Wednesday, November 29, 2023




UN aid chief heads to Jordan for talks to open second crossing into Gaza

UN aid chief Martin Griffiths will travel to the Jordanian capital Amman on Wednesday for talks on the possibility of opening the Kerem Shalom crossing to allow for humanitarian aid to enter Gaza from Israel.Located at the intersection of Israel, the Gaza Strip and Egypt, the Kerem Shalom crossing was used to carry more than 60% of the truckloads going into Gaza before the current conflict.Aid currently being allowed into Gaza comes through the Rafah crossing on the Egyptian border, which was designed for pedestrian crossings and not trucks. "We have said from start we need more than one crossing," Griffiths told a briefing of member states at the United Nations in Geneva on Tuesday."The opportunity to use Kerem Shalom should be explored, and that will be topic in Amman. It would hugely add scope (to the response)."Martin Griffiths, United Nations Special Envoy for Yemen, speaks as he attends the closing plenary of the fourth meeting of the Supervisory Committee on the Implementation of the Prisoners' Exchange Agreement in Yemen, in Glion, Switzerland, September 27, 2020. (credit: DENIS BALIBOUSE / REUTERS)A Western diplomat said there was no prospect of opening the Kerem Shalom crossing for the moment. The diplomat said that Israel does not want to open the crossing because their troops are located in the area.There was no immediate comment from Israel. AdvertisementSince a fragile truce came into force last week, some 200 trucks have carried aid into Gaza on a daily basis, but the amount of aid is nowhere near enough to meet the needs of its population."We know that more humanitarian aid should be delivered in Gaza. We know how we could increase it, but there are constraints beyond our control," Griffiths said."We know that the people of Gaza need much more from us."Scaling up delivery to GazaSince the truce, the United Nations has scaled up the delivery of humanitarian aid to Gaza and sent aid to some northern areas that had been largely cut off for weeks due to Israeli bombing."We need to have reliable and scalable aid delivery mechanisms, that include all humanitarian partners - including NGOs," Griffiths said."We are refining prioritisation, advocating for more entry points and the resumption of (the) private sector."

Erdogan tells UN chief Israel must be tried in international courts for Gaza crimes

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday told United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres that Israel must be held accountable in international courts for what he called war crimes it committed in Gaza, the Turkish presidency said.Israel has mounted an offensive by air and ground against Hamas militants in Gaza in which more than 15,000 people have been killed, according to Gaza health authorities.The offensive was launched after Hamas went on a rampage in southern Israel on October 7, killing some 1,200 people and taking 240 hostage. "Expectations of the international community regarding Israel"In a phone call ahead of a UN Security Council meeting on Gaza planned for Wednesday, Erdogan and Guterres discussed the "expectations of the international community regarding Israel's unlawful attacks," access of humanitarian aid into the enclave, and efforts for a lasting peace, the Turkish presidency said."During the call, President Erdogan said Israel continues to shamelessly trample on international law, the laws of war, and international humanitarian law by looking in the eyes of the international community, and it must be held accountable for the crimes it committed in front of international law," it said in a statement. Russian President Vladimir Putin meets with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan in Sochi, Russia, September 4, 2023. (credit: MURAT CETINMUHURDAR/PPO/HANDOUT VIA REUTERS)Turkey's foreign ministry said Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan would attend the UN Security Council meeting in New York.In a statement, it added that Fidan would hold also meet his counterparts as part of a so-called contact group of some Muslim countries, formed by the Arab League and Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) this month to discuss Gaza with Western powers and others. AdvertisementTurkey has harshly criticized Israel's attacks on Gaza and called for an immediate ceasefire to allow for discussions over a two-state solution to the wider Israel-Palestinian conflict.Erdogan has called the Israeli attacks on Gaza a genocide and accused Israel of being a "teror state." Israel rejects such charges and say it is acting in self-defense against a foe bent on it destruction.Turkey also hosts some members of Hamas, which it does not consider a terrorist group, unlike the United States, European Union, and some Gulf countries. It has accused the West, apart from Spain and Belgium, of complicity due to their support of Israel.

Baby remains hostage in Gaza as others go free in Israel-Hamas deal

Ten-month-old Kfir Bibas has spent more than 50 days of his young life in captivity in Gaza and, according to Israel, has been handed over by Hamas to another Palestinian terrorist group in a possible complication of efforts to free him.On Tuesday, members of his extended family pleaded with the Israeli government and mediators of an Israel-Hamas truce from Egypt and Qatar to help get him, his parents and brother released.Hamas infiltrators seized baby Kfir, four-year-old Ariel and their parents Yarden and Shiri after bursting into southern Israeli towns on October 7, killing around 1,200 people and prompting an Israeli military offensive that has killed more than 15,000 people according to Gaza health authorities. Kfir is the youngest of the 240 hostages Israel says were captured. Video of the incident showed a terrified Shiri clutching the children in a blanket as they were bundled into captivity. Another clip showed Yarden with a head injury from hammer blows, Ofri Bibas, Yarden's sister, said.She told reporters the family was not to be included in the expected release of 10 hostages on Tuesday. Relatives of repatriated hostages have been informed in advance by authorities. Israelis gather in Tel Aviv for the release of Gaza hostages on November 25, 2023 (credit: AVSHALOM SASSONI/MAARIV)Hamas has freed 50 Israeli women and children hostages, along with 19 foreign hostages, since Friday as part of the truce in which Israel has released 150 Palestinian prisoners and increased aid shipments into Gaza.Hagari: Hamas bears exclusive responsibilityIsrael's chief military spokesperson, Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari, said in a briefing that Kfir, Ariel and their parents were being held by a Palestinian faction other than Hamas. He said Hamas bore exclusive responsibility for them. AdvertisementAnother military spokesperson, Lieutenant Colonel Avichay Adraee, said the family was in the area of Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip.Hamas has not given the locations or condition of the estimated 170 people it still holds."The understanding that we will not, for now, get the hug we had so hoped for leaves us speechless," the Bibas' extended family said in a statement to the media.Jimmy Miller, a cousin, told Channel 12 TV: "Kfir is only 10 months old. He is a child who still doesn't even know how to say 'Mommy'. He still isn't eating solid food. He doesn't have the ability to survive there."We in the family are not managing to function ... The family hasn't slept for a long, long time already - 51 days."Last week, Yosi Shnaider, another cousin, described the hostage family as "simple people who thought they were going to live in heaven" - a reference to Kibbutz Nir Oz, the bucolic border village from where they were seized.

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