Humanitarian groups are scrambling to assist civilians caught in the war between Israel and Hamas and determine what aid operations are still safe to continue, efforts that are being complicated by an intensified blockade of Gaza and ongoing fighting. Two days after Hamas militants went on a rampage that took the world by surprise, Israel increased airstrikes on Gaza and blocked off food, fuel and other supplies from going into the territory, a move that raised concerns at the United Nations and among aid groups operating in the area home to 2.3 million people. Hamas, in turn, pledged to kill Israelis it abducted if the country’s military bombs civilian targets in Gaza without warning. Hundreds of people have been killed and thousands wounded on both sides, and aid groups operating in the region say there are needs both in Gaza and Israel. More than 2 tons of medical supplies from the Egyptian Red Crescent have been sent to Gaza and efforts are underway to organize food and other deliveries, according to an Egyptian military official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to the press. But the United Nations and other aid groups are pleading for more access to help Palestinians who find themselves in the middle of intense fighting. Doctors Without Borders, which is still operating in Gaza, has to rely on supplies it already has inside the territory because it can’t bring any more in, said Emmanuel Massart, a deputy desk coordinator with the organization in Brussels. Read: Israel's intelligence prowess questioned after Hamas attack The group — which says it only runs programs in Palestinian areas since Israel has strong emergency and health services — reported Monday that it provided treatments to more than 50 people following airstrikes at the Jabalia refugee camp located north of Gaza City. In addition to helping patients in Gaza, it said it was donating medical supplies to other clinics and hospitals, which have become overcrowded with patients and are experiencing shortages of drugs and fuel that can be used for generators. If Doctors Without Borders is not able to resupply fairly quickly, Massart said, it will run out of supplies it can use to operate on patients who might be wounded. He also said since the facilities the organization uses are running on generators due to the low supply of electricity, cutting off fuel will present a “huge problem.” “If there is no fuel anymore, there is no medical facilities anymore because we cannot run our medical facility without the energy,” Massart said. The war has also been deeply disruptive to work Mercy Corps has been doing to provide people in Gaza with necessities like food and water, said Arnaud Quemin, the Middle East regional director for the organization. Right now, he said the team on the ground is trying to find a scenario that would enable them to get back to work. The blockade of food and other supplies into Gaza is a major worry. “We are very concerned with the way things are going at this point because it looks like it’s going to get worse – very soon,” Quemin said. The sealing of Gaza, he said, will create “humanitarian needs very quickly.” Read: Israel intensifies its strikes and vows to besiege Gaza as it scours south for Hamas fighters Governments have also been weighing how to respond. As the fighting intensified, the European Union on late Monday reversed an earlier announcement by an EU commissioner that the bloc was “immediately” suspending aid for Palestinian authorities. Instead, the 27-nation group said it would urgently review the assistance it provides in the wake of Hamas’ attacks on Israel. Two European countries — Germany and Austria — said they were suspending development aid for Palestinian areas. Meanwhile, some organizations are stepping up aid efforts in Israel, which has seen displacement because of the violence. Naomi Adler, CEO of Hadassah, The Women’s Zionist Organization of America, said a trauma center in Jerusalem that’s owned by the organization is treating wounded Israeli soldiers and civilians. About 90% of the patients in the center right now are soldiers, who are typically the first to be brought in for traumatic injuries, Adler said. But the center also accepts anyone who’s wounded or injured in the country. The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, a Jewish humanitarian organization, said on Sunday that it was activating its emergency response team in Israel, where it runs programs to support people with disabilities, the elderly and children and families who’ve been impacted by the war and prior conflicts. The organization said it was working with its partners, including in the Israeli government, to address what it called an unprecedented emergency. JDC’s CEO Ariel Zwang said among other things the nonprofit is helping teachers, social workers and other caregivers provide support to those who’ve suffered trauma and tragedies from the events of the past few days. She said it will help nursey teachers, for example, explain to children why some of their classmates are suddenly missing. “If you’re a teacher now, if you know the children are traumatized, you need special skills and special training in order to manage what you’re experiencing and provide for the emotional needs, which are extraordinary at this time, of your youngest charges,” Zwang said. Read: Israel intensifies Gaza strikes and battles to repel Hamas, with over 1,100 dead in fighting so far One organization that helps Palestinian children is shifting its focus, too. Steve Sosebee, the president of Palestine Children’s Relief Fund, a U.S.-based charity that helps children in need travel to the U.S. for medical treatment, said given the war, the fund is now looking away from long-term programs and toward more urgent needs for food, medication, clothing and other types of basic humanitarian aid. But like others, he noted the blockade and security risks to its Gaza staff makes it more challenging to do that. “There are no areas of security, there are no safe havens,” Sosebee said. “And therefore, it’s very difficult for us to be out in the field providing humanitarian aid when there are no safe places from the constant bombing and attacks that are taking place over the last 72 hours.” Read more: Everything you need to know about Hamas
The accounts are horrific. Women killed while carrying babies on their backs, the wounded hunted down and villagers watching the execution of their neighbors, fearing they'd be next. These are some of the atrocities allegedly perpetrated by Burkina Faso's security forces in the north of the country, according to a statement Tuesday by locals from the village of Karma where the violence took place. It was early morning last Thursday, when people in the village in Yatenga province, awoke to a large group of armed men in military fatigues, driving motorcycles and armored pickup trucks. “Some villagers, happy to see ‘our soldiers', came out of their houses to welcome them. Unfortunately, this joy was cut short when the first shots rang out, also causing the first casualties," said the statement from the villagers. At least 150 civilians may have been killed and many others injured in the violence, said the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Ravina Shamdasani, in a statement Tuesday. The U.N. is calling for a prompt, thorough, independent and impartial investigation into what it called the “horrific killing of civilians”. Also Read: At least 44 people killed by extremists in Burkina Faso's north Earlier this week, Burkina Faso's prosecutor said it had already opened an investigation into the killings, but put the death toll at 60, less than half the number estimated by the U.N. and local residents. Jihadi fighters linked to al-Qaida and the Islamic State group have waged a violent insurgency in Burkina Faso for seven years. The violence has killed thousands of people and divided the country, leading to two coups last year. Since Capt. Ibrahim Traore seized power in September 2022 during the second coup, extrajudicial killings of civilians have increased, according to rights groups and residents. This incident — one of the deadliest against civilians by security forces — comes amid mounting allegations against the military for committing abuses against those it believes to be supporting the jihadis. Also Read: More than 70 soldiers killed in Burkina Faso, extremists say Earlier this month, Burkina Faso’s government announced it was opening other investigations into allegations of human rights abuses by its security forces after a video surfaced that appeared to show the extrajudicial killing of seven children in the country’s north. The Associated Press this month published its own findings about the video. AP’s investigation determined that Burkina Faso’s security forces killed the children in a military base outside the town of Ouahigouya. Days before last week's attack, some 40 security sources were killed near Ouahigouya. Survivors said the soldiers accused them of being jihadi accomplices, by letting them pass through their town, according to the statement from the villagers. One survivor of the attack, who did not want to be named for fear of reprisal, told The Associated Press that when the soldiers started shooting people indiscriminately, he grabbed the hand of his 11-year-old son and fled into this house with the rest of his family. However, the soldiers forced their way in, shooting open the door, he said. Also Read: Burkina Faso says 66 women, children freed from extremists “It was like a dream. If someone told us we wouldn’t die, I wouldn’t have believed it,” he said. They made them sit with a group of people in the middle of the village threatening to kill them multiple times. Instead, they killed another group of people and went door to door searching for two of the injured who had fled, he said. Since the violence, people in the community haven't been able to bury their relatives as an army roadblock prevented them reaching the village, said the statement. The abuses will create a backlash against Burkina Faso's junta and drive people into the hands of the jihadis, say conflict analysts. “The reported human rights abuses advance the playbook of militants, it gives them talking points against the security forces and helps their recruitment efforts in the north. This is an awful recipe of consequences,” said Laith Alkhouri, CEO of Intelonyx Intelligence Advisory, which provides intelligence analysis.
Pressure from Russian forces mounted Saturday on Ukrainians hunkered down in Bakhmut, as residents attempted to flee with help from troops who Western analysts say may be preparing to withdraw from the key eastern stronghold. A woman was killed and two men were badly wounded by shelling while trying to cross a makeshift bridge out of the city in Donetsk province, according to Ukrainian troops who were assisting them. A Ukrainian army representative who asked not to be named for operational reasons told The Associated Press that it was now too dangerous for civilians to leave Bakhmut by vehicle and that people had to flee on foot instead. Bakhmut has for months been a prime target of Moscow’s grinding eastern offensive in the war, with Russian troops, including forces from the private Wagner Group, inching ever closer. An AP team near Bakhmut on Saturday saw a pontoon bridge set up by Ukrainian soldiers to help the few remaining residents reach the nearby village of Khromove. Later they saw at least five houses on fire as a result of attacks in Khromove. Also Read: A year into Ukraine war, bodies dug up in once occupied town Ukrainian units over the past 36 hours destroyed two key bridges just outside Bakhmut, including one linking it to the nearby town of Chasiv Yar along the last remaining Ukrainian resupply route, according to U.K. military intelligence officials and other Western analysts. The U.K. defense ministry said in the latest of its regular Twitter updates that the destruction of the bridges came as Russian fighters made further inroads into Bakhmut’s northern suburbs. The Institute for the Study of War, a Washington-based think tank, assessed late on Friday that Kyiv's actions may point to a looming pullout from parts of the city. It said Ukrainian troops may “conduct a limited and controlled withdrawal from particularly difficult sections of eastern Bakhmut,” while seeking to inhibit Russian movement there and limit exit routes to the west. Capturing Bakhmut would not only give Russian fighters a rare battlefield gain after months of setbacks, but it might rupture Ukraine’s supply lines and allow the Kremlin’s forces to press toward other Ukrainian strongholds in the Donetsk region. Civilians spoke about daily struggles as the fighting raged on nearly nonstop, reducing much of Bakhmut to rubble. Husband and wife Hennadiy Mazepa and Natalia Ishkova, who chose to remain in the city, said they lack food and basic utilities. “Humanitarian (aid) is given to us only once a month. There is no electricity, no water, no gas," Ishkova told AP on Saturday. “I pray to God that all who remain here will survive,” she added. At the United Nations on Friday, deputy spokesman Farhan Haq said U.N. humanitarian staff reported “intensive hostilities” near Bakhmut and the few humanitarian partners on the ground were focusing on evacuating the most vulnerable. Also Saturday, Russia’s defense chief traveled to eastern Ukraine to inspect troops and award them with state decorations, the Defense Ministry said. Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu visited a command post where he was briefed by regional commander Rustam Muradov, according to a video published by the ministry. It did not disclose the command post's location. Elsewhere, Ukraine’s emergency services reported in the morning that the death toll from a Russian missile strike that hit a five-story apartment building in southern Ukraine on Thursday rose to 11. Emergency services said in an online statement that rescuers pulled three more bodies from the wreckage overnight, some 36 hours after a Russian missile tore through four floors of the building in the riverside city of Zaporizhzhia. A child was among those reported killed, and the rescue effort was ongoing. Russian shelling on Saturday also killed two residents of front-line communities in the surrounding Zaporizhzhia region, the local military administration reported. A 57-year-old woman and a 68-year-old man also died in Nikopol, a town farther west near the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, as Russian forces fired artillery shells and rockets at Ukrainian-held territory across the Dnieper river, regional Gov. Serhiy Lysak reported. In the western city of Lviv, hundreds of kilometers from the front lines, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy met Saturday with the head of the European Union parliament. Hours earlier, Zelenskyy held talks with U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland and top European legal officials on how to hold Russia accountable for its actions in Ukraine. In a joint press briefing with Zelenskyy, European Parliament President Roberta Metsola said that “all those responsible” for suspected Russian war crimes in Ukraine, including Russian President Vladimir Putin, must be brought to justice before a durable peace is achieved. Metsola voiced support for the EU’s announcement Thursday that an international center for the prosecution of the crime of aggression — the act of invading another country — would be set up in The Hague. She also called for Ukraine to start negotiations on joining the 27-nation bloc as early as this year and urged Western nations to keep arming Kyiv as it battles Russian forces in the east and south. The EU agreed in June to put Ukraine on a path toward membership, setting in motion a process that could take years or even decades. However, Moscow’s invasion and Ukraine’s request for fast-track consideration have lent urgency to the negotiations. “Ukraine’s future is in the European Union. We will walk all the way with you,” Metsola said on Twitter late Friday.
At least four civilians were killed and seven others were wounded by Russian shelling in the past 24 hours across several regions of Ukraine, Ukraine’s presidential office said Monday. Most of the casualties were in the eastern Donetsk region, where three people were killed and four were wounded. A large chunk of Donetsk is held by Russia-allied separatists. In the Kharkiv region, further north, three people were wounded when a rocket hit a residential building, the president’s office said. Russian shells struck more than a dozen residential buildings along with a school, cafes and stores as the war stretched into its seventh month. Also read: Ukraine's nuclear plant partly goes offline amid fighting At the same time, a counteroffensive by Ukrainian forces “is making verifiable progress in the south and the east” of the country, the Washington-based Institute for the Study of War said. “The pace of the counteroffensive will likely change dramatically from day to day as Ukrainian forces work to starve the Russians of necessary supplies, disrupt their command and control, and weaken their morale even as counteroffensive ground assaults continue,” the institute said late Sunday. It predicted that Russian forces will launch “fierce artillery and air attacks” against the advancing Ukrainian troops and on any areas they liberate. Also read: UN inspectors arrive at Ukraine nuclear plant amid fighting
The mayor of the Ukrainian port city of Mariupol said Monday that more than 10,000 civilians have died in the Russian siege of his city, and that the death toll could surpass 20,000, with corpses that were “carpeted through the streets.” Speaking by phone Monday to The Associated Press, Mayor Vadym Boychenko also said Russian forces brought mobile cremation equipment to the city to dispose of the bodies, and he accused Russian forces of refusing to allow humanitarian convoys into the city in an attempt to conceal the carnage. Russian forces have taken many bodies to a huge shopping center where there are storage facilities and refrigerators, Boychenko said. “Mobile crematoriums have arrived in the form of trucks: You open it, and there is a pipe inside and these bodies are burned,” he said. The mayor’s comments emerged as Russia claimed that it destroyed several Ukrainian air-defense systems in what appeared to be a renewed push to gain air superiority and take out weapons Kyiv has described as crucial ahead of an expected broad new offensive in the east. In one strike, Moscow said it hit four S-300 launchers near the central city of Dnipro that had been provided by a European country it did not name. Slovakia gave Ukraine just such a system last week but denied it had been destroyed. Russia previously reported two strikes on similar systems in other places. The failure to win full control of Ukraine’s skies has hampered Moscow’s ability to provide air cover for troops on the ground, limiting their advances and likely exposing them to greater losses. With their offensive in many parts of the country thwarted, Russian forces have relied increasingly on bombarding cities — a strategy that has left many urban areas flattened and killed thousands of people. Ukrainian authorities accuse Russian forces of committing atrocities, including a massacre in the town of Bucha, outside Kyiv, airstrikes on hospitals and a missile attack that killed at least 57 people last week at a train station. In Bucha on Monday, the work of exhuming bodies from a mass grave in a churchyard resumed. Galyna Feoktistova waited for hours in the cold and rain in hopes of identifying her 50-year-old son, who was shot and killed more than a month ago, but eventually she went home for some warmth. “He’s still there,” her surviving son, Andriy, said. In Mariupol, about 120,000 civilians are in dire need of food, water, warmth and communications, the mayor said. Only those residents who have passed the Russian “filtration camps” are released from the city, Boychenko said. He said improvised prisons were organized for those who did not pass the “filtering,” while at least 33,000 were taken to Russia or to separatist territory in Ukraine. Meanwhile, the U.N. children’s agency said that nearly two-thirds of all Ukrainian children have fled their homes in the six weeks since Russia’s invasion began, and the United Nations has verified that 142 children have been killed and 229 injured, though the actual numbers are likely much higher. Elsewhere, Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer said he met Monday with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow for talks that were “very direct, open and tough.” In a statement released by his office, Nehammer said his primary message to Putin was “that this war needs to end, because in war both sides can only lose.” Nehammer said he also raised the issue of war crimes committed by the Russian military and said those responsible “will be held to account.” READ: Russian shelling traps residents of Mariupol Austria is a member of the European Union and has backed the 27-nation bloc’s sanctions against Russia, though it so far has opposed cutting off deliveries of Russian gas. The country is militarily neutral and is not a member of NATO. In other developments, the head of the separatist rebel government in Donetsk said Ukrainian forces have lost control of the port area of Mariupol. “Regarding the port of Mariupol, it is now under our control,” Denis Pushilin, president of the Donetsk People’s Republic, told Russian state television, according to Russian news agencies. The claim could not immediately be confirmed. The mayor said fighting continues. “It is difficult, but our heroic military holds on,” Boychenko said. “There are fights in the port. Yesterday, our heroic warriors knocked out several positions of equipment and, accordingly, rebuffed the infantry. Russia has appointed a seasoned general to lead its renewed push in the eastern Donbas region, where Moscow-backed separatists have been battling Ukrainian forces since 2014 and have declared independent states. Both sides are digging in for what could be a devastating war of attrition. Russian forces will likely try to encircle the Donbas region from the north and the south as well as the east, said retired British Gen. Richard Barrons, co-chair of the U.K.-based strategic consulting firm Universal Defence & Security Solutions. The ground in that part of Ukraine is flatter, more open and less wooded — so the Ukrainian ambush tactics used around Kiev may be less successful, Barrons said. “As to the outcome, it’s finely balanced right now,” Barrons said. If the Russians learned from their previous failures, concentrated more force, connected their air force to ground forces better and improved their logistics, “then they might start to overwhelm the Ukrainian positions eventually, although I still think it would be a battle of enormous attrition.” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy pleaded for more Western aid, saying his forces need heavier firepower. In a video address to South Korean lawmakers on Monday, Zelenskyy specifically requested equipment that can shoot down Russian missiles. But those armaments could increasingly come under attack as Russia looks to shift the balance in the 6-week-old war. Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov said the military used cruise missiles to destroy the four launchers Sunday on the southern outskirts of Dnipro. He said the military also hit such systems in the Mykolaiv and Kharkiv regions. The Russian claims could not be independently verified. The Pentagon said it had seen no evidence to support Russia’s claims. A senior U.S. defense official said Russia did conduct an airstrike Sunday on the airport in Dnipro, destroying some equipment, but the official said the U.S. has seen no indication that an air-defense system was knocked out. Lubica Janikova, spokeswoman for Slovakia’s prime minister, denied Monday that the S-300 system it sent Ukraine had been destroyed. She said any other claim is not true. Questions remain about the ability of depleted and demoralized Russian forces to conquer much ground after their advance on Kyiv was repelled by determined Ukrainian defenders. Britain’s Defense Ministry said Monday that Ukraine has already beaten back several assaults by Russian forces in the eastern Donetsk and Luhansk regions — which make up the Donbas — resulting in the destruction of Russian tanks, vehicles and artillery. Western military analysts say Russia’s assault increasingly is focusing on an arc of territory stretching from Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, in the north, to Kherson in the south. A residential area in Kharkiv was struck by incoming fire on Monday afternoon. Associated Press journalists saw firefighters putting out the fire and checking for victims following the attack, and saw that at least five people were killed, including a child. Oleh Synyehubov, the regional governor of Kharkiv, said earlier Monday that Russian shelling had killed 11 people over the last 24 hours.
Bangladesh has strongly condemned the attacks of terrorist nature and violence unleashed on innocent devotees and civilians at Al-Aksa Mosque compound. Bangladesh also condemned the evictions of Palestinian families in the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood and transfer of civilian population into occupied territories by the occupying Israeli forces which exposes the severe violation of Humanitarian norms, Human Rights and International laws and accords and provoked the feelings of repressed people all over the world. Bangladesh urged the international community to take sustainable measures to end such attacks of terrorist nature, stop confiscation of private properties in occupied territories through the policy of apartheid and the measures of terror which may be tantamount to war crimes in the occupied territories. Also read: Palestinians, Israel police clash at Al-Aqsa Mosque; 53 hurt Bangladesh reaffirmed its position in favour of establishing a State of Palestine on the basis of a two-state solution with the pre-1967 borders and East Jerusalem as its capital. Bangladesh firmly supports the inalienable rights of the people of Palestine for a sovereign and independent homeland in a viable Palestine State and territorial integrity as established through various UN resolutions, said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Monday. Bangladesh reiterated its steadfast position to a lasting solution to the Palestinian issue by engagement of both sides in dialogue to reach an agreement so that peace is attained for the people living in the area.
Hasakah,Oct. 25 (Xinhua/UNB) -- In fear of airstrikes and artillery shelling during the current Turkish assault in northern Syria, civilians in Hasakah Province are seeking refuge in places like schools, hoping their forced displacement won't last long.