Aid reaches northern Gaza as Israel and Hamas consider truce talks

By Thomson Reuters Mar 17, 2024 | 6:32 AM

By Nidal al-Mughrabi

CAIRO (Reuters) – Trucks of flour have reached northern Gaza for distribution to areas that have had no aid in four months, Palestinian media reported on Sunday, with famine looming in the enclave and truce talks between Israel and Hamas due to resume in Qatar.

A convoy of 12 trucks arrived in the north on Saturday – six in Gaza City and six in the Jabalia refugee camp – carrying supplies to also be distributed to the northernmost areas of Beit Lahiya and Beit Hanoun, the media and residents said.

The Hamas-linked Home Front media outlet reported that the aid was distributed by the “Popular Committees”, a group that includes leaders of powerful clans in Gaza. A Hamas source said the route was secured by Hamas security personnel.

Aid agencies have warned that pockets of Gaza already face famine, with hospitals in the north reporting children dying of malnutrition and dehydration.

The hunger crisis has piled international pressure on Israel more than five months into its ground and air campaign in Gaza, triggered by the Oct. 7 Hamas attack, with more talks for a ceasefire and hostage exchange expected in the coming days.

Hamas killed around 1,200 people in its attack and seized 253 hostages, according to Israeli tallies. Israel’s military campaign in Gaza has now killed more than 31,500 Palestinians according to health authorities in Hamas-run Gaza.

An Israeli strike overnight killed 12 people in one house in Deir al-Balah in the centre of the tiny, crowded Gaza Strip, the health ministry said, among 92 people it said had been killed in the previous 24 hours.

Israel’s stated war aim is to wipe out Hamas, and it has said this can only be achieved with an assault on Rafah on the border with Egypt, the last relatively safe place for civilians who have flocked to camps there from other parts of Gaza.

Israel’s Western allies have warned it against attacking Rafah, however, unless it is able to protect civilians. But Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said on Friday he had approved plans for an assault.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said on Sunday after talks with Jordanian King Abdullah in Jordan that the large number of civilian casualties that would result from such an assault would make regional peace “very difficult”.


A source familiar with the truce talks in Qatar told Reuters the head of Israel’s Mossad intelligence agency would join the delegation attending the negotiations with Qatari, Egyptian and U.S. mediators and was expected in Doha on Sunday.

Hamas presented a new ceasefire proposal last week including an exchange of Israeli hostages and Palestinian prisoners. Israel’s security cabinet is to meet to discuss it before the delegation leaves.

Netanyahu has already said the proposal was based on “unrealistic demands”, but a Palestinian official familiar with mediation efforts said chances for a deal looked better with Hamas having given more details on the proposed prisoner swap.

“The mediators felt positive about Hamas’ new proposal. Some in Israel felt the group made some improvement on its previous position and it is now in the hands of Netanyahu alone to say whether an agreement is imminent,” said the official, who asked not to be named.

(Reporting by Nidal al-Mughrabi, Writing by Angus McDowall, Editing by Hugh Lawson)