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Ottawa pledges $50-million for aid to Gaza and prepares to evacuate thousands of Canadians in Lebanon; the strip’s 2.3 million Palestinians, half of whom have fled their homes, are rationing food and drinking dirty water

  • Palestinians search for victims in buildings destroyed during Israeli air raids in the southern Gaza Strip in Khan Yunis, southern Gaza Strip.Ahmad Hasaballah/Getty Images

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Israel-Hamas war day 15

The conflict in the Middle East is in its 15th day.

Israel is bombarding Gaza and evacuating a sizable town near the Lebanese border in the latest sign of a potential ground invasion of Gaza that could trigger regional turmoil. Palestinians in Gaza reported heavy airstrikes in Khan Younis in the south, where Palestinians had been told to seek safety, and ambulances streamed into Gaza’s second-largest hospital, already overflowing with patients and people seeking shelter.

The Gaza Health Ministry said almost 4,400 people have been killed in the territory since the war began, the majority women, children and older adults. At least 13,600 were injured, and another 1,300 people were believed buried under rubble, authorities said.

More than 1,400 people in Israel have been killed, mostly in the initial attack Oct. 7 when Hamas militants stormed into Israel. In addition, at least 200 people were believed captured by Hamas during the incursion and taken into Gaza, the Israeli military has said.

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10:20 p.m. ET

Israel to intensify Gaza strikes, U.S. pushes for more aid

Israel pounded southern Gaza with air strikes early on Sunday and said it would intensify its attacks in the enclave’s north, as the U.S. committed to getting more aid to Palestinians running out of food, water, medicines and fuel.

Palestinian media reported at least 11 Palestinians were killed in an Israeli strike in the southern Gaza city of Khan Younis. Palestinian media also said Israel was striking the southern city of Rafah.

The overnight strikes came hours after Israeli military spokesperson Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari called on Gazans to move south out of harm’s way.

“For your own safety move southward. We will continue to attack in the area of Gaza City and increase attacks,” Hagari said in a briefing to Israeli reporters on Saturday.

U.S. President Joe Biden, a long-time staunch supporter of Israel, cheered the arrival of the aid after days of intense negotiations. He said the United States was committed to ensuring more assistance would enter via the Rafah border crossing.

“We will continue to work with all parties,” Biden said in a statement.

The United States proposed late on Saturday a draft UN Security Council resolution that says Israel has a right to defend itself. The resolution also demands Iran stop exporting arms to “militias and terrorist groups threatening peace and security across the region.”

– Reuters

10:00 p.m. ET

Ottawa says it has high degree of confidence that Israel did not cause explosion at Gaza hospital

The federal government says a Canadian review has determined that Israel did not bomb Gaza’s Al-Ahli Arabi Baptist Hospital on Oct. 17.

Defence Minister Bill Blair said late Saturday that the review by the Canadian Armed Forces confirms what the United States, France and other Western countries have already acknowledged.

“Analysis conducted independently by the Canadian Forces Intelligence Command indicates with a high degree of confidence that Israel did not strike the hospital on October 17, 2023,” Mr. Blair said in a statement. “The more likely scenario is that the strike was caused by an errant rocket fired from Gaza. We will continue to provide updates as new information becomes available”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had come under fire for seeming to blame Israel for the deadly bombing in the immediate hours after the hospital was hit.

After Israel denied responsibility and the U.S. said its intelligence supported the Israelis, Mr. Blair said the Prime Minister asked the Canadian military to do their own assessment.

- Robert Fife, Ottawa

8:45 p.m. ET

Israel strikes militant compound under West Bank mosque, military says

Israeli aircraft struck a compound beneath a mosque in the occupied West Bank early on Sunday that the military said was being used by militants to organize attacks, and Palestinian medics said at least one person was killed.

The Israeli air strike is at least the second in recent days to hit the West Bank, where violence has surged since Hamas gunmen from Gaza carried out a deadly Oct. 7 rampage in Israel.

Israel said the compound beneath al-Ansar Mosque, in Jenin refugee camp, belonged to operatives from Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad who were responsible for attacks in recent months.

“Intel was recently received which indicated that the terrorists, (who) were neutralized, were organizing an imminent terror attack,” the military said in a statement.

The military released images that it said showed an entrance to a bunker under the mosque. It also released a diagram that it said showed where militants had stored weapons there.

Jenin refugee camp, a Palestinian militant stronghold, was the focus of a major Israeli military operation earlier this year.

Footage on social media, appearing to show the scene of the air strike, indicate a gaping hole in one of the mosque’s exterior walls, surrounded by debris. Several dozen Palestinians are seen assessing the damage, as ambulance sirens blare in the background.

The Palestinian Red Crescent ambulance service said at least one Palestinian was killed and three others injured. It had earlier said that two people were killed.

Since the Oct. 7 Hamas attack, which has drawn two weeks of lethal Israeli bombardment of Gaza, at least 84 Palestinians in the West Bank have been killed in clashes with Israeli forces, Palestinian officials say.

On Thursday, Israel’s military said it raided and carried out an air strike in a refugee camp near the central city of Tulkarm. The military said the raid was aimed in part at apprehending suspects and confiscating weapons. Palestinians said at least 12 were killed.

– Reuters

7:50 p.m. ET

Italian Premier goes to Israel

Italian Premier Giorgia Meloni has made a trip to Israel to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, her office said.

The meeting Saturday came after Meloni participated in a summit in Cairo focused on ways to de-escalate the raging Israel-Hamas war.

Meloni’s office said that in her meeting she reiterated “the right of Israel to defend itself under international law and to live in peace” while also underlining “the importance of guaranteeing humanitarian access to Gaza and a prospect of peace for the region.’’

Her office said she brought “a message of solidary and Italy’s closeness” following Hamas’ unprecedented attack on Oct. 7.

– The Associated Press

7:50 p.m. ET

Tens of thousands of pro-Palestinian protesters march in London as Israel-Hamas war roils the world

Tens of thousands of pro-Palestinian demonstrators marched through a rainy London on Saturday to demand Israel stop its bombardment of Gaza, and similar calls were heard in cities around the world as the Israel-Hamas war entered its third week.

On the day a trickle of aid entered Gaza, where more than 1 million people have left their homes because of the conflict, protesters gathered in at Marble Arch near London’s Hyde Park before marching to the government district, Whitehall.

Police estimated the crowd that wound its way through the city for three hours at “up to 100,000.”

Waving Palestinian flags and chanting “Stop bombing Gaza,” participants called for an end to Israel’s blockade and airstrikes launched in the wake of a brutal incursion into southern Israel by the Hamas militant group that controls Gaza.

– The Associated Press

7:45 p.m. ET

Canada ending evacuation flights out of Israel next week because of decreasing demand

Ottawa will end evacuation flights from Israel next week, citing decreasing demand and increasingly available commercial options now that a number of Canadians have successfully left the country since the latest Israel-Hamas war began.

Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly said in a statement that the last scheduled assisted departure flight from Tel Aviv will leave on Monday.

Ms. Joly said Canadian Armed Forces aircraft will remain on standby in the region in case conditions change and the demand for evacuation flights ramps up again.

There have been 17 evacuation flights out of Tel Aviv over nine days, Ms. Joly said, and Canada has assisted nearly 1,600 Canadians, permanent residents and eligible family members, and foreign nationals to leave Israel.

Ms. Joly adds that there have been 33 evacuation flights from the West Bank and that the government’s teams in Ramallah and Ottawa remain in contact with Canadians seeking to leave the region.

– The Canadian Press

Watch: ‘Twenty trucks are nothing’ - Gazan as first aid arrives

6:00 p.m. ET

Lebanon’s Hezbollah says six fighters killed in Israeli hostilities

Six fighters from the Lebanese group Hezbollah were killed along the border with Israel on Saturday, the Iran-backed group said, taking to 19 the number of its members it says have died during two weeks of escalating violence in the frontier region.

A security source in Lebanon said one of the fighters was killed in the Lebanese area of Houla, opposite the Israeli community of Margaliot, which Israel said was the target of an anti-tank missile attack. The Israeli army said it fired back.

Hezbollah later said five other members were killed on Saturday, without providing further details. It said it had launched a series of attacks on Israeli army posts and military vehicles and personnel in areas near the border throughout Saturday.

Israel said its soldiers struck a cell attempting to fire anti-tank missiles toward the area of Shlomi, an Israeli town some 70 kilometres from Margaliot.

The Palestinian group Islamic Jihad, which also has a presence in southern Lebanon, separately said one of its members was killed in Saturday’s fighting.

– Reuters

4:50 p.m. ET

Hezbollah official says his group already ‘is in the heart’ of Israel-Hamas war

A top official with Hezbollah vowed that Israel will pay a high price whenever it starts a ground offensive in the Gaza Strip and said Saturday that his militant group based in Lebanon already is “in the heart of the battle.”

The comments were made by Hezbollah’s deputy leader, Sheik Naim Qassem, as Israel shelled southern Lebanon and employed drone strikes and Hezbollah fired rockets and missiles toward Israel. Hezbollah said six of its fighters were killed Saturday, the highest daily toll since the violence began two weeks ago.

For Hezbollah, heating up the Lebanon-Israel border has a clear purpose, Sheik Qassem said: “We are trying to weaken the Israeli enemy and let them know that we are ready.” Hamas officials have said that if Israel starts a ground offensive in Gaza, Hezbollah will join the fighting.

– The Associated Press

4:40 p.m. ET

Israel calls Hamas assertion that it rejected hostage release ‘propaganda’

Israel on Saturday described as “propaganda” an assertion by Hamas that the militant group had wanted to release two more hostages on humanitarian grounds but that Israel declined to receive them.

Abu Ubaida, spokesman for Hamas’s armed wing, said it informed Qatar of the group’s intention to release the two additional people on Friday, the same day it freed Americans Judith Tai Raanan and her daughter Natalie.

In a later statement, the spokesman said Hamas was ready to free the two people on Sunday “using the same procedures” involved in the release of Judith and Natalie.

The Palestinian group abducted more than 200 people during its deadly rampage in southern Israel on Oct. 7. Qatar, which helped mediate Friday’s release, had no immediate comment.

– Reuters

4:05 p.m. ET

Israel says it will increase attacks on Gaza

Israel plans to step up its attacks on the Gaza Strip starting Saturday as preparation for the next stage of its war on Hamas, Israel’s military spokesman says.

Asked about a possible ground invasion into Gaza, Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari told reporters Saturday night that the military was trying to create optimal conditions beforehand.

“We will deepen our attacks to minimize the dangers to our forces in the next stages of the war. We are going to increase the attacks, from today,” Rear Adm. Hagari said.

He repeated his call for residents of Gaza City to head south for their safety.

– The Associated Press

Watch: Israeli strikes hammer Gaza as first trucks bringing aid cross border

3:35 p.m. ET

Hamas says Israel declined to receive two hostages it intended to release

A spokesman for the armed wing of Hamas said on Saturday that the group intended to release two more hostages for “humanitarian reasons,” but that Israel had declined to receive them.

Abu Ubaida, the spokesman for the al-Qassam Brigades, said in a brief statement that it informed Qatar on Friday of Hamas’s intention to release the two people.

– Reuters

2:35 p.m. ET

UN aid chief says second convoy for Gaza could lead to sustained relief

Open this photo in gallery:

This aerial view shows humanitarian aid trucks crossing into the Palestinian side of the Rafah border crossing with northeastern Egypt's North Sinai province, in the southern Gaza Strip on October 21, 2023.BELAL AL SABBAGH/AFP/Getty Images

The United Nations is hoping a second convoy of trucks will be sent into Gaza on Sunday under a light inspection system that will allow relief deliveries to scale up into next week, its humanitarian chief said.

A first convoy of 20 trucks arrived in Gaza through the Rafah crossing with Egypt on Saturday, but efforts to deliver supplies to the besieged enclave have been held up by Israeli demands to verify aid.

The 20-truck convoy was announced by U.S. President Joe Biden after a trip to Israel on Wednesday and was not subject to inspection of the kind that officials say will be needed for continuous deliveries.

“I’ve been hearing this afternoon – but we’re in negotiation on it right now – that we may get another convoy tomorrow, maybe even slightly bigger, 20 to 30 trucks,” UN aid chief Martin Griffiths said in an interview on the sidelines of a conference about Gaza in Cairo.

“It’s incredibly important that there is no gap in the aid going across the border,” he said. The UN says 100 trucks daily are needed to meet essential needs in Gaza, where Israel has imposed a “total siege” as it bombards the enclave in retaliation for a deadly incursion by Hamas militants.

– Reuters

1:25 p.m. ET

Canada commits to spend $50-million on humanitarian aid for the Gaza Strip

The Canadian government announced today it will provide an additional $50-million for humanitarian assistance in the Gaza Strip and neighbouring areas.

International Development Minister Ahmed Hussen issued a statement saying the government will ensure none of the money goes to Hamas, the militant group that launched a series of terror attacks on Israel two weeks ago.

Mr. Hussen said the money will be used to provide the Palestinian population with food, water, medical assistance, protection services and other life-saving aid.

The new funding is in addition to $10-million Canada committed last week for humanitarian assistance in Gaza.

Mr. Hussen made the announcement from Cairo, where he is attending a peace summit with Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly. In an earlier joint statement, the ministers said they plan to reiterate Canada’s condemnation of the attacks while also highlighting Ottawa’s concerns over the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Gaza, which is home to more than two million people.

– The Canadian Press

1:15 p.m. ET

U.S. Secretary of State tells Lebanon its people would be affected if country drawn into Mideast conflict

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken told Lebanon’s caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati it was important to respect the interests of his people, who would be affected if the country were drawn into Mideast conflict, the State Department said on Saturday.

Spokesperson Matthew Miller said the call took place on Friday. Blinken also affirmed U.S. support for the Lebanese people and noted growing concern over rising tensions along Lebanon’s southern border, Miller said in a statement.

– Reuters

1:10 p.m. ET

Hezbollah official says his group already ‘is in the heart’ of Israel-Hamas war

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Smoke rises from inside an Israeli army position which was hit by Hezbollah fighters as seen from Tair Harfa village, a Lebanese border village with Israel, south Lebanon, Friday, Oct. 20, 2023.Hassan Ammar/The Associated Press

A top official with Hezbollah vowed that Israel will pay a high price whenever it starts a ground offensive in the Gaza Strip and said Saturday that his militant group based in Lebanon already is “in the heart of the battle.”

The comments by Hezbollah’s deputy leader, Sheik Naim Qassem, came as Israel shelled and used drone strikes in southern Lebanon and Hezbollah fired rockets and missiles toward Israel. Hamas officials have said that if Israel starts a ground offensive in Gaza, Hezbollah will join the fighting.

There are concerns that Iran-backed Hezbollah, which has a weapons arsenal consisting of tens of thousands of rockets and missiles as well as different types of drones, might try to open a new front in the Israel-Hamas war with a large-scale attack on northern Israel.

Sheik Qassem said his group, which is allied with Hamas, already was affecting the course of the conflict by heating up the Lebanon-Israel border and keeping three Israeli army divisions tied up in the north instead of preparing to fight in Gaza.

An Associated Press journalist in south Lebanon reported hearing loud explosions Saturday along the border, close to the Mediterranean coast. Hezbollah said its fighters attacked several Israeli positions and also targeted an Israeli infantry force, “scoring direct hits.”

Lebanon’s state-run National News Agency reported Israeli shelling of several villages and said a car took a direct hit in the village of Houla. On Saturday evening, shelling intensified around an Israeli army post across from the Lebanese village of Yaroun.

Hezbollah said one of its fighters was killed Saturday, raising the total of Lebanese militants killed to 14 since Oct. 7.

– The Associated Press

12:45 p.m. ET

Qatari minister stresses continuing co-ordination with U.S. to release hostages

Qatari’s foreign minister stressed that it was continuing the co-ordination with U.S. and international partners to release hostages and reduce escalation in the Gaza Strip, the foreign ministry said in a statement of Saturday.

Sheik Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani spoke to his U.S. counterpart, Antony Blinken, in a phone call on Saturday.

Hamas on Friday freed Americans Judith Tai Raanan, 59, and her daughter Natalie, 17, who were among the more than 200 abducted in the assault on southern Israel by Hamas this month. Hamas said it acted in part “for humanitarian reasons” in response to Qatari mediation.

– Reuters

12:05 p.m. ET

Cairo Peace Summit ends without Gaza breakthrough

Arab leaders at a Cairo summit on Saturday condemned Israeli bombardment of Gaza as Europeans said civilians should be shielded. But with Israel and senior U.S. officials absent, there was no agreement toward containing the violence.

Egypt, which called the meeting, said it had hoped participants would call for peace and resume efforts to resolve the decades-long Palestinian quest for statehood. But the meeting ended without leaders and foreign ministers agreeing to a joint statement, two weeks into a conflict that has killed thousands and brought a humanitarian catastrophe on the blockaded Gaza enclave of 2.3 million people.

Diplomats attending the talks had not been optimistic of a breakthrough, with Israel preparing a ground invasion of Gaza aimed at wiping out the militant Palestinian group Hamas that rampaged through its towns on Oct. 7, killing more than 1,400 people people. Gaza’s health ministry said on Saturday that Israel’s air and missile strikes had killed at least 4,385 Palestinians since the Hamas attack.

While Arab and Muslim states called for an immediate end to Israel’s offensive, Western countries mostly voiced more modest goals such as humanitarian relief for civilians.

The meeting was meant to explore how to head off a wider regional war. But diplomats knew public agreement would be hard because of sensitivities around calls for a ceasefire, whether to include mention of Hamas’s attack and Israel’s right to defend itself.

Arab states fear the offensive could drive Gaza residents permanently from their homes and even into neighbouring states – as happened when Palestinians fled or were forced from their homes in the 1948 war after Israel’s creation.

– Reuters

11:50 a.m. ET
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President Joe Biden addresses the U.S. on the conflict between Israel and Gaza from the Oval Office of the White House in Washington on Oct. 19, 2023.JONATHAN ERNST/AFP/Getty Images

‘I am a Zionist’: How Joe Biden’s lifelong bond with Israel shapes war policy

When Joe Biden met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his war cabinet during his visit to Israel, the U.S. President assured them: “I don’t believe you have to be a Jew to be a Zionist, and I am a Zionist.”

Mr. Biden, who is of Irish-Catholic descent, has used similar words in the past to profess his affinity for Israel. But the moment, which has not been previously reported, illustrates how Mr. Biden’s decades as one of the leading “Friends of Israel” in American politics seem to be guiding him during a defining crisis of his presidency.

It also underscores the challenges he faces balancing unwavering support for Israel with persuading Mr. Netanyahu – with whom he has a long history – to avoid worsening the civilian death toll and humanitarian meltdown in Gaza as well as complicating further releases of American hostages.

In their private session with aides on Wednesday, the two leaders displayed none of the tensions that have sometimes characterized their meetings, according to a second U.S. official familiar with the talks.

But Mr. Biden did pose hard questions to Mr. Netanyahu about the coming offensive, including “have you thought through what comes the day after and the day after that?” the official said. U.S. and regional sources have expressed doubt that Israel, which vows to destroy Hamas, has yet crafted an endgame.

Mr. Biden’s alignment with the right-wing leader risks alienating some progressives in his Democratic Party as he seeks re-election in 2024, with a growing international outcry against Israel’s tactics also casting some blame on the U.S. It also has prompted many Palestinians and others in the Arab world to regard Mr. Biden as too biased in favour of Israel to act as an even-handed peace broker.

– Reuters

11 a.m. ET

Israel will try not to strike zones where humanitarian aid is being delivered unless rockets fired from area, IDF official says

A senior Israel Defence Forces official says the military will try not to strike zones in Gaza where humanitarian aid is being distributed, unless rockets are fired from the area.

”It’s a safe zone. We have a system which every time we decide that an area … is a safe zone, we declare no attack in this area. We won’t attack them,” he told a group of foreign journalists.

He added that the definition of what constitutes a “legitimate target” has changed, because the use of civilian infrastructure by Hamas “turns a private home into a legitimate target. And anyone who supports that home is a legitimate target.”

He acknowledged that the IDF has attacked houses where there are civilians living among militants.

– The Associated Press

10:30 a.m. ET

Hamas says it won’t discuss fate of Israeli army captives until end of ‘aggression’ on Gaza

Hamas said on Saturday that it won’t discuss the fate of Israeli army captives until Israel ends its “aggression” on the Gaza Strip.

“Our stance with regards to Israeli army captives is clear: it’s related to a (possible) exchange of prisoners, and we will not discuss it until Israel ends its aggression on Gaza and Palestinians,” Hamas official Osama Hamdan, speaking from Lebanon, told a televised news conference.

– Reuters

10 a.m. ET

Zelensky discusses Middle East, Ukraine peace formula in call with Turkey’s Erdogan

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky talked with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Saturday, Mr. Zelensky said, in a call where the two men discussed Ukraine’s peace formula, food security and the situation in the Middle East.

“We discussed the next round of negotiations on the peace formula, which will take place in Malta. Turkey will participate, adding its authoritative voice and position,” Mr. Zelensky wrote on Telegram.

“We also discussed the situation in the Middle East and agreed on the need to ensure the protection of civilians and respect for humanitarian law,” he added.

– Reuters

9:45 a.m. ET

Ottawa prepares for evacuation of Canadians from Lebanon; could be largest civilian evacuation in Canada’s history

Canada is preparing for what could end up being the biggest civilian evacuation in its history, one that is raising questions about the country’s obligations to its overseas passport holders before it has even begun.

Tens of thousands of Canadian citizens live in Lebanon, where fear of a looming war between the powerful militant group Hezbollah and Israel – in the wake of its war with Hamas – has driven airlines to cancel flights and some embassies to begin evacuating staff and diplomats.

The Canadian government, like others, has issued increasingly strong warnings against travel to Lebanon, and has urged those already in the country to leave while commercial travel is available.

At the same time, Canada’s military and diplomats have begun intensive preparation for an evacuation whose necessity has yet to be determined – but which could become the largest in Canada’s history, a title currently held by the last Lebanon evacuation, in 2006. More than 14,500 Canadians in Lebanon have registered with the government, although the total number of Canadians in the country is believed to be several times that.

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– Nathan VanderKlippe

9 a.m. ET

First aid trucks enter Gaza from Egypt

The border crossing between Egypt and Gaza opened on Saturday to let desperately needed aid flow to Palestinians for the first time since Israel sealed off the territory after Hamas's attack on Israel two weeks ago.

The Associated Press

8:05 a.m. ET

Arabs condemn Israel’s Gaza bombardment, urge fresh peace push

Arab leaders condemned Israel’s two-week-old bombardment of Gaza on Saturday at a gathering of Western and other leaders and demanded renewed efforts to end a decades-long cycle of violence between Israelis and Palestinians.

They were addressing a hastily arranged gathering dubbed the Cairo Peace Summit that included leaders and foreign ministers from Europe, Africa and beyond. But a senior European Union official said earlier that it was unclear if any common declaration would be reached given “differences” between the participants.

The United States, Israel’s closest ally and a vital player in all past efforts toward peace in the region, only sent the charge d’affaires of its embassy in Cairo, as a conflict between Israel and Palestinian Islamist group Hamas in Gaza rages.

Jordan’s King Abdullah denounced what he termed global silence about Israel’s attacks, which have killed thousands in Hamas-ruled Gaza and made more than a million homeless, and urged an even-handed approach to the Mideast conflict.

– Reuters

8 a.m. ET

First aid convoy enters Gaza, but is seen as ‘a drop in the ocean of need’

A small convoy of relief supplies has entered the besieged Gaza Strip for the first time since the beginning of the Israel-Hamas war, but humanitarian workers say it is a tiny fraction of what will be needed every day to avert a greater disaster in the Palestinian territory.

The first humanitarian convoy crossed from Egypt into Gaza on Saturday morning, but it had only 20 trucks in it, compared with a minimum of 100 daily trucks that Gaza needs, according to United Nations officials. It is unclear whether aid will flow again on Sunday and whether the trickle of aid will increase.

The territory of 2.3 million people is rapidly running out of water, food, medicine and fuel as Israel continues to bombard it with missiles. Israel has kept Gaza under siege since Oct. 7, when hundreds of Hamas gunmen from Gaza killed an estimated 1,400 people in southern Israel and abducted more than 200 others.

– Geoffrey York

7:50 a.m. ET

Palestinian Health Ministry concerned over exclusion of fuel from aid reaching Gaza

The Palestinian Health Ministry in Gaza issued a statement stressing that the exclusion of fuel from humanitarian aid reaching the enclave will leave the lives of the sick and wounded in danger.

“We appeal to the international community and Egypt to work immediately to bring in fuel and emergency health needs before more victims are lost in hospitals,” the statement said.

– Reuters

7:45 a.m. ET

Egypt’s border crossing opens to let a trickle of desperately needed aid into besieged Gaza

The border crossing between Egypt and Gaza opened on Saturday to let a trickle of desperately needed aid into the besieged Palestinian territory for the first time since Israel sealed it off in the wake of Hamas’s bloody rampage two weeks ago.

Gaza’s 2.3 million Palestinians, half of whom have fled their homes, are rationing food and drinking dirty water. Hospitals say they are running low on medical supplies and fuel for emergency generators amid a territorywide power blackout. Israel is still launching waves of air strikes across Gaza that have destroyed entire neighbourhoods, as Hamas militants fire rocket barrages into Israel.

The opening came after more than a week of high-level diplomacy by various mediators, including visits to the region by U.S. President Joe Biden and United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres. Israel had insisted that nothing would enter Gaza until Hamas released all of the captives from its attack, and the Palestinian side of the crossing had been shut down by Israeli air strikes.

Egypt’s state-owned Al-Qahera news, which is close to security agencies, said just 20 trucks had crossed into Gaza on Saturday, out of more than 200 trucks carrying roughly 3,000 tonnes of aid that have been positioned near the crossing for days. Hundreds of foreign passport holders hoping to escape the conflict were not allowed to cross into Egypt.

– The Associated Press

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