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‘Operation Al-Aqsa Flood’ Day 136: Netanyahu Approves Ramadan Restrictions On Al-Aqsa Mosque

Above photo: Palestinians offer Taraweeh prayers during the holy month of Ramadan at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem, April 3, 2023. Department of Islamic Awqaf in Jerusalem/APA Images.

Hamas slams Israel over plans to restrict access of Palestinian worshipers to the Al-Aqsa Mosque in occupied Jerusalem during the holy month of Ramadan.

Meanwhile, more Palestinians die from preventable causes as Israel besieges hospitals in Gaza.


  • 29,092+ killed* and at least 69,028 wounded in the Gaza Strip.
  • 380+ Palestinians killed in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem
  • Israel revises its estimated October 7 death toll down from 1,400 to 1,147.
  • 574 Israeli soldiers killed since October 7, and at least 3,221 injured.**

*This figure was confirmed by Gaza’s Ministry of Health on Telegram channel. Some rights groups put the death toll number closer to 36,500 when accounting for those presumed dead.

** This figure is released by the Israeli military, showing the soldiers whose names “were allowed to be published.”

Key Developments

  • India trade union to refuse to handle weapons shipments to Israel
  • Gaza Ministry of Health: Lack of oxygen, electricity kills 8th person in Gaza’s Nasser Hospital.
  • Netanyahu approves Al-Aqsa restrictions during Ramadan
  • Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor: Israeli forces open fire on Palestinians approaching aid trucks in Gaza city.
  • Netanyahu’s government formalizes its opposition to the “unilateral recognition” of Palestinian statehood with a unanimous cabinet vote.
  • Norway to help transfer frozen funds to Palestinian Authority
  • ICJ hearing on Israel’s occupation of Palestine began on Monday morning.
  • Israeli protesters continue blocking aid from entering Gaza
  • Israeli officials: Israel’s full-scale military operations are expected to continue for another six to eight weeks

Israeli Army Siege On Gaza Hospitals Claims More Lives

Months after Israel’s initial declaration that they would never attack a hospital, the Israeli military has assaulted several medical facilities in Gaza, rendering them inoperable and leaving the people of Gaza to die slow and painful deaths.

On Sunday morning, Nasser Medical Complex in Khan Younis went out of service following a brutal military raid that lasted several days over the course of last week.

In addition to several Palestinians who were killed by Israeli snipers near the entrance to the hospital, eight people in the hospital later died due to the siege of the facility, which prevented electricity and medical supplies from entering the hospital, according to Gaza’s Health Ministry.

“There is one less hospital, one valuable hospital that used to be able to serve patients, that is no longer able to serve patients,” emergency room physician Tarek Loubani, who has previously worked in Gaza hospitals, told Al Jazeera.

“It’s another lifeline for the people in Gaza they can no longer go to for treatment,” Loubani said, calling the ongoing Israeli assault on Gaza a “genocide.”

Dr Ahmed al-Moghrabi, head of the plastic surgery and burns department at Nasser Hospital, told Al Jazeera that he considers himself lucky that he escaped from a “death checkpoint” when Israeli soldiers raided the hospital on February 15.

According to al-Moghrabi, Israeli soldiers arrived at the facility at about 1:30 am and ordered everyone to evacuate immediately. Half an hour later, they bombed the hospital’s third floor, where al-Moghrabi was staying with his family, colleagues, and patients.

“It was like a Judgement Day,” al-Moghrabi said, adding that he managed to take his family away from the hospital and some of his medical staff. In contrast, the rest of the staff was arrested, including a nurse whom he was separated from by Israeli soldiers at the gate of the hospital.

“I ask the leaders of this world, how many videos do you have to see of us getting killed? Seeing this real genocide happening in front of your eyes and nothing – just silence?”

As of Monday, almost 200 people remain inside the hospital, including 25 medical staff and 136 patients who are struggling without electricity, water, food, oxygen, and treatment capabilities for difficult cases, reported Gaza’s Ministry of Health.

As the World Health Organisation (WHO) continues its efforts to evacuate those remaining in the hospital, Israel stubbornly rejects allowing medical and humanitarian aid into the complex, added the ministry.

Meanwhile, al-Amal Hospital in Khan Younis is still facing a brutal military siege imposed by the military and has all but run out of supplies.

“I have lost track of the days we’ve been besieged inside Al-Amal Hospital, but I want to convey that our greatest wish now is to just pause by the window. Unfortunately, it’s not safe,” Palestinian Red Crescent volunteer and relief coordinator Saleem Aburas said in a social media video from inside the medical complex, which has been under siege for nearly a month

“We long to see the sun from the street, but being near the window means risking our lives. The sniper targets anything that moves inside the hospital,” Aburas added.

In response to Israel’s baseless claims that Hamas operates inside hospitals, Osaid Alser, a Gaza surgeon and medical resident at Texas Tech University, says he has never seen any military activity while working at several medical centers in Gaza since 2010, including at the al-Shifa and Nasser hospitals.

“When we talk about tunnels and all of that, I think this is Israeli propaganda that everybody should get used to at this point,” he told Al Jazeera.

“Anybody who has worked in any of these hospitals, they can easily say this is just nonsense. We never had our access limited to any area in these hospitals. We could go to literally any area in the hospital and nobody would say stop.”

Looming Invasion Of Rafah

The expansion of Israel’s ground operation to Rafah is still looming, despite widespread international outcry over the fact that it would endanger the 1.4 million people seeking shelter in the southernmost city, with nowhere left to run.

Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority (PA) Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh has called on the Israeli authorities to allow the population crammed into the south of the Gaza Strip to return to their homes farther north, reported Al Jazeera.

Shtayyeh, speaking at the Munich Security Conference, warned Netanyahu not to attempt to force Palestinians across the border into Egypt.

“I know, and we know, that it has been an Israeli programme to push people out of Gaza. We and the Egyptians have been working hard not to allow this to happen,” he said.

“Egypt is not going to allow anybody to cross the border,” Shtayyeh said amid recent reports that Egypt is constructing a reception camp on its side of the border to accommodate Palestinian refugees.

In a post on X, British charity Oxfam has renewed their calls for a ceasefire, quoting a staff member as saying: “The faces of the people in Rafah are filled with despair. Their minds are consumed by the looming threat of a ground invasion … Everyone is afraid.”

Oxfam is one of many international humanitarian groups that have slammed Israel’s plans to attack Rafah.

However, Avi Melamed, a former Israeli intelligence official, told Reuters that there is little chance that Netanyahu’s government would heed international criticism to call off a Rafah ground assault.

“Rafah is the last bastion of Hamas control and there remain battalions in Rafah which Israel must dismantle to achieve its goals in this war,” said Melamed.

Melamed said the only potential delay to the Israeli assault on Rafah would come if Hamas gave ground in captive negotiations and handed them over.

“Even that would only delay the advance on Rafah unless it is coupled with the demilitarization of the city and surrender of the Hamas battalions there,” he continued.

On February 7, Netanyahu rejected a deal with Hamas, calling it “crazy.”   The proposal outlined a three-phase plan for the end of the war, which included a temporary ceasefire and the release of many Palestinian prisoners in exchange for Israeli captives.

Anonymous military officials told Reuters that Israel’s full-scale military operations are expected to continue for at least another six to eight weeks. They believe that within that time, they can significantly damage Hamas’s remaining capabilities.

Children Search For Scraps Of Food As Gaza Starves

Every day the situation in Gaza worsens, and Palestinian civilians grow more hungry. Israel’s military blockade has only tightened in the new year, only allowing limited aid into the south of Gaza and virtually none to the north.

Israel plans to implement four-hour pauses a day, from 10 am to 2 pm local time, which will take place in different parts of Gaza each day, according to Al Jazeera, supposedly to allow for the distribution of aid.

However, Al Jazeera’s Hani Mahmoud, reporting from Rafah, says there is nothing positive about the planned pauses.

“We are looking at rubble-filled roads, we’ve seen children looking for scraps of food, and markets are empty in Rafah. If food is available, it is at a very high price. Not everyone has the means to buy food. With no pay for five months, their financial capabilities are drained.”

“On top of that, the number of aid trucks that have been allowed into the Gaza Strip so far is not enough. Even if there were 300 trucks a day, it would still not meet the needs of an entire population that has been displaced, traumatized and without any essentials,” Hani continued.

Meanwhile, in northern Gaza, people are facing a famine and have resorted to eating plants and animal feed.

“The whole aid mechanism is broken, from the clearance of the checkpoints and the crossings to the fact that the international aid organizations cannot guarantee the safety of their crews on the ground.

This means aid does not get to the designated locations,” Hani said.

Even when the aid does make it to the designated distribution areas, Palestinians are targeted for trying to access it.

In Gaza City, Ramy Abdu, the Head of the Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor, reported that Israeli forces opened fire on Palestinians approaching aid trucks.

Abdu described the incident, which took place on Al-Rasheed Street, west of Gaza City, as “terrifying, painful, and brutal.”

“Very small quantities of food arrived [Sunday], and it is impossible for them to reach the camps in northern Gaza,” he continued.

The incident was not isolated; Israeli forces have repeatedly targeted people lining up for much-needed humanitarian supplies. In January, Israeli forces killed at least 20 people trying to get humanitarian aid in Gaza City.

Reporting for Al Jazeera from Rafah, Tareq Abu Azzoum has said even Palestinian fishing boats are targeted. Off Gaza’s coast on Sunday, Israeli gunboats fired on men using small boats to catch fish off the coast near Rafah threatening the vital source of food.

The “enormous” scale of humanitarian assistance needed in Gaza cannot be provided “without a sustained stop to the fighting and bombardment,” several heads of prominent aid organizations wrote in a co-authored piece for USA Today.

“It is not too late to change this story if urgent actions are taken to achieve a ceasefire and the release of the hostages, and to allow a sufficient flow of aid into Gaza,” it continued.

“The speed of the deterioration in Gaza is unprecedented in recent history,” the piece, authored by eight contributors, including the head of the Norwegian Refugee Council and the CEO of Oxfam America, said.

Netanyahu Approves Plans To Restrict Muslim Worship At Al-Aqsa During Ramadan

Ramadan, the holiest month in the Islamic calendar, is fast approaching, and Israel is already planning out their restrictions on Palestinian Muslims. The holy month is expected to begin on March 10th.

On Sunday, Israeli media reported that Netanyahu accepted a proposal by far-right National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir to limit the number of Palestinians entering the Al-Aqsa Mosque during Ramadan, as cited by Al Jazeera.

Israeli forces have already been heavily restricting Palestinian access to Al-Aqsa Mosque, the third holiest site in Islam, since October 7, repeatedly barring Palestinians from entering the site for Friday prayers.

“The security forces will finalize their recommendations in accordance with the latest situation assessments and will subsequently be presented to the political echelon for decision-making,” Israel’s war cabinet member Benny Gantz posted on X.

Hamas has slammed Israel’s plans to restrict access to the holy site during Ramadan, saying that the plan is a reflection of the religious war waged by hardliner elements in the Israeli government against the Palestinian people, reported Al Jazeera.

The group said the restrictions would be a “violation of the freedom of worship” in the holy mosque, adding that the plan showed Israel’s intention to increase its attacks on the mosque during Ramadan.

The statement called on Palestinians in the occupied East Jerusalem, occupied West Bank, and Israel to reject and resist this “criminal decision,” urging them to “take action and flock to Al-Aqsa Mosque.”

Ahmad Tibi, a member of the Israeli Knesset, has called Netanyahu’s reported plan to ban prayer at the Al-Aqsa Mosque during Ramadan a “blatant infringement on the freedom of worship” on social media.

“The prohibition for Muslims, both from the West Bank and within the Green Line, to pray at the Al-Aqsa Mosque during the holy month of Ramadan, deserves to be discussed at the UN,” Tibi added.

Continued Escalation In Israeli Violence In Occupied West Bank

In the occupied West Bank, Israeli forces have continued their nightly military raids, terrorizing Palestinian towns and cities.

Israeli troops have fatally shot three Palestinians during raids in the last 24 hours.

Two men, including a 19-year-old shot in the head, were killed in the Tulkarem refugee camp, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry, Atta Muhammad Amer and 36-year-old Muhammad Ahmad Fayez Al-Awfi.

Faisal Salama, who runs the committee that provides services to the camp in the occupied West Bank, told Al Jazeera that Israeli forces killed two young men in “cold blood” as part of a broader plan to pressure Palestinian communities through violence, destruction, and intimidation.

“A special Israeli unit snuck into the camp and clashes erupted. That was followed by the arrival of Israeli military reinforcements and large bulldozers to the camp in broad daylight. They also besieged citizens in the markets and students in their schools during the operation,” Salama said.

Israeli forces also fatally shot a 26-year-old Palestinian, Anas Jamil Dwaik, at the Beit Furik checkpoint, east of Nablus in the occupied West Bank.

The Palestinian Foreign Ministry denounced the attack on Tulkarem refugee camp while condemning “escalating incursions” by the Israeli army into several areas in the occupied West Bank.

The attacks “often result in more martyrs, injuries, and casualties, and terrorize peaceful civilians in their homes, as well as infrastructure destruction, as is currently happening in the Tulkarm refugee camp.”

“Carte blanche has been given to Israeli soldiers from the political echelon, enabling them to shoot Palestinians on a whim and without any threat posed,” the ministry continued.

Israel Announces Formal Opposition To A Palestinian State

On Sunday, Israel formalized its opposition to the “unilateral recognition” of Palestinian statehood, saying any such agreement must be reached through direct negotiations.

“Israel rejects outright international dictates regarding a permanent accord with the Palestinians. An accord, should it be reached, will only come through direct negotiations between the sides, without preconditions,” Netanyahu’s office stated, according to Reuters.

Netanyahu said at the start of the weekly cabinet meeting that the move comes after “recent talk in the international community about an attempt to unilaterally impose on Israel a Palestinian state.”

In response, the Palestinian Foreign Ministry has said that “the full membership of the State of Palestine in the United Nations and its recognition by states do not need a license from [Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu,” as cited by Al Jazeera.

US Congressman Robert Garcia also voiced support for a “free and safe” two-state solution and a “lasting ceasefire” in a post on social media following Israel’s declaration.

“Palestinian and Israeli lives have the same value – we must be focused on negotiating a lasting ceasefire, the release of all hostages and an end to the war,” Garcia said on X.

Hamas has said the Israeli government’s symbolic vote to reject any international recognition of a Palestinian state underscores Israel’s “rogue” behavior and abuse of international law and treaties, reported Al Jazeera.

The Palestinian group added that Israel has been using peace talks for decades to buy time and further entrench its occupation and theft of Palestinian land.

Israeli policies must move the international community to reject Israel’s “manipulation” and violation of Palestinians’ right to self-determination, Hamas said.

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