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Israel-Hamas war live updates: Famine is 'imminent' in northern Gaza, U.N. says; IDF raids Al-Shifa Hospital

Biden asks Israel to send a team to Washington to discuss alternatives to a ground invasion in Rafah.

What we know

  • The Israeli military launched an overnight raid on the Al-Shifa Hospital in northern Gaza. The Israel Defense Forces spokesperson, Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari, said the "high-precision operation" had been conducted in parts of the medical complex after Hamas fighters regrouped at the hospital and were directing attacks from there. Gaza's Health Ministry said around 30,000 patients, medical staff members and displaced people are sheltering at the compound. Hamas said Israel had committed a new crime by targeting the facility.
  • President Joe Biden asked Israel to send a team to Washington to hear U.S. concerns about a Rafah ground invasion and to discuss potential alternatives, the White House said. It was part of Biden's first call with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in roughly a month.
  • An Israeli delegation led by David Barnea, director of the country's Mossad spy agency, has departed for Qatar for ongoing cease-fire negotiations, an Israeli official told NBC News today. Although there was little optimism about a breakthrough in this round of talks, the official said all sides remained under intense American pressure to try to get to a deal.
  • Famine is “imminent” in northern Gaza, where almost half of the population faces “catastrophic” food conditions, according to a new U.N.-backed report. “It is highly likely that the famine threshold for acute malnutrition has also been exceeded,” says the report, published today.
  • Netanyahu hit back yesterday against growing criticism of his leadership from senior American lawmakers. He said it was "totally inappropriate" for Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer to call on Israel to hold a new election, adding “we’re not a banana republic” and vowing to proceed with an assault on the overcrowded southern city of Rafah.
  • The death toll in Gaza has surpassed 31,700, including at least 30 people who have died of malnutrition, according to the enclave's Health Ministry. Another 73,500 have been reported injured. The Israeli military said at least 247 soldiers have been killed since the ground invasion of Gaza began.

Damage to Gaza hospitals is 'truly shocking,' aid worker says after visit

A team with Médecins Sans Frontières, known as Doctors Without Borders in English, went with a U.N.-led convoy into Gaza last week to assess the needs within the Palestinian enclave, which included visits to hospitals.

Léo Cans, head of MSF's mission in the Palestinian territories, described the level of destruction as "truly shocking" in a video diary from the visit that the organization shared today. He also said he saw families walking on destroyed, dusty roads holding white flags as they tried to escape northern Gaza.

"Hospitals have been forced to close, patients forced to evacuate," Cans said. "Hospitals in Gaza have been attacked. Some of them are partially functioning. ... Some of them have been put to a full stop by the Israeli army, like Nasser Hospital."

Cans ended his video with a call for a full and immediate humanitarian cease-fire in Gaza.

Israel asks World Court not to order new measures over Gaza hunger


THE HAGUE — Israel has asked the International Court of Justice not to issue emergency orders for it to step up humanitarian aid to Gaza to address a looming famine, dismissing South Africa’s request to do so as “morally repugnant."

In a legal filing to the United Nations’ top court, made public today, Israel said it “has real concern for the humanitarian situation and innocent lives, as demonstrated by the actions it has and is taking” in Gaza during the war.

Lawyers for Israel denied allegations of deliberately causing humanitarian suffering in the enclave, where thousands have died and hunger is rising, and said South Africa’s repeated requests for additional measures were an abuse of procedures.

The filing said South Africa’s accusations in its request for new measures, filed March 6, are “wholly unfounded in fact and law, morally repugnant, and represent an abuse both of the Genocide Convention and of the court itself."

The new exchange between the parties is part of South Africa’s ongoing case accusing Israel of state-led genocide in Gaza after the Oct. 7 Hamas militant attacks on Israel.

Jewish creatives write open letter criticizing Jonathan Glazer’s ‘Zone of Interest’ speech at the Oscars 


More than 450 Jewish creatives, executives and Hollywood professionals have signed an open letter denouncing Jonathan Glazer’s “The Zone of Interest” Oscar speech.

Glazer had just won the Academy Award for best international feature and used his speech to denounce violence in the Middle East while also asking the audience to consider how it could “resist” the “dehumanization” of the war in Gaza.

The signers of the open letter cover a broad swath of the industry, including actors, executives, creators, directors, producers and representatives.

The group’s statement says: “We refute our Jewishness being hijacked for the purpose of drawing a moral equivalence between a Nazi regime that sought to exterminate a race of people, and an Israeli nation that seeks to avert its own extermination.”

Glazer, who is Jewish himself, declined to comment to Variety.

It is unclear how the open letter came together. Variety spoke to several signers who explained why they lent their names to the statement.

"There was no concern for how Jewish people are going to react to a speech like that, to that applause to those red pins, when not even our hostages are being mentioned, and it’s just incredibly hurtful, incredibly painful,” said “Stranger Things” actor Brett Gelman, who referred to pins worn by some Oscars attendees to support a call for a cease-fire in Gaza.

Benny Gantz says Canadian vote on Palestinian state is 'counter-productive'

Israeli minister Benny Gantz spoke to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau today about a proposal in Canada's Parliament that would unilaterally recognize a Palestinian state.

Gantz wrote on X that he told Trudeau he appreciated the commitment that has been made to Israel's security but expressed concern about the vote that is being held in Parliament today. He added that such a recognition after the Oct. 7 attack on Israel "is counter-productive to the mutual goal of long-term regional security and stability, and would ultimately reward terrorism."

"I reiterated to the PM that for the sake of the region, any unilateral actions should be avoided," Gantz said.

Al Jazeera journalist released after 12 hours in Israeli custody, outlet says

Al Jazeera journalist Ismail al-Ghoul has been released 12 hours after Israeli forces arrested him at Al-Shifa Hospital in northern Gaza, the Qatari news outlet said in a post on X.

Earlier today, Al Jazeera released a statement saying that eyewitnesses saw al-Ghoul being beaten and arrested by Israeli forces while he was reporting at the hospital. A broadcast vehicle, camera and equipment were also damaged during the incident, according to Al Jazeera.

Israel Defense Forces allegedly bulldozed over a journalists' tent during its raid on Al-Shifa's medical complex and they were forced to surrender, al-Ghoul said following his release. According to his account, the journalists were forced to strip off their clothes while their personal items, including computers and phones, were confiscated.

"The occupation forces handcuffed us, blindfolded us, and interrogated all the journalists present at the location," al-Ghoul said. "The occupation forces left us without clothes for 12 hours, handcuffed and blindfolded."

NBC News has reached out to the Israel Defense Forces for comment. The military previously said it had conducted a precise operation during an overnight raid on the compound where intelligence indicated Hamas militants had regrouped.

Biden asks Israel to send team to Washington to discuss alternatives to Rafah ground invasion

President Joe Biden spoke with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu "at length" today about a possible invasion of Rafah and asked Israel to send a team to Washington to discuss other options, the White House said.

Jake Sullivan, the White House national security adviser, told reporters that a ground invasion into Rafah would be a "mistake" and cause unnecessary civilian casualties. The White House believes there are other means to defeat Hamas in the crowded border city, he said.

"On the call today, President Biden asked the prime minister to send a senior interagency team composed of military intelligence and humanitarian officials to Washington in the coming days to hear our concerns about Israel’s current Rafah planning and to lay out an alternative approach that would target key Hamas elements and Rafah and secure the Egypt Gaza border without a major ground invasion," Sullivan said.

Netanyahu agreed to the proposal, according to Sullivan.

Canada Parliament to vote on motion backing Palestinian statehood


OTTAWA — Canadian legislators are scheduled today to vote on a nonbinding motion backing Palestinian statehood that has drawn condemnation from Israel and that could deepen splits inside the ruling Liberal Party.

Although the government is free to ignore the result of the vote in the House of Commons, it could cause political problems for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

The motion was drawn up by the minority left-leaning New Democrats, who are helping keep Trudeau’s Liberals in power and are unhappy by what they see as his failure to do enough to protect the civilian population in Gaza.

“Justin Trudeau could take bold steps for peace and justice, but he doesn’t have the courage. That’s why we brought a motion to force the Liberal government to finally help end this bloodshed,” NDP leader Jagmeet Singh said in a statement, saying Palestinians and Israelis both deserve to live in peace.

Last week, Canada said it had paused nonlethal military exports to Israel since January because of the rapidly evolving situation on the ground. Trudeau, while asserting Israel’s right to defend itself, has taken an increasingly critical stance over the military campaign in Gaza.

The motion calls on Canada to “officially recognize the State of Palestine” — a step that no member of the Group of Seven industrialized nations has taken — and suspend all trade in military goods and technology with Israel. It also demands an immediate cease-fire, an end to illegal arms transfers to Hamas and calls on the group to release all the hostages it took during the Oct. 7 attacks.

Israeli ambassador Iddo Moed today issued a statement condemning the vote and saying “empowering terrorists will only evoke more bloodshed and jeopardize any peaceful resolution to the conflict."

Netanyahu spoke with Biden this evening, office says

Omer Bekin

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke with President Joe Biden on the phone this evening, according to a statement from the Israel leader's office that provided a summary of their conversation.

"We discussed the latest developments in the war, including Israel's commitment to achieving all of the war's goals: Eliminating Hamas, freeing all of our hostages and ensuring that Gaza never again constitutes a threat to Israel — while providing the necessary humanitarian aid that will assist in achieving these goals," the statement said.

The White House confirmed that the two leaders would have a call today, but a readout has not yet been provided from Biden's office. This is the first call the pair have had since Feb. 15, according to White House call logs.

IRC condemns 'failure of humanity' as report warns of imminent Gaza famine

TEL AVIV — The spiraling humanitarian crisis in Gaza was called a “profound failure of humanity,” by the International Rescue Committee today as it responded to the U.N.-backed report warning of an “imminent” famine in the enclave.

“A famine declaration in Gaza is shocking and unprecedented. Children are starving due to an entirely manmade and preventable crisis," Sam Duerden, IRC team lead for occupied Palestinian territory, said in a statement.

Virtually all households in Gaza are skipping meals every day, with at least half of the entire population of roughly 2.3 million people experiencing "catastrophic food insecurity" with increased risk of acute malnutrition and death, the IRC statement said.

In northern Gaza, where aid deliveries have been limited, one in three children under the age of two are now acutely malnourished, it added.

Reiterating it's call for an immediate cease-fire, the IRC also called for a "significant scale up of aid efforts to avert further catastrophe."

Al-Jazeera journalist beaten and arrested during Al-Shifa raid, outlet says

Al Jazeera journalist Ismail al-Ghoul was reporting from Al-Shifa Hospital in northern Gaza today when Israeli forces raided the compound and arrested him, the outlet said.

"According to eyewitnesses, Ismail was severely beaten and taken to an unknown location," Al Jazeera said in a statement. "The Network emphasizes that this targeting serves as an intimidation tactic against journalists to deter them from reporting against innocent civilians in Gaza."

Soldiers also destroyed the company's broadcast vehicle, cameras and equipment during the raid, according to Al Jazeera. Three of Al Jazeera’s staff members were killed between December and January.

NBC News has not independently verified Al Jazeera's statement and has reached out to the Israel Defense Forces for comment.

The Committee to Protect Journalists said witnesses also reported that al-Ghoul was stripped naked prior to being taken by IDF soldiers and that other journalists may have been detained as well. The watchdog organization said it has not yet verified the identities or work of the other journalists reportedly arrested.

“The IDF should immediately release Al-Ghoul and other detained Palestinian journalists and take steps to protect the members of the media covering this war," said Carlos Martinez de la Serna, program director for CPJ.

According to CPJ, 95 media workers have been killed since the start of the war including at least 90 Palestinians. Another 25 journalists were reportedly arrested, the organization has said.

IDF says it killed head of Hamas' internal security at Al-Shifa Hospital compound; Hamas says he is a civil officer

The IDF said today that it killed a Hamas militant leader during an overnight raid on Al-Shifa Hospital in northern Gaza, while Hamas says the man was part of Gaza's civil police force.

According to an IDF statement, Faiq Mabhouh was the head of Hamas' internal security operations and responsible for the "coordination of Hamas terrorist activities in the Gaza Strip." The raid on Al-Shifa was part of a joint operation with the Israeli intelligence agency, and numerous weapons were found in a room adjacent to where Mabhouh was killed, the military said.

"Faiq Mabhouh was eliminated in an encounter with the troops while armed and hiding in a compound at the Shifa hospital, from which he operated and advanced terrorist activity," the IDF statement said.

NBC News has not independently verified the IDF's statement.

Hamas described Mabhouh as a civil police officer, saying in a statement that before his death he had worked with the Palestinian police force to "control the security situation and ensure the arrival of aid."

Huge crowd gathers outside U.N. warehouse in Gaza City

NBC News

A huge crowd gathered outside a United Nations Relief and Works Agency warehouse in Gaza City today in the hope of getting some much-needed food.

It came as the U.N. and several other aid agencies warned that famine was imminent in the Gaza Strip.

Head of UNRWA denied entry into Gaza by Israeli authorities

Philippe Lazzarini, head of the United Nations' Palestinian refugee agency in the region, said he was denied entry into Gaza by Israeli authorities today.

"@UNRWA has by far the largest presence among all humanitarian organisations in Gaza," he wrote in a post on X. "My visit today was supposed to coordinate & improve the humanitarian response."

Israel's department of Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories, or COGAT, said in a responding X post that Lazzarini failed to submit his request to enter through proper channels.

"This was promptly communicated to the relevant UN bodies," the department said. "This is another attempt by UNRWA to blame Israel for their own mistakes."

Israeli officials and UNRWA have long been at odds with each other, and the country's leaders have accused the agency of employing staff members with terrorist ties and said some had participated in Hamas' Oct. 7 attack on Israel.

The United Nations launched an investigation into the matter through its independent agency, and Lazzarini requested a review of UNRWA internal processes following the accusations. Some countries suspended funding to the agency following the accusations, but recently resumed aid amid deteriorating conditions in Gaza.

Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong said last week that the advice it has received is "UNRWA is not a terrorist organization."

Starvation crisis in Gaza is a human-made disaster, U.N. chief says

The latest report on imminent famine in Gaza is an "appalling indictment" of conditions for civilians in the Palestinian enclave, U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres said today.

Half the Palestinian population in Gaza is experiencing catastrophic food insecurity, said the report released this morning by 19 aid organizations.

"This is an entirely manmade disaster, and the report makes clear that it can be halted," Guterres said in a statement. "Today's report is Exhibit A for the need of an immediate humanitarian cease-fire."

He called on Israeli authorities to provide access to humanitarian goods throughout Gaza and for the international community to support aid groups efforts.

"We must act now to prevent the unthinkable, the unacceptable, and the unjustifiable," Guterres said.

Gaza hunger crisis "worst on record,' Oxfam says

Oxfam said today that the hunger crisis in Gaza has reached "catastrophic levels" and is "the highest ever recorded."

The global organization that works to end hunger responded to a new report released by an initiative of 19 groups, including Oxfam, that found famine is imminent in northern Gaza and is a risk for the rest of the enclave.

"Never before have we seen such rapid deterioration into widespread starvation," said Sally Abi Khalil, Oxfam’s Middle East and North Africa regional director.

“Northern Gaza is days away from famine and the rest of Gaza faces a similar fate," she added. "Children are already dying of malnutrition and starvation under the gaze of the international community. Since December, the number of people in Gaza who have plunged into catastrophic levels of hunger, has nearly doubled."

She went on to say, “We cannot wait for a declaration of famine to stop these appalling atrocities and massively scale up humanitarian operations. Israel cannot starve and bomb Gaza into a solution."

She called for an immediate, permanent cease-fire that can "bring a lasting peace with justice for both Palestinians and Israelis alike.”

WHO director 'terribly worried' about Al-Shifa Hospital

Al-Shifa Hospital had just restored "minimal" services prior to a raid overnight by the IDF, according to a statement from World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

"Hospitals should never be battlegrounds," he said in a post on X today. "We are terribly worried about the situation at Al-Shifa Hospital in northern #Gaza, which is endangering health workers, patients and civilians. "

Ghebreyesus reiterated his call for a cease-fire and the need for hospitals to be protected.

According to IDF spokesperson Daniel Hagari, the raid was conducted following intelligence that Hamas militants had regrouped at the facility. He described it as a precise operation at the hospital, which was previously raided in November.

Israel is 'provoking famine' in Gaza, E.U.'s top diplomat says

Andy Eckardt

Israel is “provoking famine” in Gaza, the European Union’s foreign policy chief, Joseph Borrell, said today.

“This famine it is not a natural disaster, it is not a flood, it is not an earthquake; it is entirely manmade. By whom? Let’s dare to say it: by whom?” Josep Borrell told a meeting of European foreign ministers in Brussels. “By the one that prevents humanitarian support [from] entering into Gaza; by the lack of access; by the acute insecurity inside Gaza.”

Borrell said he had recently been to Washington, where he had dared to say that "Israel is provoking famine."

When he was asked to provide evidence, he said he replied that hundreds of trucks were waiting to enter Gaza.

"It is just a matter of political will, Israel has to do it. It is not a question of logistics," he said. "It is not because the United Nations has not provided enough support. The support is there, waiting. Trucks are stopped, people are dying while the land crossings are artificially closed.

“We cannot stand by and watch the Palestinians starve.”

Dozens killed in past 24 hours as Gaza death toll since Oct. 7 tops 31,700, Health Ministry says

At least 81 people have died and 116 people were injured in the last 24 hours, Gaza’s Health Ministry said in a statement on Telegram today.

This brings the death toll in the enclave since Oct. 7, when Hamas launched multipronged attacks on Israel, to 31,726, the ministry said.

“A number of victims are still under the rubble and on the roads, and ambulance and civil defense crews cannot reach them,” the statement said.

U.N. aid arrives in Gaza under armed guard and goes to depots for distribution

Trucks carrying food aid were filmed by an NBC News crew as they arrived in northern Gaza overnight.

Sacks of flour were unloaded at a United Nations depot by volunteers, who said they wanted to ensure that the aid reached those most in need.

Half of Gaza's population face 'catastrophic' food conditions, analysis warns

Famine is “imminent,” in Gaza where almost half of the population of around 2.2 million people are facing “catastrophic” food conditions, according to a new report from the United Nations’ backed Integrated Food Security Phase Classification.

“The famine threshold for household acute food insecurity has already been far exceeded and, given the latest data showing a steeply increasing trend in cases of acute malnutrition, it is highly likely that the famine threshold for acute malnutrition has also been exceeded,” says the report, published today.

“Half of the population of the Gaza Strip (1.11 million people) is expected to face catastrophic conditions,” says the report from the U.N.’s hunger monitoring system.

“Conflict continues to place severe limitations on the ability of humanitarian organizations to deliver life-saving food, nutrition, health, water, hygiene, sanitation and other life-saving assistance to the besieged population,” it adds.

IDF says fighter jets hit Hezbollah targets near Lebanese border

Israel's military said in a statement today that its fighter jets struck a military structure and observation post belonging to the Hezbollah miliant group near its border with Lebanon.

The statement added that the strikes in the area near the village of Ramyeh came a day after the Israel Defense Forces hit "terrorist infrastructure," near Naqoura, a small city on Lebanon's southwestern coast.

NBC News could not independently verify the claims.

Red paint smeared across the Dutch foreign ministry

Max Butterworth

Red paint was smeared across the building belonging to the foreign ministry in the Netherlands this morning.

A pro-Palestinian group that has accused the Dutch government of being complicit with Israel in its war in Gaza, is believed to be behind the vandalism.

The defacing of the building is believed to have been done by a pro-Palestinian group that accuses the Dutch government of being complicit with Israel amid the Israel-Hamas war in the Gaza Strip.
Laurens Van Putten / AFP - Getty Images

Tons of flour, rice and canned foods remain in warehouse, days after arriving by sea

TEL AVIV — Tons of flour, rice and canned foods that were unloaded from the Open Arms ship on Saturday, are yet to be distributed, the charity which organized the delivery has said.

World Central Kitchen, which collected the aid and organized for it to be sailed across the Mediterranean Sea from Cyprus, said today that the aid was still in a warehouse.

The charity has not said why it it has not been distributed or when they expect to start handing it out.

World Central Kitchen, which was launched by celebrity chef  José Andrés and runs a network of kitchens across the Gaza Strip, said it was already loading a second boat with tons of food for people in the enclave.

E.U.'s top diplomat confident about sanctions on West Bank settlers and Hamas


The European Union’s foreign policy chief Joseph Borrell said today that he was confident the bloc would find an agreement to impose sanctions on both Hamas and violent Israeli West Bank settlers.

“It seems that today all will agree on putting sanctions on both Hamas and the violent settlers who are harassing Palestinians in the West Bank,” he told reporters ahead of a foreign ministers meeting in Brussels.

Israel releases footage purporting to show forces under fire near Al-Shifa hospital

TEL AVIV — Grainy footage purporting to show Israeli forces under fire near Gaza City's Al Shifa Hospital has been released by the country's military and security agency, Shin Bet.

They said it showed the detonation of an explosive device near Israeli troops from the medical complex, as well as soldiers receiving fire near the facility.

NBC News could not immediately independently verify the video.

Israeli spy chief leads delegation to Qatar for cease-fire talks

Raf Sanchez

TEL AVIV — An Israeli delegation led by David Barnea, the director of the country's Mossad spy agency, has departed for Qatar for ongoing cease-fire negotiations, an Israeli official told NBC News today.

Although there was little optimism about a breakthrough in this round of talks, the official said all sides remained under intense American pressure to try to get to a deal.

Al-Shifa raid forces vulnerable Palestinians away

Max Butterworth

Civilians flee with their belongings after the Israeli forces raided the Al-Shifa hospital in northern Gaza City this morning.

Israeli forces besiege Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza
Dawoud Abo Alkas / Anadolu via Getty Images

Israeli forces launch overnight raid on Gaza’s Al-Shifa hospital

TEL AVIV — Israel's military launched an overnight raid on Gaza’s Al-Shifa hospital, which it said was being used as a Hamas command center.

Israel Defense Forces spokesperson Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari said in a briefing early this morning that Israeli forces were conducting a “high-precision operation” in limited areas of the hospital after receiving “concrete intelligence that demanded immediate action.”

The IDF learned that senior Hamas members had “regrouped” inside the hospital and were using it to command attacks against Israel, Hagari said. He added there was no obligation for patients or medical staff to leave the hospital and a corridor would be established for those who wanted to leave.

Israeli forces had already raided the hospital — once considered Gaza’s main medical facility — in mid-November.

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