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Israel-Hamas war live updates: Harris calls for immediate Gaza cease-fire ahead of meeting with Israel’s Gantz

The vice president criticized Israel for not doing enough to ease the “humanitarian catastrophe” in the Palestinian enclave while talks for a truce deal continued in Egypt.

Coverage on this live blog has ended. Please click here for the latest updates.

What we know

  • Vice President Kamala Harris is set to meet with Israeli war Cabinet member Benny Gantz at the White House today. After calling for an "immediate cease-fire" in Gaza, Harris criticized the U.S. ally for not doing enough to allow aid into the enclave. She is expected to deliver an equally blunt message to Gantz, who is visiting Washington in defiance of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
  • The U.S. push for a new hostage deal came as talks were ongoing in Egypt to broker a six-week truce before the Muslim holy month of Ramadan begins next week. Israeli media reported that the government did not send a delegation because it is waiting to learn which hostages are alive and how many Palestinian prisoners Hamas seeks in exchange for each of them.
  • The U.S. began a series of aid airdrops into Gaza over the weekend. The first, on Saturday, included about 38,000 meals into southwest Gaza. White House officials have said the airdrops will continue to supplement truck deliveries and they are also working on sending aid via sea. At least 15 children have died in northern Gaza in recent days because of malnutrition and dehydration, local health officials have said.
  • Gaza’s death toll has passed 30,500 , according to the enclave's Health Ministry, amid surging fears of starvation in the north of the territory. The Israeli military officials said that at least 245 soldiers have been killed since the ground invasion of Gaza began.

A 4-year-old Gaza boy lost his arm — and his family. Half a world away, he’s getting a second chance

The Associated Press

Omar Abu Kuwaik is far from his home in Gaza. The 4-year-old’s parents and sister were killed by an Israeli airstrike, when he lost part of his arm.

He’s one of the lucky ones.

Through the efforts of family and strangers, Omar was brought out of Gaza and to the United States, where he received treatment, including a prosthetic arm. He spent his days in a house run by a medical charity in New York City, accompanied by his aunt.

It was a small measure of grace in a sea of turmoil for him and his aunt, Maha Abu Kuwaik, as they looked to an uncertain future. The grief and despair for those still?trapped in Gaza?is never far away.

Abu Kuwaik is glad she could do this for her beloved brother’s son, whom she now considers her fourth child.

Omar used to be an outgoing boy, she said, and he’s clever like his late father, who was an engineer. Now he’s often withdrawn and breaks into tears easily. He wonders why they don’t have a home like the kids he sees on YouTube.

Ask Omar a question, and he covers his ears with his right hand and the stump of his left arm, declaring, “I don’t want to talk.”

“Kindergarten was nice,” he eventually admits, “and I was happy on the first day.” He started school just weeks before the war broke out. But he says he doesn’t want to go to kindergarten anymore because he’s afraid to leave his aunt’s side.

His flight to New York may have given him a new dream, though.

“When I grow up, I want to be pilot,” Omar said, “so I can bring people places.”

The 'entire system breaks' before aid gets into north Gaza, says José Andrés

NBC News

The U.S. is preparing additional airdrops of aid into Gaza after the first American airdrop took place Saturday with 38,000 ready-to-eat meals.

World Central Kitchen founder José Andrés, one of the biggest providers of relief in the region, noted that Palestinians need more than just air drops of aid. Particularly in north Gaza, Andrés said, where aid convoys may not even get as far as Gaza City.

"The people will stop those trucks and you try to stop them, to grab the food on their own," Andrés said. "Therefore, you cannot have a sustainable, organized, humanitarian aid in the north because the entire system breaks before."

U.N. finds 'reasonable grounds' to believe sexual violence occurred during Oct. 7 attacks

The United Nation released its findings on sexual violence during the Hamas-led attacks on Israel, posting the report on its website and hosting a press conference led by Pramila Patten, its special representative on sexual violence in conflict.

"I must add that the true prevalence of sexual violence during the seventh of October attacks and their aftermath may take months or years to emerge and may never be fully known given that sexual violence remains chronically under reported crime ... due to trauma, stigma and fear faced by survivors," Patten said.

"But also in the context of Israel where many did not survive the sexual violence," she added.

According to Patten, her team found "reasonable grounds" to believe sexual violence, including rape and gang rape, occurred during the Hamas-led attack on Oct. 7 at the Nova music festival, the Road 232 highway and kibbutz Re'im. She also cautioned that her team discovered some of the highly publicized allegations at kibbutz Be'eri were unfounded.

The U.N. team did find “clear and convincing” information, based on first-hand interviews, that some of those who were taken captive were subjected to sexual violence, including rape, sexualized torture and degrading treatment.

Patten noted that the report was not an investigation and added disclaimers to the findings, including the fact that while former hostages were interviewed, the U.N. team did not meet with any victims of sexual violence from the Oct. 7 attacks "despite concerted efforts encouraging them to come forward."

World Health Organization describes 'grim findings' after visit to northern Gaza

A World Health Organization team made its first visit since October to two hospitals in northern Gaza, where Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus described "grim findings" on life for Palestinians and medical staff.

"Kamal Adwan Hospital is the only pediatrics hospital in the north of Gaza, and is overwhelmed with patients," Tedros said after the weekend visit. "The lack of food resulted in the deaths of 10 children. The lack of electricity poses a serious threat to patient care, especially in critical areas like the intensive care unit and the neonatal unit."

He described conditions at another facility, Al-Awda Hospital, where one of the buildings was destroyed, as "particularly appalling."

"Civilians, especially children, and health staff need scaled-up help immediately," Tedros said. "But the key medicine all these patients need is peace. Cease-fire."

U.N. human rights chief: Gaza is a 'powder keg' that could lead to a 'broader conflagration'

The war in Gaza is a powder keg where "any spark could lead to a much broader conflagration," Volker Türk, the United Nations' human rights chief said in an address to the Human Rights Council.

"It is imperative to do everything possible to avoid a wider conflagration," Türk said.

His comments came as Hezbollah and Israel continue to trade fire over the Lebanon-Israel border, with 90,000 Lebanese and 80,000 Israelis already displaced, according to Türk.

"A wave of conflict is battering people’s lives, destroying economies, profoundly damaging human rights, dividing the world, and upending hopes for multilateral solutions," Türk said.

E.U.'s top foreign policy official echoes Harris' call for Gaza cease-fire

Josep Borrell, the European Union’s top foreign policy official, said on X that he supports Vice President Kamala Harris' call for a cease-fire in Gaza.

Israel Foreign Ministry recalls U.N. ambassador

Foreign Minister Israel Katz has asked Israel's ambassador to the United Nations to return to the country for consultations, according to a post on Katz's official X account.

Katz said the recall was prompted by the fact that the body's secretary general failed to convene the U.N. Security Council to discuss a report on sexual violence against Israeli women and girls committed on Oct. 7, when Hamas and other individuals entered Israel from Gaza and attacked civilians.

"Our girls shall not be hurt in vain," Katz wrote. "Whoever harmed them will pay."

The announcement came after ambassador Gilad Erdan addressed the General Assembly, criticizing the member states for focusing on the humanitarian situation in Gaza over the pain of Israeli hostages and citizens.

Erdan noted that there has not been a single United Nations panel on rape and sexual violence committed on Oct. 7 as the body's International Women's Day approaches this week.

"This is the peak of the U.N.'s hypocrisy," Erdan said.

Palestinian-American woman who faces trial in Israeli military court is released on bail

The Associated Press

OFER PRISON, West Bank — A U.S. citizen who was?dragged out of her home and detained?by Israeli authorities for over three weeks was released on bail last week to wait out the remainder of her trial in the West Bank.

Samaher Esmail, a 46-year-old mother of Palestinian origin and resident of New Orleans, had been in the West bank for under three months when she was charged with incitement for several photos and messages she posted to social media.

Some of them involved images of top Hamas leaders, but did not explicitly call for violence. Esmail, who suffers from cancer and kidney problems, was bruised and sickly when her lawyer visited her at Damon prison, where she was held in the north of Israel before her release.

Esmail is now allowed to return to her West Bank village. She will only be able to go back to the U.S. once her trial concludes, which could take months, and only if she is found not guilty.

That a U.S. citizen is being tried in military court — a legal system for West Bank Palestinians separate from the civilian courts enjoyed by Israelis — has drawn widespread criticism.

Israel says it provides due process and largely imprisons those who threaten its security. Palestinians and human rights groups say the system is awash in violations of due process and almost always renders guilty verdicts, with 95% of military court hearings ending in convictions, according to Israeli watchdog Military Court Watch.

Palestinian U.N. official says Israel is using starvation as a 'method of war'

In a speech to the United Nation's General Assembly, Riyad Mansour, the Palestinian representative, accused Israel of using starvation as a "method of war."

Mansour asked the Assembly to look at the "agony" Palestinian children are enduring and held up a photo of a gaunt Palestinian child in Gaza, identifying him as Yazan al-Kafarneh. He described Yazan as a once-lively boy who died today of malnutrition after withering in a hospital bed for days.

"Starvation is not an unfortunate consequence of the war," Mansour said. "It is one of the methods of war used by Israel. Israel is starving our people."

Israel, which cut off access to water in Gaza in October and enforces a blockade on the strip, has rejected allegations that it has obstructed aid. The IDF and Israeli officials have said they have prioritized getting aid trucks into Gaza in the face of aid agencies that accused it of restricting access to the northern part of the enclave.

Mansour asked the member states to sanction and cut off support to Israel, calling supplies of weapons and finances to the country "unacceptable."

"Behave in a different way," Mansour said. "Show them that you mean business and honoring and upholding international law in solidarity with the Palestinian people."

Who is Benny Gantz, the Israeli war Cabinet member holding meetings in Washington?

He's visiting Washington this week and will meet with Vice President Kamala Harris today, but who is Benny Gantz, the Israeli war Cabinet member?

A centrist political rival of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Gantz, 64, who leads the centrist National Unity Party, joined Israel's emergency Cabinet last year.

Until then the two had been rivals, with Gantz vocally opposing Netanyahu’s drive to overhaul the judiciary, which led to nationwide protests in cities across Israel last year.

After joining the Cabinet, however, Gantz has frequently clashed with more right-wing members of the government, including the ultranationlist Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich and occasionally Netanyahu himself.

Before entering politics, Gantz, spent most of his career in the military and he served as the 20th Chief of General Staff of the Israel Defense Forces between 2011 and 2015.

He was leading the unit when Israel conducted?Operation Solomon in 1991, which airlifted more than 14,000 Ethiopian Jews to Israel as fears grew that Eritrean rebels would take over the African nation.

In 2019, Gantz faced off against Netanyahu for the role of prime minister after the Likud party failed to secure a government. Gantz managed to secure an unusual show of support from the Arab-majority party, Joint List, who wanted to see an end to Netanyahu’s leadership. The party typically avoided endorsing candidates prior to their victory.

Gantz ultimately failed to get the numbers needed to form his own government, joining a unity party with Netanyahu and serving as Israel’s defense minister. But he was replaced in that role by Yoav Gallant following the 2022 election.

Gantz has faced criticism at home for traveling to Washington without approval from the prime minister. But a poll by Israel's Channel 13 released today showed his National Unity Party would be a clear favorite to come out on top in any election held now.

16 children dead of malnutrition, Ministry of Information says

The number of children who have died of malnutrition and dehydration has risen to 16, according to a statement today from the Palestinian Ministry of Information.

At least six other children are being monitored in intensive care at Kamal Adwan Hospital, the ministry said. The statement went on to accuse Israel of obstructing humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip, particularly in the north.

"The Gaza Strip, which has been subjected to an ongoing Israeli aggression since October 7, has been caught in extremely difficult humanitarian conditions, amounting to famine," the ministry said.

The IDF and Israeli officials have denied such allegations, acknowledging that distribution is an issue but the country is actively working on getting aid to Gazans.

Biden says aid for Gazans is 'nowhere near enough'

President Joe Biden wrote on X that his administration is pushing "hard" for more aid routes in Gaza as children in the northern part of the Palestinian enclave began dying last week of malnutrition.

"There are no excuses," Biden wrote. "The aid flowing into Gaza is nowhere near enough — and nowhere fast enough."

The statement comes days after multiple people were reportedly killed in a crowd waiting for aid, with witnesses alleging that Israeli soldiers opened fire on the starving crowd and the IDF denying the accusation, saying that people were killed in a chaotic stampede.

That incident sparked the U.S. to work with Jordan to airdrop meals into Gaza, a move aid groups criticized for being woefully insufficient to meet the needs of Palestinians as they stand at the precipice of famine.

Distraught mom grieves for her twins killed in a Rafah airstrike

NBC News

Rania Abu Anza said she waited 10 years to become pregnant before she was able to conceive and give birth to twins Wissam and Naim six months ago with the help of in vitro fertilization.

They were killed in an overnight airstrike on Rafah. “Who is going to call me mama?” she asked an NBC News crew.

Nurse and 7 relatives killed in Rafah airstrike, aid agency says

A nurse with the humanitarian relief organization Project HOPE was killed during an airstrike in Khirbat al-Adas on the outskirts of Rafah, the agency told NBC News in a statement today.

Mohammed Hamed Mansour Madi worked long hours in "unimaginable conditions" to treat displaced patients in a primary health clinic, the agency's chief executive, Rabih Torbay said.

"His family home was hit by an airstrike" that killed Madi and seven of his relatives, including a child and a pregnant woman, Torbay said.

The area has been continuously targeted, he said, "despite housing thousands of civilian residents."

Israel's campaign in Gaza has killed more than 30,500 people, and officials say many still remain trapped under rubble awaiting rescue.

U.S. envoy Amos Hochstein is in Beirut for de-escalation talks

American diplomat Amos Hochstein is in Beirut today, meeting with Lebanese officials to try to de-escalate the fighting at the country's southern border, where Hezbollah and Israel are exchanging fire.

The U.S. Embassy in Beirut announced Hochstein's arrival, saying he was meeting "senior Lebanese officials to discuss areas of mutual and regional concern."

Lebanese state media reported that Hochstein met with Lebanese House Speaker Nabih Berri and urged diplomatic negotiations to help both the Lebanese and Israeli people return to their homes to live without the threat of attacks.

"There is no such thing as limited war," Hochstein said, according to state news.

1 killed, 7 injured after anti-tank missile hits Galilee

One person was killed and seven others were injured after an anti-tank missile hit a field in the Galilee panhandle of northern Israel, according to Magen David Adom, the national emergency services.

The injuries ranged from two people in serious condition and five others in mild to moderate condition, all of whom are workers from India in their 30s, MDA said.

"As soon as the call was received in MDA, we ran to the helicopter and were airborne in minutes, we met a MICU with a seriously injured casualty, and evacuated him to Beilinson Hospital while providing medical treatment," paramedic Meir Ben Yair said. "The casualties all had shrapnel injuries."

Analysis: Middle East jigsaw in pieces, putting them together looks harder than ever

Keir Simmons

More than ever, this week it looks like the Middle East jigsaw is in pieces.

Israeli war Cabinet member Benny Gantz is in Washington to meet with Vice President Kamala Harris and other members of the Biden administration, while facing criticism at home from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s supporters.

Talks continue in Cairo without an agreement and with no Israelis present, according to media reports.

The Israelis are demanding that Hamas provide details of which hostages are alive, before they agree to a prisoner exchange — an issue that has been festering for weeks, if not months. It does not suggest a huge amount of progress.

Elsewhere, Yemen Houthi rebels continue to target ships in the Red Sea, something they have vowed to do until there is peace in Gaza. ?

“The Houthis and their backer in Iran have manipulated the cause of Palestinians as an excuse to intensify instability in the region,” Amr al Bidh, member of Yemen’s Southern Transitional Council, a secessionist movement that wants independence for South Yemen, told NBC News today.

Al Bidh, who has been in London meeting with members of the British government, added that ordinary civilians were suffering. “Food prices have quadrupled and less urgent humanitarian aid is reaching the people most in need,” he said.

He said he told British lawmakers that the Houthis "must be held accountable."

"This includes ensuring their actions of terror in the Red Sea are not legitimized from wider developments in the region. The international community cannot take the word of the Houthis as a guarantee,” he said.

This is a complicated puzzle. The pieces are spread out and it will be hard to fit them together.

Relatives of hostages stage silent march in Israel's parliament

Family members of those still being held hostage by Hamas in Gaza staged a silent march today in Israel's parliament, the Knesset, to demand their release after exactly 150 days in captivity.

Israel believes that about 134 hostages are still being held in the enclave, although 32 are believed to have died in captivity.

At least one killed, multiple people injured in missile attack from Lebanon, Israel says

Peter Guo

At least one person was killed when an anti-tank missile was fired from Lebanon into Israel, the country's Magen David Adom?paramedic service said in a statement on Telegram today.

Seven more were injured the attack, two of whom were in serious condition, the ambulance service said in a later update. All had "shrapnel injuries." Some of the victims are workers from Thailand.

Northern Israel Lebanon
Israeli security forces in Kiryat Shoma, northern Israel, evacuate a wounded Thai man after he was hit by an anti-tank missile fired from Lebanon today.Ariel Schalit / AP

The Israel military reported several launches from Lebanon had targeted northern Israel. They came after Israel demolished several bases belonging to the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah, the Israel Defense forces said in a statement.

Israel carries out biggest Ramallah raid in years, witnesses say

Reuters

Israeli forces swept into the Palestinians’ administrative capital of Ramallah in the occupied?West?Bank?overnight, killing a 16-year-old in a refugee camp during their biggest raid into the city in years, Palestinian sources told Reuters today.

Witnesses in Ramallah said Israeli forces had driven dozens of military vehicles into the city, which is the headquarters of the Palestinian Authority led by President Mahmoud Abbas.

The Palestinian Health Ministry said Israeli forces shot and killed 16-year-old Mustafa Abu Shalbak while raiding Am’ari refugee camp.

The Palestinian news agency WAFA said confrontations broke out as Israeli forces stormed the camp, “during which live bullets were fired at Palestinian youths,” wounding Abu Shalbak in the neck and chest.

The Israeli military did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

CENTCOM commander meets with Israel's defense minister

Peter Guo

Gen. Michael “Erik” Kurilla, commander of U.S. Central Command, met with Israel’s defense minister today to discuss security concerns and the humanitarian situation in Gaza.

Yoav Gallant said in a post on X that they talked about “rising regional challenges as a result of Iranian aggression via proxies,” and stressed the importance of close military cooperation between the two sides.

Polling finds both Israel and Palestinian Authority viewed less favorably by Americans

Peter Guo

Americans’ opinions of both Israel and the Palestinian Authority have deteriorated in the past year, according to a Gallup poll released today.

A total of 58% of Americans view Israel favorably, down 10% from last year, the poll found. It is the lowest rating to the U.S. ally in more than 20 years.

Positive opinions of the Palestinian Authority have also dropped by 8% to 18%, the lowest rating in nine years, the survey found.

The largest decline in favorable ratings of Israel was observed among young adults ages 18 to 34, with a drop from 64% in 2023 to 38%.

Americans continue to lean toward Israel, with 51% saying they sympathize more with the Israelis and 27% more with the Palestinians. However, the gap has narrowed in recent years.

U.N. rights chief says essential to avoid conflagration in Gaza war

Reuters

The United Nations human rights chief said today that it was imperative to avoid any exacerbation of the war in Gaza, warning that any conflagration could have broad repercussions across the Middle East and beyond the region.

Addressing the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva, Volker Turk said the war in Gaza had already spilled over into neighboring countries.

“I am deeply concerned that in this powder keg, any spark could lead to a much broader conflagration,” said Turk, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. “This would have implications for every country in the Middle East, and many beyond it.”

He described the military escalation in southern Lebanon between?Israel, Hezbollah and other armed groups as “extremely worrying.”

Homes destroyed in Rafah

Max Butterworth

Nidal al-Gharib, a wounded Palestinian man who lost his wife and daughter, walks past homes destroyed by Israeli bombardments in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip today.

Gaza bombardment Rafah
Mohamed Abed / AFP - Getty Images

Catch up on NBC News’ latest coverage of the war

NBC News

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