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The death toll has exceeded 30,000 since the Israel-Hamas conflict broke out on Oct 7.

11:11 2024-03-18
Explosion rocks Syria's Daraa, reports war monitor

DAMASCUS -- An explosion shook the eastern countryside of the southern Syrian province of Daraa on Sunday night, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

The war monitor reported that the explosion coincided with Jordanian warplanes flying over the Syrian-Jordanian border.

Local news outlets said that Jordanian aircraft conducted three airstrikes near the Nasib border crossing, targeting a suspected mobile unit, possibly a small transport bus, which caught fire as a result.

The Jordanian army said in a statement that its air defense radar system has detected suspicious aerial movements from an unknown source along the border with Syria.

Jordanian airstrikes have previously targeted alleged drug traffickers attempting to smuggle drugs into Jordan from Syria.

09:46 2024-03-18
Gaza truce efforts revived as aid unloaded
Children wait while holding empty pots for meals provided by a charity organization during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan in Rafah, Gaza Strip, on Saturday. SAID KHATIB/AFP

DOHA/JERUSALEM — Efforts toward a truce in the Gaza conflict appeared to rekindle on Saturday after a new proposal from Hamas that also called for more aid into Gaza, where the first food shipment by sea reached shore.

Israel said it would send a delegation to Qatar for a new round of talks on a possible deal. It also advanced plans for a military operation in Rafah, where most of Gaza's population has sought refuge from more than five months of fighting and deprivation.

The US charity World Central Kitchen said its team had finished unloading almost 200 metric tons of food, the first shipment to arrive on a new maritime aid corridor from Cyprus. "All cargo was offloaded and is being readied for distribution in Gaza," it said.

The Cypriot government said that a second aid ship, the Jennifer, would depart soon, although World Central Kitchen later said bad weather made it hard to predict when the vessel, carrying 240 tons of food, would set sail.

"Maritime weather reports show bad weather from Sunday until the end of next week, so the exact timing of the sailing for either boat to return to Gaza is not available at this time," the charity said.

The United Nations has reported particular difficulty in accessing north Gaza to distribute food and other aid.

Residents say they have resorted to eating wild plants and animal fodder, and some have stormed the few aid trucks that have made it through.

"Doctors are reporting that they no longer see normal-sized babies," Dominic Allen of the United Nations Population Fund said after visiting the area.

Many governments have begun daily aid airdrops over Gaza. But air and sea missions are no alternative to land deliveries, UN agencies say. Humanitarian agencies have cited Israeli restrictions as among the obstacles they face.

The health ministry in Hamas-ruled Gaza said at least 63 people had been killed over the previous 24 hours.

36 dead in strike

Earlier on Saturday, ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Qudra reported 36 deaths from a strike on a house sheltering displaced people in Nuseirat, central Gaza.

The Israeli military said it had targeted two "terror operatives" in Nuseirat.

In negotiations aimed at securing a truce and hostage release deal, Hamas has put forward a new proposal for a six-week cease-fire and the exchange of about 42 Israeli hostages for Palestinian prisoners held by Israel, an official from the Islamist group told Agence France-Presse.

The Hamas attack resulted in about 1,160 deaths in Israel, according to an AFP tally of official figures.

Israel's retaliatory campaign against Hamas has killed at least 31,645 people in Gaza, according to the health ministry.

Until Friday, Hamas had insisted no further hostages would be exchanged without a permanent cease-fire and an Israeli withdrawal from Gaza.

Now the militants are saying that, during a six-week truce, Israeli forces would need to pull out of "all cities and populated areas" in Gaza, according to a Hamas official.

The White House said on Friday it was "cautiously optimistic" about the prospects for a new truce but stressed that negotiations were far from over.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday that Israeli troops would pursue a planned ground offensive in Rafah despite international pressure.

The conflict and security cabinets were to meet on Sunday to decide on the negotiators' mandate, his office added. Israel did not attend earlier negotiations in Cairo that failed to secure a truce for the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, which began last Monday.

The United States, which provides Israel with billions of dollars in military assistance, has grown increasingly critical of Netanyahu over his handling of the conflict.

Agencies via Xinhua

16:33 2024-03-16
At least 36 killed in Israeli air raid on centeral Gaza

GAZA -- At least 36 Palestinians were killed, and several others were wounded in an Israeli airstrike on a house in the Nuseirat refugee camp in central Gaza, medical sources and eyewitnesses said Saturday.

Eyewitnesses told Xinhua that the Israeli aircraft targeted a house for the Tabatibi family, west of the Nuseirat camp, with a number of missiles, which led to its complete destruction and damage to neighboring homes.

Medical sources told Xinhua that the Israeli raid resulted in the killing of 36 people, including children and pregnant women.

Meanwhile, Hamas-run government media office held the American administration, the international community, and Israel "fully responsible for the escalation of these crimes and massacres against defenseless civilians."

The office called on in a statement all countries of the free world to put pressure on Israel to stop the "genocidal war".

05:21 2024-03-16
First aid ship via Cyprus maritime corridor reaches Gaza
This handout picture released by the Israeli army on March 15, 2024, shows a barge carrying humanitarian aid being transported towards the Gaza Strip. [AFP PHOTO / Handout / Israeli Army]

GAZA - The first aid ship, traveling through the Cyprus-Gaza humanitarian maritime corridor, reached the coast of the Palestinian enclave on Friday and began offloading its cargo, Palestinian sources said.

The 200 tonnes of humanitarian aid onboard the ship was received by workers with the World Central Kitchen (WCK), who will facilitate its distribution to the local population grappling with severe food shortages, the sources told Xinhua.

"Our team in Gaza is offloading desperately needed food from our first maritime aid shipment under Operation Safeena", WCK said in a statement, adding a crane also arrived at the Gazan coast to expedite the transfer of aid from the ship to delivery trucks.

The vessel, manned by the Spanish aid organization Open Arms, left Cyprus on Tuesday.

10:21 2024-03-15
Israel receives Hamas's response to Gaza truce proposal: official
Photo taken on March 14, 2024 shows the aftermath of an airstrike on a home in a refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip. [Photo/Xinhua]

JERUSALEM -- Israel received Hamas's response to a new ceasefire deal proposal from Qatari mediators on Thursday, an Israeli official confirmed to Xinhua.

David Barnea, chief of Israel's Mossad intelligence agency, received the written response from Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim Al Thani, according to the official speaking on condition of anonymity.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office issued a statement, saying Hamas "continues to fortify itself with unfounded demands." The office added that the wartime Cabinet is expected to convene on Friday to discuss the proposal.

Despite the comment from the prime minister's office, the Israeli state-owned Kan TV news reported that the document includes a list of demands that Israel considers "reasonable."

Hamas confirmed in a statement that it has presented a "comprehensive vision" of a truce that includes a ceasefire and the release of hostages held in Gaza since the group launched its deadly attack on Israel on Oct 7 last year.

10:25 2024-03-15
21 killed in Israeli attack in southeastern Gaza City

GAZA -- At least 21 Palestinians were killed and 150 others wounded in an Israeli attack on a gathering of Palestinians waiting for aid in Gaza City, Palestinian Health Ministry said in a statement on Friday.

The witnesses and sources told Xinhua a group of Palestinians were at the Kuwait roundabout in Gaza to obtain aid as helicopters opened fire with their machine guns and launched shells toward the gathering.

The statement mentioned that despite challenging field conditions, efforts to recover the deceased and evacuate the injured are ongoing.

The number of the killed is expected to rise due to serious injuries, it added.

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) on Friday denied media reports that its military fired at Palestinians in southern Gaza City.

"The reports that the IDF attacked dozens of Gazans at an aid distribution point are false," the IDF said on Telegram.

19:33 2024-03-14
Palestinian death toll in Gaza Strip rises to 31,341: ministry
Smoke rises during an Israeli ground operation in Khan Younis, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas, as seen from a tent camp sheltering displaced Palestinians in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip on March 14. [Photo/Agencies]

GAZA -- The Palestinian death toll in the Gaza Strip from ongoing Israeli attacks has risen to 31,341, the Hamas-run Health Ministry said in a press statement on Thursday.

During the past 24 hours, the Israeli army killed 69 Palestinians and wounded 110 others in the coastal enclave, bringing the total death toll to 31,341 and injuries to 73,134 since the outbreak of the Israel-Hamas conflict on Oct 7, 2023, it said.

The statement noted that some victims remained trapped under rubble due to heavy bombardment and a lack of civil defense and ambulance crews.

Israel has been launching a large-scale offensive against Hamas in the Gaza Strip to retaliate against a Hamas rampage through the southern Israeli border on Oct 7, 2023, during which about 1,200 people were killed and more than 200 were taken hostage.

09:13 2024-03-14
Israel's parliament passes amended budget as Gaza war continues
People inspect damages of their home following an Israeli raid in Rafah, southern Gaza Strip, March 12, 2024. [Photo/Xinhua]

JERUSALEM -- The Israeli parliament on Wednesday approved a revised state budget for 2024 to fund the country's war against Hamas in Gaza.

According to the Finance Ministry, the updated budget stands at about 584 billion shekels ($161 billion), an increase of 70 billion shekels compared to the original budget approved in May last year.

Defense spending alone will go up by 55 billion shekels.

The fiscal plan envisages a deficit of 6.6 percent of the gross domestic product.

The statement noted that the budgets of all government ministries were cut to support the balancing measures.

The new budget also includes several measures to increase state revenues, such as taxing bank profits and reducing convalescence payments for employees, as agreed with the largest Israeli worker union Histadrut.

20:09 2024-03-11
Palestinian death toll in Gaza rises to 31,112: ministry
People walk on a street with destroyed buildings in the southern Gaza Strip city of Rafah, on March 8, 2024.[Photo/Xinhua]

GAZA -- Gaza's health ministry reported on Monday that the Palestinian death toll due to ongoing Israeli attacks on the Gaza Strip has climbed to 31,112.

Within the past 24 hours, the Israeli army killed 67 Palestinians and injured 106 others, pushing the total death toll to 31,112, and injuries to 72,760 since the start of the Israel-Hamas conflict on Oct 7, 2023, the ministry said in a statement.

Palestinian sources told Xinhua that, on the first day of Ramadan, Israeli warplanes continued to carry out airstrikes in various areas of the Gaza Strip, resulting in numerous casualties.

In the Al-Zaytoun neighborhood of southern Gaza, sources reported that 16 people, including children and women, were killed when a house was bombed. Additionally, a residential house in the Al-Sabra neighborhood, south of the city, was reportedly targeted, resulting in injuries among its residents.

Further south in Rafah, three Palestinians were killed and several others injured in an Israeli bombing that struck a house east of the city, according to local sources and eyewitnesses.

Israel has been launching a large-scale offensive against Hamas in the Gaza Strip to retaliate against a Hamas rampage through the southern Israeli border on Oct 7, 2023, during which about 1,200 people were killed and more than 200 were taken hostage.

09:07 2024-03-11
Palestinians in Gaza observe joyless Ramadan under shadow of bloodshed
People shop at a market ahead of Ramadan in the southern Gaza Strip city of Rafah on March 10, 2024. [Photo/Xinhua]

GAZA - Amina Al-Ashi, a mother of six in the Gaza Strip, has never been as scared of a holiday as she is ahead of this Ramadan.

For millions of starving Palestinians like her, the raging Israel-Hamas conflict and bloodshed seem to render any thought of festivity utterly absurd.

"Last year, on days like these, I was busy hanging Ramadan decorations and preparing for suhoor (pre-dawn meal) and breakfast for several days," the 44-year-old woman recalled.

Ramadan is scheduled to begin on Monday for Palestinians, but Al-Ashi was not even in the mood to welcome the Muslim holy month.

"My children and I starve most of the time due to lack of food. I do not know how to encourage them to fast when they only find the slightest amount of food," she lamented, referring to practices of Islamic traditions during the holy month.

The nightmare started months ago when heavy Israeli airstrikes on Gaza City took away her job and all her property and shattered her peaceful life.

Before Oct 7, 2023, Al-Ashi had lived in her own house in the al-Rimal neighborhood in central Gaza City and worked in a women's clothing store.

But after the conflict broke out on that day, she was forced to flee again and again, first to the Nuseirat camp in central Gaza, then to the city of Khan Younis, and finally to the southernmost city of Rafah, where she lived in a makeshift tent near the border with Egypt.

Recalling all the joyful moments in Ramadan in previous years, the thin woman said she "began to wish that it would not come this year as there is no food or any other aspect of celebration".

"Even the canned goods that we are supposed to receive as aid are stolen and sold in local markets at exorbitant prices, which I cannot afford," she said.

Social order is collapsing in Gaza as millions of desperate Palestinians struggle to make a living amid heavy Israeli strikes, paralysis in public services, and overwhelming humanitarian needs.

Al-Ashi stressed that she does not intend to celebrate Ramadan or even encourage her children to fast for fear that their health will deteriorate if they become malnourished and dehydrated.

In addition, she does not want to see any decorations related to Ramadan anywhere in Gaza, believing that "everyone here is dying without any mercy".

Not far, Emtethal Abu Ramadan has lived with her family in a tent set up by herself shortly after the conflict began. In recent days, she has been preparing Ramadan decorations from scratch. Despite the difficult circumstances, the woman wants to show the grit of Palestinians.

"For more than five months, we have been living in an atmosphere of fear due to the continuous Israeli bombing and destruction of our city ... but we (the Palestinians) want to prove to the world that we are a people who love life even under these tragic circumstances," the 33-year-old mother of three told Xinhua.

The young woman made Ramadan lanterns from cardboard while putting small light bulbs inside them to create a joyful atmosphere for her children in the tent.

"Even on such days, we must remember that life is worth fighting for ... Despite all the pain and sadness that we are experiencing, we can rebuild our homes and city as long as we remain alive," the woman said.

In Rafah, hundreds of street vendors touted goods on small stands, trying to make some money before the holy month.

But Abdul Qader Al-Buhaisi felt the pinch of skyrocketing goods prices in the market, saying he would barely be able to buy small amounts of food to prepare even a breakfast for his family on the first day of Ramadan.

"I did not find any type of meat except canned meat, which is sold at prices unaffordable for me," the 45-year-old father of five complained.

"Everyone is a loser ... No one, regardless of rich or poor, can bear the heavy losses of this war," he said, adding, "Warmongers are killing the desire for life within us."

Israel has waged a large-scale military campaign in Gaza since Oct 7 last year, right after Gaza-ruling Hamas carried out a surprise military attack on the Israeli towns adjacent to the strip, killing approximately 1,200 people and capturing more than 200 others.

So far, 31,045 Palestinians in Gaza have been killed and 72,654 others injured, according to the Hamas-run Health Ministry.

The Palestinians, as well as all Muslims around the world, are preparing to observe Ramadan amid hopes that Hamas and Israel will reach a humanitarian truce to restore calm to Gaza.

04:20 2024-03-10
13 killed in Israeli airstrike on house in central Gaza

GAZA -- At least 13 Palestinians, including children, were killed in an Israeli airstrike targeting a house in the Nusseirat refugee camp in central Gaza, Palestinian medical sources and eyewitnesses said Saturday.

Eyewitnesses told Xinhua that Israeli aircraft targeted a house with two missiles, destroying the house and causing damage to neighboring homes.

The Israeli airstrike killed 13 people, including children, and several others were injured to varying degrees and were all transported to hospitals, medical sources said.

Meanwhile, the Palestinian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates accused Israel of "involving the entire population of Gaza in a whirlwind of imminent death."

It also criticized that Israel consistently ignores all international decisions and requests regarding the protection and basic needs of civilians

Earlier on Saturday, the Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza said the Palestinian death toll from ongoing Israeli attacks on the enclave had risen to 30,960, with 72,524 others wounded.

03:47 2024-03-09
At least 5 Palestinians killed in aid airdrop malfunction in NW Gaza
Aid parcels are airdropped over the northern Gaza Strip on March 8, 2024, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas. [Photo/Agencies]

Gaza -- At least five Palestinians were killed on Friday and several others wounded in northwestern Gaza when they were hit by airdropped aid boxes with a parachute failing to open, Palestinian sources said.

Mahmoud Basal, spokesman for the Palestinian Civil Defense in Gaza, said in a statement that the aid was dropped in an unprofessional and unprecedented manner on the heads and houses of residents in the northwest area of Gaza City.

No further details were provided, but eyewitnesses said the aid airdropped by aircraft over Gaza City fell freely without properly opening their parachutes.

Meanwhile, the media office of the Hamas-run government said in a press release that the airdrop operations were "ineffective and not the optimal method," calling for the immediate opening of land crossings to allow for aid delivery to the territory to prevent an imminent famine, especially in northern Gaza.

It added that people in Gaza suffer greatly from severe shortages of food, water, medicine, and shelters.

"As a result of the famine disaster, at least 20 people have died, and the number is likely to increase daily due to hunger, malnutrition, and drought," the statement said.

Several countries, including Egypt, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates, France, the Netherlands, and the United States, have been conducting joint operations for about a week to drop food aid to the strip.

The coastal enclave, inhabited by about 2.35 million people, has been experiencing difficult humanitarian conditions since Oct 7, 2023, and international organizations have been warning of a famine.

06:07 2024-03-08
Senior US intelligence official reveals details of Israeli bombing of Gaza

An event calling for a cease-fire in Gaza was held in Washington DC on Feb 26. Josephine Gilbert, a US intelligence officer with 17 years of military service, said: "Our technology allows us to see exactly who is in these locations and buildings. So they [the Israeli military] know exactly who's in there and how many children are in there when they're targeting and bombing homes." She also called the US government "corrupt to the core".

04:33 2024-03-08
Hamas says no hostage release without meeting its conditions
Smoke rises as the Israel-Palestine conflict continues, as seen from Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip, Nov 22, 2023. [Photo/Agencies]

GAZA -- A Hamas official said on Thursday that Israel aimed to secure the release of its hostages without agreeing to the conditions set by the movement, a demand Hamas deemed "impossible."

The official, who spoke anonymously, told Xinhua that during the ceasefire negotiation, the Israeli side prioritized its captives' issue, while refusing the conditions set by Palestinian factions to proceed with the ceasefire negotiations.

Hamas's delegation left the Egyptian capital of Cairo on Thursday to consult with the movement's leadership regarding the negotiations.

Egypt's Al-Qahera News quoted a high-level Egyptian source as saying that negotiations will resume next week in Cairo, noting that consultations are still ongoing among all parties to reach a ceasefire before Ramadan.

Egypt has been hosting a new round of talks since Sunday to reach a ceasefire in Gaza, with the participation of delegations from Qatar, the United States, and the Hamas movement.

01:02 2024-03-08
Israeli army launches probe into failures leading up to Oct 7 Hamas attack
Smoke rises after an explosion in Gaza, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas, as seen from Israel's border with Gaza in southern Israel on March 7. [Photo/Agencies]

JERUSALEM -- Israel's military said on Thursday it launched an internal investigation into the failures that led up to Hamas's attack on Oct 7, 2023, which caught Israel off guard and resulted in the deaths and kidnapping of hundreds of Israelis.

The attack "began with a surprise that resulted in a difficult outcome and a significant loss of civilian and soldier lives," the military's Chief of the General Staff Herzi Halevi wrote in a letter to commanders. He acknowledged that the security forces failed in the mission to protect human lives.

The investigation would review the defensive capabilities at the onset of the attack and the events preceding it. This includes the lack of intelligence on the large-scale attack and the absence of preparedness on the eve of the attack.

Thousands of Hamas-led militants raided Israeli border communities on Oct 7, killing around 1,200 people, according to Israeli figures, marking the highest tally in a single day since Israel's statehood in 1948. A total of 253 individuals were taken hostage.

19:59 2024-03-07
Palestinian death toll in Gaza rises to 30,800: ministry
Smoke rises from Gaza, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, as seen from Israel's border with Gaza in southern Israel on March 6. [Photo/Agencies]

GAZA -- The Palestinian death toll in the Gaza Strip has risen to 30,800 since the outbreak of the Israel-Hamas conflict on Oct 7, 2023, the Hamas-run Health Ministry said in a press statement on Thursday.

Israeli army killed 83 Palestinians and wounded 142 others during the past 24 hours, bringing the total death toll to 30,800 and injuries to 72,298, the ministry added.

Palestinian medical sources said that the bodies of at least 45 Palestinians and dozens of injured people were transferred to the Al-Aqsa Hospital in the city of Deir Al-Balah during the past 24 hours.

The sources said most of the victims were children and women, noting that some of the casualties remain trapped under debris.

The sources reported that a large number of injured people died due to the lack of medical resources in the hospital.

The Israeli army announced in a statement on Wednesday that a soldier was killed and 13 others were injured, with six of them sustaining serious injuries, in the ongoing battles in the southern Gaza Strip.

The death toll of Israeli soldiers has risen to 587, with 3,053 others injured since Oct 7, 2023, according to data released by the Israeli army on Wednesday.

Israel has been launching a large-scale offensive against Hamas in the Gaza Strip to retaliate against a Hamas rampage in southern Israel on Oct 7, 2023, during which about 1,200 people were killed and more than 200 were taken hostage.

09:20 2024-03-07
Call for unconditional truce intensifies before Ramadan
By JAN YUMUL in Hong Kong
A girl touches decorative lights and lanterns at a shop in Deir al-Balah in Gaza on Sunday as Muslims prepare for the holy fasting month of Ramadan. AFP

Ahead of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, the 57 member states of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, or OIC, have adopted a joint resolution calling for the immediate and unconditional cease-fire in Gaza and resumption of international aid for refugees, as Saudi Arabia reiterated its support for a two-state solution.

It also condemned the "barbaric aggression of Israel against civilians" in the besieged Gaza Strip and "the entire Occupied Palestinian Territory" and refused what it called "the crime of genocide" as with the targeting of civilians "under any pretext and forcibly displacing them from their homes".

The meeting was held on Tuesday after the death toll breached the grim figure of more than 30,000, as violence in Israel's expanded military operations to eliminate Hamas continues five months on. This year's Ramadan starts on Sunday or Monday.

Famine looms over the Gaza Strip as aid supplies, already sharply curtailed during the conflict, have dwindled to barely a trickle. Swathes of the territory are completely cut off from food. Gaza's few functioning hospitals, already overwhelmed by the wounded, are now filling with children starving to death.

At the meeting in Jeddah, Saudi Minister of Foreign Affairs Prince Faisal bin Farhan bin Abdullah expressed concerns over Israel's plans to scale up military operations.

"We have noticed a positive development in the positions of some countries and an understanding of the magnitude of the disaster. We have also seen an increase in the number of countries calling for an immediate cease-fire," he was quoted as saying by the Saudi Press Agency.

He also said Saudi Arabia directs its message to those countries that the time has come for them to make their decision to recognize the State of Palestine and continue to pressure Israel to stop the violence in Gaza and accept the two-state solution.

Hamas said on Wednesday that it would continue working toward achieving a cease-fire in Gaza with Israel, Reuters reported.

Negotiators from Hamas, Qatar and Egypt — but not Israel — are in Cairo trying to secure a 40-day cease-fire in the conflict.

Strong incentive

Palestinian-Israeli violence often spikes during Ramadan, as does hostility toward Israel in the Arab and Muslim world, creating a strong incentive for leaders to clinch a deal before then, the report said.

On Sunday, US Vice-President Kamala Harris demanded Hamas accept an immediate cease-fire while also urging Israel to ramp up aid deliveries into Gaza, where she said innocent people were suffering a "humanitarian catastrophe".

Philippe Lazzarini, commissioner-general of the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, or UNRWA, said his agency was "at a breaking point" and had no capacity to absorb financial shocks.

UNRWA, critical for humanitarian aid in Gaza, is "functioning hand-to-mouth" after a significant funding halt, triggered by Israel's accusations against 12 UNRWA staff members of being involved in the Hamas attack, Lazzarini said.

Meanwhile, Israel has denied blocking aid and blamed aid agencies for slow delivery.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office on Tuesday held a discussion on preparations for Ramadan and announced that Israel's policy "has always been, and always will be", to "safeguard freedom of worship for all faiths".

Agencies contributed to this story.

09:29 2024-03-06
Cairo talks for Gaza truce 'difficult': Egyptian official
A man is seen inside a house demolished by Israeli forces in the West Bank city of Nablus, on March 4, 2024. [Photo/Xinhua]

CAIRO - There are difficulties in the negotiations hosted by Egypt to reach a truce between Israel and the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) in the Gaza Strip, Egypt's Al-Qahera News TV reported Tuesday.

The report, citing a high-ranking Egyptian official who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that the negotiations for a humanitarian truce in Gaza are difficult, but were still ongoing.

The source did not reveal the nature of these difficulties or details of the items in dispute between Israel and Hamas.

Meanwhile, in statements to Xinhua, official Egyptian sources denied media reports that the talks in Cairo had failed, noting that the negotiations were continuing.

The sources noted that the Hamas delegation is still in Cairo to discuss solutions for reaching a truce, revealing that Hamas submitted proposals that are currently being presented to Israel.

The sources pointed out that the United States is also pressuring Israel to accept a truce during the month of Ramadan.

Since Sunday, Egypt has been hosting a new round of discussions to reach a calm in the Gaza Strip, with the participation of delegations from Qatar, the United States and the Gaza-ruling Hamas movement.

Israel waged a massive military campaign on Gaza after Hamas attacked Israeli towns, killed about 1,200, and took over 200 as hostages on Oct 7, 2023.

Since then, the Israeli retaliation has killed over 30,000 Palestinians and wounded more than 70,000, according to Gaza's health ministry.

09:21 2024-03-06
Turkiye ready to act as guarantor in resolving Gaza conflict: Erdogan
Turkiye's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan attends a news conference with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Ankara, Turkiye, March 5, 2024. [Photo/Agencies]

ANKARA - Turkiye is ready to assume its responsibilities within the framework of the guarantor mechanism as part of its efforts to end the Israel-Hamas conflict, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Tuesday.

"It is obvious that a just peace with guarantees is needed instead of just verbal peace efforts," Erdogan said at a joint press conference attended by visiting Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in the Turkish capital Ankara.

The only path to lasting peace is the establishment of an independent, sovereign, and geographically integrated Palestinian state on the 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital, Erdogan added.

"It is now widely acknowledged that unless a fair solution to the Israel-Palestine issue is found, peace cannot prevail in the Middle East," he said.

Erdogan attributed Israel's "spoiled and lawless attitude" to the support it receives from Western powers.

Turkiye stands in solidarity with the Palestinian people, he said, adding the Turkish government has received more than 900 patients from the Gaza Strip for treatment. Erdogan also underlined his country's efforts to build a field hospital in Gaza.

For his part, Abbas stressed the need for the international community to protect the Palestinian people.

"Efforts need to be strengthened to provide international protection to Palestine," he said, adding that Palestine should become a member of the United Nations.

While expressing his gratitude for Turkiye's continued support for the Palestinian cause, Abbas said Palestine attaches importance to Turkiye's role in the Palestinian issue.

05:25 2024-03-06
Chinese envoy urges Israel to cease discrediting two-state solution'
Smoke rises from Gaza near the Israel-Gaza border as seen from Israel on March 4. [Photo/Agencies]

UNITED NATIONS -- A Chinese envoy on Tuesday urged Israel to cease discrediting the "two-state solution."

"We urge Israel to cease discrediting the two-state solution, stop eroding the basis of the two-state solution, and end its illegal settlement activities," Geng Shuang, China's deputy permanent representative to the United Nations, told the UN General Assembly on the use of veto.

Geng stressed that nearly five months after the outbreak of the Gaza conflict, the Security Council's call for a ceasefire was forcibly blocked by the United States for the fourth time, "which China found extremely disappointing."

He added that the result of the Security Council's vote clearly shows that on the issue of demanding a ceasefire in Gaza, the vast majority of council members are in agreement.

"However, the United States has been the only country to abuse its veto power to stifle the consensus of the Council, causing widespread discontent in the international community," Geng said.

He underscored that an immediate ceasefire in Gaza "is a prerequisite to save innocent civilians and provide humanitarian assistance, and a key to avoiding further escalation and proliferation of the conflict."

"As Ramadan is approaching, the international community must push for an immediate ceasefire and end to the conflict with the strongest sense of urgency and the political determination, in order to preserve the hope of survival for the people of Gaza," he said. "We urge Israel to immediately change course, cancel its offensive plans against Rafah, cease military attacks on Gaza, and stop the forced transfer and collective punishment of the Palestinian population."

"We call on the country concerned to put aside geostrategic considerations and domestic political calculations, be truly impartial and responsible in making the right choice, and play a constructive role in promoting a ceasefire in Gaza."

The ambassador noted that Gaza under gunfire is facing an unprecedented humanitarian disaster, with an extreme shortage of survival supplies, nearly 600,000 people on the verge of famine, and social order on the verge of collapse.

"We urge Israel, as the occupying power, to comply with its obligations under international law to guarantee safe, rapid, unimpeded entry of sufficient humanitarian supplies. Practical measures should be taken to protect the safety of humanitarian agencies and personnel and to facilitate them to deliver their relief work."

"Resolutions 2712 and 2720 adopted by Security Council must be fully implemented," the envoy stressed.

Geng said that the "two-state solution" is the only viable way to resolve the Palestinian-Israeli issue.

He added that recently, some Israeli political figures have openly and repeatedly rejected the two-state solution and any international efforts toward independent Palestinian statehood. "This is very alarming."

"China calls for intensified international and regional diplomatic efforts to reshape a credible multilateral process, revitalize the political prospects for the two-state solution, and relaunch direct Palestinian-Israeli negotiations. We call for an international peace conference that is more broad-based and effective. We support Palestine in becoming a full member state of the UN at an earlier date."

The ambassador stressed that China will continue to work tirelessly with the international community to bring an early end to the fighting in Gaza, alleviate the humanitarian disaster, implement the two-state solution, and achieve enduring peace and stability in the Middle East.

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