Gaza truce unlikely to be extended, experts say

Gaza truce unlikely to be extended, experts say
Aid including medical supply, food and fuel has entered Gaza through the Rafah crossing bordering Egypt. (AFP filephoto)
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Updated 27 November 2023
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Gaza truce unlikely to be extended, experts say

Gaza truce unlikely to be extended, experts say
  • The four-day truce is set to expire on Tuesday contingent upon the transfer of 50 hostages held by Hamas

LONDON: The truce in Gaza is unlikely to last much longer than Tuesday, with signs on Sunday that Israel was preparing to resume its air and ground offensive, The Guardian reported.

The four-day truce, which the Israel Defense Forces described as an “operational pause,” is set to expire on Tuesday contingent upon the transfer of 50 hostages held by Hamas. The agreement is extendable by a day for every 10 hostages released by the militant group.

“I can’t see the truce lasting more than a week,” Miri Eisin, a former Israeli military intelligence specialist who runs the International Institute for Counter-Terrorism, told The Guardian.

Eisin said the IDF wanted to dismantle Hamas’ military capability and that “the only way to do that is through a systematic and careful ground operation.”

On Monday morning, IDF Chief of the General Staff Herzi Halevi told Israeli soldiers: “I saw reflected in your eyes the magnitude of the moment, the fighting spirit and determination to achieve all the objectives of the war.

“I heard you tell me, ‘We want to fight until we return the hostages.’ And so, we are doing just that,” he said.

Israel’s military estimates that it has killed between 1,000 and 2,000 Hamas fighters out of a 30,000-strong military force.

However, Israel has killed at least 14,800 Palestinians, mostly civilians, in Gaza, and wounded tens of thousands more. The Israeli military has dropped around 40,000 tons of bombs on the besieged enclave and carried out attacks on crucial public facilities, including hospitals and schools, Gaza authorities said.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has pledged to eliminate Hamas, yet the group retains its capability for both combat and negotiation, The Guardian reported.

After a heavy bombing campaign, the IDF had surrounded the northern region of the Gaza Strip when the truce began on Friday; however, pockets of resistance remained. Satellite analysis suggests the destruction of between 40 percent and 50 percent of buildings in northern Gaza, turning areas such as Jabalia into urban wastelands, The Guardian added.

The IDF’s next target is the south, where Palestinian civilians were meant to flee, and specifically Khan Younis, where Israel claims Hamas’ headquarters and leader, Yahya Sinwar, are located.

Last Monday, Israel ordered people, many of whom had previously been displaced, to leave the city. It anticipates that people will flee west to the already congested coastal area of Al-Mawasi.

Any decision to relaunch the war rests with Israel’s war cabinet, chaired by Netanyahu, who promised right-wing coalition allies last week that it would resume after the 50 hostages were released to sell the deal to them. “I want to be clear. The war is continuing,” the PM said on Wednesday.

US national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, said the White House was having “a constructive conversation” with Israel on Sunday about ensuring that “any military action only takes place after civilians have been accounted for.”

H.A. Hellyer, a Middle East expert working with the Royal United Services Institute, told The Guardian it would be difficult to eliminate Hamas completely.

“The question is, what price will be visited on the population? And that price is not euphemistic. We have already seen horrific levels of civilians being killed,” he said.


Hezbollah fires new rocket salvo at Israeli base

Hezbollah fires new rocket salvo at Israeli base
Updated 3 sec ago
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Hezbollah fires new rocket salvo at Israeli base

Hezbollah fires new rocket salvo at Israeli base
BEIRUT: Lebanon’s Iran-backed militant group Hezbollah said it launched a salvo of rockets at an Israeli air control base on Tuesday in retaliation for deadly Israeli strikes on east Lebanon.
Hamas ally Hezbollah has exchanged near-daily fire with the Israeli army since the Gaza war erupted in October, but strikes have been largely restricted to the border area.
Hezbollah said it targeted the “Meron air control base... with a large salvo of rockets from several launchers.”
It said the rocket fire was in response to Israel’s first strikes of the war on eastern Lebanon.
Israel struck Hezbollah targets near the city of Baalbek, killing two of its fighters, security sources said. The Israeli army said it targeted Hezbollah air defenses after the group downed one of its drones.
In retaliation, Hezbollah already fired 60 rockets at an Israeli base in the annexed Golah Heights on Monday.
Cross-border exchanges since October have killed at least 284 people on the Lebanese side, most of them Hezbollah fighters but also including 44 civilians, according to an AFP tally.
On the Israeli side, 10 soldiers and six civilians have been killed, according to the Israeli army.

Israeli team in Qatar in last push for Gaza peace deal

Israeli team in Qatar in last push for Gaza peace deal
Updated 27 February 2024
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Israeli team in Qatar in last push for Gaza peace deal

Israeli team in Qatar in last push for Gaza peace deal

JEDDAH: A high-level Israeli delegation arrived on Monday in Qatar, where political leaders of Hamas are based, as the combatants in the Gaza war closed in on a ceasefire and hostage deal that the US says is now within reach.
The presence of both sides suggested talks were further along than at any time since a big push at the start of February, when Israel rejected a Hamas proposal as “delusional.”
In public, both sides continue to blame each other. Israel says it will agree only to a temporary pause in fighting to secure the release of hostages. Hamas says it will not free them without a permanent end to the war.
After meeting Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh said the group had embraced mediators’ efforts to find an end to the war, and accused Israel of stalling while Gazans die under siege. “We will not allow the enemy to use negotiations as a cover for this crime,” he said.
Senior Hamas official Sami Abu Zuhri said any ceasefire agreement would require “securing an end to the aggression, the withdrawal of the occupation, the returning of the displaced, the entry of aid, shelter equipment, and rebuilding.”
Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel was ready for a deal, and it was up to Hamas to drop demands he described as “outlandish” and “from another planet.”
Israel is under pressure from the US to agree on a truce to prevent a threatened assault on Rafah in southern Gaza.


Israeli forces kill three Palestinians in West Bank clashes, WAFA says

Israeli forces kill three Palestinians in West Bank clashes, WAFA says
Updated 27 February 2024
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Israeli forces kill three Palestinians in West Bank clashes, WAFA says

Israeli forces kill three Palestinians in West Bank clashes, WAFA says

CAIRO: Three Palestinians were killed by Israeli forces in clashes in the occupied West Bank early on Tuesday, the official Palestinian news agency WAFA said.
At least 400 Palestinians have been killed in clashes with Israeli soldiers and settlers since the Oct. 7 attack on Israel by Hamas gunmen.


At least 10 killed after ferry sinks in Egypt’s Nile

At least 10 killed after ferry sinks in Egypt’s Nile
Updated 56 min 3 sec ago
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At least 10 killed after ferry sinks in Egypt’s Nile

At least 10 killed after ferry sinks in Egypt’s Nile
  • Many Egyptians make their way using boats on a daily basis, especially in Upper Egypt and the Nile Delta

CAIRO: A ferry carrying day laborers sank in the Nile just outside the Egyptian capital, killing at least 10 of the 15 people on board, authorities said Monday.
The five who survived were transported to a hospital and later discharged, the Ministry of Manpower said in a statement. The cause of the sinking was not made immediately clear.
The ministry allocated compensation of 200,000 Egyptian pounds (around $6,466) to each family of the deceased and 20,000 ($646) to each of the five injured.
The laborers were on their way to work at a local construction firm. It took rescue teams hours to recover the bodies, according to local media which aired live-stream videos on social media platforms showing divers searching for the dead as villagers waited on the Nile banks.
The incident took place in the town of Monshat el-Kanater in Giza, which is one of three provinces forming Greater Cairo.
Many Egyptians make their way using boats on a daily basis, especially in Upper Egypt and the Nile Delta. Sailing along the Nile is also a favorite pastime during holidays in the Arab world’s most populous country.
Ferry, railway and road accidents are common in Egypt mainly because of poor maintenance and the lack of regulations.
In 2022, two people died and eight went missing after a small truck they were riding in slid off a ferry and plunged into the Nile. And in 2015, 35 people died in a collision between a passenger boat and a scow on the Nile.

 


France reiterates support for Morocco’s Western Sahara plan

France reiterates support for Morocco’s Western Sahara plan
Updated 27 February 2024
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France reiterates support for Morocco’s Western Sahara plan

France reiterates support for Morocco’s Western Sahara plan
  • The foreign minister’s visit comes after a series of diplomatic tensions between Rabat and Paris, the former colonial power which is home to a large diaspora

RABAT: France’s Foreign Minister Stephane Sejourne, during a trip to Morocco intended to warm strained relations, on Monday reiterated French support of Morocco’s autonomy plan for disputed Western Sahara.
The former Spanish colony is largely controlled by Morocco but claimed by the Algeria-backed Polisario Front, which in 2020 declared a “self-defense war” and seeks the territory’s independence.
The United Nations considers Western Sahara a “non-self-governing territory.”
“This is an existential issue for Morocco. We know it,” Sejourne said during a press conference alongside his Moroccan counterpart, Nasser Bourita.
Sejourne said Morocco can count on France’s “clear and constant support” for its autonomy plan.
Rabat advocates limited autonomy for the vast desert territory which is home to abundant phosphates and fisheries.
Sejourne told journalists he wanted to support Moroccan efforts in developing the area.
“Morocco has invested a lot in development projects for the benefit of the local population and in terms of training, renewable energies, tourism,” and the use of ocean resources, he said.
The foreign minister’s visit comes after a series of diplomatic tensions between Rabat and Paris, the former colonial power which is home to a large diaspora.
Moroccans have been particularly upset by President Emmanuel Macron’s desired rapprochement with Algeria.
Sejourne proposed on Monday a partnership with Morocco focussed over the next 30 years on renewable energies, training and industrial development.
Morocco’s Bourita said “France is a distinguished partner of Morocco on the political, economic and humanitarian levels.”
The Polisario continues to demand a UN-supervised referendum on self-determination, which was agreed in a 1991 ceasefire accord after a 15-year war between the Front and Morocco. The referendum has still not taken place.
In late 2020 then-US president Donald Trump recognized Moroccan sovereignty over Western Sahara in return for Rabat’s normalization of ties with Israel. Morocco has since then pursued an increasingly intense diplomatic effort to win over other countries.