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U.S. under fire for veto of U.N. cease-fire resolution

The World Food Program is pausing the delivery of food to northern Gaza until conditions are safe to do so, saying its drivers were shot at and faced looting and beating.

What we know

  • The United States has been widely criticized for vetoing a United Nations resolution calling for an immediate cease-fire in Gaza. China said the veto ''sends the wrong message,'' France and Qatar voiced their regret, while leading aid groups expressed dismay. Washington had circulated a rival draft resolution calling for a temporary pause in fighting.
  • White House Middle East envoy Brett McGurk is traveling to Cairo today to continue discussions on a deal for the release of hostages held by Hamas and a temporary cease-fire. A Hamas delegation has also been in Egypt, as talks continue after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu dismissed Hamas' proposed deal as ''delusional.'' The U.S. has said it hopes for a cease-fire by next month, when Israel has vowed to begin an assault on the overcrowded city of Rafah unless a deal is reached.
  • The World Food Program is pausing the delivery of food to northern Gaza until conditions are safe, saying its drivers were shot at and faced looting and beating. The agency said this decision would add to the ''unprecedented desperation'' in Gaza, after earlier warning the enclave is at risk of famine. UNICEF warned yesterday that Gaza faced an ''explosion'' in child deaths due to malnutrition and illness.
  • More than 29,300 people have been killed in Gaza since the war began, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry. More than 69,300 have been injured, and thousands more are missing and presumed dead.
  • Israeli military officials said at least 237 soldiers have been killed since the ground invasion of Gaza began.

'Promises of safe areas are empty,' Doctors Without Borders says after Israeli shelling of aid shelter kills 2

The "promises of safe areas are empty," and Israeli forces are not ensuring civilian safety in Gaza after two people were killed at its shelter in Khan Younis last night, the general director of Médecins Sans Frontières said.

According to the group, also known as Doctors Without Borders, an Israeli tank shell hit a known and clearly marked shelter where its aid workers and their families were housed in Al-Mawasi. The 64 people inside were not given an evacuation order and Israeli forces were "regularly informed" about the MSF team's location, the organization said.

"The amount of force being used in a densely populated urban area is staggering, and targeting a building knowing it is full of humanitarian workers and their families is unconscionable," MSF general director Meinie Nicolai, said in a statement.

israeli hamas conflict
A man stands in a damaged medical charity Doctors Without Borders (MSF) building, in the al-Mawasi area, west of Khan Yuni, in the southern Gaza Strip, on Feb. 21, 2024.Mohammed Abed / AFP - Getty Images

A staff member's wife and daughter-in-law where killed in the hit to the building, and shelling in the area delayed ambulances for the injured for two hours, according to MSF.

“We are outraged and deeply saddened by these killings,” Nicolai said. “On the same day the United States chose to veto an immediate ceasefire, two daughters saw their mother and sister-in-law killed by an Israeli tank shell.”

The IDF declined to comment to NBC News on the matter, and the aid organization said it has contacted Israeli authorities seeking an explanation.

MSF worker who left Gaza days ago calls hit on colleagues' shelter incomprehensible

Karin Huster finished her mission in Rafah days before one of the homes sheltering Médecins Sans Frontières staffers was hit, killing two of her colleagues' family members and injuring several others.

“It’s just questioning whether we ever were safe even in our house?” Huster told NBC News in a call today.

The building that was hit was only a few minutes down the road from where Huster stayed during her five-week mission in Rafah, during which she helped coordinate the medical infrastructure for the organization. MSF said yesterday the shelter was shelled during an operation by Israeli forces, killing two people and injuring eight others.

"It's incomprehension," Huster said. "Obviously, it's anger, right, because our colleagues lost you know, a wife, daughter-in-law, five of their family members were injured. I mean... you know, it's beyond angry actually."

Huster spent five weeks in Rafah and saw many of the more than 1 million displaced Gazans either moving back to central Gaza or to the west to set up their tents of plastic sheeting on the beach.

Although Israel has not yet launched a ground assault on the border city, there were "strikes all the time." Despite the constant bombardment, which at one point Huster described as "hell on earth," she told NBC News that she was sure to return for another mission in Gaza.

"I mean, if we don't then who goes, right?"

In call for cease-fire, WHO chief calls Gaza a 'death zone'

Lori Rampani

The chief of the World Health Organization, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesu, called the crisis in Gaza “inhumane” and again called for a cease-fire in the region.

“The health and humanitarian situation in Gaza is inhumane and continues to deteriorate,” Tedros said at a media briefing today.

“We need a cease-fire now. We need hostages to be released. We need the bombs to stop dropping, and we need unfettered humanitarian access. Humanity must prevail,” he said.

Ghebreyesu called the Gaza Strip a “death zone.” 

“More than 29,000 people are dead; many more are missing, presumed dead; and many, many more are injured,” he said. 

Harvard condemns student and faculty groups for posting antisemitic cartoon

The Associated Press

BOSTON— Harvard University condemned what it called a “flagrantly antisemitic cartoon” that an undergraduate group posted on social media over the weekend. It also appeared on the Instagram account of Harvard Faculty and Staff for Justice in Palestine.

Copied from a newsletter published by students in the U.S. Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s, the image features a Black man and an Arab man with nooses around their necks, held by a hand imprinted with the Star of David that has a dollar sign in the middle of the star.

The image was removed and the student and faculty groups apologized, but the post prompted a storm of criticism that Harvard isn’t doing enough to protect its Jewish community.

“Perpetuating vile and hateful antisemitic tropes, or otherwise engaging in inflammatory rhetoric or sharing images that demean people on the basis of their identity, is precisely the opposite of what this moment demands of us,” Alan Garber, Harvard’s interim president, said in a letter yesterday to the school community.

In a statement today, the Harvard Undergraduate Palestine Solidarity Committee and the African American Resistance Organization took responsibility for what they acknowledged is a “harmful antisemitic trope.”

The image was copied from a Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee newsletter and included in an infographic urging Black and Arab people to unite in protest of Israel’s treatment of Palestinians.

“The inclusion of the offensive caricature was an unprompted, painful error — a combination of ignorance and inadequate oversight,” the student groups’ statement said. “It never should have been published to begin with. We wholeheartedly apologize for the immense harm we caused.”


New Israeli NGO report says sexual violence on Oct. 7, including at IDF bases, was 'systematic'

A new report by an Israeli nonprofit calls the sexual violence carried out during the Oct. 7 Hamas terror attack “brutal” and “systematic.” 

The report by the Association of Rape Crisis Centers in Israel (ARCCI) outlines cases of rape, mutilation or abuse at the Nova music festival, in the kibbutzim and villages in southern Israel, at Israel Defense Forces bases and in captivity inside Gaza. It leans on testimonies of eyewitnesses, first responders, people who prepared bodies for burial, and returned hostages. 

The report notes the ARCCI received information about sexual assault of female IDF soldiers that it cannot make public at this time because the information is classified.  

“The systematic sexual violence was brutal and sadistic,” the CEO of ARCCI Orit Solitzeanu told NBC News on Wednesday. “It was a pattern of behavior planned and executed.”

Solitzeanu said in a previous interview that she was disappointed in the international human rights community when very few spoke out about the sexual violence carried out against women in Israel during the Oct. 7 Hamas terror attack that killed 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and led to the capture of about 250 more.

Hamas has denied that its militants carried out sexual violence on Oct. 7.

NBC News has previously reported on sexual violence carried out on Oct. 7.

U.K. announces new aid to Gaza; members of Parliament walk out over cease-fire debate

U.K. Foreign Secretary David Cameron announced today that the country would be sending four tons of supplies to Tal Al-Hawa Hospital in northern Gaza.

Jordanian officials are assisting in getting the supplies to the hospital, a move that Cameron said would benefit thousands of patients. Supply chains for aid in Gaza have not been delivered at scale, particularly in northern Gaza, where the population is essentially cut off from the rest of the strip.

Cameron noted that the situation is "desperate."

"We are calling for an immediate humanitarian pause to allow additional aid into Gaza as quickly as possible and bring hostages home," he wrote in a post on X.

Meanwhile, the House of Commons saw some chaos as legislators debated a motion to call for a cease-fire in Gaza.

The speaker, Sir Lindsay Hoyle, accepted amendments both by Labour and the government, which was a break in convention that angered members of the other parties. According to Sky News, members of the Scottish National Party and Conservative Party walked out in protest.

IDF says its troops uncovered another tunnel network used by Hamas

The Israel Defense Forces said today that its Yahalom unit has uncovered another network of underground tunnels it believes to be utilized by Hamas leadership.

According to the IDF, this tunnel network was discovered under Khan Younis, where soldiers engaged in "close-quarters combat" with Hamas militants. The IDF said the tunnel network was utilized as a hideout for senior members of Hamas and the group's Khan Younis Brigade.

"The tunnel was investigated and scanned for intelligence, sleeping quarters, electrical and water infrastructure," the IDF said. "The tunnel stretches over a kilometer, and millions of shekels were invested in it.

The tunnel was subsequently destroyed by the Israeli military. NBC News is not able to independently verify the IDF's statement.

Signs of potential movement on a new hostage deal, Gantz says

There are indications of movement for a new hostage deal outline after weeks of negotiations appeared to stall, said Minister Benny Gantz, a member of Israel's war cabinet.

Gantz held a press conference today in which he did not provide details but said that there are attempts "to promote a new outline." Hamas and Israel leadership previously seemed to be at a standstill over details on a cease-fire and the number of Palestinian detainees released in exchange for hostages.

The minister went on to reiterate Israel's stance on a potential military operation in Rafah, which Israel says to be the last Hamas stronghold in Gaza.

"I repeat, if there is no plan for the release of hostages, we will also operate during Ramadan," Gantz said. "Since the abductees outline, we have not stopped fighting for even one day — and we will not stop even for a minute, without our abductees being returned."

Israeli tanks besiege Nasser Hospital in Khan Younis with 10,000 people inside, says UNRWA

Lori Rampani

Israeli tanks have besieged Nasser Hospital located in Khan Younis, according to the U.N. Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA).

Reportedly, there are 10,000 people in the hospital, including 300 medical staff. Seventy medical staffers are currently detained, according to a UNRWA post on X.

Patients and medical staff inside the hospital have no access to food, water, or baby formula. Reports say that eight ICU patients have died due to lack of oxygen.

Reports that Eurovision entry could be banned called 'outrageous' by Israel's culture minister

Andrew Jones

Reports that Israel’s entry for the Eurovision Song contest might be rejected because its lyrics are too political have been branded “outrageous” by the country’s culture minister. 

Miki Zohar said in a post on X that the European Broadcasting Union, which runs the competition, was intending “to disqualify the Israeli song for Eurovision.”

Eden Golan, 20, was chosen to represent her country after winning a TV competition. But reports in Israeli media have suggested the lyrics in “October Rain” reference Hamas Oct. 7 attacks on Israel and the war in Gaza. 

In a statement to NBC News, the EBU, which tries to be non-political and bans overtly political lyrics, said it was “currently in the process of scrutinizing” her song. “If a song is deemed unacceptable for any reason, broadcasters are then given the opportunity to submit a new song or new lyrics, as per the rules of the contest,” it said. 

NBC News has reached out to Golan’s representatives for comment.

Eurovision, a glitzy annual competition that helped launch the careers of Celine Dion and ABBA, will hold this year’s finals in the Swedish city of Malmo. 

Zohar said he hoped she would be allowed to compete with what he called “a moving song, which expresses the feelings of the people and the country these days, and is not political.”

IDF lawyer issues memo warning about 'unacceptable conduct,' Times of Israel reports

A memo by the Israeli military’s top lawyer addressed to commanders in the Israel Defense Forces reportedly warns about potentially illegal conduct by soldiers.

According to the Times of Israel, Maj. Gen. Yifat Tomer-Yerushalmi wrote that the military has seen "cases of unacceptable conduct that deviate from IDF values and protocols." The memo specifically noted that some of these cases "cross the criminal threshold."

Examples included, according to the report, unacceptable use of force, looting and destruction of civilian property.

The IDF has not responded to NBC News' request for more information on the memo.

Switzerland will ban Hamas

The Associated Press

GENEVA — Switzerland will ban the Palestinian militant group Hamas, the government said Wednesday.

Under the ban, Swiss authorities can more easily apply preventative measures to deny entry or expel anyone suspected of affiliation with Hamas, and exchange information with foreign authorities more openly in cases of suspected terrorism financing linked to the group.

The Federal Council, Switzerland’s seven-member executive branch, said the ban will affect Hamas and any potential successor organizations. The Swiss government already listed Hamas as a terror organization just days after the deadly Oct. 7 attacks in Israel.

Acts of support for Hamas could be punishable with penalties of up to 20 years in prison, depending on the level of influence in the group, the government said in a statement. However, the ban so far is limited to five years, but it can be extended by parliament.

Woman killed, daughter seriously injured in Israeli strike in Lebanon

A woman identified as Khadija Salman was killed in an Israeli airstrike in the southern Lebanese town of Majdal Zoun, according to the National News Agency, Lebanon's state news.

Salman's daughter, who was not identified, was critically injured.

Hezbollah and the Israel Defense Forces continued to exchange fire today over the shared border between Lebanon and Israel. Hezbollah claimed to hit several targets in northern Israel, including the city of Metula and the Shebaa Farms area. The IDF said it conducted airstrikes against what it described as Hezbollah military sites.

NNA reported that there were heavy strikes and shelling across southern Lebanon, "resulting in extensive damage to crops, olive trees, and properties."

Knesset passes government decision against 'unilateral' establishment of a Palestinian state

The Knesset approved a plan by Netanyahu to oppose any "unilateral" establishment of a Palestinian state in a 99-9 vote today.

Netanyahu spoke of the plan yesterday, saying there was international pressure to unilaterally impose a Palestinian state and that he expected his proposal to pass. Yair Lapid, leader of the opposition, said his party voted in favor only because they stand against "unilateral measures" on principle but also accused Netanyahu of inventing the idea for "media spin."

"You invented a threat that does not exist," Lapid said. "What are we talking about? There isn't an official side around the world that proposes unilateral recognition of a Palestinian state."

Netanyahu has publicly declared his opposition to the establishment of a Palestinian state, even as U.S. officials continue to put their support behind a two-state solution.

Hamas released a statement following the vote, describing the vote as a show of disdain "for the international community and the UN resolutions that affirm the national rights of our people, foremost of which is the right to self-determination."

Blinken arrives in Brazil after Lula condemns Israel

Secretary of State Antony Blinken arrived in Brazil yesterday as his first stop in South America to meet Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula Da Silva after the left-wing leader angered Washington by comparing Israel with Nazi leader Adolf Hitler.

At an African Union summit in Ethiopia over the weekend, Lula condemned Israel for committing “genocide” in Gaza, saying that what Israel has been doing in Gaza parallels the Holocaust.

Netanyahu soon hit back at Lula’s statement, saying the comparison between Israel and the Holocaust committed by Nazis “crossed the red line.” State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller also said “Obviously we disagree with those comments.”

Blinken will start his visit in the Brazilian capital city, Brasilia, visit Rio de Janeiro to attend a G20 summit, and then fly to Argentina to meet with its new president, Javier Milei, who is known to be a supporter of Israel.

Israeli airstrike killed two people in Damascus, Syrian state media says

Two people were killed in an Israeli airstrike in the Syrian capital city of Damascus, the state-run Syrian Arab News Agency reported.

The attack targeted a residential building in the southwestern neighborhood of Kafr Sousa this morning, the state media said, citing an unnamed military source.

The source added that another person was injured in the attack with buildings nearby damaged.

NBC News is not able to independently verify the airstrike and the casualties.

1 million women and girls ‘forcibly’ displaced in Gaza, U.N. says

Around a million women and girls have been “forcibly” displaced in Gaza with half of them in the southern region of Rafah, U.N. Women has said.

“They are experiencing unbearable suffering, disease, and risk of famine,” the U.N. gender equality agency said in a post on X.

“We call for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire,” it added.

Greek ship attacked in Red Sea by Houthis arrives in Aden with cargo

Reuters

The Greek-flagged bulk cargo vessel Sea Champion arrived in the southern Yemeni port of Aden after being “mistakenly” attacked by Houthi militia in the Red Sea, shipping and military sources said.

The Sea Champion, which was shipping corn from Argentina to Aden, was attacked twice Monday, Greek Shipping Ministry sources said, adding that a window was damaged with no crew injured.

A port source in Aden, who declined to be identified, said the attack on the vessel was a mistake. Another source, who also declined to be identified, said Houthis informed them that the attack was not intentional.

Houthi officials could not be immediately reached for comment.

U.N. top court shouldn’t urge Israel to immediately withdraw from Palestinian-claimed lands, U.S. says

Associated Press

The United States said Wednesday that the United Nations’ top court should not issue an advisory opinion that says Israel should “immediately and unconditionally withdraw” from territories sought for a Palestinian state.

Acting State Department legal adviser Richard Visek said the 15-judge panel at the International Court of Justice should not seek to resolve the decadeslong Israeli-Palestinian conflict “through an advisory opinion addressed to questions focusing on the acts of only one party.”

Visek spoke on the third day of hearings at the court into a request by the General Assembly for a nonbinding advisory opinion on the legality of Israel’s policies in the occupied territories.

He said the court “can address the questions before it within the established framework based on the land for peace principle and within the parameters of established principles of occupation law.” The idea of land for peace has been the cornerstone of U.S.-led diplomacy for decades and was the basis of the Camp David Accords between Israel and Egypt, in which Israel withdrew from the Sinai Peninsula in return for peace and recognition.

Protesters stage ‘die-in’ to support families of Israeli hostages held in Gaza

NBC News

Activists in Tel Aviv held a “Sorry For Being Kidnapped” demonstration in support of the approximately 134 hostages still being held in Gaza.

Most Israelis — Jewish and Arab — don't believe 'absolute victory' is possible, new poll finds

TEL AVIV — Most Israelis, both Jewish and Arab, don't believe "absolute victory" is possible in Israel's war in Gaza, a new poll has found.

A survey conducted by the Israel Democracy Institute from Feb. 12-15 found that 51% of Jewish Israelis and 77.5% of Arab Israelis believe it is unlikely that Israel will come away from its war with Hamas with an "absolute" victory.

The poll found differences along the political spectrum in Israel, with 84% of left-wing respondents agreeing the likelihood of "absolute victory" is low, compared with 63% of centrist participants and 55% of those on the right.

The poll's findings come after Netanyahu said earlier this month that absolute victory in the war was within Israel's reach. Israel's war Cabinet has previously vowed to "eliminate Hamas" and bring back all the hostages who are still held captive in Gaza.

The poll separately found that 63% of Jewish Israelis oppose the establishment of a Palestinian state, while 73% of Arab Israelis are in support.

World Food Program suspends food deliveries to northern Gaza amid ‘chaos’

The World Food Program announced a pause on food deliveries to northern Gaza because of Israeli operations and the “complete chaos and violence” caused by the collapse of the civil order, fueling fears that hunger in the area could intensify.

The decision has not “been taken lightly” as thousands of people “risk dying of hunger,” the U.N. food agency said in a statement yesterday. But “the safety and security to deliver critical food aid — and for the people receiving it — must be ensured,” it added.

The agency said it tried to resume aid deliveries last weekend after a three-week suspension, but hungry residents tried to climb onto the trucks and beat up a driver, while convoys also faced threats from Israeli gunfire.

It said it would try to resume the food deliveries “in a responsible manner” as soon as possible and called for a “large-scale expansion” of its assistance to northern Gaza.

War propaganda displayed in Tehran

Max Butterworth

A banner written in Persian and Hebrew reading "We are stronger and more motivated than ever. Are you ready for 2 million displaced people?" with pictures of Iranian missiles being launched was displayed yesterday on the side of a building at Palestine Square in the Iranian capital, Tehran.

Iran reacts to Israel's attacks on the Gaza Strip
Fatemeh Bahrami / Anadolu via Getty Images

Iran accuses Israel of attacking its gas pipelines

Israeli attacks were behind a series of blasts that struck Iranian gas pipelines last week, Iran's oil minister alleged today.

Oil Minister Javad Owji said the Israeli “plot” failed as only a few pipelines were damaged, adding that the gas supply had returned to normal, the semi-official Tasnim News Agency reported today.

Last Wednesday, two explosions rocked major pipelines in southwestern Iran, which Owji called a “terrorist act of sabotage” initially but did not name who might have been behind it.

Israel has not acknowledged carrying out an attack, though it rarely claims any espionage missions abroad and has been engaged in a "shadow war" with Tehran. 

‘We are not on a killing spree,’ IDF chief tells commanders

TEL AVIV — Israeli forces are not meant to be “on a killing spree, revenge or genocide” in their offensive in Gaza, Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevy told commanders in a recent letter.

In an excerpt of the letter published online by the IDF yesterday, Halevy says soldiers must “be careful not to use force where it is not required, to distinguish between terrorist and non-terrorist, not to take anything that is not ours — a souvenir or military item — and not to film revenge videos.”

“We will not make a mistake and allow the enemy to make an achievement in the international arena,” Halevy writes in the letter. It was not clear exactly when the letter was shared with commanders.

Halevy added that Israel would soon begin the process of investigating the events of Oct. 7, when Hamas launched its deadly attacks on Israel, with each unit and force expected to investigate “the battles and the events in which they participated.” 

China leads global criticism of U.S. cease-fire veto at U.N.

HONG KONG — China accused the U.S. of sending the “wrong message” and pushing Gaza “into a more dangerous situation” as it vetoed a U.N. resolution calling for an immediate cease-fire.

“Under the current circumstances, remaining passive and evasive on the issue of an immediate cease-fire is tantamount to giving the green light for continued killing,” the Chinese envoy to the U.N., Zhang Jun, said.

Russia and Saudi Arabia were also critical, while diplomats from France and Qatar voiced regret. Aid groups expressed dismay, with Doctors Without Borders accusing Washington of being "complicit in extending the suffering of Palestinian civilians."

The vote in the 15-member Security Council was 13-1 on the Arab-backed resolution, with the U.S. vetoing and Britain abstaining.

Bombardments continue in Gaza City

Max Butterworth

Israeli bombardment in Gaza City
AFP - Getty Images
Israeli Bombardment in Gaza City
AFP - Getty Images

Smoke rises from buildings in Gaza City during an Israeli bombardment yesterday, as debris from shattered buildings lines the streets.

U.S. would like cease-fire by Ramadan; Israel has not provided plan for Rafah

Abigail Williams

Israel has not presented a plan to protect more than a million civilians in Rafah ahead of its threatened assault on the border city, according to State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller.

Miller said in a briefing yesterday that while he’s seen reports that a plan is being drafted, he could not speak to what that might include. Officials are also hoping a temporary cease-fire can be implemented in Gaza before the start of Ramadan, which is expected to begin March 10 after sunset.

“As I said we’d like to get it as soon as possible, so that’s what we’re going to continue to try to do,” Miller said. “At the same time, we have made clear that Israel should not launch a full military campaign in Rafah unless it has a humanitarian plan that is both credible and realistic and one that they can execute.”

Israeli Minister Benny Gantz, a member of the government’s war Cabinet, said yesterday that Israel’s military campaign will continue into the holy Islamic month if hostages are still in Gaza at the time.

Catch up with NBC News’ latest coverage of the conflict

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