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The Latest: China offering cash, vaccines to people in Gaza

BEIJING — China says it will offer cash and 200,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines to Palestinians caught up in the latest fighting in Gaza.

Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian on Friday told reporters that $1 million would be provided as emergency humanitarian assistance and another $1 million would go to UNRWA, the U.N. agency that provides vital assistance to the 75% of the enclave’s population who are refugees.

China will “continue to provide humanitarian support within its capacity and actively participate in the reconstruction of Gaza according to the needs of the Palestinian side,” Zhao said at a daily briefing.

The fighting has brought Gaza’s health care system to the brink of collapse and its COVID-19 vaccination drive, already slow, has stopped, according to WHO’s top official in Gaza, Sacha Bootsma. China has become a major exporter and donor of COVID-19 vaccines, taking a leading role in what some have termed “vaccine diplomacy.”

China is a strong supporter of the Palestinian cause but also maintains robust ties with Israel.


ISLAMABAD — Pakistan’s foreign minister has welcomed a cease-fire between Israel and the Hamas- militant group that rules Gaza.

According to a Foreign Ministry statement, Shah Mahmood Qureshi said he hoped latest the cease-fire announcement could help revive efforts for a negotiated settlement of the Palestinian issue.

Qureshi’s comments came Friday as Pakistanis across the country began gathering for anti-Israel rallies to express solidarity with Palestinians.

Pakistan is among few countries that do not have diplomatic ties with Israel.


BRUSSELS — The European Union’s top diplomat is welcoming the Gaza cease-fire, but he says only a revival of long-term peace talks can ensure that such fighting does not flare up again in the future.

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said Friday in a statement that “we commend Egypt, Qatar, United Nations, United States and others who have played a facilitating role in this.”

Borrell says “the situation in the Gaza Strip has long been unsustainable. Only a political solution will bring sustainable peace and end once for all the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.”

He says that “restoring a political horizon towards a two-state solution now remains of utmost importance” and that the EU stands ready to help both sides achieve that.

The EU’s support for a two-state solution is long-standing, but the 27-nation bloc is divided over how to handle relations with Israel and the Palestinians. On Tuesday, Hungary blocked the publication of a joint statement on the conflict.


PARIS — The French minister of foreign affairs is praising the Gaza cease-fire as the outcome of diplomatic efforts involving Europeans, the United States and several Arab countries.

In a statement, Jean-Yves Le Drian praised the “fundamental role” of Egypt in the talks that led to that result. He said the cessation of hostilities was the “absolute priority” to protect civilian populations and avoid an extension of the conflict.

The statement said France seeks to play a role in reviving peace talks between Israel and Palestinian authorities, and wants to see humanitarian aid resume to the region, particularly to Gaza.


GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — Palestinians rallied by the thousands early Friday after a cease-fire took effect in the latest Gaza war, with many viewing it as costly but clear victory for the Islamic militant group Hamas over a far more powerful Israel.

Thousands took to the streets of Gaza as the cease-fire took hold at 2 a.m. Young men waved Palestinian and Hamas flags, passed out sweets, honked horns and set off fireworks. Spontaneous celebrations also broke out in east Jerusalem and across the occupied West Bank.

The 11-day war left more than 200 dead — the vast majority Palestinians — and brought widespread devastation to the already impoverished Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip.

But the rocket barrages that brought life to a standstill in much of Israel were seen by many Palestinians as a bold response to perceived Israeli abuses in Jerusalem, the emotional heart of the conflict.

The Associated Press