Israel-Hamas war: Biden to announce aid port in Gaza

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. President Joe Biden will announce a plan Thursday for the U.S. military to help set up a temporary port on the Gaza coast to increase the flow of aid to the area during World War II. the war between Israel and Hamassenior government officials said.

The announcement comes amid an expansion humanitarian crisis in Gaza, forcing many people to fight for food to survive, leading to deaths from malnutrition.

Hopes for a ceasefire before the upcoming Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which begins in the coming days, foundered on Thursday when Hamas said its delegation had left Cairo, where talks on a deal were being held. The ceasefire plan would include a broad flow of aid to Gaza.

Aid groups have said so their efforts to deliver much-needed supplies to Gaza have been seriously hampered due to the difficulties in coordinating with the Israeli army, the ongoing hostilities and the breakdown of law and order. It’s even harder to get help for the isolated north.

The US officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity to preview Biden’s announcement ahead of his State of the Union address, said the planned operation will not require US troops on the ground to build the pier intended is to enable more transports of food and medicine. and other essential items.

Officials did not provide details on how the pier would be built. One noted that the U.S. military has “unique capabilities” and can do things “just offshore.” They said it would likely take weeks before the pier would be operational.

The port will allow cargoes from the US military and allies to flow through Cyprus to Gaza, government officials said.

This measure adds another layer to the extraordinary dynamic that has emerged as the United States has had to bypass Israel, its most important ally in the Middle East, and find ways to get aid into Gaza, including through air droplets that started last week.

Pressure on Israel to establish a sea route for aid has increased in recent days. The head of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, planned to visit Cyprus on Friday to inspect installations at the port of Larnaca, where aid is expected to flow to Gaza if a sea route is established. Israeli officials said on Wednesday that the country would help build a sea route from Cyprus, an idea that has been under discussion for months.

U.S. Gen. Erik Kurilla, head of U.S. Central Command, told the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee that he had briefed officials on such a maritime option. Kurilla said the Central Command has provided options to increase the number of trucks delivering aid to areas in northern Gaza.

International mediators had hoped to alleviate some of the immediate crisis with a six-week ceasefire, which would have seen Hamas free some Israeli hostages, Israel free some Palestinian prisoners and aid groups given access to a to get a solution. large flow of aid to Gaza.

Palestinian militants are believed to be holding about 100 hostages and the remains of 30 others Hamas’s October 7 attack on Israel that caused the war.

Egyptian officials said Hamas has agreed to key terms of such an agreement as a first phase, but wants commitments that it will eventually lead to a a more permanent ceasefire. They say Israel wants to limit negotiations to the more limited agreement.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the negotiations with the media. Both officials said mediators are still pressuring the two sides to soften their positions.

Hamas spokesman Jihad Taha said Israel “refuses to commit to and provide guarantees regarding the ceasefire, the return of the displaced persons and the withdrawal from the areas of its invasion.” But he said talks were still ongoing and would resume next week. There was no immediate comment from Israel.

Mediators had seen Ramadan, which is expected to start on Sunday, as an informal deadline for a deal because the month of fasting from sunrise to sunset often sees Israeli-Palestinian violence linked to access to an important holy site in Jerusalem. The war has already done that the wider area at the edgewith Iranian-backed groups trading fire with Israel and the United States.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has publicly rejected Hamas demands for an end to the war and said Israel plans to resume the offensive after a ceasefire and expand it to the busy southern city of Rafah and fight on until ‘total victory’. He has said military pressure will help secure the release of the hostages.

“The Israeli army will continue to operate against all Hamas battalions across the strip – and this includes Rafah, Hamas’s last stronghold,” Netanyahu said Friday at a graduation ceremony for combat officers. “Anyone who tells us not to operate in Rafah says we must lose the war. And that won’t happen.”

Hamas-led militants killed about 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and captured another 250 when they stormed the border on October 7. Last year, more than 100 hostages were released as part of a ceasefire.

Israel launched a massive air, land and sea campaign in Gaza, which has driven about 80% of the population from their homes and pushed hundreds of thousands of people to the brink of famine.

Gaza’s Ministry of Health says at least 30,717 Palestinians have been killed. It does not distinguish between civilians and combatants in its figures, but says that women and children account for about two-thirds of the deaths. The ministry, which is part of the Hamas-led government, keeps detailed records and casualty figures from previous wars are largely consistent with those reported by the UN and independent experts.

Israel says it has killed more than 13,000 Hamas fighters, without providing evidence. It blames Hamas for the high number of civilian casualties because its fighters operate in densely populated residential areas.

Gazas humanitarian crisis The situation is particularly dire in the north, where many of the estimated 300,000 people who still live there have been forced to eat cattle feed to survive. According to the UN, one in six children under the age of two in the North suffer from acute malnutrition.

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Sewell reported from Beirut and Magdy from Cairo.

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Find more of AP’s coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/israel-hamas-war

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