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‘Operation Al-Aqsa Flood’ Day 151: Israel ‘Campaigns’ To End UNRWA

Above photo: An injured Palestinian woman is among the injured brought to the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital in Deir Al-Balah following Israeli attacks on Khan Younis, Gaza on March 5, 2024. Ali Hamad/APA Images.

UNRWA’s chief says dismantling the agency is “short-sighted.”

And will “sow the seeds of hatred, resentment, and future conflict.” Israeli forces fire at Palestinians seeking aid and food in Gaza City and detain others in southern Gaza.

Casualties

  • 30,631+ killed* and at least 72,043 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.
  • 586 Israeli soldiers killed since October 7, and at least 3,221 injured.**

*Gaza’s Ministry of Health confirmed this figure on Telegram channel. Some rights groups put the death toll number closer to 35,000 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

  • Israeli forces shoot at Palestinians seeking food and aid near north Gaza’s Kuwaiti roundabout.
  • Philippe Lazzarini says, “UNRWA is facing a deliberate and concerted campaign to undermine its operations, and ultimately end them” by Israel in the Gaza Strip.
  • Israel’s UN Ambassador Gilad Erdan says, “in Gaza, the UN is a terror organization itself.”
  • According to Gaza’s governmental Media Office, Israeli aggression on Gaza has killed 13,430 Palestinian children since October.
  • Footage appears of Israeli soldiers detaining Palestinians in Gaza City in humiliating conditions while they are stripped naked, blindfolded, and handcuffed.
  • WHO chief says, “Kamal Adwan Hospital is the only pediatrics hospital in the north of Gaza, and is overwhelmed with patients.”
  • WHO delivers 9,500 liters of fuel and essential medical supplies to al-Awda and Kamal Adwan hospitals.
  • Leaked audio of three hostages accidentally killed by Israeli forces in Gaza emboldens protests in Tel Aviv and West Jerusalem against Netanyahu.
  • Haaretz says a report about the Israeli military spokesperson’s resignation by Channel 14 is “fake.”
  • Spanish government imposes first batch of sanctions on 12 illegal settlers in occupied West Bank.

Israeli Forces Fire At Palestinians Getting Food And Aid

Israeli forces shot at Palestinians in north Gaza as they waited for aid trucks to arrive, killing and injuring several people. Such an incident has been repeated a few times since last week when Israel killed more than 100 Palestinians seeking food and water, in what is now known as the “flour massacre.”

Al-Jazeera’s correspondent, Anas al-Sharif, was with the Palestinian crowd on Monday night, waiting in the dark and running in a destroyed, dusty road behind international aid trucks. However, when vehicles arrived at north Gaza’s Kuwaiti roundabout, Palestinians were scattered, running in different directions, fleeing Israeli bullets.

Although shooting could still be heard in the distance, Palestinians had returned to pick up a small aid box containing water, flour, and other ingredients, enough for a few days for a family of three or four individuals.

Some families report going days without a proper meal in north Gaza, where malnutrition and dehydration are rampant, killing children and increasing the risk of man-made starvation.

As Ramadan approaches next Sunday, the threat of an Israeli invasion on the southern Gaza town of Rafah, where 1.5 million displaced people are sheltered, could lead to massacres, famine, and expulsion of Palestinians to Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula.

Meanwhile, groups of Israeli fanatics have continued to block aid trucks from entering Gaza through the Karam Abu Salem Crossing into the enclave for the past several weeks, while the U.S., Jordan, and France were carrying humanitarian airdrop operations described as “useless” and “theatrical” by international experts.

Israel Campaigns To End UNRWA In Gaza Strip

Philippe Lazzarini, the chief of the UN agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA), warned that his agency, which provides food and shelter to thousands of families in Gaza, is set to collapse if the lack of funding persists.

Lazzarini said the agency is under “a deliberate and concerted campaign” by Israel to bring UNRWA to its knees in Gaza.

Israel has accused the UN agency of employing over 450 “military operatives” from Hamas and other resistance groups, alleging that a dozen of them took part in the October 7 attack on Israel — a claim Israel is yet to back up with concrete evidence.

Previously, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said UNRWA won’t be part of the “day after the war” in the Gaza Strip. Several of the agency’s schools and offices were bombed and destroyed by Israeli forces since October.

Israel’s UN Ambassador Gilad Erdan said that “in Gaza, the UN is a terror organization itself” during a speech in the General Assembly on Monday.

Lazzarini said that some of the UNRWA staff Israel arrested in the Gaza Strip “were forced to confessions under torture and ill-treatment” in Israeli detention.

“UNRWA is facing a deliberate and concerted campaign to undermine its operations, and ultimately end them,” Lazzarini said on Monday.

“The implementation of this plan is already underway with the destruction of our infrastructure across the Gaza Strip,” he added.

“Dismantling UNRWA is short-sighted. By doing so, we will sacrifice an entire generation of children, sowing the seeds of hatred, resentment, and future conflict,” he said.

Since January, 16 countries, spearheaded by the U.S., have suspended $450 million of funding to UNRWA in the wake of Israel’s allegations. Despite UNRWA taking swift action in firing the accused employees and opening an investigation, top donors like the U.S. have yet to restore critical funding to the agency.

U.S. intelligence cast doubt over Israel’s allegations, though this did not change the White House’s position to cut funds. Israel has long sought to end UNRWA, as the international agency still embodies the right of return for millions of Palestinian refugees to their homelands — an idea that threatens the demographic makeup of Israel’s Jewish majority.

Israeli Airstrikes Kill 97 People In 24 Hours

In the past 24 hours, Israeli forces committed ten “massacres” in various areas of the Gaza Strip, according to the Gaza Ministry of Health on Telegram, killing at least 97 people and injuring 123. According to Gaza’s government media office, the Israeli aggression on Gaza has killed 13,430 Palestinian children since October.

Overnight, Israeli airstrikes on Rafah in southern Gaza killed 17 Palestinians, Wafa news agency reported. Two Palestinians were also killed in an Israeli bombing of the al-Sadoudi family home in the Nuseirat refugee camp in central Gaza.

Palestinian rescue teams recovered the bodies of 18 people buried under the rubble in various areas of Khan Younis. An Israeli airstrike on a house belonging to the al-Faqawi family killed 17 people on Tuesday morning. The al-Faqawis lived near Gaza’s European Hospital in Khan Younis.

Wafa reported that Israeli forces bombed a house in the al-Zaytoun neighborhood and other areas in north Gaza. Al-Shifaa Hospital and the Gaza European Hospital received the bodies of 34 Palestinians and treated several others who were injured in the Israeli bombing of Gaza and Khan Younis.

Israeli forces also arrested several Palestinians from Hamad City, northwest of Khan Younis, following threats from loudspeakers to evacuate the town of 5,000 residents.

In Gaza City, footage appeared of Israeli soldiers detaining Palestinians in humiliating conditions, while they were stripped naked, blindfolded, and handcuffed.

WHO Finds ‘Grim Conditions’ In Al-Awda And Kamal Adwan Hospitals

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the chief of the World Health Organization (WHO), described a grim situation inside the al-Awda Hospital and Kamal Adwan Hospital, the latter of which is the second-largest medical complex in Gaza, which has been under Israeli siege and fire since January.

In the past few days, several Palestinian children died of malnutrition and dehydration inside Kamal Adwan, while others suffered from diarrhea and were put in intensive care with their lives remaining at risk.

The WHO team’s visit to the two hospitals over the weekend was the first since last October. According to the WHO, its team came back with “grim findings,” describing how both facilities are operating under serious shortages of fuel, food, and medical supplies, while several buildings are destroyed.

“Kamal Adwan Hospital is the only pediatric hospital in the north of Gaza, and is overwhelmed with patients,” Ghebreyesus wrote on X.

“The lack of food has resulted in the deaths of 10 children. The lack of electricity poses a serious threat to patient care, especially in critical areas like the intensive care unit and the neonatal unit,” he added.

The WHO delivered 9,500 liters of fuel and essential medical supplies to al-Awda and Kamal Adwan hospitals.

“This is a fraction of the urgent life saving needs,” Ghebreyesus said, “The key medicine all these patients need is peace. Ceasefire.”

Ceasefire Talks Continue As Egypt And Qatar Reportedly Pressure Hamas

Talks are still ongoing in Cairo in a bid to reach a ceasefire deal and exchange of prisoners and hostages, with pressure mounting as Israel vows to invade Rafah by March 10, the start of Ramadan, if a ceasefire deal is not reached by then.

According to The Guardian, the Israeli delegation did not attend the second day of talks in Cario on Monday, with Tel Aviv reportedly waiting for Hamas to present a list of names of 40 Israeli captives to be released in any agreed deal.

Meanwhile, Egyptian and Qatari officials are reportedly exerting pressure on Hamas to do so this week, before the start of Ramadan.

A leaked audio recording of three hostages killed by Israeli forces in Gaza seems to embolden the growing protests in Tel Aviv and West Jerusalem and also put extra pressure on Netanyahu’s government to release the hostages.

In December, the Israeli army shot and killed three Israeli captives in the Gaza Strip, claiming that soldiers believed the hostages to be Hamas operatives pretending to be Israeli captives. The incident caused immense embarrassment to the government then, while Netanyahu said he was “shocked” upon hearing the news.

With the leaked tapes, which were obtained from a camera mounted on an army dog, every Israeli can now hear the desperate appeals of the three captives shouting in Hebrew, “Save us!” and “We’re hostages!” Nonetheless, Israeli forces fired several gunshots, killing them, in the same manner that Israeli soldiers shot at and killed Palestinian civilians as they carried white pieces of cloth while seeking a safe route.

Report Of Military Spokesperson’s Resignation Is ‘Fake’

On Sunday, Israel’s Channel 14 reported that Daniel Hagari, the spokesperson of the Israeli military, has resigned along with other senior military members in his unit. Hagari’s resignation, widely reported by Al-Jazeera and other Arabic and English-speaking outlets, appears to have been “fake,” according to Haaretz. Officially, it was neither denied nor confirmed by the government.

That confusion arose from Channel 14’s role in internal Israeli politics, as the channel is reportedly close to the Religious Zionism political alliance, led by Itamar Ben-Gvir and Bezalel Smotrich, the settler leaders and rivals of the war cabinet’s minister Benny Gantz and his former chief of staff, Hagari.

Gantz, currently on an unauthorized visit to the U.S., will fly next to London to meet British officials. Netanyahu also instructed diplomatic missions in the UK not to facilitate and engage with Gantz’s visit as he did with missions in the U.S.

On Monday, Gantz met with U.S. Vice-President Kamala Harris in the White House, who confirmed that “Israel has a right to defend itself.”

She added that “far too many Palestinian civilians, innocent civilians, have been killed. We need to get more aid in, we need to get hostages out. And that remains our position.”

Spanish Government Imposes Sanctions On Israeli Settlers

Overnight, Israeli forces arrested 22 Palestinians in the occupied West Bank, including three women. The Palestinian Prisoners’ Club said that Israel has detained 7,422 Palestinians since October from towns in the West Bank and occupied Jerusalem.

Meanwhile, the Spanish government said it had imposed the first batch of sanctions on 12 Israeli settlers in the occupied West Bank.

“We know that silence and inaction always work against the victims,” the Spanish Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Albares said.

On Monday evening, Israeli forces stormed the villages of Sinjil and Deir Dibwan near Ramallah, while in the village of Shuqba , Israel demolished a house, a greenhouse, and three makeshift rooms made from metal and wooden panels. The demolished house belonged to Abdullah Qadah, while Saadat Shalash owned the greenhouse and three rooms.

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