The Latest | Palestinians mark 76 years of their dispossession as more catastrophe looms in Gaza

Palestinians are marking 76 years of dispossession on Wednesday, commemorating their mass expulsion from what is today Israel, as a potentially even larger catastrophe unfolds in Gaza, where more than half a million of people have been displaced in recent days by fighting.
Palestinians are marking 76 years of dispossession
Palestinians are marking 76 years of dispossession

Jerusalem | Palestinians are marking 76 years of dispossession on Wednesday, commemorating their mass expulsion from what is today Israel, as a potentially even larger catastrophe unfolds in Gaza, where more than half a million of people have been displaced in recent days by fighting.

Israel has been pressing its military operations in Rafah, a city along Gaza's southern border with Egypt, and in northern Gaza, where Hamas has regrouped. Around 450,000 Palestinians have been driven out of Rafah over the past week, the UN agency for Palestinian refugees said Tuesday. In northern Gaza, Israeli evacuation orders have displaced at least 100,000 people so far.

Some 80 per cent of Gaza's population of 2.3 million Palestinians have fled their homes since the start of the war, with many relocating multiple times.

No food has entered the two main border crossings in southern Gaza for the past week. Some 1.1 million Palestinians are on the brink of starvation, according to the UN, while a “full-blown famine” is taking place in the north of the territory.

Israel has portrayed Rafah as the last Hamas stronghold, brushing off warnings from the United States and other allies that any major operation there would be catastrophic for civilians.

Seven months of the war have killed more than 35,000 people in Gaza, most of them women and children, according to local health officials.

The war began October 7 when Hamas attacked southern Israel, killing around 1,200 people there, mostly civilians, and taking about 250 hostage. Israel says militants still hold around 100 hostages and the remains of more than 30 others.

Currently:

— The Biden administration is sending USD 1 billion more in weapons and ammo to Israel, congressional aides say.

— Palestinians mark 76 years of dispossession from present-day Israel, a sombre Nakba, which is Arabic for catastrophe.

— Some social media users take to a “blockout” of celebrities to pressure them to take a stand over the crisis in Gaza.

— Israelis mark a subdued Independence Day under the shadow of the war in Gaza.

— Amsterdam university cancels classes after violence erupted at a pro-Palestinian rally.

Here's the latest:

EGYPT SLAMS ISRAEL'S TOP DIPLOMAT FOR BLAMING THE CLOSING OF GAZA'S RAFAH CROSSING ON CAIRO CAIRO

Egypt has blasted comments by Israel's top diplomat in which he blamed the Arab country for the closure of the Rafah border crossing with the Gaza Strip.

Egypt has expressed mounting frustration with Israel's seizure of the Palestinian side of the crossing last week, saying it threatens the two countries' decades-old peace treaty.

Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry said Israel “is responsible for the humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip.” “We reject the policy of distorting the facts,” Shoukry said in a statement on Tuesday, denouncing Israel's “desperate attempts” to blame Egypt.

He said Israel's incursion into Rafah was the main reason aid cannot enter through the crossing and called for Israel to allow more aid through its own crossings.

Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz said Tuesday that there was a “need to persuade Egypt to reopen the Rafah crossing to allow the continued delivery of international humanitarian aid to Gaza.” “The world places the responsibility for the humanitarian situation on Israel, but the key to preventing a humanitarian crisis in Gaza is now in the hands of our Egyptian friends.”

Egypt has played a key role in mediation efforts aimed at brokering a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas and the release of hostages. It has also expressed fears that the humanitarian crisis could send a mass influx of Palestinians across the border into its Sinai Peninsula.

ISRAELI DRONE STRIKE IN SOUTHERN LEBANON KILLS A HEZBOLLAH COMMANDER BEIRUT

An Israeli drone strike on a car in southern Lebanon has killed a local Hezbollah commander, the militant group said Wednesday.

The Israeli military released a video of the strike along a main road near the southern port city of Tyre, saying that the Hezbollah commander had planned and carried out several attacks against Israel.

Hezbollah said 55-year-old Hussein Makki was killed late Tuesday without, giving further details. Lebanon's emergency responders said the strike also wounded two people who were taken to a hospital. They said a fire that broke out as a result of the strike was extinguished and that the body of one person was recovered at the scene.

Since the Israel-Hamas war broke out on October 7, Hezbollah has launched near-daily attacks on Israel, drawing return fire. Israel's military has managed to kill a number of local Hezbollah commanders.

Israeli airstrikes and shelling, mainly in southern Lebanon, have killed nearly 400 people, most of them militants, but also more than 70 civilians and noncombatants. In Israel, the violence has left at least 15 soldiers and 10 civilians dead.

Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah in a speech on Monday reiterated his group's stance that it would keep up its strikes until Israel ends the war in Gaza.

UN AGENCY SAYS ISRAELI PROTESTERS SET FIRE TO THE PERIMETER OF ITS HEADQUARTERS IN EAST JERUSALEM JERUSALEM

The UN agency for Palestinian refugees says Israeli protesters have again set fire to the perimeter of its headquarters in east Jerusalem.

Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini wrote on the social media platform X that “Israeli children and young people” had orchestrated an “arson attempt” on the facility on Monday night.

He shared video footage from Israeli media appearing to show small brush fires along the perimeter of the compound. Adam Bouloukos, an UNRWA official, said staff were present in the facility but no one was injured.

UNRWA spokesperson Juliette Touma said the compound had just reopened after a previous round of demonstrations outside the facility last week. Young protesters had twice set fire to the perimeter and hurled stones at UNRWA staff attempting to put out the blazes.

Touma said the compound is staying open for now.

The demonstrations began after Israel accused UNRWA, the largest provider of humanitarian aid to Gaza, of having links to Hamas and other Palestinian militants. UNRWA denies the allegations. An independent investigation found that the agency had “robust procedures” to ensure its neutrality but that there were some gaps in implementation.

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