UN official lauds Egyptian role in delivering Gaza aid

FAO Director-General Qu Dongyu, during talks with Egyptian Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly, said that Cairo’s support for Gaza had prevented the humanitarian situation in the enclave from further deteriorating. (X/@FAODG)
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Updated 02 March 2024
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UN official lauds Egyptian role in delivering Gaza aid

  • FAO Director-General Qu Dongyu, during talks with Egyptian Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly, said that Cairo’s support for Gaza had prevented the humanitarian situation in the enclave from further deteriorating

CAIRO: The head of the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization has praised Egypt for supporting Gaza with humanitarian aid.

FAO Director-General Qu Dongyu, during talks with Egyptian Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly, said that Cairo’s support for Gaza had prevented the humanitarian situation in the enclave from further deteriorating.

“This is not new for Egypt; this country has had the capacity and expertise for thousands of years to play its important regional role,” he said.

“The FAO is doing its utmost to support the people of Gaza in cooperation with other UN organizations and relevant parties; to ensure the alleviation of the suffering of innocent people.”

Speaking to the media, Madbouly said: “The war in Gaza has had its reflections on the neighboring countries of the conflict zone, including Egypt.

“Nevertheless, most of the aid reaching there is sourced from Egypt, contributing over 80 percent of the total humanitarian aid entering the Gaza Strip so far.”

Egypt “looks forward to the support of the FAO to ensure the delivery and increase of aid,” Madbouly added.

Ashraf Abu Hajr, a political expert, told Arab News: “Egypt’s cooperation with the FAO will undoubtedly yield positive results on the issue of delivering humanitarian aid to Gaza, as Egypt continues its efforts at all levels to support our Palestinian brethren.

“Over the past five months, Egypt has received 40,000 tonnes of humanitarian aid from countries around the world to be delivered to Gaza, while Cairo has provided 100,000 tonnes, illustrating that Egypt has sent nearly two-thirds of the humanitarian aid to the sector.”

He added: “Egypt has prioritized sending aid to Gaza, saving its inhabitants, and has worked on including in it food, water and medicine to help Palestinians withstand and thwart Israeli plans for forced displacement.

“Egypt is looking for newer ways every day to introduce humanitarian aid, whether by land through the Rafah crossing, or by air. Cairo has mobilized global public opinion, drawing attention to the crimes committed against our brethren in Palestine.”


UN appeals for $2.8 bln for Gaza, West Bank aid

Updated 4 sec ago
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UN appeals for $2.8 bln for Gaza, West Bank aid

  • $782.1 million will be destined for food aid for 2.2 million people in Gaza

GENEVA: The United Nations appealed on Wednesday for $2.8 billion in funding to assist more than three million people in Gaza and the West Bank until the end of the year, to help ease food shortages and prevent looming famine in Gaza.
A flash appeal published by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said that sum was needed to help 3.1 million people and “reduce human suffering and prevent further loss of life.”
A major chunk of funding — $782.1 million — will be destined for food aid for 2.2 million people in Gaza and 400,000 people in the West Bank, the appeal said.
More than six months of war have created critical food shortages among Gaza’s Palestinians that in some areas now exceed famine levels, according to the United Nations.
A senior UN aid official said on Tuesday that the United Nations was struggling to prevent famine in the Gaza Strip and while there had been some improvement in coordination with Israel, aid deliveries in the enclave still faced obstacles.
Israel aims to wipe out Hamas in Gaza after a deadly Oct. 7 attack on Israel by the Palestinian militant group, in which it killed some 1,200 people and took more than 250 people hostage, according to Israeli tallies.
Gaza health authorities say Israel has killed more than 33,000 people since, in its assault on the enclave.


British envoy says Israel is ‘making a decision to act’ as Iran vows to respond to any incursion

Updated 7 min 31 sec ago
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British envoy says Israel is ‘making a decision to act’ as Iran vows to respond to any incursion

  • Cameron said ‘it’s clear the Israelis are making a decision to act’ against Iran, but he hoped they would do so ‘in a way that is smart as well as tough’
  • Cameron said the main aim of his visit was to refocus attention on the ongoing war in Gaza and the need for a ceasefire and the release of hostages held by Hamas

JERUSALEM: British Foreign Secretary David Cameron said Wednesday that Israel “is making a decision to act” in response to Iran’s missile and drone attack over the weekend, while Iran warned that even the “tiniest” invasion of its territory would bring a “massive and harsh” response.
Israel has vowed to respond to Iran’s unprecedented attack without saying when or how, leaving the region bracing for further escalation after months of unrest linked to the ongoing war in Gaza. Israel’s closest allies, including the United States and the United Kingdom — which helped it repel the Iranian attack — are trying to limit any further escalation.
Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi meanwhile warned Israel against any retaliation as he addressed an annual army parade, which had been relocated to a barracks from its usual route and was not carried live on state TV — possibly because of fears that it could be targeted.
In remarks carried by Iran’s official IRNA news agency, Raisi said Saturday’s attack was a limited one, and that if Iran had wanted to carry out a bigger attack, “nothing would remain from the Zionist regime.”
Adding to the already high tensions, a rocket attack by Lebanon’s Hezbollah wounded six people in an Israeli border town on Wednesday. The Iran-backed militant group said it was a response to the killing of a number of its fighters, including a commander, in Israeli strikes on Lebanon the day before.
Both Cameron and Germany’s Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock were in Israel on separate visits to meet with top officials on Wednesday. The two European countries, which are among Israel’s closest allies, have urged restraint.
Cameron said “it’s clear the Israelis are making a decision to act” against Iran, but he hoped they would do so “in a way that is smart as well as tough and also does as little as possible to escalate this conflict.” He spoke after meeting with Israel’s President Isaac Herzog, whose office is mainly ceremonial.
Cameron said the main aim of his visit was to refocus attention on the ongoing war in Gaza and the need for a ceasefire and the release of hostages held by Hamas.
Baerbock meanwhile called on all sides to prevent the conflict from spreading.
“I will assure our Israeli partners of Germany’s full solidarity,” she said Tuesday. “And we will discuss how a further escalation with more and more violence can be prevented. Because what matters now is to put a stop to Iran without encouraging further escalation.”
The ministers said they would push for further international sanctions on Iran.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he met with both ministers and thanked them for their countries’ support.
“They have all sorts of suggestions and advice. I appreciate that. But I want to be clear: Our decisions we will make ourselves, and the state of Israel will do whatever it needs to defend itself,” Netanyahu said in a statement.
Iran launched hundreds of missiles and drones at Israel over the weekend in response to an apparent Israeli strike on Iran’s embassy compound in Syria on April 1 that killed 12 people, including two Iranian generals.
Israel, with help from the United States, the United Kingdom, neighboring Jordan and other nations, says it successfully intercepted nearly all the missiles and drones. A seven-year-old girl was wounded in the attack, which did not cause any deaths or major damage.
Israel and Iran have waged a shadow war for decades, but the strike over the weekend was the first direct Iranian military attack on Israel.
Regional tensions have soared since the Oct. 7 attack on southern Israel launched by Hamas and Islamic Jihad, Palestinian armed groups supported by Iran. The attack killed some 1,200 Israelis, and the militants took around 250 hostages. Israel responded with one of the deadliest and most destructive military onslaughts in recent history, killing nearly 34,000 Palestinians, according to Gaza health officials.
Israel has withdrawn most of its forces from Gaza after major offensives that left its two biggest cities — Gaza City and Khan Younis, in ruins. But Israeli officials say the war is not over and that they plan to send ground forces into the southernmost Gaza city of Rafah, where more than half the territory’s population of 2.3 million people have sought refuge from fighting elsewhere.
Hamas is still holding around 130 hostages, a quarter of whom are believed to be dead, and international efforts to broker a ceasefire and hostage release have made little progress.
Hezbollah, another close Iran ally, has traded fire with Israel along the border on a near-daily basis since the war began, in a low-intensity conflict that risks igniting all-out war. Iran-backed groups in Iraq and Syria have also launched attacks, and the Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen have targeted international shipping in the Red Sea, portraying it as a blockade of Israel.
President Joe Biden’s administration on Tuesday announced new sanctions on Iran and has worked to coordinate a global rebuke of the attack while urging all sides to de-escalate. US officials said earlier this week that Biden told Netanyahu that Washington would not participate in any offensive action against Iran.
Israel appears unlikely to attack Iran directly without US support, but it could resort to more covert methods such as targeting other senior Iranian commanders or Iran-backed groups in other countries, or launching a cyberattack.
It’s unclear how Iran might respond given the heightened tensions. Any miscalculation by either side risks setting off a regional war.


Hamas leader Haniyeh to visit Turkiye this weekend: Erdogan

Updated 19 min 25 sec ago
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Hamas leader Haniyeh to visit Turkiye this weekend: Erdogan

  • Private television channel NTV reported that the two men would meet on Saturday

Istanbul: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erodgan said Wednesday he will host the leader of Palestinian militant group Hamas, Ismail Haniyeh, in Turkiye this weekend.
“The leader of the Palestinian cause will be my guest this weekend,” Erdogan, an outspoken critic of Israel, told lawmakers.
Private television channel NTV reported that the two men would meet on Saturday at the Dolmabahce palace in Istanbul.
Their last meeting was in July 2023 when Erdogan hosted Haniyeh at the presidential palace in Ankara alongside Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas.
Erdogan has been one of the strongest critics of Israel since the start of the war in Gaza, sparked by the militant group’s attack on Israel on October 7, 2023.
The attack claimed 1,170 lives, mostly civilians, Israeli figures show.
Israel has responded with a ground and air offensive that the health ministry in Hamas-run Gaza said has killed at least 33,899 people, mostly women and children.
The Turkish leader has forged friendly ties with Haniyeh, who is based in Qatar.
Erdogan last week offered Haniyeh condolences for the death of his three sons and some of his grandchildren in an Israeli strike in Gaza.
Erdogan has called Israel a “terrorist state” and accused it of conducting a “genocide” in Gaza. He has called Hamas “liberators” or “mujahideen” fighting for their land.


After surviving airstrike Palestinian boy dies seeking aid

Updated 24 min 23 sec ago
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After surviving airstrike Palestinian boy dies seeking aid

  • The teenager was struck by one of the packages as he rushed to try to get a can of fava beans
GAZA: When an Israeli airstrike destroyed his family’s home in November, Zein Oroq was pinned under rubble. He was wounded but survived, while 17 members of his extended family died.
But Zein, 13, would later suffer a cruel fate in Gaza, where Palestinians face severe shortages of medicine, food and water in a deepening humanitarian crisis.
The population of the tiny enclave, where Israel and the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas have been fighting for more than six months, is at risk of famine.
Last week, during an air drop of aid, the teenager was struck by one of the packages as he rushed to try to get a can of fava beans, some rice or flour.
“The first time, when the house was hit by a strike, he came out from under the rubble with wounds in his head, hand and leg, God saved him,” said Zein’s grandfather, Ali Oroq.
The grandfather, standing by a large pool of wastewater, recalled how Zein would swim in a pond to get a meal from the air drops, and how he should have been sitting at a desk in school getting an education instead.
But, with mediators failing to secure a truce and Israel and Hamas braced for more war in Gaza, which has been rendered a wasteland by the fighting, his luck eventually ran out.
“While parachutes were falling, an aid box hit his head, also the stampede of people who were heading toward the box did not pay attention to the boy — they were also hungry,” said his father Mahmoud.
“So, his head was cut and wounded, he got fractures in the pelvis, skull and abdomen and with the flow of people, the pressure increased on him.”
Zein was taken to hospital, where he succumbed to his wounds on Sunday in the chaos of a war that began when Hamas militants attacked Israel on Oct. 7, killing 1,200 people and taking more than 200 hostage, according to Israeli tallies.
Israel responded with a fierce offensive that has killed more than 33,000 Palestinians, according to Gaza’s Hamas-run health authorities, and turned much of densely populated strip, home to 2.3 million people, into rubble, twisted steel and dust.
“My son is so precious, he was my support, my entire life, my first joy in this world, my biggest child, may he rest in peace,” said Mahmoud.

Israeli raid on Gaza’s Yabna refugee camp kills at least 7, including 4 children

Updated 27 min 49 sec ago
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Israeli raid on Gaza’s Yabna refugee camp kills at least 7, including 4 children

  • The strikes hit the residence of the Abul Honoud family in central Rafah

GAZA: At least seven Palestinians, four of them children, were killed in Israeli airstrikes on Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on Tuesday night.

The strikes hit the residence of the Abul Honoud family in Yabna refugee camp, according to Arab News’ reporter in Gaza.

Local rescue teams continue to search for bodies and injured people trapped under the rubble.

Approximately 1.4 million Palestinians have sought refuge in Rafah, with Israel having razed entire neighborhoods in northern and central Gaza, forcing survivors to flee south.

At least 33,899 Palestinians, 12,300 of them children, have been killed since Israel’s invasion began last October, according to Gaza’s health authorities.