The WHO says increasing numbers of children in Gaza are on the ‘brink of death’ from acute hunger as the UK sends more aid.

Here’s how things stand on Wednesday, March 20, 2024:

Fighting and humanitarian crisis

  • Explosions and shootings shook the Gaza Strip’s biggest hospital and surrounding neighbourhoods as Israeli forces stormed through the facility for a second day on Tuesday.
  • Israel has said “dozens” of people were killed and some 300 people arrested during its assault on al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City.
  • The Israeli military said it raided al-Shifa early on Monday because Hamas fighters had grouped in the hospital and were directing attacks from inside. The Israeli claims could not be independently verified as it has not allowed international journalists to report from the besieged territory. Israel arrested Al Jazeera’s Ismail al-Ghoul during its raid on al-Shifa on Monday. Al-Ghoul was released 12 hours later after international condemnation.
  • Separately, the Israeli military has killed at least 23 people during an attack on the Kuwait Roundabout in Gaza City early this week, while 15 more were killed in a strike on a house in the Nuseirat camp in central Gaza on Sunday.
  • Dr Margaret Harris, a spokesperson for the World Health Organization (WHO), said on Tuesday that increasing numbers of children in Gaza are on the “brink of death” from acute hunger.

Diplomacy and regional tensions

  • The UK’s largest aid delivery to Gaza has entered the Strip, the British Foreign Office said on Wednesday.
  • More than 2,000 tonnes of food aid crossed into Gaza via Jordan and is being distributed by the World Food Programme and will feed “more than 275,000 people”, the office said.
  • Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is expected to address US Senate Republicans during a closed-door conference on Wednesday via video. This comes less than a week after the chamber’s top Democrat, Chuck Schumer, called for elections to replace him.
  • Netanyahu agreed on Monday to send a team of Israeli officials to Washington to discuss the impending Rafah offensive with Biden administration officials.
  • However, on Tuesday, he told a parliamentary committee that while he would listen to US proposals “out of respect” to Biden, “we are determined to complete the elimination of these (Hamas) battalions in Rafah, and there is no way to do this without a ground incursion”.
  • US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin and his Israeli counterpart, Yoav Gallant, plan to discuss securing the release of Hamas-held captives and providing humanitarian aid to Gaza during their meeting in Washington, DC, next week, according to the Associated Press news agency.
  • Democratic Senator Bernie Sanders has hailed Canada’s parliament for voting to halt arms sales to Israel, saying the US should follow suit and “not provide another nickel for Netanyahu’s war machine”.

Violence in the occupied West Bank

  • Local media and the Wafa news agency reported Israeli military raids in multiple locations across the occupied West Bank late on Tuesday. They include Jericho, the city of Tulkarem, and the at-Taawon neighbourhood in the city of Nablus.
  • A Palestinian man has also been arrested after Israeli forces stormed his home in the Jalazone camp, north of Ramallah on Tuesday, while confrontations have broken out between Palestinian resistance groups and Israeli forces in the town of ar-Ram, north of Jerusalem.

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