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US officials warn aid not reaching Gaza

The head of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Samantha Power, said she accepted "credible" reports that famine is already occurring in northern Gaza.

by Narges Mohammadi

Under heavy US pressure, Israel has promised to ramp up aid to Gaza dramatically, saying last week it would open another cargo crossing and surge more trucks than ever before into the besieged enclave.

But  there are few signs of those promises materializing and international officials say starvation is widespread in hard-hit northern Gaza.

Samantha Power, administrator of the US Agency for International Development, said this week she accepted “credible” reports that famine is now occurring in the area and urged Israel to take further steps to expedite humanitarian aid shipments.

Power is not the first senior US official to describe the situation of hunger and malnutrition in Gaza. Last week in Brussels, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that all Gazans were suffering from severe food insecurity.

“100 per cent of the population of Gaza is experiencing acute levels of food insecurity. 100% of the population is in need of humanitarian aid,” Blinken said.

In addition, US President Joe Biden said this week that Israel is not doing enough to increase the flow of humanitarian aid into Gaza.

Israeli shelling and ground offensives have killed at least 33,360 Palestinians in Gaza and injured 74,993, according to the Gazan health ministry, which adds that women and children account for two-thirds of the dead.

Israel says it is prepared to defend and counterattack if Iran retaliates

Meanwhile, the shadow of war looms over the region. On Thursday, Israel’s military said it is prepared to defend the country and counterattack if Iran retaliates for a deadly air strike on the Iranian consulate in Syria.

Tehran blames Israel for the attack earlier this month, which the Pentagon also believes was carried out by Israel, although Tel Aviv has not commented. The heightened tensions have raised international concern that Israel’s devastating war against Hamas in Gaza could spread to the rest of the Middle East.

Israel faces opposition from ultra-Orthodox Jews

Also on Thursday, thousands of ultra-Orthodox Jewish men protested in Jerusalem over a court ruling that could end their exemptions from compulsory service in the Israeli army.

Holding signs saying “to jail, not to the army”, they demonstrated outside Israel’s military enlistment office. There were clashes between police and some of the protesters.

Last month, Israel’s Supreme Court ordered an end to government subsidies for many ultra-Orthodox men who do not serve in the army. The ruling could have far-reaching consequences for the government and the tens of thousands of religious men who refuse to participate in compulsory military service.

Most Jewish men are required to serve nearly three years in the army, followed by years of reserve service. Jewish women serve two mandatory years.

Exemptions for the ultra-Orthodox, along with the government stipends many seminary students receive until age 26, have angered much of the general public.

These long-standing tensions have only increased in the six months of war in Gaza. The ultra-Orthodox say that joining the army will threaten their way of life, which has been maintained for generations. The army, for its part, has said it is suffering manpower shortages due to the war.

Source: Euro News

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