogan continued.


US sends Israel 2,000-pound bombs: WSJ

The Wall Street Journal has reported that the US has provided Israel with large bunker buster bombs, as Israel continues its bombing campaign in Gaza after the breakdown of a temporary truce with Hamas.

The surge of US arms to Israel, which includes roughly 15,000 bombs and 57,000 artillery shells, began shortly after the 7 October attack and has continued in recent days, the newspaper reported citing US officials.

The transfer of 100 BLU-109, 2,000-pound bunker buster munitions has not been previously disclosed by the US.

Shortly after Israel began its military response to the 7 October attack, the top State Department official overseeing arms transfers resigned from his position, citing the Biden administration’s uncritical support of Israel’s aerial bombardment of the besieged enclave.


At least 61 journalists killed in Israel-Hamas conflict: Committee to Protect Journalists

At least 61 journalists and media workers have been killed since the war between Israel and Hamas began on October 7, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) on Friday.

The deaths were overwhelmingly Palestinian journalists.

CPJ said that 54 Palestinian, four Israeli, and three Lebanese journalists had been killed, according to the group’s statement.

The journalism advocacy group added the latest Israel-Gaza conflict has “led to the deadliest month for journalists since CPJ began gathering data in 1992.”

The latest death of a media member was Friday when Montaser Al-Sawaf, a freelance journalist working for the Turkish news agency Anadolu, was killed in an Israeli strike.


Less than a third of Americans approve of Biden’s handling of Gaza war

A new poll released by Gallup shows that just 32 percent of American respondents approve of the way Biden is handling the war in Gaza.

The poll was released just a day before Israel restarted its military campaign in the enclave after talks to extend a truce broke down.

Among Americans ages 18-34, the support of Biden’s handling of the conflict drops to 22 percent.


UN relief chief urges renewed humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza

The United Nations relief chief has urged for a renewed humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza as Israel resumed combat operations against Hamas on Friday.

Martin Griffiths, the UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, warned that people in Gaza are terrified and have no safe places to go.

The Israel Defense Forces announced Friday that it expanded its operations into the southern part of the enclave, where it previously told civilians to take shelter.

He stated people also have very little food and water. The pause in fighting allowed for more humanitarian aid to cross into Gaza.

Griffiths added the seven-day pause in fighting was “a glimpse of what can happen when the guns fall silent.”

“The situation in Khan Younis today is a shocking reminder of what happens when they don’t,” the relief chief continued.

Khan Younis is the largest city in southern Gaza where the IDF dropped leaflets on Friday, calling it a “fighting zone” and telling residents to “evacuate immediately.” The Israeli military also named Khan Younis as one of the places its “ground, air and naval forces struck terror targets” on Friday.

Griffiths also called for “progress in aid delivery” and for the protection of civilians and “life-sustaining infrastructure.”

“We need the remaining hostages to be released immediately and unconditionally. We need a humanitarian ceasefire. We need the fighting to stop.”


Hamas is holding 136 hostages in Gaza: IDF

At least 136 hostages are still being held in Gaza, according to the Israel Defence Forces.

IDF spokesperson Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari said the number includes 17 women and children.

The Israeli military announced the body of one hostage, Ofir Tzarfati, was brought back to Israel.

He was confirmed dead Thursday, with the IDF not specifying when and where Tzarfati was killed.


Qatar says continued Israeli military operations in Gaza complicate mediation efforts

Qatar, which has played a key role in negotiations between Israel and Hamas, expressed its deep regret at the renewed “Israeli aggression” on Gaza following the expiration of the humanitarian truce.

“The continued bombing of the Gaza Strip in the first hours after the end of the truce complicates mediation efforts and exacerbates the humanitarian catastrophe in the Strip,” the Qatari foreign ministry said in a statement Friday.

Qatar vowed to take all necessary measures to restore calm.

The ministry announced negotiations between the Palestinian and Israeli sides are continuing with the aim of returning to a state of truce.

Qatar condemns all forms of targeting civilians, collective punishment and attempts to forcibly displace Gaza residents, the ministry added.

Qatar also demands “an immediate ceasefire and to ensure the continuous and unhindered flow of relief convoys and humanitarian aid, in a way that meets the actual needs of the residents of the Strip,” the statement read.


“Nightmare” returns for civilians caught in renewed fighting: Red Cross director-general

The “nightmare” for civilians caught in the Israel-Hamas war has returned as fighting has picked up again, Robert Mardini, director-general of the International Committee of the Red Cross, stated Friday.

“The nightmare is back for civilians in this conflict. Gazans, of course, but also Israelis on the other side of the front line,” Mardini told CNN’s Becky Anderson.

“And after seven days of respite that made a huge difference in terms of humanitarian support to the people who need the support most, this is now being challenged by the resumption of fighting.”

Mardini emphasized the importance of holding out hope for another truce.

“We need to keep the hope alive. Let’s not forget that there has been seven full days of truce,” he continued, adding, “That was a glimmer of hope. That was humanity prevailing in the midst of chaos and conflict. It is also international humanitarian law in action when these operations can take place following a negotiation between the parties.”

The director-general also announced both sides in the conflict “must work harder to protect civilians, because it is their obligation, period.”

The ICRC has played a crucial role in the delicate process of handing over hostages held by Hamas to Israeli authorities. Mardini described the process as “a very simple operation because it is facilitating the transfer, but at the same time it is very complex, because at every step of the way it can derail, because every single detail is part and parcel of negotiations between the parties.”

“And our teams have to implement those negotiations in a very disciplined way,” he added.

He also commended the work of his team on the ground in Gaza. “A lot of credit should go to them today,” he said.

The ICRC staff and volunteers are “caught between a rock and a hard place,” as they face the same challenges as civilians and are in the line of fire, he continued.


Resumption of fighting in Gaza is “catastrophic”: UN human rights chief

The situation in Gaza is “beyond crisis point” and the resumption of fighting is “catastrophic,” UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk said Friday.

“I urge all parties and States with influence over them to redouble efforts, immediately, to ensure a ceasefire – on humanitarian and human rights grounds,” Türk urged.

Türk stated recent comments from Israeli leaders indicating their plans to expand and intensify their military offensive is “troubling.”

“Since 7 October, thousands of Palestinians have been killed in Gaza, according to the Ministry of Health in Gaza. More now face the same fate. Others risk being forcibly displaced to already severely over-crowded and unsanitary parts of Gaza,” he added.

The UN representative called for the release of all remaining hostages, the cessation of indiscriminate rocket fire, and concrete steps to prevent further disaster.


UN chief expresses deep regret at war resuming in Gaza

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has expressed his deep regret at the resumption of fighting between Israel and Hamas.

“I deeply regret that military operations have started again in Gaza. I still hope that it will be possible to renew the pause that was established,” Guterres wrote in a post on X on Friday.

“The return to hostilities only shows how important it is to have a true humanitarian ceasefire,” he added.


Over 2,700 trucks carrying aid have entered Gaza from Egypt since October 21: Egyptian official

A total of 2,781 trucks carrying thousands of tons of international aid have crossed from Egypt into Gaza since October 21 through the Rafah crossing, according to an Egyptian official.

The aid comprises a substantial quantity of medical supplies and medications, amounting to 3,176 tons, according to Ayman Walash, director of Egypt’s foreign press center.

Additionally, the aid includes 13,348 tons of food; 10,359 tons of water; 3,203 tons of other relief materials; and 137 tons of tents, Walash said during a press briefing in Al-Arish, Egypt.

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