DEVELOPING | Blinken says Netanyahu 'reaffirmed commitment' to Gaza ceasefire plan | News24 (2024)

28m ago

UN 'shocked' at civilian toll of Israeli operation to free hostages

The UN voiced alarm on Tuesday at the civilian toll of Israel's rescue of four hostages in Gaza, and the fact that Palestinian armed groups are holding captives there. The United Nations rights office said acts committed by both Israelis and Palestinians "may amount to war crimes".

"We are profoundly shocked at the impact on civilians of the Israeli forces' operation in An Nuseirat at the weekend to secure the release of four hostages," spokesman Jeremy Laurence told reporters in Geneva. The UN, he said, was also "deeply distressed that Palestinian armed groups continue to hold many hostages, most of them civilians".

Israeli forces stormed Nuseirat refugee camp on Saturday to rescue four Israeli hostages. Almog Meir Jan, Noa Argamani, Andrey Kozlov and Shlomi Ziv were kidnapped from the Nova festival in southern Israel on October 7.Hamas-run Gaza's health ministry said at least 274 Palestinians were killed and 698 wounded during the operation.

"Hundreds of Palestinians, many of them civilians, were reportedly killed and injured," Laurence said. "The manner in which the raid was conducted, in such a densely populated area, seriously calls into question whether the principles of distinction, proportionality and precaution - as set out under the laws of war - were respected by the Israeli forces."

Asked about figures provided by the Gaza health ministry, he said that prior to 7 October, when there was greater possibility to check, the UN had consistently found "the numbers they provide us are... very close to being 100-percent accurate". The UN rights office has had limited access to verify numbers since the war started but Laurence said it still had contacts on the ground "who are reliable".

Asked about hostages held in Gaza, Laurence said this was also "prohibited by international law". "Furthermore, by holding hostages in such densely populated areas, the armed groups doing so are putting the lives of Palestinian civilians, as well as the hostages themselves, at added risk from the hostilities," he stressed. Asked about reports that hostages had been held in civilian locations, he said that should not happen "to an extent they could be ... used as human shields".

"That in itself is a serious breach."


1h ago

Blinken says Netanyahu 'reaffirmed commitment' to Gaza ceasefire plan

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Tuesday that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had "reaffirmed his commitment" to a Gaza ceasefire proposal during their meeting in Jerusalem.

"I met with Prime Minister Netanyahu last night and he reaffirmed his commitment to the proposal," Blinken said, adding that Hamas's welcoming of a UN vote on the US-drafted ceasefire resolution was a "hopeful" sign."It is hopeful sign, just as the statement issued after the president (Joe Biden) made his proposal 10 days ago was hopeful," he said.

"But it's not dispositive. What is dispositive - or at least what so far been dispositive in one way or another - is the word coming from Gaza and from the Hamas leadership in Gaza. And that's what counts. And that's what we don't have. "We await the answer from Hamas," he said. Late on Monday, Hamas said it "welcomes" the UN Security Council's vote to adopt a resolution backing the ceasefire plan.

But the Palestinian militant group, which is locked in fierce fighting with Israeli military in Gaza, insisted its demands be met, including a permanent ceasefire in Gaza and a complete withdrawal of Israeli forces from the territory. Blinken said that the military approach was not always "sufficient, and there has to be a clear political plan, a clear humanitarian plan to ensure that Hamas does not in any way, shape or form (remain) in control of Gaza and that Israel can move forward toward more enduring security."


3h ago

Israel's military says sirens warning of possible incoming rockets sound in northern city of Haifa

Israel's military said on Tuesday sirens warning of possible incoming rockets sounded in the northern port city of Haifa. Earlier on Tuesday, the military said it had intercepted "a suspicious aerial target" off the coast of Haifa, where no injuries or damage were reported.

- Reuters

3h ago

Israeli military says four soldiers killed in southern Gaza

The Israeli military said on Tuesday that four soldiers had been killed in southern Gaza.

Army Radio said they were killed in an explosion set off in a building in the Shabura neighbourhood of Rafah.

- Reuters

3h ago

Blinken in Israel to push ceasefire plan for Gaza

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken will hold talks with key Israeli opposition figures on Tuesday, a day after he arrived in the country to push a ceasefire plan for the war in Gaza. His visit is part of a drive by the United States to secure a ceasefire in the eight-month war between Israel and Palestinian militant group Hamas.

Blinken will on Tuesday meet Benny Gantz, a centrist and former army chief who quit Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government on Sunday, in Tel Aviv, as well as opposition leader Yair Lapid. The United States, a staunch ally of Israel, had been widely criticised for blocking several previous UN draft resolutions calling for a ceasefire. US ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield said the Security Council had "voted for peace".

Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas described the UN vote as a "step in the right direction". The United States has expressed hopes that Abbas's Palestinian Authority, which is based in the West Bank and which has no authority over Gaza, will play a role in managing the territory in the future.

After a stopover in Egypt, where he called on regional governments to "press Hamas to say yes" to the ceasefire proposal, Blinken met Netanyahu in Jerusalem on Monday. On his eighth tour of the region since the start of the war, Blinken is also expected to stop in Jordan and Qatar.

The truce plan had initially been announced on 31 May by US President Joe Biden.In Jerusalem, Blinken told Netanyahu it would "unlock the possibility of calm along Israel's northern border and further integration with countries in the region", according to the State Department.


6h ago

Israeli forces kill 4 Palestinians in West Bank

Israeli forces killed four Palestinians on Monday in the occupied West Bank, the Palestinian Authority said, one of whom the military said had started a fire at an Israeli outpost.

Four Palestinians were killed on Monday by Israeli "occupation fire" in the town of Kfar Naima, north-west of Ramallah, the territory's health ministry said. A general strike was called in Ramallah by Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas in response to the killings, along with a pre-planned rally for Palestinians jailed by Israel.

The Israeli military said it shot at a group of four people who attempted to flee in a vehicle and tried to "run over forces" when Israeli police went to Kfar Naima to arrest a suspect. One Israeli officer was lightly hurt, an army statement said. One of those killed was accused of setting fire to a caravan in a nearby settler outpost, Sde Ephraim Farm.Israel has occupied the West Bank since the 1967 Arab-Israeli war and hundreds of thousands of settlers have since moved to the Palestinian territory, in breach of international law.

An Israeli police statement said a gun and explosive devices were found when officers searched the vehicle in Kfar Naima. At least 524 Palestinians have been killed across the West Bank by Israeli forces or settlers, Palestinian officials say. Over the same period at least 14 Israelis have been killed in the territory, according to an AFP toll based on Israeli figures.


6h ago

Hamas, Palestinian authority welcome UN Security Council resolution for Gaza ceasefire

The Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, its ally the Islamic Jihad group and the rival Palestinian Authority of President Mahmoud Abbas’s welcomed a UN Security Council resolution backing a proposal for a ceasefire in Gaza.

In its statement, Hamas said it was ready to cooperate with mediators over implementing the principles of the plan. Hamas earlier on Monday said it was only willing to accept a deal that would secure an end to the war in Gaza while Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he was determined to pursue war against Hamas.

"Hamas welcomes what is included in the Security Council resolution that affirmed the permanent ceasefire in Gaza, the complete withdrawal, the prisoners' exchange, the reconstruction, the return of the displaced to their areas of residence, the rejection of any demographic change or reduction in the area of the Gaza Strip, and the delivery of needed aid to our people in the Strip," the militant group said in a statement.

US President Joe Biden outlined the truce accord last month and it envisions a ceasefire in stages, ultimately leading to a permanent end to the war. But Israel has said it will agree only to temporary pauses until Hamas is defeated, while Hamas has countered it will not accept a deal that does not guarantee the war will end. With the conflict in its ninth month, the plan got further backing on Monday from the United Nations where 14 members of the Security Council adopted a US-drafted resolution in favour of the proposal while Russia abstained.

Separately, the Islamic Jihad said early on Tuesday that it looks "positively" to what the resolution included, "especially in terms of opening the door to reaching a comprehensive cessation of aggression and a complete withdrawal of Israeli forces" from the Gaza Strip.

Hamas also said it was willing to engage in indirect negotiations over implementing the principles "that are consistent with the demands of our people and resistance. "In the Israeli-occupied West Bank, the Palestinian Presidency welcomed the resolution saying the presidency "is with any resolution that calls for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza and preserves Palestinian land unity".

- Reuters

10 June 22:21

Security Council votes for ceasefire plan; Hamas says it is ready to cooperate

The United Nations Security Council on Monday adopted a US-drafted resolution supporting a ceasefire plan in Gaza.

The text – passed with 14 votes in favour and Russia abstaining – "welcomes" the truce and hostage release proposal announced on 31 May by US President Joe Biden, and urges "parties to fully implement its terms without delay and without condition."

Hamas welcome the resolution, and said in a statement it is ready to cooperate with mediators over implementing the principles of the plan.

- With Reuters and AFP

10 June 21:20

ICJ measures on Gaza show how weak United Nations is, Pandor says

With its rulings on Gaza, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) has shown the weakness of the United Nations, international relations minister Naledi Pandor told a meeting in Russia on Monday.

The ICJ's provisional measures "affirm the importance of global governance institutions including organs of the United Nations" Pandor said, before adding a section not in the written speech her department released: "while also pointing to the weaknesses of the United Nations and its inability to enforce its own decisions."

It remains vital for member states to respect and implement ICJ decisions, Pandor said.

She was speaking at a meeting of BRICS foreign ministers, where she devoted a quarter of her country statement to Gaza.

- Phillip de Wet

10 June 20:28

Gaza aid pier was not used in Israeli hostage rescue, US says

The Pentagon on Monday sought to dispel what it said were false perceptions on social media that Israel staged part of its hostage rescue operations on the US military's floating pier off Gaza, saying that was not true and no US personnel were involved.

Still, Pentagon spokesperson Major General Patrick Ryder acknowledged there were Israeli helicopter operations "near" the pier.

"It was near but I think it's incidental. Again, the pier, the equipment, the personnel all supporting that humanitarian effort had nothing to do with the IDF rescue operation," Ryder said, referring to the Israel Defense Forces.

In a raid in Gaza on Saturday, Israeli forces rescued four hostages held by Hamas since October.

That operation killed 274 Palestinians, according to Gaza's health ministry.

Ryder said the US military was trying to "push back on some of the inaccurate social media allegations" circulating about the pier.

"The humanitarian pier facility, including its equipment, personnel and assets, were not used in the IDF's operation to rescue hostages in Gaza. And any such claim to the contrary is false."

- Reuters

10 June 20:24

US considers its own hostage deal with Hamas: report

US officials have considered negotiating a unilateral deal with Hamas to release five American hostages held in Gaza if ceasefire talks involving Israel fail, NBC News reported on Monday.

It was not clear what the United States might offer Hamas in exchange, according to the report, which cited two current and two former US officials.

The United States says Hamas is holding five Americans who were taken hostage in the group's deadly 7 October incursion inside Israel, which prompted Israel's massive retaliation. Officials are hoping to recover the bodies of three other Americans who were killed that day, NBC reported.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, asked about the report as he left Cairo said, "The best way, the most effective way to get everyone home, including the American hostages, is through this proposal, is through the ceasefire deal that's on the table right now."

Any unilateral talks would be conducted through Qatari negotiators and would not involve Israel, the unidentified officials, who NBC said have all been briefed on the negotiations, told the network.

The officials said Hamas would have an incentive to reach such a deal with Washington because it would strain US-Israel relations further and add pressure on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has been criticised at home for not doing more to get the hostages out.

Asked about the report, Israeli government spokesperson David Mencer told reporters that all countries should do whatever they can to get hostages out.

"We have called on all countries, all countries to put as much pressure on Hamas as they possibly can to release the hostages," he said.

- Reuters

10 June 16:57

UN Security Council to vote on Monday on US Gaza ceasefire resolution

The United Nations Security Council will vote on Monday afternoon on a US draft resolution that backs a Gaza ceasefire plan and calls on Hamas to accept it, the council Presidency said.

The latest version of the text, seen by AFP, "welcomes" the truce and hostage release proposal announced on 31 May by US President Joe Biden, and calls on Hamas to "accept it and urges both parties to fully implement its terms without delay and without condition."


10 June 16:09

Hamas official says Blinken's Gaza comments 'biased to Israel'

Senior Hamas official Sami Abu Zuhri told Reuters on Monday that US Secretary of State Antony Blinken's Gaza ceasefire comments were "biased to Israel" and that his stance is a real obstacle to reaching an agreement.

"Blinken's speech during his visit to Egypt is an example of bias to Israel and it offers an American cover to the holocaust conducted by the occupation in Gaza," he said.


10 June 12:45

Blinken arrives in Cairo at start of Mideast tour

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken arrived in Egypt on Monday at the start of a regional tour to push for a much awaited Gaza ceasefire between Israel and Hamas. Blinken is expected to hold closed-door talks with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in Cairo before heading to Jerusalem later on Monday to meet Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Egypt, the first Arab state to recognise Israel and sign a peace treaty with it in 1979, has long mediated between Israeli and Palestinian officials. Sisi and Blinken are expected to discuss plans to reopen the Rafah border crossing between Egypt and Gaza, a key conduit for aid into the besieged territory which has been closed for a month since Israeli troops seized its Palestinian side.

The top US diplomat's eighth visit to the region since war broke out in early October is intended to gather support for a proposal announced on May 31 by US President Joe Biden.

Key mediators the US, Egypt and Qatar have been engaged in months of negotiations for a ceasefire. A one-week truce in November - the only one so far in the Israel-Hamas war - saw some 100 hostages freed, most of them in exchange for 240 Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails.

Under the latest proposal, Israel would withdraw from Gaza population centres and Hamas would free hostages as fighting halts for an initial six weeks, with the truce extended as negotiators seek a permanent end to hostilities. Hamas has not formally responded to the plan, which Biden had described an Israeli, while fears have mounted that domestic Israeli politics could hamper negotiations. While in Israel, Blinken is also expected to meet Benny Gantz, a centrist politician who on Sunday resigned from the war cabinet over Netanyahu's handling of the war.

Blinken will then head to Jordan and Qatar for further talks.


10 June 11:03

The destruction in #Gaza is indescribable. More than half of all buildings have been destroyed, according to @UNOSAT.

Clearing the rubble will take years. Healing from the psychological trauma of this war will take even longer.

This suffering must come to an end. #CeasefireNow

— UNRWA (@UNRWA) June 10, 2024

10 June 09:14

Hamas official urges US to pressure Israel to end Gaza war

Senior Hamas official Sami Abu Zuhri urged the United States on Monday to pressure Israel to end the war in Gaza.

"We call upon the US administration to put pressure on the occupation to stop the war on Gaza and the Hamas movement is ready to deal positively with any initiative that secures an end to the war," he said.

- Reuters

10 June 07:23

Australia's PM slams vandalism of US consulate with pro-Palestine graffiti

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has condemned an incident in which the US consulate in Sydney was attacked with a sledgehammer and defaced with pro-Palestinian graffiti.Albanese said on Monday that protesters should “turn the heat down” and that such acts were "not the Australian way".

"The Middle East conflict is a difficult issue. It is complex. It certainly needs some nuance and isn’t a matter of just sloganeering," Albanese said at a news conference in Canberra. "Measures such as painting the US Consulate do nothing to advance the cause of those who have committed what is, of course, a crime to damage property." New South Wales Premier Chris Minns described the incident as "reprehensible."

"It's an indication of a kind of coarsening of the public debate that no one needs in Australia," Minns said. "This kind of behaviour will be investigated and punished by NSW police."

Police said that security camera footage showed a hooded figure with his or her face obscured smashing windows at the consulate at about 3am on Monday. The consulate’s coat of arms was also spray-painted over with two red inverted triangles, which are used by some protesters to symbolise Palestinian resistance. The consulate was previously vandalised with the words "Free Gaza" in April, while the US consulate in Melbourne was spray-painted in a similar incident last month.

Australia is a close ally of Israel, but has become increasingly critical of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s handling of the war in Gaza in recent months. In April, Albanese slammed Israel’s explanation for the killing of Australian woman Zomi Frankcom and six other aid workers in Gaza as "not good enough".

- Aljazeera

10 June 06:36

US calls on Security Council to vote on backing Gaza ceasefire plan

The United States announced on Sunday it has requested a UN Security Council vote on its draft resolution backing a plan for an "immediate ceasefire with the release of hostages" between Israel and Hamas.

Diplomatic sources said the vote is planned for Monday, but has not yet been confirmed by South Korea, which holds the Security Council presidency for the month of June.

"Today, the United States called for the Security Council to move towards a vote... supporting the proposal on the table," said Nate Evans, spokesman for the US delegation, without specifying a vote date. "Council members should not let this opportunity pass by and must speak with one voice in support of this deal," Evans said.


10 June 05:56

Blinken returns to Middle East as Israel politics scramble push for truce

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken was heading back to the Middle East on Monday to push a ceasefire plan, but Israeli politics and silence from Hamas raised further questions on whether he can succeed. The top US diplomat, paying his eighth visit to the region since war broke out, was set to start the trip in Egypt and head later Monday to Israel.

Blinken is scheduled to hold closed-door talks first in Cairo with President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, a key US partner in peace efforts, and later in Jerusalem with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Blinken planned the visit to push forward a proposal announced on 31 May by President Joe Biden, who has stepped up efforts to end a war that has taken a mounting toll on civilians and alienated parts of his base ahead of November elections.

But Hamas, which opened the war with a massive 7 October attack on Israel that triggered a relentless retaliatory campaign, has not formally responded. And while Biden has described his plan as coming from Israel, the resignation on Sunday of a key centrist, Benny Gantz, from Netanyahu's war cabinet throws a new wild card on US diplomatic efforts. Gantz, a former general who leads in polls to replace Netanyahu if new elections are called, protested that the prime minister had not made the hard decisions to enable "real victory", including by thinking out a post-war plan for Gaza.

Biden in recent weeks suspended a shipment of weapons to Israel and accused Netanyahu of prolonging the war to stay in power, an assertion on which he backtracked. Gantz defied Netanyahu by visiting Washington on his own in March and has regularly met in Israel with Blinken, although a meeting on the latest trip was not immediately announced.

The short-term effect of Gantz leaving the war cabinet could be removing a counter-balance to Netanyahu's far-right allies, who abhor any compromise and have threatened to quit if Israel accepts the ceasefire plan. Israel also showed Saturday it has more tools than diplomacy to free hostages - its key priority - with an operation that freed four Israeli captives and which Palestinian officials say killed 274 other people.

Under the plan laid out by Biden, Israel would withdraw from Gaza population centres and Hamas would free hostages. The ceasefire would last an initial six weeks, with the ceasefire extended as negotiators seek a permanent end to hostilities. Jake Sullivan, Biden's national security advisor, said Sunday it was difficult to say how the rescue operation would affect negotiations on a ceasefire.

"If Hamas came and said yes to the deal on the table, there would be an end to the need for these kinds of operations, because the hostages would be coming out peacefully and not through military actions," Sullivan told ABC News. In Egypt, Blinken is also expected to speak to Sisi about solutions to open the key crossing into Gaza at Rafah.


10 June 05:49

US resumes air drops aid into northern Gaza

An American cargo plane dropped more than 10 metric tons of rations into northern Gaza on Sunday, the US military said, after a suspension of such deliveries due to Israeli operations in the area. Gaza's population is in dire need of humanitarian assistance after eight months of devastating conflict, and the United States turned to delivering it by air and sea as Israel delayed the entry of aid via land.

The air drop provided "life-saving humanitarian assistance in northern Gaza," the US Central Command (CENTCOM) said in a statement. "To date the US has airdropped more than 1,050 metric tons of humanitarian assistance" in addition to aid delivered via a temporary pier attached to the Gaza coast, it said." These airdrops are part of a sustained effort, and we continue to plan follow-on aerial deliveries," CENTCOM added.

The Pentagon said in late May that factors including Israeli operations and weather conditions were affecting the drops, while deputy CENTCOM commander Vice Admiral Brad Cooper said Friday that they had been "suspended due to the kinetic operations happening in the north" but were expected to resume soon. The latest air drop came a day after aid deliveries were restarted via the pier, which was damaged by bad weather last month and had to be repaired in a nearby port before being reattached to the coast.


09 June 20:37

Israel centrist minister Benny Gantz quits Netanyahu government over Gaza

Israeli minister Benny Gantz announced his resignation from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's emergency government on Sunday, withdrawing the only centrist power in the embattled leader's far-right coalition, amid a months-long war in Gaza.

Netanyahu issued a brief statement calling on Gantz not to "abandon the front" but his departure will not endanger the parliamentary majority of 64 seats in the 120-seat Knesset held by the ruling right-wing coalition.

"Netanyahu is preventing us from advancing toward true victory. That is why we are leaving the emergency government today, with a heavy heart but with full confidence," Gantz said at a televised news conference.


09 June 19:27

Israel's army said Sunday that a senior commander had resigned over what he called his failure to prevent the 7 October attack by Palestinian militants.

"The commander of the 143rd Division, Brigadier General Avi Rosenfeld, informed his commanders today of his intention to end his service in the (Israeli army)," said a statement by the military.

"The officer will finish his duties in the near future."

Rosenfeld wrote in a resignation letter released by the army: "Everyone has to take responsibility for their part, and I am the one responsible in Division 143.

"On October 7, I failed my life's mission: to protect the envelope," he wrote, referring to the southern Israeli communities on the border with Gaza.

In April, Israel's military intelligence chief, Major General Aharon Haliva, became the first high-ranking official to step down for failing to prevent the attack that shocked Israel and the international community.

In his resignation letter, Haliva, who served in the force for 38 years, took responsibility for failing to prevent the attack.


09 June 14:47

Israel pounds central Gaza as Palestinian death toll in hostage rescue raid rises to 274

Israeli forces pounded central Gaza anew on Sunday, a day after killing 274 Palestinians during a hostage rescue raid, and tanks advanced into further areas of Rafah in an apparent bid to seal off part of the southern city, residents and Hamas media said.

Palestinians remained in shock over Saturday's death toll, the worst over a 24-hour period of the Gaza war for months and including many women and children, Palestinian medics said.

In an update on Sunday, Gaza's health ministry said 274 Palestinians were killed - up from 210 it reported on Saturday - and 698 were injured when Israeli special force commandos stormed into the densely populated Al-Nuseirat camp to rescue four hostages held since October by Hamas militants.

Sixty-four of the dead were children and 57 were women, the Hamas-run Gaza government media office said on Sunday.

Israel's military said a special forces officer was killed in exchanges of fire with militants emerging from cover in residential blocks, and that it knew of "under 100" Palestinians killed, though not how many of them were fighters or civilians.

On Sunday, three Palestinians were killed and several hurt in an Israeli airstrike on a house in Al-Bureij in the central Gaza Strip, while tanks shelled parts of nearby Al-Maghazi and Al-Nuseirat.

All are built-up, historic refugee camps.The Israeli military said in a statement its forces were continuing operations east of Bureij and the city of Deir al-Balah in the centre of the coastal enclave, killing several Palestinian gunmen and destroying militant infrastructure.

- Reuters

09 June 08:22

Hamas says more than 200 killed as Israel rescues four Gaza hostages

Israel announced its forces rescued four hostages on Saturday from a Gaza refugee camp in an operation which the Hamas-run government media office said left 210 Palestinians dead and hundreds wounded.

The Israeli military said the four, who were in "good medical condition", had been kidnapped from the Nova music festival during Hamas's 7 October attack that sparked war, now in its ninth month. The Israeli military said Noa Argamani, 26, Almog Meir Jan, 22, Andrey Kozlov, 27, and Shlomi Ziv, 41, were pulled out in a "complex" mission. It released footage and images of them being extracted by helicopter and then reuniting with loved ones in emotional scenes at a Tel Aviv hospital.

In Nuseirat, where the hostages were being held, Palestinians described coming under intense bombardment and heavy gunfire. The hostages are among seven that Israeli forces have freed alive since Palestinian militants seized 251 people in their October attack on southern Israel. There are now 116 hostages remaining in Gaza, including 41 the army says are dead.

News of the freed captives was met with celebrations and cheers in Israel, while anxieties over the fate of the remaining hostages prompted thousands to gather in Tel Aviv demanding an end to the eight-month-old war. "They won't be able to release all of them in a military operation," said Michael Levy, whose brother Or is still being held. Near Nuseirat on Saturday, an AFP photographer saw scores of Palestinians running for cover in fear of further Israeli strikes.

After the operation, piles of smouldering rubble and chunks of concrete clogged the streets. The Hamas media office said "the number of victims from the Israeli occupation's massacre in the Nuseirat camp has risen to 210 martyrs and more than 400 wounded".Israeli police said an officer was mortally wounded during the rescue operation. Nuseirat resident Khalil Al-Tahrawi described hearing gun battles and shelling from his shelter.

"The Israeli warplanes began bombing us in all directions to cover up the withdrawal process," he said. The operation came days after an Israeli strike on the Nuseirat school run by the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA, which a Gaza hospital said had killed 37 people and the military said targeted "terrorists". UNRWA condemned Israel for striking a facility it said had been housing 6,000 displaced people.


09 June 08:16

Colombia to suspend coal sales to Israel over Gaza war

Colombian President Gustavo Petro announced on Saturday that his country will suspend coal exports to Israel as a rebuke against its deadly war against Hamas in Gaza.

Colombia is Israel's main coal supplier with exports of some $450 million in 2023, according to the Israeli embassy in Bogota, which remains operational despite Petro's government severing diplomatic ties in May. Petro, Colombia's first leftist president and a fierce critic of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, said Saturday on X that coal exports to Israel would be suspended "until the genocide stops.

"A government decree specified that the restrictions would remain "until the orders of provisional measures issued by the International Court of Justice (ICJ)... are fully complied with." In late May, as part of a pending case brought by South Africa, the ICJ ordered Israel to halt its offensive on the southern Gaza city of Rafah, while also demanding the release of hostages and the "unhindered provision" of humanitarian aid into the Palestinian territory.

According to the Colombian government, the coal export ban will enter into force five days after the decree is published in the official gazette and will not affect goods that have already been authorized for shipment. Bogota underscored coal's role as "a "strategic resource for the manufacture of weapons, the mobilization of troops and the manufacture of provisions for military operations.

"Petro also said Colombia would stop purchasing weapons made by Israel, one of the main suppliers of the South American country's security forces. On Thursday, the Colombian Mining Association expressed concern over the possibility of exports being suspended, noting a trade treaty between the two nations in place since 2020. "Israel is a key destination for Colombia's thermal coal exports," the organization said in a statement, adding that banning shipments "jeopardizes confidence in markets and foreign investment."

Petro announced Colombia would sever ties with Israel in May over the Gaza conflict and open an embassy in Ramallah in the Palestinian territories.


09 June 08:13

US resumes aid deliveries to Gaza from temporary pier: CENTCOM

The United States has resumed aid deliveries to Gaza from a temporary pier, the country's military said Saturday, after the structure suffered storm damage and underwent repairs in a nearby port.

"Today at approximately 10:30 (Gaza time) US Central Command (USCENTCOM) began delivery of humanitarian assistance ashore in Gaza. Today, a total of approximately 492 metric tons of much needed humanitarian assistance was delivered to the people of Gaza," CENTCOM said on social media platform X.

"No US military personnel went ashore in Gaza," the military command responsible for the Middle East added. Gaza has been devastated by Israeli operations against Palestinian militant group Hamas now entering their ninth month, uprooting the coastal territory's population and leaving them in dire need of humanitarian assistance. More than two million pounds of humanitarian aid were delivered via the pier last month, but it was damaged by high seas around a week after deliveries began.

The pier was repaired in the Israeli port of Ashdod before being brought back to the Gaza coast and reestablished on Friday. Israel has been accused of delaying the entry of aid into Gaza, depriving the territory's 2.4 million people of clean water, food, medicines and fuel. Plans for the pier were first announced by US President Joe Biden in early March and US Army troops and vessels soon set out on a lengthy trip to the Mediterranean to build the pier.

UN agencies and humanitarian aid groups have warned sea or air deliveries cannot replace far more efficient truck convoys into Gaza, where the United Nations has repeatedly warned of looming famine. CENTCOM also said Saturday that the pier - "including its equipment, personnel, and assets" - had no role in Israel's operation earlier in the day to rescue four hostages held in Gaza.

"An area south of the facility was used by the Israelis to safely return the hostages to Israel," CENTCOM said. "Any such claim to the contrary is false. The temporary pier on the coast of Gaza was put in place for one purpose only, to help move additional, urgently needed lifesaving assistance into Gaza."


08 June 20:47

Israel PM asks war cabinet minister Gantz not to quit after ultimatum

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Saturday asked war cabinet minister Benny Gantz not to resign after threats to quit over the lack of post-war strategy for the Gaza Strip.

Gantz said last month he would resign from the emergency body if Netanyahu did not approve a post-war plan for Gaza by 8 June.

"I call on Benny Gantz - do not leave the emergency government. Don't give up on unity," Netanyahu said on social media platform X.

Gantz cancelled a news conference that was scheduled for Saturday, his office said, after the Israeli military said security forces had rescued four hostages alive from Gaza earlier in the day.

Without directly addressing speculations he had been planning to resign, Gantz appeared on Israeli television on Saturday evening after the captives were freed.

"Alongside the justified joy over this achievement, it should not be forgotten that all the challenges Israel is facing... have remained as they were," Gantz said.

"Therefore, I say to the prime minister and the entire leadership - today, too, we must look responsibly at what is right and how we can continue from here."


08 June 18:02

Colombia will suspend coal sales to Israel over Gaza war

Colombian President Gustavo Petro announced on Saturday that his government will suspend coal exports to Israel while it continues its war against Hamas in the Gaza strip.

"We are going to suspend coal exports to Israel until the genocide stops," the socialist leader wrote on X.

In May, Petro, who describes Israel's campaign in Gaza as "genocidal," announced Colombia would sever ties with Israel over the conflict.


08 June 17:59

Palestinian president calls for emergency UN security council session on 'bloody massacre'

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has called for an emergency UN Security Council session on "the bloody massacre that was carried out by the Israeli forces" at the al-Nuseirat refugee camp in central Gaza, official news agency WAFA reported on Saturday.

- Reuters

08 June 17:31

Israeli strike reported to have killed two people in southern Lebanon

An Israeli air strike on the outskirts of Aitaroun in southern Lebanon killed two people, Lebanese state news agency NNA reported on Saturday.

Israel's IDF said in a statement that its soldiers had identified a Hezbollah militant in the area of Aitaroun and shortly afterward an Israeli aircraft had struck the individual.

Israeli forces launched two missiles targeting a cafe at a petrol station which resulted in major damage to the shop, the station and the surrounding area, the NNA report said.

The conflict between Lebanon's Hezbollah and Israel, which has been fought in parallel to the Gaza war, has intensified in recent days, adding to concerns that an even wider confrontation could break out between the heavily armed adversaries.

The IDF said on Saturday that jets had also struck infrastructure in the area of Khiam after tanks had earlier fired at a Hezbollah military structure in the Kfarkela area.

Hezbollah, a Hamas ally, says its attacks aim to support Palestinians under Israeli bombardment in Gaza.

The fighting - the worst hostilities between Hezbollah and Israel since they fought a war in 2006 - has forced tens of thousands of people to flee homes on both sides of the border.

- Reuters

08 June 17:26

Hamas chief says 'resistance will continue' after Israeli attack on Gaza camp

Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh said Saturday that the "resistance will continue" after deadly fighting in a central Gaza refugee camp where Israel had mounted a hostage rescue operation.

"Our people will not surrender, and the resistance will continue to defend our rights in the face of this criminal enemy," Haniyeh said in a statement, after the Hamas-run government media office reported 210 people killed in Nuseirat camp.


08 June 12:55

Israel army says rescued 4 Israeli hostages alive in Gaza

The Israeli military said Saturday its troops had rescued four Israeli hostages alive from Gaza after a "complex daytime operation".

"Noa Argamani (25), Almog Meir Jan (21), Andrey Kozlov (27), and Shlomi Ziv (40), were kidnapped by the Hamas terrorist organization from the Nova music festival on October 7," the military said in a statement, adding the four were in "good medical condition."


08 June 11:54

Israel bombs Gaza as minister poised to quit government

Israel pressed its bombardment of Gaza on Saturday as a war cabinet minister looked set to carry through on his threat to quit a government under mounting pressure over its conduct of the military campaign.

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08 June 10:25

Gaza aid through US pier will resume in coming days, Israel says

Humanitarian aid entering Gaza by sea via a US-built pier will resume in the coming days, the Israeli military said on Saturday, after repairs to the structure were completed.

"The IDF (Israel Defence Forces) has begun securing the coastal area of the US military's Joint Logistics Over-the-Shore (JLOTS) capability - in Gaza. The pier's re-establishment will allow for the continued delivery of humanitarian aid to the people of Gaza in the coming days," the Israeli military said.

The US Central Command said on Friday it had re-established the temporary pier anchored off Gaza's coast, which had been temporarily removed after part of the structure broke off, two weeks after it started operating.

The aid is meant to alleviate a humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza which has been unfolding in the eight months since Israel launched an offensive in response to the 7 October Hamas-led attacks that killed 1,200 people in Israel

More than 36,000 people in Gaza have been killed, according to the Gaza Health Ministry, since the start of the Israeli offensive, which has laid to waste much of the enclave and displaced most of the population.

- Reuters

08 June 07:25

Israel says strike on UN Gaza school killed 17 militants

Israel's army said on Friday it had killed 17 militants the day before in an air strike on a UN school in central Gaza, raising its previous toll from nine.

Thursday's Israeli strike hit a school operated by the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA, in the Nuseirat area of central Gaza where thousands of displaced people were sheltering.

The nearby Al-Aqsa Martyrs hospital said that at least 37 people were killed in the strike."Since the targeted strike the (Israeli army) has confirmed the identity of 17 terrorists that were operating from the school," the military said in a statement.

The Hamas media office accused the Israeli army of spreading "false information", claiming that three people presented as dead by Israel were still alive and that at least two had been killed in other strikes, adding the attack on the school had also killed 14 children.

Israeli military spokesman Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari had said Thursday that nine militants were killed when fighter jets attacked three classrooms in the school.

About 30 militants from Islamic Jihad and Hamas were hiding there, he said.UNRWA chief Philippe Lazzarini said the strike had been carried out "without prior warning".

He added that UNRWA "shares the coordinates of all its facilities (including this school) with the Israeli army and other parties in the conflict"."Attacking, targeting or using UN buildings for military purposes are a blatant disregard of International Humanitarian law," Lazzarini said.


07 June 22:09

Israel outraged as its army, and Hamas, join UN list of children's rights violators

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has added Israel's military to a global list of offenders for committing violations against children in 2023, said Israel's UN envoy Gilad Erdan, describing the decision as "shameful."

Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad will also be listed, said a diplomatic source, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Erdan said he was officially notified of the decision on Friday.

The global list is included in a report on children and armed conflict that Guterres is due to submit to the UN Security Council on 14 June.

It covers six violations: killing and maiming, sexual violence, abduction, recruitment and use of children, denial of aid access and attacks of schools and hospitals. It was not immediately clear what violations Israel, Hamas or Palestinian Islamic Jihad had been listed for.

Israel's Foreign Minister Israel Katz said the decision "will have consequences for Israel's relations with the UN."

UN spokesperson Stephane Dujarric said Guterres' chief of staff called Erdan on Friday as "courtesy afforded to countries that are newly listed on the annex of the report." Erdan posted a video on social media of him responding during the phone call.

"I am utterly shocked and disgusted by this shameful decision of the Secretary-General," said Erdan."Israel's army is the most moral army in the world, so this immoral decision will only aid the terrorists and reward Hamas."

Dujarric described the video and its partial release as "shocking and unacceptable and frankly something I've never seen in my 24 years serving this organisation."

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement that the UN had "added itself to the black list of history when it joined those who support the Hamas murderers."

A spokesperson for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said the UN decision was "a step in the right direction towards holding Israel accountable for its crimes" and that Israel should have been added long ago.

- Reuters

07 June 21:56

US-made temporary aid pier back in operation in Gaza

The United States on Friday reestablished a temporary pier to boost aid deliveries into Gaza after the structure suffered storm damage and underwent repairs in a nearby port, the country's military said.

"US Central Command (CENTCOM) successfully reestablished the temporary pier in Gaza, enabling the continued delivery of much-needed humanitarian aid to the people of Gaza," the military command responsible for the Middle East said in a social media post.

Vice Admiral Brad Cooper, deputy head of CENTCOM, told journalists that "we expect to resume delivery of humanitarian assistance from the sea in the coming days."

"The policy of no US boots on the ground does remain in effect," so Israeli forces assisted with the process on shore, Cooper said.

"The Israeli Defense Force engineers were the enabling force on the beach," he said. "This is the same unit that we trained several months ago in how to conduct this operation. They conducted it flawlessly this morning."

The pier was repaired in the Israeli port of Ashdod before being brought back to the Gaza coast


07 June 07:00

Israel PM Benjamin Netanyahu to address US Congress in July

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will address lawmakers in the US Congress on 24 July, Republican party leaders announced Thursday.

The visit comes amid mounting pressure for the US ally and Hamas militants to agree to a permanent ceasefire as Israel faces growing diplomatic isolation over the rising death toll in Gaza.

President Joe Biden last week presented what he called an Israeli three-phase plan that would end the conflict, free all hostages and lead to the reconstruction of the devastated Palestinian territory without Hamas in power.

But Netanyahu's office stressed that the war sparked by the 7 October attacks would continue until Israel's "goals are achieved," including the destruction of Hamas, which has not given its response to the plan.


06 June 17:09

Spain joins South Africa's Gaza case at UN top court

Spain said on Thursday it would join South Africa's case at the UN's top court in which Pretoria has accused Israel of "genocide" in the Gaza Strip.

"Our sole goal is to put an end to the war and to advance on the road of applying the two-state solution", Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Albares told journalists.

His statement came a week after Spain, along with Ireland and Norway, recognised the state of Palestine, sparking fury from Israel.

South Africa brought the case before the International Court of Justice last year. It alleges that Israel's Gaza offensive, launched in retaliation for an unprecedented Hamas attack on Israel, breached the 1948 UN Genocide Convention.


06 June 15:44

.@sanchezcastejon, Hamas thanks you for your service.

— ????? ?”? Israel Katz (@Israel_katz) May 26, 2024

Spain-Israel tensions descend to new lows as war rages in Gaza

After Spain recognised Palestinian statehood, Pedro Sanchez met with his Palestinian counterpart, Prime Minister Mohammad Mustafa, and leading officials from several Middle Eastern countries in Madrid.

Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud, Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, and the foreign ministers of Turkey and Jordan were among the group that later posed for a photo on the steps of the Moncloa Palace in the Spanish capital.

"On behalf of President [Mahmoud] Abbas and the government of Palestine, the people of Palestine, we warmly welcome Spain's recognition of the state of Palestine," Mustafa said of Spain's historic move.

"This recognition strengthens our resolve to continue our struggle for a just and lasting peace."

Ireland, Norway and Slovenia have also joined Spain in the push that has been roundly condemned by Israel.

Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz sent a furious direct message addressed to Sanchez on X, writing: "Hamas thanks you for your service," along with a 17-second video that flipped between images of flamenco dancers and apparent scenes of the Palestinian group's incursion into southern Israel on 7 October.

- Aljazeera Middle East

06 June 12:35

Health ministry in Hamas-run Gaza says war death toll at 36 654

The health ministry in Hamas-run Gaza said Thursday that at least 36,654 people have been killed in the territory during nearly eight months of war between Israel and Palestinian militants.

The toll includes at least 68 deaths over the past 24 hours, a ministry statement said, adding that 83,309 people have been wounded in the Gaza Strip since the war began when Hamas militants attacked Israel on 7 October.


06 June 12:02

Gaza hospital reports 37 dead in strike on UN school Israel says used by Hamas

A hospital in central Gaza said Thursday at least 37 people were killed in Israeli bombardment overnight of a UN-run school, which the Israeli military said housed a "Hamas compound".

The deadly strike came as US, Qatari and Egyptian mediators have resumed talks aimed at securing a truce and hostage release deal in the nearly eight-month war triggered by Hamas' 7 October attack on Israel.

The military said it had "eliminated" several militants in a "precise strike on a Hamas compound embedded inside an UNRWA school in the area of Nuseirat", in the central Gaza Strip.

Israel accuses Hamas and its allies in Gaza of using schools, hospitals and other civilian infrastructure, including facilities run by UNRWA (United Nations Relief and Works Agency), the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, as operational centres - charges the militants deny.


06 June 09:59

UNRWA says 35 to 45 reported killed in Israeli offensive on Nuseirat school, but cannot confirm number

UNRWA communications director Juliette Touma told Reuters on Thursday that the number of those reported killed in the Israeli offensive on the Nuseirat school is between 35 and 45, but it still cannot confirm the number at this stage, she added.

- Reuters

06 June 06:36

Israel says deadly strike hit 'Hamas compound' in UN school, Hamas labels attack a 'horrific massacre'

The Israeli military said Thursday it had carried out a deadly strike on a UN school in Gaza that it said housed a Hamas compound, with the militant group saying the attack killed at least 27 people.

The military said it "eliminated" several "terrorists" after its jets "conducted a precise strike on a Hamas compound embedded inside an UNRWA school in the area of Nuseirat", in central Gaza. UNRWA is the UN agency for Palestinian refugees.

Hamas's media office said the strike killed at least 27 people and wounded dozens more, calling it a "horrific massacre... that shames humanity".


05 June 17:55

No pause in fighting for negotiations, says Israel

A resumption of mediated talks between Israel and Hamas on a hostage-release deal would not mean a suspension of the Gaza war, Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant said on Wednesday."

Any negotiations with Hamas would be conducted only under fire," Gallant said in remarks carried by Israeli media.

- Reuters

05 June 15:50

Netanyahu says Israel 'prepared for very intense operation' on Lebanon border

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Wednesday that Israel was "prepared for a very intense operation" along the border with Lebanon, where Israeli troops have exchanged near-daily fire with Hezbollah fighters.

Almost eight months of exchanges between Israel and the Iran-backed movement, a Hamas ally, have intensified over the past week, with Israel striking deeper into Lebanese territory.

"We are prepared for a very intense operation in the north. One way or another, we will restore security to the north," Netanyahu said during a visit to the border area.

Hezbollah said later it launched several attacks on Israeli positions during the day, including a "guided missile" strike on an "Iron Dome platform in the Ramot Naftali barracks".

In past weeks, Israel has ramped up its targeting of Hezbollah fighters and allied Palestinian and Lebanese militants in cars and on motorbikes in Lebanon.

Netanyahu's far-right coalition partners National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir and Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich have both called in recent days for urgent action to restore security to northern Israel.

"They burn us here, all Hezbollah strongholds should also burn and be destroyed. WAR!" Ben Gvir said on Tuesday in a Telegram post.

Smotrich said on Monday: "We must move the security strip from inside Israeli territory in the Galilee to southern Lebanon, including a ground invasion, occupation of the territory and distancing Hezbollah terrorists and hundreds of thousands of Lebanese among whom Hezbollah hides to the other side of the Litani river," nearly 30 kilometres (20 miles) north of the border.

The violence since early October has killed at least 455 people in Lebanon, mostly fighters but including 88 civilians, according to an AFP tally.

On the Israeli side, at least 14 soldiers and 11 civilians have been killed, according to the army.


05 June 15:40

Israel bombs Gaza as mediators to discuss truce-hostage plan

Israel's military pounded central Gaza with heavy air strikes on Wednesday as US, Qatari and Egyptian mediators planned to resume talks on a truce and hostage release deal.

Tensions were high in annexed east Jerusalem where thousands of police were deployed to guard Israel's annual "flag March" that has sparked clashes between Jews and Arabs in previous years.

The bloodiest ever Gaza war, sparked by Hamas' 7 October attack on southern Israel, raged on unabated with jets bombing targets overnight and Palestinian officials reporting yet more deaths.

Urban combat and shelling rocked Gaza's southern city of Rafah near the Egyptian border, the last city hit by the Israeli ground invasion launched in northern Gaza in late October.


05 June 10:51

Israel ready for 'strong action' on Lebanon border,Netanyahu says

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu toured the country's northern border with Lebanon on Wednesday and said Israel was prepared for strong action in the north.

Israeli towns near the border, many of which have been evacuated, have been a frequent target of rocket and drone launches from Lebanese militant group Hezbollah. The rockets set off massive wild fires this week, burning swathes of land across northern Israel.

"Whoever thinks that they can harm us and we will sit idly by is making a big mistake. We are prepared for a very strong action in the north. In one way or another we will restore security to the north," Netanyahu said.

- Reuters

05 June 09:43

US embassy in Lebanonattacked, Syrian national in hospital

A gunman fired shots at the US Embassy in Lebanon on Wednesday and was injured in an exchange of fire with the army.

The US army said the attacker, a Syrian national, was taken to hospital for treatment and that it was continuing to comb the area.

The US Embassy said "small arms fire" was reported in the vicinity of its entrance at around 8:34AM local time, adding that its facility and team were safe.

A security source told Reuters that a member of the embassy’s security team was wounded in the attack, and that the Lebanese army wounded one of the attackers in the stomach and was combing through the area to find the other attackers.

The embassy lies north of Beirut in a highly secured zone with multiple checkpoints along the route to the entrance. It moved there from Beirut following a suicide attack in 1983 which killed more than 60 people.

In September, shots were fired near the embassy with no injuries reported

.In October, scores of protesters gathered outside the embassy to demonstrate in the early days of the Gaza war, and Lebanese security forces used teargas and water cannons to repel them.

- Reuters

05 June 08:55

INSIGHT | Hamas signals post-war ambition in talks with Palestinian rival Fatah

Deep divisions will limit progress at reconciliation talks between Palestinian factions Hamas and Fatah this month, conversations with five sources in the groups indicate, but the meetings highlight that the Islamist group is likely to retain influence after Israel's war in Gaza.

According to officials from both sides, the talks between Hamas and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah party will be held in China in mid-June. They follow two recent rounds of reconciliation talks, one in China and one in Russia. China's foreign ministry declined to comment.

The next meeting will be held amid attempts by international mediators to reach a ceasefire deal for Gaza. One of the key sticking points is the "day-after" plan - how the enclave will be governed.


DEVELOPING | Blinken says Netanyahu 'reaffirmed commitment' to Gaza ceasefire plan | News24 (2024)
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