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Famine 'almost inevitable' in Gaza; U.S. says Israel must do more to help

The World Food Program said that famine was imminent in northern Gaza, where violence forced the organization to halt aid deliveries.

What we know

  • Israel and Hamas have poured cold water on the idea that a breakthrough is close on a temporary cease-fire deal for Gaza. However, officials from Qatar, who are mediating negotiations, said yesterday they were "pushing hard" for a deal by the start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan on March 10. Hamas said its conditions had not been met, while Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said popular support for Israel in the U.S. will help it fight "until total victory."
  • Famine is "almost inevitable" in Gaza, Ramesh Rajasingham, a senior U.N. aid official, told the Security Council yesterday. The World Food Program also warned that famine was imminent in the north of the enclave, where violence forced it to halt aid deliveries. Levels of child malnutrition in Gaza are the worst in the world, it has said. The U.S. said "Israel must do more" to get aid into the embattled enclave.
  • The Israeli army this morning reiterated its plans to invade Rafah, saying hostages and four Hamas battalions remain in the city. The Israel Defense Forces said Gaza's southernmost city is a key point for the proliferation of arms in the strip. A plan to evacuate Rafah's 1.4 million sheltering civilians ahead of a proposed offensive has been presented to Israel's war Cabinet, but it has not yet been approved.
  • NBC News journalists and a cohort of other correspondents from international news organizations have signed a letter calling for access to Gaza. Access to the enclave has been tightly controlled by the IDF, which supervises any reporting trips. In a letter to the embassies of Israel and Egypt, the countries that control entry to Gaza, the journalists said that "the need for comprehensive on the ground reporting of the conflict is imperative."
  • More than 29,900 people have been killed in Gaza since the war began, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry. More than 70,300 have been injured, and thousands more are missing and presumed dead.
  • Israeli military officials said at least 242 soldiers have been killed since the ground invasion of Gaza began.

U.S. urges Israel to allow Muslims access to Al-Aqsa Mosque during Ramadan

Abigail Williams

State Department spokesperson Matt Miller said today that U.S. officials have spoken to Israeli counterparts regarding reports that the government is considering restricting access to Al-Aqsa Mosque during Ramadan.

"We have urged them that worshippers should have access to Al-Aqsa during Ramadan," Miller said.

Miller noted that it's not only a matter of religious freedom to allow Muslims access to worship during the holy month, but it's also in Israel's own security interest to not inflame tensions in the region.

Israel's Channel 12 reported today that the country's War Cabinet was considering removing authority over the area that includes Al-Aqsa Mosque from national security minister Ben Gvir, who has called for restrictions on Arab-Israelis during Ramadan. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office declined to comment on the reports.

Gvir posted on X that he expected Netanyahu to deny the report.

Cease-fire needed in order to deliver aid to northern Gaza, where children are dying of malnutrition

Talks for a cease-fire and hostage release in Gaza are ongoing in Qatar, with negotiators pushing for a deal by the beginning of Ramadan in the next two weeks.

NBC News correspondent Raf Sanchez noted that the U.N. is warning that it cannot make food deliveries, partially because of Israeli restrictions but also in part due to the "collapse of law and order" in the area.

"We are hearing from one of the functioning hospitals in northern Gaza. They say at least four children have died from combinations of dehydration, malnourishment in the last couple of days," he said.

Palestinian minister: No ‘miracles’ expected at talks on unified government


GENEVA — Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki said today he did not expect “miracles” at talks in Moscow to discuss the formation of a unified Palestinian government and the rebuilding of Gaza.

The talks between representatives of Hamas and the Fatah political faction, scheduled to take place in the Russian capital tomorrow, come days after Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh resigned.

The shake-up, Maliki said, was designed to build support for an expanded role for the Palestinian Authority following Israel’s war against the Islamist group Hamas in Gaza.

“We hope that there we might be good results in terms of mutual understanding between all factions about the need to support such a technocratic government that will emerge,” Maliki said of the talks.

“Of course, we don’t expect miracles to happen in just a simple meeting in Moscow, but I believe that the meeting in Moscow should be followed by other meetings in the region soon.”

The Palestinian Authority, created about 30 years ago as part of the interim Oslo peace accords, has been undermined by accusations of ineffectiveness and the prime minister holding little effective power.

Shtayyeh’s resignation marks a symbolic shift that underlines President Mahmoud Abbas’ desire to ensure the Authority maintains its claim to leadership as international pressure grows for a revival of efforts to create a Palestinian state.

Hamas and Israel still find 'significant obstacles' to cease-fire despite Biden’s hope for a deal

Raf Sanchez

TEL AVIV — An Israeli official said that talks for a cease-fire and the potential release of hostages have essentially stalled despite comments from U.S. officials that a deal was within sight.

President Joe Biden told a reporter earlier this week that he hoped to see a cease-fire reached by Monday, but that appears unlikely as Hamas said there were "significant obstacles" to an agreement.

Syrian military says it struck down Israeli missiles directed toward Damascus; IDF declines comment

Syria's Ministry of Defense said it struck down missiles directed toward Damascus from the direction of the Golan Heights.

The military blamed Israel for the strikes and said there were "material" losses but did not report deaths or injuries. Israel Defense Forces declined to comment to NBC News on the matter.

Al-Mayadeen, a Lebanon-based news channel, reported there were explosions heard in the area of the Sayyidah Zaynab mosque. The mosque is a shrine to the Prophet Muhammad's granddaughter and is considered a pilgrimage site for many Shite Muslims.

NBC News

Dr. Ragaa Ukasha set up his practice in a tiny tent in the sprawling Al-Mawasi camp in Rafah, where tens of thousands of displaced Gazans are struggling to survive amid famine and disease. He works for free but has barely any medicines or equipment. “I swear, the situation is disastrous,” he said.

‘Euphoria’ star Hunter Schafer arrested in NYC at a protest in support of Palestinians in Gaza

“Euphoria” star Hunter Schafer was arrested Monday at a protest in support of Palestinians in Gaza in New York City. 

The 25-year-old actor and model was among a group of demonstrators taken into police custody after protesting in the lobby of NBCUniversal headquarters, where President Joe Biden was filming his “Late Night With Seth Meyers” appearance, according to photos and videos on social media.

Schafer, who plays Jules in the HBO hit show, can be seen wearing a black T-shirt that reads “CEASE-FIRE NOW” as she’s being escorted out of the building by police officers.

A spokesperson for the New York City Police Department confirmed that a group of 30 protesters were arrested and issued summons for trespassing and disorderly conduct at 30 Rockefeller Plaza in Midtown Manhattan on Monday, but would not confirm Schafer’s arrest.

Read the full story here.

New York police officers detain Hunter Schafer, center, at Rockefeller Center in New York City
New York police officers detain Hunter Schafer, center, at Rockefeller Center in New York City, on Feb. 26, 2024.Eduardo Munoz / Reuters

'This is the first time we see the sun': Al-Amal doctors describe month under seige

Staff and patients at the Palestine Red Crescent Society hospital in Khan Younis told the United Nations that they spent roughly a month inside the facility as violence surrounded them.

"We are not allowed to out the door of the hospital since Jan. 21," Dr. Waheed Qudih said in a video recorded Saturday. "And this is the first time we see the sun."

According to a report from the U.N., Al-Amal Hospital was directly hit 40 times and 25 people were killed. The hospital was subjected to raids, sniper fire, arrests of staff members and limitations on movement that restricted supplies for the people inside.

Israel's military has alleged that Hamas militants have used this hospital, and others, as cover for their activities. The U.N. noted in its release today that "Palestinian authorities and medical professionals have refuted those allegations."

Two dozen patients were evacuated as part of a joint mission between U.N. agencies, including the World Health Organization. More than 30 patients were left at Al-Amal.

6 children dead from malnutrition, ministry of health says

The death toll of children dead from malnutrition and dehydration has risen to six, according to Dr. Ashraf Al-Qudra, Gaza's ministry of health spokesperson.

The ministry has recorded four deaths at Kamal Adwan Hospital and two at Al-Shifa Hospital, both located in northern area of the Palestinian enclave. That part of the strip has been essentially cut off from aid with inconsistent deliveries due to the difficulty for aid groups to safely travel that far into Gaza from the border crossing in the south.

International aid organizations, such as the World Food Programme, have also reported that their convoys have been subjected to dangerous conditions from desperate crowds.

Al Qudra called on international groups to take immediate action in northern Gaza, describing it as "a moral and humanitarian test to stop the genocide committed by the Israeli occupation in the Gaza Strip."

Qatari spokesperson describes situation as 'deliberate starvation' in Gaza

Israel was accused of starving Palestinians in Gaza during a weekly briefing from Qatar's Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Majed Al-Ansari.

Al-Ansari noted that the aid being allowed into Gaza is only a small portion of what is required for the more than 2 million people living in the strip, a sentiment that aid groups have stated for months. According to a summary of the briefing posted on X, Al-Ansari said there has not been significant pressure from the international community to force Israel to allow unconditional entry of aid into Gaza.

"The deliberate starvation of the Palestinian people cannot be tolerated and the international community must stand against this issue," the ministry wrote on X.

The United Nations Security Council passed a resolution ordering the "unhindered delivery" of humanitarian assistance in Gaza. Israel has said it is allowing aid into Gaza and has blamed Hamas for keeping supplies away from civilians.

Some of the most vital goods for Gaza 'have been turned away,' Oxfam CEO tells NBC News

As displaced Palestinians in Gaza continue to face risk of famine and infectious disease due to poor sanitation conditions in overcrowded refugee camps, aid groups are struggling to get basic lifesaving supplies through Gaza's limited land border crossings.

"Oxfam and the entire humanitarian community are facing constant barriers to delivering aid in Gaza — some of the most vital goods to deliver a safe and dignified response have been turned away," Abby Maxman, Oxfam America's president and CEO, told NBC News today.

Entry points for aid into Gaza are limited to two land crossings: Egypt's Rafah border and the Israeli-controlled Kerem Shalom border. Humanitarian aid trucks are inspected by COGAT — Israel’s military wing dedicated to Palestinian territories — and several international aid agencies have described bureaucratic hurdles from both Israeli and Egyptian border officials that have left lifesaving basic supplies rejected and sitting at the border for long periods.

Aid agencies have to contend with items that might be viewed as "dual-use" by Israeli authorities, such as fuel, and as such are largely prohibited to cross either border. But items that have been turned away in recent weeks include menstrual pads, toilet chairs, sleeping bags, water testing kits and tent poles, according to international humanitarian aid workers.

In one case, an entire truck of approved items was denied entry because of cuticle scissors.

"Against all odds, Oxfam staff and partners are able to support communities, but it remains the tiniest fraction of what is needed," said Maxman, whose charity is working with partner organizations on the ground to deliver aid in southern areas of Gaza.

Maxman's comments come amid a report by the Association of International Development Agencies, which surveyed 24 international nongovernmental organizations, that appeared to show that delays and denials for humanitarian aid to cross into Gaza have worsened since January.

Bakeries smashed in Israel bombardment key to Gaza hunger crisis


GAZA — The rubble and twisted metal of Kamel Ajour’s smashed-up Gaza bakery underscores one reason starving people in the north of the bombarded enclave are reduced to eating raw cactus leaves after nearly five months of Israel’s military campaign.

Bread will be critical to any sustained effort to relieve Palestinian hunger, with 1 in 6 children in northern Gaza wasting from malnutrition, but most bakeries lie in rubble from Israeli bombardment and aid deliveries of flour are rare.

“We have five bakeries. This bakery was bombed and other bakeries have been damaged. We have three bakeries that can become functional,” Ajour said in a video obtained by Reuters in Jabalia refugee camp in Gaza City in the north of the enclave.

A crane lifted equipment from the ruins that Ajour hoped to salvage. Inside, the metal ovens and trays were piled ramshackle amid the wreckage.

An Israeli truce proposal now being studied by Hamas would allow for the import of bakery equipment and fuel to revive the ovens.

“It is most important to have a cease-fire and for bakeries to function again so we can find something to eat, and for our children, our loved ones, our families,” Basel Khairuldeen said in Gaza City.

With bakeries destroyed or unable to function for lack of fuel, people have had to bake bread themselves as best they can over fires made with wood salvaged from ruined buildings.

Even small amounts of flour are often impossible to find, or too expensive to buy when available. People make bread from animal feed and birdseed. Most say they can only eat once a day at most.

Qatari official describes situation in Gaza as 'collective punishment' at United Nations

Lolwah Al-Khater, Qatar's minister of international cooperation, accused Israel of violating international humanitarian law during a speech urging a cease-fire at the United Nations Human Rights Council meeting today.

There is growing condemnation around the world that human rights laws appear to apply to some but not all, Al-Khater said in her address to the body in Geneva. She noted that despite a U.N. Security Council resolution, which has the weight of law, Israel has not provided unhindered aid to Gaza as the roughly 2 million Palestinians in the enclave spiral toward a famine.

"We must stand against the flagrant breaches of international humanitarian law that have led to the collective punishment of the Palestinian civilian population that was already living hell on earth under an apartheid regime long before Oct. 7," Al-Khater said.

Israel has said it has allowed aid into the strip and accused Hamas of keeping supplies away from civilians.

Water is running out in Gaza, UNRWA says

Clean water is at only 7% of its prewar supply in Gaza, the United Nations Palestinian refugee agency said.

Citing data from the Food and Agricultural Organization, UNRWA said that one-fourth of Gaza's water wells have been destroyed since Oct. 7.

"Fuel shortages, power cuts, and the absence of working desalination plants take a heavy toll on the population of #Gaza," the agency wrote in a post on X.

UNRWA begins program to track children with signs of malnutrition

The United Nations Palestinian refugee agency announced it has begun a program in Gaza to track children who have shown signs of malnutrition, the news coming a day after the ministry of health reported two infant deaths due to dehydration and malnutrition.

According to Dr. Angie, a pediatrician at the UNRWA health center in Nuseirat, the program will focus on children between 6 months and 5 years old as they receive weekly follow-up treatments. The program has already been implemented at UNRWA centers in Rafah and Deir al-Balah.

"God willing, this will help these children in light of the conditions we are living in and the harshness of the war we have faced in the past four or five months," she said in a video posted by UNRWA.

Dearborn mayor calls 'uncommitted' vote a protest of 'ongoing genocide' against Palestinian people

Abdullah Hammoud, mayor of Dearborn, called Michigan's large vote for "uncommitted" in last night's primary a statement to President Joe Biden that people have had "enough" of his unconditional support of Israel during the war.

"Every person who voted ‘Uncommitted’ today was personally compelled to use their voice to speak out against President Biden’s support of Benjamin Netanyahu’s ongoing genocide of the Palestinian people," Hammoud wrote in a statement on X.

Dearborn has the largest population of Arab Americans in the country.

Biden beat Donald Trump in Michigan in the 2020 presidential election by a relatively narrow margin of about 154,000 votes. Last night’s “uncommitted” ballots across the Democratic state primary exceeded 100,000 votes.

Famine is 'imminent' in Gaza as the few aid trucks face significant hurdles to distribute supplies, WFP warns

Famine is "imminent" in Gaza and fueled by the inability of aid groups to administer the little food supplies being brought in, World Food Programme Deputy Executive Director Carl Skau warned in a statement to the United Nations Security Council.

"Gaza is seeing the worst level of child malnutrition anywhere in the world," Skau said. "One child in every six under the age of two is acutely malnourished."

Skau emphasized that the need in northern Gaza, where the WFP had temporarily suspended aid, has been particularly dire. When shipments resumed last week with the intention of delivering 10 trucks per day, conditions were so bad for the crews that the WFP had to pause deliveries once again.

"There were delays at checkpoints; they faced gunfire and other violence; food was looted along the way; and at their destination they were overwhelmed by desperately hungry people," Skau said.

He urged to the Security Council that an immediate influx of aid is the only way to restore "some semblance of civil order." Even in southern Gaza, most aid distributed by WFP has not reached beyond Rafah as the very little that crews receive does not reach the scale needed.

"It is essential we avert a famine: and this requires much more than just food supplies," Skau said.

Houthi crowds march on Israeli and U.S. flags in Yemen

Max Butterworth

Houthi supporters parade over Israeli and U.S. flags painted on the street during a rally in Sanaa, Yemen, today in support of Palestinians.

Yemen Houthi Supporter Protest
Mohammed Huwais / AFP - Getty Images

Damage in northern Israel after Hamas militants fired rockets from Lebanon

NBC News

A rocket hit the roof of a residential building in northern Israel today.

The Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, said it launched two missile salvos consisting of 40 Grad missiles from southern Lebanon.

Dozens arrested in Ramallah, prisoner rights groups say

At least 35 people, including children and former prisoners, have been arrested in the occupied West Bank overnight, prisoner rights groups said today.

These arrests were concentrated in Yatta with others distributed in Bethlehem, Jenin, Ramallah and Jerusalem, they said.

The Israeli army also launched several raids in these cities, destroying facilities and citizens’ property, they added.

The total number of arrests by Israel has topped 7,305 since Oct. 7 amid the escalation of arrest campaigns, the groups said.

Hamas leader calls on Palestinians to go to Al-Aqsa Mosque during holy month

Segilola Arisekola

Larissa Gao and Segilola Arisekola

Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh said today that the Islamist group was showing flexibility in negotiations with Israel over the Gaza war but at the same time was ready to continue fighting.

In a televised speech, Haniyeh also called on Palestinians in Jerusalem and the West Bank to march to Al-Aqsa Mosque to pray on the first day of Ramadan on March 10, raising the stakes in the indirect talks for a truce deal to have come into force by then.

The mosque sits in a sensitive hilltop compound sacred to both Jews and Muslims. Al-Aqsa is the third-holiest site in Islam and is typically packed with worshippers during Ramadan. The spot, known to Jews as the Temple Mount, is also the holiest site in Judaism, revered as the location of the biblical Jewish temples.

Israel said Monday that it would allow Ramadan prayers at Al-Aqsa Mosque during the upcoming holy month but set limits according to security needs, setting the stage for possible clashes if crowds of Palestinians turn up.

Haniyeh also called on the self-styled Axis of Resistance — allies of Iran consisting of Lebanon’s Hezbollah, Yemen’s Houthis and the Islamic Resistance in Iraq — as well as Arab states, to step up their support for the Palestinians in Gaza.

Former hostages, families and supporters march to demand more releases

Former hostages were joined by families of those who remain in Hamas' captivity as they began a four-day march from southern Israel to Jerusalem today.

Setting out from kibbutz Re’im, they demanded their loved ones be set free.

German frigate shoots down drones in the Red Sea

Andee Capellan

A German frigate deployed defensive measures against two drones in the Red Sea today, the country's Armed Forces Operational Command said today on X

No one was injured and there was no damage to the vessel, it said.

The German warship is part of the European Union Naval Force operation that protects ships along the international trade routes against Houthi militias from Yemen. It began patrolling the area last week.

NBC News and other media organizations call for journalist access to Gaza

NBC News has joined broadcasters and other media organizations from around the world to call for access to Gaza to report on Israel's war with Hamas.

“Almost five months into the war in Gaza, foreign reporters are still being denied access to the territory, outside of the rare and escorted trips with the Israeli military," the letter says.

“We urge the governments of Israel and Egypt to allow free and unfettered access to Gaza for all foreign media. We call on the government of Israel to openly state its permission for international journalists to operate in Gaza and for the Egyptian authorities to allow international journalists access to the Rafah Crossing.”

Entry to the enclave for journalists has been all but impossible without the permission and supervision of the Israeli military.

Israeli millitary raids Jenin camps, Palestinian Information Ministry says

The Israeli army raided the outskirts of the Jenin refugee camp in the occupied West Bank earlier today, the Palestinian Information Ministry said on Telegram.

“An arrest campaign” has been launched in the city, it said, adding that the army had destroyed some of the city's infrastructure.

Two Palestinians were detained, including an ambulance volunteer, and another man was wounded in an Israeli drone attack, the ministry said.

NBC News has approached the Israeli security agency, Shin Bet, for comment.

IDF denies firing on Gazans gathering for aid

Israel's military has denied that its forces shot at Palestinians in northern Gaza on Monday who had gathered in hopes of receiving aid.

"IDF forces did not open fire at the time and place in question," an IDF spokesperson told NBC News today when asked whether it was responsible for gunfire that caused panic in the Gaza City neighborhood of Sheikh Ijlin on Monday.

In videos seen and verified by NBC News, hundreds of men are seen running down the beach on Al-Rashid Street as dozens of gunshots ring out nearby. Some could be seen sheltering in a ruined building nearby.

No aid arrived in Sheikh Ijlin on Monday, Palestinian videographer Ahmed Kouta said in a video he filmed after the gunfire ended and crowds began to leave. "Nothing came in. People are leaving, hopeless."

Plastics factory ablaze in Israeli-occupied West Bank

Max Butterworth

West Bank Plastic Factory
Hazem Bader / AFP - Getty Images
West Bank Plastic Factory
Hazem Bader / AFP - Getty Images
West Bank Plastic Factory
Hazem Bader / AFP - Getty Images

Thick clouds of smoke billow from a blaze at a plastic factory in Hebron, as firefighters attempt to extinguish smoldering rubble at the large industrial site in the Israeli-occupied West Bank today.

Hamas and Fatah to meet in Moscow, Russian state media reports

Hamas and Fatah representatives will meet in Moscow tomorrow to discuss a united Palestinian government and the rebuilding of Gaza, Russian state media reported today.

The RIA Novosti news agency said Abdel Hafiz Nofal, the Palestinian ambassador to Russia, and Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanove also confirmed the meeting.

Russian President Vladimir Putin will not meet with the two groups’ representatives, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters today.

Catch up on NBC News’ latest coverage of the conflict

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