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

07:28 2024-04-24
Pro-Palestinian protests spread to campuses
By AI HEPING in New York
A child walks past the Al Taqwa Mosque after it was hit during an Israeli airstrike on the Al Bureij refugee camp located in the Gaza Strip on Monday. ASHRAF AMRA/GETTY IMAGES

At least 47 people were arrested at Yale University on Monday during pro-Palestinian protests, while new demonstrations broke out at other US campuses over the conflict in Gaza amid growing concerns about the safety of Jewish students.

Pro-Palestinian demonstrators set up encampments at the University of Michigan and at universities in the Boston area, on Sunday night, including at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, or MIT, in Cambridge, Emerson College in Boston and Tufts University in Medford. Harvard University closed Harvard Yard until Friday in apparent anticipation of demonstrations.

Passover, a major Jewish holiday, started at sundown on Monday night, and some groups have expressed fears for the security of Jewish students who will be celebrating.

US President Joe Biden on Monday condemned antisemitic protests on college campuses and decried "those who don't understand what's going on with the Palestinians", without expanding on what he meant.

As the New York Police Department built up a large presence around Columbia University on Monday, New York Governor Kathy Hochul visited the campus to address security concerns.

"Students are scared," Hochul said in a video posted on X. "They are afraid to walk on campus. They don't deserve that."

School administrators have tried to defuse the protests while balancing the free speech rights of protesters and the fears of many Jewish students, who said some of the demonstrations have veered into antisemitism.

At Columbia, where police last week arrested more than 100 pro-Palestinian demonstrators who had set up an encampment, the university canceled in-person classes on Monday.

Growing encampment

Students continue to protest into the evening at Columbia University in an encampment in support of Palestinians, in New York City, US, April 23, 2024. [Photo/Agencies]

The scene at Columbia University's growing encampment appeared quiet on Monday morning although there were about 70 green, blue and yellow tents on the lawn in front of the school library.

Early Monday, Columbia University President Nemat Shafik said that school leaders would be coming together to discuss a way to bring an end to "this crisis".

In a statement to the university community, Shafik said: "These tensions have been exploited and amplified by individuals who are not affiliated with Columbia who have come to campus to pursue their own agendas."

US Representative Elise Stefanik, a New York Republican who questioned Shafik at a congressional hearing last week about antisemitism on the campus, wrote her a letter calling on her to resign, saying that "anarchy has engulfed the campus".

New England Patriots football team owner Robert Kraft, a Columbia alum, whose name is on the Jewish student center he helped to fund, released a statement Monday saying he no longer supports the university.

"I am no longer confident that Columbia can protect its students and staff and I am not comfortable supporting the university until corrective action is taken," Kraft said.

The health ministry in Hamasrun Gaza said at least 34,183 people have been killed in the territory as the conflict marked its 200th day on Tuesday.

Hebrew Public Radio reported on Monday that Israel was preparing to expand a "humanitarian zone" in the Gaza Strip in preparation for a possible attack on Rafah.

Agencies contributed to this story.

04:27 2024-04-18
Israeli airstrike kills 13 Palestinians on gathering in Gaza City
Palestinian women and children react at the site of an Israeli strike on a house, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas, in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, on April 17. [Photo/Agencies]

GAZA -- At least 13 Palestinians were killed in an Israeli airstrike targeting a gathering of Palestinians in the northern Gaza Strip, local eyewitnesses and medical sources said on Wednesday.

Eyewitnesses told Xinhua that a drone attacked a gathering of Palestinians trying to access the internet in the Sheikh Radwan neighborhood in Gaza City.

Medical sources told Xinhua that at least 13 Palestinians died at the scene, and several others sustained varying degrees of injuries had been transported to the hospital.

The Israeli media reported that a nephew of Hamas politburo leader Ismail Haniyeh was killed in the airstrike.

Meanwhile, Palestinian security sources said that the Israeli army demolished a residential square in the Nuseirat refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip, which has been the site of a military operation for almost a week.

The sources added that the Israeli military intensified aerial and artillery bombardment on the northern outskirts of the camp, where clashes broke out with Palestinian factions.

On April 11, the Israeli army announced the start of a surprise military operation in the middle Gaza Strip as a part of the ongoing war against Hamas for over six months.

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.

20:56 2024-04-17
Gaza cease-fire urged as Israel blamed for tension with Iran
By JAN YUMUL in Hong Kong
A team member of UNICEF helps a Palestinian girl who did not receive adequate healthcare get out of Kamal Adwan Hospital in Beit Lahia, Gaza Strip, on Monday. MOUSA SALEM VIA GETTY IMAGES

Senior leaders in the Middle East have appealed to the international community to do more to de-escalate tensions in the region as frustrations grow over the delayed cease-fire and flow of humanitarian aid in Gaza despite resolutions to end the atrocities.

Tensions intensified after Iran launched retaliatory strikes on Israel in response to the Israeli bombing of an Iranian diplomatic building in Syria's capital Damascus on April 1, which killed at least one senior figure in Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and six other officers plus six Syrians.

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi had said that any "reckless" action by Israel would be met with a harsher and stronger response, according to a report by the Iranian Students' News Agency reported on April 15. ISNA is based in Teheran and is run by university students.

Raisi said that over the past six months, "and mainly in the last 10 days", Iran had used all regional and international means to warn the international community of "the dangers of the ineffectiveness of the UN Security Council", which is "under the influence of the US and the supporters of Israel".

Raisi also said that his country considers "peace and stability" in the region essential for Iranian national security, stressing that Iran "would not hesitate in making any effort to restore peace and stability to the region.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in a televised speech on April 16, blamed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for Iran's unprecedented missile attack on Israel over the weekend, the Times of Israel reported.

"Those who have been silent for months about Israel's aggressive attitude immediately condemned the Iranian response. But it's Netanyahu himself who is the first who should be condemned," Erdogan was quoted as saying by the Times of Israel.

Before the Iranian retaliation over the weekend, pressure had been piling on Israel over its defiance of the United Nations Security Council Resolution 2728, which called for an immediate cease-fire in Gaza.

It received international indignation over the Israel army's killing of seven aid workers from World Central Kitchen on April 1 after strikes hit their three-vehicle convoy despite being clearly marked with the charity's logos.

Reuters reported on April 15 that Israel's war cabinet discussed a range of options to punish Iran for its drone and missile attack but without triggering an all-out war, citing Israel's Channel 12 news report.

Speaking at a press conference during his visit to Pakistan on April 16, Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud lamented that international efforts toward a cease-fire had been "wholly insufficient".

"We are now well beyond 33,000 civilians killed. We are now actively discussing the potential of famine in Gaza. Again, famine. That means people are starving to death because humanitarian assistance is not getting to them," said Prince Faisal, as he called it "an unacceptable situation".

"It is a complete failure of the international system and the systems of international law and governance to live up to their responsibilities," he said.

"We must have a cease-fire now and we must have access to humanitarian aid immediately. There is no justification for the restriction of humanitarian aid in entering Gaza," he added.

Prince Faisal also expressed frustration that despite two United Nations Security Council resolutions, sufficient aid had not been entering Gaza and slammed the double standards of Western countries.

"We have finally now started to see a turnaround in the issue of aid. Unfortunately, that happened after six Western aid workers were killed by Israel but it didn't happen after 33,000 Palestinians were killed. So, this shows you the continuing double standard that we have to deal with and we have to live with," said Prince Faisal.

He said the reality was that the international community was "not living up to its responsibility" and demanded more be done to "end the killing, end the suffering of the people of Gaza".

"It is our position that de-escalation must be everybody's priority," said Prince Faisal.

Francesca Albanese, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in the West Bank and Gaza, had said that she hoped Iran's military response to Israel's bombing of the Iranian embassy in Syria "doesn't escalate into a full-blown war".

"At the same time, I urge everyone to remain committed to stop Israel's genocide in Gaza and its brutal violence in the West Bank. This is the only path to peace in the region and beyond," Albanese wrote on X, formerly Twitter.

06:06 2024-04-17
Israeli army orders residents in N. Gaza to evacuate: Hamas' media office
Displaced Palestinians, who fled their houses due to Israeli strikes, shelter in a tent camp in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip on March 11. [Photo/Agencies]

GAZA -- The Israeli army has sent tanks to the northern Gazan city of Beit Hanoun and ordered residents to evacuate, the Hamas-run government media office said Tuesday.

The office said in a statement that Israeli bulldozers and tanks advanced toward shelter centers in the city and the Israeli army surrounded a school housing hundreds of displaced people.

The Israeli army set up a field investigation center behind the school and demanded everyone inside to leave under threat of weapons, the statement said, adding all families in Beit Hanoun were forced to evacuate, and several young men were arrested.

"The new crime was committed under the cover of intense aerial and artillery bombardment and heavy gunfire," the statement said, adding that military vehicles were still present east of Jabalia and Beit Hanoun.

The statement urged the international community to hold the Israeli army accountable for displacing residents from their homes, despite their insistence on remaining there amidst inhumane conditions.

So far, Israel has not issued a response to the statement.

Israel launched 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.

21:24 2024-04-15
China expresses concerns on tensions in the Middle East

China on Monday expressed deep concern about the escalating tensions in the Middle East and called on all relevant parties to exercise maximum restraint and calm, as Special Envoy of the Chinese Government on the Middle East Issue Zhai Jun met with Ambassador of Israel to China Irit Ben-Abba Vitale.

Zhai elaborated China's principled position on the Gaza conflict, saying bloodshed and conflict do not serve the interests of any party and the immediate priority is for the Gaza Strip to cease fire, ensure humanitarian assistance and promptly release all detained individuals.

The Palestinian issue should achieve a political settlement on the basis of the two-state solution, thereby realizing peaceful coexistence between Israel and Palestine.

The Israeli ambassador briefed the situation of Iran's military strikes against Israel on Sunday and expressed Israel's position and concerns regarding the Gaza conflict and other issues.

09:14 2024-04-15
Israel rejects Hamas' pullout demand
A Palestinian reacts near the debris of Abu Bakr Al-Siddiq mosque and surrounding buildings in Deir al-Balah following an Israeli attack in the Gaza Strip on Saturday. ASHRAF AMRA/GETTY IMAGES

GAZA/JERUSALEM — The Islamic Resistance Movement, or Hamas, announced on Saturday it has responded to mediators in Egypt and Qatar over a proposed cease-fire in the Gaza Strip and reaffirmed its demands.

The movement said in a press statement that it has "submitted its response to the Egyptian and Qatari mediators on the proposal it received last Monday", without giving further details.

Hamas meanwhile reiterated its demands for a permanent cease-fire, the withdrawal of all Israeli forces from the Gaza Strip, the return of displaced Palestinians to their homes, the facilitation of relief supplies and aid into Gaza, and the start of reconstruction efforts in the coastal enclave.

The statement emphasized the movement's readiness to conclude a "serious and genuine" prisoner-hostage exchange deal with Israel that the faction had received on April 8.

Later, the Israeli Prime Minister's office said Israel rejected the "unfounded demands" of Hamas for an end to the conflict and a complete withdrawal of its troops from Gaza.

In an immediate response to Hamas' remarks, the office said the Israeli cabinet and the security forces are united in their opposition to these demands.

The office said political instruction given to negotiations focuses on "achieving the release of our hostages and maintaining Israel's security".

It argued that the only obstacle to obtaining the release of the Israeli hostages is Hamas and "not any factor on the Israeli side", and that Hamas "has refused any deal and any compromise proposal".

Cairo hosted a new round of indirect negotiations between Israel and Hamas on April 8, in a new attempt to reach agreements leading to a cease-fire and a prisoner exchange.

Qatari and Egyptian mediators, in addition to the United States, seek to reach a deal for a prisoner exchange and a second truce between Israel and Hamas, following the first one that lasted a week until the beginning of December.

The health ministry in Hamas-run Gaza said on Sunday that at least 33,729 people have been killed in the territory during the conflict. On the Israeli side, about 1,200 were killed.

Thousands of Israelis rallied against their government on Saturday, with some demanding Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu halt fighting in Gaza.

As concern mounts in Israel for the well-being of the remaining hostages, their families and friends have organized increasingly vocal demonstrations.

"Our country's near the abyss. We've already started to drive down and we must stop it. I'm here to gather the force to tell the people that they need to come out and they need to tell our government that it's time to stop," said Marva Erez, 45, who was among demonstrators in Tel Aviv.

Xinhua - Agencies

02:38 2024-04-15
EU, G7 leaders urge preventing escalation in Mideast
This photo taken on April 14, 2024 shows flares from explosions in the sky over Tel Aviv as Israel's anti-missile system intercepts missiles and drones from Iran. [JINI via Xinhua]

BRUSSELS/ROME -- European Union (EU) and Group of Seven (G7) leaders on Sunday called for preventing a further escalation of the situation in the Middle East following Iran's retaliatory strikes on Israel.

"Everything must be done to prevent further regional escalation. More bloodshed must be avoided. We will continue to follow the situation closely with our partners," said European Council President Charles Michel on social media.

"All actors must now refrain from further escalation and work to restore stability in the region," said European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on social media.

While calling on "all parties to exercise utmost restraint," Josep Borrell, EU's High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, said on social media that "this is an unprecedented escalation."

Borrell said that he has called an extraordinary meeting of EU foreign affairs ministers on April 16 "to contribute to de-escalation and security of the region."

After gathering in a virtual meeting on Sunday, the G7 leaders called for de-escalation and restraint on all parties.

In a joint statement, the G7 leaders emphasized "the need to avoid further escalation, calling on the parties to refrain from actions aimed at exacerbating tension in the region."

"To this end, the G7 called for an end to the crisis in Gaza through a cessation of hostilities and for the release of (Israeli) hostages by Hamas. The G7 leaders also pledged to continue providing humanitarian aid to the Palestinian population," said the statement.

The G7 comprises Canada, the United States, France, Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom and Japan, plus the top representatives of the European Union.

Iran and allied armed groups launched coordinated drone and missile strikes on Israel late Saturday night.

Iran's Permanent Mission to the United Nations has said the country's military action against Israel was based on Article 51 of the UN Charter regarding the legitimate right to self-defense and in response to the deadly Israeli attack against the Iranian consulate in Syria on April 1.

Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said on Sunday that Iran, at this moment, no longer sought to continue its retaliatory military operation against Israel.

06:25 2024-04-14
Palestinian prisoner from West Bank dies in Israeli jail
A protestor holds signs, during a pro-Palestine demonstration calling for an end to the war, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas, outside the US Consulate in Tel Aviv, Israel, on March 15. [Photo/Agencies]

RAMALLAH -- A Palestinian man from the West Bank died while in custody at an Israeli prison, according to Palestinian organizations dealing with prisoner affairs.

The Prisoners and Ex-Prisoners Affairs Authority, part of the Palestine Liberation Organization, along with the Prisoners Club, reported on Saturday that 59-year-old Abdul Rahim Amer from Qalqilya City passed away in Hadarim prison in Israel.

Amer was detained on March 17 and received a one-month sentence for unauthorized entry into Israeli territories. The details surrounding Amer's death, father of seven, have not been disclosed.

The statement further claimed that since Oct. 7, coinciding with the conflict in Gaza, Israeli authorities have detained numerous workers and allegedly subjected them to severe mistreatment.

It also accused Israeli authorities of "full responsibility" for Amer's demise through "systematic policies to target Palestinian presence."

The number of Palestinian prisoners and detainees who have died since Oct. 7 has reportedly increased to 16, the statement said.

02:54 2024-04-14
Hamas reaffirms demands in response to mediator's ceasefire proposal
Smoke rises behind destroyed buildings, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas, in Khan Younis, Gaza on April 11. [Photo/Agencies]

GAZA -- The Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) has sent its response to the Gaza ceasefire proposal to mediators in Egypt and Qatar, in which it reaffirmed its demands, the Gaza-ruling movement said in a statement on Saturday.

09:12 2024-04-13
US urged to play 'constructive role'
By Zhang Yunbi in Beijing and Jan Yumul in Hong Kong
Smoke rises as the Israeli forces raid the Nuseirat refugee camp in Deir Al Balah, Gaza on April 12, 2024. [Photo/VCG]

In terms of resolving the Middle East issue and cooling down the situation in Gaza, "the United States, in particular, should play a constructive role", said China's Foreign Ministry when discussing details of a call between Foreign Minister Wang Yi and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken that took place on Thursday evening.

Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning told a regular news conference on Friday that Wang has expressed strong condemnation to the attack against the Iranian embassy in Syria on April 1.

Beijing underscored that the security of diplomatic institutions is not subject to infringement and that the sovereignty of Iran and Syria should be respected, she said.

Blinken briefed Wang on Washington's views regarding the current situation in the Middle East.

Mao said this round of escalation is the latest sign of spillover from the Gaza conflict.

"It is imperative that the Gaza conflict is brought to an end as soon as possible," she said.

Beijing called on all parties involved in the conflict to effectively implement United Nations Security Council Resolution 2728, immediately cease fire to stop the fighting and avert a humanitarian crisis, she added.

"China will continue to play a constructive role in resolving the Middle East issue based on the right and wrong of the matters themselves and to contribute to cooling down the situation," Mao said.

It came as Israel was on alert Thursday after Iran threatened reprisals over the strike in Syria.

France on Friday warned its citizens to "imperatively refrain from travel in the coming days to Iran, Lebanon, Israel and the Palestinian territories", the foreign minister's entourage said.

Iranian statement

Iran's permanent mission to the UN has regretted the UN Security Council's inaction to condemn Israeli attacks on its consulate building on Syrian soil, suggesting its retaliatory course could have been avoided by the international community.

The suspected Israeli airstrike damaged the Iranian embassy compound in Damascus, where seven members of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps were killed. International law experts said the attacks violated international law and sovereignty.

"Had the UN Security Council condemned the Zionist regime's reprehensible act of aggression on our diplomatic premises in Damascus and subsequently brought to justice its perpetrators, the imperative for Iran to punish this rogue regime might have been obviated," the mission said on its X account.

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, in a phone conversation with US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin on Thursday, vowed for an "appropriate response" if Iran attacked Israeli territory.

In a phone conversation with his German counterpart Annalena Baerbock on Thursday, Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian stressed that Iran's foreign policy "had always been based on staying away from tension".

But he said legitimate self-defense was a necessity when Israel, in breach of international law and relevant Vienna conventions, fully violated the immunity of diplomatic premises and personnel, Xinhua News Agency reported.

Further, in a separate call with British Foreign Secretary David Cameron on the same day, Amir-Abdollahian said the silence of the US and Britain would encourage Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to continue and expand its warmongering in the region.

Meanwhile, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov called on all countries in the Middle East to show restraint in the wake of the Israeli strike so as to avoid a full-scale destabilization of the situation, Russia's TASS News Agency reported. Germany and Britain also made similar appeals.

In Gaza, the Hamas-run authorities said on Friday that at least 33,634 people had been killed in the territory during more than six months of conflict between Israel and Palestinian militants.

03:19 2024-04-12
Israeli airstrike kills 9 Palestinians in Gaza's Rafah
Palestinian children look on from a window during Eid al-Fitr, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, in Gaza City on April 11. [Photo/Agencies]

GAZA -- At least nine Palestinians were killed in an Israeli airstrike on the southernmost Gaza city of Rafah, eyewitnesses and medical sources said Thursday.

An Israeli drone targeted a gathering of Palestinians near a cemetery east of Rafah with a missile, killing six people, local sources told Xinhua, adding the bodies were transferred to Abu Yousef al-Najjar Hospital in the city, with some of them being dismembered.

In addition, three Palestinians were killed, and several others were injured in an Israeli raid in the al-Jneina neighborhood east of Rafah, according to the sources. The casualties were transferred to the same hospital, the sources said.

Meanwhile, Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich told Israeli media that the Israeli army continues to target the infrastructure of the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas).

The army is preparing to expand its operations to include Rafah, Deir al-Balah, and other cities in the central Gaza Strip, he said, noting the operations will be similar to Wednesday's raid in Nuseirat, with the aim of eliminating "terrorism" and disarming Gaza Strip.

Israeli forces have conducted intensive bombardments in the vicinity of the Nuseirat refugee camp in central Gaza since Wednesday night, resulting in casualties.

This came as the Al-Quds Brigades, the armed wing of the Islamic Jihad Movement, announced that its members shot down an Israeli "quadcopter" aircraft and seized it while it was carrying out reconnaissance missions in the central Gaza Strip airspace.

Israeli army spokesperson Avichay Adraee confirmed in a statement on the X platform that the 162nd Brigade had launched a surprise military campaign in the central Gaza Strip since Wednesday night.

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.

The war has killed at least 33,482 Palestinians and wounded 76,049 others since its outbreak, the Palestinian Health Ministry said on Wednesday.

16:21 2024-04-11
Israeli forces bombard surrounding areas of Nuseirat refugee camp in central Gaza
File photo: Palestinians inspect the site of an Israeli strike on a residential building at Nuseirat refugee camp in central Gaza Strip, March 20, 2024. [Photo/Agencies]

GAZA - Israeli forces have conducted intensive bombardments in the vicinity of the Nuseirat refugee camp in central Gaza since Wednesday night, resulting in casualties, local sources told Xinhua on Thursday.

Palestinian security sources said that the Israeli army executed extensive firing operations to the north of the Nuseirat camp. Additionally, Israeli aircraft bombed two mosques located west and north of the camp, as well as several residential towers. Israeli artillery also fired numerous shells targeting homes, apartments, and agricultural lands on the outskirts of the camp.

The sources explained that the bombing resulted in the killing of at least five Palestinians and the wounding of others, noting that fierce battles are ongoing between the Palestinian militants and the Israeli forces on the outskirts of Nuseirat.

Meanwhile, Israel Defense Forces announced in a statement on Thursday that Israeli soldiers have launched military operations in these areas.

06:56 2024-04-11
Cease-fire urged for Gaza in Eid wishes
By JAN YUMUL in Hong Kong
A boy distributes sweets to displaced Palestinians as they attend a morning prayer to start the Eid al-Fitr festival, marking the end of the holy month of Ramadan in Rafah on Wednesday. MOHAMMED ABED/AFP

From the Al Aqsa Mosque compound in East Jerusalem to other Islamic facilities in Africa, Asia and Europe, Eid wishes this year were muted with tragic tones and eager calls of leaders of Muslim-majority countries for an end to Gaza bloodshed and hunger.

The holy month of Ramadan is ending with the United Nations Security Council Resolution 2728 left in the cold, while an agency of the United Nations suspects Israel could be using starvation as a weapon by limiting food aid convoys.

In his Eid message, Organization of Islamic Cooperation Secretary-General Hissein Brahim Taha said at Eid al-Fitr that his heart "is overwhelmed by Palestinians languishing under unprecedented brutal aggression of the Israeli occupation forces" who "did not give the people space to pray or even observe the Ramadan fast in peace", but rather "intensified their killing, destruction, and starvation".

In his Eid al-Fitr speech on Tuesday, Saudi Arabia's King Salman Bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud reiterated the need to stop attacking the Palestinian people and end their suffering by recognizing their legitimate rights, Arab News reported.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Sunday called for limiting the activities of Eid al-Fitr to religious rituals only, citing the difficult circumstances as the result of ongoing fighting in the Gaza Strip, Xinhua News Agency reported.

Palestinian News Agency WAFA reported that Muslim Palestinians in the Gaza Strip performed Eid al-Fitr prayers on the ruins of mosques that had been destroyed by Israeli attacks in shelter schools "to which they were displaced, and in public squares in the rain and cold weather".

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in his Eid message this year that his heart "is broken to know" that, in Gaza, in Sudan, "and so many other places because of conflict and hunger".

Supplies argument

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said Israel was deliberately delaying and blocking food supplies from entering Gaza in comparison to other forms of humanitarian aid, Arab News reported.

"In northern Gaza, food distribution by humanitarian actors reached only 16 percent of the population," a report from the OCHA stated.

However, Israel accused the United Nations of undercounting aid entering Gaza, saying on Wednesday the UN was using a flawed approach meant to conceal its own distribution difficulties.

While Israel said 419 trucks entered the Gaza Strip on Monday, the main UN agency there, UNRWA, said only 223 trucks had come in on that day.

"The UN's incorrect numbers are a result of their flawed counting method," the COGAT, the Israeli military branch responsible for aid transfers, said in a statement.

Israeli forces kept up combat operations and airstrikes on Gaza a day after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed no let-up in the campaign to destroy Hamas.

US President Joe Biden called Netanyahu's handling of the conflict in Gaza a mistake and called for his government to flood the beleaguered territory with aid, ramping up pressure on Israel to reach a cease-fire and widening a rift between the two staunch allies.

"I think what he's doing is a mistake. I don't agree with his approach," Biden told Spanish-language TV network Univision in an interview that aired on Tuesday night.

Meanwhile, the Council on American-Islamic Relations slammed US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin after he said the US does not have any evidence that Israel was committing genocide in Gaza in a Senate hearing.

Israel and Hamas are currently engaged in talks meant to bring about a cease-fire in exchange for the release of hostages captured by Hamas who stormed across the border on Oct 7.But the sides remain far apart on key issues, including the return of Palestinians to hard-hit northern Gaza.

Agencies contributed to this story.

03:09 2024-04-11
Palestinian death toll in Gaza rises to 33,482: ministry
A United Nations (UN) team inspects the grounds of Al-Shifa hospital, Gaza's largest hospital, which was reduced to ashes by a two-week Israeli raid, on April 8. [Photo/Agencies]

GAZA -- The Ministry of Health in Gaza said Wednesday that the Palestinian death toll has risen to 33,482 as a result of ongoing Israeli attacks.

During the past 24 hours, the Israeli army killed 122 Palestinians and wounded 56 others, bringing the total death toll to 33,482 and injuries to 76,049 since the outbreak of the Israel-Hamas conflict, the ministry said in a statement.

Some victims are still under the rubble and on the roads as the Israeli army prevents ambulance and civil defense crews from reaching them, according to the statement.

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

23:41 2024-04-10
Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh's 3 sons killed in Israeli raid
Palestinian group Hamas' top leader, Ismail Haniyeh speaks during a press conference in Tehran, Iran, March 26, 2024. [Photo/Agencies]

GAZA -- Three sons of Ismail Haniyeh, the head of the Hamas Political Bureau, along with his three grandchildren, were killed in an Israeli airstrike on Gaza City Wednesday.

Hamas' media office reported that the sons were killed by a strike on their car while they were driving in Al-Shati refugee camp west of Gaza City. Three of Haniyeh's grandchildren were also killed in the raid, Hamas said.

Later in the day, Israel officially confirmed the attack.

"An aircraft struck three Hamas military operatives that conducted terrorist activity in the central Gaza Strip," Israel's Shin Bet security service and the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said in a joint statement.

According to the statement, the three sons who were killed are Amir Haniyeh, Mohammad Haniyeh, and Hazem Haniyeh.

The IDF added in the statement that it is "aware of claims that other relatives of Haniyeh were harmed, among them a minor. This information is not verified by the IDF."

Haniyeh said in an interview with Al Jazeera TV after the attack that the killing of his sons would not affect Hamas' demands in Gaza ceasefire negotiations.

Haniyeh, the 61-year-old Hamas leader, is based in Qatar.

16:32 2024-04-10
Gaza: A vicious cycle of despair looking for solution
By Cui Haipei and Pan Jie

Muslims worldwide celebrated the holiday of Eid al-Fitr on Wednesday. A joyous day to be sure, with the end of the fasting month of Ramadan. However, those who live in the Gaza Strip — surrounded by the rubble of bombed out buildings and wondering where their next meal would come from — had little to celebrate.

Day and night over the past six months, wailing and tears have been the lot of Gazans young and old. Indeed that wailing and those tears have been heard and seen around the world.

The numbers are stark enough. The conflict broke out after Hamas undertook a surprise attack on Israel on Oct 7 that resulted in the deaths of 1,170 people. Israel's relentless, remorseless retaliation has killed at least 33,360 people in Gaza, mostly women and children.

The carnage is there for all to see in the southern city of Khan Younis, a wasteland of shattered buildings and mountains of rubble after months of heavy bombing and street fighting.

In addition, the conflict has created a humanitarian crisis of horrific proportions.

Palestinians in northern Gaza have eaten an average of just 245 calories a day — equivalent to less than a can of beans — since January, the British charity Oxfam says. Much of the population in northern Gaza is on the brink of starvation, the United Nations says, and Gaza's 2.4 million Palestinians are "experiencing acute food insecurity and malnutrition", a World Bank report last week said.

The top UN court has concluded there is a "plausible risk of genocide" there, a charge Israel strongly denies, and the UN Security Council has adopted a demand for a cease-fire.

Israel has faced a chorus of global calls to halt the fighting and ease the suffering.

However, in a video message issued on Monday, Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said his country's forces would storm the city of Rafah, in southern Gaza on the Egyptian border, despite global concerns for the fate of civilians sheltering there.

Moreover, fears that the conflict could spread have intensified after Iran vowed to retaliate for an airstrike on the consular office of its embassy in Damascus last week.

In the first episode of the video series China Echoes, China Daily takes a look at the conflict through the raw prism of some key words and numbers that have dominated news reports.

On March 25, after months of haggling, the Security Council finally adopted a resolution demanding an immediate cease-fire during Ramadan. The United States, Israel's top backer, had repeatedly blocked previous resolutions for a truce. However, the US, which abstained from the vote, said the resolution is "non-binding", even though Security Council resolutions are legally binding.

China has always stressed that only by fully implementing the two-state solution, establishing an independent Palestinian state and correcting the long-standing historical injustice suffered by Palestinians can the vicious cycle of conflict end.

On Monday Dai Bing, charge d'affaires of China's permanent mission to the UN, revisited the core issue of the conflict, the two-state solution. He urged Israel to cease military aggression and lift its blockade of Gaza and urged the US to shoulder its responsibilities as a permanent member of the Security Council.

05:52 2024-04-10
Israeli airstrike kills 14 in Gaza's refugee camp
This file photo taken on March 20, shows Palestinians inspecting the site of an Israeli strike on a residential building at Nuseirat refugee camp in central Gaza Strip. [Photo/Agencies]

GAZA -- At least 14 Palestinians were killed in an Israeli airstrike targeting a house in the Nuseirat refugee camp in central Gaza, Palestinian medical sources and eyewitnesses said Tuesday.

Eyewitnesses told Xinhua that Israeli warplanes targeted a house belonging to the Abu Yousef family in the camp, completely destroying the house and causing damage to nearby homes.

Medical sources told Xinhua that 14 people, including children, were killed in the airstrike, and several others sustained varying degrees of injuries. All the injured were transported to hospitals.

Earlier in the day, the Gaza health ministry announced that the Palestinian death toll in the Gaza Strip reached 33,360 since the start of the war on Oct 7 last year.

10:11 2024-04-09
Egypt, Jordan, France urge immediate ceasefire in Gaza

CAIRO -- Egypt, Jordan, and France on Monday urged an immediate ceasefire in the Gaza Strip, which has been under deadly Israeli siege and bombardment over the past six months.

In a joint article, Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi, Jordanian King Abdullah II, and French President Emmanuel Macron called for an immediate and unconditional implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 2728, which demands an immediate ceasefire in the conflict-stricken enclave.

"We warn against the dangerous consequences of an Israeli offensive on Rafah, where more than 1.5 million Palestinian civilians have sought refuge. Such an offensive will only bring more deaths and suffering, heighten the risks and consequences of mass forcible displacement of the people of Gaza and threaten regional escalation," said the leaders.

Noting that there is an urgent need for a massive increase in the provision and distribution of humanitarian assistance, the leaders urged Israel to ensure the flow of humanitarian assistance to the Palestinian population, a responsibility it has not fulfilled.

They demanded an immediate release of all hostages and reaffirmed their support for the negotiations brokered by Egypt, Qatar and the United States dealing with ceasefire, hostages, and detainees.

The massive conflict in Gaza has so far killed 33,207 Palestinians, in addition to many unreported under the rubble, and injured 75,933 others, according to the update released by Gaza's health ministry earlier on Monday.

Israel launched a large-scale offensive against Hamas in the Gaza Strip in retaliation to 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.

09:23 2024-04-09
Gaza cease-fire talks reach critical point
An Israeli tank maneuvers near the border with Gaza Strip, in southern Israel, on Sunday. Israeli troops pulled out from southern Gaza in preparation for a possible operation in the city of Rafah, Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said on Sunday. JAMAL AWAD/XINHUA

CAIRO/JERUSALEM — The latest round of Gaza truce talks in Cairo has reached a critical point as negotiators sent contradictory signals, after Israel pulled its troops from the southern part of the enclave on Sunday.

Six months into its offensive against Hamas, Israel voiced cautious optimism about the latest round of mediated negotiations.

Israel and Hamas sent teams to Egypt on Sunday, following the arrival on Saturday of CIA Director William Burns, whose participation followed US pressure for a deal that would free hostages held in Gaza and ease the humanitarian crisis there.

According to Egypt's Al-Qahera News state-affiliated TV channel, Hamas and Qatari delegations left Cairo and will return within two days to agree on the terms of a final agreement, while the Israel and US delegations will leave within a few hours.

In Jerusalem, Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz described the Cairo talks as the closest the sides have come to a deal since a November truce under which Hamas freed dozens of hostages.

"We have reached a critical point in the negotiations. If it works out, then a large number of hostages will come home," he told Israel's Army Radio.

Two Egyptian sources also said the talks are making progress in Cairo and all parties have agreed on the basic points.

The sources said that both sides made concessions that could help pave the way for a cease-fire deal in parallel meetings with mediators.

However, a Hamas official told Reuters on Monday that no progress has been made at the new round of cease-fire talks in Cairo.

"There is no change in the position of the occupation and therefore, there is nothing new in the Cairo talks," the Hamas official, who asked not to be named, told Reuters. "There is no progress yet," he added.

Hamas seized 253 people during an Oct 7 killing spree in southern Israel that triggered the conflict. Of those, 129 hostages remain, and negotiators have spoken of about 40 going free in the first stage of a prospective deal with Hamas.

Hamas wants to parlay any deal into an end to the conflict, full withdrawal of all Israeli forces and return of displaced Gazans. Israel has ruled out the first two demands.

While saying he was more optimistic than before about a diplomatic breakthrough, Katz added: "Israel is poised to continue the war."

Growing call

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday that despite growing international pressure, Israel would not give in to "extreme" Hamas demands.

The development of the truce talks came after Israel pulled its forces out of the southern Gaza Strip on Sunday.

However, Israel's Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said troops had left the city of Khan Younis "to prepare for future missions, including … in Rafah".

Local broadcaster Channel 13 TV reported that Israel was preparing to begin evacuating Rafah within one week and the process could take several months.

Israel for weeks has vowed a ground offensive in nearby Rafah. But the city shelters some 1.4 million people — more than half of Gaza's population. The prospect of an offensive has raised global alarm, including from Israel's top ally, the US.

White House national security spokesman John Kirby repeated on Sunday the US opposition to a Rafah offensive and told ABC News the US believes the partial Israeli withdrawal "is really just about rest and refit for these troops that have been on the ground for four months and not necessarily, that we can tell, indicative of some coming new operation for these troops".

After troops left areas in and around the largely destroyed Khan Younis, a stream of displaced Palestinians walked there, hoping to return to their homes from temporary shelters in Rafah, a little further south.

"It smells like death," said Maha Thaer, a mother of four, as she returned to the city on Sunday.

On Monday, preliminary hearings opened at the United Nations' top court in a case that seeks an end to German military and other aid to Israel.

Nicaragua argues that by giving Israel political, financial and military support and by defunding the United Nations aid agency for Palestinians, UNRWA, "Germany is facilitating the commission of genocide and, in any case has failed in its obligation to do everything possible to prevent the commission of genocide".

Agencies via Xinhua

10:32 2024-04-08
Progress made in discussions in Cairo on a Gaza conflict truce
People are seen on a street with damaged buildings near the Shifa Hospital in Gaza City, on April 1, 2024. [Photo/Xinhua]

CAIRO -- Progress has been made in discussions in Cairo on a Gaza conflict truce and there is agreement on the basic points between all parties involved, Al-Qahera News, an Egyptian state-owned TV channel, reported on Monday.

Delegations from Israel, the United States, Hamas and Qatar will leave Cairo within hours, and consultations on the Gaza ceasefire will continue over the next two days, said the report.

Hamas leaders, and delegations from Qatar, Egypt and the United States held talks on Sunday over a ceasefire in the Gaza Strip and a hostage-for-prisoner swap deal between the movement and Israel.

During previous rounds of indirect talks, Hamas demanded a complete cessation of the war, while Israel agreed only to a temporary ceasefire and rejected Hamas' request to allow displaced civilians to return home.

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