Biden urges Israel to do more for civilians in Gaza, Israelis allowed into Al-Aqsa during Ramadan

President Joe Biden delivers the State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress at the Capitol, on March 7, 2024, in Washington.
President Joe Biden delivers the State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress at the Capitol, on March 7, 2024, in Washington. Copyright Shawn Thew/Pool Photo via AP, File
By Euronews with AP
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All the latest developments on the Israel-Hamas war and the conflict in the Middle East.

Biden urges Israel to do more for Gaza civilians

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US President Joe Biden said on Thursday night that the US military will help establish a temporary pier on the coast of Gaza which will help boost the delivery of aid to Palestinian starving in Gaza.

He detailed his plan during his yearly State of the Union address to Congress. The pier, Biden said, “will enable a massive increase in humanitarian assistance getting into Gaza.”

The president also urged Israel, which he has supported in his war against Hamas, to do more to alleviate the suffering of civilians in Gaza. 

“To Israel, I say this: humanitarian assistance cannot be a secondary consideration or a bargaining chip."

Palestinians attend a mass funeral of people killed in the Israeli offensive on Khan Younis in Rafah, Gaza Strip.
Palestinians attend a mass funeral of people killed in the Israeli offensive on Khan Younis in Rafah, Gaza Strip.Hatem Ali/Copyright 2024 The AP. All rights reserved.

UN spokesperson says half of aid missions to Gaza didn't succeed

UN humanitarian officials say that only half of the 224 aid missions meant to deliver aid to civilians in the Gaza Strip in February succeeded, while half of them failed. All those missions required coordination with Israeli authorities.

UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters on Thursday that the UN paused operations in north Gaza after an Israeli naval fire hit a UN-coordinated food convoy heading there on February 5.

As a result of this incident, he said, only 24 UN aid missions to the besieged area were planned in February – and just six were facilitated by Israeli authorities.

By contrast, Dujarric said, of the 200 UN missions planned for areas south of Wadi Gaza where access required coordination, 105 were facilitated by Israeli authorities.

Dujarric said that, despite the many challenges, last week 19 of the UN's humanitarian partners provided health services to some 80,000 patients and over a dozen World Health Organization (WHO) teams treated 13,000 patients. 

The UN spokesman issued an urgent appeal for tents, tarpaulins, blankets, bedding and other shelter supplies.

A United Nations worker prepares aid for distribution to Palestinians at UNRWA warehouse in Deir Al-Balah, Gaza Strip.
A United Nations worker prepares aid for distribution to Palestinians at UNRWA warehouse in Deir Al-Balah, Gaza Strip.Hassan Eslaiah/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved.

Israelis allowed to visit Al-Aqsa during Ramadan

Israelis will be allowed to visit the Al-Aqsa compound during the first week of Ramadan, Israel's police announced on Thursday. The decision raises concerns about whether Palestinians will have access to what is considered the third holiest site in Islam during the holy month.

Jews consider the compound the most sacred site in Judaism and refer to it as the biblical Temple Mount.

Al-Aqsa has often been the site of Palestinian protests and clashes with Israeli police, especially during times of high tension like the current war between Israel and Hamas.

Palestinians from the occupied West Bank have been unable to visit Jerusalem under Israeli government restrictions put in place immediately after Hamas' attack on October 7.

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