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More Children Killed in 4 Months of War on Gaza Than in 4 Years of Global War

Meanwhile, Israel’s invasion of Rafah looms with no truce in sight.

Palestinian children hold banners and empty bowls as they gather to protest the food shortages in the city due to Israeli attacks and demand a ceasefire in Gaza City, Palestine, on March 12, 2024.

West Bank: Five Killed in 24 Hours

  • 31,272,+ killed* and at least 73,024 wounded in the Gaza Strip.
  • 423+ Palestinians killed in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem.**
  • Israel revises its estimated October 7 death toll down from 1,400 to 1,147.
  • 590 Israeli soldiers killed since October 7, and at least 3,221 injured.***

*Gaza’s Ministry of Health confirmed this figure on its Telegram channel. Some rights groups put the death toll number closer to 40,000 when accounting for those presumed dead.

** The death toll in West Bank and Jerusalem is not updated regularly. According to PA’s Ministry of Health on March 6, this is the latest figure.

*** This figure is released by the Israeli military, showing the soldiers whose names “were allowed to be published.”

Key Developments

  • NGO’s sue Denmark to stop arms sales to Israel
  • U.S. senators urge Biden to condition weapons sales to Israel
  • Israeli forces shoot dead 13-year-old Palestinian child in occupied East Jerusalem
  • UNRWA: More children killed in four months of war on Gaza than in four years of global war
  • Six Palestinians killed in occupied West Bank over 24 hours, including three children.
  • 14 Palestine Red Crescent staff remain in Israeli detention, says organization
  • US military ships, 100 soldiers depart for Gaza pier construction.
  • Netanyahu: Israel “will finish the job in Rafah”, reaffirming a ground operation.
  • US intelligence report: Captive release deal most practical way to achieve a ceasefire in Gaza.
  • WFP: Food for 25,000 people delivered to Gaza City in first successful delivery to northern Gaza since February 20.
  • EU foreign policy chief: Israel using starvation as ‘weapon of war’
  • Israel reportedly bombs UNRWA warehouse, dedicated to distributing aid in central Rafah

War on Palestinian Society

Palestinians in Gaza continue to face highly dire conditions as extreme food shortages imposed by Israel’s blockade continue amid constant military attacks.

Children are being affected the worst by Israel’s ongoing aggression. Four months into Israel’s genocidal war on Gaza, the U.N. Relief Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) Chief Philippe Lazzarini says more children have been killed than in four years of global war.

Between October 2023 and February 2024, more than 12,300 children were killed, as reflected in data shared by Lazzarini on X, compared to 12,193 children killed in global conflict from 2019 to 2023.

“This war is a war on children. It is a war on their childhood and their future,” Philippe Lazzarini wrote.

The children who have survived the attacks up until now are growing malnourished and are at risk of starving to death.

To make matters worse, Israel is deliberately targeting aid seekers, which has become the new norm, with Israeli attacks almost daily as people gather for food supplies, reported Al Jazeera correspondent Tareq Abu Azzoum from Gaza on Tuesday night.

An estimated 400 people have died in attacks as they sought out aid since the war on Gaza began.

“Hungry and dehydrated, Palestinians in Gaza have no other choice but to wait for humanitarian relief. Palestinian health officials say at least nine Palestinians were killed and dozens wounded by Israeli gunfire as crowds awaited aid trucks on Kuwait Square in northern Gaza City,” Abu Azzoum continued.

Israeli forces reportedly bombed the UNRWA warehouse dedicated to distributing aid in central Rafah on Wednesday afternoon, injuring several people and possibly killing others.

For the first time since February 20, the U.N.’s World Food Programme (WFP) delivered food to 25,000 Palestinians in Gaza City on Tuesday.

“With people in northern Gaza on the brink of famine, we need deliveries every day + we need entry points directly into the north,” added WFP.

U.N. officials last month accused Israel of “systematically” blocking aid from reaching desperate Palestinians in Gaza, warning at least one-quarter of the enclave’s population is a step away from famine without urgent action.

Josep Borrell, the E.U.’s foreign policy chief, has said the humanitarian crisis in Gaza is “not a natural disaster” and has accused Israel of using starvation as a “weapon of war.”

“This is a man-made crisis,” Borrell told the U.N. Security Council on Tuesday. “When we look for alternative ways of providing support by sea or by air, we have to remind ourselves that we have to do it because the natural way of providing support to roads is being closed — artificially closed — and starvation is being used as a war arm.”

UNRWA says the situation in Gaza is “catastrophic” and deteriorating “by the minute.”

“We call the world to not look away. It’s time for humanity to prevail,” it continued in a post on X.

UNRWA, who lost several key donors following baseless Israeli allegations about links to Hamas, has reiterated that there is no other agency that can respond to the humanitarian needs in Gaza at UNRWA’s scale.

“We are the backbone of the humanitarian response,” the groups said in a statement, calling attention to their 150 shelters and 3,000 working staff in Gaza.

“With over two million people in dire need of life-saving humanitarian assistance in Gaza, no other agency is able to respond at the same scale,” it added.

Impending Rafah Invasion

Several international voices, including Israeli allies, have voiced concerns about Israel’s plans to invade Rafah, Gaza’s southernmost city, where 1.5 million Palestinians are seeking shelter. Still, the government has promised to follow through with the operation.

“We will finish the job in Rafah while enabling the civilian population to get out of harm’s way,” Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu said in a video address to a conference of the pro-Israel AIPAC organization in Washington, DC.

“To our friends in the international community, I say this: you cannot say you support Israel’s right to exist and to defend itself and then oppose Israel when it exercises that right,” Netanyahu told the Israel lobby group.

White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters that U.S. President Joe Biden would not support an Israeli invasion of Rafah, Gaza’s southernmost city, without a clear plan to protect the more than one million displaced Palestinians currently sheltering there.

Sullivan added that the White House has yet to see a credible plan to do so. However, Biden’s office has not offered any concrete consequences for Israel should it proceed with its planned operation, as Netanyahu vowed.

Independent Senator Bernie Sanders and seven Democrats have called on Biden to put conditions in line with U.S. law on arms exports to Israel.

In a letter addressed to the U.S. president, the senators said that by continuing to arm Israel, Biden is violating the Foreign Assistance Act, which bars military support from going to any nation that restricts the delivery of humanitarian aid.

“Given this reality, we urge you to make it clear to the Netanyahu government that failure to immediately and dramatically expand humanitarian access and facilitate safe aid deliveries throughout Gaza will lead to serious consequences, as specified under existing U.S. law,” the senators write.

“The United States should not provide military assistance to any country that interferes with U.S. humanitarian assistance,” the senators continued. “Federal law is clear, and, given the urgency of the crisis in Gaza, and the repeated refusal of Prime Minister Netanyahu to address U.S. concerns on this issue, immediate action is necessary to secure a change in policy by his government.”

Meanwhile, European Union leaders plan to urge Israel not to launch a ground operation in Rafah, according to draft conclusions of an upcoming summit on March 21 and 22.

“The European Council urges the Israeli government to refrain from a ground operation in Rafah, where well over a million Palestinians are currently seeking safety from the fighting and access to humanitarian assistance,” according to a draft text of conclusions of a summit seen by Reuters.

The text will require the approval of all the E.U.’s 27 national leaders to be adopted at the summit on March 21 and 22.

Ahead of Rafah’s Invasion, Preparations for More Arrests.

On Monday, Netanyahu called on his defense, national security, and finance ministers to open up space in Israeli prisons in preparation for the arrests of “thousands” more Palestinians this year.

Muthafar Thouqan, coordinator of the committee to support Palestinian prisoners, told Al Jazeera that Netanyahu’s order to prepare jails for an influx of thousands of inmates is part of an Israeli plan to take in more detainees from Rafah but also the occupied West Bank.

“Not only does it affect the morale of detainees – as it causes overcrowding and spread of diseases – it also shows there are premeditated intentions to invade Rafah, which is housing more than 1.5 million people,” Thouqan said.

According to the Israel Prison Service, the number of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails has risen to about 9,000.

Thouqan added that 12 Palestinians have died in detention since October 7 “due to torture and medical neglect,” corroborating reports of months of Israeli torture, abuse, and sexual violence against Palestinian prisoners.

No Truce in Sight

Israel and Hamas have spent weeks negotiating with international mediators, including Qatar, the U.S., and Egypt, to reach an agreement. Despite ongoing talks, Israel and Hamas are not close to a deal to halt the fighting in Gaza and free captives, says Qatar, who warns that the situation remains “very complicated.”

“We are not near a deal, meaning that we are not seeing both sides converging on language that can resolve the current disagreement over the implementation of a deal,” said Qatari Foreign Ministry spokesperson Majed al-Ansari, as reported by Al Jazeera.

Al-Ansari added during the weekly media briefing that Qatar’s goal “as a trusted mediator in this instance doesn’t include that language [applying pressure on Hamas], which I don’t agree [with]. I think we are positively and constructively engaging with both sides, and we are hopeful that we will find a resolution.”

Meanwhile, Hassan Barari from Qatar University told Al Jazeera truce negotiations are faltering because of a lack of will on the part of the Israeli and U.S. governments.

“The problem here is all the pressure is being placed on Hamas, especially from the Americans,” he told Al Jazeera. “What the Israelis are saying is: ‘Release the hostages and we’ll come back and bomb you.’ Hamas wants to end the war, which has been catastrophic for everyone.”

Barari said the Americans are failing to put real pressure on the Israelis to get a deal done. “The only one who can really sway the Israeli government is the Biden administration, and it is not doing this.”

U.S. Central Intelligence Agency Director William Burns has said there is “still a possibility” of a Gaza ceasefire deal, although many complicated issues remain, reported Al Jazeera.

“I think there’s still the possibility of such a deal. And as I said, it won’t be for lack of trying on our part, working very closely with our Israeli, Qatari, and Egyptian counterparts. This is a very tough process. I don’t think anyone can guarantee success. The only thing I think you can guarantee is that the alternatives are worse,” he told a U.S. House of Representatives hearing.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is stalling on a captive-prisoner exchange agreement as a “pretext” to continue the war, Barari added.

“It is not his number one priority otherwise he would have agreed on a deal. He’s trying to tell everyone that military pressure is the only way. But his objective is not really to release the hostages because the continuation of the war serves his political agenda,” Barari continued.

A U.S. intelligence report says a captive release deal is the most practical way to achieve a ceasefire in Gaza and raises doubts as to whether Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu can stay in power or achieve his aim of destroying Hamas.

“Distrust of Netanyahu’s ability to rule has deepened and broadened across the public from its already high levels before the war, and we expect large protests demanding his resignation and new elections. A different, more moderate government is a possibility,” it said.

“Israel will probably face lingering armed resistance from Hamas for years to come, and the military will struggle to neutralize Hamas’s underground infrastructure, which allows insurgents to hide, regain strength and surprise Israeli forces,” it added.

West Bank: 5 killed in 24 hours

In the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, Israeli forces killed five Palestinians, including three children, in four separate incidents in less than 24 hours.

13-year-old Rami Hamdan al-Halhuli was fatally shot in the chest in the Shu’fat camp in Jerusalem on Tuesday evening.

Israel’s far-right National Security Minister Ben-Gvir posted on X shortly after the incident, saying he saluted the soldiers who shot at the “terrorist who endangered” the lives of Israeli troops.

Eyewitness accounts cited by Al Jazeera, along with video evidence, show the boy was shooting the fireworks up in the air, not in the vicinity of the Israeli soldiers. The other video shows him shot, lying on the ground, and his mother is seen devastated.

Despite the evidence, Israel is claiming the 13-year-old had endangered their lives by shooting fireworks towards the soldiers.

During a visit to the Department of Internal Police Investigations to support the police officer set to be questioned over the killing of the child, Ben-Gvir was quoted by The Times of Israel as saying the soldier “did exactly what was expected of him.”

In a separate incident, a 16-year-old child and young Palestinian man were killed, and three others were injured overnight as Israeli occupation forces opened fire on them near the town of Al-Jib, northwest of occupied Jerusalem, reported Wafa.

Israeli forces also conducted a large-scale raid in the Jenin refugee camp overnight on Tuesday, killing two Palestinians.

According to WAFA, an Israeli military force also stormed the yard of the Jenin Governmental Hospital in the city, opening fire directly at a group of civilians who were standing in front of the emergency department, resulting in several injuries and later the announcement of at least one confirmed fatality among the wounded.

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