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Egypt calls for immediate flow of humanitarian aid to Gaza


Palestinian children react next to the rubble of the Zaqout family's house hit during overnight Israeli bombardment in Nuseirat, in the central Gaza Strip, on May 30, 2024.
Palestinian children react next to the rubble of the Zaqout family's house hit during overnight Israeli bombardment in Nuseirat, in the central Gaza Strip, on May 30, 2024.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi called on the international community Thursday to stop the war in Gaza.

"I further urge the international community to take immediate and decisive action to enforce the instantaneous and unfettered delivery of humanitarian aid and assistance to the Gaza Strip to break the Israeli siege and counter any attempts to forcibly displace the Palestinians from their lands," el-Sissi said as he and other Arab leaders participated in a summit in Beijing.

Chinese President Xi Jinping announced Thursday $69 million in humanitarian aid for Gaza, as well as $3 million for the U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees.

Xi said war "should not continue indefinitely" while reiterating China's position on the need for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian crisis.

Hamas on Thursday said it told mediators that it would no longer take part in additional negotiations but that it was ready for a "complete agreement" — including an exchange of hostages and prisoners — as long as Israel stopped the war.

"Hamas and the Palestinian factions will not accept to be part of this policy by continuing [cease-fire] negotiations in light of the aggression, siege, starvation and genocide of our people," the Hamas statement read.

"Today, we informed the mediators of our clear position that if the occupation stops its war and aggression against our people in Gaza, our readiness [is] to reach a complete agreement that includes a comprehensive exchange deal," it added.

Negotiations between Israel and Hamas, which have been mediated by states including Egypt and Qatar, have been consistently delayed. Both sides blame the other for the lack of progress.

Israel's military reported Thursday it conducted airstrikes against more than 50 targets during the past day.

The Israel Defense Forces also carried out ground operations in the southern Gaza city of Rafah, in the Jabaliya area in northern Gaza, and in the central part of the Gaza Strip.

FILE - Palestinians flee from the southern Gaza city of Rafah during an Israeli ground and air offensive in the city, May 28, 2024.
FILE - Palestinians flee from the southern Gaza city of Rafah during an Israeli ground and air offensive in the city, May 28, 2024.

Israeli forces killed at least 12 Palestinians in a Thursday morning airstrike on Rafah, Gaza medics said. Another Palestinian civilian was killed in an airstrike on Shati refugee camp west of Gaza City in the enclave's north, the medics said.

In Rafah, communications services have been cut off due to "the ongoing aggression," Palestinian telecommunications company Jaza said Thursday in a statement.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Wednesday that Israel needs a postwar plan "as soon as possible" and that the absence of such a plan could lead to chaos.

"And I think this underscores the imperative of having a plan for the day after, because in the absence of a plan for the day after, there won't be a day after," Blinken told reporters. "If not, Hamas will be left in charge, which is unacceptable. Or if not, we'll have chaos, lawlessness and a vacuum."

The U.N. official in charge of the Middle East peace process echoed those concerns Wednesday, saying a longer-term political strategy must be part of the current efforts to end the fighting.

"Let me be clear: The political framework and structures we establish now will play a significant role in the success or failure of what follows," Tor Wennesland told a meeting of the U.N. Security Council on the Middle East. "This requires us to plan and act deliberately and thoughtfully, knowing that today's decisions will not only shape the future governance of Gaza but also determine the trajectory of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict more broadly."

Calls for international action

At the United Nations, Algeria circulated a draft Security Council resolution calling for an immediate halt to Israel's military offensive in Rafah, in line with a provisional order from the International Court of Justice on May 24.

"We need a unified council, because waiting for the occupying power to voluntarily abide by international law and Security Council resolutions is pointless," Ambassador Amar Bendjama said at Wednesday's council meeting, referring to Israel. "The occupying authority made it clear they will not comply with the orders of the International Court of Justice."

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has repeatedly said Israel needs to carry out the Rafah offensive to achieve its goal of ensuring Hamas cannot operate in Gaza and threaten Israel in the future. Israel says four Hamas battalions remain in Rafah.

The U.S. State Department on Thursday said the draft resolution was not balanced because it does not blame Hamas for the conflict.

"It is imbalanced, and it fails to note a simple fact, which is that Hamas is to blame for this conflict," a State Department spokesperson told reporters in a news briefing. The spokesperson did not say whether the U.S. would veto the resolution.

Algeria's draft also calls for the release of all hostages still held by Hamas.

The Israel-Hamas war was triggered by the October 7 Hamas terror attack on Israel that killed 1,200 people, according to Israeli officials, and led to the capture of about 250 hostages. Israel's subsequent counteroffensive has killed more than 36,100 Palestinians, a death toll that includes both civilians and combatants, according to the Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry.

United Nations correspondent Margaret Besheer contributed to this report. Some material came from The Associated Press, Agence France-Presse and Reuters.

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