Hamas calls on West Bank Palestinians to confront Israeli security forces at mosque

EU chief says starvation being used as weapon of war as Israel says it will try to ‘flood’ Gaza with aid

In advance of the first Friday prayers of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, Hamas on Wednesday called on West Bank Palestinians to march toward the Haram el-Sharif compound in Jerusalem’s old city – revered by Jews as the Temple Mount – and confront the Israeli security forces.

The Al-Aqsa mosque, the third holiest shrine in Islam, is situated in the compound. Restrictions have been imposed by Israel on Muslim worshippers’ access to it.

“We call on all Palestinians in the West Bank to march in masses to Al-Aqsa and break the restrictions of the occupation,” the group said in a statement. “We call on all of you to continue and confront the occupying forces everywhere and to support the struggle of the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.”

The call came as violence occurred on various fronts on Wednesday.


A 15-year-old Palestinian was shot and killed after stabbing two members of the Israeli security forces at the entrance to Jerusalem from the occupied West Bank. Separately, a 12-year-old boy was shot and killed in East Jerusalem after he let off a firework.

An Israeli drone strike hit a car near the Lebanese city of Tyre on Wednesday killing two people. Israel said the those killed included a senior Hamas operative who had a been a central figure in planning attacks on Israelis and Jews worldwide.

The attack came a day after Hizbullah fired more than 100 rockets into Israel and Israeli jets hit Hizbullah targets in Baalbek in Lebanon’s Bekka valley, some 100km north of the border.

In Gaza, at least one Unrwa staff member was killed and more than 20 wounded when Israel reportedly hit a food distribution centre in Rafah in south Gaza, where more than a million war refugees have fled.

Israeli defence minister Yoav Gallant, visiting Gaza on Wednesday, said “there is no safe place for terrorists in Gaza”.

He also alluded to the possibility of extending the military operation to Rafah, saying: “Those who think we are delaying will soon see that we will reach everywhere.”

According to the Hamas-run Gaza health ministry, more than 31,200 Palestinians have been killed since the war began. Israel says 1,200 people were killed and 253 hostages seized in the surprise Hamas attack on October 7th. Some 134 hostages, dead and alive, remain in Hamas captivity.

Israel’s main military spokesman said on Wednesday that it will try to “flood” the Gaza Strip with humanitarian aid from a variety of entry points as international pressure mounted to address the growing problem of hunger in the besieged enclave.

Aid agencies have warned that the area’s 2.3 million population face a growing risk of famine unless food supplies are stepped up sharply and they have accused Israel of not doing enough to ensure sufficient aid gets through.

Israel says it has placed no limits on the amount of aid that it will allow in to Gaza, and blames failures by the aid agencies for delays but it has faced mounting demands even from its closest allies to do more.

“We are trying to flood the area, to flood it with humanitarian aid,” military spokesperson Daniel Hagari told a group of foreign reporters.

Earlier on Wednesday, six lorries successfully delivered desperately-needed aid to northern Gaza for the first time in three weeks using a new road built by the Israeli military which runs along the Gaza border fence.

Israel wanted to avoid assuming responsibility for civilian affairs in Gaza but prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu failed to present a credible post-war plan for Gaza. With international pressure mounting to avoid mass hunger, particularly for the 300,000 residents in northern Gaza, the army has been forced to act.

A Spanish aid boat bringing 200 tonnes of supplies, which set out from Cyprus earlier this week, is due to arrive off the Gaza coast on Thursday.

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell described the lack of aid entering Gaza as a “man-made disaster”, saying starvation is being used as a weapon of war. “We are now facing a population fighting for their own survival,” he told the United Nations Security Council.

“Starvation is being used as a war arm and when we condemned this happening in Ukraine, we have to use the same words for what is happening in Gaza.” - Additional reporting: Reuters

Mark Weiss

Mark Weiss

Mark Weiss is a contributor to The Irish Times based in Jerusalem