Middle East crisis live: Israel claims to have destroyed rocket launchers in Gaza; hostage relatives block road in Tel Aviv protest | Middle East and north Africa

Key events

Hani Mahmoud, reporting for Al Jazeera from Rafah, has said there is a despondent mood about the prospects of getting aid, particularly in the north of the Gaza Strip.

He writes:

We heard from a hungry and largely traumatised population stranded in the Gaza Strip asking what is the purpose of getting those trucks into Gaza and its northern area if they’re getting shot at. It is getting very difficult and there is so much danger involved in the whole process. The Kuwaiti roundabout is now known as a death trap.

Unconfirmed reports overnight, via the Palestinian news agency Wafa, suggest that six people may have been killed and dozens injured while waiting to receive aid in northern Gaza at the same location that more than 100 people were killed earlier in the month.

Here are some images from Tel Aviv, where relatives of some of those believed to be held in Gaza as hostages by Hamas have been staging a protest which has blocked a highway in Israel’s capital city.

Demonstrators block the main highway in Tel Aviv on 14 March. Photograph: Tomer Appelbaum/Reuters
The focus of the protest has been calling for the release of female captives still believed to be held in Gaza by Hamas. Photograph: Tomer Appelbaum/Reuters
Israel believes that about 132 people are still being held in Gaza, but it is unclear how many of them are still alive. Photograph: Tomer Appelbaum/Reuters

US set to impose further sanctions on Israeli West Bank settlements – reports

Overnight in the US, Axios has reported what it has described as an exclusive, that US president Joe Biden’s administration is set to impose further sanctions on Israeli West Bank settlements.

Barak Ravid wrote:

The Biden administration is expected to impose new sanctions as soon as Thursday on two illegal outposts in the occupied West Bank that were used as a base for attacks by extremist Israeli settlers against Palestinian civilians, three US officials told Axios. It would be first time US sanctions are imposed against entire outposts and not just against individuals.

Protest by hostage relatives blocks highway in Tel Aviv

Relatives of some of those believed to still be held in Gaza by Hamas have staged a demonstration in Tel Aviv this morning, temporarily blocking a road. Bar Peleg of Haaretz reported that about 40 relatives blocked a highway, while holding banners saying “We want them alive, not in coffins”.

לאחר כעשרים דק ואחרי שהגיע למקום כוח משטרה המפגינות וקרובי המשפחות התפנו מהמקום. pic.twitter.com/HzA6ruZvyx

— Bar Peleg (@bar_peleg) March 14, 2024

About 134 Israelis are still believed to be held captive inside Gaza, however it is not clear how many of them are still alive.

Israel claims to have located and destroyed rocket launchers inside Gaza Strip

In its latest operational briefing, Israel’s military has claimed to be “continuing to operate in Khan Younis, conducting targeted raids on terror targets and eliminating terrorists.”

It says it targeted fighters who had attempted to launch a rocket into Israel, and destroyed rocket launchers in the Hamad area.

The claims have not been independently verified.

Welcome and summary

Hello and welcome to the Guardian’s continuing coverage of the crisis in the Middle East. It has just gone 9am in Gaza and Tel Aviv. Here are the headlines …

  • Israel claimed its operations inside the Gaza Strip have led to the discovery and destruction of rocket launcher sites in its latest update. It said it had targeted fighters who had been attempting to launch rockets into Israel

  • Relatives of those believed to be held in Gaza as hostages by Hamas have staged a demonstration demanding their release in Tel Aviv. The protest blocked a highway

  • The UN agency for Palestinian refugees (Unrwa) said one of its aid warehouses in the Gaza Strip was “hit” on Wednesday, injuring “scores” of people. An AFP photographer saw victims of the incident arriving at al-Najjar hospital in Rafah, at least one of whom was identified by other people at the hospital as a UN employee.

  • The aid ship, the Spanish-flagged Open Arms, which left Cyprus yesterday, is expected to reach Gaza’s shores having departed from Larnaca. The vessel is towing a barge with up to 200 tonnes of water, food and vital medicines. Cyprus, the EU, the United Arab Emirates, the US and UK are expected to make a joint statement “on what comes next,” a well-placed insider told the Guardian.

  • Four US army vessels departed a base in Virginia on Tuesday carrying about 100 soldiers and equipment needed to build a temporary port on Gaza’s coast to facilitate aid shipments. The new facility – which will consist of an offshore platform and a pier to bring aid ashore – is expected to be up and running “at the 60-day mark”, US army Brig Gen Brad Hinson told journalists.

  • The World Food Programme (WFP) said on Tuesday that it had delivered its ‘first successful’ aid convoy to northern Gaza since 20 February. In a post on social media platform X, the WFP said it had “delivered enough food for 25,000 people to Gaza City early Tuesday”, but called for “deliveries every day” and “entry points directly into the north”.

  • Philippe Lazzarini, the commissioner general of Unrwa, said on Tuesday, that “the number of children reported killed in just over four months in Gaza is higher than the number of children killed in four years of wars around the world combined” and described it as “staggering”. In a social media post on X, Lazzarini wrote: “This war is a war on children.”

  • An Israeli drone strike on a car outside the southern Lebanese city of Tyre on Wednesday killed a member of Hamas from the nearby Palestinian camp of Rashidieh. The Israeli military confirmed it had killed Hadi Mustafa in southern Lebanon and called him a “significant” Hamas operative. Hamas’s Al Aqsa television said Mustafa was a leader of the group’s armed wing.

  • Jordan’s King Abdullah II met Spain’s foreign minister José Manuel Albares Bueno on Wednesday. In a message posted to social media, Jordan’s royal household said that during the meeting, the king “stressed that the tragic humanitarian conditions in Gaza require international action to prevent further deterioration”, adding that Jordan appreciated Spain’s position on resuming Unrwa funding, the two-state solution and in calling for a ceasefire in Gaza.

  • A Palestinian citizen of Israel has been granted UK asylum in a case said to be unprecedented. “Hasan”, whose real identity is not being disclosed for his own protection, claimed he would face persecution in his home country on the grounds of his race, his Muslim faith and his opinion that Israel “is governed by an apartheid regime”.

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