five Arab ministers gathered in Cairo before meeting Antony Blinken

Find here our update on yesterday’s situation.

The war between Israel and Hamas has left 31,988 dead in the Gaza Strip, mostly civilians, according to a report released Thursday March 21 by the Palestinian Islamist movement’s health ministry. On the Israeli side, around 1,160 people died – most of them also civilians – during the Hamas attack on October 7, 2023, according to a count from Agence France-Presse (AFP), established in from official Israeli sources. Moreover, according to the Israeli army594 soldiers were killed in fighting in the Gaza Strip.

Five Arab ministers gathered in Cairo before meeting the American secretary of state

Egypt, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and the United Arab Emirates participated in a ministerial meeting on the war in Gaza in Cairo on Thursday. In a joint statement, participants called for “a complete and immediate ceasefire” and to “the opening of all crossing points” towards Gaza, where aid only arrives in dribs and drabs.

In addition to the foreign ministers of these five countries, Hussein Al-Sheikh, a senior official of the Palestinian Authority in the occupied West Bank, close to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, also took part in the meeting.

Later, they will meet with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who said on Wednesday that the United States had presented a draft resolution to the United Nations (UN) Security Council calling for a “immediate ceasefire linked to the release of the hostages”. So far, the United States, Israel’s main ally, has vetoed several resolutions calling for ceasefires. But with nearly 32,000 dead in Gaza, according to Hamas, and the risk of famine in the besieged Palestinian territory, the United States says it is redoubling its efforts for a truce.

At the same time, the head of the Israeli intelligence service (Mossad), David Barnea, will travel to Doha on Friday to meet with the head of the CIA, William Burns, as part of negotiations for a truce in Gaza, the office announced on Thursday. of the Israeli Prime Minister. He will also meet the Qatari prime minister and the head of the Egyptian intelligence service, other mediators in the negotiations.

France is working on a new draft resolution for an immediate ceasefire

Paris announced Thursday at the UN that it was working on a draft resolution calling for a “immediate ceasefire” in Gaza. “We consider that it is time to take new initiatives at the United Nations Security Council on the ongoing conflict”, underlined Christophe Lemoine, the deputy spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He specified that the head of French diplomacy, Stéphane Séjourné, had spoken on Wednesday with his Algerian, Egyptian, Jordanian and Palestinian counterparts.

Mr. Lemoine was not able to specify when this project could be submitted but, according to him, it “could obtain the agreement of the Security Council”, contrary to the draft resolutions previously tabled by France. The spokesperson for the Quai d’Orsay also brushed aside any lack of coordination with Washington. “Obviously, we have been coordinating with the United States since the start of the crisis”he assured.

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Humanitarian aid to Gaza: Cyprus says it wants to mobilize “as many boats as possible”

Cyprus hosted a meeting on Thursday focused on ways to send, via a maritime humanitarian corridor, “as many boats as possible” loaded with food for Gaza, said Foreign Minister Constantinos Kombos. Representatives from 36 countries, UN agencies and humanitarian organizations participated in this meeting.

A first ship, containing 200 tons of food, arrived on March 15 on the coasts of the besieged Palestinian territory after three days of navigation. A second boat is waiting for favorable weather to be able to set sail from Larnaca.

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According to the UN, the vast majority of the 2.4 million inhabitants of the Gaza Strip are threatened by famine. The situation is particularly serious for 300,000 people in the north of the enclave, where the delivery of aid is particularly dangerous.

Faced with the insufficient aid arriving by land, parcel airdrop operations have been underway for two weeks. But sending aid by sea or air cannot replace land delivery, insists the UN.

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Houthis responsible for at least fifty ship attacks

The Houthis have been behind at least fifty attacks on ships off the coast of Yemen since the fall, Deputy Defense Secretary Celeste Wallander said Thursday in Washington. The rebel group, supported by Iran, has been carrying out attacks on ships it considers linked to Israel since November, claiming to act in solidarity with Palestinians in Gaza.

The Houthi attacks have largely disrupted international maritime trade, of which passage through the Red Sea and the Suez Canal is an essential route. Faced with this, the United States set up a multinational maritime protection force in the Red Sea in December and launched, with the help of the United Kingdom, strikes in Yemen against the Houthis.

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The World with AFP

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