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Israel-Hamas war: Cease-fire negotiations inch forward as Israel plans Rafah ground offensive

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he will “convene the Cabinet to approve the operational plans for action in Rafah,” including the evacuation of civilians.

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What we know

  • Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he will convene his Cabinet early this week “to approve the operational plans for action in Rafah,” including the evacuation of civilians. About 1.5 million people are taking refuge in the city, with U.S. officials saying they cannot support an Israeli ground offensive there without a credible plan for their protection.
  • The U.S. and U.K. militaries launched joint airstrikes against Houthi rebel positions in Yemen, hitting at least 18 targets, including an underground storage facility, weapons and a helicopter. In response, a Houthi leader said the group would “increase our determination” in attacking ships in the Red Sea.
  • Qatar will host mediated talks between Hamas and Israel in Cairo this week. An Israeli official told NBC News that there was “some progress” on cease-fire negotiations with U.S., Israeli, Qatari and Egyptian officials in Paris yesterday. However, Hamas said today that Netanyahu “aborts all attempts” to make progress in negotiations.
  • Israeli airstrikes continue across Gaza as humanitarian conditions further deteriorate. UNRWA and the World Food Program have paused aid deliveries to northern Gaza because of Israeli bombing and the collapse of civil order. The U.N. has warned of “a steep rise in malnutrition.” 21,000 metric tons of food are being held at the border, unable to be distributed.
  • More than 29,600 people have been killed in Gaza since the war began, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry. More than 69,400 have been injured, and thousands more are missing and presumed dead.
  • Israeli military officials said at least 238 soldiers have been killed since the ground invasion of Gaza began.

Man who set himself on fire near embassies is active-duty airman

Mosheh Gains

Mosheh Gains and Dennis Romero

The man who set himself on fire near multiple embassies in Washington, D.C., today is an active-duty airman, an Air Force spokesperson confirmed.

Authorities have not released the man's identity. He was hospitalized, and his condition was not available, authorities said.

The man set himself on fire on International Drive, the Secret Service said. It happened near the embassies of Israel, Ethiopia, Jordan and Singapore.

In a statement, the Israeli Embassy said the incident happened about 1 p.m.

"The man is unknown," it said. "No embassy staff were injured and are safe."

Health situation in northern Gaza 'extremely catastrophic,' Gaza Health Ministry says

NBC News

The health situation in northern Gaza is "extremely catastrophic and indescribable," according to the Palestinian Health Ministry in Gaza.

Hospitals in the north are without fuel, and medicine refrigerators are without electricity, "which threatens to destroy quantities of sensitive medicines," it said.

Dozens of ambulances and other medical service vehicles are also out of service because of a lack of fuel, according to the ministry.

"Dialysis and intensive care patients are at risk of death as a result of the lack of fuel for generators, ambulances, and medicines," the ministry said.

A month has passed since UNRWA was last able to deliver aid to northern Gaza

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East has not been able to deliver aid to northern Gaza since Jan. 23, according to Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini.

“Since then, together with other @UN agencies, we have: Warned against looming famine. Appealed for regular humanitarian access. Stated that famine can be averted if more food convoys are allowed into northern Gaza on a regular basis,” Lazzarini said. “Our calls to send food aid have been denied & have fallen on deaf ears.”

Lazzarini called it “a man made disaster,” adding that famine can still be avoided if access is granted to aid shipments.

“The days to come will once again test our common humanity and values,” he said.

IDF claims mortar bombs and cartridges found in UNRWA bags; organization disputes claims

In a statement, the Israel Defense Forces alleged that soldiers found mortar bombs and cartridges in UNRWA bags inside buildings Hamas had converted into a fighting compound.

Juliette Touma, a spokesperson for United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, said the organization has no way to verify the claim.

“We give out food in millions of these bags, and they get re-used after they are empty,” Touma said. “It’s like a shopping back from Costco. Does Costco track down how its bags are used after it leaves its stores?”

Israel has accused 30 UNRWA employees of committing violence against its citizens. UNRWA has denied the allegations.

NBC News has not independently verified any of the claims.

Man sets himself on fire near several embassies in Washington

Michelle Acevedo

Michelle Acevedo and Mirna Alsharif

A man set himself on fire on International Drive in Washington, D.C., according to the Secret Service.

The area is near several embassies, including Israel's, Ethiopia's, Jordan's and Singapore's.

"Uniformed division responded to the 3400 Block of International Drive, NW, DC regarding an individual that was experiencing a possible medical / mental health emergency," the Secret Service said. "DC Fire & EMS responded to the scene and treated the individual prior to transport to an area hospital."

The extent of the man's injuries and his motive are not clear.

UNRWA: Sanitary conditions are unsustainable and catastrophic in Gaza

NBC News

Sanitary conditions are unsustainable and catastrophic in Gaza, according to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East.

"@UNRWA shelters are severely overcrowded. Clean water is scarce. Solid waste is accumulating. Spread of diseases is on the rise," the organization said on X.

UNRWA teams continue to provide critical aid on the ground.

Continuing U.S., U.K. raids unacceptable, says Houthi spokesperson

Ammar Cheikh Omar

Ammar Cheikh Omar and Mirna Alsharif

The U.S. and U.K. air raids on Yemen are "unacceptable," said Houthi spokesperson Mohammed Abdul Salam, who also condemned them.

In a statement, Abdul Salam said the raids "violate the sovereignty of an independent state and come in the context of futile attempts to prevent Yemen from continuing its supportive stance towards the steadfastness of the Palestinian people in Gaza."

"We affirm that Yemen is committed to its humanitarian and religious position alongside Gaza by preventing Israeli ships or those heading to the ports of occupied Palestine, and has every right to respond to the ongoing American and British aggression on our dear country," Abdul Salam said.

Yesterday afternoon, the U.S. and U.K. military conducted more strikes against the Houthis in Yemen, hitting more than a dozen targets in retaliation for their ongoing attacks that threaten ships in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden, according to officials.

Israel, Hamas skirmish in Gaza as truce efforts pick up pace


JERUSALEM — Israeli troops and Palestinian gunmen clashed throughout the Gaza Strip over the weekend as mediators picked up the pace of talks on a possible cease-fire to free hostages held by Hamas and bring a measure of Ramadan respite to the battered enclave.

Prospects for securing any truce looked uncertain, however, with Israel saying it was, in parallel, planning to expand its sweep to destroy Hamas, while the Islamist faction stood firm on its demand for a permanent end to the nearly five-month-old war.

Residents said Israeli forces shelled several areas of the enclave as tanks rolled into Beit Lahiya and soldiers and gunmen waged running battles in the Zeitoun sector of Gaza City — both in the north, which had been conquered early in the offensive.

At least 86 Palestinians have been killed in Israeli strikes since yesterday, medics said. Israel’s military said that two soldiers died in fighting in south Gaza and that its forces killed or captured Palestinian gunmen in Zeitoun and elsewhere.

Photos: Protesters in Tel Aviv call for release of hostages

NBC News

Demonstrators, including friends and relatives of the Israeli hostages held in Gaza, attended a rally in Tel Aviv last night to call for their release. Police used water cannons to disperse the demonstrators later in the night.

Demonstrators during a protest in Tel Aviv
Ohad Zwigenberg / AP
A woman holds a poster of a missing Israeli hostage
Ohad Zwigenberg / AP
Demonstrators during a protest in Tel Aviv
Ohad Zwigenberg / AP
Police use water cannons to disperse demonstrators
Ohad Zwigenberg / AP

U.S. 'has not seen' plan to evacuate Rafah, Sullivan says

Leila Sackur

Biden has not seen or been briefed on any Israeli plan to pursue a ground invasion of Rafah or evacuate its civilians, Sullivan told NBC News’ Kristen Welker on “Meet the Press” this morning.

“We do not believe that a major military operation should proceed in Rafah, unless there is a clear and executable plan to protect those civilians, get them to safety and to feed, clothe and house them,” Sullivan said.

“We have not seen a plan like that,” he added.

More than 1.1 million people are living in Rafah, housed in sprawling refugee camps with rapidly depleting resources inside hospitals and schools and out in the open. International aid organizations, charities and the U.N. have repeatedly warned that civilians in Gaza’s southernmost city have nowhere to flee to if a ground operation were to commence, as they are not being allowed to evacuate to more northern sections of the strip and many no longer have homes to return to.

National security adviser will not say whether the U.S. will withhold weapons sales to Israel

Leila Sackur

National security adviser Jake Sullivan dodged the question of whether the Biden administration would refuse to sell arms to Israel as leverage to dissuade it from pursuing a ground invasion of Rafah.

“I’m not going to get into hypotheticals,” Sullivan told NBC News’ Kristen Welker on “Meet the Press” this morning, adding that President Joe Biden was waiting to hear from his Israeli counterparts to respond to American advice that a ground invasion of Rafah, where over 1 million civilians have evacuated, should not go ahead.

The Biden administration has repeatedly said it would not support a ground invasion of Rafah without efforts to evacuate the civilian population. Gaza’s civilians were originally encouraged to head to Rafah as a “safe zone” by the Israeli military and have not yet been allowed to return to their homes in other parts of the Gaza Strip.

The U.N. Human Rights Office said in a statement last week that the “transfer of weapons or ammunition to Israel” was likely to “violate international humanitarian law” and “must cease immediately,” regardless of whether states selling arms to Israel were aware of how they were being used or not.

Netanyahu ‘aborts all attempts’ to make progress in negotiations, Hamas spokesperson said

Leila Sackur

Hamas, the militant organization that governs Gaza, has said Netanyahu has rejected its three “basic” requirements for a negotiation: a “sustainable” cease-fire, an end to the Israeli military occupation of Gaz, and an end to the siege. Before the current wartime aid crisis, Gaza had been under an Israeli blockade since 2007 that limited the flow of goods and movement of people, severely stifling the economy.

“The document issued by Netanyahu contains only no's,” said A. Taher Al-Nono, the media adviser to the head of Hamas, adding that the organization’s leadership “did not receive any official information about what happened in Paris.”

Israeli media portrayed yesterday’s negotiations in Paris as “significant,” with Hamas acceding to some of Netanyahu’s demands. However, an Israeli official was more measured, telling NBC News that there was “some progress” but that a breakthrough was not imminent.

Indeed, Al-Nono accused Netanyahu today of being invested in continuing the war for “purely personal and electoral interests” and said the Israeli government had “abort[ed] all attempts” to make progress in the negotiations.

Video appears to show baby who died of malnutrition in northern Gaza

TEL AVIV — As fears grow of a mounting hunger crisis in Gaza, video published by the Palestinian interior ministry appears to show a baby purported to have died from malnutrition.

In the video posted to Telegram on Saturday, the infant can be seen being carried into Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City swaddled in blankets. In later footage, he is lying on a hospital table, pale and gaunt, with his mouth and eyes wide open. A medical worker pulls up his shirt and tugs at the skin of his stomach to show how loose it had become.

Al Jazeera later reported that the baby was 2 months old and had died from malnutrition. NBC News was not able to independently verify that reporting.

A first responder with the Palestinian Civil Defense who helped rush the baby to Al-Shifa Hospital says in the video that his ambulance crew was stopped by a woman carrying her baby in the street, crying out: “Help us.”

Matthew Hollingworth, the World Food Programme’s regional director, told NBC News in a recent interview that some days, no food enters Gaza. And even when aid does make it into the enclave, it rarely reaches the north.

On Tuesday, the World Food Programme said it was suspending deliveries to northern Gaza due to unsafe conditions, including Israeli bombing in the area, violence against truck drivers and looting of vehicles. UNRWA followed suit yesterday citing similar challenges. The agencies said they would resume service when conditions allow.

IDF says it has ended its operation at Nasser Hospital

Leila Sackur

The IDF said that it has “concluded” its operation at Nasser Hospital this week, after detaining “200 terrorists and suspects in terrorist activities.” The targeted raid on the hospital began 10 days ago, on Feb. 15.

Thousands of people were trapped inside Nasser Hospital, including 850 patients, according to medical charity Médecins sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders), as anesthetic, medicines and beds ran out and doctors were forced to operate on patients on bloodied floors, NBC News earlier reported.

The IDF said it found “sealed medicines” in the hospital “with the name of Israeli hostages on them [and] large quantities of weapons.” NBC News has not independently verified these claims.

“Minimal disruption” to the hospital’s activities was ensured during the military operation, the IDF said, claiming it completed its mission “without harming patients and medical staff” and providing an “alternative generator that allowed the hospital to continue functioning.”

The IDF further said it was examining what it called the “electricity problem” inside the hospital, which aid agencies had characterized as a blackout that resulted in the deaths of several ICU patients.

The Palestine Red Crescent Society, an emergency medical service provider in Gaza, said that many of its hospital staff and ambulance workers, as well as patients, were targeted by snipers.

In a case documented by NBC News, a man allegedly dispatched as a messenger by the Israeli military was shot dead after warning people at the hospital complex to evacuate.

The World Health Organization said conditions in the hospital last week were “indescribable,” saying it had no electricity or running water, and that growing medical waste and destruction was creating a breeding ground for disease.

Senior Houthi leader offers to salvage damaged ship in exchange for more aid to Gaza

Leila Sackur

A British-owned ship that was damaged in a Houthi missile attack off the coast of Yemen can be “salvaged” in exchange for “allowing aid trucks into Gaza,” senior Houthi leader Mohammad Ali Al-Houthi said on X today.

The Houthis struck the British-owned, Belize-flagged Rubymar last week.

Upon capturing the ship on Monday, senior Houthi leader Yahya Saree said it had suffered “catastrophic damages and came to a complete halt” and was in danger of sinking.

The capture of the ship, which was carrying combustible fertilizer, has triggered environmental concerns after it began leaking oil into a slick that now stretches some 18 miles.

A Belize-flagged bulk carrier Rubymar
The Rubymar near the Bab el-Mandeb strait leaking oil after it was attacked by Houthi rebels.Planet Labs PBC via AP

Qatar and Egypt to host talks aiming to finalize truce agreement this week


Qatar will host mediated talks between Hamas and Israel aiming to finalize an agreement on a truce this week, Egyptian security sources said.

Representatives from both parties will travel to Cairo for further talks aimed at reaching an agreement on the timing and mechanism for executing a deal, including hostage releases, the sources said.

Fears of famine grow in Gaza as aid agencies suspend deliveries

Molly Hunter

Bill O'Reilly

Molly Hunter and Bill O'Reilly

JERUSALEM — As crowds of hungry people crowded around a food distribution point in Gaza’s southernmost city of Rafah, Magdy Hussein waited patiently in line, a dignified figure amid the chaos.

His wait proved in vain — the food ran out before he reached the front.

“For the love of God, every time we come, we leave with nothing,” Hussein said to the young men dishing out the soup, as he was filmed by an NBC News crew last week. “Please, every time I tell you, I have 25 people at home.”

“What kind of life is this?” Hussein, who is in his 60s, wondered aloud to no one in particular.

Hussein’s situation underscores a bleak reality for many in Gaza, as the Israeli military’s ground invasion and aerial bombardment continues. A dire food and water shortage is putting many at risk of infection and death, according to aid groups that have repeatedly stressed difficulties in delivering aid due to the intensity of hostilities.

Read full story.

Centuries-old mosques, churches destroyed in Gaza

Leila Sackur

Videos circulating on social media, and verified by NBC News, showed the ruins of the Great Omari Mosque in Gaza City, the oldest mosque in Gaza, located on an ancient Philistine temple. Social media users in January said the ancient site — which also once housed a church — had been completely destroyed by IDF bombing, with only its foundations remaining.

Nearly 400 religious sites have been destroyed or damaged in Gaza since Oct. 7, according to the government’s media office, including 380 mosques and three churches.

The Great Omari Mosque has survived centuries of war. It was first destroyed by the Mongols in the 13th century, and was severely damaged by Allied forces attacking Ottoman positions during World War I, who claimed the Ottomans used the mosque to store munitions.

Attacks on historical and religious sites were attempts to “erase the Palestinian cultural and heritage presence” in Gaza, the government media office said in a January statement, calling on international religious and cultural organizations to oppose the targeting of the sites.

The Great Omari Mosque last month.AFP - Getty Images

Qatar calls on ICJ to act on Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands

Leila Sackur

Qatar said that the “credibility” of international law depends on the ICJ’s nonbinding opinion on the legality of the Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands, according to a statement released by the country’s foreign ministry.

Speaking at the ICJ this week, a representative from Qatar — which has been instrumental in hostage negotiations between Israel and Hamas — said that it was the court’s “duty” to “adopt all opinions that consider the Israeli occupation illegal, illegitimate and based on racial segregation,” rejecting the “double standards” of international law not applying to everyone.

Describing the situation in the West Bank, where settler, military and police violence toward Palestinians has skyrocketed in recent months, as “no less worsening than in Gaza,” the foreign ministry’s statement described Israeli actions toward Palestinians as “the greatest threat to international security.”

Qatar established unofficial trade relations with Israel in 1996, though it broke ties with the country in 2009. Since the start of the war, Qatar, along with Egypt, has facilitated extended cease-fire talks between Israel and Hamas. Relations between the countries have become fraught recently after leaked recordings allegedly showed Netanyahu criticizing Doha’s stance in the talks.

Netanyahu to convene Cabinet for approval of Rafah ground offensive

NBC News

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will convene the Cabinet early next week “to approve the operational plans for action in Rafah,” Gaza’s southernmost city, he said on X.

This plan includes the evacuation of civilians in Rafah, he said, which UNRWA estimates to be about 1.5 million people.

“Only a combination of military pressure and firm negotiations will lead to the release of our hostages, the elimination of Hamas and the achievement of all the war’s objectives,” Netanyahu said.

U.S. President Joe Biden has advised Israel against a military operation in Rafah unless there’s a “credible and executable plan” to protect Palestinians in the city. Qatar and Egypt condemned and rejected Israel’s plans to move into Rafah, with the latter warning of “grave consequences” for the humanitarian situation in the city if the military operation goes forward.

Houthi leader: ‘This bombing will not achieve its goals.’

Leila Sackur

A senior member of the Houthi movement has warned that U.S. and U.K. that strikes on Yemen will not “achieve its goals” as he vowed Houthis would “increase our determination” to continue targeting ships in the Red Sea in protest of Israel’s war in Gaza.

The U.S. and the U.K. launched strikes against 18 sites at eight separate Houthi-linked locations in Yemen yesterday, according to a statement from the U.K.’s Ministry of Defense. They were supported by Australia, Bahrain, Canada, Denmark, the Netherlands and New Zealand.

“This bombing will not achieve its goals. Rather, it will awaken the consciences of the rest of the Yemenis, strengthen internal unity, and increase our determination to continue our military operations in support of our brothers in Gaza,” said Mohammed Al-Bukhait, a member of the Houthis’ Ansar Allah political cabinet.

USS Mason shoots down Houthi anti-ship ballistic missile launched into Gulf of Aden, no damage reported

NBC News

The USS Mason shot down a Houthi anti-ship ballistic missile today that was launched into the Gulf of Aden, according to U.S. Central Command.

“The missile was likely targeting MV Torm Thor, a U.S.-Flagged, owned, and operated chemical/oil tanker,” Centcom said on X.

The USS Mason and MV Torm Thor were not damaged, and no injuries were reported, according to Centcom.

Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin released a statement on the strike, saying, “The United States will not hesitate to take action, as needed, to defend lives and the free flow of commerce in one of the world’s most critical waterways.”

Austin added, “We will continue to make clear to the Houthis that they will bear the consequences if they do not stop their illegal attacks, which harm Middle Eastern economies, cause environmental damage, and disrupt the delivery of humanitarian aid to Yemen and other countries.”

U.S. and U.K. conduct more retaliatory strikes in Yemen, officials say

Mosheh Gains

Courtney Kube and Mosheh Gains

The U.S. and U.K. military are conducting more retaliatory strikes against Houthi rebels in Yemen this afternoon, according to three U.S. officials.

Houthi military capabilities including weapons and bunkers were targeted.

Today’s strikes against more than one dozen targets are retaliation for the ongoing attacks by the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen, who continue to target and threaten ships in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden.

President Joe Biden ordered the strikes. He was briefed on targets Friday.

Catch up on NBC News' latest coverage of the conflict

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