US Secretary of State John Kerry yesterday pressed regional proxies to nail down a Gaza ceasefire as the civilian death toll soared, threatening to spread Israeli-Palestinian bloodshed to the occupied West Bank and Jerusalem.
With Israel and Islamist Hamas setting seemingly irreconcilable terms for a truce that mediators hope will begin by a major Muslim festival next week, Kerry worked the phones from Egypt, while aides made clear his patience was limited.
The urgency was spurred on Thursday by the killing of 15 people sheltering at a UN-run school in the northern Gaza Strip, which local officials blamed on Israeli shelling.
Israel said its forces had come under attack from Palestinian militants in the area of the school and that they had shot back. It accused Hamas of preventing any evacuation.
An Israeli air strike yesterday killed the top spokesman for armed faction Islamic Jihad, a Hamas ally, along with his son, Gaza officials said, bringing the mostly civilian Palestinian death toll to 804.
In the occupied West Bank, where Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas governs in uneasy coordination with Israel, about 10,000 demonstrators marched in solidarity with Gaza overnight — a scale recalling mass revolts of the past.
Protesters surged against an Israeli army checkpoint, sthrowing rocks and Molotov cocktails, and Palestinian medics said one was shot dead and 200 wounded when troops opened fire.
Israeli forces went on high alert yesterday for flare-ups at a Jerusalem mosque compound during prayers marking the final stretch of the Ramadan Muslim holy month.
Israel has lost 32 soldiers in a Gaza ground advance it says aims to destroy cross-border infiltration tunnels used by Hamas to threaten its southern villages and army bases.
Three civilians have been killed in Israel by rocket and mortar attacks from Gaza — the kind of shelling that surged last month amid Hamas anger at a crackdown on its activists in the West Bank, prompting the July 8 launch of the Israeli offensive.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was to convene his security Cabinet yesterday to discuss a limited humanitarian truce under which Palestinian movement would be freed up to allow in aid and for casualties to be recovered.
An Israeli official said the Netanyahu government envisages the initial halt to the fighting lasting seven days, during which the army would keep digging up tunnels on Gaza’s eastern frontier.
“First Israel wants to hear Hamas’s response to the [Kerry] proposals,” the official said, adding that some members of the security Cabinet also sought assurances that Gaza would be stripped of its remaining rockets under any extended ceasefire.
Hamas had no immediate comment. On Wednesday, its leader Khaled Meshaal voiced support for a humanitarian truce, but only if Israel eased restrictions on Gaza’s 1.8 million people.
PASTA PUNCHLINE: Billy McLean’s spoof poking fun at misinformation on the coronavirus was meant for friends, but is being eaten up by frazzled Britons It started off as an ad-libbed joke for some friends in a soccer banter group and ended up being heard by vast numbers of Britons within hours. However, the man responsible for a joke WhatsApp audio clip that claimed the UK Ministry of Defence was about to requisition Wembley Stadium to cook the world’s biggest lasagna has said his viral success also shows the risks of believing everything that gets sent to you on the messaging service. Billy McLean, a 29-year-old Londoner who works in software sales, came forward to the Guardian to identify himself as the creator of the much-shared clip
‘AN HONORABLE TASK’: The brigade to Italy is the sixth contingent of doctors the nation has sent abroad to aid governments contending with the COVID-19 pandemic Cuba has dispatched doctors and nurses to Italy for the first time this weekend to help fight COVID-19 at the request of the worst-affected region Lombardy, it said. The Caribbean nation has sent its “armies of white robes” to disaster sites around the world largely in poor countries since its 1959 revolution, with doctors on the front lines in the fight against cholera in Haiti and against ebola in West Africa in the 2010s. Yet with the 52-strong brigade, this is the first time Cuba has sent an emergency contingent to Italy, one of the world’s richest countries, demonstrating the reach of
There are growing concerns for the health of Rokia Traore, a Malian singer who has been on hunger strike at the Fleury-Merogis Prison near Paris since she was arrested on March 10 on allegations of kidnapping her daughter in a child custody dispute. “I am very worried,” said Kenneth Feliho, her lawyer. “She is only drinking. She has not been eating for over a week and her immune system is weak.” Among those calling for the musician’ release are African stars including Salif Keita, Youssou N’Dour and Angelique Kidjo. Damon Albarn, who performed with her in the group Africa Express, wrote: “We demand,
FATAL IDEA: The nation’s drugs regulator is curbing use of hydroxychloroquine, which Donald Trump has promoted for its alleged potential to treat COVID-19 Australia’s drug regulator has been forced to restrict powers to prescribe a drug undergoing clinical trials to treat COVID-19, because doctors have been inappropriately prescribing it to themselves and their family members, despite potentially deadly side effects. The anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine and the similar compound chloroquine are currently used mostly for patients with autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, but stocks in Australia have been diminished thanks to global publicity — including from US President Donald Trump — about the potential of the drug to treat COVID-19. Hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine have potentially severe and even deadly side effects if used inappropriately, including