Gaza war: Biden now sceptical of Ramzan ceasefire

The US president was recorded expressing frustration with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Meanwhile, Canada announced it was officially resuming funding to UNRWA

The UN has warned that hundreds of thousands of people are facing famine in Gaza (photo: DW)
The UN has warned that hundreds of thousands of people are facing famine in Gaza (photo: DW)


  • Biden said achieving a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas ahead of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, set to begin in the next days, was "looking tough"

  • Canada announced it was resuming its funding for UNRWA, after a halt prompted by Israeli accusations that UNRWA staff members were involved in the October 7 attacks

  • The US has denied it was responsible for the deadly aid airdrop which killed civilians in Gaza

CENTCOM denies US airdrops killed civilians

The US Central Command (CENTCOM) denied on Friday that a deadly aid airdrop which killed civilians in the Gaza Strip was conducted by US troops.

In a social media statement, CENTCOM said it was aware of reports that a humanitarian airdrop killed civilians.

"We express sympathies to the families of those who were killed. Contrary to some reports, this was not the result of US airdrops," the statement read.

Gaza's Hamas-controlled Health Ministry said that five people were killed and another 10 wounded on Friday by an airdrop in the north of the territory.

The parachute for the food aid container failed to open properly, meaning the package fell to ground in freefall.

In recent weeks, various countries have begun dropping aid shipments via parachute into Gaza to address food shortages and other issues. Despite criticism from experts, who say land shipments would be more efficient and less dangerous, the practice has intensified since the US adopted it on Saturday.

Jordan also distanced itself from the incident. Unnamed sources told Jordan's state news agency on Friday that the technical error had not occurred on any of the Jordanian aircraft involved.

Canada to resume funding for UNRWA

Canada has announced it is resuming frozen funding to the United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA), after suspending its funding over a month ago, alongside over a dozen other countries.

The freeze came after Israel accused around a dozen UNRWA staff of being involved in the October 7 terror attacksby Hamas.

UNRWA immediately fired the employees and opened an investigation but several donors suspended funding anyway.

Canadian Minister of International Development Ahmed Hussen told reporters on Friday the funding would now resume.

"We're resuming funding to UNRWA because of the dire humanitarian situation on the ground," he said, noting that Canada was the first G7 nation to resume funding. Canada has reviewed the investigation's interim report and "we were reassured by the contents," he added.

The Canadian government is due to contribute $25 million Canadian ($19 million, €16.8 million) to UNRWA in April and will not miss a payment as a result of the pause.

Biden says cease-fire before Ramadan 'looking tough'

US President Joe Biden has raised skepticism regarding a cease-fire in the Gaza Strip to coincide with the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, likely to begin on either Sunday or Monday evening.

"It's looking tough," Biden told reporters, after talks over a six-week cease-fire broke down a day earlier, despite previous optimism.

When asked about the possibility of violence in east Jerusalem during the holy month, Biden said "I sure am" worried.

After Israel's far-right security minister Itamar Ben-Gvir said access to the Al-Aqsa Mosque in east Jerusalem would be further restricted during Ramadan, the Palestinian militant group Hamas called on Palestinians to march to the mosque. The mosque compound is of great religious significance to both Muslims and Jews and has regularly been the scene of violent clashes. Israeli security forces warned against the new restrictions saying they would only increase tensions and several days ago, the Israeli government decided against them.

Hamas is listed as a terrorist organization by several countries, including Israel, the US and Germany.

Meanwhile Biden's growing impatience with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was revealed during a conversation with a senator. At the time, Biden was still being recorded by a microphone — a so called "hot mic."

Biden was heard saying: "I told him, 'Bibi,' — and don't repeat this — 'but you and I are going to have a come to Jesus meeting'." Bibi is Netanyahu's nickname.

The American expression, "come to Jesus" refers to a dramatic realization that one must correct course.

The US president was then warned that his microphone remained on.

In his key State of the Union speech, Biden called on Israeli leadership to refrain from using aid to Gaza as a "bargaining chip."

US says Gaza aid port could take up to 60 days

A temporary port the US is building to bring aid to the Gaza Strip will likely take "up to 60 days" to complete, a Pentagon spokesperson said.

Speaking on Friday, the spokesperson added that the port will involve some 1,000 troops. Nevertheless, none of the troops would be deployed ashore, Pentagon spokesperson Air Force Major General Patrick Ryder said.

Once established, the new facility "could provide more than two million meals to the citizens of Gaza per day," Ryder said, adding that "there will be no US forces on the ground in Gaza" as part of the effort, in which Washington will be "working with regional partners."

US President Joe Biden announced the intention to build a temporary port during his State of the Union speech on Thursday.

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