Israel-Hamas truce in Gaza extended by two days, says mediator Qatar

Israel-Hamas truce in Gaza extended by two days, says mediator Qatar
Palestinians walk amid debris of buildings hit in Israeli strikes, near Al-Zawiya market in Gaza City on November 27, 2023, on the fourth day of a truce in fighting between Israel and Hamas. (AFP)
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Updated 27 November 2023
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Israel-Hamas truce in Gaza extended by two days, says mediator Qatar

Israel-Hamas truce in Gaza extended by two days, says mediator Qatar
  • Over the course of four-day initial truce, 50 civilian hostages were expected to be freed by Hamas
  • In exchange, 150 Palestinian prisoners held by Israel were to be released and aid allowed into Gaza

GAZA/JERUSALEM: A humanitarian pause in fighting between Israel and Hamas will extend by two days, mediator Qatar said Monday as an initial four-day truce in Gaza was set to expire.
“The State of Qatar announces that, as part of the ongoing mediation, an agreement has been reached to extend the humanitarian truce for an additional two days in the Gaza Strip,” Qatari foreign ministry spokesman Majed Al Ansari said on X, formerly Twitter.
Over the course of the humanitarian pause and in weeks prior, Qatar, with the support of the United States and Egypt, has been engaged in intense negotiations to establish and prolong the truce in Gaza, which mediators had said was designed to be broadened and expanded.
Over the course of the initial truce a total 50 civilian hostages, women and children, were expected to be freed by Hamas.




In this handout picture taken and released by the Israeli Prime Minister's Office on November 26, 2023 Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (C) meets soldiers at undisclosed location in the Gaza Strip. (AFP)

In exchange, 150 Palestinian prisoners held by Israel were to be released and humanitarian aid allowed into Gaza.
During its first three days, 39 Israeli hostages were freed by the militant group in exchange for 117 Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails as part of the deal between the two sides.
As a result of parallel negotiations led by the Gulf state, 17 Thais, one Filipino and one dual Russian-Israeli national have also been released by the Palestinian militants.
The figure set for release is by far the largest since Hamas gunmen stormed across Gaza’s militarised border on October 7 and staged the deadliest attack in Israel’s history.
Israel says the attack killed 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and around 240 more were taken hostage, among them elderly people and children.
In response, Israel launched a relentless bombing campaign and ground offensive in Hamas-ruled Gaza, which the Hamas government says has killed 15,000 people, thousands of them children.


Prosthetic limbs center opens at UAE-funded field hospital in Gaza

Prosthetic limbs center opens at UAE-funded field hospital in Gaza
Updated 22 February 2024
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Prosthetic limbs center opens at UAE-funded field hospital in Gaza

Prosthetic limbs center opens at UAE-funded field hospital in Gaza
  • Staff at the center, which will make and fit high-grade, made-to-measure prosthetics, provide rehab services
  • Convoy of 11 trucks carrying 240 tonnes of aid from UAE enters Gaza

DUBAI: A center for prosthetic limbs opened on Wednesday at a UAE-funded field hospital in Gaza. It aims to make and fit high-grade, made-to-measure prosthetics, and offer rehabilitation services to patients.

It is part of the UAE’s Operation Gallant Knight 3 which was launched based on directives from President Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan to provide help and support for the Palestinian people.

On its opening day, measurements were taken from 36 patients who require a prosthetic, the Emirates News Agency reported. It is expected that the total number of people helped by the center will exceed 100 in the next few days. Other departments in the field hospital have treated 5,423 other patients so far.

Meanwhile, a humanitarian convoy from the UAE entered Gaza through the Rafah crossing on the border with Egypt, also as part of Operation Gallant Knight 3. It consisted of 11 trucks delivering more than 240 tonnes of aid supplies, including winter clothing, tents, household necessities, food and medical supplies.

As of Tuesday, Emirati officials said more than 15,809 tonnes of humanitarian aid have been delivered to Palestinians as part of Gallant Knight 3 using two cargo ships, 165 flights and 476 trucks.

The UAE has also set up six desalination plants, with a daily production capacity of 1.2 million gallons of water, to aid the people of Gaza. In addition, five automatic bakery machines will be delivered to Gaza from the Egyptian city of Arish.


US senators say it is ‘urgent’ for Hezbollah-Israel war to de-escalate soon

US senators say it is ‘urgent’ for Hezbollah-Israel war to de-escalate soon
Updated 22 February 2024
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US senators say it is ‘urgent’ for Hezbollah-Israel war to de-escalate soon

US senators say it is ‘urgent’ for Hezbollah-Israel war to de-escalate soon
  • Senators Chris Coons and Richard Blumenthal met Lebanese officials on a tour of the region
  • “The next few weeks are a real hinge point — for Gaza, for Israel, for Lebanon, for the Red Sea, for Iraq,” said Coons

BEIRUT: The Israeli military and Hezbollah have a window to de-escalate tensions along Lebanon’s southern border before a possible Israeli military offensive against the Lebanese armed group, two Democratic US senators told Reuters on Wednesday.
Senators Chris Coons and Richard Blumenthal met Lebanese officials on a tour of the region, which has been gripped by conflict following Hamas’s Oct. 7 attack on Israel, which responded with a heavy air, land, and sea assault on Gaza.
In Lebanon, Israeli shelling has killed nearly 190 Hezbollah fighters and 50 civilians. A dozen Israeli troops and five Israeli civilians have been killed in northern Israel, and tens of thousands have been displaced on each side.
“The next few weeks are a real hinge point — for Gaza, for Israel, for Lebanon, for the Red Sea, for Iraq,” said Coons, adding that a ceasefire for Gaza could have “positive consequences” for Lebanon.
“It could create that window of 45 days, quite likely during Ramadan as well, when the next steps can be taken to begin to build the confidence that could lead to a full implementation of (United Nations Security Council resolution) 1701,” he said.
That 2006 resolution ended the last major conflict between Hezbollah and Israel and says no armed factions should be present in a swathe of south Lebanon except the Lebanese army.
France submitted a written proposal to Lebanon earlier this month on a possible diplomatic resolution. US envoy Amos Hochstein has also been working on a plan, which Coons said he hoped was “making steady progress” without sharing further details. He said there was an “urgency” for both sides to de-escalate.
The senators said they told Lebanese Speaker of Parliament Nabih Berri, who heads the Hezbollah-allied Amal Movement, that Israel “is not bluffing” about an offensive.
“It’s not just rhetoric. It will act. And we hope that that message was conveyed to Hezbollah,” Blumenthal said.


Israeli mother of Hamas attack victim says UN worker took son’s body

Israeli mother of Hamas attack victim says UN worker took son’s body
Updated 21 February 2024
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Israeli mother of Hamas attack victim says UN worker took son’s body

Israeli mother of Hamas attack victim says UN worker took son’s body
  • Yonatan Samerano escaped the militants’ bloody attack on the Nova music festival in the Negev desert, but was killed at nearby kibbutz Beeri
  • The Israeli government has said a man seen on a video dragging Samerano’s body into a white jeep was a social worker for the UNRWA

TEL AVIV: The mother of a 21-year-old man killed in Hamas’s October 7 attack on Israel on Wednesday accused a United Nations worker of taking his body to Gaza.
Yonatan Samerano escaped the militants’ bloody attack on the Nova music festival in the Negev desert, but was killed at nearby kibbutz Beeri.
The Israeli government has said a man seen on a video dragging Samerano’s body into a white jeep was a social worker for the UN agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA).
Israel last month accused a number of UNRWA workers of taking part in the Hamas attack, prompting several countries to suspend funding to the agency and triggering two separate investigations.
At a news conference in Tel Aviv, Samerano’s mother Ayelet called for the return of her son’s body.
“How can social workers for an organization that claims to promote good in this world do something so cruel and inhuman?” she asked.
“How can the UN pay this man who dragged my son’s slim body on the ground and then picked him as if he was a prize to Gaza?“
Israel last week gave more details about the UNRWA staff members that it alleges were involved in the Hamas attack.
The man said to be in the video — identified as 45-year-old Faisal Ali Mussalem Al-Naami — was described as a social worker for UNRWA but was allegedly also a Hamas commando.
He “was involved in kidnapping a soldier from Beeri (and) coordinated the transfer of weapons and trucks,” the government said.
Others accused of involvement were said to be teachers or other staff members in UNRWA-run schools and health clinics.
Shelly Aviv Yeini, head of the legal team at the Hostages and Missing Families Forum, said the campaign group wanted “a comprehensive and transparent” probe into the claims.
“We seek assurances that the principle of neutrality, so vital to the UN’s mission, is not just upheld, but is actively protected,” she added.
UNRWA provides education and primary health care to Palestinians in Gaza, the West Bank, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon, employing some 30,000 people.
Israel’s initial allegations against UNRWA saw the agency sack all those accused of involvement in the attack, in a bid to protect its wider reputation.
Two separate investigations — one into the collaboration claims, the second about UNRWA’s wider political neutrality — are underway and due to report within weeks.
But since then, Israel has claimed Hamas tunnels were found directly under UNRWA’s Gaza City headquarters, which it was forced to abandon as bombardments intensified in the Palestinian territory.


Hunger grips Gaza as talks resume in Cairo

Hunger grips Gaza as talks resume in Cairo
Updated 21 February 2024
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Hunger grips Gaza as talks resume in Cairo

Hunger grips Gaza as talks resume in Cairo

GAZA STRIP: Heavy fighting rocked besieged Gaza on Wednesday as aid agencies warned of looming famine and new talks were held in Cairo toward an Israel-Hamas ceasefire and hostage release deal.

The White House sent Middle East envoy Brett McGurk for renewed talks involving mediators and Hamas, a day after a UN Security Council resolution calling for a ceasefire was blocked by the US.

The UN World Food Programme said it was forced to halt aid deliveries in north Gaza because of “complete chaos and violence” after a truck convoy encountered gunfire and was ransacked by looters. Hamas called the move a “death sentence.”

Colombian President Gustavo Petro accused Israel of “genocide” after Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva had compared the Gaza campaign to the Holocaust.

In Syria, state television said an Israeli missile strike killed at least two people in Damascus, a claim Israel refused to comment on.

Violence has also flared in the occupied West Bank where the Israeli army said its troops killed three Palestinian militants during an overnight raid in the northern city of Jenin.


UK and Jordan air drop aid to hospital in northern Gaza

UK and Jordan air drop aid to hospital in northern Gaza
Updated 21 February 2024
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UK and Jordan air drop aid to hospital in northern Gaza

UK and Jordan air drop aid to hospital in northern Gaza
  • The UK-funded aid was delivered by the Jordanian Air Force

LONDON: Britain and Jordan have air-dropped four tons of aid including medicines, fuel and food to Tal Al-Hawa Hospital in northern Gaza, Britain’s Foreign Office said on Wednesday.
The UK-funded aid was delivered by the Jordanian Air Force.
“Thousands of patients will benefit and the fuel will enable this vital hospital to continue its life-saving work,” British Foreign Secretary David Cameron said in a statement.
“However, the situation in Gaza is desperate and significantly more aid is needed, and fast. We are calling for an immediate humanitarian pause to allow additional aid into Gaza as quickly as possible and bring hostages home.”