Netanyahu demands ‘total’ Gaza cease-fire

Netanyahu has come under political pressure to act more strongly against Hamas. (Jim Hollander/Pool via Reuters)
Updated 12 August 2018
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Netanyahu demands ‘total’ Gaza cease-fire

  • There have been efforts by UN officials and Egypt to secure a long-term truce between Israel and Hamas
  • Since July, there have been three major flare-ups of violence

JERUSALEM: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday demanded a “total” cease-fire from Gaza’s Hamas rulers in his first public comments on another deadly flare-up between the two sides.
There have been efforts by UN officials and Egypt to secure a long-term truce between Israel and Hamas, though Israeli officials have not commented on them.
Since July, there have been three major flare-ups of violence.
“We are in the midst of a campaign against terror in Gaza,” Netanyahu said at the start of a cabinet meeting. “It will not end with one blow.
“Our demand is clear: a total cease-fire. We shall not be satisfied with less than that,” he added.
“Until now we have destroyed hundreds of Hamas military targets and with every round of attacks the Israel Defense Forces exact another heavy price from Hamas.”
Netanyahu has come under political pressure to act more strongly against Hamas, though both sides are reluctant to start a fourth war between them since 2008.
Israel has also sought an end to kites and balloons carrying firebombs over the Gaza border fence to burn Israeli farmland.
An informal truce reached on Thursday night has largely held despite the deaths of three Palestinians since then from Israeli army fire during border protests and clashes.
Thursday saw extensive Israeli air strikes in retaliation for the launching of more than 180 rockets and mortar rounds by Hamas and its allies beginning on Wednesday night.
Three Palestinians were killed in the Israeli strikes, including a mother and her 18-month-old daughter, while seven Israelis were wounded by Palestinian rocket fire as hundreds took refuge in bomb shelters.
It was one of the most serious escalations since the 2014 Gaza war and followed months of rising tensions.
At least 168 Palestinians have been killed since Gaza border protests and clashes began on March 30, with most succumbing to Israeli fire during demonstrations. Others have died in air strikes.
Over the same period, one Israeli soldier has been shot dead by a Palestinian sniper.


Lebanon rejects Syrian conditions on its trucks' transit through Nassib border crossing

The main border crossing between Jordan and war-torn Syria reopened on October 15. (AFP)
Updated 6 min 32 sec ago
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Lebanon rejects Syrian conditions on its trucks' transit through Nassib border crossing

  • The only contact existing with the Syrian side is on the return of displaced persons and is taking place with the Russian side: source
  • The Lebanese leader Michel Aoun had praised the agreement reached between the Jordanian and Syrian authorities to open the Nassib border crossing

BEIRUT: Lebanese government sources confirmed to Arab News that it "will not coordinate with the Syrian government in any way regarding the transit of Lebanese trucks through this (Nassib) border toward the Gulf States.”

The sources stressed that “the only contact existing with the Syrian side is on the return of displaced persons and is taking place with the Russian side. Otherwise the contacts between the Lebanese and Syrian sides are conducted on an individual level.”

“How could any conditions be imposed on the Lebanese side for the crossing of Lebanese trucks at a time when crossings at the Syrian-Lebanese borders take place normally without any preconditions?” the sources said.

Elnashra Lebanese news website had quoted a Syrian source as saying that “No agreement has been reached with the Lebanese side on all details related to the transit of trucks from Lebanon to Jordan through the Nassib border crossing.” The source added that “In the last meeting with the Lebanese ministers, the Syrian side emphasized the necessity of communication between the governments of the two countries, whether on transit trucks or other economic files.”

According to Elnashra, the Syrian source described the meetings with Lebanese officials as “always positive and fruitful, but also in need of greater and wider contact with the other officials.” And whether the Lebanese trucks will begin to cross, the Syrian source reiterated that it “needs some time and arrangements with the Lebanese side.”

The Lebanese leader Michel Aoun had praised the “agreement reached between the Jordanian and Syrian authorities to open the Nassib border crossing. This will be beneficial also to Lebanon and allows the movement of people and goods from Lebanon to the Arab countries and vice versa.”

Aoun stressed that “the opening of this vital crossing after three years of closure will revive the various productive sectors, and reduce the cost of exporting goods from Lebanon to the Arab countries.”

The Lebanese Minister of Agriculture in the caretaker government, Ghazi Zu’aitir, said that “opening the Nassib crossing serves the interest of Lebanese exporters and that communication with the Syrian side is continuing at the level of ministers concerned on this issue.”

Zu’aitir spoke about “agreements signed between the Lebanese and Syrian parties: The Treaty of Brotherhood, Cooperation and Coordination, the presence of the Lebanese-Syrian Higher Council, and the exchange of embassies between the two countries, which allows us to move based on constitutional and legal provisions."

The Minister of Economy in the caretaker government, Raed Khoury, revealed that “we communicated with the Syrian side today, and the logistical details on the transit of trucks and Lebanese exports and other issues will be discussed in the coming days.”

The head of the Farmers and Peasants Association in the Bekaa Valley, Ibrahim Tarshishi, told Arab News: “The agricultural sector was exporting through the Nassib border crossing goods in reaching up to 500,000 tons annually to the Arab countries, and 50,000 by sea. With the closure of the crossing over the past three years, the sector was exporting only 350,000 tons by sea, causing losses to farmers because they had to sell the remaining production at prices below 50 percent of the cost of production.”

“The trucks will start operating starting Tuesday, and we have not been informed of any different procedures related to the transport and transit process,” said Shafiq Al-Qassis, head of Truck Owners' Association in Lebanon.