• Humanitarian issues will be Blinken’s top priority, says White House
• Pakistan sends another tranche of aid for residents of besieged enclaveGAZA STRIP: Israeli strikes across Gaza killed scores overnight as battles raged on Sunday in the besieged territory’s south and Hamas was reviewing a proposal for a halt in the nearly four-month-long war.
France’s top diplomat Stephane Sejourne began his first Middle East trip as foreign minister, aimed at pushing for a ceasefire and prisoner release, a ministry spokesman said, with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken also expected in the region in the coming days.
The health ministry in the Hamas-ruled territory said overnight Israeli strikes had killed at least 92 people.
An AFP journalist reported strikes and tank fire on Khan Yunis, southern Gaza’s main city, with some air raids also hitting further south in Rafah, a border city teeming with Palestinians displaced by the fighting since early October.
Israel has warned its ground forces could advance on Rafah, where hundreds of thousands of people seeking refuge from the fighting shelter in makeshift encampments.
The army said on Sunday its troops raided “a compound used by the commander of Hamas’s Khan Yunis brigade” and seized weapons, also confirming air and naval strikes on the city. It reported several fighters had been killed after attempting to attack Israeli troops.
With the war set to enter a fifth month on Wednesday, international mediators were pressing to seal a proposed truce deal thrashed out in a Paris meeting of top US, Israeli, Egyptian and Qatari officials.
But a top Hamas official in Lebanon, Osama Hamdan, said on Saturday that the proposed framework was missing some details.
The group needed more time to “announce our position”, Mr Hamdan said, “based on… our desire to put an end as quickly as possible to the aggression that our people suffer”.
Gaza humanitarian issues ‘top priority’
Meanwhile, White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan said on Sunday that humanitarian issues in Gaza will be a top priority for US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on his current trip to the region.
“The needs of the Palestinian people are something that are going to be front and center,” Mr Sullivan told the CBS programme “Face the Nation”. The United States believes it is vital to secure a deal to release the remaining hostages Hamas took during its attack and an accompanying humanitarian pause, Mr Sullivan said.
“This is in the national security interest of the United States. We are going to press for it relentlessly,” he said. “So this is a paramount priority for us.”
Pakistan’s aid to Gaza
The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), following the government’s directive, dispatched the fifth tranche of humanitarian assistance to the people of Gaza in coordination with the Al-Khidmat Foundation.
The tranche, transported by a Pakistan Airforce C-130 aircraft, marks Pakistan’s ongoing commitment to supporting the people of Gaza, a news release said, according to the APP news agency. This relief consignment comprises family tents, tarpaulins and blankets.
The humanitarian assistance flight destined for Gaza will land in Al-Arish, Egypt, where Pakistan’s ambassador will take charge of the supplies and oversee their transportation to the Palestinian people.
The NDMA has also coordinated a sixth flight scheduled to depart from Karachi on Feb 6 with 100 tonnes of load.
Published in Dawn, February 5th, 2024