Starvation warnings for Gaza increase amid ceasefire talks

A United Nations-backed assessment said 300,000 people in the territory’s north would be at risk of famine.

Palestinian territories:

Tensions rose as the Hamas chief accused Israel on Tuesday of sabotaging ceasefire talks in the Gaza Strip after it stormed the devastated Palestinian territory’s largest hospital for a second time.

The months-long war has brought hundreds of thousands of Palestinians in besieged areas to the brink of starvation. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that everyone in Gaza now needs humanitarian assistance.

A United Nations-backed assessment said 300,000 people in the territory’s north would be at risk of famine by May without an aid boost.

U.N. human rights chief Volker Turk said Israel was blocking aid and waging the conflict in a way that “could amount to using starvation as a method of war.”

Israeli troops on Tuesday pushed for an attack on Gaza’s largest hospital, which they say is being used for military purposes. More than 50 fighters were killed and around 300 suspects were arrested and taken for questioning.

In response, Qatar-based Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh accused Israel of wanting to “sow chaos and perpetuate violence” and “sabotage the ongoing negotiations in Doha.”

“The actions of the Zionist occupation forces in the Al-Shifa medical complex confirm their intention to hinder the restoration of life in Gaza and destroy essential aspects of human existence,” Haniyeh said.

This came as ceasefire negotiations resumed in Qatar after weeks of talks failed to reach a ceasefire for the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which began last week.

Israel’s intelligence chief David Barnea launched a new round of talks with Egyptian and Qatari mediators on Monday.

Qatari Foreign Ministry spokesman Majed al-Ansari said he was “cautiously optimistic” but that it was “too early to declare any successes.”

Ansari said she expected a counter-proposal to be made to Hamas after both sides rejected previous offers, adding that technical discussions would continue.

– ‘Screamed in fear’ –

The bloodiest Gaza war ever erupted after an unprecedented attack by Hamas on October 7 left about 1,160 people dead, mostly civilians, in Israel, according to an AFP count of official Israeli figures.

Militants also captured about 250 hostages, of whom Israel believes 130 remain in Gaza, including 33 who are presumed dead.

According to Gaza’s Health Ministry, Israel has responded with a relentless offensive against Hamas that has killed at least 31,819 people, most of them women and children.

Blinken, who will travel to Saudi Arabia and Egypt this week to try to shore up support for the temporary ceasefire and an increase in aid, stressed that everyone in Gaza is now suffering from “severe acute food insecurity.”

“This is the first time an entire population has been classified like this,” he said during a visit to the Philippines.

To underline his point, footage from AFPTV showed desperate crowds gathering in the Jabalia refugee camp for a portion of carrot soup.

“We lined up, but they kicked us out,” said Jabalia resident Musaab al-Masry, complaining that there was not enough food for everyone.

Further south, a diplomatic storm continued to rage around the city of Rafah, where hundreds of thousands sought refuge from fighting elsewhere in the territory.

US President Joe Biden is putting pressure on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to withdraw from a threatened full-scale ground operation.

But Netanyahu said he told Biden: “We are committed to completing the elimination of these battalions in Rafah, and there is no way to achieve this without a ground attack.”

The city is already being bombed. AFPTV footage shows residents digging through building rubble on Tuesday after another night of strikes.

Torrential rains worsened the misery overnight, and many displaced people were only able to flee in makeshift tents.

Oum Abdullah Alwan said her children were “screaming in fear” because “we can’t tell the difference between the sound of rain and the sound of shells.”

– Raid on the hospital –

Over the past two months, much of Israel’s military effort has been focused on the south.

Officials said in January that the Hamas command structure in the northern Gaza Strip had been dismantled.

But the attack on Al-Shifa put the north back in the spotlight.

Israel has long accused militants of using hospitals as bases, and troops already raided Al-Shifa last November, sparking an international outcry.

Military spokesman Daniel Hagari said this week that Palestinian militants and commanders had since returned to Al-Shifa and “converted it into a command center.”

An army statement late Tuesday said “dozens of prominent terrorists” from Hamas and Islamic Jihad were among those arrested in the operation.

Witnesses reported airstrikes and tank attacks near the hospital site, which is home to thousands of displaced civilians, as well as the sick and wounded.

Also on Tuesday, a Palestinian was killed by Jewish settlers in the occupied West Bank, a local official said. The Israeli army said a soldier shot a suspect during a disturbance.

According to the Health Ministry in Ramallah, Israeli troops and settlers have killed at least 430 Palestinians in the West Bank since the start of the Gaza war.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

By admin

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *