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Lack of water in Gaza ‘a health crisis on the brink of explosion’, says charity

Key events

Italy suspends open-border agreement with neighbouring Slovenia

Italy’s prime minister, Giorgia Meloni, arriving at the Europe Summit in Granada, Spain, on Thursday, 5 October. Photograph: Manu Fernández/AP

Following the killing of two Swedish football fans in Brussels on Monday by a suspected terrorist, Italy’s PM, Giorgia Meloni, has suspended the Schengen treaty and reintroduced controls at Italy’s border with Slovenia from Saturday 21 October.

Meloni said on social media:

The suspension of the Schengen treaty on free movement in Europe has become necessary due to the worsening situation in the Middle East, the increase in migratory flows along the Balkan route and, above all, due to national security issues.

I take full responsibility for this.

Meloni said border controls would last for 10 days, with the possibility of an extension, and “will be implemented in a way that ensures the proportionality” and “adapted” to the level of the “threat” and “calibrated to cause the least possible impact on cross-border movement and freight traffic.

The statement continued:

Further developments in the situation and the effectiveness of the measures will be constantly analysed in the hope of a rapid return to full freedom of movement.

It said the situation was “aggravated by the constant migratory pressure to which Italy is subject, by sea and by land” with 140,000 migrants arriving in Italy by sea this year, up 85% on the same period in 2022.

It said that the current police measures at the Italian-Slovenian border were “not adequate to guarantee the required level of security”.

Every day, small groups of asylum seekers from Afghanistan, Syria, Pakistan and Iraq attempt to cross from Bosnia into Croatia and Slovenia nightly on the migrant trail into western Europe in order to reach Italy or Germany. Aid workers, doctors and UN officials have documented systematic abuse and violence perpetrated by border guards against migrants along the border stretch for several years.

Spain’s Federation of Jewish Communities (FCJE) has called for respect and peaceful co-existence after a group of pro-Palestinian demonstrators converged on the main synagogue in Spain’s north African enclave of Melilla on Wednesday evening.

The federation said Jewish business owners were also insulted and intimidated by the protesters, who had chanted: “Israel! Killers!”

It detailed a series of antisemitic incidents across Spain over recent days, saying paint had been daubed in the Jewish neighbourhood of Besalú, in the province of Girona, and on a synagogue in Madrid, and that a Jewish home in the capital had also been marked out with paint. A Jewish couple, it added, had had a stone thrown through their window.

In a statement, the FCJE said:

Our synagogues and community centres are more protected than ever in the face of the threat of attacks.

We cannot allow the peaceful coexistence that we have historically enjoyed in Melilla and other Spanish cities to be broken. We express our solidarity and support to all the Spanish Jews who are suffering so gravely because of what is happening in Israel, and to their friends and families there.

We wish for a solution to the conflict that includes the end of the Hamas terrorist group, the safe return of the hostages, and the establishment of a just and safe peace.

The US general overseeing American troops in the Middle East made an unannounced trip to Egypt for talks on Thursday with the Egyptian president, Abdel Fatah al-Sisi that focused on the Israel-Hamas war and how to get aid to the Gaza Strip.

Egypt’s Sinai peninsula adjoins the Gaza Strip and its Rafah border crossing is the sole route for aid to enter Gaza directly from outside Israel. It is also the only exit that does not lead to Israeli territory, Reuters reports.

More than 100 trucks were waiting close to the crossing on the Egyptian side on Thursday, though it was not expected that aid would enter before Friday, Egyptian security sources said. More aid is being held in the Egyptian city of Arish, about 45 km (28 miles) from Rafah.

A statement from Sisi’s office said the talks with US army Gen Michael “Erik” Kurilla, head of US Central Command, included in particular “the developments in the Gaza Strip”.

The statement said.

The president outlined Egypt’s efforts for de-escalation, stressing the importance of the international community’s concerted efforts to contain the crisis and stop its escalation in dangerous directions.

The meeting in Cairo, where Kurilla also met Egypt’s defence minister, Mohamed Zaki, came as Washington and Egypt have been pushing for a deal with Israel to get aid deliveries to Gaza.

Sisi’s office said delivering aid in a “sustainable manner” was a top priority given deteriorating humanitarian conditions.

The Rafah crossing has become a focal point in the conflict between Israel and the Palestinian militant group Hamas as a humanitarian crisis unfolds and hundreds of thousands of Palestinians head to south Gaza from the enclave’s north to escape Israeli bombing.

The Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, and Britain’s Rishi Sunak on Thursday discussed the need to prevent any regional escalation in the conflict with Hamas, Sunak’s Downing Street office said.

Downing Street, according to Reuters, said:

Both leaders underscored the need to prevent any regional escalation in the conflict and the importance of restoring peace and stability to the region.

Four Palestinians were killed and several wounded, including children, in the airstrike on a house in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip on Thursday, Hamas media reported.

According to Reuters, Hamas-affiliated Aqsa radio said four Palestinians were killed and several were wounded in the airstrike.

More information to come …

The chief executive of the FA said he “recognises the hurt” caused to the Jewish community by the organisations’s decision not to light the Wembley arch in the colours of Israel following the atrocities committed there by Hamas two weeks ago.

Mark Bullingham called the decision “one of the hardest” he has had to make as the organisation’s chief executive.

The FA came under intense scrutiny and received strong criticism over their response to the events of 7 October, ultimately choosing to acknowledge the moment with black armbands and a minute’s silence ahead of England men’s friendly against Australia last Friday. Bullingham said the organisation would now review its policy on lighting the arch.

Bullingham said:

I recognise that our decision caused hurt in the Jewish community who felt that we should have lit the arch and should have shown stronger support for them.

This is one of the hardest decisions we have had to make and the last thing we ever wanted to do in this situation was to add to the hurt. We aren’t asking for everyone to agree with our decision but to understand how we reached it.

Bullingham said that the decision had been made after days of deliberation, with the FA first contacting the Israeli Football Association to express their horror at the Hamas attacks. This was followed by a period of consultation across football and an extraordinary meeting of the FA board on the following Wednesday night.

He added:

We all felt then and we all feel now that football should stand for peace and humanity and that we should show compassion for all innocent victims of this terrible conflict.

Read the full story below:

The death toll of French citizens from the Hamas attacks in Israel has risen to 28, and seven others are still unaccounted for, the French foreign ministry said at a weekly briefing on Thursday, Reuters reports.

Summary - what we know so far today

  • The British prime minister, Rishi Sunak, has met Israel’s president and prime minister on a visit to the country

  • Sunak stressed the importance of allowing humanitarian aid into Gaza and said the UK stood in solidarity with Israel.

  • Sunak said the UK supported Israel’s right to defend itself “in line with international law”, to go after Hamas and to bring back the hostages.

  • A charity has warned that the lack of access to water in Gaza is “a health crisis on the brink of explosion”.

  • Gaza health officials say Israel’s bombing has so far killed 3,785 people and wounded more than 12,000.

  • Machinery to repair roads has been sent through the Rafah border crossing from Egypt into the Gaza Strip in preparation for the delivery of some aid tomorrow.

  • The bodies of two of those missing from the Nir Oz kibbutz in southern Israel have been found.

  • Israel says at least 203 people are being held hostage in Gaza – four more than its previous estimate of 199.

Sunak and Netanyahu joint press conference

The British prime minister, Rishi Sunak, meets his Israeli counterpart, Benjamin Netanyahu. Photograph: Simon Walker/No 10 Downing Street

Sunak and Netanyahu have just given a short press conference. Here are some of the key quotes and lines.

Netanyahu framed the conflict as a showdown between good and evil, modernity and barbarism, saying that both Israel and the world were facing their “darkest hour”.

He said:

This is a battle of western civilisation, the battle of the free world, the battle for the future. We have here two forces. One is an axis of evil, led by Iran through Hezbollah, Hamas and others, that want to bring back the Middle East to the Middle Ages, to an age of bondage and war and slavery and annihilation. And the other forces – the forces of progress and humanity – that want to push the Middle East into a world of peace and prosperity. We’re on the cusp of expanding that peace – and destroying that move was one of the reasons why this action was taken. We have to resist it and we have to win. Above all, we have to win. We have to release the hostages.

The Israeli PM said the war would be long, adding that although there would be “ups and downs”, the people of Israel had never been more united.

He described Hamas and its allies as “the modern barbarians; the worst monsters on the planet”.

Sunak said Israel had gone through something that “no country; no people should have to endure – least of all Israel”.

He also said that the UK supported Israel’s right to defend itself “in line with international law”, to go after Hamas and to bring back the hostages.

In a reference to concerns over Israel’s response to the Hamas attacks, Sunak added:

Now I know that you are taking every precaution to avoid harming civilians, in direct contrast to the terrorists of Hamas, which seem to put civilians in harm’s way.

The British PM thanked Netanyahu for his support for British nationals “caught up in this horror”, including the hostages.

Sunak referred to Tuesday’s blast at al-Ahli Arab hospital in the north of the Gaza Strip but did not speculate as to who may have been responsible for it. He said:

We’ve seen scenes over the past day that have shocked all of us, particularly in the hospital and we mourn the loss of every innocent life.

Sunak also thanked the Israeli government for its decision to announce the opening up of humanitarian routes into Gaza.

Lack of water in Gaza ‘a health crisis on the brink of explosion’, says charity

Lack of access to water is one of the biggest challenges in Gaza, according to the international charity Action Against Hunger, which is warning of “a health crisis on the brink of explosion”.

Staff at the charity say overcrowded displacement shelters are close to breaking point. They add that one shelter in Gaza is currently supporting more than 24,000 people and that 60% of the children there are affected by diarrhoea. Some people are are also resorting to open defecation.

Palestinians fetch water in the southern Gaza Strip city of Khan Younis. Photograph: Xinhua/Shutterstock

The UN estimates that there are fewer than 3 litres of water per person each day for the 2.3 million people living in Gaza, half of whom are children who are most at risk from water shortages and diarrhoeal infections – the leading cause of child mortality globally. And that amount is likely to decrease by the day as supplies and fuel used to make water drinkable in the desalination plants are reduced.

Chiara Saccardi, officer for the Middle East at Action Against Hunger, said:

Faced with this impossible situation, many Gazan families are resorting to non-drinking water sources, such as agricultural wells. This puts them at imminent risk of dehydration and even an outbreak of infectious diseases such as cholera. Such an epidemic, if it happens, would make this serious crisis an even bigger problem.