Palestine and Israel on the verge of a new escalation

Palestine and Israel on the verge of a new escalation
Arab Israeli protestors during a demonstration near the city of Sakhnin in northern Israel. (AFP)
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Updated 09 May 2022

Palestine and Israel on the verge of a new escalation

Palestine and Israel on the verge of a new escalation
  • Israeli officials reportedly threaten head of Hamas in Gaza, Yahya Sinwar

GAZA CITY: In response to Palestinian attacks in Israel, Israeli threats to assassinate the leader of Hamas in Gaza have provoked sharp reactions from the military wing of the organization and other Palestinian factions.

Media outlets quoted officials as saying that Israel is planning to assassinate Yahya Sinwar, head of Hamas’ political bureau in Gaza, especially after his recent speech during Ramadan and his threats to Israel.

Israeli threats to carry out a military operation in Gaza in response to the Palestinian attacks have increased.

The Palestinian attacks began during Ramadan, the last of which was an operation that killed three Israelis in Elad, east of Tel Aviv.

Israeli Communications Minister Yoaz Hendel said that the release of Sinwar from prison during the Gilad Shalit deal was a mistake.

Knesset Member Avi Dichter of the Likud party said that Sinwar should not reach old age, in reference to his support for the possibility of his assassination.

Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz said: “We are looking at our steps and we will make our decisions, and we do it only in closed rooms.”

Al-Qassam Brigades Spokesman Abu Obeida responded on Saturday, warning Israel against its intention to kill Sinwar.

“The cowardly Israeli occupation’s threats of the possible assassination of Yahya Sinwar or any of the resistance leaders are an indication of an earthquake in the region and an unprecedented response,” Abu Obeida said

He added: “We will bring about a new catastrophic chapter in the Zionist regime’s history.”

Following Al-Qassam’s statement, Israeli security officials reported that their army had recommended that the country’s political leadership not assassinate the Hamas leader at the present time.

Palestinian newspaper Al-Quds also quoted unnamed sources as saying: “Israel has sent a message to the Palestinian factions through intermediaries, that it will not carry out any assassination operation and has no intention of escalation in Gaza.”

“The assassination of Sinwar has one immediate meaning: An armed confrontation,” Alex Fishman, a military analyst for Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth, said.

Since 2008, the Gaza Strip has witnessed four wars, the last of which was in May last year and lasted for 11 days.

Sinwar said in his last public speech: “We must prepare to advance, break borders, and change the bitter reality in which our nation is living…Gaza, with its people, resistance and elite, will be the real guarantor of the national project…We will not hesitate to use the sword with all our might, and we will defend our people.”

Palestinian sources told Arab News that there has been continuous contact with Egypt — almost daily since last March — to prevent any escalation in the Gaza Strip.

The sources, who declined to be named, said: “There are continuous attempts by the Egyptians to prevent escalation, and these attempts have succeeded on several occasions during the last period so far. They are passing messages between the Palestinian factions and the Israeli government with the support of the US.”

Mustafa Ibrahim, a Palestinian expert on Israeli affairs, explained that incitement in Israel is being led by a large majority of Israeli journalists.

“The talk is about the possibility of launching a military operation against Gaza, not just an assassination, which would be a political decision if it happens. I don’t think that launching a large-scale military operation in Gaza is currently feasible, but the goal is to re-assess the assassination policy, and if it happens, nobody knows where things will go,” he told Arab News.


UN Security Council will meet to discuss Israeli attack on Gaza: Palestine’s UN Ambassador

UN Security Council will meet to discuss Israeli attack on Gaza: Palestine’s UN Ambassador
Updated 12 sec ago

UN Security Council will meet to discuss Israeli attack on Gaza: Palestine’s UN Ambassador

UN Security Council will meet to discuss Israeli attack on Gaza: Palestine’s UN Ambassador
  • Mansour emphasized Security Council’s responsibility to condemn and halt Israeli aggression and provide international protection for the Palestinian people.

NEW YORK: Palestine’s UN ambassador has said that the UN Security Council will hold a meeting on Monday to discuss the Israeli brutal aggression on the Gaza Strip, the Palestine News and Info Agency (WAFA) reported.

Ambassador Riyad Mansour emphasized that the Security Council is responsible for maintaining international peace and security, as well as responding to the imperatives of condemning and halting Israeli aggression and providing international protection for the Palestinian people.

UN Humanitarian Coordinator Lynn Hastings issued a statement on Saturday expressing her deep concern about the situation, which has killed at least 31 Palestinians and injured more than 253.

“The humanitarian situation in Gaza is already dire and can only worsen with this most recent escalation” she said.

“The continued operation of basic service facilities such as hospitals, schools, warehouses, and designated shelters for internally displaced persons is essential and now at risk,” she cautioned.

An electricity company spokesman said that Gaza’s sole power plant shut down on Saturday after running out of fuel five days after Israel closed its goods crossing with the Palestinian enclave, AFP reported.

Hastings added that the movement and access of humanitarian personnel, critical medical cases and essential goods, such as food and fuel, into Gaza must not be hampered in order to meet humanitarian needs.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is also scheduled to deliver an important speech before the UN General Assembly in New York on Sept. 23, WAFA reported.

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El-Sisi: Egypt has an unchangeable policy on Taiwan

El-Sisi: Egypt has an unchangeable policy on Taiwan
Updated 48 min 50 sec ago

El-Sisi: Egypt has an unchangeable policy on Taiwan

El-Sisi: Egypt has an unchangeable policy on Taiwan
  • El-Sisi said that Egypt supported the “One China” policy as it is in the interests of world security and stability

CAIRO: Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi has said that his country’s policy remains consistent on Taiwan, with Egypt supporting the “One China” policy.

During a speech to military students, El-Sisi said that Egypt supported the “One China” policy as it is in the interests of world security and stability.

“We do not want more global crises that may affect us all,” he said. “In our foreign policy, we have constants in our policy that do not change, and we are always keen to be supportive of regional and international stability.”

US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan has angered China, which views the island as part of its territory.

A day after Pelosi’s visit to the self-governing island, China on Thursday began unprecedented military exercises and fired multiple missiles near Taiwan.

In response to Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan, China said on Friday that it was suspending talks with the US in a number of areas, including on climate change. China’s foreign ministry announced that it was also halting communications with the US on combating transnational crime and drug trafficking, actions that the US referred to as irresponsible.

On Thursday, the US criticized China’s display of force as an “overreaction” and “provocative” after Beijing launched missiles and stationed fighter jets near Taiwan in retaliation for Pelosi’s visit to the island.

The Taiwanese defense ministry reported on Friday that it sent out planes to warn off Chinese aircraft that it claimed violated the median line in the Taiwan Strait, an unofficial boundary between the two sides, and entered the island’s air defense zone.


Italy ‘deeply concerned’ over Palestinian civilian casualties

Italy ‘deeply concerned’ over Palestinian civilian casualties
Updated 07 August 2022

Italy ‘deeply concerned’ over Palestinian civilian casualties

Italy ‘deeply concerned’ over Palestinian civilian casualties
  • Every effort must be made to de-escalate Gaza tension, diplomatic source tells Arab News

ROME: Italy condemns the escalation of violence in Gaza and is “deeply concerned” about the news of casualties among Palestinian civilians, the Italian ministry of foreign affairs said.

The ministry said it “strongly condemns the launch of rockets toward Israel’s territory and reiterates Israel’s right to ensure the safety of its citizens,” and “urges all sides to show moderation to prevent an escalation of the hostilities, which would cause further casualties and pain among civilians.”

“This new wave of violence confirms once again the necessity to relaunch diplomatic efforts to reach a fair and lasting solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” an official communique added.

“The situation is escalating badly and may bear unexpected consequences: This is just something we do not want to see in a global situation, which is already full of tensions due to the war in Ukraine and the China-Taiwan contest. This is why we believe that every diplomatic effort must be made in Middle East,” a diplomatic source in the prime minister’s office told Arab News.

The Italian Parliament is also concerned about the escalation in Gaza. Members of the foreign affairs committees of both Houses will meet in Rome on Tuesday to discuss the situation in a joint meeting.

“We are following with great concern what is happening at the border with the Gaza Strip. We must absolutely avoid the prospect of an escalation in the confrontation between Israelis and Palestinians on the border with the Gaza Strip,” Stefania Craxi, senator for the Forza Italia party and chairperson of the Italian Senate’s foreign and international committee told Arab News.

Craxi urged all parties to “work hard in order to foster a structured dialogue between both parts.”

The Middle East, she said, was “thirsty for peace, and no one can ever believe that a conflict is unavoidable. We all must think that the more all this will go on the more all these tensions may be badly destabilizing for all the Mediterranean area. This would certainly have repercussions on a global level in a moment when all geopolitical balances seem to be redefined.”

Piero Fassino, the member of Parliament for the Democratic Party who chairs the Italian Chamber of Deputies’ foreign and international committee, told Arab News: “It is necessary now more than ever to do everything possible to prevent a wider conflict, which would affect civilians on both sides and cause more casualties and greater suffering.”


Saudi Arabia leads condemnations of Israel’s storming of Al-Aqsa Mosque

Saudi Arabia leads condemnations of Israel’s storming of Al-Aqsa Mosque
Updated 07 August 2022

Saudi Arabia leads condemnations of Israel’s storming of Al-Aqsa Mosque

Saudi Arabia leads condemnations of Israel’s storming of Al-Aqsa Mosque

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia on Sunday condemned Israeli settler storming of Al-Aqsa Mosque courtyard in what the Kingdom called a “serious violation of international law”.

In a statement, the Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs called on the international community to end the escalation and provide the necessary protection to Palestinian civilians.

The Kingdom said the attack violates the sanctity of the holy sites in Jerusalem, which contributes to inciting tensions and prolonging violence amid escalations in Gaza that killed over 29 Palestinians and injured scores more this week.

Jordan also condemned Israeli violations at Al-Aqsa Mosque, urging Israel to “respect [the mosque’s] sanctity and halt measures aimed at altering the historical and legal status quo.”

In a statement published on Petra news agency, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates’ spokesperson Haitham Abu Alfoul stressed that running the affairs of the holy site was exclusively under the jurisdiction of Jordanian-run Waqf (endowments) and al-Aqsa Affairs Administration in Jerusalem.

He described Israel’s actions as a “violation of the historical and legal status quo and international law” and said it is a disrespect to the authority of the administration.

In a statement of condemnation, Qatar’s foreign ministry said the “provocation practices” are part of the attempts to alter the historical and legal status of Al-Aqsa Mosque, calling on the international community to halt Israel’s attempts to transform the ongoing conflict to a “religious war.”

The ministry said the provocative violations that coincide with the recent attacks on Gaza will lead to “a dangerous escalation of violence.”  

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Top Christian cleric: ‘Shameful’ delay in cabinet formation causing Lebanon’s decay

Top Christian cleric: ‘Shameful’ delay in cabinet formation causing Lebanon’s decay
Updated 07 August 2022

Top Christian cleric: ‘Shameful’ delay in cabinet formation causing Lebanon’s decay

Top Christian cleric: ‘Shameful’ delay in cabinet formation causing Lebanon’s decay
BEIRUT: Lebanon’s top Christian cleric said on Sunday it is “shameful” that politicians have yet to form a new cabinet nearly three months after elections, blaming their chronic feuding for the country’s “decay.”
Many Lebanese see the long-entrenched governing elite as hamstrung by corruption and dysfunction, and blame it for pushing Lebanon into a financial and economic meltdown that has left eight in 10 people poor.
In his weekly sermon, Maronite Patriarch Beshara Boutros Al-Rai drew an unfavorable comparison between Lebanon’s progress in securing a maritime boundary deal with longtime foe Israel and the paralysis in domestic politics.
“Isn’t it shameful that authorities make efforts to reach an agreement with Israel on maritime borders but refrain from forming a government? Has it become easier for them to agree with Israel than to agree on a government among the Lebanese?” he said.
“Isn’t the split in political power in Lebanon, and of the parties... the basis of the (country’s) political, economy, financial and social decay?” he added.
Rai wields significant influence in Lebanon, where the political system is based on power-sharing among various Muslim and Christian sects, with the presidency reserved for a Maronite Catholic.
In calling out politicians over the crisis, Rai appeared to be trying to break the deadlock.
The Maronite Patriarch said “ugly campaigns in the media” appeared aimed at delaying government formation and the election of a new president later on this year.
Rai was alluding to an escalating dispute between President Michel Aoun and caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati, who was re-nominated as premier after parliamentary elections in May and has been struggling to form a new cabinet.
Mikati presented a speedy draft cabinet line-up to Aoun in June and has stuck to it, although Aoun has suggested a different make-up.
Last week, Aoun’s Free Patriotic Movement issued a wave of statements, accusing Mikati of delaying cabinet formation and even of accumulating wealth through corruption.
Mikati’s office responded by saying Aoun’s party was out of touch with reality in Lebanon.