Hundreds in Russia try to storm plane from Israel; 3,200 children have died in G…

Editor’s Note: For the latest on the Israel-Hamas conflict, please see our live updates file here.

A plane from Israel was greeted Sunday by an angry crowd of hundreds who stormed onto the landing field of the main airport in the predominantly Muslim region of Dagestan in Russia, protesting the airliner’s arrival.

Russian news reports said protesters shouted antisemitic slogans and tried to storm the plane belonging to Russian carrier Red Wings, prompting police in Makhachkala to close the airport.

Video on social media showed protesters attempting to overturn a police car, some on the landing field waving Palestinian flags and others checking the passports of passengers who had arrived in Makhachkala from Tel Aviv.

The office of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement that Israel “expects the Russian law enforcement authorities to protect the safety of all Israeli citizens and Jews wherever they may be and to act resolutely against the rioters and against the wild incitement directed against Jews and Israelis.”

No injuries were immediately reported.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, whose country has been fighting a Russian invasion since February 2022, tweeted that antisemitic sentiment is common in Russia and emanates from its leaders.

“This is not an isolated incident in Makhachkala,” Zelenskyy said, “but rather part of Russia’s widespread culture of hatred toward other nations, which is propagated by state television, pundits, and authorities.”

Hundreds of demonstrators, some shouting antisemitic slogans, crowd into an airfield of the airport in Makhachkala, Russia on Sunday to protest the arrival of a plane from Tel Aviv, Israel.


∎ The Israeli military said it struck targets in Lebanon and Syria on Sunday after rockets were fired into Israel, in a continuation of hostilities that began shortly after the war started. Israel said it shot down a drone and killed a militant in Lebanon.

∎ Internet and cellphone service have been partially restored to the Gaza area, the U.N.’s relief agency for Palestinians reported Sunday. Connectivity dropped dramatically Friday and the blackout halted humanitarian convoys into the area. “Tensions and fear are made worse by the cuts in the phones and internet communication lines,” White said. “They feel that they are on their own, cut off from their families inside Gaza and the rest of the world.”

∎ In addition to dropping leaflets written in Arabic to urge Palestinians to move to the southern part of Gaza, the Israeli military has been using them to encourage residents to put down their weapons and surrender. “Hamas leaders are exploiting you,” the flyers read. “They and their families are in safe places, while you die in vain.”

∎ Humanitarian aid is intermittently arriving and isn’t meeting the needs, White said. So far, 80 aid trucks have entered Gaza from the south via Egypt but are being slowed by exhaustive inspections, including a ban on bringing in fuel, he said. “The needs of the communities are immense, if only for basic survival, while the aid we receive is meager and inconsistent,” he said.

Michigan doctor says he’s lost family members in Gaza

Emad Shehada has felt helpless and hopeless since war broke out between Israel and Hamas on Oct. 7. It’s a hopelessness that keeps “creeping into my soul every day,” he told the Detroit Free Press, part of the USA TODAY Network.

The 47-year-old pulmonologist hasn’t taken a break from work at his private practice — in part because he says he has an obligation to his patients, but also because the second he comes home: “everything comes back.”

When Shehad is not working, he’s at home anxiously watching the Arabic news channel Al Jazeera. Sometimes he turns off the TV, frustrated with what he’d witnessed, only to turn it back on 10 minutes later.

Israeli airstrikes in Gaza have killed thousands of people and Shehad has lost 20 family members, including cousins and their children. He fears one day, his sister, Asmaa Shehada — who is sheltering in her Gaza home with her husband, two young daughters, and about 50 other loved ones — will also be killed.

“There’s nowhere to go. Families are hiding together, and they are going to be targeted together,” said Shehada of West Bloomfield, Michigan.

— Andrea May Sahouri, Detroit Free Press

Six times more children killed in Gaza than in Ukraine war

A little more than 500 children have been killed in the 18-month-long war in Ukraine, according to Ukrainian authorities who acknowledge the total is imprecise, but whose numbers are in line with the U.N.’s tally.

In the three weeks since the Israel-Hamas war began this month, nearly 3,200 children have been killed in Gaza alone, in addition to 33 in the occupied West Bank and 29 in Israel.

Those figures come from the health ministries in Gaza and Israel, according to the international charity Save the Children. And while the Gaza agency is under Hamas rule and its numbers were questioned by Biden last week, The Associated Press reported they’ve held up to independent scrutiny in previous wars.

The 3,195 reported deaths among minors in Gaza, where more than 40% of the population is under 18, are more than the number of children killed in armed conflicts anywhere in the world for a whole year over the last three years, Save the Children said Sunday.

“The numbers are harrowing and with violence not only continuing but expanding in Gaza right now, many more children remain at grave risk,” said Jason Lee, the organization’s Country Director in the occupied Palestinian territory. “One child’s death is one too many, but these are grave violations of epic proportions. A cease-fire is the only way to ensure their safety.”

Israel hits hospital with 14,000 sheltering, Red Crescent says

The Al-Quds hospital in Gaza City, which is treating 400 patients and providing refuge to about 14,000 displaced Palestinians during the persistent bombardment, was damaged Sunday by Israeli airstrikes, the Palestinian Red Crescent Society said.

A video posted by the organization on X, formerly Twitter, shows people struggling to breathe amid dust in a room with blown-out windows and debris on the floor.

“The Israeli occupation forces deliberately continue to launch rockets directly near Al-Quds hospital in #Gaza to force medical staff, displaced individuals, and patients to evacuate the hospital,” the PRCS post says. “This has caused significant damage to hospital departments and exposed residents and patients to suffocation.”

In Muslim territories, the Red Cross is known as the Red Crescent. The society said it was warned by Israeli forces to evacuate in advance of a bombardment, but said that’s impossible: “We don’t have the means to evacuate,” spokeswoman Nibal Farsak said on X, citing the challenge of moving people from the ICU. “Evacuating them means killing them.”

Another video posted previously showed dozens of women and children resting on blankets and cushions inside the hospital’s lobby.

Jagan Chapagain, the secretary general and CEO of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, said he’s “deeply alarmed” about the hospital’s fate: “I cannot stress this further. There is an urgent need to de-escalate to protect civilian lives, hospitals & doctors,” he posted on X.

Many Gazans have sought shelter at hospitals, hoping they will escape the violence there but also because they are more likely to have electricity and running water. Israel has accused Hamas of using hospitals, mosques and schools to hide weapons and train its fighters.

‘Civil order is starting to break down’ in Gaza

The U.N.’s Palestinian relief agency warns that “civil order is starting to break down” in Gaza as thousands of desperate people broke into warehouses and distribution centers to take food and other supplies after Israeli ground forces moved in.

Thomas White, the Gaza affairs director of the U.N.’s Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, said Sunday in a statement that the current system for delivering humanitarian aid isn’t working. He said displaced Palestinians are crowding into homes in the middle and southern areas of the Gaza Strip, with up to 50 people sheltering in some households.

Israel has been bombarding Gaza since an Oct. 7 attack led by Hamas killed more than 1,400 people on Israeli soil and ignited a war that has killed more than 8,000 people in Gaza, according to the latest count by the Hamas-run Health Ministry. As it has increased its military response, Israel ordered people in northern Gaza to move south, concentrating residents in an area without adequate food, water or other services, according to humanitarian officials.

On Saturday, Gaza residents took food and hygiene supplies from warehouses and distribution centers, White said, an indication they are growing desperate. “This is a worrying sign that civil order is starting to break down after three weeks of war and a tight siege on Gaza,” he said in a statement. “People are scared, frustrated and desperate.”

Biden, Netanyahu talk hostages, civilian safety, aid for Gaza

President Joe Biden and Netanyahu discussed Israel’s right to defend itself and the need to do so while protecting civilians in Gaza, according to a readout of their Sunday morning call.

They also talked about the efforts to locate hostages and gain their release, the White House said. Hamas and other militants are believed to be holding about 220 captives, Americans among them, most likely in different locations.

The leaders also covered the topic of aid coming into Gaza, which Biden has said is not happening as much as he’d like. “The President underscored the need to immediately and significantly increase the flow of humanitarian assistance to meet the needs of civilians in Gaza,” the readout said.

Israeli soldiers now in Gaza

In a video statement Saturday, Lt. General Herzi Halevi of the Israel Defense Forces said the response against Hamas had moved into a new phase, with soldiers deployed into Gaza for what’s expected to be vicious fighting in the tunnels Hamas operates in the enclave.

“The best soldiers and commanders − well-trained and prepared − are now operating in Gaza,” Halevi said. “The ground forces are currently carrying out an important and complex operation. The objectives of this war require a ground operation. Achievements demand risks, and as we know, every victory comes at a price.”

In a series of messages posted to X, the website formerly known as Twitter, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel is doing all it can to minimize civilian casualties during the ground offensive. In a prelude to the ground offensive, the IDF said its jets hit 150 underground targets in the northern Gaza Strip, attacking tunnels and “underground combat spaces” and killing several Hamas members.

“This is the second stage of the war, the goals of which are clear: Destroying Hamas’s military and governing capabilities, and bringing the captives back home,” Netanyahu said in a post. “The IDF does everything to avoid harming non-combatants. I again call on the civilian population to evacuate to a safe area in the southern Gaza Strip. In contrast, the cynicism of the enemy knows no bounds. He carries out war crimes by using civilians as human shields, by using hospitals as terrorist command centers and to supply fuel to its war machine.”

People mourn as they collect the bodies of Palestinians killed in Israeli air raids on Oct. 28, 2023, in Khan Yunis, Gaza. Heading into a third week of heavy bombing from Israel, Gaza buckles under a shortage of basic needs, including fuel. At the same time, several neighborhoods in the Gaza strip have been wiped out, thousands have died, and hundreds of thousands have been displaced. On Oct. 7, Hamas launched a deadly attack in southern Israel that sparked a retaliatory siege of Gaza.

Turkish president calls Israel’s responses ‘war crimes’

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan held a massive pro-Palestinian rally in Istanbul in which he said his country planned to formally accuse Israel of committing war crimes in the Gaza Strip.

“Israel, we will proclaim you as a war criminal to the world,” Erdogan said, without elaborating on the mechanism he intended to employ or what the action would mean. “We are making our preparations, and we will declare Israel to the world as a war criminal.”

In response, Israel said it was pulling its diplomats from Turkey, although some had already left for security reasons.

Erdogan, whose ruling party has roots in Turkey’s Islamic movement, has been an outspoken critic of Israel’s treatment of Palestinians since coming into office in 2003. Turkey is a NATO member, which means it’s closely allied with the United States militarily. Israel is not a NATO member but is also militarily close with the U.S.

Turkey and Israel have long been at odds, but there were signs of a diplomatic thaw last year when then-Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid met with Erdogan at the U.N. and the countries agreed to resume formal relations for the first time since 2010.

US: Israel has a ‘responsibility’ to protect citizens in Gaza

National security adviser Jake Sullivan said Hamas “is hiding behind the civilian population in Gaza,” as Israel expands its ground incursion into the territory. While Israel has a right to defend itself, Sullivan said, it also needs to protect Palestinian citizens in Gaza.

Israel has a “responsibility under international humanitarian law and the laws of war to do all in their power to protect the civilian population,” Sullivan said in an interview on ABC’s “This Week.”

Sullivan deferred to Israel to answer about its plans for the siege of Gaza, but said the U.S. “will continue to ask hard questions about how they are thinking this through, how they are proceeding.”

Ken Tran

Pope calls for ceasefire, freeing hostages

In his weekly address from St. Peter’s Square, Pope Francis called Sunday for a ceasefire and for hostages to be released. He also asked the faithful to pray for an end to the violence and for humanitarian aid to enter Gaza.

“Stop, brothers and sisters: war is always a defeat − always, always,” Francis said, according to the Vatican.

Hamas holds some 220 hostages and has released four under pressure from the U.S.

U.S. officials have not called for a ceasefire, which they said would help Hamas, but they have called for periodic humanitarian pauses in Israel’s attack on Gaza.

Contributing: The Associated Press

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Israel-Hamas war updates: Hundreds in Russia storm plane from Tel Aviv

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