Israel-Hamas war live updates: Biden says Netanyahu 'hurting Israel more than helping Israel' – NBC News

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Saudi Arabian King Salman bin Abdulaziz asked Allah to bring peace to the region this Ramadan during a speech read on his behalf today.
“As it pains us that the month of Ramadan falls this year, in light of the attacks our brothers in Palestine are suffering from, we stress the need for the international community to assume its responsibilities, to stop these brutal crimes, and provide safe humanitarian and relief corridors,” the speech said.
Before the war started in October, Saudi Arabia was in negotiations to normalize relations with Israel. But last month it was reported that the kingdom to American officials that it refused to establish ties with Israel without the normalization of a Palestinian state.

Philippe Lazzarrini, chief of the United Nations’ Palestinian refugee agency, marked the start of Ramadan with a post on X noting the struggles of Muslims in Gaza during the Islamic holy month. “For the people of #Gaza, it comes as extreme hunger spreads, displacement continues & fear + anxiety prevail amid threats of a military operation on #Rafah,” he wrote. “This month should bring a ceasefire for those who have suffered the most.”
Palestinians in Gaza deserve the “peace of mind” that comes with a respite to violence which has been “long over due” for civilians, Lazzarini said. He expressed his own wishes for better times to all of those celebrating Ramadan, including his own colleagues.

During an interview that aired on CBS’ “Face the Nation” this morning, Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Mark Warner, D-Va., and ranking member Marco Rubio, R-Fla., discussed the importance of the U.S. continuing to send humanitarian aid to Gaza and expressed doubts that the end of the Israel-Hamas war is within reach.
Asked whether Biden’s announcement that the U.S. is building a port in an effort to deliver more humanitarian aid into Gaza is a good decision, Warner said he thinks it’s “important” for the U.S. to continue to show that it has been the “largest single donor to humanitarian efforts for years in the region.”
“I mean, the airlift approach is more symbolic than actually getting relief to most folks,” Warner said. “I think the right thing to do in terms of particularly as we go into Ramadan, hopefully lowering some of the tension, but also shows America’s concern for some of the humanitarian costs in the region.”
Rubio said that “everybody’s in favor of helping innocent civilians who are caught in the crossfire of any conflict,” before going on to note the challenges in delivering humanitarian aid to the people of Gaza, which he largely attributed to a system of tunnels built by Hamas.
“Hamas has built a system of tunnels — it’s expensive. I mean, I don’t care if they got a great deal on the concrete. It’s expensive to build this extensive system of tunnels, millions of dollars,” Rubio said. “That’s money that could have gone on to create an economy, to feed people, to build hospitals and serve civilians. They didn’t do it.”
Pressed on whether they agree with Netanyahu that total victory will be achieved within weeks, Warner disagreed.
“Meeting with folks in Israel, in the military community, in the intelligence community, the idea that you’re going to eliminate every Hamas fighter, I don’t think is a realistic goal,” Warner said.
Rubio said that it’s “possible to achieve a situation which Hamas does not have the capability” to launch an attack against Israel similar to Oct. 7, but expressed concerns over the possibility of another Iran-allied group stepping in.
“That doesn’t mean Hezbollah doesn’t step in and take over now as a result, that doesn’t mean that a new Hamas offshoot wouldn’t re-create it,” Rubio said. “This is an ongoing challenge.”

More aid was airdropped onto Gaza this afternoon in a joint effort between the U.S. and the Royal Jordanian Air Force, U.S. Central Command confirmed today.
“The DoD humanitarian airdrops contribute to ongoing U.S. and partner-nation government efforts to alleviate human suffering,” the defense agency said on X. “These airdrops are part of a sustained effort, and we continue to plan follow on aerial deliveries.”
The airdrop occurred in northern Gaza, which has been the hardest to reach by land for aid groups, and provided more than 11,500 “meal equivalents” provided by Jordan. Aid pallets also included essentials such as rice, flour, pasta and canned food, according to Central Command.

Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz will leave for New York this evening alongside several family members of hostages still in Gaza to discuss the designation of Hamas as a terrorist organization with the United Nations Security Council.
The prime minister’s office said in a statement that a request from the United States, Great Britain and France to immediately convene the Security Council to hear the arguments against Hamas was an “unprecedented political achievement” in what Netanyahu described as “a fight for Israel’s position and justice.”
The hostage families will also meet with the U.N.’s special representative for sexual violence in conflict zones, Pramila Patten, and will be accompanied by Brig. Gen. Gal Hirsch, Israel’s coordinator of prisoners and missing persons, the prime minister’s office said.
Israel will “not stop” until the U.N. officially declares Hamas a terrorist organization and applies personal sanctions to Hamas leaders within and outside Gaza, Katz said in a statement.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu defended his political policies as being supported by an “overwhelming majority” of Israelis, following criticism from President Joe Biden that Netanyahu was harming the country.
“I don’t know what the president meant, but if he meant that I lead a policy against the majority of the Israeli public and that it harms Israel’s interests, he is wrong on both counts,” Netanyahu said.
The remarks were made in an interview with Politico that is expected to air later today. Netanyahu posted a preview clip to his X account, adding a caption that says the vast majority are united on these topics.
His statement also comes amid a wave of internal backlash against Netanyahu and calls by thousands of Israelis for new elections. The Times of Israel reported yesterday that water cannons were deployed in Tel Aviv against anti-government protesters who were blocking a highway. Speakers at the event included many vocal critics of Netanyahu and his government, according to the Israeli newspaper.
Netanyahu went on to accuse the Palestinian Authority, which is the governing body in the West Bank, of educating children toward “terrorism.” Though Hamas is designated a terrorist group by many states internationally, the U.S. has worked with the Palestinian Authority and supported the idea it could run an independent Palestinian state.
The Israeli prime minister also said the idea of a Palestinian state is “rammed down our throats” and that Israelis support his position to reject a two-state solution.
“The attempt to say that my policies are my private policies that are not supported by Israelis is false,” Netanyahu said. “The vast majority is united like never before, and they understand what is good for Israel.”

Palestinians prepared for Ramadan in a somber mood, with heightened security measures by Israeli police and the specter of war and hunger in Gaza overshadowing the normally festive Muslim holy month as talks to secure a cease-fire stalled.
Thousands of police have been deployed around the narrow streets of the Old City in Jerusalem, where tens of thousands of worshippers are expected every day at the Al Aqsa Mosque compound.
Despite calls from Israel’s far-right Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir for restrictions on the number of worshippers at Al Aqsa, the prime minister’s office said in a statement today that the number of worshippers allowed entry to the compound would be similar to previous years.
Al Aqsa Mosque is the third-holiest site in Islam, with some of its buildings dating back to the fifth century. It sits atop what Muslims know as al-Haram al-Sharif, or “the Noble Sanctuary” in Arabic. The area is also the holiest site in Judaism and known to Jews as the Temple Mount.

The crescent moon has been sighted in Saudi Arabia, marking the ninth month of the Islamic calendar and the beginning of Ramadan for many Muslims around the globe.
Islam traditionally follows a lunar calendar, which includes 12 months but is about 11 days shorter than the solar, or Gregorian, calendar.
Though declaration from Saudi Arabia will be the starting point for most Sunni Muslims, not all Muslims follow the same calculations for the lunar phases. Shiite clerics have not yet announced whether they consider tonight to be the first evening of Ramadan.
For the next month, Muslims around the world will fast from sunrise to sunset to honor the revelation of the first verses of the Quran to Prophet Muhammad.
Tomorrow morning, millions around the world will awake for a suhoor meal just before sunrise. The meal is vital because it will be the last meal Muslims eat until iftar, or breakfast in Arabic, after the sun sets. The end of their fasting will be marked with Eid-al-Fitr, a festive and holy day celebrating the end of Ramadan.
Many Gazans observe Ramadan but will be faced with difficulties as aid groups warn that civilians are facing the threat of famine, as deaths due to malnutrition were first reported earlier in the month. President Joe Biden, along with Egyptian and Qatari officials, expressed hope that a cease-fire might be negotiated before the start of Ramadan not only to offer respite but also to increase the level of aid entering Gaza.
A cease-fire deal has not yet been agreed upon by Hamas and Israel.

During an interview on “Meet the Press” this morning, Sen. Raphael Warnock, D-Ga., was asked whether there should be a red line when it comes to supporting Israel after Biden said he is “never going to leave Israel” in an exclusive interview with MSNBC.
“Well, I think that we’ve got to continue to lean on Mr. Netanyahu. We’ve got to insist that that this cannot continue in this way,” he said.
Pressed again by moderator Kristen Welker whether he has a red line, particularly when it comes to a ground invasion of Rafah, Warnock said he has made clear that going into Rafah would be “morally unjustifiable and unconscionable.”
“I stated that very clearly the other night on the floor of the United States Senate that I think that to go into Rafah — the humanitarian experts, to folks who are trying to get aid in, to folks who have no political dog in this fight have said that if they go into Rafa, you could lose up to 85,000 more Palestinians in six months,” he said. “I think that that is morally unjustifiable and unconscionable.”
“And as we make our way to the holy season of Ramadan and Passover thereafter, I hope people will dig deep into the moral cisterns dug by ancestors that they will reach toward the highest ideals and our humanity sent to the children and find our way to that path that leads to peace,” he added.
Welker also pressed Warnock on Biden’s announcement during his State of the Union address that the U.S. is building a port to get more humanitarian aid into Gaza, asking whether it’s enough for the U.S. to sent more aid as the number of innocent civilians’ deaths continues to rise.
“Listen, we have got to find our way quickly to the path that leads to peace. That’s why the other night on the floor of the United States Senate, I pushed for a cease-fire,” he said. “I think the president — I know the president is working hard to get to a cease-fire. Mr. Netanyahu has got to recognize that we’ve already seen the deaths of some 30,000 Palestinians, many of them innocent women, men and children.”

People in Gaza City will die of thirst, the municipality warned today in a statement, warning that food aid “does not meet the needs of citizens.”
“The per capita share of water in the Gaza municipality is now two liters per day,” it said, adding that “we will have martyrs due to thirst inside the Gaza municipality.”
Gaza has not had access to clean, running water since October, when Israel shut off pipes at the start of its invasion. Prior to the invasion, up to 97% of the strip’s water was considered “undrinkable” by international human rights organizations.
Hygiene in the city is also compromised by the 70,000 tons of waste that have accumulated, the municipality said, amid the wreckage of roads, cars and buildings and few options for safe disposal.

More than 700 Israeli academics have signed a petition calling on the government to “take urgent measures” to prevent starvation in the Gaza Strip, according to Haaretz, an Israeli newspaper.
The 730 academics warned that the scale of death in Gaza could become an “indelible stain” on Israel.
The signatories, who include the president of Israel’s prestigious Tel Aviv University, Ariel Porat, said that it was “precisely because” of the human rights violations by Hamas on Oct. 7 that the signatories “cannot stand opposite to the humanitarian catastrophe taking place before our eyes in the last few weeks in the Gaza Strip.”

A ship bound for Gaza to deliver parts needed to construct a floating pier to deliver aid by sea has left Virginia and is headed for the eastern Mediterranean, U.S. Central Command said on X.
The command said that U.S. Army logistics support vessel General Frank S. Besson departed Joint Base Langley-Eustis in Virginia earlier today, days after Biden announced the new plan during his State of the Union address on Thursday.
The construction of the pier could take up to 60 days and will involve 1,000 U.S. troops, according to the Pentagon. It is not clear who will distribute arriving aid among Gaza’s population.

Conditions in northern Gaza are “tragic,” the U.N.’s agency for Palestinian refugees warned on Sunday, as it called for enhanced humanitarian aid to be allowed to the north.
The agency said that “aid via land is denied” despited “repeated” calls for access and added that the death toll continues to rise.
International institutions such as the WHO have warned that conditions of famine have already reached swaths of northern Gaza, which was the first focus of Israel’s offensive and has remained largely cut off from regular aid deliveries.

The IDF detected approximately 35 launches from Lebanon toward its territory today, it said in a press release, adding that it “intercepted” a “number” of them. Air raids sounded across the north, it continued, although it did not say where the rockets that were not intercepted landed and if there were any injuries. Dozens of Israeli communities in the northern border area remain evacuated.
Israeli fighter jets struck Hezbollah infrastructure in Ayra ash Shab, Maroun El Ras and Khirbet Selm in southern Lebanon, it added.
The IDF statements follow claims from Hezbollah that it achieved “direct hits” on Israeli soldiers yesterday in separate launches toward Al-Karantina Heights,  Jabal Nather and Malikiya yesterday afternoon. The IDF did not acknowledge any deaths, but said that soldiers targeted “the source of the launches.”
NBC News was not able to independently verify these reports.

The scale of mass death in the Gaza Strip is “contrary to what Israel stands for” President Joe Biden told MSNBC’s  Jonathan Capehart in an interview Saturday.
“I want to see a cease-fire, and I want to see a major, major exchange of prisoners for a six-week period,” he said. “And we should build off that cease-fire.”
He added that there should be “nothing happening” in Gaza during Ramadan, which starts within a couple of days and lasts until early April. Talks between Israel and Hamas have stalled several times in recent weeks over what both sides see as unrealistic demands.
Responding to questions over whether a cease-fire deal was still possible in time for Ramadan, Biden said that CIA Director William Burns remained in the region “talking about it,” adding that he would “never give up” on the prospect of securing a cease-fire in time for the holy month.

CIA Director William Burns met with Mossad’s director, David Barnea, on Friday to discuss a potential hostage deal and temporary cease-fire agreement, according to the Israeli prime minister’s office.
In a series of posts on X, the prime minister’s office said that efforts were ongoing to “narrow the gaps and advance agreements” in hostage talks and blamed continued stalling on Hamas, saying the group was attempting to “ignite the region during Ramadan.”
While the prime minister’s office did not specify where Barnea and Burns met, Israeli news site Walla reported that the meeting took place in “a country in the region.”
Mossad is Israel’s primary state intelligence agency, responsible for counterterrorism and covert operations.

President Joe Biden denied that the views of an increasing number of Democratic voters who have said they will not vote for him in the next election over his administration’s role in supporting Israel’s war in Gaza, including by arming its military, were “widely shared” by the majority of voters.
“What they said is that they’re very upset, and I don’t blame them for being upset,” Biden told MSNBC’s Jonathan Capehart. “People are dying, and they want something done about it,” he said, adding that it was “understandable” that they felt that way.
In Michigan, a state with a large number of Muslim voters and citizens of Arab descent, more than 100,000 people voted “uncommitted” in the Democratic primary instead of choosing Biden.
In Minnesota’s primary on Tuesday, NBC News projected that “uncommitted” would win 19% of the vote, as major progressive donors began to sound the alarm about the growing strength of the movement.

Arab leaders are ready to recognize Israel and begin rebuilding the region if there is a cease-fire, President Joe Biden told MSNBC’s Jonathan Capehart in an exclusive interview on Saturday.
“I’ve spoken with the majority of Arab leaders, from Saudi Arabia to Egypt to Jordan. They’re all prepared to fully recognize Israel and begin to rebuild the region,” Biden said.
His focus was on securing a temporary cease-fire over Ramadan and on working with Arab leaders and Israel on “what comes after Gaza,” he said.
Egypt and Jordan already recognize the state of Israel, and have done so for decades. Saudi Arabia reneged on U.S.-mediated attempts to normalize relations with Israel last year, following Israel’s invasion of Gaza. In February, it reiterated it would not normalize relations with Israel until the West recognized a Palestinian state.

President Joe Biden warned that a ground invasion on Rafah by Israel would be a “red line” for the U.S., as he reiterated his commitment to securing a temporary cease-fire during the holy month of Ramadan, which begins within a few days.
In an interview with MSNBC’s Jonathan Capehart, Biden said “it is a red line, but I will never leave Israel,” referring to the invasion of Rafah, which he has repeatedly urged Netanyahu’s government against.
“There’s no red line where I would cut off all weapons so they don’t have the Iron Dome to protect them,” he said. “But there’s red lines where if he crosses them … he cannot have 30,000 more Palestinians dead,” he added, referring to Netanyahu. Biden did not specify what the consequences would be if Israel did invade Rafah.
“There’s other ways to deal, to get to, to deal with the trauma caused by Hamas,” he said.
In addition to providing military support for Israel’s air defense system, the Biden administration has transferred weapons known to indiscriminately kill civilians when used in densely populated urban areas like Gaza, such as 2000-pound bombs and 155 mm artillery shells.

President Joe Biden’s increasingly public frustrations with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have been building for months, which he addressed in an exclusive interview with MSNBC yesterday.
“He must, he must, he must pay attention to the innocent lives being lost as a consequence of the actions taken,” Biden emphasized, saying he thinks Netanyahu is “hurting Israel more than helping Israel.”
Expounding further on the civilian death toll in Gaza, Biden alluded to the rest of the world’s view, before adding that it is “contrary to what Israel stands for. And I think it’s a big mistake.”

Yesterday’s drop by the U.S. Air Force and Army included 41,400 meals and 23,000 bottles of water, according to U.S. Central Command.

More than half a million Gazans are facing starvation in the enclave as dozens of children have already died of hunger, according to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East.
At least 20 children have “succumbed to starvation,” including a 14-day-old baby, the agency said.
UNRWA reports that “a 50 percent reduction of aid deliveries into Gaza stems from a lack of political will and security assurances from Israeli military operations amid the collapse of civil order.”
“When children are starting” to “die from starvation, that should be a warning like no other,” Jens Laerke, a spokesperson for the United Nations humanitarian office, said at a news briefing Tuesday. “If not now, when is the time to pull the stops, break the glass, flood Gaza with the aid that it needs?”
As the humanitarian situation declines rapidly in Gaza, nations including the U.S. have began airdropping food into the enclave. The U.S. distributed tens of thousands of meals as part of a joint Jordan-U.S. aid operation, which has been criticized as too little and ineffective.
One in six children in Gaza are now “dangerously malnourished,” according to the World Health Organization.
“Children who survived bombardment may not survive a famine,” Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus wrote on X.

U.S. food drops over Gaza are criticized as too little and ineffective
In the ruins of Gaza, children are starving to death and there’s no cease-fire in sight
As malnutrition deaths are reported and hunger grows, will ‘famine’ be declared in Gaza?
At least 3 killed on shipping vessel in first fatal Houthi attack since start of Israel-Hamas war
U.N. finds ‘clear and convincing’ information that hostages have been raped in Gaza


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