Australia confirms two of its citizens were killed in Israeli strike in south Lebanon

Australia confirms two of its citizens were killed in Israeli strike in south Lebanon
Mourners carry the coffin of a woman who was killed together with a Hezbollah fighter in Israeli bombardment on December 27, 2023, in Bint Jbeil, southern Lebanon. (AFP)
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Updated 28 December 2023
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Australia confirms two of its citizens were killed in Israeli strike in south Lebanon

Australia confirms two of its citizens were killed in Israeli strike in south Lebanon
  • One of the dead Australian citizens was a Hezbollah fighter, the Iran-backed militia acknowledged
  • Acting FM urges Australians in Lebanon to leave the country while commercial flight options remained available

SYDNEY: Australia on Thursday confirmed two of its citizens were killed in an Israeli air strike in south Lebanon and said it was looking at Hezbollah’s claims that one of the Australian citizens killed had links to the militant group.

Lebanon’s National News Agency (NNA) earlier reported that a man, his brother and his wife, were killed during an Israeli air strike before midnight (2200 GMT), on a house in the center of the town of Bint Jbeil, around two kilometers from the border.

The NNA identified the dead as Ali Bazzi, his brother Ibrahim and his wife Shourouk Hammoud, and said another family member was wounded.

Hezbollah later announced that Ali Bazzi was one of its fighters.

A relative told AFP that Ibrahim Bazzi was an Australian citizen who had flown in for a visit about a week earlier.

“We will continue to make inquiries about this particular person, with whom Hezbollah has claimed links,” Acting Foreign Minister Mark Dreyfus said during a media briefing.

“Hezbollah has claimed this Australian as one of its fighters. Our inquiries are continuing.”

Hezbollah, a Lebanese militant group backed by Iran, is a “listed terrorist organization” in Australia and it is an offense for any Australian to provide it with financial support or fight in its ranks, Dreyfus said.

The border between Lebanon and Israel has seen escalating exchanges of fire, mainly between the Israeli army and Hamas ally Hezbollah, since the Israel-Hamas war began on October 7, raising fears of a broader conflagration.

The strike late on Tuesday, part of a flare-up of border area hostilities between Israel and Hezbollah, hit a home in the town of Bint Jbeil where the militants enjoy widespread support.

Dreyfus said the Australian government had reached out to Israel about the attacks but declined to disclose what was discussed.

He urged Australians in Lebanon to leave the country while commercial flight options remained available.

Hezbollah, an ally of Palestinian Islamist faction Hamas, has been exchanging near-daily fire with Israel across Lebanon’s southern frontier since the eruption of the Israeli-Hamas war in Gaza in early October.

At the funeral procession in Bint Jbeil on Wednesday, an AFP photographer saw three coffins draped in Hezbollah flags.

Hassan Fadlallah, a lawmaker from the Iran-backed group, told the ceremony that “no crime against civilians will pass without the enemy paying the price.”

Hezbollah later Wednesday said it launched a barrage of 30 Katyusha rockets toward Kiryat Shmona in northern Israel “in response to the enemy’s repeated crimes and its targeting of civilian houses in Bint Jbeil.”

Since the cross-border hostilities began, more than 150 people have been killed on the Lebanese side, most of them Hezbollah combatants but also more than 20 civilians, three of them journalists, according to an AFP tally.

On the Israeli side, at least four civilians and nine soldiers have been killed, according to figures from the military.

Exchanges of fire have been largely confined to the border area, although Israel has conducted limited strikes deeper into Lebanese territory.

Hezbollah said Wednesday it carried out a series of other attacks on Israeli troops and positions, including one on the contested Shebaa Farms involving “suicide drones,” missiles and artillery.

The Israeli military said in a statement that “a number of launches were identified crossing from Lebanon toward various areas in northern Israel,” adding that the army struck the sources of fire and “additional areas in Lebanon.”

It also said “fighter jets” struck “terrorist infrastructure, as well as Hezbollah military sites.”

On Tuesday, Israel’s military said an anti-tank missile fired by the Shiite Muslim group wounded nine soldiers as they went to assist a civilian wounded in an earlier strike.

srael has been pushing for Hezbollah to withdraw north of the Litani River, which lies about 30 kilometers (20 miles) north of the border.

UN Security Council Resolution 1701, which ended a 2006 war between Israel and Hezbollah, called for the removal of armed personnel south of the Litani, except for UN peacekeepers and the Lebanese army and state security forces.

Prime Minister Najib Mikati said last week that Lebanon was ready to implement international resolutions that would help end Hezbollah’s cross-border attacks if Israel also complies and withdraws from disputed territory.
 


Tent compound rises in Khan Younis as Israel prepares for Rafah offensive

Tent compound rises in Khan Younis as Israel prepares for Rafah offensive
Updated 6 sec ago
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Tent compound rises in Khan Younis as Israel prepares for Rafah offensive

Tent compound rises in Khan Younis as Israel prepares for Rafah offensive
  • Israel has said it plans to evacuate civilians from Rafah during an anticipated offensive on the southern city
  • The Israel-Hamas war has killed more than 34,000 Palestinians
Satellite photos analyzed by The Associated Press appear to show a new compound of tents being built near Khan Younis in the Gaza Strip as the Israeli military continues to signal it plans an offensive targeting the city of Rafah.
The tent construction is near Khan Younis, which has been targeted by repeated Israeli military operations over recent weeks. Israel has said it plans to evacuate civilians from Rafah during an anticipated offensive on the southern city, where hundreds of thousands of people have taken refuge during the war, now in its seventh month.
Also Monday, a failed rocket strike was launched at a base housing US-led coalition forces at Rumalyn, Syria, marking the first time since Feb. 4 that Iranian-backed militias have attacked a US facility in Iraq or Syria, a US defense official said. No personnel were injured in the attack, and no group has claimed responsibility for the attack.
The conflict has sparked regional unrest pitting Israel and the US against Iran and allied militant groups across the Middle East. Israel and Iran traded fire directly this month, raising fears of all-out war.
The war was sparked by the unprecedented Oct. 7 raid into southern Israel in which Hamas and other militants killed around 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and abducted around 250 hostages. Israel says militants are still holding around 100 hostages and the remains of more than 30 others.
The Israel-Hamas war has killed more than 34,000 Palestinians, according to local health officials, at least two-thirds of them children and women. It has devastated Gaza’s two largest cities and left a swath of destruction. Around 80 percent of the territory’s population have fled to other parts of the besieged coastal enclave.
The US House of Representatives approved a $26 billion aid package on Saturday that includes around $9 billion in humanitarian assistance for Gaza, which experts say is on the brink of famine, as well as billions for Israel. The US Senate could pass the package as soon as Tuesday, and President Joe Biden has promised to sign it immediately.

Iran’s foreign minister calls EU sanctions ‘regrettable’

Iran’s foreign minister calls EU sanctions ‘regrettable’
Updated 23 April 2024
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Iran’s foreign minister calls EU sanctions ‘regrettable’

Iran’s foreign minister calls EU sanctions ‘regrettable’
  • EU foreign ministers agreed in principle to expand sanctions on Iran by agreeing to extend restrictive measures on Tehran’s weapons exports

DUBAI: European Union sanctions announced following Iran’s attack against Israel are “regrettable” because the country was acting in self-defense, Iran’s Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian posted on X on Tuesday.
Iran launched more than 300 drones and missiles on Israel in what it said was retaliation against a suspected Israeli bombing of its embassy compound in Damascus.
On Monday, EU foreign ministers agreed in principle to expand sanctions on Iran by agreeing to extend restrictive measures on Tehran’s weapons exports of any drone or missile to Iranian proxies and Russia.
“It is regrettable to see the EU deciding quickly to apply more unlawful restrictions against Iran just because Iran exercised its right to self-defense in the face of Israel’s reckless aggression,” Amirabdollahian said on X, before calling on the EU to apply sanctions on Israel instead.
More work will need to follow in Brussels to approve a legal framework before the expansion of the sanctions can take effect.


Israel’s Gaza war has negatively impacted human rights, says US report

Israel’s Gaza war has negatively impacted human rights, says US report
Updated 23 April 2024
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Israel’s Gaza war has negatively impacted human rights, says US report

Israel’s Gaza war has negatively impacted human rights, says US report
  • Rights issues include credible reports of unlawful killings, enforced disappearances and torture, says report
  • Israeli military's conduct has come under scrutiny as its forces have killed over 34,000 in Gaza since Oct. 7

WASHINGTON: The war between Israel and Hamas that has killed tens of thousands of Palestinians in Gaza and resulted in a severe humanitarian crisis has had “a significant negative impact” on the human rights situation in the country, the US State Department said in its annual report on Monday.

Significant human rights issues include credible reports of arbitrary or unlawful killings, enforced disappearance, torture and unjustified arrests of journalists among others, said the State Department’s 2023 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices.

The report added that the Israeli government has taken some credible steps to identify and punish the officials who may have been involved in those abuses.

Israel’s military conduct has come under increasing scrutiny as its forces have killed 34,000 Palestinians in Gaza, according to the enclave’s health authorities, many of them civilians and children. The Israeli-occupied Gaza Strip has been reduced to a wasteland, and extreme food shortages have prompted fears of famine.

Israel launched its assault in response to a Hamas attack on Oct. 7, in which Israel says 1,200 people were killed.

Rights groups have flagged numerous incidents of civilian harm during the Israeli army’s offensive in Gaza, as well as raised alarm about rising violence in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, where Palestinian Health Ministry records show Israeli forces or settlers have killed at least 460 Palestinians since Oct. 7. But so far the Biden administration has said it has not found Israel in breach of international law.

Washington gives $3.8 billion in annual military assistance to its longtime ally. Leftist Democrats and Arab American groups have criticized the Biden administration’s steadfast support for Israel, which they say provides it with a sense of impunity.

But this month, President Joe Biden for the first time threatened to condition support for Israel, and insisted that it take concrete steps to protect humanitarian aid workers and civilians.


Israel’s Gaza war has negatively impacted human rights, says US report

Israel’s Gaza war has negatively impacted human rights, says US report
Updated 23 April 2024
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Israel’s Gaza war has negatively impacted human rights, says US report

Israel’s Gaza war has negatively impacted human rights, says US report
  • The Israeli-occupied Gaza Strip has been reduced to a wasteland, and extreme food shortages have prompted fears of famine

WASHINGTON: The war between Israel and Hamas that has killed tens of thousands of Palestinians in Gaza and resulted in a severe humanitarian crisis has had “a significant negative impact” on the human rights situation in the country, the US State Department said in its annual report on Monday.
Significant human rights issues include credible reports of arbitrary or unlawful killings, enforced disappearance, torture and unjustified arrests of journalists among others, said the State Department’s 2023 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices.
The report added that the Israeli government has taken some credible steps to identify and punish the officials who may have been involved in those abuses.
Israel’s military conduct has come under increasing scrutiny as its forces have killed 34,000 Palestinians in Gaza, according to the enclave’s health authorities, many of them civilians and children. The Israeli-occupied Gaza Strip has been reduced to a wasteland, and extreme food shortages have prompted fears of famine.
Israel launched its assault in response to a Hamas attack on Oct. 7, in which Israel says 1,200 people were killed.
Rights groups have flagged numerous incidents of civilian harm during the Israeli army’s offensive in Gaza, as well as raised alarm about rising violence in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, where Palestinian Health Ministry records show Israeli forces or settlers have killed at least 460 Palestinians since Oct. 7. But so far the Biden administration has said it has not found Israel in breach of international law.
Washington gives $3.8 billion in annual military assistance to its longtime ally. Leftist Democrats and Arab American groups have criticized the Biden administration’s steadfast support for Israel, which they say provides it with a sense of impunity.
But this month, President Joe Biden for the first time threatened to condition support for Israel, and insisted that it take concrete steps to protect humanitarian aid workers and civilians.


Nobel laureate urges protest against Iran’s ‘war on women’

Nobel laureate urges protest against Iran’s ‘war on women’
Updated 23 April 2024
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Nobel laureate urges protest against Iran’s ‘war on women’

Nobel laureate urges protest against Iran’s ‘war on women’
  • Narges Mohammadi issues plea from Evin prison amid new crackdown by Tehran’s morality police

JEDDAH: Jailed Iranian Nobel laureate Narges Mohammadi urged Iranians on Monday to protest against the clerical regime’s “war against women” amid a new crackdown forcing women to cover their heads.
Mohammadi, who is being held in Evin prison in Tehran, called on Iranian women to share their stories of arrest and sexual assault at the hands of the authorities.
Iran launched a nationwide operation this month to enforce the wearing of the headscarf. Women have been arrested and taken to police stations by the morality police, and the Farsi hashtag meaning “war against women” has been trending on social media.
“People of Iran, I ask you, artists, intellectuals, workers, teachers, and students ... inside and outside the country to protest against this war against women,” Mohammadi said in a message from inside the prison. “Do not underestimate the power of sharing your experiences. Doing so will expose the misogynistic government and bring it to its knees.” She accused the authorities of bringing “a full-scale war against all women to every street in Iran.”
Mohammadi said she had been joined in jail by Dina Ghalibaf, a journalist and student who was arrested after accusing security forces on social media of putting her in handcuffs and sexually assaulting her during a previous arrest at a metro station. “For years, we have witnessed many women who have endured assault, abuse, and beatings by government agents,” Mohammadi said.
Mohammadi, 52, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize last year in recognition of her campaign for human rights in Iran, which has led to her spending much of the past two decades in and out of jail. She has been imprisoned since November 2021 and has not seen her husband and twin children, who live in Paris, for several years.