The United Nations’ children agency (UNICEF) described Gaza as “a graveyard for children”.
United States President Joe Biden thanked regional partners, in particular Qatar, for their role in facilitating the evacuation of injured Palestinians and foreign nationals, including American citizens from Gaza, where a deadly Israeli war has pushed the death toll beyond 9,000.
“I want to thank our partners, in particular Qatar, who worked so closely with us to support negotiations to facilitate the departure of these citizens,” he said during a visit to Northfield, Minnesota.
More than 500 foreigners, including dual nationals, and 81 people who were seriously injured were able to exit Gaza on Wednesday through the vital crossing for the first time since the start of the Israeli war on October 7.
The Gaza Borders and Crossings Authority released a list of 596 foreign and dual nationals the following day, permitting their entry into Egypt through the border. Hundreds had already been waiting at the crossing for nearly a month in hopes of eventually escaping the brutal Israeli bombardment of the besieged enclave.
The development came after Qatar brokered an agreement between Egypt, Israel and Hamas in coordination with the US that allows the evacuation of foreign passport holders and some seriously wounded individuals from Gaza through Rafah.
The Rafah crossing opened up once again on Thursday to allow for the evacuation of more foreign nationals from Gaza. Separately, Doha has also been heavily engaged in talks to release civilian captives held by Hamas in Gaza as part of massive de-escalation efforts.
The US president went on to acknowledge his ongoing conversations with the Israeli regime’s Prime Minister Netanyahu of Israel and Egypt’s President Abdelfattah El Sisi.
“I personally spent a lot of time speaking with Prime Minister Netanyahu of Israel and President Sissi of Egypt and others, to make sure that we could open this access for people to get out,” said Biden.
The US president, who has made clear his support of Israel as it continues to pummel besieged Strip, also acknowledged that much work remains to be done, stressing the need to “significantly step up the flow of critical humanitarian assistance into Gaza.”
However he also went on to reassert his support for Israel’s supposed right to self-defence while mentioning the importance of doing so “in a manner that is consistent with international humanitarian law.”
Israel has waged disproportionate attacks against Palestinians in Gaza with officials labelling them as war crimes.
“Given the high number of civilian casualties [and] the scale of destruction following Israeli air strikes on Jabalia refugee camp, we have serious concerns that these are disproportionate attacks that could amount to war crimes,” the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights wrote on X.
The official was addressing Israel’s targeting of Gaza’s biggest refugee camp and killed hundreds on Tuesday, just hours before a second strike hit the densely-populated area on Wednesday afternoon.
On top of the tragic loss of thousands of children due to Israeli airstrikes, the young inhabitants of Gaza are also facing the deprivation of food and medicine enforced by Israel, essentially violating the fourth Geneva Convention.
On October 8, Israel imposed a siege on Gaza’s more than 2.3 million population, blocking all access to food, water and electricity. Since then, only a limited number of aid trucks have been allowed in through the Rafah crossing, though UN officials say this has been “a drop in the ocean compared to the vast scale of needs.”
Various provisions and extra protocols, most notably within the fourth convention, grant safeguards for children in times of armed conflict. These encompass the establishment of hospitals and secure zones dedicated to children below the age of 15, guaranteeing the availability of “essential foodstuffs, clothing and tonics” for children residing in besieged regions, tailored attention for children who find themselves orphaned or separated from their families.
It also includes the safe evacuation of children to protected areas and their subsequent reunification with their families and ensuring that during children’s evacuations, “ministers of all religions, medical personnel, and medical equipment” are accessible in the locations where children are relocated.
On 6 July, 1951, the then recently created Israel officially endorsed the Geneva Conventions, becoming one of the 196 nations to have done so at the time.
Since the start of the current war on October 7, Israel has killed at least 9,061 Palestinians, including 3,648 children.
Despite global calls for an urgent ceasefire, Israel has recently ramped up its airstrikes in recent days, targeting hospitals, schools and refugee camps housing thousands of civilians, many of whom children. The United Nations’ children agency (UNICEF) described the Strip as “a graveyard for children”.
Simultaneously, Israeli occupation forces (IOF) have been making concerted attempts to make military inroads into Gaza with plans for a comprehensive ground invasion.
US backs Israel
In what many called a Freudian Slip, Spokesperson for Israel’s Netanyahu Tal Heinrich said on CNN live: “We are not targeting anyone else in Gaza but civilians” before nervously reversing her statement to say “but rather terrorists of course”.
On Friday, the UN General Assembly adopted a non-binding Arab resolution for a humanitarian truce in Gaza following an overwhelming majority vote of 120 members, including Qatar.
Israel and its main ally, the US, which has blocked at least three other proposals that called for a humanitarian ceasefire amid the ongoing Israeli war on Gaza, rejected the proposal, again.
The Pentagon also continues to provide weapons shipments almost on a daily basis to Israel, Pentagon deputy Press Secretary Sabrina Singh told reporters. “We are not putting any limits on how Israel uses weapons,” Singh said.
“That is really up to the Israeli Defense Force to use and how they are going to conduct their operations.”
Meanwhile, on Tuesday, the Director of the New York Office of UN High Commissioner of Human Rights has resigned in protest over the organisation’s inability to take action against Israel’s genocidal campaign in Gaza, describing western governments as “wholly complicit in the horrific assault”.
“Once again, we are seeing a genocide unfolding before our eyes, and the Organisation that we serve appears powerless to stop it,” Craig Mokhiber said in a statement addressed to the UN high commissioner in Geneva, Volker Turk.
The director, who had worked with the UN for more than three decades, wrote a four-page letter that called the Israeli war an “ethno-nationalist colonial-settler ideology” designed to uphold a “systematic persecution” of Arabs.
“The current wholesale slaughter of the Palestinian people, rooted in an ethno-nationalist colonial-settler ideology, in continuation of decades of their systematic persecution and purging, based entirely upon their status as Arabs … leaves no room for doubt,” Mokhiber added.
He added that the strategies used by the Israeli government on Palestinians is a “text-book case of genocide” and said the US, UK, and much of Europe were not only complicit in the massacre but have allowed Western corporate media to dehumanise Palestinians.
“What’s more, the governments of the United States, the United Kingdom, and much of Europe are wholly complicit in the horrific assault,” he wrote. “US-based social media companies are suppressing the voices of human rights defenders while amplifying pro-Israel propaganda.”