Fuel enters Gaza to restore phone links after two days without aid

Palestinians look for survivors after an Israeli strike on Rafah, Gaza Strip, Friday, Nov. 17, 2023. (AP)
1 / 2
Palestinians look for survivors after an Israeli strike on Rafah, Gaza Strip, Friday, Nov. 17, 2023. (AP)
Fuel enters Gaza to restore phone links after two days without aid
2 / 2
Israel’s war cabinet has allowed the delivery of two tankers of diesel fuel daily to the embattled Gaza Strip, Israeli officials said Friday, as hospitals and aid schemes shut down over fuel shortages. (AP/File)
Short Url
Updated 18 November 2023
Follow

Fuel enters Gaza to restore phone links after two days without aid

Palestinians look for survivors after an Israeli strike on Rafah, Gaza Strip, Friday, Nov. 17, 2023. (AP)
  • The UN agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA) said 70 percent of people have no access to clean water in south Gaza, where raw sewage had started to flow on the streets
  • Israel has come under increasing international pressure

GAZA STRIP, Palestinian Territories: A first consignment of fuel entered Gaza from Egypt late Friday after Israel agreed to a US request to allow limited deliveries to end a communications blackout that has halted aid convoys for two days.
UN agencies have spoken of an increasingly desperate situation for the 2.4 million Palestinians trapped inside the besieged enclave, which Israel has been pounding by land and air for the past six weeks.
The fuel delivery came as troops combed Gaza’s largest hospital in a search for the Hamas operations center that Israel says lies hidden in bunkers beneath.
Israel has vowed to “crush” Hamas in response to the group’s October 7 attack, when it broke through Gaza’s militarised border to kill about 1,200 people, most of them civilians, and take about 240 hostages, according to Israeli officials.
The army’s air and ground campaign has killed 12,000 people, including 5,000 children, according to Hamas, which has ruled Gaza since 2007.
In response to a US request, Israel’s war cabinet unanimously agreed to “provide two tankers of fuel a day to run the wastewater treatment facilities... which are facing collapse due to the lack of electricity,” national security adviser Tzachi Hanegbi said.
“We took that decision to prevent the spread of epidemics. We don’t need epidemics that will harm civilians or our fighters,” he said.
A senior US official said Washington had exerted huge pressure on Israel for weeks to allow fuel in through the Rafah crossing from Egypt, with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken making clear Israel needed to act immediately to avoid a humanitarian catastrophe.
Israel has repeatedly demanded assurances that any fuel delivered to Gaza will not be diverted by Hamas for military purposes.
The UN agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA) said 70 percent of people have no access to clean water in south Gaza, where raw sewage had started to flow on the streets.
Under the deal, 140,000 liters (37,000 gallons) of fuel will be allowed in every 48 hours, of which 20,000 liters will be earmarked for generators to restore the phone network, the US official said.
A first consignment of some 17,000 liters (about 4,500 gallons) of fuel for telecommunications company Paltel passed through the Rafah crossing from Egypt late Friday, a Palestinian border official said.
It comes after aid trucks were unable to enter Gaza from Egypt for two straight days due to the near-total communications blackout, UNRWA said.
UN humanitarian chief Martin Griffiths said fuel was “critical for the onward distribution of aid throughout Gaza, and for the functioning of vital services.”
He told the UN General Assembly that the fuel currently being provided to UNRWA to distribute aid was “welcome but is a fraction of what is needed to meet the minimum of our humanitarian responsibilities.”

As Israeli troops kept up their search operation at Gaza’s Al-Shifa hospital Friday, the health ministry in the Hamas-ruled enclave said that 24 patients had died in the space of 48 hours due to the lack of fuel for generators.
Hamas rejects an Israeli charge that it has a command center under the hospital, where thousands of people, including wounded patients and premature babies, are believed to be inside. The hospital also denies the claim.
“Twenty-four patients... have died over the last 48 hours as vital medical equipment has stopped functioning because of the power outage,” health ministry spokesman Ashraf Al-Qudra said.
Israel has defended its Al-Shifa operation, with the military saying it found rifles, ammunition, explosives and the entrance to a tunnel shaft at the hospital complex.
Its prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, alleged hostages may even have been held at the medical facility.
“We had strong indications that they were held in the Shifa Hospital, which is one of the reasons we entered the hospital,” he told “CBS Evening News.”
“If they were, they were taken out,” he said.
Israel said its forces were searching Al-Shifa “one building at a time.”
The military also said troops had recovered the remains of kidnapped woman soldier Noa Marciano, 19, “from a structure adjacent to Al-Shifa hospital.”
On Thursday, the army said soldiers near Al-Shifa found the body of another hostage. Yehudit Weiss, 65, had been kidnapped from the kibbutz community of Beeri.

Israel has come under increasing pressure to back up its allegations that Hamas is using hospitals as command centers.
The United States has stood behind its ally, however, with President Joe Biden this week saying he had asked Israel to be “incredibly careful” in its military moves around Gaza hospitals.
More than half of Gaza’s hospitals are no longer functional due to combat, damage or shortages, and Israel’s raid on Al-Shifa left extensive damage to the radiology, burns and dialysis units, Hamas said.
AFPTV video showed Palestinian children waiting in ambulances at Deir Al-Balah for evacuation to the United Arab Emirates via the Rafah crossing to Egypt.
“In the beginning they told (us) she would be martyred. She has fractures in her skull, pelvis and the thigh,” said Adam Al-Madhoun, father of four-year-old Kenza who already had her right hand amputated after an attack on the Jabalia refugee camp.
Conditions for Palestinian civilians are rapidly deteriorating, the UN warned.
More than 1.5 million people have been internally displaced, and Israel’s blockade of the territory means “civilians are facing the immediate possibility of starvation,” World Food Programme head Cindy McCain said.

Israel’s ground operation has so far focused on north Gaza, where it has announced the seizure of key buildings and a port. It says 51 of its troops have been killed.
Alongside the war in Gaza, there is growing concern about violence in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, where attacks by Israeli settlers against Palestinians have surged.
Raids by Israel’s military, which says it is responding to “a significant rise in terrorist attacks,” have also multiplied and the Palestinian death toll has soared.
The Israeli army said on Friday it had killed at least seven militants in two separate confrontations in the West Bank.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has urged Israel to take “urgent” action to “de-escalate tensions in the West Bank, including by confronting rising levels of settler extremist violence,” the State Department said.
 

 


Fighting intensifies on Lebanon border as Israel responds to Hezbollah rocket attacks

Fighting intensifies on Lebanon border as Israel responds to Hezbollah rocket attacks
Updated 14 sec ago
Follow

Fighting intensifies on Lebanon border as Israel responds to Hezbollah rocket attacks

Fighting intensifies on Lebanon border as Israel responds to Hezbollah rocket attacks
  • The Israeli army said that it struck “an extensive Hezbollah military complex in Jabal Al-Rihane”
  • Israeli airstrikes also targeted the Iqlim Al-Tuffah area, north of the Litani River, but there were no casualties

BEIRUT: Israel launched a series of airstrikes on Lebanese border towns on Saturday, a day after Hezbollah targeted Israeli military sites with dozens of Katyusha rockets.
Israeli strikes targeted the Aaramta and Al-Rihane Heights in the Jezzine area.
The Israeli army said that it struck “an extensive Hezbollah military complex in Jabal Al-Rihane.”
Early on Saturday, Israeli airstrikes hit the towns of Taybeh, Odaisseh, the outskirts of Hula, and the area between Ramya and Beit Lif in the Bint Jbeil district, destroying a three-story residential building.
Israeli airstrikes also targeted the Iqlim Al-Tuffah area, north of the Litani River, but there were no casualties.
The Majidiya Plain-GHajjar axis, the outskirts of the town of Mari in the Hasbaya District, the Arqoub-Hasbaya area, and the occupied Shebaa Farms were also hit.
Israeli surveillance aircraft continued to fly over the region.
Hezbollah said on Friday that it launched dozens of Katyusha rockets at Israeli artillery positions in response to attacks on southern villages and civilian homes.
The militant group also said it targeted the Ramot Naftali base in northern Israel with assault drones.
According to the Israeli army, about 40 rockets were launched from Lebanese territory, but most were intercepted by the Iron Dome system, and there were no reports of injuries.
Two Hezbollah assault drones had also been intercepted on Friday, it said.
Sunday marks 190 days since the outbreak of hostilities between Hezbollah and the Israeli army on the southern Lebanese border.
At least 274 Hezbollah fighters have been killed, with the group refusing to disclose the number of wounded.
Late on Friday, the group launched a series of attacks on Israeli military locations, including the Miskaf General site, Israeli artillery positions in Zaoura, the Ruwaizat Al-Alam site in the Lebanese Kfarchouba Hills, Al-Marj, Al-Samaka site in the Kfarchouba Hills, and Karantina Hill.
After inspecting damage in areas in the eastern sector and the Blue Line, UNIFIL commander Gen. Aroldo Lazaro said that “a political and diplomatic solution is the only possible way,” and called on all parties “to stop hostile actions so that people can return and rebuild.”
Hezbollah MP Ihab Hamadeh said: “So long as the Israeli aggression against Gaza continues, the resistance front in Lebanon is open against the Israelis, and the work and performance of the resistance are a fortress and protection for Lebanon.”


Syrian state media: explosive device blows up car in Damascus

Syrian state media: explosive device blows up car in Damascus
Updated 13 April 2024
Follow

Syrian state media: explosive device blows up car in Damascus

Syrian state media: explosive device blows up car in Damascus
  • Security incidents, including blasts targeting military or civilian vehicles, occur intermittently in the capital
  • It was not immediately clear who was responsible for the blast or who was the target

DAMASCUS: An explosive device went off in a car in an upscale neighborhood of Damascus Saturday, Syrian state media said, quoting a police source and adding that there were no victims.
Security incidents, including blasts targeting military or civilian vehicles, occur intermittently in the capital. It was not immediately clear who was responsible for the blast or who was the target.
But it came with tensions high in the city after Iran vowed retaliation for an air strike it blamed on Israel.
The April 1 strike destroyed the Iranian consulate in Damascus, killing seven Revolutionary Guards, including two generals.
Syria’s official SANA news agency, quoting a Damascus police command source, said an explosion “in the Mazzeh area resulted from an explosive device detonating in a car in Al-Huda square.”
It added that there were no casualties.
The city’s Mazzeh district is where Iran’s embassy and other foreign missions are located.
Britain-based war monitor the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said without elaborating that the driver of the car was “a Lebanese national who has yet to be identified.”
The Observatory, which has a wide network of sources inside Syria, said the authorities had cordoned off the scene of the explosion, and that the vehicle had been “slightly damaged.”
Both Damascus and Tehran blame Israel for the April 1 raid on the consular building, but it has not commented.
The Iran-backed Lebanese militant group Hezbollah has a significant presence in the Damascus region.
The strike came against the backdrop of Israel and Hamas’s ongoing war, which began with the Iran-backed Palestinian militant group’s unprecedented October 7 attack on Israel.


Missing Israeli teen found ‘murdered’ in West Bank: Netanyahu

Missing Israeli teen found ‘murdered’ in West Bank: Netanyahu
Updated 13 April 2024
Follow

Missing Israeli teen found ‘murdered’ in West Bank: Netanyahu

Missing Israeli teen found ‘murdered’ in West Bank: Netanyahu
  • The disappearance of 14-year-old Benjamin Achimeir on Friday sparked a huge manhunt and attacks on Palestinian villages
  • Achimeir went missing early on Friday from the Malachi Hashalom outpost near the city of Ramallah

JERUSALEM: A missing Israeli teenager was found dead in the occupied West Bank on Saturday, in what Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called a “heinous murder.”
The disappearance of 14-year-old Benjamin Achimeir on Friday sparked a huge manhunt and attacks on Palestinian villages.
“The heinous murder of the boy... is a serious crime,” Netanyahu said in a statement.
Israeli forces “are in an intensive pursuit after the heinous murderers and all those who collaborated with them,” he said.
Achimeir went missing early on Friday from the Malachi Hashalom outpost near the city of Ramallah.
His body was found nearby, the Israeli army and security forces said.
Hundreds of thousands of Israelis live in West Bank settlements considered illegal under international law.
The incident comes with tensions already high due to the Israel-Hamas war in Gaza.
Following Achimeir’s disappearance, Israeli security forces and hundreds of volunteers formed a search party.
On Friday afternoon Jewish settlers who were part of the manhunt raided the village of Al-Mughayyir near Malachi Hashalom, according to an AFP reporter.
At least one person was killed and 25 wounded, the Palestinian health ministry said on Friday.
Overnight, the official Palestinian news agency reported that five Palestinians were injured in another settler attack in the Abu Falah village near Ramallah.


Iran says Israel ‘in complete panic’ over Syria attack response

Iran says Israel ‘in complete panic’ over Syria attack response
Updated 13 April 2024
Follow

Iran says Israel ‘in complete panic’ over Syria attack response

Iran says Israel ‘in complete panic’ over Syria attack response
  • “It has been a week that the Zionists are in complete panic and are on alert,” said Yahya Rahim Safavi
  • “They don’t know what Iran wants to do, so they and their supporters are terrified”

TEHRAN: An adviser to Iran’s supreme leader said Saturday that Israel is panicking over a possible retaliatory response from Iran after a strike in Syria which killed members of its Revolutionary Guards.
“It has been a week that the Zionists are in complete panic and are on alert,“
Yahya Rahim Safavi, senior adviser to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, was quoted as saying by the ISNA news agency.
“They don’t know what Iran wants to do, so they and their supporters are terrified,” ISNA quoted him as saying.
Tehran has blamed Israel and vowed to avenge the April 1 air strike on Damascus that levelled the Iranian embassy’s consular annex, killing seven members of its Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), including two generals.
Following the strike, which Israel has not commented on, its army announced a leave suspension. It also said officials decided to increase manpower and draft reserve soldiers to operate air defenses.
“This psychological, media and political war is more terrifying for them than the war itself, because they are waiting for an attack every night and many of them have fled and gone to shelters,” Safavi added.
Britain-based war monitor the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the April 1 strike killed 16 people. Among the dead were generals Mohammad Reza Zahedi and Mohammad Hadi Hajji Rahimi who were senior commanders in the Quds Force, the IRGC’s foreign operations arm.
Zahedi, 63, was the most senior Iranian soldier killed since a United States missile strike at Baghdad airport in 2020 killed Quds Force chief General Qasem Soleimani.
The strike in Damascus took place against the backdrop of the Gaza war which began with Hamas’s October 7 attack on Israel which killed 1,170 people, mostly civilians.
Tehran backs Hamas but has denied any direct involvement in the attack which triggered relentless bombardment and a ground invasion as Israel vowed to destroy Hamas.
The health ministry in the Hamas-run Palestinian territory says at least 33,686 people have been killed there during six months of war.
Iran does not recognize Israel, and the two countries have fought a shadow war for years.
The Islamic republic accuses Israel of having carried out a wave of sabotage attacks and assassinations targeting its nuclear program.


Northern Gaza facing ‘catastrophe’ without more aid — OCHA official

Northern Gaza facing ‘catastrophe’ without more aid — OCHA official
Updated 13 April 2024
Follow

Northern Gaza facing ‘catastrophe’ without more aid — OCHA official

Northern Gaza facing ‘catastrophe’ without more aid — OCHA official
  • Jamie McGoldrick says communication issues hampering aid delivery, putting aid workers at risk
  • Israel’s military campaign has severely damaged infrastructure, 70% of people at risk of famine

LONDON: Northern Gaza faces a catastrophe without more assistance, the UN’s humanitarian coordinator said on Friday, with communication between the Israeli military and foreign aid groups still poor and no meaningful improvements happening on the ground.

Jamie McGoldrick, who works for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, warned that Gaza was sliding into an ever more precarious situation as Israel’s war against Hamas continues into a sixth month.

He said that according to an Integrated Food Security Phase Classification report 70 percent of people in the north of the Gaza Strip were “in real danger of slipping into famine.”

In a briefing on the situation, McGoldrick said the deaths of seven World Central Kitchen aid workers earlier this month were “not a one off” and that there had been “many incidents of that kind.”

“We work with, interact with, the Israeli Defense Forces and the way we notify and communicate is challenging. We don’t have communications equipment inside Gaza to operate properly, as you would have in … other situation(s),” he said.

“We are working in a very hostile area as humanitarians without the possibility of contacting each other. We don’t have radios, we don’t have mobile networks that work. And so, what we then do is we have to find ways of passing messages back to OCHA and other organizations in Rafah and then relaying out. And if we have a serious security incident, we don’t have a hotline, we don’t have any way of communicating (with) the IDF or facing problems at checkpoint or facing problems en route.

“I think that another thing, I would say, that there’s a real challenge of weapons discipline and the challenge of the behavior of (Israeli) soldiers at checkpoints. And we’ve tried, time and time again, to bring that (to their) attention.”

McGoldrick said that communication with the Israeli military was hampering the flow of aid into Gaza.

“Israel believes that their responsibility ends when they deliver trucks from Kerem Shalom and to the Palestinian side, and I would say that that’s certainly not the case,” he said.

“Their responsibility ends when the aid reaches the civilians in Gaza — we have to have them supportive of that. And that means allowing more facilitation, a lot more routes in and, obviously, to provide security for us as we move. At the moment, we don’t have security.”

He said the toll the war had taken on Gaza’s basic infrastructure was also playing a part in hampering aid deliveries.

“The roads themselves are in very poor condition. We are, as the UN, committed to using all possible routes to scale up humanitarian assistance throughout Gaza, but right now we see that there have been a number of commitments made by Israel and a number of concessions,” he said.

“I don’t think there’s been any notable improvement in terms of our ability to move around, certainly not our approval to get convoys going to the north.”

Opening more crossings to supply northern areas of Gaza was an essential step if famine was to be avoided in the area, McGoldrick said.

“All we can do is keep reminding (Israel) and using the pressure from key (UN) member states to remind Israel of the commitments they’ve made and the commitments that we’ve been asking for such a long time.

“That would be an essential lifeline into the north, because that’s where the population, according to the IPC — the recent famine report — that is where the bulk of people who are the most in danger of slipping into famine.

“If we don’t have the chance to expand the delivery of aid into all parts of Gaza, but in particular to the north, then we’re going to face a catastrophe. And the people up there are living such a fragile and precarious existence.”

McGoldrick also noted the difficulty in accessing fresh water and the devastation caused to Gaza’s health sector by Israel’s military campaign.

“People have very much less water than they need. And as a result of that, waterborne diseases due to the lack of safe and clean water and the destruction of the sanitation systems, you know, they’re all bringing about problems for the population living (there),” he said.

“The hospital system there, Al-Shifa, and Nasser, the two big hospitals have been badly damaged or destroyed. And what we have now is three-quarters of the hospitals and most of the primary healthcare clinics are shutting down, leaving only 10 of 36 hospitals functioning.

“We hear of amputations being carried out with(out) anesthesia. You know, miscarriages have increased by a massive number. And I think of all those systems which are not in place, (and) at the soaring rates of infectious diseases — you know, hepatitis C, dehydration, infections and diarrhea. And obviously, given the fact that our supply chain is so weak, we haven’t been able to deliver enough assistance.”