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Israel-Hamas war: First aid shipment heads to US-built pier

Published May 9, 2024last updated May 9, 2024

The US ship left Larnaca port in Cyprus, en route to the new pier off Gaza with much needed humanitarian assistance. Meanwhile, an Israeli offensive is expected in the southern town of Rafah. DW has more.

Palestinians with their packed belongings, continue to depart from the eastern neighborhoods of the city due to ongoing Israeli attacks in Rafah, Gaza on May 8, 2024.
Witnesses in Rafah have reported Israeli strikes in several parts of the cityImage: Ali Jadallah/Anadolu/picture alliance
Skip next section What you need to know

What you need to know

  • A first shipment of humanitarian aid is on its way to the US-built floating pier off Gaza
  • Residents say three killed in Israeli tank fire in eastern Rafah
  • Local authorities in the Hamas-run strip are reporting a death toll of 34,904 since October
Skip next section Israel says has needed weapons for Rafah operation
May 9, 2024

Israel says has needed weapons for Rafah operation

Israel says it already has the necessary weapons and ammunition for its planned ground offensive in Rafah.

"We have what we need" to press ahead, Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) spokesperson Daniel Hagari said.

Israel is among the countries which receive the most military aid from the US. However, Israeli plans for an operation in Rafah have led to widespread international opposition due to concerns over the more than one million Palestinian civilians huddled in the city.

In his statements, Biden stressed the US was not "walking away from Israel's security" but rather "from Israel's ability to wage war in those areas."

The US has already halted last week a shipment of weapons, including heavy bombs, to Israel.

"Civilians have been killed in Gaza as a consequence of those bombs and other ways in which they go after population centers," Biden said in a CNN interview when asked about 2,000-pound bombs sent to Israel.

Responding to Biden's threats about suspending weapons transfer, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu insisted that Israel would still carry out its plans, even if it stands alone.

"As I have already said, if we must, we shall fight with our fingernails," Netanyahu said in a video statement. "But we have much more than our fingernails, and with that strength of spirit, with God's help, together we shall be victorious."

Skip next section Hamas, Israeli delegations leave Cairo
May 9, 2024

Hamas, Israeli delegations leave Cairo

Delegations from Israel and the Palestinian, militant group Hamas both left the Egyptian capital Cairo on Thursday, after the latest round of talks in an effort to reach a truce.

CIA director William Burns also reportedly left Cairo, heading to the US as planned.

Hamas said its delegation was returning to Qatar, where it maintains a political office.

Egypt's state-affiliated Al-Qahera TV said that the Cairo negotiations were continuing, alongside other mediators, "to bring closer the viewpoints of both parties, particularly in light of the latest developments in Gaza."

Egypt, Qatar and the US have been trying for months to mediate a truce that could stop the fighting and see to the release of Israeli hostages held by Hamas.

Skip next section Israel criticizes Biden's threat to withhold weapons
May 9, 2024

Israel criticizes Biden's threat to withhold weapons

Israeli officials have criticized a threat by US President Joe Biden to halt some shipments of US weapons to Israel if it launches a major ground offensive in Rafah.

"I made it clear that if they go into Rafah, they haven't gone in Rafah yet, if they go into Rafah, I'm not supplying the weapons that have been used historically to deal with Rafah, to deal with the cities, that deal with that problem," Biden said.

"We're not walking away from Israel's security," Biden continued. "We're walking away from Israel's ability to wage war in those areas."

Israel's ambassador to the United Nations, Gilad Erdan, described Biden's statements as "difficult and very disappointing." He warned Iran, Hamas and Hezbollah see such comments as "something that gives them hope to succeed."

"If Israel is restricted from entering an area as important and central as Rafah where there are thousands of terrorists, hostages and leaders of Hamas, how exactly are we supposed to achieve our goals?" he said.

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant also indirectly took jabs at Biden's statements.

"I turn to Israel's enemies as well as to our best of friends and say — the State of Israel cannot be subdued," he said, according to remarks released by his office. "We will stand strong, we will achieve our goals — we will hit Hamas, we will hit Hezbollah, and we will achieve security."

Hamas is designated as a terrorist group by several countries.

Skip next section Rafah reports fresh shelling
May 9, 2024

Rafah reports fresh shelling

Israeli forces opened fire close to built-up areas of Gaza's southern Rafah city, where the UN says some 1.4 million people are sheltering.

Witnesses on the ground reported tank and helicopter fire.

"The tanks and jets are striking," Tarek Bahlul told the French news agency AFP on a deserted Rafah street. "Every minute you hear a rocket and you don't know where it will land."

Residents and medics told the Reuters news agency that tank fire killed three people and wounded others in the eastern neighborhood of Brazil. Residents added that a helicopter also opened fire on the city's eastern edge, with drones hovering above houses in several areas.

On Tuesday, the Israel Defense Force (IDF) took control of the Palestinian side of Gaza's Rafah border crossing with Egypt. 

The crossing has served as the main entry point for humanitaria aid.

Hamas militants has continued to launch rockets and mortar rounds at Israeli troops stationed near the crossing.

Skip next section Israeli forces raid Al Jazeera studios in Nazareth
May 9, 2024

Israeli forces raid Al Jazeera studios in Nazareth

Israeli forces raided on Thursday the studios of the Qatari-owned Al Jazeera news channel, carrying out orders from Israel's communications minister.

Minister Shlomo Karhi said inspectors from the Communications Ministry were confiscating equipment from the studios, alongside police officials.

"Israel won't let Hamas broadcast from here," Karhi said on X, formerly Twitter.

The Al Jazeera TV network was taken off the air in Israel on Sunday after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Cabinet voted to suspend the broadcaster's operations.

Israel accuses the Qatari broadcaster of Palestinian bias, particularly in its coverage of the war in Gaza. Al Jazeera rejects the accusations and called the move a "criminal act" that violates the human right of access to information.

Skip next section First aid shipment heads to US-built pier off Gaza
May 9, 2024

First aid shipment heads to US-built pier off Gaza

A shipment of humanitarian aid left Cyprus on Thursday, and was on its way to a US-built pier off Gaza.

The US flagged Sagamore ship took off from Cyprus' Larnaca port, Cypriot Foreign Minister Constantinos Kombos said.

It is the first shipment for the floating pier, whose construction was announced by US President Joe Biden in March.

Cyprus opened in March a sea corridor to ship aid directly to Gaza, amid severe disruptions to land deliveries due to the ongoing fighting and border closures.