Hamas says more than 5,000 killed in Israeli strikes on Gaza

Hamas says more than 5,000 killed in Israeli strikes on Gaza
Smoke billows near the Rafah crossing with with Egypt on the southern Gaza Strip on October 23, 2023, amid ongoing battles between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas. (AFP)
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Updated 23 October 2023
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Hamas says more than 5,000 killed in Israeli strikes on Gaza

Hamas says more than 5,000 killed in Israeli strikes on Gaza
  • Between 200 and 300 people have been killed each day in the besieged territory
  • Thousands of buildings have been levelled and more than a million displaced

RAFAH: Gaza’s Hamas-run health ministry said Monday more than 5,000 people have been killed in the battered Palestinian enclave since Israel launched its withering bombing campaign just over two weeks ago.
Alarm has surged about the spiralling humanitarian crisis in Gaza as Israel struck back following the October 7 Hamas attacks which Israeli officials say killed more than 1,400 people who were shot, stabbed or burnt by the Islamist militants.
Israel also says the militants seized 222 hostages in the worst attack in the nation’s 75-year history.
With the military saying it had conducted more than 300 new strikes within 24 hours, Gaza’s health ministry said the death toll had surged over 5,000, including more than 2,000 children, in figures AFP has not been able to independently verify.
Thousands of buildings have been levelled and more than a million people displaced in the besieged territory that has been largely deprived of water, food and other basic supplies.
Twenty trucks carrying desperately needed aid arrived in Gaza through the Rafah crossing with Egypt on Monday, the UN humanitarian agency said, the third convoy in as many days.
Washington vowed a “continued flow” of relief goods into Gaza, which the UN says is facing “catastrophic” conditions and needs to receive 100 trucks of aid per day.
Overnight, Gaza’s Hamas-controlled government said “more than 60” people died in Israeli bombardments, including 17 in a single strike on a house in Gaza’s north and another 10 in the morning.
And with thousands more wounded, Gaza’s health ministry called on citizens “to immediately go to hospitals and blood banks to donate blood.”
The Israeli military said it had hit “over 320 military targets” including “tunnels containing Hamas terrorists, dozens of operational command centers” and other militant outposts.
It also said it thwarted a cross-border Hamas drone attack on Monday, shooting down two UAVs that were crossing at the Nir Oz and Ein HaBesor communities near southern Gaza.
In a post on social media, Hamas confirmed the drones had sought to attack Israeli military positions.
Overnight, the army said a 19-year-old Israeli soldier had been killed and three others wounded during an operation on the outskirts of Gaza “to dismantle terror infrastructure... and locate missing persons and bodies.”
Meanwhile in southern Gaza, children killed in an Israeli air strike on the town of Khan Yunis were laid to rest in a makeshift grave on Monday as anguished family members looked on.
And at a packed UN school in the town, where thousands of displaced Palestinians were seeking shelter, staffers tried to distract traumatized youngsters by organizing games, including one with a colorful silk parachute.
Figures from the Hamas government say more than 181,000 housing units have been damaged, of which 20,000 had been totally destroyed or rendered uninhabitable.
Around the world, Israel’s friends and foes alike have warned against the Gaza war spilling over into a full-scale regional conflagration, with fears focused on its northern border where there have been increasing cross-border incidents with Lebanon’s Hezbollah.
Netanyahu on Sunday issued a stark warning to Hezbollah against opening a second front in the north, while Washington also fired a warning shot across the bows of any actors looking to inflame the conflict, saying it wouldn’t hesitate to act in the event of any “escalation.”
But the pace of evacuations has increased on both sides of the border, with the UN saying nearly 20,000 people had fled villages in south Lebanon due to the ongoing unrest.
At least 41 people have been killed in Lebanon, according to an AFP tally — mostly combatants but also at least four civilians, including a Reuters journalist. And four people have been killed in Israel, including three soldiers and a civilian.
Israel has also ordered the evacuation of thousands of people from a string of communities near its northern border but not everyone has left, with some refusing to go such as 62-year-old peach farmer Moshe Dadoush.
“I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t afraid. But I have to stay here and take care of my trees. If I don’t, there will be no fruit this year,” he told AFP.
“I wouldn’t leave for one simple reason: it’s here where I grew up. I have nowhere else to go but this country.”
At the weekend, Israel said it was stepping up its raids on Gaza and has massed tens of thousands of troops along the border ahead of a widely-expected ground invasion.
It has said its aim is to destroy Hamas, but has offered little detail about what would follow.
“One thing is clear: the Gaza Strip will not be ruled by Hamas once this war is over,” Israeli government spokesman Eylon Levy told AFP.
But Palestinian prime minister Mohammed Shtayyeh on Monday accused Western nations of giving Israel a “license to kill,” saying Israeli plans for a ground invasion would mean “more crimes, atrocities and forced displacement.”
“We condemn the statements that constitute a license to kill and give Israel political cover to commit massacres and spread destruction in Gaza,” he said.
US President Joe Biden and other leaders including Britain’s Rishi Sunak and Germany’s Olaf Scholz have visited Israel in recent days and affirmed its “right to defend” itself while urging it to keep within international humanitarian law.
Sunak on Monday said Britain was sending an additional £20 million ($24 million) of aid to help Gaza civilians affected by the war, and France’s Emmanuel Macron was due in Tel Aviv on Tuesday for talks with Netanyahu.


Israel hits Gaza from land, sea and air as Hamas halts talks

Israel hits Gaza from land, sea and air as Hamas halts talks
Updated 18 sec ago
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Israel hits Gaza from land, sea and air as Hamas halts talks

Israel hits Gaza from land, sea and air as Hamas halts talks
  • Relentless bombardments come as prospects have dwindled for a truce and hostage release deal 
  • Israel's military offensive has killed at least 38,584 people in Gaza, according to its health ministry

GAZA STRIP: Israel hammered the Gaza Strip from the air, sea, and land Monday as the war in the Palestinian territory showed no sign of abating, with Hamas saying it was pulling out of truce talks.
Shells rained down on the neighborhoods of Tal Al-Hawa, Sheikh Ajlin, and Al-Sabra in Gaza City, AFP correspondents reported, while eyewitnesses said the Israeli army had shelled the Al-Mughraqa area and the northern outskirts of the Nuseirat refugee camp in central Gaza.
Paramedics from the Palestinian Red Crescent said they had retrieved the bodies of five people, including three children, after Israeli air strikes in the Al-Maghazi camp, also in the central Gaza Strip.
Meanwhile, eyewitnesses reported Israeli gunship fire east of Khan Yunis, in southern Gaza, and shelling and Apache helicopter attacks in western areas of the southernmost city of Rafah.
The Israeli military said in a statement that it was continuing its activity throughout the coastal territory, and said it had conducted raids in Rafah and central Gaza that killed “a number of” militants, as well as air strikes throughout the strip over the past day.
It also said its naval forces had been firing at targets in Gaza.
The relentless bombardments came as prospects dwindled for a truce and hostage release deal being secured any time soon.
Hamas said on Sunday it was withdrawing from ceasefire talks.
The decision followed an Israeli strike targeting the head of Hamas’s military wing, Mohammed Deif, which the health ministry in Hamas-run Gaza said killed 92 people.
Deif’s fate remains unknown, with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu saying there was “no certainty” he was dead while a senior Hamas official told AFP that Deif was “well and directly overseeing” operations.
Speaking after the strike on Al-Mawasi, a second senior official from the militant group cited Israeli “massacres” and its attitude to negotiations as a reason for suspending negotiations.
But according to the official, Haniyeh told international mediators Hamas was “ready to resume negotiations” when Israel’s government “demonstrates seriousness in reaching a ceasefire agreement and a prisoner exchange deal.”
Last week, US President Joe Biden had suggested a deal might be close, saying at a NATO summit that both sides had agreed to a framework he had set out in late May.
Hamas on Monday lashed out at the US, accusing it of supporting “genocide” by supplying Israel with “internationally banned” weapons.
“We condemn in the strongest terms the... American disdain for the blood of the children and women of our Palestinian people... by providing all types of prohibited weapons to the ‘Israeli’ occupation,” a statement from the Hamas government media office said.
Talks between the warring parties have been mediated by Qatar and Egypt, with US support, but months of negotiations have failed to bring a breakthrough.
The war was sparked by Hamas’s surprise October 7 attack on southern Israel, which resulted in the deaths of 1,195 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally based on Israeli figures.
The militants also seized 251 hostages, 116 of whom are still in Gaza including 42 the Israeli military says are dead.
Israel responded with a military offensive that has killed at least 38,584 people in Gaza, also mostly civilians, according to data provided by the Gaza health ministry.
The war and accompanying siege have devastated the Palestinian territory, destroying much of its infrastructure, leaving the majority of its 2.4 million residents displaced and causing a dire shortage of food, medicines and other basic goods.
Among the devastated facilities have been multiple schools. On Sunday, Israeli forces struck a UN-run school in Nuseirat camp that was being used as a shelter for displaced people but which the military said “served as a hideout” for militants.
The civil defense agency in Gaza said 15 people were killed in the strike, the fifth attack in just over a week to hit a school used as shelter by displaced Palestinians.


Four killed, several wounded by gunfire near mosque in Oman: local police 

Four killed, several wounded by gunfire near mosque in Oman: local police 
Updated 16 July 2024
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Four killed, several wounded by gunfire near mosque in Oman: local police 

Four killed, several wounded by gunfire near mosque in Oman: local police 

RIYADH: Four people were killed and several wounded by gunfire in the vicinity of a mosque in Oman’s Wadi Al-Kabir, the Omani Police said on X early Tuesday.

“All security measures have been taken to deal with the situation. Evidence-gathering and investigation procedures will continue,” the police said.

The omani force expressed condolences to the families of the victims and wished the injured a speedy recovery. 


US military confirms Houthi attacks on vessels in Red Sea

US military confirms Houthi attacks on vessels in Red Sea
Updated 16 July 2024
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US military confirms Houthi attacks on vessels in Red Sea

US military confirms Houthi attacks on vessels in Red Sea

WASHINGTON: Houthis launched multiple attacks in the Red Sea against MT Bentley I, which was carrying vegetable oil from Russia to China, and also attacked the Chios Lion tanker ship, the U.S. military said on X on Monday.
 

 


Israeli drone strike along Lebanon-Syria border kills Syrian businessman close to the government

Vehicles drive along a road, on the day of the parliamentary elections, in Damascus, Syria July 15, 2024. (REUTERS)
Vehicles drive along a road, on the day of the parliamentary elections, in Damascus, Syria July 15, 2024. (REUTERS)
Updated 16 July 2024
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Israeli drone strike along Lebanon-Syria border kills Syrian businessman close to the government

Vehicles drive along a road, on the day of the parliamentary elections, in Damascus, Syria July 15, 2024. (REUTERS)
  • Israel, which has vowed to stop Iranian entrenchment in its northern neighbor, has carried out hundreds of strikes on targets in government-controlled parts of Syria in recent years, but it rarely acknowledges them

BEIRUT: An Israeli drone strike on a car Monday near the Lebanon-Syria border killed a prominent Syrian businessman who was sanctioned by the United States and had close ties to the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad, according to pro-government media and an official from an Iran-backed group.
Mohammed Baraa Katerji was killed when a drone strike hit his car near the area of Saboura, a few kilometers or miles inside Syria after apparently crossing from Lebanon. Israel’s air force has carried out hundreds of airstrikes in recent years, mainly targeting members of Iran-backed groups and Syria’s military. But it has been rare to hit personalities from within the government.
The strike also came as Israel and Lebanon’s Hezbollah group have been exchanging fire on an almost daily basis since early October, after the start of the Israel-Hamas war.
An official from an Iran-backed group said that Katerji was killed instantly while in his SUV on the highway linking Lebanon with Syria. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to speak to the media.
The pro-government Al-Watan daily quoted unnamed “sources” as saying that Katerji, 48, was killed in a “Zionist drone strike on his car.” It gave no further details.
Rami Abdurrahman, who heads the Britain-based opposition war monitor Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said that Katerji was killed while in a car with Lebanese license plates, adding that he was apparently targeted because he used to fund the “Syrian resistance” against Israel in the Golan Heights, as well as his links to Iran-backed groups in Syria.
Israel, which has vowed to stop Iranian entrenchment in its northern neighbor, has carried out hundreds of strikes on targets in government-controlled parts of Syria in recent years, but it rarely acknowledges them.
The US Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, or OFAC, sanctioned Katerji in 2018 as Assad’s middleman to trade oil with the Daesh group and for facilitating weapons shipments from Iraq to Syria.
The US Treasury declined Associated Press requests for comment. The sanctions imposed on Katerji were authorized under an Obama-era executive order issued in 2011 that prohibits certain transactions with Syria. A search of the OFAC database indicates that the sanctions were still in effect against Katerji and his firm at the time of his death.
OFAC said in 2018 that Katerji was responsible for import and export activities in Syria and assisted with transporting weapons and ammunition under the pretext of importing and exporting food items. These shipments were overseen by the US­ designated Syrian General Intelligence Directorate, according to OFAC.
It added that the Syria-based Katerji Company is a trucking company that has also shipped weapons from Iraq to Syria. Additionally, in a 2016 trade deal between the government of Syria and IS, the Katerji Company was identified as the exclusive agent for providing supplies to IS-controlled areas, including oil and other commodities.
Katerji and his brother, Hussam — widely referred to in Syria as the “Katerji brothers” — got involved in oil business a few years after the country’s conflict began in March 2011. Hussam Katerji is a former member of Syria’s parliament.
 

 


Israel waging ‘war of revenge’ on Palestinian prisoners: PA minister

Israel waging ‘war of revenge’ on Palestinian prisoners: PA minister
Updated 16 July 2024
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Israel waging ‘war of revenge’ on Palestinian prisoners: PA minister

Israel waging ‘war of revenge’ on Palestinian prisoners: PA minister
  • Accounts of alleged mistreatment including torture, rape and other sexual abuses in Israeli jails have all been denied by Israeli authorities

RAMALLAH, Palestinian Territories: The Palestinian Authority’s prisoners affairs minister on Monday accused Israel of waging an abusive “war of revenge” against Palestinian detainees since the start of the Israel-Hamas war.
Accounts of alleged mistreatment including torture, rape and other sexual abuses in Israeli jails have all been denied by Israeli authorities.
“Israel has been waging a war of revenge against prisoners within the walls of prisons and detention centers since the first day of the decision to go to war against Gaza,” said the PA’s Prisoners’ Affairs Authority head Qadura Fares.
Speaking at a press conference in Ramallah in the occupied West Bank, he added that Palestinian prisoners were treated as “hostages” and the mistreatment was part of the “pressure.”
The authority’s lawyer Khaled MaHajjna denounced abuses which he said he had been told of when he visited detained Gaza journalists Mohammed Arab and Tariq Abed at the Ofer detention center near Ramallah.
MaHajjna said he was told how guards forced one prisoner to “lay on his stomach naked and then a fire extinguisher tube was inserted into his buttocks and the fire extinguisher was turned on.”
He said he was told how other inmates had “electric prods” used on their bodies.
In parallel to increasing complaints by Palestinians, some Israeli rights groups are fighting for a court order to close Sde Teiman, a desert detention camp just for detainees during Israel’s war with militant group Hamas.
The Israeli military said it “rejects outright allegations concerning systematic abuse of detainees in the ‘Sde Teiman’ detention facility, including allegations of sexually abusing detainees.” It also said that it acts within international law.
The lawyer said prisoners were handcuffed when they ate and that meals consisted of 100 grams (3.5 ounces) of bread or tomatoes with some milk.
MaHajjna quoted Arab as saying that he saw one handcuffed prisoner die after being beaten for demanding medical treatment. He said about 100 detainees had diseases and wounds in desperate need of treatment.
He alleged that some prisoners had their hands bound before dogs were then set upon them.
Five Israeli rights groups have gone to court over conditions at Sde Teiman.
The Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI), one of the five, said that the high court on Monday ordered the government to respond within three days to the original petition filed in May.
ACRI, Physicians for Human Rights, HaMoked, the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel and Gisha have demanded the closure of Sde Teiman, saying that “severe violations of detainees’ rights” make imprisonment at the facility “unconstitutional and untenable.”
The government has not commented on the case.
According to the Palestinian Prisoners Club, around 9,600 Palestinians are in Israeli jails, including hundreds under administrative detention which allows the military to keep detainees for long periods without being charged or produced in court.
The war started with Hamas’s October 7 attack on southern Israel, which resulted in the deaths of 1,195 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally based on Israeli figures.
The militants also seized 251 hostages, 116 of whom are still in Gaza including 42 the Israeli military says are dead.
Israel’s military retaliation has killed at least 38,664 people in Gaza, also mostly civilians, according to data from the health ministry in Hamas-run Gaza.