Middle East crisis live: Biden calls on Hamas to accept ceasefire deal as talks head into fourth day | Israel-Gaza war

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‘We need a ceasefire’: deal between Hamas and Israel close, says Joe Biden – video

US President Joe Biden called on Hamas on Tuesday to accept a Gaza ceasefire deal by the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

Envoys from Hamas and the US have been meeting Qatari and Egyptian mediators in Cairo for negotiations over a six-week truce.

Egypt’s Al-Qahera News, which is close to the country’s intelligence services, said the talks would continue for a fourth consecutive day on Wednesday, according to Agence France-Presse (AFP).

Biden told reporters:

It’s in the hands of Hamas right now …

There’s got to be a ceasefire because Ramadan – if we get into circumstances where this continues to Ramadan, Israel and Jerusalem could be very, very dangerous.

He did not elaborate, but the US urged Israel last week to allow Muslims to worship at the al-Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem during Ramadan.

‘We need a ceasefire’: deal between Hamas and Israel close, says Joe Biden – video

It came as Republican presidential frontrunner and former US president Donald Trump expressed his support for Israel’s war in Gaza on Tuesday, in his most explicit comments yet on the fighting, AFP reports.

When asked during an interview on Fox News if he was “in Israel’s camp.” he responded “Yes”. The interviewer then asked if the former president was “on board” with the way Israel was executing its offensive in Gaza. “You’ve got to finish the problem,” Trump responded.

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WFP say a 14-truck food convoy was turned back by the IDF on Tuesday

According to the UN World Food Programme (WFP), a 14-truck food convoy – the first by the WFP since it paused deliveries to northern Gaza on 20 February – was turned back by the Israeli Defence Force (IDF) after a three-hour wait at the Wadi Gaza checkpoint.

“Although today’s convoy did not make it to the north to provide food to the people who are starving, WFP continues to explore every possible means to do so,” said Carl Skau, WFP’s deputy executive director in a statement issued by the UN agency.

The WFP say that after being turned away the trucks were rerouted and later stopped by a “large crowd of desperate people who looted the food, taking about 200 tons, from the trucks”. Road routes are the only option to transport the large quantities of food needed to avert famine in northern Gaza, said the humanitarian agency.

With the 14-truck food convoy being turned back, the WFP turned to airdrops, it said: “Earlier today, with the help of the Royal Jordanian air force, WFP food supplies for 20,000 people (6 tons) were dropped in northern Gaza.”

🆕 #Gaza: After a 14-truck convoy was turned away today, WFP food for 20,000 people was dropped into northern Gaza with support of the Jordanian Air Forces.

WFP is determined to do whatever it takes to reach people in need. ⚠️ But to avert famine, we must have access by road.

— World Food Programme (@WFP) March 5, 2024

“Airdrops are a last resort and will not avert famine. We need entry points to northern Gaza that will allow us to deliver enough food for half a million people in desperate need,” Skau said.

The WFP said hunger in the north of Gaza had reached “catastrophic levels” and warned that “children are dying of hunger-related diseases and suffering severe levels of malnutrition”. The UN agency called for “more entry points into Gaza, including from the north, and the use of Ashdod port”, as well as a ceasfire.

“A ceasefire in Gaza is urgently needed to enable an operation of this size. With greater safety for humanitarian staff to move food and other supplies regularly throughout the Strip and with routes in from the north, WFP and its partners can prevent famine,” it added.

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Hunger and malnutrition on the rise among children, pregnant and breastfeeding women in Gaza, says WHO

The World Health Organization (WHO) warned on Tuesday that hunger and malnutrition were on the rise among children, breastfeeding women, and pregnant women in Gaza.

In a post on X, the UN’s health agency, said that the only paediatric hospital in northern Gaza was “overwhelmed with patients” and was facing “acute shortages of food, water, fuel, health workers, and medicines”. It added: “The need for access to humanitarian aid is dire.”

Hunger and malnutrition are on the rise among children, breastfeeding women, and pregnant women in #Gaza.

The only paediatric hospital in northern Gaza is overwhelmed with patients and is facing acute shortages of food, water, fuel, health workers, and medicines. The need for… pic.twitter.com/DIheYhT5u4

— World Health Organization (WHO) (@WHO) March 5, 2024

According to the WHO, one in six children under the age of two years old in northern Gaza is acutely malnourished.

In a video posted by the UN agency, paeditrician Dr Imad Dardonah said of the situation:

Malnutrition plays a major role in the number of children that come to us, and the number of deaths.

When a child is supposed to eat three meals a day and ends up eating one meal, that’s not enough; your body becomes deficient in carbohydrates, vitamins, proteins, and defecient in fats that are necessary for the body. Then the body goes into a severe dehydration state.

We can’t even deal properly with 50-60% of the cases we receive, because we have nothing to give them. The most we can do for them is give them saline solution or sugar solution.”

The WHO also highlighted the threat to patient care posed by frequent power cuts at hospitals in Gaza.

“My message to the entire world is to save the children, the war must stop immediately, to bring medical aid, and fuel to the hospitals, and to help bring back all the medical staff that had to leave the hospital to the south,” said Dardonah.

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UN experts condemn Israeli ‘massacre’ of Palestinians collecting flour

Nina Lakhani

UN experts have condemned the violence they say was unleashed by Israeli forces last week on Palestinians gathered in Gaza City to collect flour as a “massacre”.

In a statement, a group of UN special rapporteurs accused Israel of “intentionally starving the Palestinian people in Gaza since 8 October,” adding: “Now it is targeting civilians seeking humanitarian aid and humanitarian convoys.”

“Israel must end its campaign of starvation and targeting of civilians,” said the UN experts, who warned there was mounting evidence of famine in the Gaza Strip.

At least 112 people died and 760 were injured on Thursday when desperate crowds gathered to collect flour.

Witnesses in Gaza and some of the injured said Israeli forces opened fire on the crowd, causing panic. Israel said people died in a crush or were run over by aid lorries although it admitted its troops had fired on what it called a “mob”.

“The attack came after Israel has denied humanitarian aid into Gaza City and northern Gaza for more than a month,” said the experts, who described “a pattern of Israeli attacks against Palestinian civilians seeking aid”.

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86 Palestinians killed in Israeli strikes in the past 24 hours, says health ministry

The latest figures from the Gaza health ministry, which is run by Hamas, said 86 Palestinians were killed in Israeli strikes and 113 were injured in the past 24 hours.

According to the statement, at least 30,717 Palestinians have been killed and 72,156 have been injured in Israeli strikes on Gaza since 7 October.

The ministry does not distinguish between combatants and non-combatants.

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Children are reported to be starving in Gaza as insufficient aid supplies crawl into the territory. Meanwhile, as Ramadan approaches, peace talks are faltering. Patrick Wintour reports in the latest Today in Focus episode by the Guardian.

You can listen to the report here:

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UK patience with Israel wearing thin over Gaza aid, Cameron to tell Gantz

Patrick Wintour

Patrick Wintour

David Cameron is to tell the Israeli cabinet minister Benny Gantz that UK patience is wearing thin at the lack of humanitarian aid reaching the people of Gaza at a meeting in London on Wednesday.

The foreign secretary said that Israel, as the occupying power, had a duty under international humanitarian law to supply aid.

During a six-hour foreign affairs debate Cameron also set out new plans for a coalition of like-minded states to use frozen Russian assets as a bond that Ukraine could spend in the knowledge that eventually Moscow would be forced to pay reparations.

“We are facing a situation of dreadful suffering in Gaza,” he said. “I spoke some weeks ago about the danger of this tipping into famine, and the danger of illness tipping into disease. And we are now at that point. People are dying of hunger, people are dying of otherwise preventable diseases.

“We’ve had a whole set of things we’ve asked the Israelis to do, but I have to report that the amount of aid they got in in February was about half what they got in January,” he added. “So patience needs to run very thin, and a whole series of warnings need to be given, starting with the meeting I have with minister Gantz when he visits the UK tomorrow.”

You can read the full piece from the Guardian’s diplomatic editor, Patrick Wintour, here:

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Three days of negotiations with Hamas over a ceasefire in Gaza and the release of Israeli hostages failed to achieve a breakthrough on Tuesday, Egyptian officials said, reports the Associated Press (AP).

The US, Qatar and Egypt have spent weeks trying to broker an agreement in which Hamas would release up to 40 hostages in return for a six-week ceasefire, the release of some Palestinian prisoners and an major influx of aid to the isolated territory.

Two Egyptian officials said that the latest round of discussions ended on Tuesday. According to the AP, they said Hamas presented a proposal that mediators would discuss with Israel in the coming days. One of the officials said that mediators would meet on Wednesday with the Hamas delegation, which didn’t leave Cairo.

Hamas has refused to release all of the estimated 100 hostages it holds, and the remains of 30 more, unless Israel ends its offensive, withdraws from Gaza and releases a large number of Palestinian prisoners, including senior militants serving life sentences.

US officials have said that they are skeptical that Hamas actually wants a deal, because the group has balked at a number of what the US and others believe are legitimate requests, including giving the names of hostages to be released.

“It is on Hamas to make decisions about whether it is prepared to engage,” US secretary of state, Antony Blinken said on Tuesday.

“We have an opportunity for an immediate ceasefire that can bring hostages home, that can dramatically increase the amount of humanitarian aid getting in to Palestinians who so desperately need it, and can set the conditions for an enduring resolution,” Blinken said.

Senior Hamas official, Osama Hamdan said Tuesday that his group demands a permanent ceasefire, rather than a six-week pause, and a “complete withdrawal” of Israeli forces.

“The security and safety of our people will be achieved only by a permanent ceasefire, the end of the aggression and the withdrawal from every inch of the Gaza Strip,” Hamdan told reporters in Beirut.

Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu has publicly rejected Hamas’ demands and repeatedly vowed to continue the war until Hamas is dismantled and all the hostages are returned. Israel did not send a delegation to the latest round of talks.

Israel was still waiting for Hamas to hand over a list of hostages who are alive as well as the hostage-to-prisoner ratio it seeks in any release deal, an Israeli official told the AP. It wasn’t clear if that information was included in the latest proposal.

The Israeli and Egyptian officials spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorised to brief the media on the negotiations.

When asked whether Hamas has a list of the surviving hostages, Hamdan said that the matter wasn’t relevant to the talks and accused Israel of using it as an excuse to avoid engaging in the negotiations.

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Palestinians ‘beaten and sexually assaulted’ at Israeli detention centres, UN report claims

Julian Borger

Julian Borger

An internal UN report describes widespread abuse of Palestinian detainees in Israeli detention centres, including beatings, dog attacks, the prolonged use of stress positions and sexual assault.

The report was compiled by the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine (UNRWA) and is largely based on interviews of Palestinian detainees released at the Kerem Shalom crossing point since December, when UNRWA staff were present to provide humanitarian support.

The report, which has been circulated within the UN and seen by the Guardian, says that just over 1,000 detainees have been released since December. But it estimates that more than 4,000 men, women and children have been rounded up in Gaza since the start of the current conflict, triggered by Hamas raids into southern Israel on 7 October which killed about 1,200 Israelis, mostly civilians.

Israel denies the abuse allegations, which it described as Hamas-inspired propaganda. It has named 12 UNRWA staff it claims took part in the 7 October attack, and claims that 450 of the agency’s 13,000 workers in Gaza are members of Hamas or other militant groups.

You can read more from Julian Borger’s full piece here:

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Gaza ceasefire talks appear to stall days before Ramadan

Negotiations aimed at brokering a ceasefire in the Israel-Gaza war appear to have stalled, days before an unofficial deadline of the beginning of Ramadan.

Two days of talks between Hamas and international mediators in the Egyptian capital, Cairo, have not yielded any significant breakthroughs, Palestinian officials said, after Israel declined to send a delegation to the latest round of negotiations.

“[Benjamin] Netanyahu doesn’t want to reach an agreement” and “the ball now is in the Americans’ court” to press the Israeli prime minister to come back to the table, Basem Naim, the head of Hamas’s political division in Gaza, told reporters in text messages.

Egypt’s Al-Qahera News, which is close to the country’s intelligence services, said the “negotiations are difficult but they are continuing”, citing an unnamed senior official.

You can read the full piece from Bethan McKernan (in Jerusalem) and Julian Borger (in Washington) here:

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‘We need a ceasefire’: deal between Hamas and Israel close, says Joe Biden – video

US President Joe Biden called on Hamas on Tuesday to accept a Gaza ceasefire deal by the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

Envoys from Hamas and the US have been meeting Qatari and Egyptian mediators in Cairo for negotiations over a six-week truce.

Egypt’s Al-Qahera News, which is close to the country’s intelligence services, said the talks would continue for a fourth consecutive day on Wednesday, according to Agence France-Presse (AFP).

Biden told reporters:

It’s in the hands of Hamas right now …

There’s got to be a ceasefire because Ramadan – if we get into circumstances where this continues to Ramadan, Israel and Jerusalem could be very, very dangerous.

He did not elaborate, but the US urged Israel last week to allow Muslims to worship at the al-Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem during Ramadan.

‘We need a ceasefire’: deal between Hamas and Israel close, says Joe Biden – video

It came as Republican presidential frontrunner and former US president Donald Trump expressed his support for Israel’s war in Gaza on Tuesday, in his most explicit comments yet on the fighting, AFP reports.

When asked during an interview on Fox News if he was “in Israel’s camp.” he responded “Yes”. The interviewer then asked if the former president was “on board” with the way Israel was executing its offensive in Gaza. “You’ve got to finish the problem,” Trump responded.

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Opening summary

It has gone 9am in Gaza and Tel Aviv. This is our latest Guardian live blog on the Israel-Gaza war and the wider Middle East crisis.

US President Joe Biden has called on Hamas to accept a Gaza ceasefire deal by the start of Ramadan, as Egypt’s Al-Qahera News, which is close to the country’s intelligence services, says the talks would continue for a fourth consecutive day on Wednesday, reports Agence France-Presse (AFP).

“It’s in the hands of Hamas right now,” the US president told reporters from Maryland. Ramadan is set to begin early next week.

It is as the Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump expressed his support for Israel’s war in Gaza, in his most explicit comments yet on the fighting. When asked during an interview on Fox News if he was “in Israel’s camp”, Trump responded “yes”. The interviewer then asked if the former president was “on board” with the way Israel was executing its offensive in Gaza. “You’ve got to finish the problem,” Trump responded.

More on that in a moment but first, here’s a summary of the latest developments:

  • Negotiations aimed at brokering a ceasefire in Israel’s war in Gaza appear to have stalled, days before an unofficial deadline of the beginning of Ramadan. Hamas negotiators stayed in Cairo for a third day of ceasefire talks on Tuesday after two days yielded no breakthrough. Two days of talks between Hamas and international mediators broke up in the Egyptian capital without any significant breakthroughs, Palestinian officials said, after Israel declined to send a delegation to the latest round of negotiations. But leaders from Hamas were reportedly expected to hold more talks in Cairo with Egyptian and Qatari mediators over the prospects of reaching a ceasefire deal.

  • US President Joe Biden said on Tuesday that it was in the hands of Hamas whether to accept a deal for a ceasefire in the Gaza Strip in exchange for the release of Israeli hostages.

  • An internal UN report described widespread abuse of Palestinian detainees in Israeli detention centres, including beatings, dog attacks, the prolonged use of stress positions and sexual assault. Compiled by the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine (UNRWA), the report was largely based on interviews of Palestinian detainees released at the Kerem Shalom crossing point since December, when UNRWA staff were present to provide humanitarian support.

  • Children are dying of starvation in northern Gaza, the World Health Organization (WHO) chief, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, has said. In a post on X, he said the organisation’s visits over the weekend to the al-Awda and Kamal Adwan hospitals, in northern Gaza, were the first since early October, and produced “grim findings”. The WHO chief described severe levels of malnutrition, children dying of starvation and serious shortages of fuel, food and medical supplies at the health facilities. Adding to concerns about the widespread malnutrition in the enclave, Richard Peeperkorn, WHO representative for Gaza and the West Bank, said on Tuesday that “the situation is particularly extreme in northern Gaza”. He said that 1 in 6 children under two years of age were acutely malnourished in northern Gaza. “With children starting … to die from starvation, that should be an alarm like no other,” Jens Laerke, spokesperson for the UN humanitarian agency, told reporters in Geneva, separately. At least 15 children have died from starvation and dehydration in a single hospital, according to the health ministry in the Hamas-run territory, reports Agence France-Presse.

  • UN experts have condemned the violence they say was unleashed by Israeli forces last week on Palestinians gathered in Gaza City to collect flour as a “massacre”. In a statement, a group of UN special rapporteurs accused Israel of “intentionally starving the Palestinian people in Gaza since 8 October,” adding: “Now it is targeting civilians seeking humanitarian aid and humanitarian convoys.”

  • Israel’s defence minister, Yoav Gallant, has said the continuing tension with Hezbollah militants at the border with Lebanon was moving the situation nearer to a military escalation, Reuters reported. “We are committed to the diplomatic process, however Hezbollah’s aggression is bringing us closer to a critical point in the decision-making regarding our military activities in Lebanon,” he said in a statement after a meeting with US special envoy Amos Hochstein.

  • NBC News has been told by US officials that Kamala Harris’ speech on Sunday, in which the US vice-president called for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza and urged Hamas to accept a deal to release hostages in return for a six-week cessation of hostilities, was watered down by officials at the national security council.

  • At least 30,631 Palestinians have been killed and 72,043 injured in Israeli strikes on Gaza since 7 October, the Hamas-run Gaza health ministry said. An estimated 97 Palestinian people were killed and 123 injured in the past 24 hours, the ministry added.

  • American forces shot down three drones and a missile fired toward a destroyer in the Red Sea on Tuesday, the US military said, after Yemen’s Houthis announced they had targeted two of Washington’s warships. “US Central Command (Centcom) forces shot down one anti-ship ballistic missile and three one-way attack unmanned aerial systems launched from Iranian-backed Houthi controlled areas of Yemen toward USS Carney (DDG 64) in the Red Sea,” the military command said in a statement. Houthi military spokesperson Yahya Saree said earlier in the day that their forces had targeted two US destroyers in the Red Sea “with a number of naval missiles and drones.” reports Agence France-Presse.

  • The sinking of a bulk carrier off the coast of Yemen after a Houthi missile attack poses grave environmental risks as thousands of tonnes of fertiliser threaten to spill into the Red Sea, officials and experts have warned.

  • Pro-Palestinian and human rights advocates in Canada on have filed a lawsuit against the federal government to stop it from allowing companies to export military goods and technology to Israel, Reuters reports.

  • Chile says it will exclude Israeli firms from Latin America’s biggest aerospace fair, to be held in Santiago in April. It did not give a reason, but the government of leftist President Gabriel Boric has been critical of what he has called Israel’s “disproportionate” response to the 7 October attack by Hamas, reports Agence France-Presse.

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