Dead horses, scraps, leaves: Gaza’s hungry get desperate

Palestinians walk past destroyed houses, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas, in Jabalia refugee camp, in the northern Gaza Strip February 22, 2024. (REUTERS)
Palestinians walk past destroyed houses, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas, in Jabalia refugee camp, in the northern Gaza Strip February 22, 2024. (REUTERS)
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Updated 24 February 2024
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Dead horses, scraps, leaves: Gaza’s hungry get desperate

Dead horses, scraps, leaves: Gaza’s hungry get desperate
  • Food is running out, with aid agencies unable to get in to the area because of the bombing

GAZA STRIP: At the Jabalia refugee camp in northern Gaza, Abu Gibril was so desperate for food to feed his family that he slaughtered two of his horses.
“We had no other choice but to slaughter the horses to feed the children. Hunger is killing us,” he said.
Jabalia was the biggest camp in the Palestinian territories before the war, which began after Hamas fighters attacked southern Israel on Oct. 7, leaving some 1,160 dead, based on Israeli figures.
Gibril, 60, fled there from nearby Beit Hanun when the conflict erupted. Home for him and his family is now a tent near what was a UN-run school.
Contaminated water, power cuts and overcrowding were already a problem in the densely populated camp, which was set up in 1948 and covers just 1.4 square kilometers.




A Palestinian couple cooks on a fire, at a school where they shelter, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas, in Jabalia refugee camp, in the northern Gaza Strip February 22, 2024. (REUTERS)

Poverty, from high unemployment, was also an issue among its more than 100,000 people.
Now food is running out, with aid agencies unable to get in to the area because of the bombing — and the frenzied looting of the few trucks that try to get through.
The World Food Programme this week said its teams reported “unprecedented levels of desperation” while the UN warned that 2.2 million people were on the brink of famine.
On Friday, the Health Ministry in Hamas-run Gaza said a two-month-old baby died of malnutrition in hospital in Gaza City, 7 km away from Jabalia.




A displaced Palestinian child carries a ration of red lentil soup, distributed by volunteers in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on February 18, 2024, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the militant group Hamas. (AFP)

In the camp, bedraggled children wait expectantly, holding plastic containers and battered cooking pots for what little food is available.
With supplies dwindling, costs are rising. A kilo of rice, for example, has shot up from seven shekels ($1.90) to 55 shekels, complains one man.
“We the grown-ups can still make it but these children who are four and five years old, what did they do wrong to sleep hungry and wake up hungry?” he said angrily.
The UN children’s agency UNICEF has warned that the alarming lack of food, surging malnutrition and disease could lead to an “explosion” in child deaths in Gaza.
One in six children aged under two in Gaza was acutely malnourished, it estimated on Feb. 19.
Residents have taken to eating scavenged scraps of rotten corn, animal fodder unfit for human consumption and even leaves to try to stave off the growing hunger pangs.
“There is no food, no wheat, no drinking water,” said one woman.
“We have started begging neighbors for money. We don’t have one shekel at home. We knock on doors and no one is giving us money.”
Tempers are rising in Jabalia about the lack of food and the consequences. On Friday, an impromptu protest was held involving dozens of people.
One child held up a sign reading: “We didn’t die from air strikes but we are dying from hunger.”
Another held aloft a placard warning “Famine eats away at our flesh,” while protesters chanted “No to starvation. No to genocide. No to blockade.”
In Beit Hanun, Gibril used two horses to harvest a parcel of land. But the conflict destroyed that, along with his house, leaving him with nothing. Over the weeks and months, Israel’s relentless bombardment has left Gaza largely a place of shattered concrete and lives.
Gibril kept the radical decision to slaughter his horses to himself, boiling the meat with rice, and giving it to his unwitting family and neighbors.
Despite the necessity, he said he was still wary of their reaction. “No one knows they were in fact eating a horse.”
In another development, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has reaffirmed Washington’s opposition to any reoccupation of the Gaza Strip by Israel as well as any reduction of the Palestinian territory’s size.
Blinken’s remarks were in response to a plan for post-war Gaza put forward by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in which his country’s army would have “indefinite freedom” to operate throughout the Gaza Strip once Hamas is defeated.
“Gaza ... cannot be a platform for terrorism. There should be no Israeli reoccupation of Gaza. The size of Gaza territory should not be reduced,” Blinken said in Buenos Aires, after attending a G20 meeting of foreign ministers in Brazil.
Israel’s far-right Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich called for a “firm security response ... and colonization” by building thousands of new housing units in settlements like Maale Adumim and across the West Bank.
Blinken said that “new settlements are counterproductive to reaching enduring peace, and also inconsistent with international law.”
“Our administration maintains firm opposition to settlement expansion. In our judgment, this only weakens, it doesn’t strengthen, Israel’s security.”

 


Israel war cabinet to discuss new push for Gaza hostage deal

Israel war cabinet to discuss new push for Gaza hostage deal
Updated 8 sec ago
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Israel war cabinet to discuss new push for Gaza hostage deal

Israel war cabinet to discuss new push for Gaza hostage deal
  • Hamas eader Izzat Al-Rishq jas accused Netanyahu earlier Sunday of “trying to buy more time to continue the aggression"

Hamas eader Izzat Al-Rishq jas accused Netanyahu earlier Sunday of “trying to buy more time to continue the aggression"

RAFAH, Palestinian Territories: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday he “strongly opposes” ending the war in Gaza, ahead of his war cabinet convening amid intense diplomacy to forge a truce and hostage release deal.
Meanwhile deadly fighting rocked the Gaza Strip and Hamas militants fired a salvo of rockets at Israel’s commercial hub Tel Aviv for the first time in months, sending people scrambling for shelter.
Netanyahu has long rejected Hamas’s demand in negotiations for a permanent end to the fighting, which was triggered by the Palestinian militant group’s October 7 attack and has left vast areas of besieged Gaza in ruins.
A senior Israeli official, speaking on condition of anonymity, had earlier told AFP that “the war cabinet is expected to meet... tonight at 9 p.m. (1800 GMT) to discuss a hostage release deal.”
A statement issued by Netanyahu’s office before the meeting said Hamas chief in Gaza Yahya “Sinwar continues to demand the end of the war, the withdrawal of the IDF (army) from the Gaza Strip and leaving Hamas in place, so that it will be able to carry out the atrocities of October 7 again and again,” referring to the attack that triggered the war.
“Prime Minister Netanyahu strongly opposes this,” the statement said.
A member of Hamas’s political leadership, Izzat Al-Rishq, accused Netanyahu earlier Sunday of “trying to buy more time to continue the aggression.”
In Brussels, the European Union’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell told journalists before meeting Palestinian premier Mohammed Mustafa that a strong Palestinian Authority (PA) was in Israel’s interest.
EU members Ireland and Spain, and also Norway, have said they will recognize the State of Palestine from Tuesday, drawing furious Israeli condemnation.
“A functional Palestinian Authority is in Israel’s interest too, because in order to make peace, we need a strong Palestinian Authority, not a weaker one,” Borrell said.
Mustafa, whose government is based in the occupied West Bank, said the “first priority” was to support people in Gaza, especially through a ceasefire, and then “rebuilding the institutions of the Palestinian Authority” there after Hamas seized it from the PA in 2007.
US President Joe Biden has pushed for renewed international efforts to halt the war, now in its eighth month.
The Israeli official had said Saturday that “there is an intention to renew these talks this week” after negotiations involving US, Qatari and Egyptian mediators stalled in early May.
However, Rishq said Sunday that so far, “we have not received anything from the mediators.”
He insisted on Hamas’s long-standing demand for a permanent cessation of hostilities as “the foundation and the starting point for anything.”


Netanyahu has repeatedly vowed to destroy Hamas following the October 7 attack, but has also faced growing domestic and international criticism.
The attack on southern Israel resulted in the deaths of more than 1,170 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally based on Israeli official figures.
Militants also took 252 hostages, 121 of whom remain in Gaza, including 37 the army says are dead.
Israel’s retaliatory offensive has killed at least 35,984 people in Gaza, mostly civilians, according to the Hamas-run territory’s health ministry.
The military on Sunday announced the death of a soldier in north Gaza, taking to 289 the number of troops killed since Israel began its ground offensive in late October.
As the war ground on, the families of hostages still held by Palestinians militants have piled pressure on Netanyahu to secure a deal to free them.
Washington has also taken a tougher line with its close ally as outrage over the war and US support for Israel has become a major issue for Biden, seeking re-election in a battle against Donald Trump.
With more strikes reported Sunday across Gaza, Israel’s military said that over the past 24 hours it had destroyed “over 50 terror targets.”
Fighting has centered on the far-southern city of Rafah, where Israel launched a ground operation in early May despite widespread opposition over concerns for civilians sheltering there.
Rafah resident Moaz Abu Taha, 29, told AFP of “constant bombardment from land and air, which has destroyed many houses.”
Gaza’s civil defense agency said it had retrieved six bodies after a house was targeted in eastern Rafah.

Hamas’s armed wing said it had targeted Tel Aviv “with a large rocket barrage in response to the Zionist (Israeli) massacres against civilians.”
Israeli military spokesman Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari told a televised briefing that “Hamas terrorists in Gaza fired eight rockets at central Israel from Rafah.”
“Hamas launched these rockets from near two mosques in Rafah,” Hagari said. “Hamas is holding our hostages in Rafah, which is why we have been conducting a precise operation” there.
Analyst Neomi Neumann said the militants were not trying to “cause damage to Israel, but to maintain continuity of fire.”
They “shoot relatively few rockets per barrage from their diminishing arsenal, and choose when to concentrate their efforts,” said Neumann, a visiting fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy think tank.
The UN has warned of looming famine in the besieged territory, where most hospitals are no longer functioning.
Amid the bloodiest ever Gaza war, Israel has faced growing global outcry over the surging civilian death toll, and landmark moves last week at two international courts.
Last Monday, the prosecutor at the International Criminal Court announced he was seeking arrest warrants for Netanyahu and his defense minister as well as for three top Hamas figures.
And on Friday, the International Court of Justice ordered Israel to halt its Rafah offensive or any other operation there that could bring about “the physical destruction” of the Palestinians.
 


Hamas-run govt media office says at least 30 killed in Israel strike near Rafah

Hamas-run govt media office says at least 30 killed in Israel strike near Rafah
Updated 11 min 56 sec ago
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Hamas-run govt media office says at least 30 killed in Israel strike near Rafah

Hamas-run govt media office says at least 30 killed in Israel strike near Rafah
  • Israeli strikes had also killed and wounded at least 50 people in the area, says Hamas
  • Israel said its air force carried out strikes on Rafah in response to a Hamas rocket barrage

RAFAH, Palestinian Territories: The Hamas-run government media office in Gaza said late Sunday that at least 30 people were killed and dozens wounded in Israeli strikes on a center for displaced people near the Palestinian territory’s far-southern city of Rafah.

“The Israeli occupation committed a horrific massacre by bombarding intensively and intentionally the UNRWA’s Barkasat displacement center northwest of Rafah Governorate,” the office said in a statement, referring to the UN Palestinian refugee agency.
The strikes had “led to the death of 30 martyrs and dozens of injured,” it said.
Gaza’s civil defense agency said Israeli strikes had killed and wounded at least 50 people in the area, where it said 100,000 displaced people live.
The Israeli army said it would respond “as soon as possible” when asked for comment about the incident.
The ICRC said one of its field hospitals was receiving an “influx of casualties seeking care for injuries and burns” and reported that other hospitals were also receiving a large number of patients.
“Our teams are doing their best to save lives,” the ICRC said in a statement.
Strikes in other areas of Rafah were also reported late Sunday, with the Kuwait Specialized Hospital saying it had received the bodies of three people, including a pregnant woman.
Israel launched a ground operation on Rafah in early May despite widespread opposition over concerns for civilians sheltering there.
Earlier on Sunday, Israel’s army said at least eight rockets were fired toward central areas of the country from Rafah.
Hamas’s armed wing said in a post on Telegram it had targeted Tel Aviv “with a large rocket barrage in response to the Zionist massacres against civilians.”
Later Sunday, the Israeli military said in a statement its air force had carried out strikes on Rafah in response.
“The rocket launcher, which was situated near two mosques in the area of Rafah, was struck by the (Israeli Air Force) shortly after,” it said.
 


Over 100 people ‘killed in 2 weeks of fighting in Sudanese city’

Over 100 people ‘killed in 2 weeks of fighting in Sudanese city’
Updated 26 May 2024
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Over 100 people ‘killed in 2 weeks of fighting in Sudanese city’

Over 100 people ‘killed in 2 weeks of fighting in Sudanese city’

CAIRO: More than two weeks of fighting between Sudan’s military and a notorious paramilitary group over a major city in the western Darfur region killed at least 123 people, an international aid group said on Sunday.

The fighting in El-Fasher, the provincial capital of North Darfur province, also wounded more than 930 people in the same period, Doctors without Borders said.

“This is a sign of the violent intensity of the fighting,” the group said. 

“We urge the warring parties to do more to protect civilians.”

Clashes between the military and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces escalated earlier this month in the city, forcing thousands of people to flee their homes, according to the UN.

El-Fasher has become the center of the conflict between the military and the RSF, aided by militias commonly known as Janjaweed. 

The city is the last stronghold held by the military in the sprawling Darfur region.

Sudan’s conflict began in April last year when soaring tensions between the leaders of the military and the RSF exploded into open fighting in the capital, Khartoum, and elsewhere in the country.

The conflict killed more than 14,000 people and wounded thousands more amid reports of widespread sexual violence and other atrocities that rights groups say amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity.

It also pushed the country’s population to the brink of famine. 

The UN food agency warned the warring parties earlier this month that there is a serious risk of widespread starvation and death in Darfur and elsewhere in Sudan if they don’t allow humanitarian aid into the vast western region.

In recent months, the RSF has built up forces seeking to wrest control of El-Fasher. 

Along with its militia allies, the RSF besieged the city and launched a major attack on its southern and eastern parts earlier this month.

The UN’s International Organization for Migration reported that clashes renewed on Thursday in the Abu Shouk camp for displaced people in the Salam neighborhood in the city’s northern and southern western parts.

On Saturday, a shell hit the house of a Doctors Without Borders aid worker close to the city’s main market, killing the worker, the charity said.


‘Ground trembles’ as Hezbollah launches 150 missiles in revenge strike

‘Ground trembles’ as Hezbollah launches 150 missiles in revenge strike
Updated 26 May 2024
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‘Ground trembles’ as Hezbollah launches 150 missiles in revenge strike

‘Ground trembles’ as Hezbollah launches 150 missiles in revenge strike
  • The attacks marked a significant deterioration in the situation on the southern Lebanese border

BEIRUT: Residents of southern Lebanon’s border area took shelter late on Sunday as Hezbollah launched more than 150 missiles at targets inside Israel in one of the largest attacks since the conflict began.

“The ground trembles beneath us and the sky is covered by missiles,” one resident told Arab News.

Hezbollah’s barrage followed a series of Israeli drone strikes earlier in the day that killed at least eight of the group’s members and civilians.

Hezbollah responded by launching missiles toward Kiryat Shmona, the Golan, and military sites in the Al-Manara and Misgav Am areas. 

The attacks marked a significant deterioration in the situation on the southern Lebanese border.

“These are unprecedented barrages of missiles,”  the resident said.

“The area is shaking from the sounds of missiles above our heads heading toward the other side of the border. We see Iron Dome explosions above the towns all the way to the Nabatiyeh area.”

After the two deadly attacks on Naqoura and Aita Al-Shaab earlier on Sunday, the Israeli army struck a motorcycle in the town of Hula with a missile from a military drone, killing three Hezbollah members, Tariq Awad, Hussein Salman Mustafa, and Wissam Ali Hamid, whose brother was killed in an Israeli attack on the city of Bint Jbeil a few weeks ago.  

The Israeli army attacked the town of Yaron in the Bint Jbeil district with two air-to-surface missiles, killing two Hezbollah members. 

The towns of Aitaroun and Al-Adisa were hit by dozens of phosphorus shells, causing’ fires in several neighborhoods.


Sirens sound in Tel Aviv for the first time in months as Hamas says it fired rockets from Gaza

Sirens sound in Tel Aviv for the first time in months as Hamas says it fired rockets from Gaza
Updated 35 min 12 sec ago
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Sirens sound in Tel Aviv for the first time in months as Hamas says it fired rockets from Gaza

Sirens sound in Tel Aviv for the first time in months as Hamas says it fired rockets from Gaza
  • Hamas armed wing says fired ‘large rocket barrage’ at Tel Aviv
  • Aid trucks begin entering Gaza through Kerem Shalom crossing

CAIRO/TEL AVIV: Rocket sirens blared Sunday in Israel’s commercial hub of Tel Aviv for the first time in months, with at least three blasts reported across central Israel, AFP correspondents said.

The Israeli military said sirens had been activated over central Israel as fighting raged in Gaza, including in the far-southern city of Rafah.

The armed wing of Palestinian militant group Hamas said it had launched a “large rocket barrage” on Tel Aviv.

The Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades said in a post on Telegram that they had targeted Tel Aviv “with a large rocket barrage in response to the Zionist massacres against civilians.”

There were no immediate reports of casualties or damage from the latest barrage.

Earlier on Sunday, aid trucks entered Gaza from southern Israel through a new agreement to bypass the Rafah crossing with Egypt after Israeli forces seized the Palestinian side of it earlier this month. But was unclear if humanitarian groups would be able to access the aid because of ongoing fighting in the area.

A total of “200 trucks” had moved from the Egyptian side of the Rafah border crossing, which has been shut since early May when Israel seized the Palestinian side of the terminal, to the Kerem Shalom crossing, some 4 kilometers (2.5 miles) to the south.

Egypt has refused to coordinate aid through Rafah as long as Israeli troops control the Palestinian side.

But on Friday, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi agreed in a call with his US counterpart Joe Biden to allow aid through Kerem Shalom, the other entry point into southern Gaza, the White House said.

Al-Qahera News did not specify how many trucks had made their way through inspection into besieged Gaza, but said “four fuel trucks” had already crossed and were heading to hospitals.

All aid from Egypt is inspected by Israeli authorities and distributed via the United Nations.

The remainder of the 200 trucks were “expected to cross into Gaza today,” Khaled Zayed, head of the Egyptian Red Crescent in Al-Arish — where the bulk of aid arrives — said.