The Latest | China calls for Palestine to join UN as international criticism of Gaza war mounts

China reiterated calls to admit Palestine to the U.N. on Thursday, and Norway warned companies against doing business in Israeli settlements, as international criticism of Israel’s war in Gaza mounted.

After nearly five months of war, much of Gaza is in ruins. International pressure is growing for Israel and Hamas to reach a deal that would halt the fighting and release the remaining Israeli hostages held by Hamas.

On Wednesday, South Africa went to the United Nations’ top court seeking additional orders for Israel to let aid into the Gaza Strip, and the British foreign minister said Israel’s allies were losing patience over the humanitarian situation.

South Africa accuses Israel of violating provisional measures imposed by the International Court of Justice on Jan. 26, when judges ordered Israel to do all it could to prevent death, destruction and any acts of genocide in Gaza.

Israel’s near-total blockade of Gaza and the ongoing fighting have made it nearly impossible to deliver supplies in most of Gaza, aid groups say. Many of the estimated 300,000 people still living in northern Gaza have been reduced to eating animal fodder to survive.

Israel launched its offensive after Hamas-led militants stormed across the border on Oct. 7, killing some 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and abducting around 250. Over 100 hostages were released in November in exchange for 240 Palestinians imprisoned by Israel.

The number of Palestinians killed has climbed above 30,700, according to Gaza’s Health Ministry. It does not differentiate between civilians and combatants in its figures, but says women and children make up around two-thirds of the total casualties. It says over 72,000 people have been wounded.


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Here’s the latest:


COPENHAGEN, Denmark – Norway’s government on Thursday urged Norwegian companies to avoid trade and business activities that contribute to maintaining illegal Israeli settlements. Foreign Minister Espen Barth Eide said that “for years, Norway has been clear that the settlement policy in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, is in violation of international law, including humanitarian law and human rights.”

“Norwegian businesses should be aware that, through economic or financial activity in the Israeli settlements in violation of international law, they risk contributing to violations of international humanitarian law or human rights,” Barth Eide said.

He said that last year “was also the deadliest year for Palestinians in the West Bank since the UN began recording. I repeat that the injustice to which the Palestinians are subjected must stop,” he said.


BEIJING — China’s foreign minister is demanding that other members of the U.N. Security Council stop blocking Palestine from becoming a member of the United Nations.

Wang Yi reiterated China’s call for a major international conference to draw up a roadmap and timetable for a two-state solution.

“We support Palestine becoming a full member of the United Nations and call on individual members of the Security Council not to set obstacles for this any more,” he said Thursday at a news conference during the annual meeting of China’s legislature.

Zhang Jun, China’s U.N. ambassador, said in January that his country supports U.N. membership for Palestine as a first step toward the creation of a Palestinian state. The Security Council needs to send a clear and unequivocal signal, reaffirming the urgency of the two-state solution as the sole feasible way out, he was quoted as saying by China’s official state media.

China, one of the five permanent members of the Security Council, backed Palestine becoming a U.N. member in a joint statement issued last June during a state visit to China by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.


DEIR AL-BALAH, Gaza Strip — At least 15 people were killed by three Israeli airstrikes that hit buildings in central Gaza.

The bodies were taken to Al Aqsa Martyrs Hospital in Deir al-Balah, where an Associated Press journalist counted the bodies as they arrived. People were reported to be still trapped under the rubble.

Two strikes hit buildings in Deir al-Balah and a third in the Nuseirat refugee camp.

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