US says Israel has agreed to the framework for a Gaza cease-fire. Hamas must now decide


Israel has essentially endorsed a framework of a proposed Gaza cease-fire and hostage release deal, and it is now up to Hamas to agree to it, a senior U.S. administration official said Saturday, a day before talks to reach an agreement were to resume in Egypt.

International mediators have been working for weeks to broker a deal to pause the fighting before the Muslim holy month of Ramadan begins around March 10. A deal would likely allow aid to reach hundreds of thousands of desperate Palestinians in northern Gaza who aid officials worry are under threat of famine.

The Israelis "have more or less accepted" the proposal, which includes the six-week cease-fire as well as the release by Hamas of hostages considered vulnerable, which includes the sick, the wounded, the elderly and women, said the official.

"Right now, the ball is in the court of Hamas and we are continuing to push this as hard as we possibly can," the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity under ground rules set by the White House to brief reporters.

Officials from Israel and from Hamas did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

A senior Egyptian official said mediators Egypt and Qatar are expected to receive a response from Hamas during the Cairo talks scheduled to start Sunday. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not publicly authorized to discuss the talks.

There is increasing criticism over the hundreds of thousands struggling to survive in northern Gaza, which has borne the brunt of the conflict that began after Hamas militants stormed southern Israel on Oct. 7, allegedly killing 1,200 Israelis and seizing around 250 hostages.

U.S. military planes began the first airdrops of thousands of meals into Gaza, and the militaries of Jordan and Egypt said they also conducted airdrops. Aid groups say airdrops should be only a last resort and instead urge the opening of other crossings into Gaza and the removal of obstacles at the few that are open.

The European Union's diplomatic service said many of the hundreds of Palestinians killed or wounded in the chaos surrounding an aid convoy on Thursday were hit by Israeli army fire and urged an international investigation. It said responsibility for the crisis lay with "restrictions imposed by the Israeli army and obstructions by violent extremist(s) to the supply of humanitarian aid."

Gaza's Health Ministry raised the death toll from Thursday's violence to 118 after two more bodies were recovered Saturday. It said the wounded remained at 760.

Israel's chief military spokesperson, Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari, said Israel organized Thursday's convoy, "and claims that we attacked the convoy intentionally and that we harmed people intentionally are baseless."

Residents in northern Gaza say they are searching rubble and garbage for anything to feed their children, who barely eat one meal a day. Many families have begun mixing animal and bird food with grain to bake bread.

At least 10 children have starved to death, according to hospital records in Gaza, the World Health Organization said.

Gaza's Health Ministry said the Palestinian death toll from the war has climbed to 30,320, around two-thirds of them women and children.

In the southernmost city of Rafah, where more than half of Gaza's people now seek refuge, an Israeli airstrike struck tents outside the Emirati hospital, killing 11 people and wounding about 50, including health workers, the Health Ministry said. Israel's military said it was targeting Islamic Jihad militants.

Israel's air, sea and ground offensive has reduced much of densely populated northern Gaza to rubble. The military told Palestinians to move south, but as many as 300,000 people are believed to have remained.

Roughly one in six children under 2 in the north suffer from acute malnutrition and wasting, "the worst level of child malnutrition anywhere in the world," Carl Skau, deputy executive director of the World Food Program, said this week. "If nothing changes, a famine is imminent in northern Gaza."

People have overwhelmed trucks and grabbed what they can, Skau said, forcing the WFP to suspend deliveries to the north.

In the violence Thursday, people rushed about 30 trucks bringing a predawn delivery to the north. Palestinians said nearby Israeli troops shot into the crowds. Israel said they fired warning shots toward the crowd and insisted many of the dead were trampled. Doctors at hospitals in Gaza and a U.N. team that visited a hospital said large numbers of the wounded had been shot.

Ahmed Abdel Karim, being treated for gunshot wounds in his feet, said he had spent two days waiting for aid trucks to arrive.

"Everyone attacked and advanced on these trucks. Because of the large number, I could not get flour," he said.

Radwan Abdel-Hai, a father of four young children, heard a rumor late Wednesday that an aid convoy was on its way. He and five others took a donkey cart and found a "sea of people" waiting.

"Tanks started firing at us," he said. "As I ran back, I heard tank shells and gunfire. I heard people screaming. I saw people falling to the ground, some motionless." Many were shot in the back, he said.

Soad Abu Hussein, a widow and mother of five, said more than 5,000 people — mostly women and children — living with her in a school at the Jabaliya refugee camp have not received aid for more than four weeks. A group of people went to the shore to fish, but three were killed and two were wounded by gunfire from Israeli ships, she said.

The Israeli military did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Mansour Hamed, a 32-year-old former aid worker living with more than 50 relatives in a Gaza City house, said some are eating tree leaves and animal food. It has become normal to find a child emerging from the rubble with a rotten piece of bread, he said.

Acknowledging the extreme need for food, U.S. President Joe Biden said the U.S. would look for other ways of delivery "including possibly a marine corridor."

Also Saturday, Israel said three soldiers were killed and 14 injured Friday when they inadvertently triggered explosives in a booby-trapped building outside Khan Younis in southern Gaza.

Comments 6
Thumb chrisrushlau 03 March 2024, 02:34

The unravelling of the New York Times’ ‘Hamas rape’ story
While checking Al Jazeera for the Gaza airdrop story, I found this. I have not read beyond what I reproduce here:

An horrific story in the New York Times falls apart and exposes systemic issues.

In December 2023, The New York Times published an explosive article – now widely discredited – that detailed Hamas’s agenda to weaponise rape and sexual violence on October 7. We reveal the controversies surrounding the article along with the broader issue of Western media outlets’ pro-Israeli/anti-Palestinian bias.

Thumb chrisrushlau 03 March 2024, 03:57

Voters Doubt Biden’s Leadership and Favor Trump, Times/Siena Poll Finds
The share of voters who strongly disapprove of President Biden’s performance has reached 47 percent, and support for him lags behind that for Donald Trump.
Biden Team’s Message for Democrats Pining for an Alternative: Get Over It
A lot of Democrats wish President Biden were not running this fall, but no one who matters to him seems willing to suggest he step aside.
Disastrous Convoy Was Part of New Israeli Effort for More Aid in Gaza
It was one of four convoys organized by local Palestinian businessmen this week at the behest of Israeli officials, who promised to provide security.
The U.S. made its first airdrops of aid into Gaza, delivering 38,000 ready-to-eat meals. Critics called it insufficient.

Thumb chrisrushlau 03 March 2024, 04:05

That's the NYT electronic front page an hour after I found the Al Jazeera story.
I think the big story here is Biden meeting with Italian PM Meloni Friday, 1 May, where he twice said US aid for Gaza had to get to Ukraine. He was reading cards but looked up and kept speaking, and that's when Gaza turned into Ukraine twice. Meloni stared at him, then looked behind the camera and someone there signaled something to her that made her smile.
He's not senile but deeply preoccupied. After Aaron Bushnell's self-immolation last weekend and the Israeli machine-gunning of hundreds of hungry Gazans this past Thursday, I think he is thinking about quitting. I also think the NYT thinks that, and is trying to get on board to shove him out.
A place to stand on, eh?

Thumb chrisrushlau 03 March 2024, 02:55

At this same hour, the NYT's front page online reads like a Hamas website or worse, from Israel's point of view. Top story: Biden should quit. Next. Democrat leadership tells members to stop complaining. Next. Trump takes all delegates from Haley in Michigan. Next, which takes us to the "Israel-Hamas war" section. Disastrous Convoy Was Part of New Israeli Effort for More Aid in Gaza It was one of four convoys organized by local Palestinian businessmen this week at the behest of Israeli officials, who promised to provide security. Next. Lives Ended in Gaza Since the war started, more than 30,000 people have been killed during Israel’s bombardment and invasion. Here are some of their stories. Next. The U.S. made its first airdrops of aid into Gaza, delivering 38,000 ready-to-eat meals. Critics called it insufficient.

Thumb chrisrushlau 03 March 2024, 03:00

Next section, which takes us to the Russia-Ukraine war.
Surprisingly Weak Ukrainian Defenses Help Russia’s Advance
Ukraine only built a sparse, rudimentary defensive line outside Avdiivka. Russia is taking advantage.
I was wrong about "from Israel's point of view", isn't it. "Disastrous aid convoy". Let's say the NYT is edging over to the liberal Israeli point of view, where you can't just kill them all, at least while people are watching, and you must always stress that your racism is benign.
So I realize the NYT is gunning by this front page at the regime itself in the US, not its main backers or whatever. I guess it reads like a Trump website, telling him what to say if he wants its help.
Feeble. Too late.

Thumb chrisrushlau 03 March 2024, 08:59

Hmm, it got doubled. No, my first two posts went away and came back. In my most recent post I wrote "1 May" when I meant "1 March". Sorry.