Israel-Gaza live: Unrwa ‘barred from north Gaza’ ahead of UN security council vote on new ceasefire resolution | Israel-Gaza war

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UN chief Guterres: there is ‘growing consensus’ to tell Israel a ceasefire is needed

The UN secretary-general António Guterres has said he sees a growing international consensus that the international community has to tell Israel that a ceasefire is needed.

Speaking at a press conference in Jordan, Al Jazeera quotes the UN chief saying it was “absolutely fundamental to preserve the life of the people in Gaza” and that the UN had been “insisting on the need for a ceasefire.”

“In the beginning,” Guterres said “our voice was relatively alone, but now we are seeing more and more of the international community recognising the same.”

He went on to say:

We see a growing consensus emerging in the international community to tell the Israelis that the ceasefire is needed and I also see a growing consensus, I heard in the US, I heard from the European Union, not to mention of course the Muslim world, to tell clearly to Israelis that any ground invasion of Rafah could mean a humanitarian disaster.

Here are some of the latest images sent to us over the news wires from Gaza.

Palestinians mourn those killed in an Israeli strike in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, 25 March. Photograph: Mohammed Salem/Reuters
Palestinians inspect the site of an Israeli strike on a house in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, an area where Israel’s miliatry has repeatedly ordered Palestinians to move to for safety. Photograph: Mohammed Salem/Reuters
Palestinians injured in an Israeli attack on the Abu Amra family house receive medical treatment at al-Aqsa martyrs hospital in Deir-al-Balah. Photograph: Anadolu/Getty Images

Medical staff at the the European Gaza hospital near Khan Younis have said their staff have witnessed “horrific scenes” at the hospital, including patients dying from infections and with serious evidence of malnutrition.

In a press release from a group of NGOs operating the hospital, one of Gaza’s last remaining functioning medical facilities, one anaesthetist is quoted as saying “There are around 22,000 displaced people sheltering in the corridors and in tents inside the hospital because people feel that it’s safer to be here than anywhere else.”

Overnight Israeli military spokesperson Daniel Hagari gave a video address in which he claimed that Hamas was destroying al-Shifa hospital.

In the three minute briefing, Hagari claimed that the Israeli military operation at the hospital compound had been “one of the most successful operations since the start of the war”, and that Israel had “apprehended hundreds of terror suspects with confirmed ties to Hamas or Islamic Jihad”.

Hagari said:

Right now, Hamas and Islamic Jihad terrorists are barricading themselves inside al-Shifa hospital wards. Hamas is destroying al-Shifa hospital. Hamas is firing from inside the al-Shifa emergency room and maternity ward and throwing explosive devices from the al-Shifa Burn Ward.

Terrorists hiding around the hospital fired mortars at our forces, causing extensive damage to the hospital buildings. I repeat: Hamas is firing mortars at the al-Shifa hospital. Hamas is destroying the al-Shifa hospital. Hamas hijacked the al-Shifa hospital and hides behind the sick and injured, waging war from inside al-Shifa hospital.

Hagari did not present any evidence of these claims during the address, which was was filmed straight to camera. Israel’s military has previously released video footage which it has claimed shows fighters inside the compound, but the footage has not been independently verified. Hamas has repeatedly denied using medical infrastructure as bases.

The Geneva conventions, adopted in the aftermath of the second world war, protect civilian hospitals from deliberate attack. Article 8 of the Rome statute, which established the international criminal court (ICC) in The Hague, defines a long list of war crimes including “intentionally directing attacks against buildings dedicated to religion, education, art, science or charitable purposes, historic monuments, hospitals and places where the sick and wounded are collected”.

But it makes an exception if the targets are “military objectives”. If a civilian hospital is used for acts harmful to the enemy, the hospital can lose its protected status under international law and be considered a legitimate target.

Access to the hospital compound for journalists has been extremely limited due to Israeli military actions. One Al Jazeera journalist in the vicinity last week was arrested and detained for multiple hours, and claims he was severly beaten by Israeli forces.

There is some useful background reading on the subject of whether targeting a hospital is a war crime here, which the Guardian published four months ago during a previous IDF attack on the al-Shifa hospital: Can hospitals be military targets? What international law says

Israel will no longer approve Unrwa food aid to northern Gaza, agency says

The United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees, Unrwa, said on Sunday that Israel had definitively barred it from making aid deliveries in northern Gaza, where the threat of famine is highest.

“Despite the tragedy unfolding under our watch, the Israeli Authorities informed the UN that they will no longer approve any Unrwa food convoys to the north,” Philippe Lazzarini, the head of the agency, said on X.

Israel did not immediately respond on Sunday to media requests for comment about Lazzarini’s statement. The Unrwa spokesperson, Juliette Touma, said the decision had been relayed in a meeting with Israeli military officials on Sunday. It followed two denials in writing for convoy deliveries to the north last week. No reason for the decision was given, Touma said.

Last week a UN-backed food security assessment warned that famine was projected to hit the north of Gaza by May unless there was urgent intervention. Unrwa has not been able to deliver food to the north since 29 January, Touma said.

Read more here: Israel will no longer approve Unrwa food aid to northern Gaza, agency says

UN security council to vote on new ceasefire draft resolution

The UN security council is set to vote on yet another ceasefire draft resolution, this time demanding an immediate humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

The new text, according to the version seen by Agence France-Press (AFP), “demands an immediate ceasefire” for the ongoing Muslim holy month of Ramadan, “leading to a permanent sustainable ceasefire.”

It also “demands the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages as well as the “lifting of all barriers to the provision of humanitarian assistance at scale.”

The text is being put forward by non-permanent members of the Security Council, which worked with the United States over the weekend to avoid a veto, according to diplomats speaking to AFP on condition of anonymity.

But it’s unclear if it will have the support to pass.

“We expect, barring a last-minute twist, that the resolution will be adopted and that the US will not vote against it,” one diplomat told AFP.

But Associated Press is reporting that the United States has warned the resolution could hurt negotiations to halt hostilities, raising the possibility of another veto, this time by the Americans.

Welcome and opening summary

It’s has just gone 9am in Gaza and Tel Aviv, welcome to our latest live blog on the Israel-Gaza war and the wider Middle East crisis. I am Martin Belam and I will be with you for the next while.

The UN security council is to vote Monday on another draft resolution for an “immediate” ceasefire in Gaza, after Russia and China vetoed an earlier text proposed by the US. The US itself had vetoed previous wordings.

The new text is being put forward by non-permanent members of the Security Council.

It is not clear what the prospects are for this new draft resolution and whether the US, Russia and China will all support it.

It comes as The United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees, Unrwa, said on Sunday that Israel had barred it from making aid deliveries in northern Gaza, where the threat of famine is highest.

More on that in a moment but first, here’s a summary of the latest developments so far:

  • Israeli forces besieged two more Gaza hospitals on Sunday, pinning down medical teams under heavy gunfire, the Palestinian Red Crescent said, while Israel said it had captured 480 militants in continued clashes at Gaza’s main al-Shifa hospital.

  • The Palestinian Red Crescent said one of its staff was killed when Israeli tanks suddenly pushed back into areas around Al-Amal and Nasser hospitals in the southern city of Khan Younis, amid heavy bombardment and gunfire, Reuters reports. Israeli forces began operating around al-Amal, the military said, following “precise intelligence … which indicated that terrorists are using civilian infrastructure for terror activities in the area of al-Amal.” Reuters has been unable to access Gaza’s contested hospital areas and verify accounts by either side, the news agency says. Targeting civilian hospitals is considered a war crime, however, international law makes an exception if the targets are “military objectives”.

  • Israel has reportedly barred the UN agency for Palestinian refugees from making aid deliveries in northern Gaza, where the threat of famine is highest, the head of Unrwa has said.

  • The UN undersecretary-general for humanitarian affairs and emergency relief coordinator Martin Griffiths has reacted to the reports saying on X “Now this – more impediments. Unrwa is the beating heart of the humanitarian response in Gaza. The decision to block its food convoys to the north only pushes thousands closer to famine. It must be revoked.”

  • Director-General of the World Health Organization, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, has also reacted saying on X “Blocking Unrwa from delivering food is in fact denying starving people the ability to survive. This decision must be urgently reversed. The levels of hunger are acute.”

  • The only effective and efficient way to meet Gaza’s humanitarian needs is by road and includes an exponential increase in commercial deliveries, UN Secretary-General António Guterres said.

  • Senior US Democrats on Sunday increased pressure on Israel’s prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu to abandon a planned offensive into the southern Gaza city of Rafah, where more than 1 million Palestinians are sheltering. Two days after a similar call by US secretary of state, Antony Blinken, was rejected by the Israeli leader, vice-president Kamala Harris said that the Joe Biden White House was “ruling out nothing” in terms of consequences if Netanyahu moves ahead with the assault.

  • French President Emmanuel Macron on Sunday told Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu that any forced transfer of people from the southern Gaza city of Rafah would constitute “a war crime”, reports Agence France-Presse. In a telephone call between the two leaders, Macron also “strongly condemned” Israel’s announcement Friday of the seizure of 800 hectares of land in the occupied West Bank for new settlements, said his office. Activists say Israel’s declaration that the land in the northern Jordan Valley was now “state land” was the single largest such seizure in decades.

  • 32,226 Palestinians have been killed and 74,518 injured since Israel’s military offensive on Gaza began on 7 October, according to the Gaza health ministry’s daily tally.

  • Four people were wounded by Israeli airstrikes near Lebanon’s eastern city of Baalbek overnight, one of which hit a two-storey building.

  • An Israeli strike on a car near the Syrian border killed a man on Sunday, a security source said.

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