News update
  • Met office issues nationwide 72-hour heat alert     |     
  • No respite from heat wave for five days: Met office     |     
  • Over 2,100 men evacuated as Indonesian volcano spews ash     |     
  • Dhaka air unhealthy for sensitive groups Saturday morning     |     
  • North Korea conducts a test on 'super-large warhead': KCNA     |     

Ships with aid for Gaza depart Cyprus as hunger concerns soar

error 2024-03-31, 9:46am

mtnpr9irfbu7hhrtzn1wlrzqfuswjhrewxmg9rpb-01-0ff32b3831d1d4a93b4360d185954d1b1711856776.jpeg

A cargo ship, right, and a ship belonging to the Open Arms aid group, are loaded with 240 tons of canned food destined for Gaza prepare to set sail outside the Cypriot port of Larnaca, Cyprus, on Saturday, March 30, 2024. AP



JERUSALEM, Mar 31 (AP/UNB) — A three-ship convoy left a port in Cyprus on Saturday with 400 tons of food and other supplies for Gaza as concerns about hunger in the territory soar.

The World Central Kitchen charity said the vessels and a barge carried enough to prepare more than 1 million meals from items like rice, pasta, flour, legumes, canned vegetables and proteins. Also on board were dates, traditionally eaten to break the daily fast during the holy month of Ramadan.

It was not clear when the ships would reach Gaza. The first ship earlier this month delivered 200 tons of food, water and other aid.

The United Nations and partners have warned that famine could occur in devastated, largely isolated northern Gaza as early as this month. Humanitarian officials say deliveries by sea and air are not enough and that Israel must allow far more aid by road. The top U.N. court has ordered Israel to open more land crossings and take other measures to address the crisis.

Meanwhile, Egypt’s state-run Al Qahera TV said truce negotiations between Israel and Hamas will resume Sunday, citing an unnamed Egyptian security source. The channel has close ties to the country’s intelligence services.

Just one weeklong cease-fire has been achieved in the war that began after Hamas-led militants stormed across southern Israel on Oct. 7, killing 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and taking about 250 others hostage. On Saturday, some Israelis again rallied to show frustration with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government and urge him to resign.

Families of hostages vowed to take to the streets across Israel. “Give the negotiations team a wide mandate and tell them, ‘Don’t come home without a deal, bring back our loved ones,’" said Raz Ben Ami, wife of hostage Ohad Ben Ami.

Nearly six months of war has destroyed critical infrastructure in Gaza including hospitals, schools and homes as well as roads, sewage systems and the electrical grid. Over 80% of Gaza’s population of 2.3 million has been displaced, the U.N. and international aid agencies say.

In the coastal tent camp of Muwasi, mothers said they feared young children were losing memories of life before the war. “We tell them to write and draw. They only draw a tank, a missile or planes. We tell them to draw something beautiful, a rose or anything. They do not see these things,” said one mother, Wafaa Abu Samra. Children piled up for turns on a small slide twice the length of their bodies, landing in the sand.

Gaza's Health Ministry says 32,705 Palestinians have been killed, with 82 bodies taken to hospitals in the past 24 hours. The Health Ministry doesn’t distinguish between civilians and combatants in its toll but has said the majority of those killed have been women and children.

Israel says over one-third of the dead are militants, though it has not provided evidence to support that, and it blames Hamas for civilian casualties because the group operates in residential areas.

Israel's military on Saturday acknowledged shooting dead two Palestinians and wounding a third on Gaza’s beach, responding to a video broadcast earlier this week by Al Jazeera that showed one man falling to the ground after walking in an open area and a bulldozer pushing two bodies into the garbage-strewn sand. The military said troops opened fire after the men allegedly ignored warning shots.

Israel’s military said it continued to strike dozens of targets in Gaza, days after the United Nations Security Council issued its first demand for a cease-fire.

Aid also fell on Gaza. The U.S. military during an airdrop on Friday said it had released over 100,000 pounds of aid that day and almost a million pounds overall, part of a multi-country effort.

The United States also welcomed the formation of a new Palestinian autonomy government, signaling it was accepting a revised Cabinet lineup as a step toward political reform. The Biden administration has called for “revitalizing” the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority in the hope that it can also administer Gaza once the war ends.

The authority is headed by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who chose U.S.-educated economist Mohammad Mustafa as prime minister this month. But both Israel and Hamas — which drove Abbas’ security forces from Gaza in a 2007 takeover — reject the idea of it administering Gaza. The authority also has little popular support or legitimacy among Palestinians because of its security cooperation with Israel in the West Bank.

More than 400 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces or settlers in the West Bank or east Jerusalem since Oct. 7, according to local health authorities. Dr. Fawaz Hamad, director of Al-Razi Hospital in Jenin, told local Awda TV that Israeli forces killed a 13-year-old boy in nearby Qabatiya early Saturday. Israel’s military said the incident was under review.

Israel has said that after the war it will maintain open-ended security control over Gaza and partner with Palestinians who are not affiliated with the Palestinian Authority or Hamas. It’s unclear who in Gaza would be willing to take on such a role.

Hamas has warned Palestinians in Gaza against cooperating with Israel to administer the territory, saying anyone who does will be treated as a collaborator, which is understood as a death threat. Hamas calls instead for all Palestinian factions to form a power-sharing government ahead of national elections, which have not taken place in 18 years.