Two months of war in Gaza leave elderly and newborns destitute and displaced

A Palestinian, Shimaa Abu Khater, 23, mother meets with her child, Kinda, a 38 days old premature Palestinian baby girl, who was evacuated from Gaza amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, during her treatment at the New Administrative Capital (NAC) Hospital, in the east of Cairo, Egypt, December 6, 2023. (REUTERS)
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A Palestinian, Shimaa Abu Khater, 23, mother meets with her child, Kinda, a 38 days old premature Palestinian baby girl, who was evacuated from Gaza amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, during her treatment at the New Administrative Capital (NAC) Hospital, in the east of Cairo, Egypt, December 6, 2023. (REUTERS)
Two months of war in Gaza leave elderly and newborns destitute and displaced
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A man reacts, as people mourn Palestinians killed in Israeli strikes on houses, at Abu Yousef al-Najjar hospital in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, December 7, 2023. (REUTERS)
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Updated 08 December 2023
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Two months of war in Gaza leave elderly and newborns destitute and displaced

Two months of war in Gaza leave elderly and newborns destitute and displaced
  • With no real sign of any imminent respite, Palestinians are living with little food or clean water, often on the street, trying to calm screaming children at night as bombs and shells fall

GAZA: After two months of war in Gaza, most of its people are homeless, crammed by a pounding Israeli bombardment into yet smaller areas of an already tiny enclave where the elderly and newborns live alike in tents amid the rubble.
Three women pushed from their homes in the Gaza Strip over 61 days of fighting have now ended up desperate for shelter and safety after fleeing from one place to another under air strikes and shellfire.
Zainab Khalil, 57, is seeking to move for a fourth time as Israeli tanks roll into the southern city of Khan Younis. Israa Al-Jamala, 28, lives in a tent tending her infant daughter who was born the night a short-lived truce began. And Mai Salim walks by the Egyptian border fearing she and her family will be forced across it into a life of permanent exile.
Most of Gaza’s 2.3 million people were taken unawares by the sudden disaster that began to unfold for them on Oct. 7 as Israeli jets began strikes to retaliate for a surprise Hamas attack across the border that Israel says killed 1,200 people, mostly civilians.
The Israeli military has vowed to crush Hamas, the Islamist movement that rules Gaza and is pledged to Israel’s destruction, but says the group hides its weapons, command centers and fighters among a civilian population it uses as “human shields.” Hamas denies this.
Four-fifths of Gaza residents have now been displaced, many of them several times over. Their homes, businesses, mosques and schools have been damaged, destroyed or abandoned as too dangerous in the face of the Israeli assault. Health authorities in Hamas-run Gaza say 17,177 people have been killed there.
With no real sign of any imminent respite, Palestinians are living with little food or clean water, often on the street, trying to calm screaming children at night as bombs and shells fall.
“A new mother should be in her home raising the child with her mother, with her family,” said Jamala, cradling her tiny daughter, also called Israa, amid the tents that have sprung up around a hospital in Deir Al-Balah in central Gaza.
After the Jamala home was shelled, the family moved into the makeshift camp outside Shuhada Al-Aqsa hospital, she said. Little Israa was born there on Nov. 24, the night a week-long truce began, raising hope that the conflict might relent.
But after a week, fighting resumed and the family remains in the tent, a carpet covering the sand and Israa sleeping in a small cot.
Like others in Gaza they struggle to find food and other necessities. “See how much we’re in need. There’s no milk. No powdered milk,” Jamala said.
Even when the war finally ends, she does not know what she will do as their home was shelled. “Where will we stay? Where can we raise this baby? Where can we live?” she said.

BOMBARDMENT
Khalil lived in Sheikh Radwan, a suburb of Gaza City near Beach Refugee Camp in the enclave’s north. Israel started telling residents to go south in mid-October, though it continued with air strikes across the territory.
She did not want to leave, calling it the most difficult decision of her life. She finally moved to a shelter nearby where she thought she would be safer from bombardment, but as air strikes intensified over 10 days she decided to move on.
“A journey mixed with fear, despair, displacement and sadness under heavy bombardment,” was how she described her odyssey from shelter to shelter.
When Israeli troops pushed into Gaza City and surrounded Al-Shifa Hospital, she headed south with a friend and her family, alternately walking and riding in a donkey cart.
As they crossed a front line, Israeli soldiers ordered them to “walk a bit and stop, walk and stop” over four hours, she said.
She wound up living in a school in Khan Younis being used as a shelter for around 30 displaced people, where some of her nieces had already ended up. “In this war, who doesn’t get killed by bombs gets killed by disease, sadness and despair,” she said.
But Israel’s military is now ordering people in Khan Younis too to leave and Khalil must look for a new place to stay.
The only major town left to run to is Rafah, hard against the border with Egypt. Most Gaza residents are descended from refugees who fled or were forced from their homes in what is now Israel during the war of 1948. Many are terrified they will end up as refugees again, forced from Gaza altogether.
Walking by the border fence, Salim and a friend peered over toward Egypt. She had fled her home in Gaza City, moving first to Nuseirat and later to Khan Younis before finally ending up in Rafah after the Israeli military ordered people to move again.
“For us, this is the last stop. After that, if they want to forcibly displace us we will not leave. They can kill us right here but we will not leave our land and our entire lives. We will not do that,” she said.

 

 


Hunger grips Gaza as talks resume in Cairo

Hunger grips Gaza as talks resume in Cairo
Updated 6 sec ago
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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 8 min 10 sec ago
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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.”


US diplomats decry ‘worsening humanitarian situation’ in Sudan

US diplomats decry ‘worsening humanitarian situation’ in Sudan
Updated 32 min 9 sec ago
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US diplomats decry ‘worsening humanitarian situation’ in Sudan

US diplomats decry ‘worsening humanitarian situation’ in Sudan
  • 6m people face acute starvation, American envoy tells press briefing attended by Arab News
  • Assistant secretary of state on African affairs: ‘Continued fighting threatening the break-up of the country’

LONDON: US diplomats on Wednesday decried the deteriorating situation in Sudan, with the conflict there having displaced some 8 million people, according to the UN.

During a digital press briefing attended by Arab News, Assistant Secretary of State on African Affairs Molly Phee said she is “deeply concerned about the worsening humanitarian situation” and the risk posed by Sudan’s fractious military forces.

With 6.2 million internally displaced and 1.8 million having been forced to flee abroad, “the continued fighting in Sudan is threatening the break-up of the country,” she added.

“I want to underscore upfront that the United States doesn’t support military governance, and will continue as we’ve done for decades to support the Sudanese people against military repression, and in their goal of charting a democratic future.”

More than 7 million Sudanese are contending with food insecurity, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

US Ambassador to Sudan John Godfrey said of those affected by food insecurity, as many as 6 million face the very real prospect of acute starvation.

Godfrey and Phee both urged the conflicting parties to stop fighting so as to facilitate badly needed humanitarian access.

Godfrey said: “There’s urgent need to facilitate humanitarian assistance; it’s only becoming more urgent by the day.

“This includes facilitating cross-border assistance ahead of the impending rainy season, which will make roads impassable.

“We’re pressing for Sudan-related action in the UN Security Council, and insisting belligerents fulfill obligations under international humanitarian law.”

Conflict erupted last April between former allies who jointly seized power in a 2021 coup: the Sudanese Armed Forces and its breakaway paramilitary Rapid Support Forces.

Efforts at broking a ceasefire between them have so far failed, as have efforts to ensure that they meet their obligations to protect civilians under both the Jeddah Declaration and international humanitarian law.

Consequently, Godfrey and Phee said neither party should participate in post-conflict governance as the US and partners, including Saudi Arabia, push for a restoration of civilian government.

Nor is Sudan the lone area of hostilities in the region, with Phee noting that during last week’s African Union Summit, the US had sought to reaffirm its committed support to those fighting against Somali militant group Al-Shabaab.    

“We consulted with our partners in the horn (of Africa) about how to focus on what we’re doing together to tighten up our effort to combat Al-Shabaab,” she said.

“That included discussions on helping Somalia develop. It was important also to speak with Somali partners about their continued focus on governance.”


Mother and 5-year-old daughter killed in Israeli attack on southern Lebanon

Mother and 5-year-old daughter killed in Israeli attack on southern Lebanon
Updated 21 February 2024
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Mother and 5-year-old daughter killed in Israeli attack on southern Lebanon

Mother and 5-year-old daughter killed in Israeli attack on southern Lebanon
  • Their home is hit as Israeli airstrikes and artillery shelling targets several towns and villages in the southwest of the country
  • US congressional delegation holds talks with Speaker of Parliament Nabih Berri and other Lebanese officials in Beirut

BEIRUT: A mother and her young daughter were killed on Wednesday in an Israeli attack on the town of Majdal Zoun in the Tyre District of Lebanon’s South Governorate.

Khadija Mohammed Salman, who was said to be in her 40s, and her 5-year-old daughter Amal Hassan Al-Durr died when their house was hit. Several other people in the vicinity were injured and taken to hospitals in Tyre.

Majdal Zoun was one of several towns and villages in southwestern Lebanon hit by Israeli airstrikes and artillery shelling. Others included Shehin, the outskirts of Alma Al-Shaab, Al-Dhahira, Al-Jabeen and Tayr Harfa. The most recent targets included Hula, Blida, Aita, Kafr Kila, and Khiam. Earlier, artillery fire that hit Ramia, Al-Naqoura and Alma Al-Shaab on Tuesday night caused extensive damage to crops, olive groves and buildings.

Hezbollah responded to the Israeli attacks within hours by launching 10 military operations against Israeli army positions. The group said its forces “targeted a military position of Israeli soldiers in the Evin Menachem settlement and another military position in the Shomera settlement,” as well as “two buildings in which enemy soldiers were stationed in the Avivim settlement, the Ruwaisat Al-Alam site in the Lebanese Shebaa Farms, and a gathering of enemy soldiers in the vicinity of the Al-Marj military site and the Zibdin military site in the Shebaa Farms.” It said it also targeted “the Metulla settlement and the positions of enemy soldiers there … achieving direct hits.”

Israeli media reported that “a missile hit a building in the Metulla settlement after sirens went off in this settlement in the Finger of Galilee.”

Israeli warplanes broke the sound barrier as they flew over the regions of Tyre, Sidon and Nabatiyeh, causing fear and terror among schoolchildren and families. Widely shared video footage showed teachers attempting to calm terrified pupils in a school by explaining that the sonic boom generated by the planes was just a loud noise and not an attack. Still, many people assumed the noise was caused by airstrikes or other explosions, given the ongoing Israeli attacks extending far into southern Lebanon.

A teacher from a school in Nabatiyeh said: “At first, I thought that a new raid targeted the village of Ghazieh, similar to what happened a few days ago, or that the raid was on Nabatiyeh, due to the intensity of the sound that hurt our ears. I used my phone to find out what was happening and it turned out that it was a plane breaking the sound barrier.”

Meanwhile, caretaker Interior Minister Bassam Mawlawi visited the city of Sidon where he chaired a meeting of security chiefs in the south. He said Lebanese authorities were “working with existing capabilities to help the displaced from the south.”

He called for “the south and Lebanon to be spared from the calamity of war” and said “the injustice to which innocent people are subjected is unacceptable.”

Amid growing diplomatic tensions between Lebanon and Israel, the Lebanese mission to the UN reacted to the Israeli envoy’s threats to “implement Resolution 1701 by force in the coming weeks.” Resolution 1707 was adopted by the UN Security Council in 2006 with the aim of resolving the war that year between Hezbollah and Israel. It called for the withdrawal of Israeli forces from Lebanon and for all armed groups in Lebanon, including Hezbollah, to disarm.

The Lebanese delegation at the UN said: “The one violating Resolution 1701 is Israel, and its land, sea and air violations have been documented by the Security Council since 2006.

“The number of violations has exceeded 30,000, in addition to the daily attacks on southern Lebanese villages, which have led to the killing of dozens of civilians, the displacement of tens of thousands of citizens due to concentrated bombing, daily raids, the use of smart attack drones, and internationally banned white phosphorus shells, which destroyed more than 100,000 olive trees.

“Lebanon repeatedly confirmed, through the statements of its senior officials, that it never wanted a war and does not seek a war in the future. The country has also affirmed that it is fully committed to negotiating and searching for peaceful solutions that preserve its legitimate rights through the comprehensive and balanced implementation of the provisions of Resolution 1701.”

The Lebanese mission continued: “The threats made by senior Israeli officials promising death, chaos and destruction, including the statements of the Israeli representative to the UN, reveal Israel’s underlying intentions to expand the scope of the war and try to find a pretext to launch aggression against Lebanon.

“Therefore isn’t it time, Lebanon wonders, for Israel to give reason, logic and peace a chance instead of carrying on with its policy that relies on force, occupation, intimidation, killing and war?

“Lebanon asks the relevant UN bodies, especially the Security Council, to oblige Israel to stop its attacks and violations of Lebanon’s sovereignty, initiate negotiations through the UN to ensure full adherence to Resolution 1701 and withdraw from the occupied Lebanese territories, in order to work toward the desired political solution and preserve regional peace and security.”

A US congressional delegation held talks with several Lebanese officials in Beirut on Wednesday. A spokesperson for Speaker of the Parliament Nabih Berri said “he met a delegation consisting of senators Richard Blumenthal and Chris Coons, accompanied by the US ambassador to Lebanon, Lisa Johnson. This visit comes in light of the continued daily Israeli attacks on southern Lebanon.”


Egypt, Arab League, Arab Parliament condemn US’ latest veto of Gaza truce resolution

Egypt, Arab League, Arab Parliament condemn US’ latest veto of Gaza truce resolution
Updated 21 February 2024
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Egypt, Arab League, Arab Parliament condemn US’ latest veto of Gaza truce resolution

Egypt, Arab League, Arab Parliament condemn US’ latest veto of Gaza truce resolution
  • Condemnation from Cairo came after the US’ third veto of a Security Council draft resolution
  • Resolution was backed by 13 out of the 15 members — but the US vetoed it, while the UK abstained

CAIRO: Egypt’s leaders have warned that the UN Security Council’s repeated failure to adopt a peace resolution and ceasefire in the Gaza Strip was setting “a shameful precedent” for the body.

The condemnation from Cairo came after the US’ third veto of a Security Council draft resolution — proposed by Algeria on behalf of the Arab Group — demanding an immediate end to fighting.

The resolution was backed by 13 out of the 15 members. But the US vetoed it, while the UK abstained.

In a statement, the Egyptian Foreign Ministry said that obstructing the passage of a resolution “calling for a ceasefire in an armed conflict that has claimed the lives of more than 29,000 civilians, most of them children and women, is a shameful precedent” in the history of the Security Council.

It added that the international community had a moral and human responsibility to end the daily suffering of Palestinian civilians caught in the line of Israeli fire.

The ministry statement said: “Egypt strongly denounces … selectivity and double standards in dealing with wars and armed conflicts in various regions of the world, which has come to question the credibility of the rules and working mechanisms of the current international architecture, especially the UN Security Council, which is entrusted with the responsibility of preventing and settling conflicts and halting wars.”

Cairo would continue to demand an immediate ceasefire and safe passage for humanitarian aid in the Strip, while opposing any attempts to displace Palestinians outside of their territories, it added.

It also noted Egypt’s opposition to Israeli military operations in the Palestinian city of Rafah.

Egypt’s permanent representative to the UN, Osama Abdelkhalek, said: “(Cairo) calls on the Security Council and all responsible international powers to save the peace option ... through the immediate implementation of the ceasefire.

“This will not hinder the ongoing mediation efforts, but rather provide them with the appropriate conditions to succeed.”

Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul Gheit said the latest American veto “clearly indicates its political and moral responsibility for the continuation of the war.”

He added that the US stance “undermines the credibility of the UN system and reinforces the state of paralysis witnessed by the UN.

“(It) provides political cover for Israel to continue the aggression in light of the international community’s inability to stop the heinous crimes committed every day against Palestinian civilians.”

Algeria’s draft resolution aimed to give priority to the humanitarian dimensions in a bid to save hundreds of thousands of Palestinians “who remain vulnerable to the Israeli killing machine, starvation, and disease if the war continues.”

In a statement, the Arab Parliament warned that the Security Council was failing in its duty to control international security and stability and pointed out that system reforms were required.