Sudan faces ‘perfect storm’ as civil war sparks humanitarian crisis, aid groups warn

Belongings at Malakal transit site in South Sudan’s Upper Nile State. CREDIT: Jadwiga Figula/Getty Images

(LONDON AND NEW YORK) — After a missile struck her home in Khartoum, Sudan, last April, Dallia Mohamed Abdelmoniem said she was forced to flee and has not been back since.

“I literally packed for a week thinking I’ll come back, you know, we’ll be coming back home,” Abdelmoniem, a journalist-turned-activist who is currently based in Egypt, told ABC News.

She added, “I have no idea if my house is still standing or not.” Her century-deep roots in Sudan were ripped from the ground last year during the outbreak of the civil war, she said, scattering her family across the globe. “We have no family in Sudan anymore,” Abdelmoniem said.

A humanitarian “perfect storm” is brewing in Sudan as hunger looms, health systems collapse and millions are displaced, the World Health Organization (WHO) has warned last week in a briefing.

Just over 10 months since the start of the conflict between the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and the Rapid Support Forces Paramilitary group (RSF), aid organizations say Sudan is being plunged into a “humanitarian crisis of epic proportions.”

“Sudan is now one of the largest displacement crises globally, with nearly 8 million people displaced due to the ongoing conflict,” Peter Graaf, the WHO’s representative to Sudan, said in last week’s briefing. “About 25 million people in Sudan need humanitarian assistance, 18 million of whom are facing acute hunger – 5 million at emergency levels of hunger.”

The conflict, which erupted on April 15, 2023, between the Rapid Support Forces Paramilitary group (RSF) and the Sudanese Army (SAF) after weeks of tensions linked to a plan for returning the country to civilian rule after the dissolution of Sudan’s government, has killed at least 12,000 people according to the U.N.

Local groups, however, say the true toll is likely much higher.

Speaking to ABC News over the phone, Dr. Arif Noor, Save the Children’s country director for Sudan, says the impact of the war on Sudan has been “devastating.” Noor said, “Almost 50 percent if not more of the nation is witnessing active conflict. There have been indiscriminate attacks on hospitals, schools, and public services, irregular water and electricity access, and large-scale internet blackouts.”

Niemat Amhadi, a Sudanese activist based in Washington, D.C., told ABC News during she did not speak to her family in Sudan for six months during the country’s first communicate blockade.

Since the conflict broke out, the two warring factions have utilized internet shutdowns to block communication in areas controlled by the opposing side, activists say. A major communication blockade has currently been in place for the past two weeks, sources told ABC News.

Ahmadi, who survived the early-2000s Darfuri genocide, said the current conflict in comparison “is the worst in our lifetime,” citing not only these communication blockades, but also aid blockades.

Ahmadi told ABC News that “both sides are using humanitarian aid as a tool also to control people’s survival,” by preventing necessary aid from reaching those it is intended for.

“The health system is on the brink of collapse if not already collapsed in some areas,” added Noor. “And women and children especially are facing the brunt.”

The outbreak of the conflict has led to the displacement of nearly 3 million children, in addition to 2 million displaced in previous crises in Sudan, leading to the ‘world’s largest internal displacement crisis for children,’ UNICEF said.

While the needs of the ravaged nation continue to mount and organizations persist in sounding alarms calling to address them, funding for the crisis is not adequately flowing, UNICEF spokesperson James Elder said in a February press briefing.

“Despite the magnitude of needs, last year, the funding UNICEF sought for nearly three-quarters of children was not forthcoming,” Elder stated.

UNICEF has been appealing for $840 million to provide multi-intervention humanitarian assistance to Sudanese families since last year.

Abdelmoniem also lamented the lack of funding. “It’s not even a trickle, I wouldn’t even call it a trickle. It’s bread crumbs. I don’t know what it is, but no, there’s no money coming in whatsoever,” she told ABC News.

Elder, in his briefing, also urged the public to consider the generational repercussions of the crisis.

“The true cost of war isn’t just measured in casualties but also in the loss of intellectual capital, and this war risks condemning Sudan to a future bereft of learning, innovation, progress, and hope,” he advised.

Abdelmoniem agreed, telling ABC News, “A lot of the youth, those who are under the age of 30, in their life they’ve seen nothing but war and destruction. How can you guarantee for them that, you know what, there’s a future here?”

The Sudanese Armed Forces last week announced it had regained control of the city of Omdurman from the Rapid Support Forces following intense fighting in its first major advance since the onset of the war.

But fighting between the RSF and SAF continues, with clashes between the two sides in Sudan’s capital Khartoum, West, North and Central Darfur, Kordofan as well as Sudan’s breadbasket state, Al Jazirah.

As the war approaches its one-year anniversary, Noor tells ABC the nation is in “dire need for peace” as the State Department calls on parties to abide by their responsibility to protect civilians and humanitarian staff.

In a statement, a State Department spokesperson told ABC News: “We urge SAF General Burhan and RSF General Hemedti to hold those responsible for attacks on civilians to account, and to abide by their IGAD summit commitments of an unconditional ceasefire and a face-to-face meeting between them.”

The spokesperson added, “All parties to the conflict have a responsibility to protect civilians and humanitarian staff, who are risking their lives to help people in need. Any interference or theft of humanitarian goods is unacceptable and keeps lifesaving aid from reaching those that need it most.”

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Alexei Navalny’s death listed as ‘natural,’ mother says, accusing Russia of blackmail

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(NEW YORK) — Alexei Navalny’s cause of death has been listed as “natural” on his medical report, according to Navalny’s spokesperson Kira Yarmysh, who was relayed the information on the death certificate by the Russian opposition leader’s mother.

“The medical report on death shown to the mother of Alexei Navalny stated that the causes of death were natural,” Yarmysh wrote in Russian on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter.

Navalny’s team has accused Russia of killing the Vladimir Putin critic, who was previously poisoned and nearly died in an assassination attempt blamed on the Russian president.

Alexei Navalny’s mother, Lyudmila Navalnaya, said she was “secretly” taken to the morgue to see her son’s body in a video message posted to YouTube on Thursday. She also said the Russian government is blackmailing her and trying to force her to have a secret funeral for her son.

“I just left the building of the Investigative Committee of the city of Salekhard. I spent almost a day there alone, alone with investigators and criminologists. They only let the lawyer in this afternoon. Yesterday evening they secretly took me to the morgue, where they showed Alexei,” Navalnaya said in the video.

Navalny’s body was taken to the Russian city of Salekhard, located on the Arctic Circle, after he died in a nearby penal colony on Feb. 16.

Investigators “claim they know the cause of death,” Navalnaya said. She also said she signed Navalny’s death certificate.

“They have all the medical and legal documents ready, which I saw, and I signed the medical death certificate,” Navalnaya said.

Navalnaya said the Russian government is “blackmailing” her, trying to convince her to have a secret funeral for her son.

“I’m recording this video because they started threatening me. Looking into my eyes they say that if I don’t agree to a secret funeral, they will do something with my son’s body,” Navalnaya said. “I don’t want any special conditions. I just want everything to be done according to the law. I demand that his son be given to me immediately.”

President Joe Biden addressed the U.S. following news of Navalny’s death last week, saying he was both “not surprised and outraged” while placing the blame directly on Putin.

“We don’t know exactly what happened but there is no doubt that the death of Navalny was the result of something that Putin and his friends did,” Biden said.

ABC News’ Rashid Haddou contributed to this report.

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US estimates Ukraine military shortages could grow catastrophic by late March

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(NEW YORK) — By spring, Ukraine faces a potentially catastrophic shortage of ammunition and air defenses that could effectively turn the tide of the war and lend Russian President Vladimir Putin a significant advantage, according to an internal U.S. estimate.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, two U.S. officials described “late March” as being a particularly crucial time for the fate of Ukrainian troops if Congress doesn’t pass a new aid bill. A third official said it would be difficult to pinpoint exactly when the situation for Ukrainian troops could worsen but noted that the shortages were expected to grow more dire through spring.

“The juncture starts now and it just keeps getting worse progressively through the spring and into summer. So, this time period that we are entering is a critical time period,” said a senior U.S. defense official.

The U.S. assessment comes nearly two years after Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine and as support for Ukraine in Congress and in the American public is fading. The once-steady flow of cash and weapons from the U.S. — totaling some $44 billion since the invasion — has mostly dried up. A separate $60 billion aid package requested by President Joe Biden and passed by the Senate is in limbo in the House as some Republicans loyal to Donald Trump question America’s commitment to another far-away conflict entering its third year.

The White House this week directly blamed the hold up for Russia’s victory in the eastern city of Avdiivka. The town fell last weekend after Ukrainian troops there were forced to ration ammunition, handing the Kremlin its first major military victory since last May.

“It was because of congressional inaction,” said White House National Security Communications Advisor John Kirby on Ukraine’s loss. “And we’ve been warning Congress that if they didn’t act, Ukraine would suffer losses on the battlefield and here you go. That’s what happened this weekend.”

U.S. officials predict similar scenarios will play out elsewhere in Ukraine as the government there is forced to make tough choices on where to put its remaining air defenses — and as Russia makes greater use of its airpower, including lobbing satellite-guided glide-bombs much as it was in Avdiivka.

“The things that are protected today — they will not be able to protect all of these locations in the future if they don’t maintain supplies of interceptors,” the senior defense official said. And if Russia gains control of the skies, “it completely changes the nature of this fight.”

Added one Ukrainian official: “Our primary goal is to deter Russian aviation. If we can’t do that, it’s time to pack our things.”

The $44 billion in U.S. security assistance for Ukraine has supplied Kyiv with a long list of sophisticated weaponry including Stinger anti-aircraft missiles, Bradley and Stryker fighting vehicles, a Patriot air defense battery, advanced rocket launchers known as “HIMARS,” and 31 M1 Abrams tanks. The U.S. also is helping to train the first batch of Ukrainian pilots to fly F-16 fighter jets donated by Denmark and the Netherlands.

But officials say Ukraine urgently needs both small and large munitions, including the GPS-guided rockets that make the HIMARS launchers effective.

Another concern is Ukraine’s air defense capability, including supplies to protect the donated F-16 jets slated for deployment later this year. Officials say the country also still needs money to build the infrastructure to support the fighters — including runways and hangers to store the jets. And while the U.S. is helping to train some pilots — described by one U.S. official as “fewer than 10” — there wouldn’t be enough money to bring on more in the future without additional U.S. aid.

Behind much of the GOP hesitation to support Ukraine is Trump, who has said it would be “stupid” to provide foreign aid to countries instead of loans. He also has encouraged Russia to attack NATO allies if they don’t contribute enough to their defense spending — a provocation quickly decried by U.S. allies in Europe as dangerous.

Complicating matters in the U.S. is that the Pentagon itself is set to run out of money on March 8 if Congress is unable to agree on annual spending legislation. House Republicans have insisted upon unspecified border policy provisions and deep cuts in domestic spending opposed by the Senate and White House.

Meanwhile, the Biden administration is trying to make the case to lawmakers that Ukraine isn’t a lost cause.

The U.S. estimates Russian has spent up to $211 billion on military operations in the war and losing $10 billion in arms sales. That’s in addition to the heavy casualties: Of the 360,000 Russian fighters available before the war began, some 315,000 Russian fighters have been killed or wounded.

A separate Dec. 8 estimate by the Defense Intelligence Agency, provided to Congress and described by a person familiar with the findings, concluded that Russia has lost some 2,200 tanks out of the 3,500 it had in stock before the war began.

Analysts say those losses haven’t crippled Russian forces though because Moscow has been able to pull Soviet-era vehicles out of storage while also manufacturing new ones. At the same time, Russia’s economic alliance with China has been able to help the country to shrug off many international sanctions, keeping its economy and military industrial base afloat.

In one recent analysis, the International Institute for Strategic Studies didn’t see any sign Russia was buckling under the weight of such hefty losses on the battlefield.

“Russia will be able to sustain its assault on Ukraine at current attrition rates for another 2–3 years, and maybe even longer,” the institute wrote.

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Israel-Gaza live updates: One dead, several injured in shooting near Jerusalem

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(NEW YORK) — More than four months since Hamas terrorists invaded Israel on Oct. 7, the Israeli military continues its bombardment of the neighboring Gaza Strip.

The conflict, now the deadliest between the warring sides since Israel’s founding in 1948, shows no signs of letting up soon and the brief cease-fire that allowed for over 100 hostages to be freed from Gaza remains a distant memory.

Here’s how the news is developing:

Feb 22, 3:35 AM
One dead, several injured in shooting near Jerusalem, Israeli authorities say

At least one person was killed and several others were injured Thursday in a shooting on a main road just outside Jerusalem in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, according to Israeli authorities.

Highway 1 was packed with cars when gunfire erupted Thursday morning near a checkpoint between Jerusalem and the Israeli settlement of Ma’ale Adumim. Three “terrorists” armed with automatic weapons pulled up in a vehicle, got out and opened fire at cars that were standing still in the traffic jam, according to the Israel Police.

Israeli security forces who were already on scene “neutralized” two of the suspects, police said. A third suspect who had tried to escape was later found and also “neutralized,” according to police.

Medics arrived and “ran from vehicle to vehicle” searching for victims, according to Israel’s rescue service MDA. A man in his 20s was pronounced dead at the scene while several others were transported to area hospitals, including four people who were moderately injured with gunshot wounds, MDA said.

Feb 21, 2:59 PM
Israeli Minister Gantz expresses cautious optimism about new hostage deal

Israeli Minister Benny Gantz on Wednesday expressed cautious optimism that a new outline for a possible hostage deal could move forward.

Gantz, a member of the Israeli war cabinet, said at Israel’s Defense Headquarters Wednesday that there are “attempts” to “promote a new outline” for a hostage deal, and there are “initial signs that indicate the possibility of moving forward.”

“We will not stop looking for the way, and we will not miss any opportunity to bring the girls and boys home,” Gantz said.

-ABC News’ Ellie Kaufman and Dana Savir

Feb 21, 1:02 PM
8 bodies remain in Nasser Medical Complex among living patients, Gaza Ministry of Health says

Eight patients who died because of a lack of electricity at Nasser Medical Complex in Gaza are still in their beds inside of the hospital among living patients, the Hamas-run Gaza Ministry of Health said Wednesday.

The Ministry of Health said the bodies are still in the hospital because Israeli forces refuse to remove them.

The bodies “have begun to swell and show signs of decomposition, posing a danger to other patients,” the Ministry of Health said in a statement.

Israeli authorities denied these claims and said no bodies are still inside Nasser Hospital.

The Israel Defense Forces has been operating inside of Nasser Hospital for the last week. On Monday, the IDF announced its soldiers had arrested 200 suspected Hamas members at Nasser Hospital.

ABC News’ Ellie Kaufman and Camilla Alcini

Feb 21, 8:28 AM
Israel considering sending delegation to Egypt for new round of talks, source says

Israel is weighing the possibility of sending a delegation back to Egypt for continued negotiations over a potential cease-fire or hostage deal with Hamas, an Israeli political source told ABC News on Wednesday.

There is some cautious optimism over the latest round of talks in Cairo, the source said.

Egypt, along with Qatar and the United States, has been mediating talks between the warring sides.

Feb 21, 8:14 AM
Israel preparing to reopen Karni border crossing to facilitate aid to northern Gaza, source says

Israel is preparing to reopen the Karni border crossing to facilitate the entry of humanitarian aid into the northern Gaza Strip, an Israeli political source told ABC News on Wednesday.

Israel shuttered the Karni crossing, located on the border between southwestern Israel and northeastern Gaza, when Palestinian militant group Hamas came to power in the enclave in 2007 before permanently closing the crossing in 2011.

Northern Gaza has been isolated by the Israeli military and almost completely cut off from aid for weeks, according to the United Nations.

Feb 21, 7:56 AM
UN food agency pauses deliveries to northern Gaza

The World Food Program, the food assistance arm of the United Nations, announced Tuesday that it is pausing deliveries of food aid to the northern Gaza Strip “until conditions are in place that allow for safe distribution.”

The decision came after a WFP convoy heading north from Gaza City was “surrounded by crowds of hungry people close to the Wadi Gaza checkpoint” on Sunday, the agency said. The same convoy faced “complete chaos and violence due to the collapse of civil order” when it tried to resume its journey north on Monday, according to the WFP.

“Several trucks were looted between Khan Yunis and Deir al-Balah and a truck driver was beaten. The remaining flour was spontaneously distributed off the trucks in Gaza City, amidst high tension and explosive anger,” the WFP said in a statement Tuesday. “The decision to pause deliveries to the north of the Gaza Strip has not been taken lightly, as we know it means the situation there will deteriorate further and more people risk dying of hunger.”

An analysis released Monday by the Global Nutrition Cluster, a humanitarian aid partnership led by the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), found that 15.6% of children under the age of 2 are acutely malnourished in northern Gaza, which has been isolated by the Israeli military and almost completely cut off from aid for weeks, compared to 5% in southern Gaza, where most aid enters the war-torn enclave. The acute malnutrition rate across Gaza was less than 1% before the war began last October, according to the report.

Feb 20, 2:21 PM
Hostages held in Gaza have received medicine, Qatar says

Qatari officials said hostages held by Hamas in Gaza have received the medication that was part of a deal brokered last month.

The Israeli Prime Minister’s Office said it has asked Qatar for evidence that the medicine was delivered.

“Israel will examine the credibility of the report and will continue to work for the peace of our abductees,” the office said in a statement.

Feb 20, 12:21 PM
US draft resolution calls for temporary cease-fire

The U.S. voted against a resolution calling for an immediate cease-fire at Wednesday’s United Nations Security Council meeting, The Associated Press reported.

The U.S. was the only nation of the 15 permanent Security Council members to vote against the measure, according to the AP.

U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Linda Thomas-Greenfield said “an unconditional cease-fire without any obligation for Hamas to release hostages” was irresponsible.

“While we cannot support a resolution that would put sensitive negotiations in jeopardy, we look forward to engaging on a text that we believe will address so many of the concerns we all share — a text that can and should be adopted by the council, so that we can have a temporary cease-fire as soon as practicable, based on the formula of all hostages being released,” she said.

The U.S. has been circulating its own draft resolution on Gaza that calls for a temporary cease-fire conditioned on the release of all hostages, while also condemning Hamas for the Oct. 7 attack that sparked the war, according to senior administration officials familiar with the matter.

If the proposal were to be adopted by the U.N. Security Council, it would mark the first time the body has formally condemned Hamas’ actions.

The officials say the draft also makes clear “that under current circumstances a major ground offensive into Rafah should not proceed” and that there can be no reduction in territory in the Gaza Strip or any forced displacement of Palestinians, while also calling on Israel “to lift all barriers to the provision of humanitarian assistance, open additional humanitarian routes, and to keep current crossings open.”

The senior officials signaled that American diplomats wouldn’t rush the text to a vote and that they intended on “allowing time for negotiations.”

While hostage talks have sputtered over the past couple of weeks, senior administration officials said they were making some progress.

“The differences between the parties, they have been narrowed. They haven’t been sufficiently narrowed to get us to a deal, but we are still hopeful and we are confident that there is the basis for an agreement between the parties,” one official said.

ABC News’ Shannon Crawford

Feb 20, 11:34 AM
US votes against immediate cease-fire

The U.S. voted against a resolution calling for an immediate cease-fire at Wednesday’s United Nations Security Council meeting, The Associated Press reported.

The U.S. was the only nation of the 15 permanent Security Council members to vote against the measure, according to the AP.

The U.S. has said an immediate cease-fire could impede the negotiations looking to free hostages and agree to a pause in fighting, the AP said.

Feb 20, 11:07 AM
IDF operating inside Al-Amal Hospital

Israeli forces, which already entered Gaza’s Nasser Hospital, are also now operating inside the nearby Al-Amal Hospital, the Israel Defense Forces confirmed to ABC News.

“Al-Amal Hospital is currently under multiple attacks, as Israeli forces have directly targeted the third floor of the hospital, resulting in the burning of two rooms,” and “the hospital’s water lines were targeted,” the Palestine Red Crescent Society said.

Over 8,000 patients were evacuated from the hospital earlier this month, but almost 100 patients still remain inside, the Palestine Red Crescent Society said.

Feb 20, 7:13 AM
WHO helps transfer 32 critical patients out of Gaza’s besieged Nasser Hospital

The World Health Organization said Tuesday that it has helped to successfully transfer 32 critically ill patients, including two children, from besieged Nasser Hospital in the southern Gaza Strip.

The WHO said its staff led two “life-saving,” “high-risk” missions at the medical complex in Khan Younis on Sunday and Monday, in close partnership with the Palestine Red Crescent Society and the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, “amid ongoing hostilities and access restrictions.” Staff at Nasser Hospital had requested the transfer of patients after the facility became “non-functional” following an Israeli military raid on Feb. 14 after a weeklong siege, according to the WHO.

“Weak and frail patients were transferred amidst active conflict near the aid convoy,” the WHO said in a statement. “Road conditions hindered the swift movement of ambulances, placing the health of patients at further risk.”

“Nasser Hospital has no electricity or running water, and medical waste and garbage are creating a breeding ground for disease,” the organization added. “WHO staff said the destruction around the hospital was ‘indescribable.’ The area was surrounded by burnt and destroyed buildings, heavy layers of debris, with no stretch of intact road.”

The WHO estimates that 130 sick and injured patients and at least 15 doctors and nurses remain inside Nasser Hospital. As the facility’s intensive care unit was no longer functioning, the only remaining ICU patient was transferred to a different part of the complex where other patients are receiving basic care, according to the WHO.

“WHO fears for the safety and well-being of the patients and health workers remaining in the hospital and warns that further disruption to lifesaving care for the sick and injured would lead to more deaths,” the organization said. “Efforts to facilitate further patient referrals amidst the ongoing hostilities are in process.”

Prior to the missions on Sunday and Monday, the WHO said it “received two consecutive denials to access the hospital for medical assessment, causing delays in urgently needed patient referral.” At least five patients reportedly died in Nasser Hospital’s ICU before any missions or transfers were possible, according to the WHO.

Nasser Hospital is the main medical center serving southern Gaza. Ground troops from the Israel Defense Forces stormed the facility last week, looking for members of Hamas who the IDF alleges have been conducting military operations out of the hospital. Hamas, the Palestinian militant group that governs Gaza and is at war with neighboring Israel, denies the claims.

“The dismantling and degradation of the Nasser Medical Complex is a massive blow to Gaza’s health system,” the WHO said. “Facilities in the south are already operating well beyond maximum capacity and are barely able to receive more patients.”

Feb 20, 5:26 AM
Aid groups warn of potential ‘explosion in preventable child deaths’ in Gaza

A new analysis by the Global Nutrition Cluster, a humanitarian aid partnership led by the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund, found that 90% of children under the age of 2 in the war-torn Gaza Strip face severe food poverty, meaning they eat two or fewer food groups a day.

The same was true for 95% of pregnant and breastfeeding women in Gaza, according to the report released Monday. And at least 90% of children under 5 are affected by one or more infectious disease, with 70% experiencing diarrhea in the past two weeks, the report said.

In Gaza’s southernmost city of Rafah, where most humanitarian aid enters, 5% of children under 2 are acutely malnourished, compared to more than 15% in northern Gaza, which has been isolated by the Israeli military and almost completely cut off from aid for weeks, the report said. Before war broke out last October between Israel and Gaza’s militant rulers, Hamas, the acute malnutrition rate across the coastal enclave was less than 1%, according to the report.

The report also found that more than 80% of homes in Gaza lack clean and safe water, with the average household having one liter per person per day.

“The Gaza Strip is poised to witness an explosion in preventable child deaths which would compound the already unbearable level of child deaths in Gaza,” Ted Chaiban, deputy executive director for humanitarian action and supply operations at UNICEF, said in a statement. “We’ve been warning for weeks that the Gaza Strip is on the brink of a nutrition crisis. If the conflict doesn’t end now, children’s nutrition will continue to plummet, leading to preventable deaths or health issues which will affect the children of Gaza for the rest of their lives and have potential intergenerational consequences.”

Feb 19, 12:31 PM
Gaza’s health ministry accuses IDF of turning Nasser Hospital into ‘military barracks’

Israeli troops have turned Nasser Hospital, the main medical center serving the southern Gaza Strip, into a “military barracks” and are “endangering the lives of patients and medical staff,” according to Gaza’s Hamas-run Ministry of Health.

The health ministry said Monday that patients and medical staff inside Nasser Hospital are now without electricity, water, food, oxygen and treatment capabilities for difficult cases since Israeli ground troops raided the facility in the southern Gaza city of Khan Younis last week.

The World Health Organization, which warned on Sunday that Nasser Hospital “is not functional anymore,” said more than 180 patients and 15 doctors and nurses remain inside the hospital.

The WHO said it has evacuated 14 critical patients from the hospital to receive treatment elsewhere.

The Israel Defense Forces alleges that Hamas, the Palestinian militant group that governs Gaza, has been conducting military operations out of Nasser Hospital and other medical centers in the war-torn enclave — claims which Hamas denies.

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Decrease in aid trucks entering Gaza as access to food dwindles, agencies say

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(TEL-AVIV, Israel) — The number of humanitarian aid trucks entering the war-torn Gaza Strip has decreased over the past few weeks, with the delivery of food aid to the north almost completely stopped, according to the United Nations and the Israeli government.

The causes were not immediately clear but were likely due to a combination of factors. The entry and distribution of aid in Gaza have been disrupted since war broke out after Hamas, the Palestinian militant group that governs the coastal enclave, launched a surprise attack on neighboring Israel on Oct. 7.

Israel has said it is conducting this war to dismantle Hamas and says they are doing everything in their power to protect civilian lives throughout the war.

Now, after five months of war, amidst an ever-growing outcry for aid to help the Palestinian people trapped in a warzone, the United Nations has warned that people are starving.

The Kerem Shalom crossing on the border of Egypt, Israel, and Gaza, one of two locations where aid trucks can enter Gaza after being inspected by authorities, has been impacted by Israeli protesters in recent days. Protesters stood in the way to stop trucks from entering Kerem Shalom, causing the crossing to be closed from Feb. 8-10 and again from Feb. 15-17, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) told ABC News in a statement on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, the Rafah crossing on the border of Egypt and Gaza, the second location where aid can enter Gaza, has seen a significant decrease in the number of aid trucks crossing into the territory over the past week, according to data compiled by UNRWA, which is the main U.N. agency operating in Gaza.

No food in the north

UNRWA said it has not been able to deliver food aid to northern Gaza since Jan. 23, almost a month ago. The U.N.’s World Food Program (WFP) announced Tuesday that it was pausing deliveries of food aid to the north of Gaza “until conditions are in place that allow for safe distribution.”

Nutrition screenings conducted at shelters and health centers in northern Gaza, which has been isolated by the Israeli military and almost completely cut off from aid for weeks, found that 15.6% of children under the age of 2 — or 1 in 6 children under 2 years of age — are acutely malnourished, compared to 5% in Gaza’s southernmost city of Rafah, where most aid enters, according to a report released Monday by the Global Nutrition Cluster, a humanitarian aid partnership led by the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF). The acute malnutrition rate across Gaza was less than 1% before the war began.

“Of these, almost 3% suffer from severe wasting, the most life-threatening form of malnutrition, which puts young children at highest risk of medical complications and death unless they receive urgent treatment,” multiple U.N. agencies said in a joint statement alongside the release of the report. “As the data were collected in January, the situation is likely to be even graver today.”

Desperation and lawlessness are also hindering the transportation of aid inside the war-ravaged enclave, according to the agencies.

A WFP convoy heading north from Gaza City was “surrounded by crowds of hungry people close to the Wadi Gaza checkpoint,” on Feb. 18, the agency said in a statement Tuesday announcing that it would halt aid deliveries to the region. The same convoy faced “complete chaos and violence due to the collapse of civil order,” when it tried to resume its journey north on Feb. 19, according to WFP.

“Several trucks were looted between Khan Yunis and Deir al Balah and a truck driver was beaten. The remaining flour was spontaneously distributed off the trucks in Gaza City, amidst high tension and explosive anger,” WFP said in a statement. “The decision to pause deliveries to the north of the Gaza Strip has not been taken lightly, as we know it means the situation there will deteriorate further and more people risk dying of hunger.”

Decrease in aid trucks entering Gaza

COGAT, the Israeli agency that oversees Palestinian affairs, also confirmed Tuesday that there has been a drop in aid trucks entering Gaza.

More than 450 trucks are waiting on the Gaza side of the Kerem Shalom crossing, according to Col. Moshe Tetro, an official with COGAT. Part of the problem is that U.N. staff in Gaza have not come to distribute the aid in the trucks, Tetro said during a press conference.

Several countries, including the United States, paused funding to UNRWA at the end of January after the Israeli government alleged several of the agency’s workers were involved in the Oct. 7 terror attack on Israel. UNRWA has said it is investigating the allegations and took swift action against the accused.

Tetro told reporters that politics are playing into why aid trucks are not entering Gaza and why aid is not being distributed in the way it was a few weeks ago. The U.N. also needs to hire more staff to distribute the aid, he added.

Meanwhile, more than 50 trucks entered via Rafah four out of seven days during the first week of February, while 87 trucks entered on Feb. 8, during the second week.

By the end of the week, no trucks had entered through Rafah for three consecutive days and no aid trucks entered on four different days from Feb. 12 through Feb. 18, according to the data. Israel conducted an intense military operation in Rafah during this time to rescue two hostages.

“Without more humanitarian assistance, the nutritional situation is likely to continue to deteriorate rapidly and at scale across the Gaza Strip,” multiple U.N. agencies said in a joint statement Monday alongside the release of the Global Nutrition Cluster report. “With the majority of health, water, and sanitation services severely degraded, it is essential that those that remain functional are protected and reinforced to stem the spread of diseases and stop malnutrition from worsening.”

ABC News’ Jordana Miller contributed to this report.

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Israel-Gaza live updates: UN food agency pauses deliveries to northern Gaza

Luis Diaz Devesa/Getty Images

(NEW YORK) — More than four months since Hamas terrorists invaded Israel on Oct. 7, the Israeli military continues its bombardment of the neighboring Gaza Strip.

The conflict, now the deadliest between the warring sides since Israel’s founding in 1948, shows no signs of letting up soon and the brief cease-fire that allowed for over 100 hostages to be freed from Gaza remains a distant memory.

Here’s how the news is developing:

Feb 21, 1:02 PM
8 bodies remain in Nasser Medical Complex among living patients, Gaza Ministry of Health says

Eight patients who died because of a lack of electricity at Nasser Medical Complex in Gaza are still in their beds inside of the hospital among living patients, the Hamas-run Gaza Ministry of Health said Wednesday.

The Ministry of Health said the bodies are still in the hospital because Israeli forces refuse to remove them.

The bodies “have begun to swell and show signs of decomposition, posing a danger to other patients,” the Ministry of Health said in a statement.

Israeli authorities denied these claims and said no bodies are still inside Nasser Hospital.

The Israel Defense Forces has been operating inside of Nasser Hospital for the last week. On Monday, the IDF announced its soldiers had arrested 200 suspected Hamas members at Nasser Hospital.

ABC News’ Ellie Kaufman and Camilla Alcini

Feb 21, 8:28 AM
Israel considering sending delegation to Egypt for new round of talks, source says

Israel is weighing the possibility of sending a delegation back to Egypt for continued negotiations over a potential cease-fire or hostage deal with Hamas, an Israeli political source told ABC News on Wednesday.

There is some cautious optimism over the latest round of talks in Cairo, the source said.

Egypt, along with Qatar and the United States, has been mediating talks between the warring sides.

Feb 21, 8:14 AM
Israel preparing to reopen Karni border crossing to facilitate aid to northern Gaza, source says

Israel is preparing to reopen the Karni border crossing to facilitate the entry of humanitarian aid into the northern Gaza Strip, an Israeli political source told ABC News on Wednesday.

Israel shuttered the Karni crossing, located on the border between southwestern Israel and northeastern Gaza, when Palestinian militant group Hamas came to power in the enclave in 2007 before permanently closing the crossing in 2011.

Northern Gaza has been isolated by the Israeli military and almost completely cut off from aid for weeks, according to the United Nations.

Feb 21, 7:56 AM
UN food agency pauses deliveries to northern Gaza

The World Food Program, the food assistance arm of the United Nations, announced Tuesday that it is pausing deliveries of food aid to the northern Gaza Strip “until conditions are in place that allow for safe distribution.”

The decision came after a WFP convoy heading north from Gaza City was “surrounded by crowds of hungry people close to the Wadi Gaza checkpoint” on Sunday, the agency said. The same convoy faced “complete chaos and violence due to the collapse of civil order” when it tried to resume its journey north on Monday, according to the WFP.

“Several trucks were looted between Khan Yunis and Deir al-Balah and a truck driver was beaten. The remaining flour was spontaneously distributed off the trucks in Gaza City, amidst high tension and explosive anger,” the WFP said in a statement Tuesday. “The decision to pause deliveries to the north of the Gaza Strip has not been taken lightly, as we know it means the situation there will deteriorate further and more people risk dying of hunger.”

An analysis released Monday by the Global Nutrition Cluster, a humanitarian aid partnership led by the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), found that 15.6% of children under the age of 2 are acutely malnourished in northern Gaza, which has been isolated by the Israeli military and almost completely cut off from aid for weeks, compared to 5% in southern Gaza, where most aid enters the war-torn enclave. The acute malnutrition rate across Gaza was less than 1% before the war began last October, according to the report.

Feb 20, 2:21 PM
Hostages held in Gaza have received medicine, Qatar says

Qatari officials said hostages held by Hamas in Gaza have received the medication that was part of a deal brokered last month.

The Israeli Prime Minister’s Office said it has asked Qatar for evidence that the medicine was delivered.

“Israel will examine the credibility of the report and will continue to work for the peace of our abductees,” the office said in a statement.

Feb 20, 12:21 PM
US draft resolution calls for temporary cease-fire

The U.S. voted against a resolution calling for an immediate cease-fire at Wednesday’s United Nations Security Council meeting, The Associated Press reported.

The U.S. was the only nation of the 15 permanent Security Council members to vote against the measure, according to the AP.

U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Linda Thomas-Greenfield said “an unconditional cease-fire without any obligation for Hamas to release hostages” was irresponsible.

“While we cannot support a resolution that would put sensitive negotiations in jeopardy, we look forward to engaging on a text that we believe will address so many of the concerns we all share — a text that can and should be adopted by the council, so that we can have a temporary cease-fire as soon as practicable, based on the formula of all hostages being released,” she said.

The U.S. has been circulating its own draft resolution on Gaza that calls for a temporary cease-fire conditioned on the release of all hostages, while also condemning Hamas for the Oct. 7 attack that sparked the war, according to senior administration officials familiar with the matter.

If the proposal were to be adopted by the U.N. Security Council, it would mark the first time the body has formally condemned Hamas’ actions.

The officials say the draft also makes clear “that under current circumstances a major ground offensive into Rafah should not proceed” and that there can be no reduction in territory in the Gaza Strip or any forced displacement of Palestinians, while also calling on Israel “to lift all barriers to the provision of humanitarian assistance, open additional humanitarian routes, and to keep current crossings open.”

The senior officials signaled that American diplomats wouldn’t rush the text to a vote and that they intended on “allowing time for negotiations.”

While hostage talks have sputtered over the past couple of weeks, senior administration officials said they were making some progress.

“The differences between the parties, they have been narrowed. They haven’t been sufficiently narrowed to get us to a deal, but we are still hopeful and we are confident that there is the basis for an agreement between the parties,” one official said.

ABC News’ Shannon Crawford

Feb 20, 11:34 AM
US votes against immediate cease-fire

The U.S. voted against a resolution calling for an immediate cease-fire at Wednesday’s United Nations Security Council meeting, The Associated Press reported.

The U.S. was the only nation of the 15 permanent Security Council members to vote against the measure, according to the AP.

The U.S. has said an immediate cease-fire could impede the negotiations looking to free hostages and agree to a pause in fighting, the AP said.

Feb 20, 11:07 AM
IDF operating inside Al-Amal Hospital

Israeli forces, which already entered Gaza’s Nasser Hospital, are also now operating inside the nearby Al-Amal Hospital, the Israel Defense Forces confirmed to ABC News.

“Al-Amal Hospital is currently under multiple attacks, as Israeli forces have directly targeted the third floor of the hospital, resulting in the burning of two rooms,” and “the hospital’s water lines were targeted,” the Palestine Red Crescent Society said.

Over 8,000 patients were evacuated from the hospital earlier this month, but almost 100 patients still remain inside, the Palestine Red Crescent Society said.

Feb 20, 7:13 AM
WHO helps transfer 32 critical patients out of Gaza’s besieged Nasser Hospital

The World Health Organization said Tuesday that it has helped to successfully transfer 32 critically ill patients, including two children, from besieged Nasser Hospital in the southern Gaza Strip.

The WHO said its staff led two “life-saving,” “high-risk” missions at the medical complex in Khan Younis on Sunday and Monday, in close partnership with the Palestine Red Crescent Society and the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, “amid ongoing hostilities and access restrictions.” Staff at Nasser Hospital had requested the transfer of patients after the facility became “non-functional” following an Israeli military raid on Feb. 14 after a weeklong siege, according to the WHO.

“Weak and frail patients were transferred amidst active conflict near the aid convoy,” the WHO said in a statement. “Road conditions hindered the swift movement of ambulances, placing the health of patients at further risk.”

“Nasser Hospital has no electricity or running water, and medical waste and garbage are creating a breeding ground for disease,” the organization added. “WHO staff said the destruction around the hospital was ‘indescribable.’ The area was surrounded by burnt and destroyed buildings, heavy layers of debris, with no stretch of intact road.”

The WHO estimates that 130 sick and injured patients and at least 15 doctors and nurses remain inside Nasser Hospital. As the facility’s intensive care unit was no longer functioning, the only remaining ICU patient was transferred to a different part of the complex where other patients are receiving basic care, according to the WHO.

“WHO fears for the safety and well-being of the patients and health workers remaining in the hospital and warns that further disruption to lifesaving care for the sick and injured would lead to more deaths,” the organization said. “Efforts to facilitate further patient referrals amidst the ongoing hostilities are in process.”

Prior to the missions on Sunday and Monday, the WHO said it “received two consecutive denials to access the hospital for medical assessment, causing delays in urgently needed patient referral.” At least five patients reportedly died in Nasser Hospital’s ICU before any missions or transfers were possible, according to the WHO.

Nasser Hospital is the main medical center serving southern Gaza. Ground troops from the Israel Defense Forces stormed the facility last week, looking for members of Hamas who the IDF alleges have been conducting military operations out of the hospital. Hamas, the Palestinian militant group that governs Gaza and is at war with neighboring Israel, denies the claims.

“The dismantling and degradation of the Nasser Medical Complex is a massive blow to Gaza’s health system,” the WHO said. “Facilities in the south are already operating well beyond maximum capacity and are barely able to receive more patients.”

Feb 20, 5:26 AM
Aid groups warn of potential ‘explosion in preventable child deaths’ in Gaza

A new analysis by the Global Nutrition Cluster, a humanitarian aid partnership led by the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund, found that 90% of children under the age of 2 in the war-torn Gaza Strip face severe food poverty, meaning they eat two or fewer food groups a day.

The same was true for 95% of pregnant and breastfeeding women in Gaza, according to the report released Monday. And at least 90% of children under 5 are affected by one or more infectious disease, with 70% experiencing diarrhea in the past two weeks, the report said.

In Gaza’s southernmost city of Rafah, where most humanitarian aid enters, 5% of children under 2 are acutely malnourished, compared to more than 15% in northern Gaza, which has been isolated by the Israeli military and almost completely cut off from aid for weeks, the report said. Before war broke out last October between Israel and Gaza’s militant rulers, Hamas, the acute malnutrition rate across the coastal enclave was less than 1%, according to the report.

The report also found that more than 80% of homes in Gaza lack clean and safe water, with the average household having one liter per person per day.

“The Gaza Strip is poised to witness an explosion in preventable child deaths which would compound the already unbearable level of child deaths in Gaza,” Ted Chaiban, deputy executive director for humanitarian action and supply operations at UNICEF, said in a statement. “We’ve been warning for weeks that the Gaza Strip is on the brink of a nutrition crisis. If the conflict doesn’t end now, children’s nutrition will continue to plummet, leading to preventable deaths or health issues which will affect the children of Gaza for the rest of their lives and have potential intergenerational consequences.”

Feb 19, 12:31 PM
Gaza’s health ministry accuses IDF of turning Nasser Hospital into ‘military barracks’

Israeli troops have turned Nasser Hospital, the main medical center serving the southern Gaza Strip, into a “military barracks” and are “endangering the lives of patients and medical staff,” according to Gaza’s Hamas-run Ministry of Health.

The health ministry said Monday that patients and medical staff inside Nasser Hospital are now without electricity, water, food, oxygen and treatment capabilities for difficult cases since Israeli ground troops raided the facility in the southern Gaza city of Khan Younis last week.

The World Health Organization, which warned on Sunday that Nasser Hospital “is not functional anymore,” said more than 180 patients and 15 doctors and nurses remain inside the hospital.

The WHO said it has evacuated 14 critical patients from the hospital to receive treatment elsewhere.

The Israel Defense Forces alleges that Hamas, the Palestinian militant group that governs Gaza, has been conducting military operations out of Nasser Hospital and other medical centers in the war-torn enclave — claims which Hamas denies.

Copyright © 2024, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Scientists discover how whales can sing under water and how shipping noise can disrupt communication

George Karbus Photography/Getty Images

(NEW YORK) — A discovery on how baleen whales are able to sing under water is giving scientists a better understanding on how noise pollution from shipping activity can alter marine mammal’s ability to communicate — and therefore thrive as a species.

When the ancient ancestors of whales returned to the ocean from land, they developed major adaptations to make vocal communication feasible under water, according to a study published in Nature on Wednesday.

A study into how whales produce their vocals beneath the ocean’s surface found that baleen whales — including the sei, common minke and humpback species — use specialized larynxes to communicate with each other under water.

The larynxes of three baleen whales that were examined were found to have adaptations that allow the animals to create massive air flows back and forth when they breathe in, Coen Elemans, a professor of sound communication and barrier at the University of Southern Denmark and author of the paper, told ABC News. While toothed whales evolved a nasal vocal organ, baleen whales were found to have a specialized structures to allow the production of sound and recycling of air while preventing inhalation of water, the paper found.

Because the frequency in which the whales sing would likely be low — with a maximum frequency of 300 hertz — the communication between baleen whales are likely severely impacted by human activity, as shipping vessels typically create noise between 30 hertz and 300 hertz, according to the paper.

When the noise from the shipping activity is present, it reduces the range in which the whales can communicate, which could then produce stress on the animals, Joy Reidenberg, a professor of anatomy at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City, told ABC News.

“We think that this mechanism is an ancestral mechanism that these animals have used to make very low frequency sounds in an environment where sound is the only way of communication and the only way…to find animals that are very far apart,” Elemans said.

Unlike humans, who mainly rely on sight, whales live in a “completely acoustic world,” Sharon Livermore, director of marine conservation at the International Fund for Animal Welfare, told ABC News.

Vessel noise pollution and shipping intensity poses a real threat to large whales, Bekah Lane, a cetacean field research specialist at The Marine Mammal Center, a California-based nonprofit marine animal rescue center, told ABC News.

Research has shown that constant shipping noise can dominate the ocean soundscape and cause stress levels to rise in some species — especially the critically endangered North Atlantic right whale, Livermore said.

“under water noise is a pollutant, and it’s an invisible pollutant to the human eye,” she said.

Singing is only one of the sounds that whales make, said Reidenberg, who peer-reviewed the study. It is typically the males that sing, and the performances take place in tropical waters, where they look for mates.

Other forms of communications that whales made are calls — which are different from “singing” — and are especially used by mothers and other whales attempting to communicate with other individual whales, Reidenberg said.

“Their ability to hear and be heard is key to their survival,” Livermore said.

The deaths of five North Atlantic right whales since December has renewed calls for federal shipping regulations. Last week, a coalition of environmental groups filed a federal lawsuit to finalize shipping speed rules proposed in 2022 that would require mariners off the East Coast to slow down in order to reduce the risk of injury or death to the endangered whales.

However, consumer demand to have goods flow across oceans via large ships as quickly as possible adds another layer of complexity to the issue, Lane said.

“We need to think critically about how our consumer choices and purchasing power can have real consequences for marine wildlife,” Lane said.

The day after the lawsuit was filed, another North Atlantic right whale — a juvenile female — was found dead off the coast of Georgia, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Ongoing research efforts coupled with working directly with local harbor safety committees, the maritime industry and government agencies are necessary to find solutions to better protect whales, Lane said.

The researchers hope that technology in the future will allow them to study live whales — a feat nearly impossible at the moment considering how large the animals are. Technology such as a remote operated vehicle that could get close to a whale while it is singing and get ultrasounds would be ideal, Reidenberg said.

“I mean, we can’t put a whale in a CAT scan or an MRI,” she said.

Copyright © 2024, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Israel-Gaza live updates: US draft resolution calls for temporary cease-fire

Luis Diaz Devesa/Getty Images

(NEW YORK) — More than four months since Hamas terrorists invaded Israel on Oct. 7, the Israeli military continues its bombardment of the neighboring Gaza Strip.

The conflict, now the deadliest between the warring sides since Israel’s founding in 1948, shows no signs of letting up soon and the brief cease-fire that allowed for over 100 hostages to be freed from Gaza remains a distant memory.

Here’s how the news is developing:

Feb 20, 2:21 PM
Hostages held in Gaza have received medicine, Qatar says

Qatari officials said hostages held by Hamas in Gaza have received the medication that was part of a deal brokered last month.

The Israeli Prime Minister’s Office said it has asked Qatar for evidence that the medicine was delivered.

“Israel will examine the credibility of the report and will continue to work for the peace of our abductees,” the office said in a statement.

Feb 20, 12:21 PM
US draft resolution calls for temporary cease-fire

The U.S. voted against a resolution calling for an immediate cease-fire at Wednesday’s United Nations Security Council meeting, The Associated Press reported.

The U.S. was the only nation of the 15 permanent Security Council members to vote against the measure, according to the AP.

U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Linda Thomas-Greenfield said “an unconditional cease-fire without any obligation for Hamas to release hostages” was irresponsible.

“While we cannot support a resolution that would put sensitive negotiations in jeopardy, we look forward to engaging on a text that we believe will address so many of the concerns we all share — a text that can and should be adopted by the council, so that we can have a temporary cease-fire as soon as practicable, based on the formula of all hostages being released,” she said.

The U.S. has been circulating its own draft resolution on Gaza that calls for a temporary cease-fire conditioned on the release of all hostages, while also condemning Hamas for the Oct. 7 attack that sparked the war, according to senior administration officials familiar with the matter.

If the proposal were to be adopted by the U.N. Security Council, it would mark the first time the body has formally condemned Hamas’ actions.

The officials say the draft also makes clear “that under current circumstances a major ground offensive into Rafah should not proceed” and that there can be no reduction in territory in the Gaza Strip or any forced displacement of Palestinians, while also calling on Israel “to lift all barriers to the provision of humanitarian assistance, open additional humanitarian routes, and to keep current crossings open.”

The senior officials signaled that American diplomats wouldn’t rush the text to a vote and that they intended on “allowing time for negotiations.”

While hostage talks have sputtered over the past couple of weeks, senior administration officials said they were making some progress.

“The differences between the parties, they have been narrowed. They haven’t been sufficiently narrowed to get us to a deal, but we are still hopeful and we are confident that there is the basis for an agreement between the parties,” one official said.

ABC News’ Shannon Crawford

Feb 20, 11:34 AM
US votes against immediate cease-fire

The U.S. voted against a resolution calling for an immediate cease-fire at Wednesday’s United Nations Security Council meeting, The Associated Press reported.

The U.S. was the only nation of the 15 permanent Security Council members to vote against the measure, according to the AP.

The U.S. has said an immediate cease-fire could impede the negotiations looking to free hostages and agree to a pause in fighting, the AP said.

Feb 20, 11:07 AM
IDF operating inside Al-Amal Hospital

Israeli forces, which already entered Gaza’s Nasser Hospital, are also now operating inside the nearby Al-Amal Hospital, the Israel Defense Forces confirmed to ABC News.

“Al-Amal Hospital is currently under multiple attacks, as Israeli forces have directly targeted the third floor of the hospital, resulting in the burning of two rooms,” and “the hospital’s water lines were targeted,” the Palestine Red Crescent Society said.

Over 8,000 patients were evacuated from the hospital earlier this month, but almost 100 patients still remain inside, the Palestine Red Crescent Society said.

Feb 20, 7:13 AM
WHO helps transfer 32 critical patients out of Gaza’s besieged Nasser Hospital

The World Health Organization said Tuesday that it has helped to successfully transfer 32 critically ill patients, including two children, from besieged Nasser Hospital in the southern Gaza Strip.

The WHO said its staff led two “life-saving,” “high-risk” missions at the medical complex in Khan Younis on Sunday and Monday, in close partnership with the Palestine Red Crescent Society and the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, “amid ongoing hostilities and access restrictions.” Staff at Nasser Hospital had requested the transfer of patients after the facility became “non-functional” following an Israeli military raid on Feb. 14 after a weeklong siege, according to the WHO.

“Weak and frail patients were transferred amidst active conflict near the aid convoy,” the WHO said in a statement. “Road conditions hindered the swift movement of ambulances, placing the health of patients at further risk.”

“Nasser Hospital has no electricity or running water, and medical waste and garbage are creating a breeding ground for disease,” the organization added. “WHO staff said the destruction around the hospital was ‘indescribable.’ The area was surrounded by burnt and destroyed buildings, heavy layers of debris, with no stretch of intact road.”

The WHO estimates that 130 sick and injured patients and at least 15 doctors and nurses remain inside Nasser Hospital. As the facility’s intensive care unit was no longer functioning, the only remaining ICU patient was transferred to a different part of the complex where other patients are receiving basic care, according to the WHO.

“WHO fears for the safety and well-being of the patients and health workers remaining in the hospital and warns that further disruption to lifesaving care for the sick and injured would lead to more deaths,” the organization said. “Efforts to facilitate further patient referrals amidst the ongoing hostilities are in process.”

Prior to the missions on Sunday and Monday, the WHO said it “received two consecutive denials to access the hospital for medical assessment, causing delays in urgently needed patient referral.” At least five patients reportedly died in Nasser Hospital’s ICU before any missions or transfers were possible, according to the WHO.

Nasser Hospital is the main medical center serving southern Gaza. Ground troops from the Israel Defense Forces stormed the facility last week, looking for members of Hamas who the IDF alleges have been conducting military operations out of the hospital. Hamas, the Palestinian militant group that governs Gaza and is at war with neighboring Israel, denies the claims.

“The dismantling and degradation of the Nasser Medical Complex is a massive blow to Gaza’s health system,” the WHO said. “Facilities in the south are already operating well beyond maximum capacity and are barely able to receive more patients.”

Feb 20, 5:26 AM
Aid groups warn of potential ‘explosion in preventable child deaths’ in Gaza

A new analysis by the Global Nutrition Cluster, a humanitarian aid partnership led by the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund, found that 90% of children under the age of 2 in the war-torn Gaza Strip face severe food poverty, meaning they eat two or fewer food groups a day.

The same was true for 95% of pregnant and breastfeeding women in Gaza, according to the report released Monday. And at least 90% of children under 5 are affected by one or more infectious disease, with 70% experiencing diarrhea in the past two weeks, the report said.

In Gaza’s southernmost city of Rafah, where most humanitarian aid enters, 5% of children under 2 are acutely malnourished, compared to more than 15% in northern Gaza, which has been isolated by the Israeli military and almost completely cut off from aid for weeks, the report said. Before war broke out last October between Israel and Gaza’s militant rulers, Hamas, the acute malnutrition rate across the coastal enclave was less than 1%, according to the report.

The report also found that more than 80% of homes in Gaza lack clean and safe water, with the average household having one liter per person per day.

“The Gaza Strip is poised to witness an explosion in preventable child deaths which would compound the already unbearable level of child deaths in Gaza,” Ted Chaiban, deputy executive director for humanitarian action and supply operations at UNICEF, said in a statement. “We’ve been warning for weeks that the Gaza Strip is on the brink of a nutrition crisis. If the conflict doesn’t end now, children’s nutrition will continue to plummet, leading to preventable deaths or health issues which will affect the children of Gaza for the rest of their lives and have potential intergenerational consequences.”

Feb 19, 12:31 PM
Gaza’s health ministry accuses IDF of turning Nasser Hospital into ‘military barracks’

Israeli troops have turned Nasser Hospital, the main medical center serving the southern Gaza Strip, into a “military barracks” and are “endangering the lives of patients and medical staff,” according to Gaza’s Hamas-run Ministry of Health.

The health ministry said Monday that patients and medical staff inside Nasser Hospital are now without electricity, water, food, oxygen and treatment capabilities for difficult cases since Israeli ground troops raided the facility in the southern Gaza city of Khan Younis last week.

The World Health Organization, which warned on Sunday that Nasser Hospital “is not functional anymore,” said more than 180 patients and 15 doctors and nurses remain inside the hospital.

The WHO said it has evacuated 14 critical patients from the hospital to receive treatment elsewhere.

The Israel Defense Forces alleges that Hamas, the Palestinian militant group that governs Gaza, has been conducting military operations out of Nasser Hospital and other medical centers in the war-torn enclave — claims which Hamas denies.

Copyright © 2024, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Kremlin rejects call for independent postmortem on opposition leader Alexei Navalny

Flowers are seen placed around portraits of late Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, who died in a Russian Arctic prison, at a makeshift memorial in front of the former Russian consulate in Frankfurt am Main, western Germany, on Feb. 20, 2024. (AFP via Getty Images)

(LONDON) — Kremlin officials rejected on Tuesday a call for an independent postmortem examination on the remains of opposition leader Alexei Navalny.

The Council of the European Union had on Monday called for the independent review, saying Russia “must allow an independent and transparent international investigation into circumstances of his sudden death.”

“Mr Navalny’s unexpected and shocking death is yet another sign of the accelerating and systematic repression in Russia,” the council said in a statement.

A spokesperson for Russian President Vladimir Putin rejected the body’s request on Tuesday, saying “Moscow does not accept such demands” from the European Union.

Members of Navalny’s inner circle said they were continuing on Tuesday to seek access to the opposition leader’s remains.

Copyright © 2024, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Unmanned Houthi submarines pose new threat to US warships in Red Sea

KeithBinns/Getty Images

(WASHINGTON) — The U.S. conducted what it called self-defense strikes on five targets in the Houthi-controlled area of Yemen after the Houthis employed an unmanned submarine for the first time since attacks in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden began, the Pentagon said.

The submarine, an unmanned underwater vessel, or UUV, shows advancing Houthi capability and a shifting strategy, ABC News national security and defense analyst Mick Mulroy, a former Pentagon official and CIA agent, said.

“Unmanned surface and subsurface vessels are likely more difficult to detect and destroy than aerial drones and anti-ship missiles. The Houthis are not likely capable of manufacturing these weapons on their own, so they are probably coming from Iran,” Mulroy said.

In addition to the unmanned submarine hit Sunday, the U.S.military said it struck an unmanned vessel that moves on the surface, as well as anti-ship cruise missiles which have made up the bulk of U.S. targets in the Houthi arsenal.

The Houthis, which the U.S. designates a global terrorist group with Iran’s backing, operate out of parts of Yemen they control after a cease-fire in the Yemeni civil war. The International Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Quds Force, an arm of the Iranian regime’s military forces that coordinates operations outside Iran’s borders, supports the Houthis and other armed groups with weapons and financing, the U.S. says.

“The Houthis and the IRGC are adjusting their strategy, apparently because they haven’t been successful in striking a U.S. naval vessel,” Mulroy said. 

The Houthis have targeted American ships to no avail, while the U.S. has been increasing defensive strikes since a separate militia group, also backed by Iran, struck the U.S. base in Jordan and killed three servicemembers.

“If one or more of these weapons get through and kill U.S. sailors, Iran should expect to be held directly responsible,” said Mulroy.

The unmanned weapons systems are an acute threat, Mulroy said, since they could “overwhelm the ship’s defenses” by attacking from multiple dimensions, a so-called “swarm attack.”

The U.S. Coast Guard said it intercepted a cache of weapons aboard a ship heading from Iran to Houthi-controlled Yemen on Jan. 15. Among military equipment intercepted were components for the unmanned vessels, the U.S. said — the sort of vessels hit in two of Sunday’s U.S. strikes.

As a part of U.S. preemptive offensives to Houthi aggression, a U.S. official told ABC News the U.S. conducted a cyberattack against an Iranian spy vessel, the MV Behshad, which has cruised the Red Sea and passed targeting information to the Houthis. The cyberattack was a part of the U.S. promised multi-tiered response in the days after the Jan. 28 militia attack in Jordan.

The Houthis on Monday said they conducted five strikes in the past 24 hours. Two targeted American ships in the Gulf of Aden and another targeted and sunk a British ship, the Houthis said in a statement.

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