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People carry a wounded person after Israeli airstrikes in the Maghazi Palestinian refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip. Alamy Stock Photo

Israeli strike on Gaza refugee camp kills four people as Hamas casts doubt on new truce talks

Meanwhile, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is set to undergo surgery for a hernia today.


ISRAEL CONTINUED ITS relentless bombardment of Gaza overnight as fighting between its forces and Hamas raged on in spite of Monday’s UN Security Council resolution calling for an immediate ceasefire in the conflict as well as the release of hostages. 

At least 75 people were killed overnight in new Israeli bombardment and ground combat, most of them women and children, according to the Gaza health ministry.

An Israeli air strike has hit a tent camp inside a hospital in central Gaza today, killing four Palestinians and injuring another 15.

The strike hit one of several tents in the courtyard of Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital in Deir al-Balah, where thousands of people have been sheltering for months after fleeing their homes elsewhere.

Journalists were working from tents nearby, and an Associated Press reporter witnessed the strike and aftermath. There was no immediate comment from the Israeli military.

Tens of thousands of people have sought shelter in Gaza’s hospitals since the start of the war, viewing them as relatively safe from air strikes. Israel accuses Hamas and other militants of operating in and around medical facilities, and troops have raided a number of hospitals.

Israel’s campaign has killed at least 32,782 people, mostly women and children, according to the Gaza health ministry.

Today the Israeli military claimed it had discovered weapons hidden in Gaza’s Shifa hospital.

palestinians-carry-a-wounded-person-following-an-israeli-airstrike-near-the-al-aqsa-hospital-in-deir-al-balah-gaza-strip-sunday-march-31-2024-ap-photoabdel-kareem-hana Palestinians carry a wounded person following an Israeli airstrike near the Al Aqsa hospital in Deir al Balah, Gaza Strip Alamy Stock Photo Alamy Stock Photo

Sleeping in Gaza like ‘lying in a coffin’

While Israel has continued to deny it is blocking humanitarian aid from entering Gaza, UN officials have again said that there are hundreds of trucks full of food and basic necessities waiting on “the wrong side of the border”. 

“We could turn this humanitarian crisis around in a matter of days,” said UNICEF spokesperson James Elder, pointing to an older crossing that remains closed. 

“You lie in bed and the building shakes and you feel like you’re lying in a coffin,” said Elder, speaking from Gaza’s southernmost city of Rafah, told ABC News on earlier this week. 

Elder was in Jabalia refugee camp today, where he said tens of thousands of people were crowding the streets, making the universal gesture for food by raising their hands to their mouths. 

“When I came into the Gaza Strip just over a week ago, there were hundreds of trucks of life-saving humanitarian aid waiting to get to these people in need but on the wrong side of the border,” Elder said. 

UN agencies and humanitarian NGOs have repeatedly warned in recent weeks of the threat of famine, particularly in the north of Gaza where deliveries of aid have often resulted in deaths due to Israeli attacks, stampedes and chaos caused by starving people desperate for food. 

“The north remains a total blockade and is inaccessible. We have enough evidence that shows there is ongoing starvation,” the UN’s food and agriculture body said. 

Truce talks up in the air

Talks towards a truce between Israel and Hamas were expected to resume in Cairo today, according to Egyptian state television. However, a Hamas official told the AFP news agency that the group had not yet decided if it would travel to Cairo for fresh ceasefire negotiations. 

“There is no indication or decision yet within Hamas regarding sending a Hamas delegation to a new round of negotiations in Cairo or Doha,” the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told AFP.

The official added the gap between the two sides’ negotiating positions was too wide.

“I doubt that there will be any progress in these negotiations because the positions are too far apart,” said the official.

“Netanyahu is not serious and not interested, and the US administration is not exerting real pressure as long as it judges that things are still under control,” he added.

Meanwhile, Netanyahu is set to undergo surgery for a hernia today. 

Deputy Prime Minister and Justice Minister Yariv Levin will stand in while Netanyahu, 74, undergoes full anaesthesia, his office said.

It added that doctors had discovered the hernia yesterday during a routine checkup, and that after consultations the decision was made for the premier to undergo surgery after completing his daily schedule.

Relatives and supporters of hostages held by Hamas have held regular protests, including last night in Tel Aviv, where police used water cannon against demonstrators who lit fires and blocked highways.

“Prime minister, on behalf of the hostage men and women, on behalf of the people of Israel, give the negotiators in Qatar the order: Do not return without a deal,” said Raz Ben Ami, a survivor of Hamas captivity.

Anti-government demonstrators and hostage supporters planned to rally again Sunday evening outside the Knesset, the parliament in Jerusalem, and every night until Wednesday, said organisers.

tel-aviv-israel-30th-mar-2024-an-israeli-protestor-holds-up-his-flag-as-he-is-being-targeted-by-a-police-water-canon-during-a-protest-in-tel-aviv-saturday-march-30-2024-on-saturday-tens-of-thou An Israeli protestor holds up his flag as he is being targeted by a police water canon during a protest in Tel Aviv Saturday, March 30 Alamy Stock Photo Alamy Stock Photo

Pope calls for ceasefire during Easter mass

Pope Francis led some 30,000 people in Easter celebrations in the Vatican today, making a strong appeal for a ceasefire in Gaza.

“Peace is never made with weapons, but with outstretched hands and open hearts,” Francis said, to applause from the wind-swept crowd below.

Francis said his thoughts went particularly to people in Ukraine and Gaza and all those facing war, particularly the children who he said had “forgotten how to smile”.

pope-francis-bestows-the-urbi-et-orbi-to-the-city-and-to-the-world-blessing-from-the-central-lodge-of-the-st-peters-basilica-at-the-vatican-sunday-march-31-2024-ap-photoandrew-medichini Pope Francis bestows the 'Urbi et Orbi' (To the city and to the world) blessing from the central lodge of the St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican today. Alamy Alamy

He said: “In calling for respect for the principles of international law, I express my hope for a general exchange of all prisoners between Russia and Ukraine: all for the sake of all.”

He called for the “prompt” release of prisoners taken from Israel on 7 October, an immediate ceasefire in Gaza and for humanitarian access to reach Palestinians.

“Let us not allow the current hostilities to continue to have grave repercussions on the civil population, by now at the limit of its endurance, and above all on the children,” he said.

Includes reporting from Press Association and AFP