President Biden announces $100 million in aid for Gaza, West Bank
President Joe Biden meets with leaders, first responders and victims on a high-stakes trip to Israel trip seeking humanitarian assistance for Gazans.
No place was safe for more than 2 million Palestinians on Thursday as Israeli bombs slammed across Gaza, including parts of the Palestinian territory that Israel had declared as “safe zones.”
At least 12 people were killed and dozens wounded Thursday when a residential building in the southern Gaza city of Khan Younis was struck, medical personnel at Nasser Hospital said. The intensified shelling came one day after Israel agreed to allow limited shipments of humanitarian aid into southern Gaza from Egypt.
“Israeli Air Forces continued to strike southern areas despite the directive for people in #Gaza to move south,” the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) tweeted. The agency said at least 14 of its own staff had been killed and nine more wounded − adding that the “actual number is likely to be much higher” − in less than two weeks since a stunning, bloody incursion of Hamas militants killed more than 1,000 Israeli citizens and fueled military reprisals from Israel.
Israel Defense Forces says the military is attacking Hamas militants wherever they hide in Gaza and has accused the militants of taking shelter among the civilian population.
The death toll of Israelis and Palestinians neared 5,000, making the conflict the deadliest of five wars involving the narrow, densely populated strip of land bordering Israel, Egypt and the Mediterranean Sea.
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∎ Hamas fighters likely fired North Korean weapons during their Oct. 7 assault on Israel, a militant video and weapons seized by Israel show, despite Pyongyang’s denials that it arms the militant group. South Korean officials, two experts on North Korean arms and an Associated Press analysis of weapons captured on the battlefield by Israel point toward Hamas using Pyongyang’s F-7 rocket-propelled grenade, a shoulder-fired weapon that fighters typically use against armored vehicles.
∎ The Gaza Health Ministry said at least 3,478 people have been killed in Gaza and more than 12,000 wounded, mostly women, children and the elderly. Another 1,300 people are believed buried under the rubble, health authorities said. More than 1,400 people in Israel have been killed, mostly civilians slain during Hamas’ bloody incursion on Oct. 7.
∎Israeli authorities said Thursday they had notified the families of 203 people believed held by Hamas militants. The number of known hostages has crept higher almost daily.
∎More than a million people have fled their homes in the Gaza Strip ahead of an expected Israel invasion that seeks to eliminate Hamas’ leadership after its deadly incursion. Aid groups warn an Israeli ground offensive could hasten a humanitarian crisis.
A US cargo plane arrived in Israel carrying the initial shipment of armored vehicles designated to replace vehicles damaged during the war, the Israel Ministry of Defense said Thursday. Armored ambulances, trucks, and mechanical engineering equipment are expected to arrive in coming days, the ministry said. The first delivery came the day after President Joe Biden’s historic trip to Tel Aviv, where he assured Israel the U.S. would stand by the Jewish state and provide whatever it needs to defend itself in its war with Hamas. Biden said he would ask Congress to approve an “unprecedented support package” to bolster Israel’s defense.
Biden also pledged $100 million in U.S. funding for humanitarian assistance for Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank.
As war in Israel, Gaza rages on As war in Israel, Gaza rages on, President Biden is having a moment
Palestinian Americans are seeing two fronts in the Israel-Hamas war: one is the bloodshed in the Middle East. The other is emotional backlash from bigotry and hate in the U.S. A U.S. Department of Justice hate crime investigation into the fatal stabbing of a 6-year-old Palestinian American Muslim boy in Illinois is one of several incidents of alleged hate being directed at Palestinian Americans, allies and people who look like them since the war began.
The community feels under siege, American Muslims for Palestine executive director Osama Abu Irshaid told USA TODAY. But at the same time, wants to show support and express grief in the war crisis.
“They’re not out there to threaten anyone,” Irshaid said. “They’re not there to delegitimize another narrative. They’re out there to assert a narrative that is being diminished.”
Read more here.
− Minnah Arshad
Battle against hate: Violence, bigotry toward Palestinian Americans spiking across U.S.
President Joe Biden has made a sudden transformation from a political figure whose commitment to Israel was often questioned by conservative critics inside and outside the Jewish state to arguably the world’s leading champion of Israel outside the Middle East. Biden’s actions and words since the Oct. 7 Hamas attack, capped by a dramatic visit to Israel on Wednesday, have been lauded even by many of Biden’s biggest skeptics in Israel as he stands in solidarity with Israel and pledges “unprecedented” military assistance.
“Israelis were hungry for a father figure that will hug them and show empathy. And the president has done that in such a way that really touched every Israeli,” said Nimrod Novik, a former foreign policy adviser to Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres and now a fellow with the Israel Policy Forum. Read more here.
− Joey Garrison
President Joe Biden secured an agreement with Israel on Wednesday to allow humanitarian aid into Gaza while supporting the Israelis’ contention that they were not behind the deadly explosion at a Gaza City hospital.
The humanitarian assistance, along with $100 million in new U.S. funding for Gaza and the West Bank announced by Biden, could provide a critical lifeline to Palestinians in the besieged territory where water, food, fuel, and medicine are in desperate need.
Biden and his administration said a U.S. assessment concluded Israel did not cause Tuesday’s blast at Al Ahli Arab Hospital. “Based on what I’ve seen, it appears as though it was done by the other team, not you,” Biden told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Hamas said the explosion killed close to 500 and blamed an Israeli airstrike. The Israeli military denied it and released video, audio and other information pointing to a missile misfire by Islamic Jihad, a militant group that sometimes cooperates with Hamas and is considered a terrorist organization by the U.S.
The hospital carnage sparked rage throughout the region, and Jordan canceled a summit scheduled Wednesday in Amman, where Biden was to meet with Jordan’s King Abdullah II, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
The Israel Defense Forces, also known as the IDF, is the national military of Israel. It has three branches: the army, navy and air force. It is a conscripted military service, meaning Israel mandates IDF service for Jewish, Druze and Circassian citizens over the age of 18, with some exceptions. It was established in 1948, two weeks after Israel became an independent country.
Before the war began, the IDF had 169,500 active troops and was the 28th largest military in the world by active personnel, according to the International Institute for Strategic Studies’ Military Balance 2023. There were also 465,000 reserve personnel to supplement active military forces if deemed necessary. Many of those have been or will soon be called up amid expectations of a ground invasion of Gaza. Read more here.
More: Biden: Gaza to get aid by Friday; US says Israel not to blame for hospital blast. Live updates
Hamas – an acronym for Harakat al-Muqawama al-Islamiya, or the Islamic resistance movement – was founded in 1987 by activists connected to the Muslim Brotherhood during the first Palestinian uprising against Israeli occupation of Gaza and the West Bank. The State Department designated Hamas a terrorist group in 1997, and several other nations also consider Hamas a terrorist organization.
In 2006, Hamas won parliamentary elections, and in 2007 the group violently seized control of Gaza from the Palestinian Authority, which was controlled by the rival Fatah movement that still governs the West Bank. There have been no elections since. The group calls for the establishment of an Islamic Palestinian state that would replace the current state of Israel and believes in the use of violence to carry out the destruction of Israel.
Hamas receives financial, material, and logistical support from Iran. So far, however, the U.S. and other nations have said there is no evidence that Iran was directly involved in Hamas’ attack.
Contributing: The Associated Press