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ConflictsMiddle East

Israel-Hamas war: 'No more excuses' on Gaza aid — Germany

Published April 5, 2024last updated April 5, 2024

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock warned against delays in delivering urgently needed aid to Gaza, after Israel announced it was opening more aid routes into the strip.

A view of Ashdod port after the Israeli cabinet approved the temporary use of the port for aid
Israel said it would also allow processing aid bound for Gaza at the Ashdod port, seen in this pictureImage: Hannah McKay/REUTERS
Skip next section What you need to know

What you need to know

  • Israel says it will 'temporarily' open Erez crossing for aid deliveries to Gaza
  • Berlin warns against delays in allowing aid into Gaza, saying people there need 'every aid package now'
  • The UN Human Rights Council has voted to demand a halt to weapons sales to Israel
  • US President Joe Biden warned on Thursday that US support for Israel would depend on the protection of civilians
  • Isreal said it has fired two officers responsible for the killing of aid workers in Gaza

This live blog on the Israel-Hamas war is now closed

Skip next section Hezbollah leader says Iranian attack on Israel 'inevitable'
April 5, 2024

Hezbollah leader says Iranian attack on Israel 'inevitable'

Hassan Nasrallah, leader of the armed wing of the Lebanese organization Hezbollah, on Friday said Iran's retaliation for an Israeli attack on one of its embassies in Syria earlier this week "is coming inevitably." Hezbollah is supported by Iran.

"Be certain, be sure, that the Iranian response to the targeting of the consulate in Damascus is definitely coming against Israel," he said. 

Nasrallah called the attack, which killed seven members of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards — including two generals — a "turning point."

Hezbollah and Israel have exchanged fire repeatedly since Gaza-based Hamas militants attacked Israel on October 7, resulting in the deaths of over 1,200 people.

Nearly 270 Hezbollah fighters have been killed in those exchanges. On the Israeli side of the border, 18 people, both soldiers and civilians, have been killed.

Linking Gaza to skirmishes along the Israel-Lebanon border, Nasrallah said, "When the war stops in Gaza, it will stop here." 

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant on Friday said his troops would continue to attack Israel's enemies wherever they may be, "It could be in Damascus and it could be in Beirut. The enemy is badly hit in all places and is therefore looking for ways to respond. We are ready with a multi-layered defense."

Israel has canceled leave for all combat units and called up specialized reservists from air defense units as a precaution to a possible retaliatory response from Tehran.

Though Iran has continued to back proxy groups around the Middle East, including the Houthi rebels in Yemen and militias in Iraq, it has avoided getting directly involved in the conflict.

Skip next section EU top diplomat: Israel not doing enough to prevent starvation in Gaza
April 5, 2024

EU top diplomat: Israel not doing enough to prevent starvation in Gaza

The EU's top diplomat, Josep Borrell, on Friday responded to Israel's announcement that it would open corridors to allow the delivery of humanitarian aid into besieged Gaza, saying, "it's not enough to prevent starvation."

Israel has come under increasing pressure over the past months for restricting the delivery of food and humanitarian aid into the war-torn enclave, with the US and others resorting to airdropping food and initiating the construction of a temporary pier on the coast of Gaza in an effort to provide food and other aid to Palestinians.

Anger at Israel further intensified this week after seven international aid workers from the organization World Central Kitchen were killed by Israeli airstrikes on Monday. 

"The binding UN Security Council Resolution 2728 [calling for an immediate cease-fire during Ramadan] must be implemented. Now," wrote Borrell. 

Biden says Israel doing what he asked on Gaza aid

Skip next section UN boss 'deeply troubled' by Israel's reported use of AI in Gaza
April 5, 2024

UN boss 'deeply troubled' by Israel's reported use of AI in Gaza

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Friday said he was "deeply troubled" by reports that Israel's military has employed artificial intelligence (AI) when identifying actionable targets in Gaza. 

"No part of life and death decisions, which impact entire families, should be delegated to the cold calculation of algorithms," said Guterres.

The UN boss, who has been highly critical of Israel's operations in Gaza following the October 7 attacks on Israel by the Hamas militant group, said: "Over the last six months, the Israeli military campaign has brought relentless death and destruction to Palestinians in Gaza. Lives are shattered. Respect for international humanitarian law is in tatters."  

The Israeli military has denied reports that it has used AI to mark tens of thousands of Gazans for assassination.

In a recent report, the Israeli magazine +972 claimed that AI had been used to allow the identification of individual targets in densely populated areas with "little human oversight and a permissive policy for casualties."   

Skip next section Berlin: Rights lawyers seek to block arms exports to Israel
April 5, 2024

Berlin: Rights lawyers seek to block arms exports to Israel

Citing the potential violation of international humanitarian law in Gaza, human rights lawyers representing Palestinians have launched an appeal to force the German government to halt arms exports to Israel.

The case is being brought by the European Legal Support Center, Law for Palestine and the Palestine Institute for Public Diplomacy, among others, and was filed at a Berlin administrative court on behalf of Palestinians in Gaza.

Lawyers claim Germany is violating its legal obligations under the War Weapons Control Act by delivering arms to Israel.

"Just the assumption — that the weapons are used to commit acts that violate international law — is sufficient to revoke arms exports under the act," said attorney Ahmed Abed in Berlin on Friday.

"The federal government generally examines each arms export individually and takes a number of factors into account, including human rights and humanitarian law," said government spokeswoman Christiane Hoffmann.

In 2023, German arms exports to Israel were valued at €326.5 million ($353.7 million), ten times the amount exported in 2022.

In February, a court in the Netherlands banned the export of F-35 jets and parts to Israel, saying that Israel did not "take sufficient account of the consequences for the civilian population when conducting its attacks." Israel denies it has violated international humanitarian law. 

Skip next section One hostage was likely killed by friendly fire, Israeli enquiry finds
April 5, 2024

One hostage was likely killed by friendly fire, Israeli enquiry finds

One of the hostages the Palestinian militant group Hamas seized during October 7 attacks on southern Israel was probably killed by an Israeli helicopter gunship responding to the attack, the Israeli military said on Friday.

In a statement revealing the results of an investigation into reports that some of the around 1,200 Israeli and foreign victims were killed by friendly fire, the Israeli military said that Erfat Katz was probably killed by helicopter gunships fired at a vehicle used by Hamas and their hostages.

"As a result of the fire, most of the terrorists manning the vehicle were killed, and most likely, Efrat Katz ... was killed as well," the Israeli military said in a statement.

It said the investigation showed that the hostages could not be distinguished by existing surveillance systems.

"The commander of the air force did not find fault in the operation by the helicopter crew, who operated in compliance with the orders in a complex reality of war," it said.

The military described the incident as "tragic and unfortunate," and said it had notified Katz's family on the findings of the investigation.

Some 240 hostages were abducted on October 7, of whom around 130 are believed to be still in Gaza, although some of those are presumed to have died.

Skip next section Dozens of Israeli embassies closed amid fear of Iranian reprisal — reports
April 5, 2024

Dozens of Israeli embassies closed amid fear of Iranian reprisal — reports

Israeli authorities shuttered 28 Israeli embassies worldwide on Friday, Israeli media reported, amid fears of an Iranian reprisal for a strike on the Iranian embassy in Damascus which killed seven Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps members earlier this week.

Several Israeli news websites cited unnamed sources as saying the embassies were temporarily closed. 

The closure decision "varies by country and [is] based on the level of risk," The Jerusalem Post said, citing an unnamed source.

The Italian news agency ANSA reported that the Israeli embassy in Rome was closed on Friday. It added that other embassies worldwide were also shuttered.

Israel has not commented on the airstrike, but Iran has blamed it for the attack and vowed retaliation.

Skip next section Israel says 2 officers dismissed over aid workers' death
April 5, 2024

Israel says 2 officers dismissed over aid workers' death

The Israeli military announced on Friday that it had dismissed two officers and reprimanded three others for their roles in drone strikes on the Gaza Strip which killed seven aid workers earlier this week.

The aid workers, with the US charity World Central Kitchen, were on a food delivery mission at the time of the attack.

The Israeli military said the officers mishandled critical information and violated the army's rules of engagement, citing the results of a retired general's investigation into the killings. It described the incident as "grave" and stressed it took it seriously.

"It's a tragedy," the military's spokesman, Daniel Hagari, told reporters. "It's a serious event that we are responsible for and it shouldn't have happened and we will make sure that it won't happen again."

The investigation revealed that a colonel had authorized the series of deadly drone strikes on the aid convoy based on one major's observation, which turned out to be untrue, military officials said.

The major had "mistakenly assumed that the gunmen were located inside the accompanying vehicles and that these were Hamas terrorists," the military said.

"The strike on the aid vehicles is a grave mistake stemming from a serious failure due to a mistaken identification, errors in decision-making, and an attack contrary to the Standard Operating Procedures," the statement added.

Blinken: US carefully reviewing aid convoy killings inquiry

Skip next section IDF 'cannot credibly investigate own failure in Gaza,' WCK says
April 5, 2024

IDF 'cannot credibly investigate own failure in Gaza,' WCK says

The charity World Central Kitchen has reiterated its demand for an independent probe into the killings of its aid workers, who died in an Israeli military strike on their convoy earlier on Monday, even after the Israeli military acknowledged responsibility.

In a statement reacting to the findings of the Israeli military's investigation into the incident, WCK said that the "IDF [Israel Defense Forces] cannot credibly investigate its own failure in Gaza."

WCK said the IDF investigation revealed that the Israeli military "deployed deadly force without regard to its own protocols, chain of command and rules of engagement." It warned that more military failures would follow in the absence of systemic changes.

"Their apologies for the outrageous killing of our colleagues represent cold comfort," said WCK chief executive Erin Gore. "It’s cold comfort for the victims' families and WCK’s global family."

The charity organization also stressed that food is a universal right, adding that "Israel needs to dramatically increase the volume of food and medicine traveling by land if it is serious about supporting humanitarian aid."

"It’s not enough to simply try to avoid further humanitarian deaths, which have now approached close to 200," said WCK founder Jose Andres. "All civilians need to be protected, and all innocent people in Gaza need to be fed and safe. And all hostages must be released."

Skip next section Iran holds funeral for Revolutionary Guard members killed in embassy strike
April 5, 2024

Iran holds funeral for Revolutionary Guard members killed in embassy strike

Iran's head of state Ayatollah Ali Khamenei stands on Friday, April 5, 2024 next to the coffins of seven members of the Revolutionary Guard Corps who were killed in an attack on the Iranian consulate in Damascus.
The funeral of those killed in the airstrike coincided with Quds (Jerusalem) DayImage: Iranian Supreme leader's Office/dpa/picture alliance

Thousands of people joined on Friday the funeral of seven members of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) killed as the result of an airstrike in Syria.

Iran has blamed Israel for the attack which leveled a consular annex in Iran's embassy complex in the Syrian capital Damascus on Monday.

Those killed included two generals from the IRGC's foreign operations arm, the Quds Force, Iran said.

State television showed demonstrators carrying pictures of those killed and banners with slogans such as "Death to Israel" and "Death to America."

The coffins of the seven deceased were placed on trailers of two trucks in one of Tehran's largest squares. They will then be taken to their respective hometowns for burials.

The funeral coincided with the annual Quds (Jerusalem) Day, where Iran and its allies rally in support of Palestinians. The day is usually held on the last Friday of the fasting month of Ramadan.

Mourners on Friday held Iranian and Palestinian flags, as well as those from the Lebanon's Hezbollah group, which Iran backs.

Growing tensions between Israel and Iran and its proxies have sparked fears of a wider regional conflict.

Skip next section UN rights council demands halt of arms sales to Israel
April 5, 2024

UN rights council demands halt of arms sales to Israel

The United Nations Human Rights Council has voted to adopt a resolution demanding a halt in arms sales to Israel.

Of the council's 47 member states, 28 voted in favor, six — including the United States and Germany — opposed and 13 abstained. 

The text calls on countries to "cease the sale, transfer, and diversion of arms, munitions, and other military equipment to Israel."

It stressed "the need to ensure accountability for all violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law in order to end impunity."

Israel has long accused the Human Rights Council of being biased against it.

Washington had pledged to vote against the resolution because it did not include any specific condemnation of Hamas for the October 7 attacks, nor "any reference to the terrorist nature of those actions."

Skip next section Germany says 'no more excuses' over letting in aid to Gaza
April 5, 2024

Germany says 'no more excuses' over letting in aid to Gaza

Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said Germany expected the Israeli government to implement its announcement on allowing aid deliveries into northern Gaza.

In a social media post, Baerbock said Berlin wanted "no more excuses."

"The people in Gaza now need every aid package."

Israel has said that the Erez border crossing into northern Gaza will be temporarily reopened, and the Ashdod port will be used to process aid shipments. 

The main UN agency in Gaza, UNRWA, warned earlier that famine was imminent.

"The clock is ticking fast toward famine and UNRWA must be allowed to do its work, and reach the north on a regular basis with food and nutrition supplies," the agency said. 

Skip next section Blinken notes 'positive' Gaza aid developments but says it may not be enough
April 5, 2024

Blinken notes 'positive' Gaza aid developments but says it may not be enough

Antony Blinken said the United States welcomed Israel's decision to allow more humanitarian aid into the Gaza Strip but said it might not be enough to dramaticly improve the humanitarian situation in the territory.

"These are positive developments but the real test is results, and that's what we're looking to see in the coming days and the coming weeks," the US secretary of state said, speaking along EU leaders in town of Leuven, outside Brussels, on Friday.

He added that Washington will be "closely looking" at specific metrics such as the number of trucks making their way into the Gaza Strip and the evolution of famine risks.

He also said Israel needed to make sure the population is protected from its strikes by "maximizing every effort to protect civilians," adding, "we just can't have so many people caught in the crossfire killed or injured going forward."

Aid to Gaza: Expert says more US pressure needed

Skip next section Israel 'absolutely losing PR war' in Gaza, Trump says
April 5, 2024

Israel 'absolutely losing PR war' in Gaza, Trump says

Former US President Donald Trump has criticized Israel's conduct of the war in Gaza, saying the country is "absolutely losing the PR war."

Speaking to conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt on Thursday, Trump urged Israel to "get it over with, and let's get back to peace and stop killing people."

"They've got to finish what they finish. They have to get it done. Get it over with, and get it over with fast, because we have to, you have to get back to normalcy and peace," Trump said.

Trump was also critical of the way Israel was publicizing its actions in Gaza.

"I'm not sure that I'm loving the way they're doing it, because you’'ve got to have victory," Trump said. "They're releasing the most heinous, most horrible tapes of buildings falling down. And people are imagining there’s a lot of people in those buildings, and they don't like it."

Trump, who is the most likely Republican candidate in the US November elections against Democrat President Joe Biden, has been a strong public supporter of Israel.

Skip next section McDonald's buys back its restaurants in Israel
April 5, 2024

McDonald's buys back its restaurants in Israel

McDonald's Corporation announced the acquisition of Alonyal Limited, the franchisee that operates McDonald's restaurants in Israel after the brand was boycotted in response to the Israel-Hamas conflict.

In a statement issued by McDonalds, Omri Padan, CEO and owner of Alonyal Limited, said the company has run restaurants in Israel for more than 30 years. It owns 225 franchised properties and has more than 5,000 employees, who will be retained after the company handover.

Sales in the Middle East and beyond have slumped amid protests over the fast food giant's perceived support of Israel.

Calls for Mcdonald's boycott were made after it had offered free meals to thousands of Israeli soldiers.

"Obviously the place that we're seeing the most pronounced impact is in the Middle East. We are seeing some impact in other Muslim countries like Malaysia, Indonesia," McDonald's Chief Executive Chris Kempczinski said  in February.

He said the boycott's impact was "meaningful" without elaborating.

Skip next section White House calls for Israel to 'fully and rapidly' open new Gaza aid routes
April 5, 2024

White House calls for Israel to 'fully and rapidly' open new Gaza aid routes

The White House is urging Israel to swiftly open new aid routes into the Gaza Strip that were announced earlier on Thursday by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office.

"These steps, including a commitment to open the Ashdod port for the direct delivery of assistance into Gaza, to open the Erez crossing for a new route for assistance to reach north Gaza, and to significantly increase deliveries from Jordan directly into Gaza, must now be fully and rapidly implemented," National Security Council spokeswoman Adrienne Watson said in a statement.

Netanyahu announced Israel would allow the "temporary" delivery of aid through its Ashdod port and the Erez crossing into Gaza after he spoke with US President Joe Biden over the phone.

Biden had urged Netanyahu to take steps to increase aid deliveries and ensure the safety of humanitarian workers.

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