DAMASCUS: Syrians bury the body of a victim who reportedly died in a mortar shell attack at a layered cemetery yesterday in the rebel-held city of Douma, northeast of the capital Damascus. — AFP
DAMASCUS: Syrians bury the body of a victim who reportedly died in a mortar shell attack at a layered cemetery yesterday in the rebel-held city of Douma, northeast of the capital Damascus. — AFP

In besieged Syrian town, peace talks seen pointless - World Food Program says 40,000 at risk in Madaya

GAZA: Palestinians in war-torn Gaza on Thursday eagerly awaited the arrival of aid trucks promised in a deal struck by US President Joe Biden, as the Zionist entity’s military kept up its bombardment of targets in the Hamas-run enclave. Egyptian state-linked broadcaster Al Qahera News said the Rafah border crossing — the only one in and out of besieged Gaza not controlled by the Zionist entity — would open on Friday.

Biden, on a flying visit to meet Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his war cabinet on Wednesday, reiterated strong US support for its long-time ally but also stressed the need to address the plight of Palestinian civilians. UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak on Thursday became the latest foreign leader to make a solidarity visit to the Zionist entity, meeting Netanyahu and President Isaac Hertzog. He backed Zionist action but also stressed the need to get aid into Gaza, before jetting to Saudi Arabia for talks with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

More than 100 trucks carrying aid have been queuing for days on the Egyptian side of the border, with the United Nations and others calling for urgent help for besieged civilians. On a visit to Cairo, UN

Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said there needed to be “rapid, unimpeded humanitarian access” after dire warnings about the impact of the Zionist blockade. “We need food, water, medicine and fuel now. We need it at scale and we need it to be sustained, it is not one small operation that is required,” he added.

The emergencies director of the World Health Organization (WHO), Michael Ryan, said aid needed to get in “every day”, calling an initial 20 trucks — the deal struck by Biden with the Zionist entity and Egypt — “a drop in the ocean of need right now”. Gaza has been hit by a relentless barrage of Zionist fire in retaliation for a Hamas attack on Oct 7.

Zionist bombing since has killed at least 3,785 Palestinians, most of them civilians, according to the health ministry. Entire city blocks have been levelled, displacing more than one million of the 2.4 million population, the UN has said. “The pace of death, of suffering, of destruction... cannot be exaggerated,” said UN humanitarian chief Martin Griffiths. There are fears of worse to come if the Zionist entity launches an anticipated ground invasion to destroy Hamas and rescue Zionist and foreign hostages, whose known number the Zionist entity on Thursday revised up to 203.

On the Gaza side of the Rafah border, scores of people were again waiting, desperate to flee but careful to keep at least 100 m away in case of new Zionist bombardment. “We’re ready with our bags,” said one man who gave his name only as Mohammed, 40, and said he works for a European institution. He said he had been waiting “for three days with my family, in a house 10 minutes away from the crossing” but had received no information so far. Majed, 43, who said he works with a German organization, told AFP: “I came on my own this morning and, in case the crossing opens, I’d get my wife and children — they’re ready.”

Biden, who was due to address the nation on Thursday about the Gaza and Ukraine conflicts, announced the aid deal after what he called “blunt” talks in the Zionist entity and a phone call with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi. The Zionist entity consented to the deal while pressing on with its military campaign. Its army reported Thursday that it had destroyed hundreds more Hamas targets, including a missile launch site and tunnels, and that “more than 10 terrorists were eliminated”.

The Zionist entity has stressed it must destroy Hamas after the worst attack on its soil which, the army said Thursday had claimed 1,403 lives since the surprise onslaught on Oct 7, including at least 306 soldiers killed in battles to reclaim overrun villages and kibbutzim. Biden, the first US president to visit the Zionist entity during war time, strongly backed the Zionist entity but warned it not to overreact, cautioning that Washington made mistakes as it sought to avenge 9/11.

Intensifying cross-border fire between the Zionist entity and the Iran-backed Hezbollah movement in Lebanon is stoking fears of a potential second front. As tensions mounted, the United States, UK and Germany on Thursday advised their citizens to leave Lebanon while flights were still available.

The Arab world has been united in anger and condemnation of the Zionist entity since a deadly strike hit a Gaza hospital compound on Tuesday. Both sides in the war have traded blame for the bloody carnage, but neither the provenance of the strike nor the death toll could immediately be independently verified. The strike left scores of bodies and charred cars at the Ahli Arab hospital compound in northern Gaza, AFP images showed. Hamas accused the Zionist entity of hitting the hospital during its massive bombing campaign and Gaza’s health ministry put the death toll at 471. – AFP

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