No US peacekeeping troops in Gaza, White House says

No US peacekeeping troops in Gaza, White House says
White House spokesman John Kirby. (REUTERS/File)
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Updated 02 November 2023
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No US peacekeeping troops in Gaza, White House says

No US peacekeeping troops in Gaza, White House says
  • Says now is not the time for a general cease-fire, but that pauses in fighting needed for humanitarian aid to get in
  • Also says Hamas should not be involved in the future governance of the Gaza Strip when the war with Israel is over

ABOARD AIR FORCE ONE: The White House on Wednesday said the United States would not put US troops on the ground in Gaza in any future peacekeeping role, as it discusses with allies what post-conflict Gaza would look like.

“There’s no plans or intentions to put US military troops on the ground in Gaza, now or in the future,” White House national security spokesperson John Kirby told reporters as President Joe Biden flew to Minnesota.
Kirby also said the United States does not believe the pro-Iranian Palestinian militant group Hamas can be involved in the future governance of the Gaza Strip when the war with Israel is over.
As the region girds for a potential refugee crisis among the people living in Gaza, Kirby said the United States does not support a permanent settlement of Gaza civilians outside of Gaza, which has been run by Hamas.
With the civilian death toll rising in Gaza in the Israel-Hamas war, Kirby said Washington does not believe now is the time for a general cease-fire, but that humanitarian pauses in hostilities are necessary.
The Gaza health ministry says at least 8,796 Palestinians in the narrow coastal enclave, including 3,648 children, have been killed by Israeli strikes since Oct. 7.
As the United States and its allies and partners discuss options for post-war Gaza, Kirby said having Hamas in charge would be problematic in the wake of its slaughter of 1,400 people, mostly civilians, in southern Israel on Oct. 7.
“We do believe that Hamas cannot be the future of governance in Gaza. They can’t,” said Kirby. “What comes after the conflict, we don’t have all the answers yet but we are working with our partners in the region to explore what governance in Gaza can and should look like.”


Israeli tanks push back in northern Gaza Strip, warplanes hit Rafah

Israeli tanks push back in northern Gaza Strip, warplanes hit Rafah
Updated 6 min 59 sec ago
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Israeli tanks push back in northern Gaza Strip, warplanes hit Rafah

Israeli tanks push back in northern Gaza Strip, warplanes hit Rafah
  • Israel obstructing access to victims of Hamas Oct. 7 attack: UN probe

GENEVA/CAIRO: Israeli tanks pushed back into some areas of the northern Gaza Strip on Tuesday which they had left weeks ago, while warplanes conducted airstrikes on Rafah, the Palestinians’ last refuge in the south of the territory, killing and wounding several people, medics and residents said.

Residents reported an internet outage in the areas of Beit Hanoun and Jabalia in northern Gaza. 

Tanks advanced into Beit Hanoun and surrounded some schools where displaced families have taken refuge, said the residents and media outlets of the militant Palestinian group Hamas.

“Occupation soldiers ordered all families inside the schools and the nearby houses where the tanks had advanced to evacuate. 

The soldiers detained many men,” one resident of northern Gaza said via a chat app.

Beit Hanoun, home to 60,000 people, was one of the first areas targeted by Israel’s ground offensive in Gaza last October. 

Heavy bombardment turned most of Beit Hanoun, once known as “the basket of fruit” because of its orchards, into a ghost town comprising piles of rubble.

Many families who had returned to Beit Hanoun and Jabalia in recent weeks after Israeli forces withdrew, began moving out again on Tuesday because of the new raid, some residents said.

Palestinian health officials said in one strike, Israel killed four people and wounded several others in Rafah, where over half of Gaza’s 2.3 million people are sheltering and bracing for a planned Israeli ground offensive into the city, which borders Egypt.

The Israeli military said its forces continued to operate in the central Gaza Strip and that they had killed several gunmen who attempted to attack them.

“Furthermore, over the past day, IDF fighter jets and aircraft destroyed a missile launcher along with dozens of terrorist infrastructure, terror tunnels, and military compounds where armed Hamas terrorists were located,” it added.

In Al-Nusseirat refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip, residents said Israeli planes had bombed and destroyed four multi-story residential buildings on Tuesday.

Israel is still imposing “unlawful” restrictions on humanitarian relief for Gaza, the UN human rights office said on Tuesday, despite assertions from Israel and others that barriers have eased.

The amount of aid now entering Gaza is disputed, with Israel and Washington saying aid flows have risen in recent days but UN agencies say it is still far below bare minimum levels.

The Palestinian Health Ministry said 33,843 Palestinians have so far been killed by Israeli fire since Oct. 7, including 46 in the past 24 hours.

Israel is preventing UN investigators from speaking to witnesses and victims of the Oct. 7 attack, former UN rights chief Navi Pillay, who is chairing a three-person probe, said.

The unprecedented Commission of Inquiry was established by the UN Human Rights Council in May 2021 to investigate alleged violations of international humanitarian and human rights law in Israel and the Palestinian territories.

“I deplore the fact that people inside Israel who wish to speak to us are being denied that opportunity, because we cannot get access into Israel,” Pillay said.

The investigation briefed diplomats at the UN in Geneva on its work and said that since Oct. 7, it had focused on the Gaza war between Israel and Hamas.

“So far as the government of Israel is concerned, we have faced not merely a lack of cooperation but active obstruction of our efforts to receive evidence from Israeli witnesses and victims to the events that occurred in southern Israel,” said Chris Sidoti, one of the three members of the inquiry.

The Gaza war began with Hamas’s attack against Israel which resulted in the deaths of 1,170 people, mostly civilians, according to Israeli figures.

The militants also took about 250 hostages, of whom Israel estimates 129 remain in Gaza, including 34 who are presumed dead.

Pillay, 82, a South African former High Court judge, said the commission was investigating alleged crimes during the Hamas attack as well as some allegedly committed by Israeli forces in the Gaza Strip and in the West Bank.

Sidoti, speaking via video-link, said the investigation had found it difficult to collect evidence from large numbers of witnesses.


Israel kills local Hezbollah commander in Lebanon strike

Men clean the reported site of an Israeli strike on vehicles in the southern Lebanese village of Shehabiya on April 16, 2024.
Men clean the reported site of an Israeli strike on vehicles in the southern Lebanese village of Shehabiya on April 16, 2024.
Updated 4 min 30 sec ago
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Israel kills local Hezbollah commander in Lebanon strike

Men clean the reported site of an Israeli strike on vehicles in the southern Lebanese village of Shehabiya on April 16, 2024.
  • Hezbollah said in a statement that Ismail Yusef Baz had been killed, without mentioning his rank or role
  • Aircraft also hit “Hezbollah military structures and terrorist operatives” elsewhere in south Lebanon on Tuesday, Israeli military said

BEIRUT: An Israeli strike Tuesday killed a local Hezbollah commander in south Lebanon, the Israeli army said, with the Iran-backed group saying three of its members were killed and launching rockets in retaliation.
Israel and Hamas ally Hezbollah have been exchanging near-daily cross-border fire since the Palestinian militant group attacked southern Israel on October 7, triggering war in the Gaza Strip.
Tuesday’s exchanges came with regional tensions high after Iran launched missile and drone attacks on Israel over the weekend in retaliation for a deadly Israeli strike on Tehran’s consulate in Damascus.
The Israeli military said its “aircraft struck and eliminated Ismail Yusef Baz, the commander of Hezbollah’s coastal sector,” adding he was killed in south Lebanon’s Ain Baal area.
Aircraft also hit “Hezbollah military structures and terrorist operatives” elsewhere in south Lebanon on Tuesday, it said in a separate statement.
Lebanon’s official National News Agency (NNA) reported one dead in an Israeli strike on a car in Ain Baal, about 15 kilometers (nine miles) from the border.
Hezbollah said in a statement that Baz had been killed, without mentioning his rank or role, while a source close to the group told AFP that “the field commander in charge of the Naqura region” had been killed “in an Israeli strike.”
The NNA also said an “enemy strike” targeted two cars in Shehabiya, about 10 kilometers from Ain Baal, reporting an unspecified number of dead and wounded.
Hezbollah later said that two more of its fighters had been killed, while its ally the Amal movement announced one dead in Ain Baal.
Hezbollah said it launched rockets at several Israeli military bases “in response to the Israeli enemy’s attacks” on Lebanese villages, in particular Ain Baal and Shehabiya.
Earlier Tuesday, Hezbollah had said its fighters launched an “air attack with suicide drones in two phases... striking the Iron Dome (air defense system) platforms and their crew” in the Beit Hillel area.
The Israeli military said “two armed” drones entered from Lebanon and exploded near Beit Hillel, with local Israeli authorities saying three people were wounded.
On Monday, Hezbollah targeted Israeli troops with explosive devices, wounding four soldiers who crossed into Lebanese territory, the first such attack in six months of clashes.
The violence has killed at least 368 people in Lebanon, mostly Hezbollah fighters but also including at least 70 civilians, according to an AFP tally.
In Israel, the military says 10 soldiers and eight civilians have been killed since hostilities began.
Tens of thousands of civilians have fled their homes on both sides of the border, with the violence fueling fears of all-out conflict between Hezbollah and Israel, which last went to war in 2006.


Gaza’s 2m Palestinians now a population of ‘survivors,’ UN humanitarian chief says

Gaza’s 2m Palestinians now a population of ‘survivors,’ UN humanitarian chief says
Updated 10 min 32 sec ago
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Gaza’s 2m Palestinians now a population of ‘survivors,’ UN humanitarian chief says

Gaza’s 2m Palestinians now a population of ‘survivors,’ UN humanitarian chief says
  • Andrea De Domenico says the situation in the territory during Israel’s continuing war against Hamas is ‘dire, tense and very volatile’
  • He warns it will ‘take years’ for Gaza’s 625,000 students to return to their studies as every university is destroyed and schools have been closed since the war began

LONDON: The 2 million Palestinians who live in the Gaza Strip can now be accurately described as a population of “survivors,” a UN humanitarian chief said on Tuesday.

Andrea De Domenico, head of the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs operations in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, said the situation in Gaza during Israel’s continuing war against Hamas is “dire, tense and very volatile.”

The OCHA is “making all effort possible” to deliver aid to the territory, he added, but “the reality is that there is very little that we can bring to inside Gaza to tackle displacement and battle the looming famine.”

De Domenico said that if the widely predicted famine in Gaza comes to pass, it would be “completely man-made and preventable.”

He added that while there have been recent additional efforts by the UN, and by the Israelis “to some extent,” to increase the amount of aid entering northern Gaza, the worst-affected part of the territory, the situation would require a “massive operation” simply to reach the “minimum standard” of aid that is needed, which is something the OCHA is not in a position to mount at this time.

On Sunday, the agency said Israel “impeded or denied access” to 41 percent of UN-coordinated aid missions in northern Gaza between April 6 and 12.

A plume of smoke billows during Israeli bombardment at Al-Daraj neighbourhood in Gaza City on April 16 amid ongoing battles between Israel and Hamas. (AFP)

De Domenico also highlighted the “problematic situation” in and around hospitals in Gaza, especially at Al-Shifa where heavy fighting has caused widespread damage and destruction, which he said was proving to be another major obstacle to the delivery of aid and other relief supplies.

“Our team entered (Al-Shifa hospital) in the following days (after the fighting) and have had to deal with a scene of terror; the hospital is completely dysfunctional at this moment,” he said.

“The number of bodies that have been buried in or on the premises of Al-Shifa, or around the hospital, has also been problematic, to the point that UN and Palestinian colleagues have helped the families to start to recognize the remnants of the corpses.”

Also on Tuesday, it was revealed that relentless Israeli airstrikes have destroyed every university in Gaza. This, coupled with the fact that all schools in the territory have been closed since Israel launched its military offensive in October, means it will “take years” for the enclave’s 625,000 students to return to their studies, De Domenico said.

On Monday, the UN’s humanitarian coordinator for the Occupied Palestinian Territories, Jamie McGoldrick, said about 800,000 Palestinians might be forced to flee Gaza if the Israeli military goes ahead with a threatened ground incursion in the southern city of Rafah, close to the border with Egypt, which has become the final refuge for hundreds of thousands of people displaced by fighting in other parts of the territory.

He added that about 90 percent of approximately 4,000 buildings located along Gaza’s eastern border with Israel have been destroyed or damaged during the war, according to the UN Satellite Center.


What We Are Reading Today: ‘Lord of the Flies’

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Updated 12 min 22 sec ago
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What We Are Reading Today: ‘Lord of the Flies’

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  • The novel explores themes of human nature, civilization, power and the inherent darkness within individuals

Author: William Golding

“Lord of the Flies” is a coming of age novel by British novelist William Golding. First published in 1954, the title has since become a classic of modern literature.

It tells the story of a group of British boys who find themselves stranded on an uninhabited island after their plane crashes during a wartime evacuation.

The novel explores themes of human nature, civilization, power and the inherent darkness within individuals. As the boys struggle to survive and establish order on the island, their society gradually descends into chaos and savagery.

The title refers to a severed pig’s head, symbolizing the evil and primitive instincts that take hold of the boys.

The main characters in the novel include Ralph, a charismatic and responsible boy who tries to maintain order and establish a signal fire to attract rescuers; Jack, a power-hungry and savage boy who becomes the leader of a group of hunters; Piggy, an intelligent but socially marginalized boy who serves as Ralph’s adviser; and Simon, a quiet and introspective boy who experiences a deep connection with nature.

As the story progresses, the boys’ civilization erodes, and they succumb to their primal instincts, engaging in violence and tribal warfare.

“Lord of the Flies” explores the destructive potential of unchecked power, the loss of innocence, and the conflict between civilization and savagery.

The novel has always been subject to various interpretations and perspectives by different readers and scholars. Much of it has been analyzed through the lens of allegorical human nature, political and social commentary, and even Freudian psychology.

“Lord of the Flies” has left a lasting impact on literature and popular culture through its exploration of universal themes, and its enduring relevance in contemporary society.

Its portrayal of the human condition and the fragility of civilization continues to resonate with readers, making it a classic that is worthy of being read again.

 


Buttler ton powers Rajasthan to record IPL chase of 224

Buttler ton powers Rajasthan to record IPL chase of 224
Updated 31 min 26 sec ago
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Buttler ton powers Rajasthan to record IPL chase of 224

Buttler ton powers Rajasthan to record IPL chase of 224
  • Chasing 224 for victory, Rajasthan looked in trouble at 121-6 in the 13th over but Buttler moved through the gears in his 60-ball blitz to achieve the target
  • Narine hammered 109 off 56 balls to guide Kolkata, who stay second in the 10-team standings, to 223-6

KOLKATA: Jos Buttler smashed an unbeaten 107 to trump Sunil Narine’s first T20 century as Rajasthan Royals pulled off a joint record IPL chase against Kolkata Knight Riders off the final ball on Tuesday.
Chasing 224 for victory, Rajasthan looked in trouble at 121-6 in the 13th over but Buttler moved through the gears in his 60-ball blitz to achieve the target with two wickets to spare at Kolkata’s Eden Gardens.
Rajasthan equalled their own record from 2020 when they chased down 224 against Kings XI Punjab in Sharjah.
Buttler, who came in as an impact substitute, reached his second ton of the season in 55 balls with a six off Varun Chakravarthy at the start of the last over.
Buttler, struggling with cramp, then played out three dot balls before a two and a single on the final delivery ensured Rajasthan held on to top spot in the table with six wins in seven matches.
England’s Buttler, who hit nine fours and six sixes, moved ahead of Chris Gayle with seven IPL tons and is only behind Virat Kohli’s eight in the T20 tournament.
Buttler built key partnerships including 50 runs with Riyan Parag (34), 57 with Rovman Powell (26) and then an unbeaten 38-run stand with Avesh Khan (0 not out).
Spinners Narine, Chakravarthy and fast bowler Harshit Rana took two wickets each for KKR.
Narine hammered 109 off 56 balls to guide Kolkata, who stay second in the 10-team standings, to 223-6.
Narine put on 85 runs for the second wicket with Angkrish Raghuvanshi, who hit 30, and got together for a 51-run stand with Andre Russell.
Narine, playing his 504th T20 match, reached his ton from 49 balls with a six and a four off Yuzvendra Chahal for Kolkata’s third hundred in the IPL as he jumped for joy.
He was finally bowled by a Trent Boult yorker before he returned to a standing ovation.
Narine moved into the top three in the batting charts led by Royal Challengers Benguluru’s Kohli (361) with 276 runs.
Rinku Singh finished off the innings on a high with his unbeaten nine-ball 20 including a four and two sixes.