Hamas officials arrive in Egypt as cease-fire talks advance

Aftermath of a strike in Rafah

SAID KHATIB / AFP – Getty Images

Men salvage bread this morning from the rubble of a house destroyed in an overnight air strike in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip.

Gazans: U.S aid is ‘not enough for one family’

As parachutes over Gaza dropped the first of U.S. aid packages over the strip, civilians suffering from hunger warned that the aid did not nearly go far enough.

Three military planes dropped 66 pallets containing 38,000 meals in Gaza on Saturday. In December, the U.N.’s Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs predicted that by February every person in Gaza’s 2.2 million population would be suffering from acute hunger and food insecurity.

“Will this be enough for a school? Will this be enough for 10,000 people?” asked one man, showing NBC News reporters a single pre-packaged meal. “The parachute’s aid is not enough for one family. This is nothing,” he added.

U.N. official calls for sanctions on Israel

The United Nations’ special rapporteur for the right to food, Michael Fakhri, has accused Israel of “intentionally starving” Palestinians in Gaza, as he warned that famine might be “already occurring.”

“The only way to end/prevent this famine is an immediate ceasefire. And the only way to get a ceasefire is to sanction Israel,” he added.

Earlier today, the U.N. announced that at least 10 children in Gaza had died of starvation, though it warned the true figures were likely higher.

Gaza’s death toll nears 30,500

Gaza’s death toll rose past 30,400 today after 90 people were killed overnight, according to the Health Ministry.

The number of people injured by the fighting also rose to 71,700, it added.

Death tolls in Gaza are an estimate, due to the large number of people still missing under rubble and the lack of access for ambulance and search and rescue teams.

On Friday, U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin estimated that at least 25,000 Palestinian women and children alone had been killed in Gaza since Oct. 7.

Rubymar sinking presents ‘far-reaching’ environmental consequences in Red Sea

The sinking of the Rubymar, a Belize-flagged, U.K.-owned ship yesterday presents an “environmental risk” to the Red Sea, officials said. The ship was attacked by Houthi rebels in February and had been leaking a mileslong slick of oil into the sea since.

The ship’s cargo of approximately “21,000 metric tons of ammonium phosphate sulfate fertilizer” risks leaking into the surrounding marine environment, U.S. Central Command said.

In a statement today, Greenpeace MENA Program Director Julien Jreissati warned of “far-reaching” ecological and environmental consequences without urgent action and access to the shipwreck site.

“As well as any further leaks of fuel oil from the engines, the sinking of the vessel could further breach the hull, allowing water to contact with the thousands of tons of fertilizer, which could then be released into the Red Sea and disrupt the balance of the marine ecosystems, triggering cascading effects throughout the food web,” he added.

Ahmed Awad bin Mubarak, the foreign minister in Yemen’s internationally recognized government in Aden, said in a post on X: “The sinking of the Rubymar is an environmental catastrophe that Yemen and the region have never experienced before.”

Israel increasingly optimistic about deal by start of Ramadan, Israeli official says

TEL AVIV — Israel is not sending a high-level delegation to cease-fire talks in Cairo on Sunday but is increasingly optimistic a deal can be reached by the start of Ramadan on March 10, one Israeli official told NBC News.

A Hamas delegation is in Cairo today for negotiations with officials from Egypt, Bassem Naim, a senior Hamas official, told NBC.

The potential deal is based on a U.S. proposal for a six-week cease-fire that was agreed to by Israel in talks in Paris in late February. Hamas has not yet provided a formal response to that framework, the Israeli official said, but may do so in Cairo.

A second Israeli official said Hamas has also not provided a list of which hostages remain alive, calling it a “key issue” in the talks that still remains unresolved.

A bloody incident in Gaza City on Thursday where dozens of Palestinians were killed has not slowed down cease-fire negotiations, one Israeli official said. They added that there was intense U.S. pressure on all sides to reach an agreement by the start of Ramadan.

At least 10 children, and likely more, have starved to death in Gaza, UNICEF says

“The child deaths we feared are here,” Adele Khodr, UNICEF’s Middle East director, said in a statement today.

At least 10 children in Gaza have died of malnutrition and dehydration, Khodr said. However, “There are likely more children fighting for their lives somewhere in one of Gaza’s few remaining hospitals, and likely even more children in the north unable to obtain care at all.”

“These tragic and horrific deaths are man-made, predictable and entirely preventable,” she added.

Separately, Gaza’s Ministry of Health said today that 15 children had died of “malnutrition and dehydration” at Gaza’s Kamal Adwan hospital, and that health officials “feared for the lives” of six more who were in intensive care with acute diarrhea and dehydration.

Earlier this week the U.N.’s Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs warned the Security Council that famine in Gaza was “almost inevitable” without a cease-fire. In December, it predicted that every person in Gaza’s population of 2.2 million would face acute food insecurity by February — the highest share of people facing this level of food insecurity ever recorded worldwide.

Humanitarian aid severely hampered by Israel’s ongoing military offensive and stringent border security checks have contributed to “catastrophic” levels of hunger, according to the U.N. and the World Food Programme.

Protesters march against ground invasion of Rafah in 30 U.S. cities

From San Francisco to Washington, D.C., demonstrators gathered nationwide on Saturday to protest Israel’s ongoing war in the Gaza Strip and against a potential ground invasion of Rafah, in southern Gaza, where more than a million Palestinians are taking refuge.

Images on social media showed thousands of people gathering despite rainy and wet conditions in San Francisco and Providence. Protesters in New York and Cambridge, Massachusetts, carried Palestinian flags and chanted slogans against President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, calling for the government to end all military aid to Israel.

Image: Activists Demonstrate In NYC Calling For An Israeli Ceasefire In Gaza
Protesters in New York yesterday.Spencer Platt / Getty Images

In Washington, D.C., hundreds gathered outside the Israeli Embassy to demand an immediate cease-fire and to commemorate U.S. serviceman Aaron Bushnell, who died last week after setting himself on fire outside the embassy to protest the ongoing war in Gaza.

Delegations from Hamas and Israel are traveling to Cairo, Egyptian security source says

“High-level” delegations from Israel and Hamas are expected to arrive in Cairo today, to conclude talks for a Ramadan truce, an Egyptian security source told NBC News.

The source said that as part of the talks, Israel may begin to allow the entry of 500 trucks daily of humanitarian aid and fuel into Gaza, and the evacuation of wounded Palestinians through the Rafah crossing.

IDF will commission inquiry into aid convoy deaths, spokesperson says

IDF spokesperson Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari said today that the IDF had concluded an initial review and “confirmed that no strike was carried out by the IDF towards the aid convoy,” and that most of the people were killed by a stampede.

At least 118 were killed and more than 750 injured, according to the Gaza Health Ministry.

He also said a inquiry led by an “independent professional and expert body” will further examine Thursday’s aid convoy violence, in which Israel has been accused of firing into the crowds of people attempting to access food from aid trucks.

Hagari reiterated that the IDF “indicated that following the warning shots fired to disperse the stampede and after our forces had started retreating, several looters approached our forces and posed an immediate threat to them,” and that soldiers “responded” to “several individuals.”

Doctors, eyewitnesses and the injured told NBC News that a majority of those hospitalized presented with gunshot and artillery injuries. At a press conference yesterday, U.N. spokesperson for the secretary-general Stéphane Dujarric said that U.N. teams at Al-Shifa Hospital assessing the injured had also seen a “large number” of gunshot wounds.

Kamala Harris to meet Benny Gantz next week

Vice President Kamala Harris will meet with Benny Gantz, a member of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s war Cabinet, on Monday, according to White House officials, as the U.S. continues to push Israel for a cease-fire agreement.

President Joe Biden will not be present at the meeting, officials said.

Harris is likely to discuss the urgency of a temporary cease-fire deal and hostage exchange, the need to rebuild Gaza, and the distribution of enhanced aid and humanitarian support in the strip, the White House said. Talks between Israel and Hamas toward a cease-fire were thrown into question last week after 118 people were killed in Gaza City while queuing for aid.

National security adviser Jake Sullivan will also separately meet with Gantz, according to the White House.

Nabulsi roundabout death toll rises to 118

Two more bodies have been recovered from the Nabulsi roundabout in Gaza City, where hundreds of people were killed and wounded after Israeli forces opened fire near a crowd trying to access humanitarian aid trucks, according to Gaza’s Health Ministry.

The discovery of the bodies brings the death toll to 118, with over 750 people injured during the attack, the ministry said, warning that the death toll is likely to rise further in coming days due to the lack of medical and surgical equipment and oxygen at Gaza’s hospitals to treat the wounded.

Israel denies shooting into crowds of people attempting to access aid on Thursday, and claims the majority of people were killed and injured by “overcrowding” and a crush attempting to escape after the IDF fired “warning shots” at a limited mob that presented an unspecified threat to soldiers.

Eyewitnesses and doctors who spoke to NBC News said a large number of people hospitalized presented with gunshot wounds.

Thousands join Israeli hostage families in march on Jerusalem

JERUSALEM — A march by thousands of Israelis demanding the release of hostages held in Gaza reached Jerusalem today as negotiators prepared to resume cease-fire negotiations in Cairo that would include a swap deal with Hamas.

Families And Supporters Of Hostages Conclude Four-Day Protest March
Supporters of the families of hostages in Jerusalem last night. Alexi J. Rosenfeld / Getty Images

A column of protesters, led by families of hostages seized by Palestinian militants during Hamas’ deadly rampage through southern Israel on Oct. 7, walked up the winding highway to Jerusalem, arriving at the city at sundown.

Holding up Israeli flags, yellow balloons and posters of the hostages, they concluded a four-day march that began at one of sites hit by the October attack, and were expected to be joined by more protesters at a rally outside Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s residence.

“We’re here marching in support of the families of those who are kidnapped, wishing that they will be released soon and that they will be safe. We’re praying for them in every step that we take,” said Danny Cuperman, one of the marchers.

Gaza truce talks are expected to resume in the Egyptian capital on Sunday. U.S. President Joe Biden has said he hopes a cease-fire will be in place by the time of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, which starts on March 10.

Dozens of hostages could be freed if a deal is reached.

Pro-Palestinian protesters disrupt Jill Biden’s ‘Women for Biden-Harris’ tour

TUCSON, Ariz. — First lady Jill Biden spoke for only 14 minutes on the second leg of her “Women for Biden-Harris” tour — but that didn’t stop pro-Palestinian protesters from interrupting her remarks four separate times. 

“It’s a genocide, Jill!” yelled one of the four demonstrators in Tucson on Saturday morning as he was being forcibly escorted out of the venue by security.

The main focus of the first lady’s remarks was supposed to be on women’s issues, including abortion rights, which could be on the ballot in Arizona come November.

“Extremist Republicans led by Donald Trump are passing laws that prevent women from getting the health care they need, including IVF,” said Biden.

But within 13 seconds of beginning her remarks, the first protester piped up.

Less than two minutes later, the second followed. And within 30 seconds of the second disruption, the first lady offered an explanation for keeping her appearance there so short.

“I’m sorry to have to come and go so quickly,” said Biden.

“Wind storms in Nevada are impacting my travel,” she added just after the demonstrator was hauled out of the theater.

Read the full story here.

U.S. humanitarian aid airdrop ‘absolutely incomprehensible,’ says Amnesty International crisis response adviser

The U.S. humanitarian aid airdrop into Gaza on Saturday is “absolutely incomprehensible” and “completely insufficient,” an Amnesty International adviser says.

“The decision of the United States to deliver humanitarian aid to Gaza via airdrop is absolutely incomprehensible. It makes no sense whatsoever,” senior crisis response adviser Donatella Rovera told NBC News.

“Airdrops are only a last resort in situations where it is impossible to deliver aid either by road, by sea or by any other agreed means,” Rovera added.

The road network is excellent, and the entire length of the Gaza Strip is a coastline, according to Rovera. The problem lies in the U.S. being “unable to muster the political will” to deliver aid in a more efficient manner.

“The fact is that the United States administration has an enormous amount of leverage over Israel. The only reason why humanitarian aid isn’t getting in through the normal means is because the Israeli authorities say no,” Rovera stated.

IDF says airdropping aid makes ‘fighting possible’

The airdropping of humanitarian aid in Gaza alleviates food shortages and “makes the fighting possible” for the Israel Defense Forces.

“Today, American and Jordanian planes dropped additional aid throughout the Strip. This is an effort that makes the fighting possible,” IDF spokesperson Daniel Hagari said in a statement Saturday.

“Following the incident during which dozens of Palestinians were killed during the entry of aid trucks to the northern Gaza Strip on Thursday morning, we are investigating this incident,” Hagari added.

Claims of purposefully destroying the aid convoy and deliberately harming people have no foundation, the IDF claims. It said it will present findings following its investigation of the incident.