Live updates (closed)

March 1: ‘No excuses’ – Biden raps Israeli aid effort in announcement of impending Gaza airdrops

US president says 'hoping' for hostage deal by Ramadan * IDF hits Hezbollah men in south Lebanon * Hostage families carry stretchers symbolizing captives on 3rd day of Jerusalem trek

US President Joe Biden meets Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni in the Oval Office of the White House, Friday, March 1, 2024, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
Families of hostages prepare stretchers symbolizing the 134 captives held by Hamas in Gaza ahead of a march from Beit Shemesh to Jerusalem, March 1, 2024. (Chaim Goldberg/Flash90)
An Israeli right wing activist runs during scuffles with IDF troops near the Erez crossing during a rally calling for the building of Israeli settlements in Gaza, on February 29, 2024, amid the ongoing war between Israel and the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas. (Oren Ziv/AFP)
Families of the Israelis held hostage by Hamas terrorists in Gaza march towards Jerusalem from the city of Beit Shemesh, March 1, 2024. (Chaim Goldberg/Flash90)
IDF soldiers operating in the Gaza Strip in an undated photo released March 1, 2024. (Israel Defense Forces)
People call for the release of Israelis held kidnapped by Hamas terrorists in Gaza outside the US Embassy Branch Office in Tel Aviv, March 1, 2024. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

The Times of Israel liveblogged Friday’s events as they happened.

Kirby: ‘A deal triggering a six-week ceasefire is currently on the table’

Yoav Harlev and hundreds of others demonstrate on behalf of the Hamas-held hostages on the El Curtola highway overpass on the 100th day of the Israel-Hamas war, January 14, 2024. (Thomas Smith/Bay Area Telegraph)

White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby says during a press briefing that “a deal triggering a six-week ceasefire is currently on the table.”

While US President Joe Biden said yesterday that the mass-casualty incident surrounding a Gaza aid convoy would complicate ongoing hostage negotiations, Kirby says, “it’s too soon to know whether yesterday’s incident will impact the talks.”

“With the fighting stopped, aid will be able to flow more freely at an increased level, and the hostages — starting with women, the elderly and the wounded — can be released in stages,” Kirby says. “We’re going to keep our shoulder to the wheel on that and work very, very hard in the coming days.”

White House: First aid airdrop will take place in coming days; more to come

White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby speaks during a daily news briefing at the White House on February 15, 2024, in Washington. (Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images/AFP)

White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby says the first US airdrop of humanitarian aid into Gaza will take place “in the coming days” and that the operation will be replicated in the following weeks.

“The third and fourth and fifth one won’t look like the first and second one,” Kirby says during a press briefing, elaborating on the military airdrop announcement made by US President Joe Biden earlier today.

“There are few military operations that are more complicated than humanitarian assistance airdrops… because so many parameters have to be exactly right,” Kirby says, noting that the US military will have to make sure that the aid lands in a location in the densely populated Gaza warzone that is accessible to aid organizations tasked with distribution.

While airdrops are a faster method of delivery than trucks have been in Gaza, Kirby notes that the new tactic is only meant to supplement ground shipments, given that the latter can deliver at a far larger scale.

The first airdrop will consist of food, likely MREs (Meals Ready to Eat) used by the US military, Kirby says.

The US is still working to finalize details regarding who will distribute the aid once it hits the ground, he adds.

Palestinians run along a street as humanitarian aid is airdropped in Gaza City on March 1, 2024 (Photo by AFP)

The White House spokesman highlights Biden’s other announcement that the US will redouble its efforts to establish a humanitarian maritime corridor to deliver large amounts of humanitarian assistance by sea.

A maritime route would be able to deliver aid at a larger scale than airdrops, but Kirby admits that this effort is still in its earlier planning stages.

The idea has been something government officials in the region and beyond have talked about for years but has never been implemented. Even before the war broke out, Gaza’s port was barely equipped to handle large maritime shipments of aid.

Pressed repeatedly on whether the decision to announce the impending airdrops had to do with yesterday’s deadly incident in northern Gaza in which dozens were killed while seeking to collect humanitarian aid, Kirby insists that the idea had been in the works for “some time.” He adds that the stampede highlighted the need for more aid to enter Gaza through additional methods.

Kirby says the US has been in touch with Israel about this effort and notes that Israel recently conducted its own airdrop and is supportive of the US initiative.

While there are no updates to share, Kirby says the US continues to push Israel to open additional crossings into Gaza in order to facilitate the delivery of more aid. Jerusalem has been reluctant to answer calls to open the Erez Crossing into northern Gaza where it is seeking to prevent a resurgence of Hamas activity.

Kirby indicates that the US trusts Israel will be able to investigate yesterday’s incident in Gaza City, noting that they have sufficiently carried out similar probes in the past.

IDF says it killed Hezbollah members in strikes on terror group’s posts in south Lebanon

Footage of an IDF airstrike in Lebanon on March 1, 2024. (Screen capture/X)

The IDF says it carried out airstrikes and artillery shelling against Hezbollah positions in southern Lebanon, killing members of the terror group.

An infrastructure and two buildings belonging to Hezbollah are targeted in the village of Ramyeh, the IDF says.

Several Hezbollah operatives were spotted coming out of one of the buildings, and were then targeted by an aircraft, the IDF adds.

‘No excuses’: Biden raps Israel for lack of aid entering Gaza

US President Joe Biden meets Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni in the Oval Office of the White House, Friday, March 1, 2024, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

US President Joe Biden raps Israel for the lack of humanitarian aid entering Gaza in remarks to the press ahead of his Oval Office meeting with visiting Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni.

“In addition to expanding deliveries by land, as I said, we’re going to insist that Israel facilitate more trucks and more routes to get more and more people the help they need. No excuses.”

“Aid flowing to Gaza is nowhere near enough… Innocent lives are on the line and children’s lives are on the line,” Biden continues. “We should be getting hundreds of trucks in, not just several. And I won’t stand by, we won’t let up and we’re… trying to pull out every stop we can to get more assistance in.”

Nicaragua files case at World Court against Germany for aiding Israel

A protester waving the Palestinian flag stands outside the Peace Palace, which houses the International Court of Justice, or World Court, in The Hague, Netherlands, January 26, 2024. (AP Photo/Patrick Post)

Nicaragua has filed a case at the International Court of Justice against Germany for giving financial and military aid to Israel and for defunding the embattled UN Palestinian refugee agency UNRWA, the UN’s top court announces.

Nicaragua asked the ICJ, also known as the World Court, to issue emergency measures requiring Berlin to stop its military aid to Israel. The court usually sets a date for a hearing on any requested emergency measures within weeks of a case being filed.

According to Nicaragua’s claim, Germany is violating the 1948 genocide convention and the 1949 Geneva convention on the laws of war in the occupied Palestinian territories.

It builds on the case South Africa brought against Israel for allegedly committing genocide against Palestinians in Gaza.

Last month the ICJ said South Africa’s claims that Israel violated the genocide convention were not implausible and ordered emergency measures, including a call for Israel to halt any potential acts of genocide in Gaza.

Under the genocide treaty countries not only agree not to commit genocide but also to prevent and punish any possible genocide. It also makes complicity in genocide and attempting a genocide a violation of the treaty.

Germany is one of the largest arms exporters to Israel together with the United States.

‘This violence must stop’: USAID chief visits Palestinian youth center vandalized by settlers

USAID chief Samantha Power visits a Palestinian youth center in the West Bank vandalized by Israeli settlers on February 29, 2024. (Screen capture/X)

US Agency for International Development chief Samantha Power tweets footage from her visit this week to a Palestinian youth center in the West Bank that has been repeatedly vandalized by Israeli settlers.

“This youth center in the West Bank was once a place where thousands of Palestinians came together. Repeated attacks by extremist Israeli settlers have forced its doors to close and sent shock waves of fear through the community. This violence is intolerable and must stop,” Power tweets.

Biden announces US will airdrop aid into Gaza amid ever-deteriorating humanitarian crisis

Palestinians run along a street as humanitarian aid is airdropped in Gaza City on March 1, 2024 (Photo by AFP)

US President Joe Biden announces that the US military will soon airdrop humanitarian aid into Gaza amid the ever-deteriorating humanitarian crisis in the enclave.

“People are so desperate that innocent people got caught in a terrible war unable to feed their families and you saw the response when they tried to get aid in,” Biden tells reporters while sitting alongside Italian President Giorgia Meloni ahead of their Oval Office meeting.

“The United States will do more and in the coming days, we are going to join with our friends from Jordan and others to provide airdrops of supplies into Ukraine and seek to open up other avenues into Ukraine, including the possibility of a marine corridor delivering large amounts of humanitarian assistance,” Biden says, mistaking Gaza for Ukraine. The White House later confirms that he was referring to Gaza, not Ukraine.

Simultaneously, Washington will continue to work to secure a truce between Israel and Hamas that would allow for the release of the hostages and the entry of more humanitarian aid into Gaza, Biden says.

“Hopefully we will know shortly…. We are trying to work out a deal between Israel and Hamas — the hostages being returned and the immediate ceasefire in Gaza for at least the next six weeks, and to allow the surge of aid to the entire Gaza Strip, not just the south.”

Biden’s announcement comes a day after a deadly stampede took place surrounding a humanitarian aid convoy in northern Gaza where an administrative vacuum appears to be growing since Israel dismantled Hamas’s military infrastructure in the earlier months of the war.

Biden says he’d discuss with Meloni “the Middle East and yesterday’s tragic and alarming event in north Gaza, trying to get humanitarian assistance in there… The loss of life is heartbreaking.”

US President Joe Biden meets Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni in the Oval Office of the White House, Friday, March 1, 2024, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Airdrops have been a preferred source of aid delivery for several countries, including Jordan, whose king has even personally participated in such widely publicized operations.

But their impact is limited, as it is difficult to control the exact location where the aid will land. The volume of such deliveries also only amount to a truckload or two, making ground convoys a far more impactful method of delivery.

However, truck convoys have decreased substantially in recent weeks as law and order breaks down in Gaza. Hamas police have refused to secure convoys after Israeli troops have shot dead nearly a dozen officers, deeming them legitimate targets.

Regev harangues Gallant for giving Gantz ‘veto power’ over Haredi draft bill

Culture Minister Miri Regev (R) with Kulanu MK Yoav Gallant at the Knesset plenum on December 27, 2017.(Hadas Parush/Flash90)

Participants from Thursday night’s security cabinet meeting leaked selected transcripts to Hebrew media, revealing how Transportation Minister and Netanyahu loyalist Miri Regev attacked Defense Minister Yoav Gallant over a speech he gave earlier this week calling for an end to military draft exemptions for members of the ultra-Orthodox community Wednesday.

Gallant was late to last night’s meeting, leading Regev to inquire into his whereabouts.

Justice Minister Yariv Levin quipped that Gallant was busy making a deal with Gantz to form an alternative government together.

Gallant subsequently entered the room before being quickly harangued by Regev who demanded to know why he was pushing for elections.

In what could spark a crisis within Netanyahu’s largely Orthodox coalition, Gallant in his speech this week signaled that he would only back legislation settling the matter if it is endorsed by centrist ministers Benny Gantz and Gadi Eisenkot.

“Why do you and Gantz want to bring about elections? What was so urgent for you? Don’t you think this hurts the war effort? Why did you need to give Gantz veto power. You are the defense minister,” Regev is quoted as having said.

At this point, Gantz piped in to ask, “What does this have to do with me?”

Regev responded, “I really don’t know. How is it possible that Gallant gave you this veto power?”

Gallant retorted, “I did not call for elections. This does not appear in my speech. This is a time when everyone is going to have to [make compromises].”

Four more Gazan children die of ‘malnutrition and dehydration’ — Hamas health ministry

Illustrative: Premature babies are prepared for transport to Egypt after they were evacuated from Shifa Hospital in Gaza City to a hospital in Rafah, Gaza Strip on Nov. 20, 2023. (AP Photo/Fatima Shbair, File)

Four more children have died of “malnutrition and dehydration” in war-torn Gaza, the Hamas-ruled territory’s health ministry says in the latest such reported deaths as famine warnings mount.

The deaths occurred at Kamal Adwan Hospital in northern Gaza, ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Qudra says in a statement, noting that the number of child “malnutrition and dehydration” deaths now totaled 10.

Earlier today, a spokesman for the UN humanitarian agency OCHA told reporters that “if something doesn’t change, a famine is almost inevitable” in Gaza.

“Once a famine is declared, it is too late for too many people,” said the spokesman, Jens Laerke.

Islamic State attack kills one Iraqi soldier north of Baghdad

Mourners carry the flag-draped coffins of Iraqi soldiers killed in an attack by gunmen of the Islamic State extremist group in Baqouba in Diyala province during a mass funeral procession inside the shrine of Imam Ali in Najaf, Iraq, Friday, Jan. 21, 2022. (AP Photo/Anmar Khalil)

A roadside bomb exploded near an Iraqi army patrol north of Baghdad on Friday, killing one soldier and wounding four others, the defence ministry said in a statement.

The attack took place in the town of Tarmiya, 25 km (15 miles) north of Baghdad, the ministry said.

Islamic State formally claimed responsibility for the attack, saying it killed one soldier and wounded nine others, the group said in a statement.

Iraq’s Defence Minister Thabit al-Abbasi reached the area where the attack took place and ordered an investigation, the ministry’s statement said.

Despite the defeat of the Islamic State militant group in 2017, remnants of the group switched to hit-and-run attacks against government forces in different parts of Iraq.

British maritime firm says it has reports of another incident involving cargo ship

Forces loyal to Yemen's Iran-backed Houthis take part in a mass funeral for fighters killed in battles with Saudi-backed government troops, in Yemen's capital Sanaa, on April 8, 2021. (Mohammed Huwais/AFP)

British maritime security firm Ambrey says it had received multiple reports of another incident involving the Rubymar cargo ship, and a number of Yemenis were reportedly harmed during the incident, which occurred on Feb. 29.

The Rubymar, which was abandoned in the southern Red Sea after being targeted by Yemen’s Houthis on February 18, was approximately 16 nautical miles west of Yemen’s Mokha at the time of the second incident, Ambrey says in an advisory note.

Top EU official blasts Israel for subjecting Gaza aid to political negotiations

A worker carries bags of humanitarian aid that entered Gaza by truck through the Kerem Shalom border crossing on February 17, 2024. (Photo by SAID KHATIB / AFP)

A senior European Union official accuses Israel of subjecting humanitarian aid for Gaza to political negotiations.

“It’s a violation of international law to use humanitarian assistance as a variable, as it is to use hostages as a political tool. That goes against everything we stand for,” EU special envoy for the Israeli-Palestinian peace process Sven Koopmans tells The Times of Israel in an interview.

Israel insists that there is no limit to the aid that it is prepared to facilitate for Gazan civilians. Israel has also reportedly offered to expand aid into northern Gaza as part of the hostage deal currently being negotiated.

Meanwhile, aid organizations claim that the restrictions Israel has put in place have significantly limited the volume of assistance that can enter the Strip. Even after managing to enter the enclave, much of the aid has not been delivered due to the breakdown of law and order in Gaza. Hamas police have refused to secure convoys after Israeli troops have shot dead nearly a dozen officers, deeming them legitimate targets.

European Union’s Middle East peace envoy Sven Koopmans. (Sven Koopmans/X)

Hours after the interview with Koopmans, dozens of Palestinians were killed while rushing an aid convoy in aid-deprived Gaza City.

“Humanitarian assistance, which is saving the lives of innocent civilians, cannot be made subject to political negotiations — [in which Israel agrees to allow more food in if Hamas agrees to certain conditions], even more when the other side, in this case, is a terrorist organization,” Koopmans says.

“How can you say, ‘we’re not going to feed these starving children unless that terror organization does something?’ It’s not just a matter of humanity and values, even though these are very important. It’s also a matter of international law,” the EU envoy adds.

Israel obligated to ensure more aid reaches Gazans — UK FM

In this screen grab taken from video and released by the Israeli army on Thursday, Feb. 29, 2024, Palestinians surround aid trucks in northern Gaza in what officials described the day before as the first major delivery in a month. (IDF via AP)

British Foreign Minister David Cameron says that “the deaths of people in Gaza waiting for an aid convoy yesterday were horrific. There must be an urgent investigation and accountability. This must not happen again.”

“We can’t separate what happened yesterday from the inadequate aid supplies. In February only half the number of trucks crossed into Gaza that did in January. This is simply unacceptable.”

“Israel has an obligation to ensure that significantly more humanitarian aid reaches the people of Gaza. We have identified a series of bottlenecks that need addressing: Israel must urgently open more crossings into Gaza; eliminate bureaucratic obstacles; enable aid operations in Gaza; and ensure there is a robust de-confliction mechanism in place to protect ordinary Palestinians, NGOs, medics and others providing aid.”

“This tragedy only serves to underscore the importance of securing an immediate humanitarian pause. A sustained pause in the fighting is the only way to get lifesaving aid in at the scale needed and free the hostages cruelly held by Hamas,” Cameron adds.

Report: Qatar, Egypt failed to deliver on promise to secure list from Hamas of hostages still alive

People block a street during a protest calling for a deal to release the hostages held in the Gaza Strip by the Hamas militant group, in Tel Aviv, Israel, Thursday, Feb. 29, 2024. (AP Photo/Ohad Zwigenberg)

Israeli negotiators reportedly told Egyptian and Qatari brokers that they will not agree to participate in another round of truce talks unless Hamas presents a list of the hostages who are alive along with a more reasonable demand regarding the number of Palestinian prisoners it wants released.

The Axios news site reports that Egypt and Qatar promised Israel this week that if it agreed to send a negotiating team to Doha, they would secure a list of living hostages and pressure Hamas to come down from its demands.

But after three days of talks in Doha, the Israeli delegation returned home without any answers on either issue. “The mediators promised that Hamas would give numbers and that didn’t happen,” an unnamed Israeli official tells Axios.

Qatari and Egyptian officials on Thursday proposed another round of talks in Cairo next week, but Israel refused the offer, saying it would not continue to participate in talks unless it receives answers from Hamas regarding the hostages and Palestinian security prisoners, an Israeli official tells Axios.

“There is no point in starting another round of talks until we receive the lists of which of the hostages are alive and until Hamas gives its answer regarding the ‘ratio’ that defines how many prisoners will be released for each hostage,” the Israeli official says.

Senior Israeli officials say they are waiting to see whether US pressure exerted during President Joe Biden’s calls with Egyptian and Qatari leaders on Thursday bear fruit.

Report: Hamas cut communication with hostage deal brokers after deadly aid convoy melee

Palestinians look at the destruction after an Israeli strike in Rafah, Gaza Strip, February 22, 2024. (AP Photo/Fatima Shbair)

The Wall Street Journal cites unnamed Egyptian officials who say that Cairo has warned Israel that it will resort to airdropping aid regardless of whether Israel authorizes the move as the humanitarian crisis in Gaza worsens.

The officials say that Israel and Hamas remain far from reaching a deal partially because Israel has refused to agree to mechanisms regarding more aid delivery.

The officials say that Hamas has frozen its communication with hostage deal brokers since yesterday’s deadly stampede surrounding an aid convoy in northern Gaza.

The terror group has also threatened to pull out of talks completely if a similar incident occurs again, the Egyptian officials add.

Head of hospital treating some of wounded from aid melee says 80% were hit by gunfire

Injured people sit inside Shifa Hospital on Thursday, Feb. 29, 2024 in Gaza City. Israeli troops fired on a crowd of Palestinians waiting for aid in Gaza City on Thursday, witnesses said. (AP Photo)

The head of a Gaza City hospital where some of the wounded from a deadly melee over an aid convoy had been taken claims that more than 80% had been hit by gunfire.

The remainder of the patients — 34 of 176 — were injured in a stampede triggered by the shooting, says Dr. Mohammed Salha, acting director of the Al-Awda Hospital.

According to the Hamas-run health ministry, at least 112 Palestinians were killed and more than 750 were injured after huge crowds of desperate people raced to pull goods off an aid convoy Thursday. Those numbers have not been verified. Israel has said dozens were killed and injured.

Israel says many of the dead were trampled in a stampede linked to the chaos and that its troops only fired when they felt endangered by a crowd in a separate incident nearby. It has also noted that troops identified gunmen among those thronging the aid, suggesting that they could have been responsible for some of the deaths.

Salha says doctors at his hospital have been unable to operate on 20 seriously wounded patients from Thursday’s incident because of the lack of medicine, medical equipment and diesel for generators.

The hospital, like others in Gaza, has been suffering severe shortages since Israel declared war following Hamas’ deadly Oct. 7 attack, in which terrorists massacred 1,200 people in southern Israel and abducted 253. Vowing to destroy Hamas, which rules Gaza, Israel unleashed a blistering air and ground offensive.

Meanwhile, Israel’s COGAT military liaison to the Palestinians tweets that the IDF coordinated a UN convoy carrying a fuel tanker for Gaza City’s Shifa Hospital.

US looking into maritime aid operation as Gaza humanitarian crisis worsens

Palestinians loot a humanitarian aid truck as it crosses into the Gaza Strip in Rafah, December 17, 2023. (AP Photo/Fatima Shbair, File)

A US official says that in addition to air-dropping humanitarian aid into Gaza, the Biden administration is also considering shipping assistance by sea from Cyprus, some 210 nautical miles off Gaza’s Mediterranean coast.

Biden aides visited Cyprus this week to examine a possible maritime aid operation, the official says.

The details of such an operation, including where in Gaza supplies could be unloaded, are not clear.

The official says the Biden administration is considering using military or commercial ships and that it would be “complex in terms of securing a landing site.”

No decision has been made on military involvement in such an operation, says the official, adding that Israel is “very receptive” to the sealift option because it would avoid delays from protesters blocking land crossings to aid convoys.

Turkey blasts Israel over Gaza aid stampede; FM Katz hits back

This image grab from a handout video released by the Israeli army on February 29, 2024, shows what the army says are Gazans around aid trucks in Gaza City. (Aline MANOUKIAN / Israeli Army / AFP)

Turkey has denounced Israel over yesterday’s deadly stampede surrounding a Gaza aid convoy, calling the mass-casualty incident “yet another crime against humanity.”

The Turkish foreign ministry accuses Israel of using “starvation as a weapon of war in Gaza” and alleges that the latest event was evidence “of Israel’s intention to destroy the entire Palestinian population.”

“The entire world must realize that the atrocity in Gaza is about to become a global catastrophe with repercussions far beyond the region,” the ministry says. “We therefore call on all those with influence over the Israeli government to stop the ongoing violence in Gaza.”

Foreign Minister Israel Katz hits back, tweeting that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is carrying out an ongoing massacre of the Kurds.

“Mr. Erdogan, we are not like you. We are fighting against your accomplices from Hamas who you hosted in Turkey and enabled them to carry out the [October 7] massacres and murders. You best shut up and be ashamed!” Katz tweets.

General: IDF must prepare for hundreds of thousands of Palestinians taking to W. Bank streets

Palestinian journalists carry mock coffins of Palestinian journalists who were killed during the current war in Gaza during a symbolic funeral toward a United Nations office, in the West Bank city of Ramallah, November 7, 2023. (AP Photo/Nasser Nasser)

The head of the IDF’s Central Command Yehuda Fox warns of the possibility that hundreds of thousands of Palestinians in the West Bank will take to the streets in protest against Israel.

“Readiness for escalation is fundamental. We must improve our [readiness] every day. There may be an event (whether Israel is to blame or not) that will cause hundreds of thousands to take to the streets. This needs to be imagined and prepared for in all respects,” Fox says in a statement regarding IDF preparations for the month of Ramadan, which begins around March 10.

As pressure mounts, Biden reportedly remains unwilling to condition aid to Israel

US President Joe Biden speaks at Culver City Julian Dixon Library in Culver City, California, February 21, 2024. (Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP)

US officials tell NBC News that despite increasing pressure, US President Joe Biden remains unwilling to fundamentally shift his policy in support of Israel by placing conditions on military aid to Jerusalem.

Biden has privately expressed skepticism to some Democrats that withholding weaponry to Israel would be effective, arguing that while Jerusalem would like more security aid, it does not currently need it, NBC News reports, citing a source familiar with the matter.

The president has also expressed concerns that shifting from his support for Israel could risk alienating his Jewish supporters.

“You don’t want to send a mixed signal that they’re going to turn their backs on Israel,” one Democratic donor who heard the president’s private comments tells NBC News.

Unnamed officials tell the network that Biden is unlikely to shift his strategy — even after Thursday’s mass-casualty incident surrounding an aid convoy in north Gaza — as long as he thinks that a hostage deal is still possible.

Asked whether they have faith in Israel’s investigation into the incident, a source familiar with the matter tells NBC News that Washington didn’t have the ability to rely on much else, given its limited resources on the ground.

Other officials expressed doubt that Israel would provide a full account of what unfolded in Gaza City.

One US official says there is “no question” the incident will lead to an even more intense breakdown of trust between the parties negotiating a hostage deal, echoing Biden’s own comments on the matter.

Talks are now being conducted remotely after an extended period of in-person negotiations.

Biden campaign reportedly taking steps to thwart disruptions from pro-Palestinian protesters

FILE: US President Joe Biden meets with UAW members during a campaign stop, Feb. 1, 2024, in Warren, Michigan. (AP/Evan Vucci)

US President Joe Biden’s presidential re-election campaign has reportedly been taking steps to thwart disruptions from pro-Palestinian protesters in recent weeks.

The campaign is holding smaller events, withholding their exact location until the president’s arrival and avoiding events on college campuses, NBC News reports.

The effort has paid off with the past five weeks seeing no disruptions after Biden was interrupted repeatedly during a speech about abortion rights in Virginia.

“He’s better in small venues,” a Biden ally tells NBC News, citing retail politics as “where he thrives.”

“But the downside is that means he doesn’t reach as many voters,” the source adds. “The point is to reach as many voters as you can, and those small events don’t.”

The new campaign policy is being applied to the upcoming marquee fundraiser with Biden and former presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. Organizers are weighing hiring a private firm to vet attendees, NBC News reports, citing three people familiar with the matter.

Barnard College bans dorm decorations amid plastering of incendiary signs on Israel-Hamas war

Anti-Israel protesters march past the Milstein building at Barnard-Columbia University on February 2, 2024, in New York City. (Alexi J. Rosenfeld/Getty Images/AFP)

Barnard College in New York has imposed a ban on external dorm decorations amid complaints over incendiary signs regarding the Israel-Hamas war in Gaza.

One of those stickers plastered on a dorm room door read, “Zionism is terrorism,” according to a New York Times report on the phenomenon.

All but “official items placed by the college” will be taken down, Barnard Dean Leslie Grinage wrote in an email to students.

“While many decorations and fixtures on doors serve as a means of helpful communication amongst peers, we are also aware that some may have the unintended effect of isolating those who have different views and beliefs,” she wrote.

The new policy is facing pushback from pro-Palestinian groups on campus.

Lawmakers from 12 countries pledge to push their governments to impose Israel arms embargo

Israeli soldiers stand on their tank in a staging area near the Israel-Gaza border in southern Israel, Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2024. (AP/Tsafrir Abayov)

Over 200 far-left lawmakers from 12 countries have signed onto a letter committing to trying to persuade their governments to impose an arms embargo on Israel over the latter’s “grave violation of international law” in its war against Hamas in Gaza.

According to the Guardian’s report on the letter, signatories include former UK Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn; the leader of the Green party in the Australian senate, Larissa Waters; the coordinator of France Unbowed, Manuel Bompard; the national secretary of the Workers’ party of Belgium, Peter Mertens; the Canadian MP and member of the Progressive International council, Niki Ashton; the Brazilian federal deputy Nilto Tatto; the former leader of Die Linke, Bernd Riexinger; the leader of the Spanish party Podemos, Ione Belarra; the leader of the Dutch Socialist party, Jimmy Dijk; Irish MP Thomas Pringle; and the former co-chair of the Peoples’ Democratic party in Turkey, Sezai Temelli.

The lone American signatory is Democratic Rep. Rashida Tlaib.

“We know that lethal weapons and their parts, made or shipped through our countries, currently aid the Israeli assault on Palestine that has claimed over 30,000 lives across Gaza and the West Bank,” the letter states, relying on Hamas’s death count from the war.

“We cannot wait. Following the interim ruling by the International Court of Justice on the genocide convention case against the state of Israel, an arms embargo has moved beyond a moral necessity to become a legal requirement.”

South Africa claims deadly stampede around Gaza aid convoy amounts to Israeli breach of ICJ order

This image grab from a handout video released by the Israeli army on February 29, 2024, shows what the army says are Gazans around aid trucks in Gaza City. (Aline MANOUKIAN / Israeli Army / AFP)

South Africa says Thursday’s mass-casualty incident in northern Gaza where dozens of civilians were killed swarming humanitarian aid trucks breached the World Court’s provisional orders in a legal case in which Pretoria has accused Israel of committing genocide in the coastal enclave.

“South Africa condemns the massacre of 112 Palestinians and the injury of hundreds more as they sought life-saving aid,” South Africa’s Department of International Relations and Cooperation says in a statement, relying on Hamas’s death count from the Gaza City incident.

“This latest atrocity is another breach of international law and in breach of the binding provisional orders of the International Court of Justice (ICJ).”

In a case brought by South Africa, the ICJ in January ordered Israel to take all measures within its power to prevent its troops from committing genocide against Palestinians in Gaza and to report back on what steps it was taking in a month’s time.

Israel has denied allegations of genocide and said it has the right to defend itself.

The South African statement says Israel had submitted a report to the ICJ, which Pretoria was preparing a response to.

“An immediate and unconditional call for a ceasefire is now a moral and life-saving necessity,” it says.

Brazil says Israel’s action in Gaza beyond ‘ethical or legal limits’

Palestinians wait for humanitarian aid on a beachfront in Gaza City, February 25, 2024. (AP Photo/Mahmoud Essa)

The Brazilian government says that yesterday’s mass-casualty incident in northern Gaza where dozens of civilians were killed swarming humanitarian aid trucks shows that Israel’s military action in the Strip has no “ethical or legal limits,” once again calling for an immediate ceasefire in the conflict.

“Humanity is failing the civilians of Gaza. And it’s time to prevent further massacres,” Brazil’s foreign ministry says in a statement.

Yellen says travel restrictions on West Bank Palestinians not in Israel’s interest

United States Secretary of the Treasury Janet Yellen speaks at the Atlantic Council Global Citizen Awards, in New York, September 20, 2023. (Julia Nikhinson/AP)

US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen criticizes Israel for withholding work permits and blocking travel by Palestinians from the West Bank, saying the measures hurt both sides and risked tipping off a broader regional conflict.

“We don’t want to see an extension of conflict into other parts,” Yellen tells Reuters in an interview. “Israel is a friend and we talk to them regularly. If we see something that worries us, we tell our partners what we think of that.”

On Tuesday she told reporters she had written to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to express her concerns and to welcome Israel’s agreement to resume tax transfers to the Palestinian Authority.

Yellen says Israel’s travel and commerce restrictions are hitting the Palestinian economy hard and halting a number of construction projects in Israel by creating a worker shortage.

“My understanding is there are construction sites that have had to shut down because they have insufficient labor, so it’s not good for Israel’s economy, or the West Bank’s economy,” she says in the interview. “I don’t think any of this is in Israel’s interest.”

Since Hamas’s October 7 terror onslaught, Israel has barred the majority of the roughly 150,000 Palestinians who have permits to work inside Israel and its settlements from returning to their jobs due to security concerns.

India says it is deeply shocked at civilian deaths in Gaza during aid delivery

People mourn at Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City over the bodies of Palestinians killed in an early morning incident when residents rushed toward aid trucks in Gaza City on February 29, 2024 (AFP)

India says it is deeply shocked at the loss of lives in northern Gaza on Thursday when many people were killed as they swarmed aid trucks that entered the city.

“Such loss of civilian lives and the larger humanitarian situation in Gaza continues to be a cause for extreme concern,” the foreign ministry says in a statement.

WHO says Gaza health system in Gaza ‘more than on its knees’

This image grab from a handout video released by the IDF on February 29, 2024, shows crowds rushing aid trucks in northern Gaza. (Aline Manoukian/Israel Defense Forces/AFP)

People in the Gaza Strip are risking their lives to find food, water and other supplies such is the level of hunger and despair amid the ongoing Israel-Hamas war, the World Health Organization (WHO) says.

“The system in Gaza is on its knees, it’s more than on its knees,” WHO spokesperson Christian Lindmeier tells reporters in Geneva. “All the lifelines in Gaza have more or less been cut.”

Lindmeier says this had created a “desperate situation,” as seen Thursday, when dozens of Palestinians seeking humanitarian aid in northern Gaza were killed in a chaotic stampede.

Israel blamed the deaths on crowds that surrounded the aid trucks, saying victims had been trampled or run over, but Hamas has accused the IDF of shooting at the Palestinians waiting for the aid delivery.

“People are so desperate for food, for fresh water, for any supplies that they risk their lives in getting any food, any supplies to support their children, to support themselves,” Lindmeier says.

While aid is reaching southern parts of the Gaza Strip, it is too slow to avert a hunger crisis even there. Aid barely makes it to northern areas that are further from the main border crossing and only accessible through more active battle fronts, the WHO spokesman says.

Israel has said the failure to get enough aid into Gaza to meet humanitarian needs is due to UN distribution failures.

Egyptian FM says Cairo hopeful Gaza truce can be reached by Ramadan

Egypt's Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry, center, speaks with his Cypriot counterpart Constantinos Kombos, during their meeting at the foreign house in Nicosia, Cyprus, on Thursday, Feb. 8, 2024. (AP Photo/Petros Karadjias)

Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry says that Cairo is hopeful that the ongoing Gaza truce-hostage deal talks can succeed before Ramadan, which starts around March 10.

“We are hopeful that we can reach a cessation of hostilities and exchange of hostages. Everyone recognizes that we have a time limit to be successful before the start of Ramadan,” Shoukry says at the Antalya Diplomacy Forum in Turkey.

UK Jewish leaders call anti-Israel Galloway’s election victory a ‘dark day’

George Galloway, center, holds a rally at his Rochdale headquarters after being declared winner of the Rochdale by-election, which was triggered after the death of Labour Party's member of parliament Tony Lloyd, in Rochdale, England, Thursday, Feb. 29, 2024. (Peter Byrne/PA via AP)

The Board of Deputies of British Jews, the largest Jewish community organization in the UK, calls veteran anti-Israel politician George Galloway’s victory in the Rochdale by-election yesterday “a dark day” for the UK’s Jewish community.

“George Galloway is a demagogue and conspiracy theorist who has brought the politics of division and hate to every place he has ever stood for Parliament,” it says in a statement.

Galloway, 69, swept to victory in Thursday’s contest, winning almost 40% of the vote in the parliamentary seat of Rochdale, a town in northern England with a big Muslim minority.

In his victory speech, he took aim at Keir Starmer, the leader of the main opposition Labour Party, who according to opinion polls is likely to become Britain’s prime minister at the general election this year.

“Keir Starmer, this is for Gaza,” Galloway said. “You have paid, and you will pay, a high price for the role that you have played in enabling, encouraging and covering for the catastrophe presently going on in occupied Palestine in the Gaza Strip.”

Labour said Galloway only won because the party pulled its support for its candidate, Azhar Ali, for suggesting Israel was complicit in Hamas’s slaughter in southern Israel on Oct. 7, which saw terrorists kill around 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and take about 250 others hostage.

“Galloway only won because Labour didn’t stand a candidate,” Starmer said. “Obviously we will put up a first-class candidate, a unifier, before the voters in Rochdale at the general election.”

EU announces $54m in aid for embattled UNRWA after agency agrees to audit

Men sweep water away from the entrance of a school run by UNRWA that is sheltering displaced Palestinians in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on February 8, 2024, amid the ongoing war between Israel and the Palestinian terror group Hamas. (Mohammed Abed/AFP)

The European Union announces that it will pay 50 million euros ($54 million) to the main UN provider of aid in Gaza next week after the agency agreed to allow EU-appointed experts to audit the way it screens staff to identify extremists.

The UNRWA agency is reeling from allegations that 12 of its 13,000 Gaza staff members participated in Hamas’s October 7 terror onslaught in southern Israel. More than a dozen countries suspended funding worth about $450 million, almost half the budget for 2024.

The EU’s executive branch, the European Commission, had been due to disburse 82 million euros ($89 million) to UNRWA on February 29 but wanted the agency to accept its terms for an audit. The commission is the third biggest donor to UNRWA after the United States and Germany.

It says that the agency has now “indicated that it stands ready to ensure that a review of its staff is carried out to confirm they did not participate in the attacks and that further controls are put in place to mitigate such risks in the future.”

The commission says that two further tranches of funding worth 16 million euros ($17.3 million) each will be given to UNRWA as it complies with the agreement.

UNRWA is on the brink of financial collapse. In a post on X, formerly Twitter, UNRWA Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini welcomed the EU’s announcement and said that the commitment to provide money next week “comes at a critical time.”

IDF says fighter jets struck buildings used by Hezbollah in south Lebanon

The IDF says fighter jets carried out strikes against a building used by Hezbollah in Ayta ash-Shab, as well as another building and infrastructure belonging to the terror group in Jabal Blat in south Lebanon.

The strikes come in response to repeated Hezbollah attacks on northern Israel.

In the last hour, projectiles were fired from Lebanon at the Margaliot area, striking open areas, the IDF says.

In Moscow talks, Hamas and Fatah vow to seek ‘unity of action’ on matter of post-war Gaza

Palestinian factions including rivals Hamas and Fatah say they will pursue “unity of action” in confronting Israel after representatives met at Russia-hosted talks.

The meeting in Moscow Thursday saw the groups meet for talks on the war in Gaza and an eventual post-war period.

It came on the heels of the resignation of the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority government in the West Bank.

In a statement, the Palestinian factions represented in Moscow say there will be an “upcoming dialogue” to bring them under the banner of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO).

Thursday’s “constructive” talks saw agreement on points including the need for the withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza, where they have been fighting against Hamas for over four months, and the creation of a Palestinian state, the statement says.

Discussions in recent years about integrating Hamas into the PLO have ended in failure.

WATCH: IDF troops battle Hamas operatives in Gaza towns used as launch point for multiple Oct. 7 attacks

Weapons captured by IDF troops in the Abasan area of Khan Younis, in a handout image published by the IDF on March 1, 2024. (Israel Defense Forces)

The IDF releases footage of the Givati Brigade operating in the southern Gaza Strip, killing Hamas gunmen in eastern Khan Younis suburbs.

Over the past week, the IDF says Givati troops killed dozens of Hamas operatives during operations in the so-called Abasan area — named after the towns of Abasan al-Jadida, Abasan al-Kabira, and Abasan al-Saghira — some two kilometers from the Israeli border.

Ahead of the brigade’s operations, airstrikes were carried out against dozens of Hamas sites above and below ground, the IDF says.

In the town of Abasan al-Saghira, the IDF says troops located a hideout apartment used by Hamas, where weapons, including anti-tank missiles, drones, sniper rifles, assault rifles, grenades, RPGS and other equipment were stored.

During operations in the Abasan area, the IDF says troops of Givati’s reconnaissance unit engaged in close-quarters combat with Hamas operatives. In one battle, two soldiers, Staff Sgt. Nerya Belete and Staff Sgt. Ido Eli Zrihen, were killed.

From the Abasan area towns, the IDF says Hamas terrorists set out to attack the Israeli border communities of Kissufim, Ein Hashlosha, Nirim and Nir Oz on October 7.

COGAT: Jordan airdropped 48 humanitarian aid packages over northern Gaza

Humanitarian aid was airdropped over the northern Gaza Strip by Jordan earlier today, the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, known by its acronym COGAT, says.

According to COGAT, a total of 48 packages were airdropped at four different locations.

German foreign minister says IDF must investigate yesterday’s ‘mass panic, shooting’ in Gaza

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock asks Israel to conduct a thorough investigation into the deaths of dozens of Palestinians during an aid delivery in Gaza yesterday.

“The Israeli army must fully investigate how the mass panic and shooting could have happened,” Baerbock writes on X, also calling for a “humanitarian ceasefire.”

Hamas has blamed the Israel Defense Forces for a reported 104 deaths in the incident, whereas the military said that fewer than 10 of the casualties were a result of Israeli fire.

Israel asserts that soldiers had fired warning shots and attempted to ease the crush of people looting a convoy of aid trucks that entered northern Gaza early Thursday morning, but has acknowledged that troops did fire on several Gazans who endangered soldiers.

EU chief ‘deeply disturbed’ by images of Gaza crowd crush, calls for investigation

EU chief Ursula von der Leyen Friday declares that she is “deeply disturbed by images from Gaza,” where dozens of Palestinians were killed as they swarmed a convoy of aid trucks yesterday morning.

“Every effort must be made to investigate what happened and ensure transparency,” the European Commission president writes on X. The EU’s top diplomat Josep Borrell earlier denounced the incident as a “carnage.”

Hamas blamed the IDF for the deaths, but the military has said most of the casualties were caused by a stampede and people being run over by the supply vehicles. Gunmen also opened fire in the area as they looted the supplies.

IDF says troops operating in Khan Younis captured dozens of Hamas operatives hiding in a school

Troops of the 7th Armored Brigade operate in Khan Younis, in a handout image published by the IDF on March 1, 2024. (Israel Defense Forces)

The IDF releases new footage from the operations of the 7th Armored Brigade in southern Gaza’s Khan Younis, saying the troops have been raiding the homes of Hamas commanders and have nabbed operatives hiding in a school.

According to the IDF, the 7th Brigade operated this week in new areas of Khan Younis, where troops had not yet been, during which they searched the homes of senior Hamas officials.

“In the heart of the residential neighborhoods, the troops encountered dozens of terrorists and eliminated them with tank shelling, in close-quarters combat, and by directing airstrikes,” the IDF says.

At the homes of the Hamas officials, the IDF says the troops found RPGs, explosives, assault rifles and other military equipment.

The troops also captured dozens of suspected terror operatives hiding in a school in Khan Younis.

“During their interrogation, the terrorists provided intelligence information that went directly to the forces operating in Khan Younis,” the IDF says.

Hamas-run health ministry says Gaza death toll at 30,228

At least 30,228 Palestinians have been killed and 71,377 have been wounded in Israeli strikes on Gaza since October 7, the Hamas-run Gaza health ministry says.

The terror group’s figures are unverified, don’t differentiate between civilians and combatants, and list all the fatalities as caused by Israel — even those believed to have been caused by hundreds of misfired rockets or otherwise by Palestinian fire.

Israel has said it killed some 12,000 Hamas members in Gaza fighting, in addition to some 1,000 killed in Israel in the aftermath of the terror group’s October 7 invasion and onslaught.

Ahead of Navalny’s funeral, Kremlin says unsanctioned gatherings in his support violate the law

A Police officer guards as people gather near the Church of the Icon of the Mother of God in Moscow ahead of the funeral of late opposition leader Alexei Navalny in Moscow, Russia, Friday, March 1, 2024. (AP Photo)

The Kremlin says that any unsanctioned gatherings in support of the late Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, who is to be buried on Friday in Moscow, will violate the law.

In a call with reporters, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov declines to give any assessment of Navalny as a political figure and maintains he has nothing to say to Navalny’s family.

Over one thousand people have gathered near the Church of the Icon of the Mother of God in Moscow to bid farewell to Navalny, Leonid Volkov, an ally of the Russian opposition politician, says on a livestream on Friday.

Reuters could not independently verify the figure.

Hostage families rally outside US Embassy in Tel Aviv, call for Biden’s assistance in securing hostage deal

Families of hostages rally outside the US embassy in Tel Aviv to request assistance from the US in securing a hostage deal, March 1, 2024. (Nevet Kahana/Israeli Pro-Democracy Protest Movement)

Family members of people held hostage in Gaza are holding a rally outside the US Embassy in Tel Aviv, Hebrew news outlet Ynet reports.

The crowd outside the embassy calls for US President Joe Biden to pressure the Israeli government into accepting a deal for the release of the hostages, with organizers saying that the US government has shown more support for the cause than the Israeli government.

“The [Biden] administration is more committed to the issue of the hostages than the Israeli government, therefore the families of the hostages, together with other activists, will call on the responsible adult to apply pressure and save the abductees from Hamas captivity and the extremist government,” Ynet quotes the organizers as saying.

“We understand that the way to returning the hostages in a responsible deal that will restore security to the country and the entire region is through the US government, headed by President Biden,” the organizers’ statement continues. “These are critical days, a deal is on the table, Ramadan is approaching and every hour must be used to bring about an orderly solution.”

The event is taking place concurrently with the third leg of a four-day march from Kibbutz Re’im to Jerusalem, which set out this morning with stretchers from Beit Shemesh.

Evacuees may stay in hotels until July, government says, but will receive reduced repopulation grant

Balconies with Israeli flags in a hotel in the Dead Sea, southern Israel, November 9, 2023. (Chaim Goldberg/Flash90)

Evacuees from the south may remain in state-afforded accommodation until July, the government says, but those who do will be eligible for a lower repopulation grant.

The decision made Thursday extends by four months the eligibility to state-funded hotels of southern evacuees from communities situated within 7 kilometers (4.3 miles) of the border with the Gaza Strip, who were evacuated because of rocket fire from Gaza following the outbreak of war on October 7.

Returnees who move back during the first week of March will receive a grant of NIS 15,360 ($4,300) per adult and half that sum per child, and up to NIS 62,000 per household.

After that, the grant on offer will be halved each week down to a minimum of one-eighth of the full sum, according to the decision, which has not yet been published but whose details were confirmed to The Times of Israel by a repopulation official.

Several mayors from the evacuated southern region are critical of the deal and say they are lobbying the government to extend eligibility to repopulation grants.

The decision also ends accommodation subsidies for many evacuees — about 100,000 in number, roughly evenly split between northerners and southerners — who prefer not to stay at hotels. No end date is set for the state-afforded accommodations of evacuated northerners.

The funding of NIS 200 per adult and NIS 100 ($56 and $28) per day to those evacuees is limited to locales at special risk, as determined by the army. The official says the government will set up a committee to consider extending funding for special cases.

Tourism Minister Israel Katz in a statement says that the plan “gives clarity until the end of the school year.”

‘Death to Israel’ scrawled on NYC’s famous Charging Bull statue during protest, nine people arrested

A group of pro-Palestinian protesters vandalized New York City’s famous Charging Bull statue last night, writing “Free Palestine” and “Death to Israel” on it during an anti-Israel protest.

Among the group of people responsible were several members of the Jewish anti-Zionist fringe sect Neturei Karta, video footage from the scene shows.

In videos, protesters can be seen clambering atop the bull while waving Palestinian flags.

Nine people were arrested at the scene of the protest, the New York Post reports, citing the New York Police Department.

Syrian reports claim several Iranian Guard Corps officials killed in strike in Baniyas, Syria

Several Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps officials were killed in a strike in the Syrian coastal city of Baniyas this morning, Syrian sources claim in unconfirmed reports.

The reports allege that Israel was behind the strikes, although there was no comment from Israel on the matter.

Citing eyewitnesses, the Syrian Observatory of Human Rights reports three large explosions occurred in close succession in Baniyas shortly before dawn this morning.

At start of hostage families stretcher march, Gantz says the government is making ‘every effort’ for a hostage deal

Minister Benny Gantz and families of the Israelis held hostage by Hamas terrorists in Gaza march towards Jerusalem from the city of Beit Shemesh, March 1, 2024. (Chaim Goldberg/Flash90)

Speaking at the start of the third day of the march to Jerusalem organized by the Hostages and Missing Families Forum, war cabinet minister Benny Gantz vows that the government will not give up on seeking a deal with Hamas for the release of the hostages.

“We are working on a deal, every effort should be made to bring the hostages home,” Army Radio quotes him as saying. “This is a task for everyone and is the highest priority.”

China says it is ‘shocked’ by Gaza aid stampede, urges ‘relevant parties’ to protect civilians

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning gestures during a press conference at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Beijing, on July 26, 2023. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan, File)

China says it “strongly condemns” the incident in Gaza City in which dozens of Palestinians were killed as they swarmed a convoy of aid trucks yesterday morning.

“China is shocked by this incident and strongly condemns it,” foreign ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning says.

“We express our grief for the victims and our sympathies for the injured.”

Hamas blamed the IDF for the deaths, but the military has said most of the casualties were caused by a stampede and people being run over by the supply vehicles. Gunmen also opened fire in the area as they looted the supplies.

The army also said it did not fire at the crowd rushing the main aid convoy but acknowledged that troops opened fire on several Gazans who moved toward soldiers and a tank at an IDF checkpoint, endangering soldiers.

“China urges the relevant parties, especially Israel, to cease fire and end the fighting immediately, earnestly protect civilians’ safety, ensure that humanitarian aid can enter, and avoid an even more serious humanitarian disaster,” Mao says.

Israel gives Egypt list of Palestinian prisoners it is not prepared to release in hostage deal – report

An Israeli delegation was in Cairo this week to discuss the details of a potential hostage deal with Egyptian officials, Channel 12 reports.

According to the report, the delegation provided Egypt with a list of Palestinian security prisoners it is not prepared to release if a deal is reached with Hamas.

The report adds that the delegation will return to Cairo next week for additional talks.


Replacing the Paratroopers Brigade, IDF’s Bislamach Brigade joins fighting in Khan Younis

IDF soldiers operating in the Gaza Strip in an undated photo released March 1, 2024. (Israel Defense Forces)

The Bislamach Brigade — the IDF’s School for Infantry Corps Professions and Squad Commanders in wartime, replaces the Paratroopers Brigade in Khan Younis — after the latter was withdrawn from the Gaza Strip.

The IDF says the brigade immediately joined the fighting against Hamas in Khan Younis, under the 98th Division.

In an incident yesterday, troops of the brigade spotted two gunmen, including one carrying an explosive device, and directed an attack helicopter to strike the pair, the IDF says.

Meanwhile, the IDF says the 7th Armored Brigade raided several Hamas sites in western Khan Younis, where troops found a weapons depot. The troops also called in an airstrike against a four-man Hamas cell spotted nearby, the military adds.

The IDF says airstrikes were also carried out against a primed rocket launching position in Khan Younis.

In northern Gaza, the IDF says it struck the area from which rockets were fired at southern Israel yesterday, along with other Hamas targets in the area, including a tunnel.

In central Gaza, the Nahal Brigade killed several Hamas operatives over the past day, including with mortars and a Spike missile, the IDF adds.

IDF prepares to demolish home of terrorist who killed two in West Bank gas station shooting

IDF troops measure the home of a Palestinian terrorist in the West Ban's Qalandiya, near Jerusalem, early March 1, 2024. (Israel Defense Forces)

Overnight, the IDF says troops measured the home of the terrorist responsible for the deadly shooting attack near the West Bank settlement of Eli yesterday, ahead of its demolition.

Muhammad Manasra, 31, a Palestinian Authority police officer, from the West Bank’s Qalandiya refugee camp near Jerusalem, opened fire at people at a gas station near Eli, killing Yitzhak Zeiger, 57, and Uria Hartum, 16.

The IDF says combat engineers, commandos of the Duvdevan unit, and other reservists operated in Qalandiya overnight to map out the home.

Israel regularly destroys the homes of Palestinians accused of carrying out deadly terror attacks.

At the home, the IDF says troops found a handgun belonging to Manasra.

In a separate raid, the IDF says troops detained a wanted Palestinian in the village of Deir Abu Da’if, near Jenin.

Hostage families march with stretchers to honor captives on third day of trek to Jerusalem

The families of hostages gather in the center of Beit Shemesh ahead of the third day of their march to Jerusalem which began Wednesday in Kibbutz Re’im on the Gaza border. Today’s portion of the trek will start with a “stretcher march,” in which the participants will depart Beit Shemesh with 134 stretchers between them, one for each hostage still in captivity.

The stretcher march will be led by the families of captive soldiers, and war cabinet minister Benny Gantz and MK Hili Tropper will join them for the first portion of the day, carrying the stretchers as a show of solidarity.

The families are also joined by former paratroopers who fought alongside hostage Chaim Peri, a 79-year-old from Kibbutz Nir Oz, in the Six Day War and Yom Kippur War.

After leaving Beit Shemesh, the march will proceed to Sha’ar HaGai where a solidarity ceremony with the soldiers will be held at 1 p.m.

Iranian parliamentary elections commence; reformers bemoan ‘unfree and unfair’ vote

Voters fill out their ballots in the parliamentary and assembly of experts elections at a polling station in Tehran, Iran, Friday, March 1, 2024. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)

Polling stations are open across Iran as people cast votes for a new parliament, but growing frustration over economic woes and discontent at the hardline clerical rulers’ restrictions on political and social freedoms are set to keep many people at home.

State TV reports polling stations opened to voters at 8:00 a.m. with voting scheduled to last for 10 hours, although this time can be extended.

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has called voting a religious duty, was the first to cast his vote.

“Vote in early hours,” Khamenei urged Iranians.

The election is the first formal measure of public opinion after anti-government protests in 2022-23 spiraled into some of the worst political turmoil since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

But with heavyweight moderates and conservatives staying out of the vote and reformists calling it an “unfree and unfair election”, the contest is between hardliners and conservatives who proclaim loyalty to Islamic revolutionary ideals, potentially dashing the rulers’ hopes for a high turnout.

Official polls suggest only about 41% of Iranians will vote on Friday.

The interior ministry said 15,200 candidates will run for the 290-seat parliament, which has scant impact on Iran’s foreign policy and the nuclear row with the West, since these are determined by Khamenei.

While establishment supporters will likely vote for hardline candidates, widespread public anger at worsening living standards and pervasive graft may keep many Iranians at home.

Iranian activists and opposition groups are distributing the Twitter hashtag #VOTENoVote widely on social media, arguing that a high turnout will legitimize the Islamic Republic.

The parliamentary elections are twinned with a vote for the 88-seat Assembly of Experts, an influential body that has the task of choosing the 84-year-old Khamenei’s successor.

Rocket sirens sound in northern border village that Hezbollah demands Israel withdraw from

Incoming rocket warning sirens sound in Ghajar, an Alawite village straddling the northern border that Lebanon and Hezbollah have demanded Israel withdraw from.

‘This is for Gaza’: George Galloway wins UK seat after campaigning against Israel

George Galloway speaks during an interview at his office in Bradford, England, April 22, 2015. (AP Photo/Jon Super)

LONDON — Veteran left-wing political maverick George Galloway, known for his heated anti-Israel rhetoric, wins a vote to become the new lawmaker for the English town of Rochdale after a chaotic campaign which saw the main opposition Labour Party withdraw support from its candidate.

After running a pro-Palestinian campaign, Galloway won over many of Rochdale’s Muslim community by attacking both Labour and Britain’s governing Conservatives for supporting Israel in its war against Hamas, making a foreign conflict the major issue — unusual in a by-election when local concerns usually dominate.

Elected to parliament for the seventh time, Galloway will be an irritant to Labour, a party he once belonged to before being ejected for criticizing then-prime minister Tony Blair over the Iraq War. He even went so far as saying the assassination of Blair would be “morally justified” for Britain’s involvement.

His victory underlines the divisions in Britain over the Israel-Hamas war, which is in its fifth month and has brought protesters onto British streets in support of both sides.

With the national election later this year, Galloway’s return to parliament will be short-lived but explosive. He has accused Labour leader Keir Starmer of being in the “pocket of Israel.”

Galloway won 12,335 votes compared with 6,638 for second-placed David Tully, an independent candidate. The former Labour candidate, Azhar Ali, came fourth after the opposition party pulled its support from him after his claims that Israel allowed the brutal Hamas-led October 7 massacres.

“(Labour leader) Keir Starmer, this is for Gaza,” Galloway says in his victory speech.

It will be the first time Galloway’s left-wing Workers Party of Britain has been represented in parliament.

US blocks UN Security Council statement blaming Israel for deadly Gaza aid stampede

Robert Wood, deputy permanent representative of the United States to the United Nations, speaks to delegates during a security council meeting at UN headquarters in New York, January 22, 2024. (AP Photo/Eduardo Munoz Alvarez)

UNITED NATIONS — Arab nations have failed to get immediate support for a UN Security Council statement that would have blamed Israeli forces for opening fire at Palestinians waiting for the delivery of food and other humanitarian aid near Gaza City and killing dozens of people.

Riyad Mansour, the Palestinian UN ambassador, tells reporters after an emergency closed council meeting on the deaths, that 14 of the 15 council members supported the statement put forward by Algeria, the Arab representative on the body.

The United States did not support the statement and US deputy ambassador Robert Wood tells a reporter who questions why, “We don’t have all the facts on the ground – that’s the problem.”

He says there are contradictory reports and the US is trying to gather all the facts, including regarding the “circumstances around how people died” which is a key issue.

Wood says diplomats are working “to see if we can find some language that everyone can agree on,” and an agreement could come Thursday night or not at all.

Ben Gvir: Shin Bet head ordered release of administrative detainees as Ramadan ‘gesture’

National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir (left) at a conference in Jerusalem, on February 21, 2023, and Ronen Bar (right), head of the Shin Bet security agency speaks at a conference at the Reichman University in Herzliya, September 11, 2022. (Yonatan Sindel; Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)

National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir rails at the release of Palestinian administrative detainees, claiming they were not in fact freed due to overcrowding.

“[They were released] because of the direct order of the Shin Bet head as a ‘gesture’ ahead of Ramadan,” the far-right politician says in a statement, without offering any evidence for his charge against Ronen Bar.

Ben Gvir says the Israel Prisons Service, which is under his authority, “has no judgement on the matter.”

He also fumes at Bar because the release took place on the same day two Israelis were killed in a terror shooting in the West Bank, and a day after the extension of a settler activist’s administrative detention.

Palestinian administrative prisoners freed to make space ‘for detainees of higher threat level’

The IDF and Shin Bet release a statement confirming that dozens of Palestinian suspects held under administrative detention have been released, saying the move was aimed at freeing up space “for detainees of a higher threat level.”

The statement also says the released suspects were slated to be freed in the coming month.

France’s Macron says Gazans swarming aid convoy were ‘targeted by Israeli soldiers’

France's President Emmanuel Macron speaks to journalists during the inauguration of the Paris 2024 Olympic village in Saint-Denis, northern Paris, on February 29, 2024. (Ludovic Marin/Pool/AFP)

PARIS — French President Emmanuel Macron expressed his “strongest condemnation” over the deaths of dozens of Palestinians during an aid delivery in the northern Gaza Strip.

“Deep indignation at the images coming from Gaza where civilians have been targeted by Israeli soldiers,” he says on social media platform X. “I express my strongest condemnation of these shootings and call for truth, justice, and respect for international law.”

IDF maps home of Palestinian cop who killed 2 Israelis in West Bank terror shooting

The Israel Defense Forces says troops have begun mapping the Qalandiya home of the Palestinian Authority policeman who killed two Israelis in a terror shooting on Thursday, ahead of its expected demolition.

Colombia’s Petro accuses Israel of ‘genocide’ over deadly aid incident: ‘Reminiscent of Holocaust’

Colombian President Gustavo Petro takes part in a panel at the Annual Meeting of World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, January 17, 2024. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)

Colombia’s President Gustavo Petro announces his government is suspending purchases of weapons from Israel, describing the deaths of Palestinians swarming an aid convoy as “genocide” and blaming Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for the violence.

Petro’s statement came months after Israel suspended security exports to Colombia in a diplomatic spat over online messages by Colombia’s president comparing Israel’s military response to the Hamas-led October 7 atrocities to the actions of Nazi Germany.

“Asking for food, more than 100 Palestinians were killed by Netanyahu,” Petro says in a post on X, formerly Twitter. “This is called genocide and is reminiscent of the Holocaust even if the world powers do not like to recognize it. The world must block Netanyahu. Colombia suspends all purchases of weapons from Israel.”

Halevi says hummus restaurant owner who killed terrorist ‘prevented an even greater disaster’

IDF Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi (2nd-R) meets with Aviad Gazbar, the owner of a hummus restaurant who killed a Palestinian terrorist at the scene of a deadly shooting attack outside the settlement of Eli in the West Bank, on February 29, 2024. (Israel Defense Forces)

Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi visits the scene of the deadly shooting attack at a gas station in the West Bank, where the military says a security assessment was held with senior officers.

Halevi meets Aviad Gazbar, the owner of a hummus restaurant next to the gas station who fatally shot the Palestinian terrorist after he killed a rabbi and teenage hitchhiker. An IDF statement says Halevi praised Gazbar, who recently returned from reserve duty in Gaza, saying his “professional action… prevented an even greater disaster.”

France denounces ‘unjustifiable Israeli fire’ in deadly aid stampede in Gaza

France condemns “unjustifiable Israeli fire” in a scramble for food aid in war-torn Gaza that left dozens of people dead.

“The fire by Israeli soldiers against civilians trying to access food is unjustifiable,” the French foreign ministry says, adding that the “tragic event” came as an “increasing and unbearable number of Palestinian civilians” are suffering from hunger and disease.

The military has said most of the casualties were caused by a stampede and being run over by the supply vehicles, and that it did not fire at the crowd rushing the main aid convoy. It acknowledged that troops opened fire on several Gazans who moved toward soldiers and a tank at an IDF checkpoint, endangering soldiers.

Spain’s foreign minister calls the deaths “unacceptable.”

“The unacceptable nature of what happened in Gaza, with dozens of Palestinian civilians dead as they were waiting for food, underlines the urgency of a ceasefire,” Jose Manuel Albares writes on X, formerly Twitter.

IDF says fighter jets struck Hezbollah sites in southern Lebanon

The IDF says fighter jets carried out strikes on a building used by Hezbollah in the south Lebanon town of Ayta ash-Shab, and other infrastructure belonging to the terror group in Labbouneh.

The strikes come in response to repeated attacks by Hezbollah on northern Israel.

Earlier this evening, Hezbollah announced the deaths of two members killed in recent Israeli strikes, bringing the terror group’s toll since the beginning of the war to 222.

read more: