Israel’s Netanyahu calls on Hamas militants to ‘surrender now’

Israel’s Netanyahu calls on Hamas militants to ‘surrender now’
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends the weekly cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister's office in Jerusalem, Sunday, Dec. 10, 2023. (AP)
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Updated 11 December 2023
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Israel’s Netanyahu calls on Hamas militants to ‘surrender now’

Israel’s Netanyahu calls on Hamas militants to ‘surrender now’
  • The militants late on Sunday boasted of success in their fight with Israeli forces in Gaza

JERUSALEM: Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday called for Hamas militants to lay down their arms, saying the Palestinian Islamist group’s end was near, as the war in the Gaza Strip raged more than two months after it began.
“The war is still ongoing but it is the beginning of the end of Hamas. I say to the Hamas terrorists: It’s over. Don’t die for (Yahya) Sinwar. Surrender now,” Netanyahu said in a statement, referring to the chief of Hamas in the Gaza Strip.
“In the past few days, dozens of Hamas terrorists have surrendered to our forces,” Netanyahu said.
The military has, however, not released proof of militants surrendering, and Hamas has rejected such claims.
Almost one month ago, Israel’s Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said Hamas had “lost control” of Gaza.
The militants late on Sunday boasted of success in their fight with Israeli forces in Gaza.
Izzat Al-Rishq, a senior member of the Hamas political bureau, said history would “remember Gaza as the clearest of victories” for the Palestinian militants.
“The end of the occupation has begun in Gaza,” Rishq said.
Hamas triggered the conflict with the deadliest-ever attack on Israel on October 7 in which it killed around 1,200 people, according to Israeli figures, and dragged around 240 hostages back to Gaza.
Israel has responded with a relentless military offensive that has reduced much of Gaza to rubble and killed at least 17,997 people, mostly women and children, according to the Hamas-run health ministry.


Egypt warns of ‘catastrophic repercussions’ if Israeli attacks Rafah

Egypt warns of ‘catastrophic repercussions’ if Israeli attacks Rafah
Updated 5 sec ago
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Egypt warns of ‘catastrophic repercussions’ if Israeli attacks Rafah

Egypt warns of ‘catastrophic repercussions’ if Israeli attacks Rafah
GENEVA: Egypt warned on Tuesday that Israel’s planned ground invasion of Rafah in southern Gaza would have “catastrophic repercussions” for peace in the Middle East.
Foreign ministers from Arab League countries told the United Nations Human Rights Council that some nations were turning a blind eye to the suffering in Gaza.
Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry said the extreme polarization exposed by the Gaza war had laid bare the double standards of some members of the UN’s top rights body.
Israel has said a truce with Hamas would delay, not prevent, a ground invasion of Rafah on the Egyptian border, where an estimated 1.4 million Palestinian civilians have sought refuge from the war.
“The world is witnessing the most heinous crimes and violations against the Palestinian people,” Shoukry said.
He called for an immediate ceasefire and urged Israel not to attack Rafah.
“Any military action in the present circumstances would have catastrophic repercussions that undermine peace in the region,” he warned.
The war in Gaza began after the Hamas militant group that controls the Palestinian territory launched an attack on October 7 that killed about 1,160 people in Israel, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally of Israeli figures.
Hamas militants also took hostages, 130 of whom remain in Gaza.
Israel’s retaliatory bombardment and ground offensive in Gaza have killed at least 29,878 people, most of them women and children, according to the territory’s Hamas-run health ministry.
Shoukry said some countries on the 47-member Human Rights Council in Geneva were shying away from the firm action they had taken over other conflicts.
“It seems that life in Gaza is not worthy enough of their attention, that the massacre of tens of thousands of children fails to shake their otherwise all-too-sensitive conscience,” he said.
“The lives of Gaza’s children are seemingly less valuable than others.
“This preludes the... collapse of the international system, including this council.”
Kuwaiti Foreign Minister Abdullah Al-Yahya said the “brutal crimes of the Israeli occupation forces against defenseless civilians” had led to “catastrophic crisis and destruction.”
Moroccan Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita said the world “cannot keep turning a blind eye” to the “unprecedented human disaster” in Gaza.
Qatari International Cooperation Minister Lolwah Al-Khater said Gaza was witnessing a “genocidal war,” while the situation in the Israeli-occupied West Bank was also deteriorating.
“Sponsoring this Israeli exceptionalism above international law by some global powers should stop,” she told the council.
Meanwhile Tunisian Foreign Minister Nabil Ammar, speaking via video-link, said human rights were being violated in Gaza “with the utmost barbarism” and said the international community had been “paralyzed because of a handful of countries.”

Gaza residents fear possible truce would only pause, not stop, the war

Gaza residents fear possible truce would only pause, not stop, the war
Updated 46 min 38 sec ago
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Gaza residents fear possible truce would only pause, not stop, the war

Gaza residents fear possible truce would only pause, not stop, the war
  • “We don’t want to go back to war because war after the first truce destroyed us and destroyed our houses,” said Rehab Redwan, a woman who had fled her house in Khan Younis
  • “Can you imagine — there’s no food, nothing to drink”

RAFAH, Gaza Strip: Homeless, hungry Palestinians fearing an Israeli assault on their last relatively safe haven in Gaza said they were desperate for a lasting ceasefire as the United States said a temporary truce could be agreed soon.
A proposed deal from the start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan in early March could stop the fighting for the first time since a brief truce in November and ease a human catastrophe unfolding in Gaza.
However, while negotiators discuss a reported proposal for a six-week truce, Israel’s enemy Hamas has said big differences remained and it was still demanding a permanent end to the fighting.
“We hope it will be a permanent ceasefire. We don’t want to go back to war because war after the first truce destroyed us and destroyed our houses,” said Rehab Redwan, a woman who had fled her house in Khan Younis to shelter in a roadside tent.
“Can you imagine — there’s no food, nothing to drink. There are no basics for life,” she added, saying she wanted to go back home even if it now rubble.
After nearly five months of Israel’s air and ground campaign, around 85 percent of Gaza’s 2.3 million residents have fled their homes, most houses are damaged or destroyed, famine looms and disease is rife, say aid agencies.
The war began when Hamas fighters attacked Israel on Oct. 7, killing around 1,200 people and seizing 253 hostages, according to Israeli tallies.
Israel’s air and ground campaign in Gaza has since killed around 30,000 Palestinians, health authorities in the Hamas-run enclave say.

PERMANENT OR TEMPORARY TRUCE
Walking with a small child through the crammed streets of Rafah, where most displaced Gaza residents have fled to and which Israel says it plans to assault next, Faraj Bakroon said reported conditions for the proposed truce made no sense to him.
As well as including only a weeks-long pause in fighting, there is no indication that Israel would allow people who fled south to go back to their homes in the north — particularly if they are men of military age.
“If the truce is like the previous one and they would start war again after it is over, we don’t want it. And if we can’t go to the north then a truce is not needed. Let’s keep the war until it is totally over,” he said.
“How will we go according to the age they specified? How do we take the children? We can’t leave our children behind and move. We need to bring them,” he added.
Still, for many people in Gaza any stop to fighting would be welcome, even if it falls short of a lasting ceasefire.
“We want a total truce in which we can live,” said Rashad Daher through his full white beard. But he added, “regarding this temporary truce, we ask God that it happens.”
Ahmed Al-Far, living in Rafah after fleeing his home in Gaza City in the north, where Israel’s offensive focused first, said he hoped for a truce “so people can catch their breath and heal their wounds.”
“There are 150 to 200 martyrs daily among the people. It’s a huge loss for our people,” he said.


Jordan’s King Abdullah says Gaza aid must be doubled to stem crisis

Jordan’s King Abdullah says Gaza aid must be doubled to stem crisis
Updated 48 min 44 sec ago
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Jordan’s King Abdullah says Gaza aid must be doubled to stem crisis

Jordan’s King Abdullah says Gaza aid must be doubled to stem crisis
  • Jordan is urging Western allies to lobby Israel to boost quantities of aid coming from the kingdom via Kerem Shalom on the border of Egypt, Israel and Gaza

AMMAN: Jordan’s King Abdullah said on Tuesday that humanitarian aid to Gaza must be doubled to prevent a deterioration in a hunger crisis affecting over 2 million people.
The monarch was quoted by state media as telling visiting USAID chief Samantha Power that the international community had to put more pressure on Israel to ease restrictions on the flow of food into the territory.
Jordan is urging its Western allies to lobby Israel to boost the quantities of aid coming from the kingdom via Kerem Shalom on the border of Egypt, Israel and Gaza, beyond the existing Rafah crossing, officials say.
Israel has said it is not blocking aid and blames problems on the UN and Palestinian sides for any delays.
Separately, the king arrived at a military air base to oversee the departure of seven C-130 military transport aircraft, three from Jordan and the rest from Egypt, Qatar, France and the UAE, that will air drop food parcels along the Gaza coast for a second day.
Jordan, which the UN and Western donors have turned into a regional hub for humanitarian supplies to Gaza, for the first time on Monday, along with the French army, air dropped food via four flights to thousands of displaced people sheltering on the beach.
Previous air drops that parachuted in medicines and humanitarian provisions were sent to hospitals that the Jordanian army runs in Gaza.


UN says Israel ‘systematically’ blocking Gaza aid access

UN says Israel ‘systematically’ blocking Gaza aid access
Updated 27 February 2024
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UN says Israel ‘systematically’ blocking Gaza aid access

UN says Israel ‘systematically’ blocking Gaza aid access
  • It has become nearly impossible to carry out medical evacuations and aid deliveries in northern Gaza and increasingly difficult in the south
  • All planned aid convoys into the north have been denied by Israeli authorities in recent weeks

GENEVA: Israeli forces are “systematically” blocking access to people in need in Gaza, complicating the task of delivering aid in what has become a lawless war zone, the UN said Tuesday.
It has become nearly impossible to carry out medical evacuations and aid deliveries in northern Gaza and increasingly difficult in the south, said Jens Laerke, spokesman for the United Nations humanitarian agency OCHA.
All planned aid convoys into the north have been denied by Israeli authorities in recent weeks, with the last allowed in on January 23, according to the World Health Organization.
Making matters worse, even convoys cleared in advance with Israeli authorities have repeatedly been blocked or come under fire.
Laerke pointed to an incident last Sunday when a convoy, jointly organized by the WHO and the Palestinian Red Crescent (PCRS), to evacuate patients from the besieged Al Amal hospital in the southern city of Khan Yunis, was blocked for hours and paramedics detained.
“Despite prior coordination for all staff members and vehicles with the Israeli side, the Israeli forces blocked the WHO-led convoy for many hours the moment it left the hospital,” Laerke told journalists in Geneva.
“The Israeli military forced patients and staff out of ambulances and stripped all paramedics of their clothes,” he said, adding that the convoy, which was carrying 24 patients, remained blocked for seven hours.
“Three PRCS paramedics were subsequently detained, although their personal details had been shared with the Israeli forces in advance,” Laerke said, adding that just one had been released so far.
“This is not an isolated incident,” he stressed.
“Aid convoys have come under fire and are systematically denied access to people in need.”
Such “inadequate facilitation for the delivery of aid throughout Gaza means that humanitarian workers are subject to unacceptable and preventable risk of being detained, injured or worse,” Laerke said.
The Hamas attack that triggered the war resulted in the deaths of around 1,160 people in Israel, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally based on official figures.
Militants also took about 250 Israeli and foreign hostages, 130 of whom remain in Gaza including 31 presumed dead, according to Israel.
Israel’s military campaign has killed at least 29,878 people in Gaza, mostly women and children, according to the Hamas-ruled territory’s health ministry.


Egyptian FM raises concerns over Red Sea tensions in talks with Iranian counterpart

Egyptian FM raises concerns over Red Sea tensions in talks with Iranian counterpart
Updated 27 February 2024
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Egyptian FM raises concerns over Red Sea tensions in talks with Iranian counterpart

Egyptian FM raises concerns over Red Sea tensions in talks with Iranian counterpart

DUBAI: Egypt’s Foreign Minister, Sameh Shoukry, voiced concerns regarding the escalating tensions in the Red Sea, directly impacting Egypt, during discussions with his Iranian counterpart, Amir Abdolahian, Al Arabiya news channel reorted on Tuesday. 
Shoukry emphasized the unprecedented threat the tensions posed to international shipping traffic. 
The meeting took place on the sidelines of the 55th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council (HRC) in Geneva, the Egyptian Foreign Ministry said.
The officials delved into bilateral relations between Egypt and Iran, particularly following the summit between President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi and President Ebrahim Raisi in November. 
They addressed the ongoing conflict in Gaza, expressing concerns over its potential escalation.