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Chaos and starvation intensify in Gaza; Diplomacy ramps up in Cairo and Washington

Negotiations have progressed despite tensions following last week's aid convoy killings; Israel has essentially accepted a framework proposed by the U.S. for a hostage exchange and cease-fire.

What we know

  • Vice President Kamala Harris will meet tomorrow with Benny Gantz, a member of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's war Cabinet, according to White House officials, as the U.S. continues to push Israel for a cease-fire agreement.
  • Hamas officials arrived in Cairo today for talks on a cease-fire and hostage deal, the framework for which Israel agreed to in Paris in late February. An Israeli official told NBC News that there was intense U.S. pressure on all sides to reach an agreement by the start of Ramadan, on March 10.
  • Israel has essentially accepted the proposed framework of a Gaza cease-fire if Hamas agrees to release sick, elderly and female hostages, a U.S. senior administration official said yesterday. The current deal would be more complicated than the earlier cease-fire because of its length, but the six-week deal “has the potential to extend from there.”
  • At least 10 children, and most likely more, have died from malnutrition and dehydration, UNICEF said in a statement today: “The child deaths we feared are here.”
  • The U.S. completed its first airdrop of humanitarian aid into Gaza yesterday, delivering 66 pallets containing 38,000 meals. The Israeli military welcomed the drop, saying it “makes the fighting possible.” Aid organizations criticized the tactic as “absolutely incomprehensible” and “completely insufficient” for the needs of 2.2 million Gazans, many of whom face starvation.
  • Rescuers continue to recover bodies from Nabulsi roundabout in Gaza City, where more than 100 people were killed when Israeli forces opened fire near a crowd of Palestinians hoping to get food. The Israel Defense Forces both confirmed and denied shooting into the crowd and blamed most of the deaths on a stampede.
  • Aid agencies and health workers said “a large number” of the dead and injured from the aid convoy violence had gunshot wounds.
  • Gaza’s death toll has passed 30,400, according to the Health Ministry there, amid surging fears of starvation in the north of the territory. More than 70,300 people 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.

IDF: 'Number of launches' from Lebanon toward northern Israel

The IDF reported a "number of launches" from Lebanon toward northern Israel in the areas of Metula, Ghajar and Malkia throughout the day today.

The IDF also said fighter jets struck a "Hezbollah military compound and terrorist infrastructure" in the area of Ayta ash Shab, as well as additional Hezbollah military infrastructure in Kfarkela.

Anti-war protesters walk out of Sen. Warnock's Atlanta sermon

A group of protesters conducted a silent walkout of Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock's sermon this morning at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, a bastion of the civil rights movement and former home to Martin Luther King Jr.

The church's livestream of the sermon shows a group stand up and take off their jackets to reveal shirts while Warnock speaks about capital punishment and execution of prisoners. Warnock, a senior pastor of the church, then seems to address the walkout by asking the group to stay.

"I want to thank God for the students and the young folk who are here," Warnock says. "I wish they'd hang out so we could talk after church. Let them know that they're welcome to stay; let's talk after church."

TikTok creator Erynn Chambers, whose username is @rynnstar, posted a video to her account of the group, whose members identified themselves as part of the protest. The video offers a clear angle to the back of the shirts, which say "Stop arming Israel" and "Permanent ceasefire now."

A representative for Chambers did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

An X user also posted what appeared to be the same video, saying the demonstration included various members of Atlanta's Black community, including students and alumni of the Atlanta University Consortium. The user did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The user wrote on X that they voted for Warnock because they believed he would stand for what's right but said Warnock has "failed the Palestinian people," as well as his constituents in Atlanta.

Warnock is among more than a dozen senators who signed a letter last month addressed to President Joe Biden, urging diplomatic efforts to ensure a cease-fire as well as a hostage release. He also called for a cease-fire as recently as last week in a speech on the Senate floor.

Vice President Kamala Harris says there must be 'an immediate cease-fire'

NBC News

Vice President Kamala Harris called for “an immediate cease-fire” in the Israel-Hamas war in a speech at an event to commemorate the 59th anniversary of “Bloody Sunday” in Selma, Alabama.

Harris referred to current negotiations for a hostage deal in her comment that there must be a cease-fire for "at least six weeks, which is what is currently on the table." Her remarks were met with excitement and applause.

“This would allow us to build something more enduring to ensure Israel is secure and to respect the right of the Palestinian people to dignity, freedom and self-determination,” she said.

A White House official said the vice president was repeating the Biden administration's recent stance, which calls on a cease-fire for at least six weeks to allow for the release of hostages held by Hamas, as well as for aid to flow through the entire Gaza Strip.

Patriarch of Lebanese Christian community says no one should drag country into the war

Beshara al-Rahi, the patriarch of Lebanon's Maronite Church, addressed the war in his sermon today and appeared to take a swipe at Hezbollah when he said, "No one should drag our country into war."

According to Lebanese state news, al-Rahi described it as a conflict that the Lebanon's general public has no stake in, even those who live in the south. Hezbollah, a Shiite militia, has been exchanging fire with Israel since the war began and has expressed its support for Palestinians.

“Lebanon’s message is to be a land of peace and a pioneer of peace, due to its composition, cultural and religious diversity, history, political system and coexistence pact,” al-Rahi said.

He did condemn Israel's actions in the last week as the IDF has been accused of opening fire on Palestinians waiting for aid in Gaza City. The IDF has denied the claims, blaming deaths from the deadly event on trampling and chaos surrounding the aid convoy. 

6-month-old twins killed in Rafah strike that killed 14 family members

Wisam and Naim Abu Anza, 6 months old, spent the majority of their short lives in Gaza under siege.

The twins were killed in an airstrike in Rafah, along with their father and a grandfather. Their mother, Rania Abu Anza, held their bodies and refused to be separated from them as she spoke to an NBC News crew.

"Who is going to call me Mama?" she said. "After all this ... who is going to call me Mama?"

Abu Anza stroked her daughter's face and kissed her temple before she called them "habibti," the Arabic term of endearment often translated to "my love" or "my dear."

According to Reuters, the twins were the youngest of 14 family members killed in the strike. Abu Anza told the outlet she was asleep when the strike hit the Rafah home where they were staying and preparing for Ramadan next week.

Israel agrees to revise Eurovision song lyrics that evoked Hamas attack

Reuters

JERUSALEM — Israel has agreed to revise the lyrics of its potential submission to the Eurovision Song Contest after the contest organizers took issue with verses that appeared to reference Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack, Israel’s national broadcaster Kan said on Sunday.

Eurovision, which this year will take place on May 7-11 in the Swedish city of Malmo, bills itself as a nonpolitical event and can disqualify contestants deemed to have breached that rule. Broadcaster Kan is tasked with choosing Israel’s entry.

The leading Israeli submission is “October Rain,” a ballad sung by female soloist Eden Golan.

According to lyrics leaked to the media, and later confirmed by Kan, it includes lines such as “There’s no air left to breathe” and “They were all good children, each one of them” — apparent allusions to people who holed up in shelters as Hamas gunmen carried out a killing and kidnapping spree at an outdoor music festival and other sites, which sparked the war in Gaza.

Kan said it has asked the writers of “October Rain” and second-place finalist “Dance Forever” to revise their lyrics, while also preserving their artistic freedom. It will then officially choose the song to send the Eurovision committee.

The European Broadcasting Union, which organizes Eurovision and has previously said it was in the process of scrutinizing the lyrics, did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Kan’s decision.

IDF says it conducted Gaza City raid against Hamas and Palestinian Jihad

The Israel Defense Forces said it conducted an operation targeting Hamas and Palestinian Jihad operations in Gaza City.

According to the statement, the IDF operation was led by intelligence in the city's Zeitoun neighborhood that led to the destruction of at least 35 infrastructure targets that included weapons manufacturing facilities. The IDF also alleges that 100 members of the Hamas and Palestinian Jihad were killed in the battle.

Dozens of others were detained and questioned, the IDF said. NBC News is not able to independently verify the IDF's statement.

Benny Gantz to meet with secretary of state during Washington visit

Benny Gantz, a member of Israel's war Cabinet, is scheduled to meet with Secretary of State Antony Blinken later this week in addition to his meeting with the vice president.

According to an itinerary released by the National Unity Party, Gantz began his trip today by sitting down with senior officials from American Israel Public Affairs Committee, a pro-Israel lobbying group.

The majority of Gantz's meetings will take place tomorrow, which includes his previously reported sit-downs with Vice President Kamala Harris and national security adviser Jake Sullivan. Gantz will also meet tomorrow with Brett McGurk, the administration's coordinator for the Middle East and North Africa, the itinerary revealed.

Finally, Gantz's trip to the American capital will wrap up with a meeting with Blinken on Tuesday.

Negotiations for a truce deal continue in Cairo without Israeli delegation

Ali Velshi

Israel is looking to agree to a hostage exchange and cease-fire by the start of Ramadan, but is waiting for a Hamas response and a list of which Israeli hostages remain alive.

This would be the second cease-fire since the start of the war, the only other time being a weeklong pause at the end of November that saw more than 100 hostages released. But these negotiations have been complicated by internal friction within both Hamas and Israeli leadership, according to NBC News' Matt Bradley.

"Even as we are seeing these negotiations going forward, even as we're hearing optimism expressed from both sides, we're seeing a lot of divisions of leadership either side," Bradley said. "Even as everyone is rushing to try to complete this deal by some kind of deadline, preferably in a week."

'Famine is deepening in the Gaza Strip, and airdrops of aid are useless,' Gaza officials say

Aurora AlmendralAurora Almendral is a London-based editor with NBC News Digital.

Gaza officials criticized the airdrops of humanitarian aid by several countries, including Jordan and the U.S., which jointly dropped 38,000 meals in 66 pallets into Gaza yesterday.

"The famine is deepening," in northern Gaza and beyond, the statement said, noting the 15 children who have died of hunger, malnutrition and dehydration in recent days, and the more than 700,000 Palestinian citizens who suffer from extreme hunger.

Airdropping aid is very difficult in crowded areas like Gaza susceptible to damage or could lead or serious accidents, it said, adding that "some of the aid that was dropped fell into the sea and did not reach the people."

"The aid that is dropped by air does not achieve justice at all," and requires people to "run after this aid that does not reach safe places, in disgraceful, humiliating, and inhuman behavior," the statement said.

Who is Benny Gantz?

White House officials confirmed to NBC News that Vice President Kamala Harris will meet with Benny Gantz, a war Cabinet minister who was recently a rival to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for the country's top job.

Gantz spent the majority of his career as a military man, coming of age in the Israel Defense Forces in the late 1970s just a few years before the country would invade southern Lebanon. He served as a paratrooper before being appointed commander of the air force's Shaldag Unit in 1989, a special forces group considered to be one of Israel's most elite teams.

He was leading the unit when Israel conducted Operation Solomon in 1991, which airlifted more than 14,000 Ethiopian Jews to Israel as fears grew that Eritrean rebels would overtake the Ethiopian government.

Gantz served in the IDF for nearly 40 years, retiring after his term as chief of staff ended and turning to politics.

In 2019, Gantz faced off against Netanyahu for the role of prime minister after the Likud party failed to secure a government. Gantz managed to secure an unusual show of support from the Arab-majority party, Joint List, who wanted to see an end to Netanyahu's leadership. The party typically avoided endorsing candidates prior to their victory.

Gantz ultimately failed to get the numbers needed to form his own government, joining a unity party with Netanyahu and serving as Israel's defense minister before being replaced by Yoav Gallant following the 2022 election.

Pope Francis calls for immediate cease-fire, calls disarmament a 'moral obligation'

Pope Francis issued another plea for a cease-fire in Gaza during his weekly address today, saying that he carries the pain of both Israelis and Palestinians in his heart.

He encouraged the negotiations for a cease-fire to free the hostages so that "they return to their loved ones who anxiously await them, and that the civilian population can have safe access to urgent humanitarian aid." Ukraine was also mentioned in the pope's address as he asked people not to forget the torment they continue to experience.

"I strongly hope that the international community understands that disarmament is, above all, a duty: disarmament is a moral obligation," the pontiff said, according to a Vatican translation. "This requires courage from all members of the great family of nations: to shift from the balance of fear to a balance of trust."

Aid official: Conditions in north Gaza 'even worse' than Rafah

Leila Sackur

Conditions in Rafah's refugee camps in southern Gaza are "endless, miserable," said Jan Egeland, the secretary-general of the Norwegian Refugee Council, warning that conditions in north Gaza were "even worse."

"Only ceasefire and opening of all border crossings can save lives," he warned on X, as he said northern Gaza was suffering from "famine, chaos and desperation."

PRCS says 14 of its medics arrested in recent weeks

Leila Sackur

Medics working for the Palestine Red Crescent Society, an emergency medical charity, face arrest and detention while on the job, according to the charity, with 14 EMS workers arrested in recent weeks.

In a post on X, the PRCS said seven workers were arrested from inside Al Amal Hospital more than three weeks ago, and that "their fate remains unknown."

It is not the first time Israel has been accused of arresting and detaining medical staff. In December, doctors at Kamal Adwan Hospital in northern Gaza said that over 70 of their colleagues had been arrested and taken to "unknown areas," while a large number of medical staff at Nasser Hospital in the strip's south were also detained during an Israeli raid in February.

Israel has previously accused doctors working inside hospitals as having links to Hamas, the militant organization behind massacres in the country on Oct. 7. It has not provided evidence for these claims.

Palestine Red Crescent says beseiged hospital has three days of drinking water left

Aurora AlmendralAurora Almendral is a London-based editor with NBC News Digital.

The Palestine Red Crescent Society, an emergency medical charity headquartered at Al-Amal Hospital in Khan Younis, said conditions at the hospital are deteriorating rapidly as intense hostilities at the hospital and the surrounding area entered their 42nd day.

Fuel and food supplies were only enough for one more week, the PRCS said, and “Remaining drinking water is only enough for three days.”

“Continuous shelling and gunfire around the hospital or directly targeting it endanger the safety of patients and medical teams, making it difficult for medical and nursing teams to move between hospital floors to monitor patient conditions,” the PRCS said.

Aftermath of a strike in Rafah

NBC News

Image: PALESTINIAN-ISRAEL-CONFLICT
SAID KHATIB / AFP - Getty Images

Men salvage bread this morning from the rubble of a house destroyed in an overnight airstrike in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip.

Gazans: U.S aid is ‘not enough for one family’

Leila Sackur

As parachutes over Gaza dropped the first of U.S. aid packages over the strip, civilians suffering from hunger warned that the aid did not nearly go far enough.

Three military planes dropped 66 pallets containing 38,000 meals in Gaza on Saturday. In December, the U.N.’s Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs predicted that by February every person in Gaza’s 2.2 million population would be suffering from acute hunger and food insecurity.

“Will this be enough for a school? Will this be enough for 10,000 people?” asked one man, showing NBC News reporters a single pre-packaged meal. “The parachute’s aid is not enough for one family. This is nothing,” he added.

U.N. official calls for sanctions on Israel

Leila Sackur

The United Nations’ special rapporteur for the right to food, Michael Fakhri, has accused Israel of “intentionally starving” Palestinians in Gaza, as he warned that famine might be “already occurring.”

“The only way to end/prevent this famine is an immediate ceasefire. And the only way to get a ceasefire is to sanction Israel,” he added.

Earlier today, the U.N. announced that at least 10 children in Gaza had died of starvation, though it warned the true figures were likely higher.

Gaza's death toll nears 30,500

Leila Sackur

Gaza's death toll rose past 30,400 today after 90 people were killed overnight, according to the Health Ministry.

The number of people injured by the fighting also rose to 71,700, it added.

Death tolls in Gaza are an estimate, due to the large number of people still missing under rubble and the lack of access for ambulance and search and rescue teams.

On Friday, U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin estimated that at least 25,000 Palestinian women and children alone had been killed in Gaza since Oct. 7.

Rubymar sinking presents ‘far-reaching’ environmental consequences in Red Sea

Leila Sackur

The sinking of the Rubymar, a Belize-flagged, U.K.-owned ship yesterday presents an “environmental risk” to the Red Sea, officials said. The ship was attacked by Houthi rebels in February and had been leaking a mileslong slick of oil into the sea since.

The ship’s cargo of approximately “21,000 metric tons of ammonium phosphate sulfate fertilizer” risks leaking into the surrounding marine environment, U.S. Central Command said.

In a statement today, Greenpeace MENA Program Director Julien Jreissati warned of “far-reaching” ecological and environmental consequences without urgent action and access to the shipwreck site.

“As well as any further leaks of fuel oil from the engines, the sinking of the vessel could further breach the hull, allowing water to contact with the thousands of tons of fertilizer, which could then be released into the Red Sea and disrupt the balance of the marine ecosystems, triggering cascading effects throughout the food web,” he added.

Ahmed Awad bin Mubarak, the foreign minister in Yemen’s internationally recognized government in Aden, said in a post on X: “The sinking of the Rubymar is an environmental catastrophe that Yemen and the region have never experienced before.”


Israel increasingly optimistic about deal by start of Ramadan, Israeli official says

Raf Sanchez

Lawahez Jabari

Raf Sanchez and Lawahez Jabari

TEL AVIV — Israel is not sending a high-level delegation to cease-fire talks in Cairo on Sunday but is increasingly optimistic a deal can be reached by the start of Ramadan on March 10, one Israeli official told NBC News.

A Hamas delegation is in Cairo today for negotiations with officials from Egypt, Bassem Naim, a senior Hamas official, told NBC.

The potential deal is based on a U.S. proposal for a six-week cease-fire that was agreed to by Israel in talks in Paris in late February. Hamas has not yet provided a formal response to that framework, the Israeli official said, but may do so in Cairo.

A second Israeli official said Hamas has also not provided a list of which hostages remain alive, calling it a “key issue” in the talks that still remains unresolved.

A bloody incident in Gaza City on Thursday where dozens of Palestinians were killed has not slowed down cease-fire negotiations, one Israeli official said. They added that there was intense U.S. pressure on all sides to reach an agreement by the start of Ramadan.

At least 10 children, and likely more, have starved to death in Gaza, UNICEF says

Leila Sackur

“The child deaths we feared are here,” Adele Khodr, UNICEF’s Middle East director, said in a statement today.

At least 10 children in Gaza have died of malnutrition and dehydration, Khodr said. However, “There are likely more children fighting for their lives somewhere in one of Gaza’s few remaining hospitals, and likely even more children in the north unable to obtain care at all.”

“These tragic and horrific deaths are man-made, predictable and entirely preventable,” she added.

Separately, Gaza’s Ministry of Health said today that 15 children had died of “malnutrition and dehydration” at Gaza’s Kamal Adwan hospital, and that health officials “feared for the lives” of six more who were in intensive care with acute diarrhea and dehydration.

Earlier this week the U.N.’s Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs warned the Security Council that famine in Gaza was “almost inevitable” without a cease-fire. In December, it predicted that every person in Gaza’s population of 2.2 million would face acute food insecurity by February — the highest share of people facing this level of food insecurity ever recorded worldwide.

Humanitarian aid severely hampered by Israel’s ongoing military offensive and stringent border security checks have contributed to “catastrophic” levels of hunger, according to the U.N. and the World Food Programme.

Protesters march against ground invasion of Rafah in 30 U.S. cities

Leila Sackur

From San Francisco to Washington, D.C., demonstrators gathered nationwide on Saturday to protest Israel’s ongoing war in the Gaza Strip and against a potential ground invasion of Rafah, in southern Gaza, where more than a million Palestinians are taking refuge.

Images on social media showed thousands of people gathering despite rainy and wet conditions in San Francisco and Providence. Protesters in New York and Cambridge, Massachusetts, carried Palestinian flags and chanted slogans against President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, calling for the government to end all military aid to Israel.

Image: Activists Demonstrate In NYC Calling For An Israeli Ceasefire In Gaza
Protesters in New York yesterday.Spencer Platt / Getty Images

In Washington, D.C., hundreds gathered outside the Israeli Embassy to demand an immediate cease-fire and to commemorate U.S. serviceman Aaron Bushnell, who died last week after setting himself on fire outside the embassy to protest the ongoing war in Gaza.

Delegations from Hamas and Israel are traveling to Cairo, Egyptian security source says

Raf Sanchez

“High-level” delegations from Israel and Hamas are expected to arrive in Cairo today, to conclude talks for a Ramadan truce, an Egyptian security source told NBC News.

The source said that as part of the talks, Israel may begin to allow the entry of 500 trucks daily of humanitarian aid and fuel into Gaza, and the evacuation of wounded Palestinians through the Rafah crossing.

IDF will commission inquiry into aid convoy deaths, spokesperson says

Leila Sackur

IDF spokesperson Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari said today that the IDF had concluded an initial review and “confirmed that no strike was carried out by the IDF towards the aid convoy,” and that most of the people were killed by a stampede.

At least 118 were killed and more than 750 injured, according to the Gaza Health Ministry.

He also said a inquiry led by an “independent professional and expert body” will further examine Thursday’s aid convoy violence, in which Israel has been accused of firing into the crowds of people attempting to access food from aid trucks.

Hagari reiterated that the IDF “indicated that following the warning shots fired to disperse the stampede and after our forces had started retreating, several looters approached our forces and posed an immediate threat to them,” and that soldiers “responded” to “several individuals.”

Doctors, eyewitnesses and the injured told NBC News that a majority of those hospitalized presented with gunshot and artillery injuries. At a press conference yesterday, U.N. spokesperson for the secretary-general Stéphane Dujarric said that U.N. teams at Al-Shifa Hospital assessing the injured had also seen a “large number” of gunshot wounds.

Kamala Harris to meet Benny Gantz next week

Leila Sackur

Vice President Kamala Harris will meet with Benny Gantz, a member of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's war Cabinet, on Monday, according to White House officials, as the U.S. continues to push Israel for a cease-fire agreement.

President Joe Biden will not be present at the meeting, officials said.

Harris is likely to discuss the urgency of a temporary cease-fire deal and hostage exchange, the need to rebuild Gaza, and the distribution of enhanced aid and humanitarian support in the strip, the White House said. Talks between Israel and Hamas toward a cease-fire were thrown into question last week after 118 people were killed in Gaza City while queuing for aid.

National security adviser Jake Sullivan will also separately meet with Gantz, according to the White House.

Nabulsi roundabout death toll rises to 118

Leila Sackur

Two more bodies have been recovered from the Nabulsi roundabout in Gaza City, where hundreds of people were killed and wounded after Israeli forces opened fire near a crowd trying to access humanitarian aid trucks, according to Gaza’s Health Ministry.

The discovery of the bodies brings the death toll to 118, with over 750 people injured during the attack, the ministry said, warning that the death toll is likely to rise further in coming days due to the lack of medical and surgical equipment and oxygen at Gaza’s hospitals to treat the wounded.

Israel denies shooting into crowds of people attempting to access aid on Thursday, and claims the majority of people were killed and injured by “overcrowding” and a crush attempting to escape after the IDF fired “warning shots” at a limited mob that presented an unspecified threat to soldiers.

Eyewitnesses and doctors who spoke to NBC News said a large number of people hospitalized presented with gunshot wounds.

Thousands join Israeli hostage families in march on Jerusalem

Reuters

JERUSALEM — A march by thousands of Israelis demanding the release of hostages held in Gaza reached Jerusalem today as negotiators prepared to resume cease-fire negotiations in Cairo that would include a swap deal with Hamas.

Families And Supporters Of Hostages Conclude Four-Day Protest March
Supporters of the families of hostages in Jerusalem last night. Alexi J. Rosenfeld / Getty Images

A column of protesters, led by families of hostages seized by Palestinian militants during Hamas’ deadly rampage through southern Israel on Oct. 7, walked up the winding highway to Jerusalem, arriving at the city at sundown.

Holding up Israeli flags, yellow balloons and posters of the hostages, they concluded a four-day march that began at one of sites hit by the October attack, and were expected to be joined by more protesters at a rally outside Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s residence.

“We’re here marching in support of the families of those who are kidnapped, wishing that they will be released soon and that they will be safe. We’re praying for them in every step that we take,” said Danny Cuperman, one of the marchers.

Gaza truce talks are expected to resume in the Egyptian capital on Sunday. U.S. President Joe Biden has said he hopes a cease-fire will be in place by the time of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, which starts on March 10.

Dozens of hostages could be freed if a deal is reached.

Pro-Palestinian protesters disrupt Jill Biden’s ‘Women for Biden-Harris’ tour

TUCSON, Ariz. — First lady Jill Biden spoke for only 14 minutes on the second leg of her “Women for Biden-Harris” tour — but that didn’t stop pro-Palestinian protesters from interrupting her remarks four separate times. 

“It’s a genocide, Jill!” yelled one of the four demonstrators in Tucson on Saturday morning as he was being forcibly escorted out of the venue by security.

The main focus of the first lady’s remarks was supposed to be on women’s issues, including abortion rights, which could be on the ballot in Arizona come November.

“Extremist Republicans led by Donald Trump are passing laws that prevent women from getting the health care they need, including IVF,” said Biden.

But within 13 seconds of beginning her remarks, the first protester piped up.

Less than two minutes later, the second followed. And within 30 seconds of the second disruption, the first lady offered an explanation for keeping her appearance there so short.

“I’m sorry to have to come and go so quickly,” said Biden.

“Wind storms in Nevada are impacting my travel,” she added just after the demonstrator was hauled out of the theater.

Read the full story here.

IDF says airdropping aid makes ‘fighting possible’

Katherine Itoh

Lina Dandees

Katherine Itoh and Lina Dandees

The airdropping of humanitarian aid in Gaza alleviates food shortages and “makes the fighting possible” for the Israel Defense Forces.

“Today, American and Jordanian planes dropped additional aid throughout the Strip. This is an effort that makes the fighting possible,” IDF spokesperson Daniel Hagari said in a statement Saturday.

“Following the incident during which dozens of Palestinians were killed during the entry of aid trucks to the northern Gaza Strip on Thursday morning, we are investigating this incident,” Hagari added.

Claims of purposefully destroying the aid convoy and deliberately harming people have no foundation, the IDF claims. It said it will present findings following its investigation of the incident.

Catch up on NBC News' latest coverage of the war

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