Thousands to join DC pro-Palestine rally to demand ceasefire: Live

As many as 30,000 people are expected to join a pro-Palestine rally in Washington DC to call for a ceasefire in the war in Gaza and the end of US aid to Israel.

Hamas, the group in charge of Gaza which has been labelled a terror organisation by the US and the EU, launched an attack on Israel on 7 October, killing more than 1,400 people.

In the following counterattacks by Israel, at least 9,257 people in Gaza have been killed, with more than 23,516 wounded, the Gaza Health Ministry has said.

President Joe Biden, who came out strongly in support of Israel after the vicious attack by Hamas, called for a humanitarian “pause” on Wednesday but didn’t argue for a ceasefire.

The “National March on Washington: Free Palestine” will see demonstrators do just that.

The rally is set to begin at 2pm at Freedom Plaza just to the east of the White House in downtown Washington DC at the Western end of Pennsylvania Avenue. The rally is scheduled to end around 4pm and will be will be followed by a march to 14th and K streets, to the White House, and then back to Freedom Plaza.

UN officials says the average Gazan is living on two pieces of bread a day, and people need water

16:00 , AP

The average Gazan is living on two pieces of Arabic bread made from flour the U.N. had stockpiled in the region, yet the main refrain now being heard in the street is “Water, water,” the Gaza director for the U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees said Friday.

Thomas White, who said he traveled “the length and breadth of Gaza in the last few weeks,” described the place as a “scene of death and destruction.” No place is safe now, he said, and people fear for their lives, their future and their ability to feed their families.

The Palestinian refugee agency, known as UNRWA, is supporting about 89 bakeries across Gaza, aiming to get bread to 1.7 million people, White told diplomats from the U.N.’s 193 member nations in a video briefing from Gaza.

But, he said, “now people are beyond looking for bread. It’s looking for water.”

U.N. deputy Mideast coordinator Lynn Hastings, who is also the humanitarian coordinator for the Palestinian territories, said only one of three water supply lines from Israel is operational.


Israel's fortified underground blood bank processes unprecedented amounts as troops move into Gaza

15:30 , Alon Bernstein, Sam Mednick

Hours after Hamas militants attacked southern Israel on Oct. 7, the country’s new fortified, subterranean blood bank kicked into action. Staffers moved equipment into the underground bunker and started saving lives.

The Marcus National Blood Services Center in Ramla, near Tel Aviv, had been scheduled to open within days, but with more than 1,400 people in Israel killed since the Hamas raids — most killed during the initial attack — the timeline changed.

“It became very clear we needed to move with the war plans because this was exactly the moment, the event it was built for,” said Dr. Eilat Shinar, director of the national blood services division of Magen David Adom — Israel’s medical emergency, disaster, ambulance and blood service.

Nestled some 15 meters (50 feet) underground at its lowest level, the $135-million, 6-story, state-of-the-art facility is protected from rockets, missiles, chemical attacks and earthquakes, ensuring blood processing can continue when it’s needed most.

Shiner said the center provided tens of thousands of units of blood in the days that followed the Hamas attacks.


Blinken tries to cajole wary Arabs on support for post-conflict Gaza as Israel's war intensifies

15:00 , Matthew Lee

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken stepped up his frantic diplomacy on Saturday, trying to build support for planning a post-conflict future for Gaza as he continued his second urgent mission to the Middle East since the Israel-Hamas conflict began.

A day after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pointedly snubbed Blinken’s blunt warning that Israel risks losing any hope of an eventual peace deal with the Palestinians unless it eases the humanitarian crisis in Gaza, he met in Amman with senior Jordanian and other Arab officials, who remain angry and deeply suspicious of Israel as it intensifies its war against Hamas.

Blinken met first with Lebanon’s caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati, whose economically and politically ravaged country is home to Hezbollah — an Iranian-backed force hostile to Israel.

The U.S. has grave concerns that Hezbollah, which has already stepped up rocket and cross-border attacks on northern Israel, will take a more active role in the conflict.

Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah gave his first major speech since the Oct. 7 Hamas attacks on Israel that sparked the war, but did not forecast his group’s greater involvement despite professing it was not perturbed by U.S. attempts to deter it.


Israel's military and Hezbollah exchange fire along the tense Lebanon-Israel border

14:30 , Abby Sewell, Bassem Mroue

Israeli warplanes conducted airstrikes along the border with Lebanon Saturday as the militant Hezbollah group attacked several Israeli army posts, including one that was struck with two large rockets.

The escalation came a day after Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah said his powerful group is already engaged in unprecedented fighting along the Lebanon-Israel border. He threatened a further escalation as Israel’s war in Gaza with Hamas, Hezbollah’s ally, nears the one-month mark.

Hezbollah is prepared for all options, Nasrallah declared, “and we can resort to them at any time.”

Hezbollah said in a statement that its fighters attacked at least six Israeli posts along the border, saying “suitable rockets and weapons” were used. It added that “direct hits were scored and technical equipment was destroyed.”

The Beirut-based Al-Mayadeen TV network reported that Hezbollah fired Saturday two Burkan rockets, which carry heavy warheads, at an Israeli post known in Lebanon as Jal al-Allam. A Lebanese security official confirmed the report of Burkan rockets being used for the first time.


Oxford Circus at standstill as hundreds of pro-Palestine protesters stage sit-in over ceasefire

14:00 , Barney Davis, Maira Butt

Oxford Circus has come to a standstill after hundreds of protesters staged a sit-in for Palestine.

A huge crowd descended on the central London area at midday on Saturday, with protesters marching to the juction with Regent Street before blocking the road.

Palestinian flags were held aloft as others let off flares, played bongos and lead chants of “Ceasefire now”, “from the River to the Sea” and “Israel is a terror state”.

The event was organised by The Free Palestine Coalition which includes Black Lives Matter UK, Sisters Uncut and Black Jewish Alliance, who said there would be “no business as usual while Britain is supporting a genocide that has killed 9,000 people”. Organisers encouraged bystanders to join: “Don’t just stand there, sit down with us!”

The Metropolitan Police said officers are responding to the incident. It said: “This behaviour clearly impacts on London’s ability to function normally and we are working quickly to reopen the road.” Dozens of officers cordoned off the group and countless buses were stopped in their tracks with no room to turn around due to the sit-in.


The humanitarian crisis in Gaza is growing as Blinken seeks support for a temporary cease-fire

13:38 , AP

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with Arab foreign ministers Saturday to find ways to ease Gaza’s growing humanitarian crisis. His mission is complicated by Israel’s insistence there can be no temporary cease-fire until all hostages held by Hamas are released.

In unusually blunt language, the United Nations chief said conditions in Gaza are now “horrific” as fighting continues to escalate. With food, water and the fuel needed for generators that power hospitals and other facilities running out, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres urged an immediate cease-fire to allow humanitarian aid into the Gaza Strip.

“An entire population is traumatized, nowhere is safe,” he said Friday.

He said he had not forgotten the slaughter of civilians at the hands of Hamas militants when they launched their attack on Israel almost a month ago, but said civilians and civilian infrastructure must be protected. He also said civilians must not be used as human shields, and called upon Hamas to release all of the roughly 240 hostages it has.

Israeli forces have encircled Gaza City, and it has been urging civilians to head south to avoid getting caught up in the fighting as the ground war intensifies.


Rally to be live-streamed on YouTube

13:22 , Gustaf Kilander

Planned speakers include writer human rights lawyer

13:20 , Gustaf Kilander

Organizers have said that ANSWER Coalition Executive Director Brian Becker is set to speak at the rally, as is human rights attorney and Rutgers University associated professor Noura Erakat, Palestinian writer and advocate Mohammed El-Kurd, as well as members of large US Muslim and Arab groups, The Washington Post notes.

Rally part of effort to push Biden admin to call for ceasefire

13:17 , Gustaf Kilander

The “Free Palestine” rally in Washington DC on Saturday is part of an effort to push the Biden administration to cease its deliveries of aid to Israel and to back a ceasefire.

Last month, Mr Biden announced an aid package to Israel – the largest recipient of US aid – worth $14bn. As of last year, Israel had received about $150bn, a report from the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service stated.

A Quinnipiac University poll published on Thursday shows that about half of all registered voters in the US back Israel’s response to the 7 October Hamas attack.

Ahead of entering Gaza with ground troops, Israel destroyed large parts of Gaza with airstrikes, so far killing more than 9,000 people, according to the Gaza Health Ministry.

The lowest approval rating for Israel’s actions is seen among Democrats – 33 per cent, voters between 18 and 34 years old – 32 per cent, and Black voters – 29 per cent, according to Quinnipiac.

Fifty-one per cent of Americans back sending more military support to Israel and 71 per cent back sending humanitarian aid to Gaza to help Palestinian civilians.

Head of DC Jewish Community Center asks members to ‘resist the urge to counter-protest'

13:04 , Gustaf Kilander

The chief executive officer of the Edlavitch DC Jewish Community Center, Jen Zwilling, emailed the centre’s members on Friday to ask them ahead of the rally on Saturday to “resist the urge to counter-protest and/or engage” with the pro-Palestine demonstrators.

She noted that that may “increase the potential for violence or antisemitic rhetoric,” according to The Washington Post.

‘People are mortified by the carnage’

13:01 , Gustaf Kilander

The ANSWER Coalition is one of the organizers of the march – its executive director Brian Becker told The Washington Post that “people are mortified by the carnage” in Gaza.

“And they are equally mortified that the Biden administration has insisted that there not be a cease-fire,” he added.

This comes as US Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with Arab foreign ministers on Saturday to discuss options to address the humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

Mr Blinken’s options are limited by Israel’s insistence that no ceasefire or humanitarian pause can take place until all hostages taken by Hamas have been released.

Pro-Palestine protest march row explained as thousands set to protest again in London

12:39 , Joe Middleton, Athena Stavrou

Tens of thousands of pro-Palestine protesters have attended marches across the UK since Israel renewed its attacks on Gaza in recent weeks.

Thousands are expected to march in London today, as a row has broken out over future demonstrations potentially disrupting Remembrance Day events and further action expected in the coming weeks.

Activists will descend on the capital for the third successive weekend calling for an immediate ceasefire due to Israel’s continued bombardment on the Gaza strip in retaliation for Hamas’s terror attack on Israel on 7 October.

Previous protests, and counter demonstrations, have come under scrutiny, with a small number of campaigners arrested for alleged hate crimes.

And on Friday, a row erupted when Rishi Sunak backed a crackdown on what he condemned as “provocative and disrespectful” pro-Palestine marches due to be held on Armistice Day.


VIDEO: Thousands expected to attend pro-Palestine march in DC for ceasefire in Israel-Hamas war

12:37 , Gustaf Kilander