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Israeli troops fire on crowd seeking food from aid convoy, killing more than 100 Palestinians



Israeli troops fire on crowd

Israeli troops fired on a large crowd of Palestinians racing to pull food off an aid convoy in Gaza City on Thursday, witnesses said. More than 100 people were killed in the chaos, bringing the death toll since the start of the Israel-Hamas war to more than 30,000, according to health officials.

The violence was quickly condemned by Arab countries, and U.S. President Joe Biden expressed concern it would add to the difficulty of negotiating a cease-fire in the nearly five-month conflict.

The Gaza City area was among the first targets of Israel’s air, sea and ground offensive, launched in response to Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack into Israel. Hamas has been designated as a terrorist organization by the United States, Canada and the European Union.

While many Palestinians fled the invasion in the north of the enclave, a few hundred thousand are believed to remain in the largely devastated and isolated region. Trucks carrying food reached northern Gaza this week, the first major aid delivery there in a month, officials said.

Aid groups say it has become nearly impossible to deliver supplies in most of Gaza because of the difficulty of coordinating with the Israeli military, ongoing hostilities and the breakdown of public order, with crowds of desperate people overwhelming aid convoys. The U.N. says a quarter of Gaza’s 2.3 million Palestinians face starvation; around 80% have fled their homes.

Israeli officials acknowledged their troops opened fire on the Gaza City crowd Thursday, saying they did so after the crowd approached in a threatening way. The officials insisted on anonymity to give details about what happened, after the Israeli military said in a statement that “dozens were killed and injured from pushing, trampling and being run over by the trucks.”

Kamel Abu Nahel, who was being treated for a gunshot wound at Shifa Hospital, said he and others went to the distribution point in the middle of the night because they heard there would be a delivery of food. “We’ve been eating animal feed for two months,” he said.

He said Israeli troops opened fire on the crowd as people pulled boxes of flour and canned goods off the trucks, causing them to scatter, with some hiding under cars. After the shooting stopped, people went back to the trucks, and the soldiers opened fire again. He was shot in the leg and fell over, and then a truck ran over his leg as it sped off, he said.

At least 112 people were killed, Health Ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Qidra said. The Health Ministry described it as a “massacre.”

Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Jordan accused Israel of targeting civilians in the incident. In separate statements, they called for increased safe passages for humanitarian aid. They also urged the international community to take decisive action to pressure Israel to abide by international law and to reach an agreement for an immediate cease-fire.

The increasing alarm over hunger across Gaza has fueled international calls for a cease-fire, and the U.S., Egypt and Qatar are working to secure a deal between Israel and Hamas for a pause in fighting and the release of some of the hostages Hamas took during its Oct. 7 attack.

Mediators hope to reach an agreement before the Muslim holy month of Ramadan starts around March 10. But so far, Israel and Hamas have remained far apart in public on their demands.

Biden had earlier expressed hope that a deal would be done by Monday. He said Thursday that looked unlikely.

“Hope springs eternal,” Biden told reporters. “I was on the telephone with people from the region. Probably not by Monday, but I’m hopeful.”

When asked if the bloodshed in Gaza City on Thursday would complicate those efforts, he said, “I know it will.”

In a statement condemning Thursday’s attack, Hamas said it would not allow the negotiations “to be a cover for the enemy to continue its crimes.”

Medics arriving at the scene of the bloodshed Thursday found “dozens or hundreds” lying on the ground, according to Fares Afana, the head of the ambulance service at Kamal Adwan Hospital. He said there were not enough ambulances to collect all the dead and wounded and that some were being brought to hospitals in donkey carts.

Another man in the crowd — who gave only his first name, Ahmad, as he was being treated at a hospital for gunshot wounds to the arm and leg — said he waited for two hours before someone with a horse-drawn cart had room to take him to Shifa.

The violence came more than a month after witnesses and health officials in Gaza accused Israeli troops of firing on a previous aid distribution in Gaza City, killing at least 20 people.

Dr. Mohammed Salha, the acting director of the Al-Awda Hospital, said the facility received 161 wounded patients, most of whom appeared to have been shot. He said the hospital can perform only the most essential surgeries because it is running out of fuel to power emergency generators.

The Health Ministry said the Palestinian death toll from the war has climbed to 30,035, with another 70,457 wounded. The agency does not differentiate between civilians and combatants in its figures but says women and children make up around two-thirds of those killed.

The ministry, which is part of the Hamas-run government in Gaza, maintains detailed records of casualties. Its counts from previous wars have largely matched those of the U.N., independent experts and even Israel’s own tallies.

The Hamas attack into southern Israel that ignited the war killed 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and the terrorists seized around 250 hostages. Hamas and other militants are still holding around 100 hostages and the remains of about 30 more, after releasing most of the other captives during a November cease-fire.

Violence has also surged across the West Bank since Oct. 7. An attacker shot and killed two Israelis at a gas station in the settlement of Eli on Thursday, according to the Israeli military. The attacker was killed, the military said.

Meanwhile, U.N. officials have warned of further mass casualties if Israel follows through on vows to attack the southernmost city of Rafah, where more than half of Gaza’s population of 2.3 million has taken refuge. They also say a Rafah offensive could decimate what remains of aid operations.
Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians are believed to remain in northern Gaza despite Israeli orders to evacuate the area in October, and many have been reduced to eating animal fodder to survive. The U.N. says 1 in 6 children under 2 in the north suffer from acute malnutrition and wasting.

COGAT, the Israeli military body in charge of Palestinian civilian affairs, said around 50 aid trucks entered northern Gaza this week. It was unclear who delivered the aid. Some countries have resorted to airdrops in recent days.

The World Food Program said earlier this month that it was pausing deliveries to the north because of the growing chaos, after desperate Palestinians emptied a convoy while it was en route.

Since launching its assault on Gaza following Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack, Israel has barred entry of food, water, medicine and other supplies, except for a trickle of aid entering the south from Egypt at the Rafah crossing and Israel’s Kerem Shalom crossing. Despite international calls to allow in more aid, the number of supply trucks is far less than the 500 that came in daily before the war.

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We’ve not received any external attack – Iran official insists



Iran officials have said the country has no plan for immediate retaliation against Israel. A senior Iranian official

Iran officials have said the country has no plan for immediate retaliation against Israel.

A senior Iranian official told Reuters on Friday, hours after sources said Israel launched an attack on Iranian soil.

Iran has continued to deny the attack which was launched early Friday morning, targeting its nuclear station in Isfahan.

The attack, according to reports, was similarly targeted at a military site and calibrated to avoid damage and further Iranian aggression.

“The foreign source of the incident has not been confirmed,” a senior official said, according to the Guardian UK.

“We have not received any external attack, and the discussion leans more towards infiltration than attack,” the Iranian official said on condition of anonymity.

According to Reuters, an Iranian analyst also told state TV on Friday that mini drones shot down by air defences in Isfahan were flown by “infiltrators from inside Iran”.

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US vetoes UN resolution to recognize Palestine as State



The United States has blocked a United Nations Security Council resolution that would have recognised a Palestinian state

The United States has blocked a United Nations Security Council resolution that would have recognised a Palestinian state.

CNN reports that 12 members of the Security Council on Thursday had voted in favor of the resolution, while two countries, the United Kingdom and Switzerland, abstained.

However, the United States vetoed the resolution.

In a statement, the Palestinian Authority President, Mahmoud Abbas, criticized the US veto, saying it was “unfair, immoral, and unjustified, and defies the will of the international community”.

According to him, the international community strongly supports the State of Palestine obtaining full membership in the United Nations.

But Israel’s Foreign Minister Israel Katz praised the US for vetoing what he called a “shameful proposal.”

“The proposal to recognize a Palestinian state, more than 6 months after the largest massacre of Jews since the Holocaust and after the sexual crimes and other atrocities committed by Hamas terrorists was a reward for terrorism”, Katz wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter, after the US veto.

Vedant Patel, deputy spokesperson for the US State Department had announced earlier Thursday that the US would vote against the Security Council resolution.

He said the US has “been very clear, consistently, that premature actions in New York, even with the best intentions, will not achieve statehood for the Palestinian people,” referring to the headquarters of the United Nations.

Palestinian attempts for recognition as a full member state began in 2011. They are currently a non-member observer state, a status that was granted in November 2012.

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EU leaders agree to new sanctions on Iran after Israel attack



The EU has agreed to expand sanctions on Iranian producers of drones and missiles following Tehran’s unprecedented

The EU has agreed to expand sanctions on Iranian producers of drones and missiles following Tehran’s unprecedented attack on Israel.

“It’s very important to do everything to isolate Iran,” European Council President Charles Michel said.

The bloc already has multiple sanctions in place against Iran, including for selling drones to Russia for use in its war against Ukraine.

The EU’s new sanctions were agreed upon during a summit in Brussels which marked the first meeting between the bloc’s 27 leaders since Iran’s direct assault on Israel on Saturday, involving more than 300 missiles and drones fired from Iran, Iraq, Syria and Yemen which were mostly downed by Israel and its allies.

Tehran has maintained it was retaliation for a presumed Israeli air strike on its consulate in Syria on 1 April, in which 13 people were killed.

Israel – which appears to have only countered with a diplomatic offensive so far – has not ruled out a response.

But world leaders have continued to urge restraint, in a bid to prevent a wider conflict in the Middle East.

Israel has called on its allies to sanction Tehran’s missile programme and for the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) – a major military and political force in Iran – to be designated a terrorist organisation, something the US has done but the EU and UK have not.

The EU already has a wide range of measures in place which target Iran over its human rights abuses, nuclear proliferation activities and military support for Russia.

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Drones, missile attack legitimate responese against Israel – Iran



Drones, missile attack legitimate responese against Israel – Iran

Iran has said its attack on Israel was a “legitimate response” to Israel’s airstrike on the Iranian consulate in Syria.

An Israeli airstrike on Iran’s embassy in the Syrian capital of Damascus had killed two senior members of the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.

In retaliation, Iran had sent a barrage of drones and missiles towards Israel on Saturday but they were intercepted.

However, the spokesperson of Iran’s Foreign Ministry, Nasser Kanani, said Iran “does not seek to escalate tensions in the region.”

According to Kanani: “Iran’s action was completely legitimate and in accordance with the United Nations Charter granting states the right to self-defense.”

He added that the United States and the international community at large should “appreciate” Iran’s “responsible behavior.”

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Iran’s missiles, drone attack declaration of war – Israeli president



Iran’s missiles, drone attack declaration of war – Israeli president

The President of Israel, Isaac Herzog has said Tel Aviv was “considering all options” following Iran’s overnight missile and drone attacks.

Herzog said Iran’s missile and drone attack on Israel was a “declaration of war.”

Speaking with Sky News, Herzog said: “Every one of us should look and ask, what would we do had we been attacked in such an aggressive way as we were attacked last night.”

When asked if Israel would retaliate the attack against Iran, the Israeli president said they are “considering all options.”

“This is like a real war … this is a declaration of war.”

Herzog added that he was “happy that we are part of an incredible coalition of nations that have been part and parcel in preventing most of these missiles and drones and weapons to come into Israel.”

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Trump’s hush-money trial begins



Trump’s hush-money trial begins

Former President Donald Trump makes history on Monday, as he becomes the first current or former president in the nation’s history to go on trial.

Fox News reports that Trump’s hush-money trial, which will get underway in a New York City courtroom, will have an instant impact on his 2024 election rematch with President Joe Biden.

The former president is being tried on 34 state felony charges and is accused of falsifying business records in relation to hush-money payments during the 2016 election, which he made to Stormy Daniels to keep quiet about his alleged affair with the adult film actress.

The former President has repeatedly denied falsifying business records, as well as the alleged sexual encounter with Daniels.

Trump’s legal team has tried numerous times, unsuccessfully, to further delay or postpone the trial.

The unprecedented trial is the first of Trump’s four criminal cases, including two for his alleged attempts to overturn his 2020 election loss to Biden and another for mishandling classified documents — to go to trial.

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