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Tel Aviv

Hamas launches barrage of rockets, aid trucks enter Gaza, Israelis protest demanding release of hostages

There were no immediate reports of casualties or damage in what appeared to be the first long-range rocket attack from Gaza since January.

HAMAS FIRED a barrage of rockets from Gaza that set off air raid sirens as far away as Tel Aviv for the first time in months in a show of resilience more than seven months into Israel’s massive air, sea and ground offensive.

There were no immediate reports of casualties or damage in what appeared to be the first long-range rocket attack from Gaza since January. Palestinian militants have continued to sporadically fire rockets and mortar rounds at communities along the Gaza border since then.

Hamas’s military wing claimed responsibility for the attack, and rocket launches could be heard in central Gaza.

The Israeli military said eight projectiles crossed into Israel after being launched from the area of the southern Gaza city of Rafah, where Israeli forces recently launched an incursion. It said “a number” of the projectiles were intercepted.

Earlier today, aid trucks entered Gaza from southern Israel through a new agreement to bypass the Rafah crossing with Egypt after Israeli forces seized the Palestinian side of it earlier this month.

But it is unclear if humanitarian groups will be able to access the aid because of ongoing fighting in the area.

War Cabinet

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is due to convene his war cabinet later today, a senior official told AFP, amid intense diplomacy to forge a Gaza truce and hostage release deal.

In Brussels, the European Union’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell told journalists before meeting the Palestinian premier that a strong Palestinian Authority (PA) was in Israel’s interest.

EU members Ireland and Spain, and also Norway, have said they will recognise the State of Palestine from Tuesday, drawing furious Israeli condemnation.

Palestine’s ambassador to Ireland has said she is looking forward to seeing their flag flown over Leinster House on Tuesday.

Dr Jilan Wahba Abdalmajid said it was “a very special day” when Taoiseach Simon Harris announced Ireland recognises the state of Palestine.

She said: “I know that with all that’s going on with Palestine and against the Palestinian people, we felt it’s a light out of this dark tunnel.”

The move has sparked serious condemnation from Israel, resulting in a diplomatic row which has seen senior Israeli ministers posting videos saying Ireland support Hamas, and Ireland’s ambassador being reprimanded.


Egypt refuses to reopen its side of the Rafah crossing until control of the Gaza side is handed back to Palestinians. It agreed to temporarily divert traffic through Israel’s Kerem Shalom crossing, Gaza’s main cargo terminal, after a call between US President Joe Biden and his Egyptian counterpart Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi.

But that crossing has been largely inaccessible because of fighting linked to Israel’s offensive in the nearby city of Rafah. Israel says it has allowed hundreds of trucks to enter, but United Nations agencies say it is usually too dangerous to retrieve the aid on the other side.

The war between Israel and Hamas, now in its eighth month, has killed nearly 36,000 Palestinians, according to local health officials. Around 80% of the population’s 2.3 million people have fled their homes, severe hunger is widespread and UN officials say parts of the territory are experiencing famine.

Hamas triggered the war with its 7 October attack into Israel, in which militants killed some 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and seized 250 hostages.

Hamas is still holding some 100 hostages and the remains of around 30 others after most of the rest were released during a ceasefire last year.

Hamas also claims to have captured an Israeli soldier during recent fighting in northern Gaza and released a video late on Saturday showing a wounded man being dragged through a tunnel.

The Israeli military denied any of its soldiers had been captured, and Hamas did not provide any other evidence to substantiate its claim.


Meanwhile, in the space of a week, the Israeli army announced the death of eight hostages who had been presumed to be alive – five Israelis, two Thais and a French-Mexican dual national.

The sister of an Israeli hostage whose body was recovered from Gaza last week struck a solemn tone today as she laid him to rest after thousands attended his funeral.

“I feared this ending but I wanted so much for it to end differently,” Avivit Yablonka told AFP at the funeral of her brother Chanan.

Chanan (42) was murdered on 7 October while trying to escape from the Nova music festival where at least 364 people were killed.

His body was taken to the Gaza Strip by militants but was retrieved on Friday by Israeli troops after spending 230 days in captivity.

The army also retrieved seven bodies – including Chanan’s – that had been held in Gaza since October 7. Hopes have since faded among the families of other hostages whose whereabouts are unknown.

Dozens of hostage relatives gathered outside the home of Chanan’s parents for a silent procession to Tel Aviv’s Kiryat Shaul cemetery, accompanied by thousands waving Israeli flags.

The Yablonka family had urged people to join the march in solidarity with the hostages.

“We have to bring everyone back – this march is for him and for the release of all the hostages,” Avivit said.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is facing growing pressure from the public at home to make a deal with Hamas to free the remaining hostages, something Hamas has refused to do without guarantees for an end to the war and the full withdrawal of Israeli troops. Netanyahu and other Israeli leaders have ruled that out.

Scuffles broke out between Israeli police and protesters in Tel Aviv on Saturday night after thousands gathered to demonstrate against the government and demand the return of the hostages. The protesters called for Netanyahu’s resignation and demanded an election.

200 aid trucks

Earlier today, Egypt’s state-run Al-Qahera TV aired footage of what it said were trucks entering Gaza through Kerem Shalom.

Khaled Zayed, head of the Egyptian Red Crescent in the Sinai Peninsula, which handles the delivery of aid from the Egyptian side of the Rafah crossing, said 200 aid trucks and four fuel trucks are scheduled to be sent to Kerem Shalom.

A few dozen trucks have also been entering Gaza daily through a US-built floating pier, but its capacity remains far below the 150 trucks a day that officials had hoped for.

Aid groups say the territory needs a total of 600 trucks a day to meet colossal humanitarian needs.

The Gaza Health Ministry said on Sunday that the bodies of 81 people killed by Israeli strikes had been brought to local hospitals over the past 24 hours.

That brings the overall Palestinian death toll from the war to at least 35,984. The ministry does not distinguish between civilians and fighters in its count.

The Israeli government has said 14,000 militants and 16,000 civilians have been killed in Gaza since the start of the war, without providing evidence.

With reporting from AFP

Press Association