Food supplies in southern Gaza at risk, says UN official

Vehicles move past the tents and shelters of people displaced by conflict in the western part of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on Friday. (AFP)
Vehicles move past the tents and shelters of people displaced by conflict in the western part of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on Friday. (AFP)
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Updated 14 June 2024
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Food supplies in southern Gaza at risk, says UN official

Food supplies in southern Gaza at risk, says UN official
  • Israel has killed least 37,266 Palestinians in the territory during more than eight months of war
  • The sanitation situation is just terrible. We were driving through rivers of sewage

GAZA: Supplies of food to southern Gaza are at risk after Israel extended its military operations, and those displaced by the offensive there face a public health crisis, a senior UN official said on Friday.
While hunger and the risk of famine have been most acute in northern Gaza in recent months, the situation is now deteriorating in the south, said Carl Skau, deputy director of the UN World Food Programme.
The main pipeline for aid earlier in the eight-month-old war was from Egypt into southern Gaza, but this was largely cut off when Israel expanded its campaign in the city of Rafah, where much of Gaza’s population was sheltering, from early May.
“We had stocked up before the operation in Rafah so that we had put food into the hands of people, but that’s beginning to run out, and we don’t have the same access that we need, that we used to have,” Skau said after a two-day trip to Gaza.
When Israel advanced in Rafah, many of those who had taken refuge there were displaced again northward and toward an evacuation zone in Al-Mawasi, an area on the coast.
“It’s a displacement crisis that brings a protection catastrophe, that a million or so people who have been pushed out of Rafah are now really crammed into a small space along the beach,” said Skau.
“It’s hot. The sanitation situation is just terrible. We were driving through rivers of sewage. And it’s a public health crisis in the making.”
Distribution of aid has been hampered by military operations, delayed Israeli authorizations, and increasing lawlessness within Gaza.
Skau said that although more food was reaching northern Gaza, basic healthcare, water, and sanitation were needed to “turn the curve in the north on famine completely.” Israel needed to let more healthcare goods into Gaza, he said.
Israel says it puts no limit on humanitarian supplies for civilians in Gaza and has blamed the UN for slow or inefficient deliveries. The Health Ministry in Gaza said on Friday that at least 37,266 people had been killed in the territory during more than eight months of war.
The toll includes at least 34 deaths during the past 24 hours, a ministry statement said, adding that a total of 85,102 people have been wounded in the Gaza Strip since the war began on Oct. 7.
Israel’s response has left more than 37,000 Palestinians dead, according to Gaza health officials, and reduced much of the Hamas-ruled territory to ruins.
Skau said he was taken aback by the level of destruction and said Gazans had been worn down by conflict.
“When I was there in December, they were angry, frustrated. There was tension,” he said.
“Now I more felt that people were tired, they were fed up. They just want this to be over with.”

 


Dozens of Palestinians killed or wounded in Israeli attack on Khan Younis, Hamas says

Dozens of Palestinians killed or wounded in Israeli attack on Khan Younis, Hamas says
Updated 18 sec ago
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Dozens of Palestinians killed or wounded in Israeli attack on Khan Younis, Hamas says

Dozens of Palestinians killed or wounded in Israeli attack on Khan Younis, Hamas says
  • Israeli attack on Saturday that hit tents housing displaced people
CAIRO: Dozens of Palestinians were killed or wounded in an Israeli attack on Saturday that hit tents housing displaced people in Gaza’s Khan Younis, the Hamas-run media office said.
The Israeli military said it was looking into the report. There has been no statement yet from the Gaza health ministry on the official death toll.
“The Israeli occupation army conducted a big massacre by bombarding the tent camps of the displaced in Khan Younis. The horrifying massacre killed and wounded more than 100 people, including members of the Civil Emergency Service,” the statement issued by the Hamas-run Gaza government media office said.

Iran president-elect says ready for ‘constructive dialogue’ with EU

Iran president-elect says ready for ‘constructive dialogue’ with EU
Updated 13 July 2024
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Iran president-elect says ready for ‘constructive dialogue’ with EU

Iran president-elect says ready for ‘constructive dialogue’ with EU

Tehran: Iran’s president-elect Masoud Pezeshkian said he looks forward to improved relations with European nations, even though he accused them of reneging on commitments to mitigate the impact of US sanctions.
Pezeshkian on July 6 won a runoff election against ultraconservative Saeed Jalili.
The 69-year-old has called for “constructive relations” with Western countries to “get Iran out of its isolation,” and favors reviving the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and global powers.
Washington unilaterally withdrew from the accord in 2018, reimposing sanctions and leading Iran to gradually reduce commitment to its terms. The deal aimed to curb nuclear activity which Tehran maintains is for peaceful purposes.
Writing late Friday in the English-language Tehran Times newspaper, Pezeshkian said that after the US withdrawal from the 2015 deal, European countries committed to try to salvage it and mitigate the impact of US sanctions.
“European countries have reneged on all these commitments,” Pezeshkian wrote.
“Despite these missteps, I look forward to engaging in constructive dialogue with European countries to set our relations on the right path, based on principles of mutual respect and equal footing.”
European Union spokeswoman Nabila Massrali had earlier congratulated Pezeshkian on his election, adding that the 27-member bloc is “ready to engage with the new government in line with EU policy of critical engagement.”
Pezeshkian is a heart surgeon whose only previous government experience was as health minister about two decades ago.
The death of ultraconservative president Ebrahim Raisi in a helicopter crash necessitated the election, which was not due until 2025.
Pezeshkian is considered a “reformist” in Iran, and was the only candidate from that camp allowed to stand in the election, for which all contenders were approved by Iran’s Guardian Council.
Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has the final say on all major policy issues in the country.
Under the hard-won 2015 deal Iran agreed to freeze its nuclear program in return for the lifting of the crippling international sanctions.
After the US withdrawal and reimposition of sanctions, Iran gradually began reneging on its own commitments to the agreement.
The parties to the 2015 deal with Iran saw it as the best way to stop the Islamic republic from building a nuclear bomb — a goal Tehran has always denied.
European Union members France and Germany were also party to the deal, along with Britain, China and Russia.
The European nations tried to salvage it, but Iran accused them of perceived inaction.


As bombs shatter Gaza, boxing coach emboldens girls

As bombs shatter Gaza, boxing coach emboldens girls
Updated 13 July 2024
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As bombs shatter Gaza, boxing coach emboldens girls

As bombs shatter Gaza, boxing coach emboldens girls
  • The boxing club where girls once learned to jab, build their stamina, and make friends has been demolished
  • There are no protective equipment in the open-air sandy space between tents where displaced girls now practice

GAZA: Israel’s offensive in Gaza has pulverized most of its sports facilities and equipment, but that has not stopped boxing coach Osama Ayoub from training Palestinian girls in a tent camp that offers no protection from airstrikes or shelling.
The boxing club where girls once learned to jab, build their stamina, and make friends has been demolished.
There are no protective equipment, ring, or punch bags in the open-air sandy space between the tents where displaced girls now practice — a mattress and pillow will have to do — but Ayoub says the training has helped them overcome their fear of war.
“They started going out on the street. They started going out at night. Their personalities became much stronger, and even their families saw they were stronger,” he said.
It’s all about improvization. One young girl unleashes barehanded punches and weaves left and right to dodge imaginary fists. “Throw a right,” yells the coach, who puts up his fists for the girls to punch.
“They have determination, they have contentment, they have courage. At first, they were afraid of the war we are living in, but through boxing, they have benefited a lot,” he said.
Gaza offered playgrounds, football, tennis, karate, and other sports before terrifying bombs began dropping from the skies, flattening entire neighborhoods.
Attempts to restart sports are risky, even when played outside. On Tuesday, an Israeli missile slammed into a football match at a tent encampment, killing at least 29 people, Palestinian officials said.
Yet the boxers dream of international competitions overseas worlds away from Gaza. This tiny, densely populated enclave suffered from poverty and high unemployment even long before Hamas triggered the war on Oct. 7.
“I hope that this war will end and that our message will reach everyone in the name of the girls of Gaza,” said one of the boxers, Bilsan Ayoub.
The chances of that happening soon are slim. Months of mediation by the US, Egypt, and Qatar have failed to secure a truce between Israel and its arch-enemy Hamas, never mind a permanent ceasefire.
So, all the boxers can do is keep practicing as each side demands concessions from the other, and the conflict rages.
“We do not have anything left, being displaced. We do not have clips, gloves, teeth protection, said Ayoub, who has to improvise daily to keep her dream of international competition alive.
“The tools are very simple, but we want to continue in this game until we achieve our dream and end the war,” she said.


UN chief urges funds for Palestinians, saying Israel is forcing Gazans 'to move like human pinballs'

UN chief urges funds for Palestinians, saying Israel is forcing Gazans 'to move like human pinballs'
Updated 13 July 2024
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UN chief urges funds for Palestinians, saying Israel is forcing Gazans 'to move like human pinballs'

UN chief urges funds for Palestinians, saying Israel is forcing Gazans 'to move like human pinballs'
  • UN chief Antonio Guterres earlier pleaded for help from donors to fund the embattled agency, warning that Palestinians would lose a “critical lifeline” without UNRWA

GENEVA: The United Nations chief appealed for funding Friday for the beleaguered UN agency helping Palestinian refugees in Gaza and elsewhere in the Middle East, accusing Israel of issuing evacuation orders that force Palestinians “to move like human pinballs across a landscape of destruction and death.”

Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told a donor’s conference that the agency, known as UNRWA, faces “a profound funding gap.” The head of the UN agency for Palestinian refugees said it had enough funds to continue operating through September, following a pledging conference for the embattled body where UN chief Antonio Guterres pleaded for help from donors.
“We have worked tirelessly with partners to restore confidence in the agency,” UNRWA chief Philippe Lazzarini said, after several nations withheld funding following Israeli allegations in January that a number of UNRWA’s employees participated in the October 7 attack by Hamas.
Lazzarini said new pledges of funds would help ensure emergency operations until September.
Guterres had pleaded with donors to fund the embattled UN agency, warning that Palestinians would lose a “critical lifeline” without UNRWA. Without financial support to UNRWA, Guterres said “Palestinian refugees will lose a critical lifeline and the last ray of hope for a better future.”
“Let me be clear — there is no alternative to UNRWA,” he said.
“Just when we thought it couldn’t get any worse in Gaza — somehow, appallingly, civilians are being pushed into ever deeper circles of hell,” Guterres added.
According to Guterres, 195 UNRWA staff members have been killed in the war, the highest death toll for staff in UN history.
The US Congress has barred further funding for UNRWA. President Joe Biden’s administration has instead directed funding for Palestinian civilians to other bodies while saying that UNRWA is uniquely equipped to distribute aid.
The war started with Hamas’s October attack on southern Israel, which resulted in the deaths of 1,195 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally based on Israeli figures.
Israel responded with a military offensive that has killed at least 38,345 people in Gaza, also mostly civilians, according to the health ministry in Hamas-ruled Gaza.


Argentina designates Hamas a terrorist group in show of support for Israel

Argentina designates Hamas a terrorist group in show of support for Israel
Updated 13 July 2024
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Argentina designates Hamas a terrorist group in show of support for Israel

Argentina designates Hamas a terrorist group in show of support for Israel
  • The US, European Union and several other countries long put a terrorist designation on Hamas, which ruled the Gaza Strip before its current war with Israel
  • Israel has killed more than 38,000 Palestinians, displaced over 80 percent of the territory’s people and triggered a humanitarian disaster

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina: Argentina designated Hamas a terrorist organization Friday and ordered a freeze on the financial assets of the Palestinian group, a largely symbolic move as President Javier Milei seeks to align Argentina strongly with the US and Israel.
Announcing the decision, Milei’s office cited the militant Palestinian group’s cross-border attack on Israel last Oct. 7 that killed some 1,200 people and took 250 others hostage, in the deadliest assault in Israel’s 76-year history.
The statement also mentioned Hamas’ close ties to Iran, which Argentina blames for two deadly militant attacks on Jewish sites in the country.
The move comes just days before the 30th anniversary of one of those attacks, the 1994 bombing of a Jewish community center in Buenos Aires. It killed 85 people and wounded hundreds more in the worst such attack in Argentina’s modern history.
The other attack on the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires, in 1992, killed more than 20 people. Argentina’s judiciary has accused members of Lebanon’s Iran-backed Hezbollah militant group of carrying out the two attacks.
Friday’s announcement professed Milei’s “unwavering commitment to recognizing terrorists for what they are,” adding that “it’s the first time that there is a political will to do so.”
The US, European Union and several other countries long put a terrorist designation on Hamas, which ruled the Gaza Strip before its current war with Israel.
Previous left-leaning Peronist governments in Argentina, home to the largest Jewish community in Latin America, have maintained friendly ties with Israel but also voiced support for Palestinian statehood.
Since coming into office in December, Milei has set himself apart from even Israel’s closest allies in his vocal support for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. A huge swell in global pressure has left Israel deeply isolated over its military campaign in Gaza, which has killed more than 38,000 Palestinians, displaced over 80 percent of the territory’s people and triggered a humanitarian disaster.
“Argentina must once again align itself with Western civilization,” Milei’s office said Friday.
For his first state visit as president earlier this year, Milei flew to Jerusalem in a show of support for the Israeli government and promised to move his nation’s embassy to the contested capital — drawing praise from Netanyahu and ire from Hamas.
Although raised a Roman Catholic, Milei says he has a deep spiritual connection with Judaism.