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‘Operation Al-Aqsa Flood’ Day 152: Little Prospect Of Breakthrough In Ceasefire Talks

Above photo: A mural by artist Menna Haamouda, 21, on the rubble of a house destroyed by Israeli warplanes in Deir Al-Balah, March 5, 2024. Ali Hamad/APA Images.

Canada will resume funding to UNRWA and pay a pledge of $25m due in April.

In Gaza, another Palestinian child dies of thirst and hunger in the north, bringing the number of children to die from malnutrition to 18.

Casualties

  • 30,717+ killed* and at least 72,156 wounded in the Gaza Strip.
  • 423+ 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.

** The death toll in West Bank and Jerusalem is not updated regularly. According to PA’s Ministry of Health on March 6, this is the latest figure.

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

Key Developments

  • Israeli forces block entry of 14 trucks carrying aid and food to north Gaza, prompting World Food Program to airdrop aid with help of Jordanian Air Force.
  • British MP reveals that Israel denied entry of 1,350 water filters to Gaza, considered “a threat.”
  • A 15-year-old Palestinian girl dies of malnutrition in Al-Shifa Hospital on Wednesday, bringing total umber of children to have died from thirst and hunger in north Gaza to 18.
  • UNRWA distributes flour to over 370 thousand families in southern Gaza, including Khan Younis and Rafah.
  • UNRWA says there are 17,000 orphaned children in Gaza, with one in six children under two extremely malnourished.
  • Canada will resume funding to UNRWA and pledge $25m due in April.
  • Dr. Richard Peeperkorn of WHO says, “6,000 people [in Gaza] needed to be referred for war-related injuries and ailments, including trauma injuries, burns and amputations.”
  • Hamas source says American and Egyptian officials overstated optimism about possible deal to “embarrass the resistance,” exert pressure on Hamas, or blame it for collapse of talks.
  • Joe Biden says, “If we get into circumstances where this continues to Ramadan, Israel and Jerusalem could be very, very dangerous.”

Israeli Forces Block WFP Aid Convey To North Gaza

Israeli authorities turned back 14 trucks carrying humanitarian aid to northern Gaza on Tuesday.

This prompted the World Food Program (WFP) to resort to airdropping the aid with the help of the Jordanian Air Force, delivering aid to 20,000 people in northern Gaza.

“WFP is determined to do whatever it takes to reach people in need. But to avert famine, we must have access by road,” the organization wrote on X.

Aid convoys driving on Salah al-Din Street to northern Gaza have had to stop at an Israeli military checkpoint in Wadi Gaza, which splits the enclave into northern and southern territories. WFP said its trucks waited three hours at the checkpoint before Israeli forces turned them back.

WFP had faced this issue in previous weeks, forcing the international agency to halt its operations to send life-saving aid to north Gaza until safe distribution condition are granted.

Officials of humanitarian agencies accused Israel of “engineering famine” in Gaza by blocking aid, essential equipment, and supplies for hospitals.

Israel Blocks Entry Of Water Filters, Considers Them ‘Threat‘

On Tuesday, a British MP revealed that Israel had denied the entry of 1,350 water filters into the Gaza Strip as they were considered a “threat.”

“What threat does a water filter, supplied by the UK government, have?” Rosena Allin-Khan wrote on X.

So far, 18 Palestinian children have died of thirst and hunger in north Gaza, according to the Ministry of Health. A 15-year-old girl died of malnutrition in Al-Shifa Hospital on Wednesday morning.

“The famine in northern Gaza has reached lethal levels, especially for children, pregnant women, and the chronically ill,” Dr. Ashraf Al-Qidra, the ministry spokesperson, said.

“The famine is deepening and will claim thousands of lives if [the Israeli] aggression is not stopped and humanitarian and medical aid is not immediately resumed,” he added.

Israeli forces have been hindering aid from reaching north Gaza through land, and last week, it committed a massacre on Rashid Street, killing 100 Palestinians in what is known as the “flour massacre.”

In the past 24 hours, Israeli forces committed nine “massacres” in various areas of the Gaza Strip, according to the Gaza Ministry of Health on Telegram, killing at least 86 people and injuring 113.

Canada Resumes Funding To UNRWA

The UN agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA) said on Tuesday it distributed flour to over 370,000 families in southern Gaza, a territory that includes Khan Younis and Rafah.

“But the meagre supplies allowed into the besieged Gaza Strip have little effect in the face of overwhelming needs of an entire population,” it added.

UNRWA said that there are now 17,000 orphaned children in Gaza, with one in six children suffering from extreme malnourishment.

“Children dying from bombs, even more now dying from consequences of siege. These horrific deaths [are] entirely preventable,” it added.

On Tuesday, Canada appeared to respond to the UNRWA chief’s appeal for countries to resume funding to the agency.

UNRWA’s clinics have provided 2.4 million health consultations since October, despite several of the agency’s schools and offices being bombed and destroyed by Israeli forces.

Canada will go ahead with pledging $25m due in April, CBC News reported.

Canada was among the 16 countries, spearheaded by the U.S., to suspend funding to UNRWA in the wake of Israel’s allegations that it employed 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.

CBC News reported that Canadian officials received an interim report from the UN about the issue, and “based on that information, the Canadian government is comfortable resuming funding.”

CBC News reported last month that “Canada had not seen evidence backing up [Israeli] allegations against [UNRWA’s] employees before making the decision” to suspend funding.

A total sum of $450 million in funding to UNRWA has been suspended so far. However, Canada’s relatively small funding remains crucial to delivering aid and food in the Gaza Strip.

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.

“We’re necessary,” Martin Griffiths, UN under-secretary general for humanitarian affairs, told CBC News.

“We’re doing what I think is almost the most difficult humanitarian operation,” he added.

Israel’s aggression on Gaza has killed over 30,000 Palestinians and injured 70,000 others since October, 8,000 of them in need of urgent medical treatment outside the Gaza Strip.

Dr. Richard Peeperkorn, the World Health Organization (WHO) representative for Gaza and the West Bank, said “6,000 people needed to be referred for war-related injuries and ailments, including trauma injuries, burns and amputations.”

The rest of the 2,000 were “patients requiring care for cancer and other serious chronic illnesses.”

The Israeli army has decimated the health sector in the Gaza Strip, putting several medical institutions out of service. Currently, two vital hospitals, Kamal Adwan and al-Amal, remain under Israeli siege in Khan Younis, and have been since late January.

Breakthrough In Ceasefire Talks In Cairo Appears Thin

Today marked the fourth day of mediated ceasefire talks in Cairo in a bid to reach a deal between Israel and Hamas before the start of the holy month of Ramadan, due to start next weekend. However, the prospect of a breakthrough remains thin.

A source close to Hamas told Lebanon’s Al-Akhbar that American and Egyptian officials had overstated their optimism in media statements that a possible deal was imminent.

The unnamed source added that this was a tactic to “embarrass the resistance,” exert pressure on Hamas to compromise and agree to the Israeli terms, or — in the case that the talks collapse — blame Hamas for its failure.

“The resistance has provided all possible facilities and flexibility, but the enemy is keen to obstruct any progress,” the source said.

“There is no room for progress in negotiations and deals that do not ultimately lead to a complete cessation of war and a complete withdrawal of the enemy army from the Gaza Strip,” the source added.

The upcoming 24 hours could make or break the ceasefire negotiations, Al-Akhbar reported. Israeli officials are not hopeful either, painting Hamas’s leader Yahya Sinwar as the one who does not want a deal, according to Ynet.

U.S. President Joe Biden’s hopeful statement about reaching a ceasefire seems to have dissolved as well.

“There’s got to be a ceasefire because Ramadan [sic],” Biden said on Tuesday.

“If we get into circumstances where this continues to Ramadan, Israel and Jerusalem could be very, very dangerous,” he added.

The U.S. has drafted a UN Security Council ceasefire resolution, calling for “an immediate ceasefire of roughly six weeks in Gaza together with the release of all hostages.” It is yet to be put to a vote.

Hamas And Islamic Jihad Release Videos Attacking Israeli Forces In Gaza

Over the weekend, Abu Hamza, the Islamic Jihad’s spokesperson, said that Ramadan was “the month of jihad” and called Arab and Muslim countries to use their armies to support Palestinians in Gaza.

Hamas said in a statement on Wednesday that Israel is rejecting a permanent ceasefire and preventing the return of thousands of displaced Palestinians to north Gaza while blocking aid from reaching those areas.

“We will continue to negotiate through our mediating brothers to reach an agreement that fulfills the demands and interests of our people,” it added.

Over the weekend, Hamas’s armed wing, the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, released a video of two Israeli drones it shot down in the al-Zaytoun neighborhood in Gaza City. In another video, it fired mortar shells and 105mm al-Yaseen shells on Israeli tanks and armed personnel carriers in al-Zaytoun.

The al-Quds Brigades also released video of Islamic Jihad resistance fighters firing a guided missile on Israeli forces stationed in Jabalia, north of Gaza.

Israeli Forces Arrest 23 Palestinians In West Bank

Nour al-Din Ibrahim Yassin, 18, succumbed to his wounds on Tuesday evening. Israeli forces fatally shot Yassin in the head during a raid of Jenin last Thursday in the northern West Bank.

Yassin is from the village of Deir Abu Daif, and was in Jenin’s Jabriyat neighborhood when he was shot. He was later transferred to Jenin Governmental Hospital, and then to Ibn Sina Hospital to undergo several surgeries to save his life.

Yassin has become the 423rd Palestinian to be killed by Israeli soldiers or settlers in the occupied West Bank and Jerusalem since October, according to the Palestinian Authority’s (PA) Ministry of Health.

Overnight, Israeli forces raided the village of al-Asakra, east of Bethlehem, and raided and searched several houses while confiscating several Palestinian vehicles, Wafa reported.

Israeli forces also arrested 23 Palestinians from the West Bank’s cities of Hebron, Tulkarem, Hebron, Qalqilya, Bethlehem, and Ramallah. Wafa published a list of the detainees’ names

In occupied Jerusalem, the head of the U.S. Office of Palestinian Affairs (COPA), George Noll, visited the site of the razed home of Fakhri Abu Diab.

In mid-February, Israeli authorities demolished Abu Diab’s house in Silwan, a neighborhood that lies south of the al-Aqsa Compound and the Old City.

Abu Diab is a well-known figure in Silwan and among solidarity activists. For years, he raised awareness and warned of Israeli settler plans, digging under Palestinian houses in Silwan, as part of the City of David tourist project.

Israel has demolished 87 Palestinian homes in Jerusalem since October.

“We again condemn Israel’s demolition of this home which has spread fear in an entire community,” the U.S. Office of Palestinian Affairs wrote on X.

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