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Israel-Hamas war: U.S. drops more aid into Gaza; Palestinian ministry says at least 25 have died of malnutrition

Negotiators had hoped for a cease-fire deal before the start of Ramadan. The U.S. is attempting to surge humanitarian aid by air and sea, as vulnerable Gazans begin to die of malnutrition.

What we know

  • Just a couple of days before Ramadan, President Joe Biden said a cease-fire is "looking tough" after negotiations in Cairo failed to produce a breakthrough, raising fears that Israel will launch a ground offensive on Rafah. The U.N. warned that "this already catastrophic situation may slide deeper into the abyss," if IDF troops are deployed into the city, where 1.5 million people are seeking refuge.
  • Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke to his counterparts in Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Turkey yesterday, urging calm during Ramadan and discussing the U.S. intention to surge humanitarian aid into Gaza. Biden warned Israel during his State of the Union address that humanitarian assistance cannot be "a bargaining chip."
  • The U.S., along with allies, announced a plan to develop a maritime corridor to ship aid into Gaza, amid criticism that sending aid by air and sea falls far short of meeting the needs of Gaza's population of 2.2 million. The maritime corridor could take as long as 60 days to be fully operational.
  • Canada and Sweden have resumed funding to UNRWA, the embattled U.N. humanitarian aid agency, in light of the dire humanitarian situation in Gaza and after assurances of more strengthened internal supervision. More than a dozen countries pulled funding after Israel accused a dozen of its 13,000 staff members of participating in the Oct. 7 attacks.
  • The death toll in Gaza has surpassed 30,900, according to the Health Ministry, including at least 20 people who have died of starvation. The Israeli military said that at least 247 soldiers have been killed since the ground invasion of Gaza began.

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U.S. and coalition forces down at least 28 unmanned aerial vehicles in Red Sea area

Mosheh Gains

The U.S. and coalition forces downed at least 28 unmanned aerial vehicles in the Red Sea today, according to U.S. Central Command, known as CENTCOM.

"No U.S. or Coalition Navy vessels were damaged in the attack and there were also no reports by commercial ships of damage," CENTCOM said in a post on X.

This comes after an incident earlier in the day in which the Houthis "conducted a large-scale uncrewed aerial vehicle (UAV) attack into the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden," according to CENTCOM.

Israel strikes landmark residential tower in Rafah



Camille Behnke

Reuters, Mirna Alsharif and Camille Behnke

Israel struck one of the largest residential towers in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on Saturday, residents said, stepping up pressure on the last area of the enclave it has not yet invaded and where over a million displaced Palestinians are sheltering.

The 12-story building, located some 500 meters from the border with Egypt, was damaged in the strike. Dozens of families were made homeless though no casualties were reported, according to residents. The Israeli military did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the incident.

One of the tower’s 300 residents told Reuters that Israel gave them a 30-minute warning to flee the building at night.

“People were startled, running down the stairs, some fell, it was chaos. People left their belongings and money,” said Mohammad Al-Nabrees, adding that among those who tripped down the stairs during the panicked evacuation was a friend’s pregnant wife.

Another resident told NBC News the call to evacuate came around 1:30 a.m.

“But the children are sleeping, the women are sleeping, the elderly," he said. "How do you evacuate in half an hour?”

Hezbollah says it targeted Israeli sites and drone, IDF retalitates

Ammar Cheikh Omar

Ammar Cheikh Omar and Mirna Alsharif

In a series of statements, Hezbollah said it targeted four sites on the border with Lebanon and Israel today and an Israeli drone.

The sites targeted include the "Baghdadi" site, the Hunin Castle area and the Shebaa Farms area. The drone was also confronted on the Lebanese border with Israel, Hezbollah said in a statement.

The Israel Defense Forces said "numerous launches were identified crossing from Lebanon into northern Israel" today, and that it responded by targeting Hezbollah sites in Lebanon. These include a military compound in Ayta ash Shab, command centers in Majdal Zoun and Kafra and "terror infrastructure" in Mhaibib — all in southern Lebanon, according to the IDF.

U.S. CENTCOM airdrops aid into Gaza

Mosheh Gains

U.S. Central Command airdropped aid into Gaza today, according to a news release.

"U.S. C-130s dropped over 41,400 U.S. meal equivalents and 23,000 bottles of water into Northern Gaza, an area of great need, allowing for civilian access to the critical aid," CENTCOM said.

This was a joint operation that included the U.S. Air Force and Army, and is part of ongoing U.S. efforts to airdrop aid into Gaza, according to CENTCOM.

Malnutrition death toll in Gaza rises to 25, Palestinian Ministry of Information says

NBC News

At least 25 people have died of malnutrition in Gaza, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Information.

This death toll rose after a young woman and a 2-month-old baby were pronounced dead today in northern Gaza "due to drought and malnutrition," the ministry said in a statement via Telegram.

"The Gaza Strip, especially the northern region, is grappling with severe shortages in food, water, medication, and fuel," the ministry said. "Even the aid reaching the southern region of the enclave has been insufficient, particularly with the displacement of over 1.3 million people from northern Gaza to the south, notably to Rafah."

The ministry accused Israeli forces of preventing aid to into northern Gaza and targeting civilians as they await aid, most notably last week when at least 100 were killed while waiting by an aid convoy.

Dozens of children have died of hunger as more than half a million Gazans face starvation, UNRWA says

More than half a million Gazans are facing starvation in the enclave as dozens of children have already died of hunger, according to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East.

At least 20 children have "succumbed to starvation," including a 14-day-old baby, the agency said.

UNRWA reports that "a 50 percent reduction of aid deliveries into Gaza stems from a lack of political will and security assurances from Israeli military operations amid the collapse of civil order."

“When children are starting” to “die from starvation, that should be a warning like no other,” Jens Laerke, a spokesperson for the United Nations humanitarian office, said at a news briefing Tuesday. “If not now, when is the time to pull the stops, break the glass, flood Gaza with the aid that it needs?”

As the humanitarian situation declines rapidly in Gaza, nations, including the U.S. have began airdropping food into the enclave. The U.S. distributed tens of thousands of meals as part of a joint Jordan-U.S. aid operation, which has been criticized as too little and ineffective.

One in six children in Gaza are now “dangerously malnourished,” according to the World Health Organization.

“Children who survived bombardment may not survive a famine,” Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus wrote on X.

63 arrested in pro-Palestinian protest in New York

Madison Lambert

At least 63 people have been arrested in a pro-Palestinian protest in New York today, police said.

Fifty of them were issued criminal court summons.

Sweden joins Canada in resuming UNRWA funding

Leila Sackur

Sweden has announced it will donate 200 million krona ($19.36 million) to UNRWA, the United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees, in light of the "acute humanitarian situation" in the Gaza Strip.

Sweden was one of 16 countries that suspended funding to the agency in January after Israel accused 12 UNRWA workers of participating in the Hamas attacks of Oct. 7. It has not publicly provided evidence for these claims.

The new cash for UNRWA was donated on the condition that the organization allows "independent auditing" and strengthens "internal supervision and enable[s] additional staff controls," the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement.

Sweden was the fourth-largest donor to UNRWA in 2022, behind the U.S., Germany and the E.U.

Pilot ship with aid for Gaza loaded at Cyprus port

Leila Sackur

The first ship providing aid to Gaza is being loaded in Cyprus, according to social media posts from celebrity chef José Andrés, whose charity World Central Kitchen is providing the food.

“People of North Gaza are desperate. Now a weeks old plan with the Open Arms Foundation is finally in the final stages,” Andrés said on X. Attached footage showed crates of aid being loaded from the Cyprus port onto a ship.

The initial shipment will consist of 200 pallets of aid, Andrés added, saying that he aimed to continue providing aid “every day, increasing the number.”

400 people have died in U.N. refugee shelters in Gaza since October, commissioner-general says

Leila Sackur

The war in Gaza has “not spared” the U.N., UNRWA Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini said Saturday, as he accused both Israel and Hamas of “a total disregard and disrespect to the United Nations.”

More than 400 people have died while seeking shelter in U.N.-run facilities, he said, adding that 150 U.N. buildings had been hit since October and that some, including schools, had been totally destroyed.

“All these violations will require an independent investigation once the war is over,” he added. “The United Nations, its personnel, premises and assets must be protected at all times.”

Pentagon: Maritime aid corridor could take 60 days

Leila Sackur

Planning for a temporary port system to receive aid in Gaza is still in its early stages and could take up to 60 days to complete, Pentagon spokesperson Air Force Maj. Gen. Patrick Ryder said at a press conference yesterday.

The construction of the port will involve 1,000 troops, although none would be deployed ashore, Ryder added. Once in place, the system could provide up to 1 million meals a day, he said.

An aid corridor between Cyprus and Gaza, backed by the U.S., the E.U., and the U.K., launches a pilot operation loaded with 200 pallets of food provided by U.S.-based charity World Central Kitchen. The ship will set sail on either Saturday or Sunday, according to European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.

Gaza civil defense crew says airdropped humanitarian aid killed five when parachutes failed to open

Leila Sackur

Airdropped humanitarian aid that fell on the heads and homes of Palestinian civilians in Gaza killed five people and injured several others, according to Gaza’s civil defense crew.

Spokesperson Mahmoud Basal said that the deaths and injuries happened “as a result of civilian aircraft incorrectly dropping aid.”

An earlier report said that the deaths occurred after parachutes carrying the aid failed to open. A doctor at Al-Shifa Hospital who treated the injured told NBC News that the “boxes” of aid had fallen sharply after being released by aircraft. He did not say who the aid was being dropped by.

Hamas names four hostages killed in Gaza, blames Israel

Leila Sackur

Hamas, the militant organization that led the attacks on Israel on Oct. 7, has named four more hostages it says were killed in an Israeli airstrike on Gaza earlier in March.

On March 1, Hamas said that seven hostages had been killed in a "bombardment" that had also killed several of its fighters. It initially identified only three of the seven killed.

NBC News is not able to independently verify this information, and has reached out Israeli officials for confirmation.

Hamas took 253 hostages when it stormed into Israel on Oct. 7, killing 1,200 others. It released 105 in a previous prisoner exchange deal, and four others unilaterally. Three have been rescued from the strip by Israel. In February, Israel estimated that at least 31 of the hostages still in Gaza were already dead.

Thousands turn out for a pro-Palestinian protest in London today

NBC News


How will the U.S. floating aid dock be assembled in Gaza?

The Associated Press

The Army’s 7th Transportation Brigade and other units were putting equipment together for a floating dock on Gaza's coast to provide aid to the besieged strip long before President Joe Biden's State of the Union address where he announced the measure, according to defense officials.

The brigade, based at Joint Base Langley-Eustis in Virginia, is pulling together a "Joint Logistics Over The Shore (JLOTS)" system and watercraft, assembled like LEGO: an array of 40-foot-long (12-meter-long) pieces of steel are locked together to form a pier and causeway of up to 1,800 feet long and two lanes wide.

In the coming days, U.S. troops will begin loading the equipment onto a large Military Sealift Command vessel. The equipment will include the steel pieces and smaller tug vessels that can help move things into place.

According to Biden, the Israeli government will maintain security at the pier, though it was unclear who would unload the aid onto Gaza's shore.

Biden was recorded on a hot mic saying he told Netanyahu they needed a 'come-to-Jesus' meeting over humanitarian aid

Leila Sackur

President Joe Biden said he told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that the two of them were headed for a “come-to-Jesus” meeting over the issue of getting humanitarian aid into Gaza, according to a video clip of the president posted yesterday.

In the clip, which was recorded after Biden worked the room following his State of the Union address on Thursday, Biden can be heard telling Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.): “I told him, Bibi, and don’t repeat this, but you and I are going to have a ‘come-to-Jesus’ meeting.”

After an aide whispers something in his ear, he says, “I’m on a hot mic here. Good. That’s good.”

The phrase, which suggests a sudden realization followed by a major change, builds on reports of Biden’s growing frustration with Netanyahu over the impact of the Israeli offensive on Palestinian civilians.

Red Cross: 'As an occupying power, Israel must provide for the basic needs' of Gazans

Leila Sackur

The war in Gaza has "ruptured any sense of a shared humanity" as conditions in Gaza "degenerate by the hour," the International Committee of the Red Cross has said in a statement.

“As an occupying power, Israel must provide for the basic needs of the population or facilitate the safe and unimpeded delivery of humanitarian relief,” as required by international humanitarian law, said ICRC President Mirjana Spoljaric.

International agencies and the U.N. have repeatedly warned that stringent Israeli checks on aid, long queues, and the destruction of food and distribution infrastructure in Gaza is facilitating conditions of famine.

Conditions are worse in northern Gaza than in the south, which has been largely isolated from receiving aid trucks by ongoing hostilities.

82 people killed in the last 24 hours

Leila Sackur

Ten separate Israeli strikes across Gaza overnight pushed the death toll past 30,900, the enclave's Health Ministry said, with another 72,500 people injured.

The death toll is an estimate. Thousands more are buried under the rubble and presumed dead.

Seventy-two percent of the victims are women and children, the ministry added. Separately, the government media office said that 17,000 children had lost one or both of their parents.

Palestinian children within and outside Gaza face declining mental health

Meagan Fitzgerald

More than 1 million children in Gaza need mental health support, the U.N. has warned, though the strip does not have the specialist doctors or resources to help children process their exposure to war and violence.

U.N. Special Rapporteur Francesca Albanese told the U.K.'s Guardian newspaper that families were "scared" their children would grow up to believe there were "few alternatives to armed resistance" and that keeping children sheltered from that path was "difficult" because their hopes have been destroyed.

Families who managed to escape Gaza also told NBC News that their children's' mental health was suffering, as they were plagued by survivor's guilt and worries about family who remained in the enclave.

Emily Abu Hamid, a Palestinian American who escaped to the U.K., told NBC News NOW that she and her five children were “struggling to get back to some type of normal.”

Her 10-year-old twins expressed reluctance to do normal activities like play outdoors because they felt guilty about their family still in Gaza who were unable to do the same. Their cousin, Ibrahim, was killed in an Israeli drone strike while walking down a street in Gaza on his 13th birthday.

“I feel bad for my family in Gaza,” the twins told NBC News. “If they try to go outside, they could be hurt.”

Biden: Cease-fire agreement by Ramadan is 'looking tough'

Leila Sackur

Achieving a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas by Ramadan, as he had previously hoped, is "looking tough" President Joe Biden told reporters as he landed in Rose Valley, Pennsylvania, yesterday ahead of a rally.

His remarks came after a Hamas delegation left talks in Cairo on Thursday without a deal for a temporary cease-fire over the holy month that would also see an exchange between Israel's hostages held in Gaza and Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails. Israel did not attend the Cairo talks, but did send a delegation to Paris to discuss the same framework.

Canada resumes UNRWA funding

Leila Sackur

Canada has announced that it will resume funding to UNRWA, the United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees, two months after it suspended funding following accusations from Israel that several of its workers had been involved in the Hamas-led attacks of Oct. 7.

“Canada will be lifting its temporary pause on funding to (UNRWA),” International Aid Minister Ahmed Hussen said in a statement yesterday after Canada had received an interim U.N. report showing that the agency had taken immediate steps to improve oversight and accountability.

Hussen said the government was lifting the funding cut “so more can be done to respond to the urgent needs of Palestinian civilians,” adding that no scheduled payments to UNRWA were missed during the pause.

Sixteen countries, including the United States, UNRWA's single largest donor, suspended funding to the agency after Israel alleged that its workers had been involved in the attacks. The United Nations said it would conduct an internal investigation into the claims, for which Israel has not yet provided evidence.

Israel pressured detained UNRWA employees into giving false evidence about involvement of agency in Oct. 7 attacks, report says


The U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees said some employees released into Gaza from Israeli detention reported having been pressured by Israeli authorities into falsely stating that the agency has Hamas links and that staff took part in the Oct. 7 attacks.

The assertions are contained in a report by the U.N. Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) reviewed by Reuters and dated February 2024 which detailed allegations of mistreatment in Israeli detention made by unidentified Palestinians, including several working for UNRWA.

The document said several staffers had been detained by the Israeli army, and added that the ill treatment and abuse they said they had experienced included severe physical beatings, waterboarding and threats of harm to family members.

UNRWA communications director Juliette Touma said the agency planned to hand the information in the 11-page, unpublished report to agencies inside and outside the U.N. specialized in documenting potential human rights abuses, and called for inquiries into human rights violations after the end of the war.

U.S. Central Command shoots down 15 Houthi drones

Leila Sackur

Houthi rebels in Yemen conducted a "large scale" drone attack into the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden early this morning, U.S. Central Command said, adding that it had shot down 15 of the unmanned aerial vehicles.

The attacks followed the death of three sailors in the Gulf of Aden on Wednesday following a Houthi missile launch on the area.

Iran-backed Houthi rebels have launched numerous attacks on commercial shipping passing through the Red Sea since November in protest of Israel's war on Gaza. They have said they will continue to attack ships, despite military responses from the West, until humanitarian aid is allowed into Gaza unfettered.

Death toll from starvation in Gaza rises to 23

Leila Sackur

Three children died inside Gaza City's Al-Shifa Medical Complex yesterday, bringing the official death toll from starvation in the strip to 23, according to Gaza's Health Ministry.

About a dozen of those who have died of malnutrition and dehydration are children.

The deaths come as international agencies warn Gaza is tipping closer to famine, which the U.N. described in February as "almost inevitable."

‘We have nothing’: Hunger and desperation as insufficient aid arrives in Gaza

NBC News

An NBC News camera crew filmed desperate crowds struggling to secure aid from the few trucks allowed into Gaza City overnight.

Explosions and gunfire could be heard nearby and some people appeared wounded, but there are conflicting reports about exactly what happened.

Biden’s temporary port in Gaza could take up to 60 days to be fully operational

The maritime corridor that President Joe Biden announced in his State of the Union address Thursday could take up to 60 days to be fully operational, according to two senior U.S. officials.

The corridor will include a floating dock and a pier where humanitarian aid can be staged and then ferried to Gaza.

The U.S. military will do much of the setup, what it usually refers to as a Joint Logistics Over the Shore operation.

The officials said they are hoping to get the system up and running in as little as 30 days, but 45 to 60 is more realistic.

Catch up on NBC News' latest coverage of the war

NBC News