Middle East live blog: ++ Hostage members start march to Jerusalem ++

live blog

As of: February 28, 2024 11:53 a.m

Relatives of the Israeli hostages held in the Gaza Strip made their way to Jerusalem on foot from southern Israel. The World Food Program warns of a “general famine” in the Gaza Strip. All developments in the live blog.

Dozens of relatives have begun a march on Jerusalem to press for a deal to release Israeli hostages held in the Gaza Strip. “We hope that this is the first step towards their repatriation,” a spokesman for the families said before the march began.

Representatives of the families called on the population to take part in the four-day march. “No one should be left behind,” demanded several relatives, who encouraged the hostages to “hang in there.”

The families began their march from the site of the Supernova music festival in Kibbutz Re’im in southern Israel. At least 360 people were killed and others kidnapped into the Gaza Strip when Hamas terrorists attacked the festival on October 7th. Arrival in Jerusalem is scheduled for Saturday.

The Israeli army says it is continuing its fighting in the Gaza Strip in the cities of Khan Yunis and Gaza. During an operation in Khan Yunis, five terrorists were killed when a rocket was fired at a vehicle, the army said. In addition, air strikes hit two military sites in Khan Yunis and killed terrorists who were there. In the largest city in the south of the Gaza Strip, a warplane also fired on people at another military compound who, according to the army, were planning an attack on Israeli soldiers. Paratroopers were also deployed in Khan Yunis. According to military information, they killed “several terrorists with sniper fire.” The information could not initially be independently verified.

Israeli army operations also continued in the Al-Saitun neighborhood of Gaza city. “Troops killed several terrorists and located weapons in the area,” the military said. In addition, Israeli soldiers in the Gaza Strip attacked eight locations from which rockets were fired towards Israel on Wednesday night. This information could not initially be independently verified.

Conflict parties as a source

In the current situation, information on the course of the war, shelling and casualties provided by the Palestinian and Israeli conflict parties cannot be directly verified by an independent body.

Hamas fighters say they attacked Israeli military facilities in Beit Hilal from southern Lebanon. The Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, said on the Telegram short message service that two volleys of rockets were fired. The target was the headquarters of the 769th Eastern Brigade and an airport barracks in Beit Hilal. The place is in the north of Israel. There are repeated clashes on the border between the two states, which have increased over the course of the war in the Gaza Strip.

Conflict parties as a source

In the current situation, information on the course of the war, shelling and casualties provided by the Palestinian and Israeli conflict parties cannot be directly verified by an independent body.

Israel’s Economics Minister Nir Barkat sees no disruption to his country’s trade relations with Arab states because of the war against Hamas in the Gaza Strip. There is “no change at all” in trade relations, Barkat told journalists on the sidelines of the 13th Ministerial Meeting of the World Trade Organization (WTO) in Abu Dhabi. “Things are very stable,” Barkat said. Last week, the Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics presented figures according to which Israel’s gross domestic product (GDP) fell by 19.4 percent in the fourth quarter compared to the previous quarter. In 2023 as a whole, the Israeli economy grew by two percent.

Asked about Israel’s economic losses due to the war, Barkat said the country’s national debt could increase by 150 billion to 200 billion shekels (38-51 billion euros). But this is “nothing that Israel cannot handle in the medium or long term,” he added.

The frigate “Hessen”, which is used in the Red Sea to protect merchant ships, has fended off an attack by the Houthi militia operating from Yemen for the first time. According to information from the dpa news agency, the ship involved in the EU military mission “Aspides” shot down two drones in quick succession on Tuesday evening. It was the German Navy’s first use of live weapons in the operation that began on Friday and is considered the most dangerous naval mission in the history of the Bundeswehr. The Houthi militia, allied with Iran, wants to force an end to the Israeli attacks in the Gaza Strip by shelling merchant ships in the Red Sea.

Georg Schwarte, ARD Berlin, tagesschau, February 28, 2024 6:06 a.m

The US envoy to Yemen, Tim Lenderking, sees evidence that Iran and its allied Lebanese Hezbollah are “equipping and supporting” the local Houthi militia in their attacks on freighters in the Red Sea. “Credible public reports” indicated “that a significant number of Iranian and Lebanese Hezbollah officials support Houthi attacks from Yemen,” Lenderking told a U.S. Senate subcommittee. The US envoy to Yemen said he “cannot imagine that the Yemeni people would want these Iranians in their country.” “That has to stop.”

The Emir of Qatar has pushed for an early ceasefire between Israel and the radical Islamist Hamas in the Gaza Strip. “We are in a race against time,” Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani said at a state banquet with French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris. The Israelis kidnapped by Hamas must return to their families. “At the same time, we must end the suffering of the Palestinian people,” demanded Al Thani.

The World Food Program (WFP) has warned of a severe famine in the Gaza Strip due to the war between Israel and the radical Islamist Hamas. “If nothing changes, famine is imminent in northern Gaza,” Carl Skau, deputy executive director of the WFP, told the UN Security Council. The WFP must “continue to live up to its responsibilities” in order to prevent this. For the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (Ocha), representative Ramesh Rajasingham, speaking on behalf of its head Martin Griffiths, warned that a “general famine” was “almost inevitable” if the situation did not change.

Cargo planes from the Jordanian Air Force and other countries have dropped aid supplies over the Gaza Strip. Israel again bombed Hezbollah positions in southern Lebanon. Tuesday’s live blog for reading.

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