Israeli forces block Al-Aqsa Mosque during Friday prayers
UNGA calls for humanitarian ceasefire
Christians among Gaza deaths – Palestinian envoy
Dalhatu Liman, Faruk Shuaibu, (Abuja) & Mohammed I. Yaba, (Kaduna), with agency reports
The United Nations yesterday warned that “many more will die” as a result of Israel’s ongoing total blockade of the Gaza Strip, saying basic services in the Palestinian territory are “crumbling,” Al Jazeera reports.
At a news conference on Friday, commissioner-general for the UN Agency for Palestinian Refugees, Philippe Lazzarini said, “People in Gaza are dying – they are not only dying from bombs and strikes, soon many more will die from the consequences of the siege imposed on the Gaza Strip.
“Basic services are crumbling, medicine is running out, food and water are running out, the streets of Gaza have started overflowing with sewage. As we speak, people in Gaza are dying.”
Israeli forces shut Al Aqsa Mosque during Friday prayers
Al Jazeera correspondent said that, “At the temple around the Al-Aqsa Mosque, there are very few people. Normally, around this time, with Friday prayers about to get under way, that would be full. They just haven’t been allowed to get in.
“At Lion’s Gate, the normal entry point for Al-Aqsa, we have seen some men being physically abused by the Israel police. One man trying to explain that he is just going in to pray was hit by a police officer.”
Death toll rises
At least 7,326 Palestinians, including 3,038 children, have been killed in Israeli strikes on Gaza since October 7, the health ministry in Hamas-controlled Gaza said in its latest update on Friday.
At least 481 people have been killed in Israeli air raids over the past day, according to Gaza’s health authority.
On its part, the UN’s refugee agency said that 14 additional staff members had been killed in Gaza during the past 24 hours, bringing the total number of staff killed in the conflict to 53.
The agency added that medicine and fuel stocks were running out, risking the continuity of health services.
UNGA calls for humanitarian ceasefire
Meanwhile, the United Nations General Assembly has voted on a resolution calling for a humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza.
The resolution sponsored by Jordan was voted in favour by 140 members states while 14 voted against it and 45 abstaining.
It also calls for protection of civilians and the provision of aid into the besieged enclave.
Daily Trust Saturday, however, reports that the resolution is non-binding and thus might be ignored by both parties in the war – Israel and Gaza.
While the US and Israel voted against the resolution, the UK and France abstained, which was a surprise as both countries had toed the line of the US since the conflict started.
Earlier, an amendment of the resolution sponsored by Canada was rejected as it was not able to garner the two-third majority votes of member states.
The resolution had called for the inclusion of condemnation of Hamas for carrying out the October 7 attack on civilians in Israel and holding of hostages.
It also called for tagging Hamas a terrorist organisation.
It also called for a humanitarian pause in the conflict instead of a ceasefire.
The vote came on the heels of Israel, announcing it would expand its ground incursion into Gaza strip.
Similarly, there are reports that communication in the strip has been cut off with Israel targeting communications lines in the strip.
Gaza’s communication collapses amid reports of heavy bombardment
Two major Palestinian mobile networks, Jawwal and Paltel, said their phone lines and internet services had been cut off.
Jawwal noted in a message on its Facebook page that mobile phone service and internet in Gaza had been cut off due to heavy Israeli bombardment.
War not about Hamas but Palestinians
The Palestinian Ambassador to Nigeria, Abdallah Abu Shawash, has condemned Israel’s bombardment in Gaza, saying it has resulted in the deaths of Christians and the destruction of the oldest orthodox church in the Gaza Strip.
He also pointed out that the Baptist Al Ahli Hospital was bombed and destroyed by the Israelis, emphasising that this conflict is not just about fighting Hamas but also impacting Palestinian civilians.
Ambassador Abdallah disclosed these concerns during his visit to Kaduna, where he was invited by a Kaduna-based Islamic scholar, Dr Ahmad Gumi.