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Children starve to death in Gaza, Palestinian officials say, as Israel-Hamas ceasefire deal sticking points remain

Written by on March 4, 2024

A growing number of children in Gaza are dying from dehydration and malnutrition, the Palestinian health ministry said Sunday, amid desperate conditions due to Israel’s throttling of aid and destruction of the besieged enclave — reinforcing the urgency of this week’s ceasefire talks.

Negotiators gathered in the Egyptian capital Cairo on Sunday for talks on a Israel-Hamas ceasefire deal and release of hostages from Gaza, but Israel did not send a delegation, an Israeli official told CNN, despite increasing international pressure to end hostilities and allow for a desperately needed surge of humanitarian aid.

The official said the reason was that Hamas had not responded to two Israeli demands: a list of Israeli hostages specifying which are alive and which are dead; and confirmation of the ratio of Palestinian prisoners to be released from Israeli prisons, in exchange for the hostages taken when Hamas militants attacked communities in southern Israel on October 7.

The militant group wants a permanent end to fighting before agreeing to release hostages, a Hamas source told CNN as a Hamas delegation arrived in Cairo on Sunday. However, a high-ranking Hamas official did not immediately respond to a CNN question about whether the militant group had responded to Israel’s conditions.

It comes as the United States is increasingly vocal about the humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza, where the United Nations warns hundreds of thousands of people are on the brink of famine and US ally Israel continues to obstruct the bulk of aid deliveries.

On Saturday, the US made its first humanitarian airdrop into the strip — 66 bundles containing meals but no water or medical supplies, a US official said. Aid groups have criticized the air drops as an ineffective and degrading way to get aid to Palestinians in Gaza, with the International Crisis Group’s UN director saying they are at best a “temporary Band-Aid measure.”

One of the strongest rebukes of Israel by a US official to date came from US Vice President Kamala Harris, who on Sunday forcefully called for more humanitarian aid into Gaza, saying that people in the region are “starving” in the face of “inhumane” conditions and urged Israel to do more.

She called for an “immediate ceasefire for at least the next six weeks,” a proposal currently on the negotiating table, and urged Hamas to free Israeli hostages.

“What we are seeing every day in Gaza is devastating. We have seen reports of families eating leaves or animal feed. Women giving birth to malnourished babies with little or no medical care, and children dying from malnutrition and dehydration,” Harris said, citing the deaths of dozens of Palestinians amid Israeli gunfire and panic at Gaza food lines.

“The Israeli government must do more to significantly increase the flow of aid. No excuses,” said Harris.

Her comments also come at a critical moment in the Israel-Hamas war. On Monday, the vice president is expected to meet with a key member of the Israeli War Cabinet, Benny Gantz, in Washington as the US continues to advocate a temporary ceasefire and hostage release.

Source: Jordan 105.5fm News Bulletin


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