Middle East crisis live: Israeli government blocking ‘lifesaving aid’, Human Rights Watch says; Palestinian Authority PM resigns | Israel-Gaza war

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Human Rights Watch says Israeli government is blocking ‘lifesaving aid’ into Gaza and is ‘starving’ Palestinians

The Israeli government has failed to comply with an order by the UN’s top court to provide urgently needed aid to desperate people in the Gaza Strip, Human Rights Watch has said.

In its ruling last month, the International Court of Justice ordered Israel to follow six provisional measures, including taking “immediate and effective measures to enable the provision of urgently needed basic services and humanitarian assistance to address the adverse conditions of life faced by Palestinians in the Gaza Strip”.

Human Rights Watch said Israel was not adhering to the court’s order on aid provision, citing a 30% drop in the daily average number of aid trucks entering Gaza in the weeks following the court’s ruling.

It said Israel was not adequately facilitating fuel deliveries to hard-hit northern Gaza and blamed Israel for blocking aid from reaching the north, where the World Food Program said last week it was forced to suspend aid deliveries because of increasing chaos in the isolated part of the territory.

“The Israeli government is starving Gaza’s 2.3 million Palestinians, putting them in even more peril than before the World Court’s binding order,” Omar Shakir, the Israel and Palestine director at Human Rights Watch, said.

“The Israeli government has simply ignored the court’s ruling, and in some ways even intensified its repression, including further blocking lifesaving aid.”

Israel denies it is restricting the entry of aid and has instead blamed humanitarian organisations operating inside Gaza, saying hundreds of trucks filled with aid sit idle on the Palestinian side of the main crossing. The UN says it can’t always reach the trucks at the crossing because it is at times too dangerous.

Benjamin Netanyahu’s office also said on Monday the war cabinet had approved a plan to deliver humanitarian aid safely into Gaza in a way that would “prevent the cases of looting”. It did not disclose further details.

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Key events

The Palestine Red Crescent Society (PRCS) said it has successfully evacuated 24 people from al-Amal Hospital, including 18 patients and injured people, eight of whom needed urgent surgery.

The PRCS also said in its post on X that logistical supplies, food, and water were delivered to the hospital, located in the southern Gaza city of Khan Younis.

The PRCS wrote:

Despite pre-coordination by the United Nations convoy team and their escort, the occupation obstructed the convoy’s passage for approximately 7 hours at the military checkpoint west of the al-Amal neighbourhood.

All medics were forced out of their vehicles and made to sit on the ground, while three of them were detained and taken to an unknown location after being stripped of their clothes.

The occupation released one of them after midnight, while the detention of medics Jihad Aslim and Ramadan Ashour has continued since yesterday evening.

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US air force member dies after setting himself on fire outside Israeli embassy

An active member of the US Air Force has died after setting himself on fire outside the Israeli embassy in Washington over the weekend in protest of the war in Gaza, the Agence France-Presse (AFP) news agency quotes the Pentagon as saying (see earlier post at 07.43 for more details).

Emergency responders rushed to the scene just before 1pm EST (6pm GMT) on Sunday in response to a “call for person on fire outside the Israeli embassy,” according the Washington DC fire department. They arrived to find that US secret service officers had already extinguished the fire.

The man had filmed himself shouting “Free Palestine” as he lit himself on fire, according to footage shared on social media. He was initially transported to hospital with “critical life-threatening injuries,” the fire department said.

On Monday, a US air force spokesperson told AFP the “individual involved in yesterday’s incident succumbed to his injuries and passed away last night”. She said: “We will provide additional details 24 hours after next-of-kin notifications are complete.”

A spokesperson for the Israeli embassy said no staff were injured in the incident, and that the man was “unknown” to them.

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After surviving on bitter loaves made from animal feed instead of proper flour, three young brothers who fled their home in Gaza City for a tent further south were tucking into a tub of halawa, a sweet crumbly paste, when they spoke to journalists from the Reuters news agency.

Seraj Shehada, aged eight, and his brothers Ismail, nine, and Saad, 11, said they had run away in secret to take refuge with their aunt in her tent in Deir al-Balah, central Gaza, because there was nothing to eat in Gaza City. Speaking as the three boys ate the halawa straight out of the tub with a spoon, Seraj Shehada said:

When we were in Gaza City, we used to eat nothing. We would eat every two days.

Referring to loaves made from grains and seeds meant for animal consumption, he said:

We would eat bird and donkey food, just anything. Day after day, not this food.

Food shortages have been a problem across the Palestinian enclave since the start of the war, but are particularly acute in northern Gaza, where aid deliveries have been rarer for longer.

Some of the few aid trucks to reach the north have been mobbed by desperate, hungry crowds, while aid workers have reported seeing people thin and visibly starving with sunken eyes.

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Israeli delegation heads to Qatar for ceasefire deal push – report

Israeli officials headed on Monday to Qatar, where Hamas has its political office, to work on terms of a Gaza truce and hostage release deal, a source told Reuters.

Israel is under pressure from its main ally, the US, to agree a truce soon, to head off a threatened Israeli assault on Rafah, the last city at Gaza Strip’s southern edge where over half the enclave’s 2.3 million people are sheltering.

The source said the Israeli working delegation, made up of staff from the military and the Mossad spy agency, was tasked with creating an operational centre to support negotiations.

Its mission would include vetting proposed Palestinian militants that Hamas wants freed as part of a hostage release deal.

But Hamas, which runs the Gaza Strip and triggered the current war by attacking southern Israel on 7 October, says it will not free more than 100 hostages it is still holding unless Israel promises to withdraw from Gaza and end the conflict.

Israel, on the other hand, says it will negotiate only a temporary pause in hostilities to free hostages, will not fully halt the war until Hamas is eradicated, and wants overall security control for Gaza indefinitely.

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Summary of the day so far…

  • Israel mounted airstrikes west of the Lebanese city of Baalbek on Monday, killing at least two Hezbollah members, sources in Lebanon told Reuters. The Israeli military said it was striking Hezbollah targets deep inside Lebanon but provided no further details. Hezbollah said earlier on Monday it had shot down an Israeli Hermes 450 drone over Lebanese territory using a surface-to-air missile, the second time it has announced a downing of this type of unmanned aerial vehicle.

  • Israel’s military “presented the war cabinet with a plan for evacuating the population from areas of fighting in the Gaza Strip, and with the upcoming operational plan,” a statement from Benjamin Netayahu’s office said. Israel has threatened to launch a full-blown attack on Rafah, the last city at Gaza’s southern edge, despite international pleas – including from its main ally Washington – for restraint. Netanyahu, who has promised “total victory”, said an operation is necessary to root out four battalions of Hamas fighters based there.

  • The Israeli government has failed to comply with an order by the UN’s top court to provide urgently needed aid to desperate people in the Gaza Strip, Human Rights Watch said. “The Israeli government is starving Gaza’s 2.3 million Palestinians, putting them in even more peril than before the World Court’s binding order,” Omar Shakir, the Israel and Palestine director at Human Rights Watch, said. “The Israeli government has simply ignored the court’s ruling, and in some ways even intensified its repression, including further blocking lifesaving aid.”

  • At least 29,782 Palestinians have been killed and 70,043 injured in Israeli strikes on Gaza since 7 October, the Gaza health ministry said. In the past 24 hours, 90 Palestinians were killed and 164 injured in Israeli strikes, the ministry said.

  • The UN secretary general, António Guterres, has criticised the UN security council for failing to adequately respond to Israel’s war in Gaza and Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, which he said had “perhaps fatally” undermined its authority. He also said that a full-scale Israeli assault in Rafah would have devastating consequences. “An all-out Israeli offensive on the city would not only be terrifying for more than a million Palestinian civilians sheltering there, it would put the final nail in the coffin of our aid programmes,” the UN chief said in a speech.

  • The Palestinian Authority (PA) prime minister, Mohammad Shtayyeh, told a press conference that he submitted his resignation to President Mahmoud Abbas. Shtayyeh, an academic economist who took office in 2019, said he was resigning to allow for the formation of a broad consensus among Palestinians about political arrangements following Israel’s war in Gaza.

  • Israeli forces killed more than 30 Palestinian gunmen in Gaza City’s Zeitoun district, more than 10 in the central Gaza Strip and others in the southern city of Khan Younis, the military said on Monday in a summary of the last 24 hours’ operations.

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The League of Arab States has called Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territories an “affront to international justice,” saying failure to end it amounted to “genocide”.

The International Court of Justice entered its last day of week-long hearings after a request from the UN, with an unprecedented 52 countries giving their views on Israel’s occupation.

“This prolonged occupation is an affront to international justice,” the 22 Arab-country bloc’s representative told judges in The Hague.

“The failure to bring it to an end has led to the current horrors perpetrated against the Palestinian people, amounting to genocide,” Abdel Hakim El-Rifai said.

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Israel strikes deeper into Lebanon in attack against Hezbollah targets in Baalbek – sources

Israel mounted airstrikes west of the Lebanese city of Baalbek on Monday, killing at least two Hezbollah members, sources in Lebanon told Reuters.

The Israeli military said it was striking Hezbollah targets deep inside Lebanon but provided no further details. There was no immediate comment from Hezbollah, the Lebanese militant group.

The strikes hit an area some 18 km (11 miles) from the city of Baalbek, which is known for its ancient ruins, a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Part of the Bekaa Valley region bordering Syria, the area is a political stronghold of the Shi’ite group Hezbollah. The sources said Israel had carried out two simultaneous strikes.

Hezbollah has been waging attacks on Israeli positions at the Lebanese-Israeli frontier since the 7 October attack on Israel by its Palestinian ally Hamas, in what it has described as a campaign to support Palestinians under fire from Israeli bombardment in the Gaza Strip.

Hezbollah said earlier on Monday it had shot down an Israeli Hermes 450 drone over Lebanese territory using a surface-to-air missile, the second time it has announced a downing of this type of unmanned aerial vehicle (see earlier post at 09.09)

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Israel’s military “presented the war cabinet with a plan for evacuating the population from areas of fighting in the Gaza Strip, and with the upcoming operational plan,” a statement from Benjamin Netayahu’s office said on Monday.

Israel has threatened to launch a full-blown attack on Rafah, the last city at Gaza’s southern edge, despite international pleas – including from its main ally Washington – for restraint.

People who have fled to Rafah, where an estimated 1.5 million displaced Palestinians have sought shelter, from elsewhere say there is nowhere left to go.

Israel’s defence minister, Yoav Gallant, said earlier this month that the Israel Defense Forces were planning operations in Rafah targeting Hamas fighters, command centres and tunnels, though gave no timeline for the campaign.

A displaced Palestinian child stands outside a makeshift tent attached to a school hosting families from other parts of the Gaza Strip in the Rafah refugee camp in southern Gaza. Photograph: Mohammed Abed/AFP/Getty Images
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Human Rights Watch says Israeli government is blocking ‘lifesaving aid’ into Gaza and is ‘starving’ Palestinians

The Israeli government has failed to comply with an order by the UN’s top court to provide urgently needed aid to desperate people in the Gaza Strip, Human Rights Watch has said.

In its ruling last month, the International Court of Justice ordered Israel to follow six provisional measures, including taking “immediate and effective measures to enable the provision of urgently needed basic services and humanitarian assistance to address the adverse conditions of life faced by Palestinians in the Gaza Strip”.

Human Rights Watch said Israel was not adhering to the court’s order on aid provision, citing a 30% drop in the daily average number of aid trucks entering Gaza in the weeks following the court’s ruling.

It said Israel was not adequately facilitating fuel deliveries to hard-hit northern Gaza and blamed Israel for blocking aid from reaching the north, where the World Food Program said last week it was forced to suspend aid deliveries because of increasing chaos in the isolated part of the territory.

“The Israeli government is starving Gaza’s 2.3 million Palestinians, putting them in even more peril than before the World Court’s binding order,” Omar Shakir, the Israel and Palestine director at Human Rights Watch, said.

“The Israeli government has simply ignored the court’s ruling, and in some ways even intensified its repression, including further blocking lifesaving aid.”

Israel denies it is restricting the entry of aid and has instead blamed humanitarian organisations operating inside Gaza, saying hundreds of trucks filled with aid sit idle on the Palestinian side of the main crossing. The UN says it can’t always reach the trucks at the crossing because it is at times too dangerous.

Benjamin Netanyahu’s office also said on Monday the war cabinet had approved a plan to deliver humanitarian aid safely into Gaza in a way that would “prevent the cases of looting”. It did not disclose further details.

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Turkey’s deputy foreign minister, Ahmet Yildiz, told judges at the International Court of Justice on Monday that Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories is the root cause of conflict in the region.

“The unfolding situation after October 7 proves once again that, without addressing the root cause of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, there can be no peace in the region,” he was quoted by Reuters as saying on the sixth day of hearings.

“The real obstacle to peace is obvious. The deepening occupation by Israel of the Palestinian territories, including East Jerusalem, and failure to implement the two-state vision,” he added.

The UN’s top court is hearing arguments from more than 50 states following a request by the UN general assembly in 2022 to issue a non-binding opinion on the legal consequences of the Israeli occupation.

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