Israel presses onslaught in Gaza’s Khan Younis

Smoke rises over buildings in Khan Yunis following Israeli bombardment on February 5, 2024. (AFP)
Smoke rises over buildings in Khan Yunis following Israeli bombardment on February 5, 2024. (AFP)
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Updated 06 February 2024
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Israel presses onslaught in Gaza’s Khan Younis

Smoke rises over buildings in Khan Yunis following Israeli bombardment on February 5, 2024. (AFP)
  • Israel said its forces had killed dozens of Palestinian gunmen throughout Gaza in the past 24 hours with fighting focused on Khan Younis
  • The ceasefire offer awaits a reply from Hamas who says they want more guarantees it will stop Israel’s blitz on Gaza

GAZA: Israeli forces killed at least 14 Palestinians in airstrikes as they pressed their onslaught in Gaza’s main southern city Khan Younis on Tuesday, while the top US diplomat pursued a quest to broker a ceasefire in the four-month-old war.
Israel said its forces had killed dozens of Palestinian gunmen throughout Gaza in the past 24 hours with fighting focused on Khan Younis in the south and a threatened assault looming on a nearby border town teeming with displaced people.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken arrived in Egypt for talks after a stop in Saudi Arabia during his latest trouble-shooting Middle East swing that Palestinians hope will nail down a ceasefire before Israeli forces storm Gaza’s southern fringes where over a million of Gaza’s people are sheltering.
It was Blinken’s fifth trip to the region since Hamas militants’ lightning attack on Israel from Gaza on Oct. 7 triggered the war, and his first visit since Washington brokered an offer, with Israeli input, for the first extended ceasefire of the conflict. Hamas says it is still weighing the proposal.
Blinken departed Riyadh just after sunrise and arrived in Cairo where he began talks with President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi. He is then due to fly on to Qatar and Israel.
Washington has for weeks sought an elusive deal to secure the release of remaining hostages among those Hamas kidnapped in its Oct. 7 assault, as key to making headway on broader challenges such as the governance of post-war Gaza.
The ceasefire offer, delivered to Hamas last week by Qatari and Egyptian mediators, awaits a reply from militants who say they want more guarantees it will stop Israel’s blitz on Gaza, against Israeli vows to keep fighting until Hamas is wiped out.
Washington also aims to prevent further escalation elsewhere in the Middle East, after days of US airstrikes on armed proxies of Iran, a major backer of Hamas, and further attacks on Red Sea shipping by Yemen’s Tehran-aligned Houthi militia.
In an update on Tuesday, Gaza’s Health Ministry said at least 27,585 Palestinians had been confirmed killed in Israel’s military campaign, with thousands more feared buried under vast tracts of rubble across the densely populated enclave. Some 107 had been killed in the past 24 hours, the ministry said.
Israel says 226 of its soldiers have been killed in its offensive, launched after militants from Hamas-ruled Gaza burst through the border fence and killed 1,200 people and took 253 hostages in a rampage through nearby Israeli communities.
Israeli forces on Tuesday kept up the pressure on Khan Younis, the focus of their offensive for weeks. Aerial and tank bombardment thundered through the shattered city overnight, with at least 14 people killed by air strikes since the pre-dawn hours, Palestinian residents and medics told Reuters.
They said Israeli tanks and aircraft continued to pound and besiege areas around Khan Younis’s two main hospitals — Nasser and Al-Amal. Israel’s military says Hamas militants use hospital premises for cover, which Gaza’s ruling Islamists deny.
Rafah, Palestinians’ last southern refuge from Israeli advances toward the border with Egypt, was battered by several Israeli air strikes and tank shelling overnight with medics reporting at least several wounded among the many displaced.
At makeshift tent camps in Rafah, untreated sewage flooded toward a shelter for the displaced, the latest sign of Gaza’s sanitation system collapsing, raising the spectre of disease.
Clothes flapped outside tents made from sheets of thin plastic. Hanan Abu Gabal cooked for her family in a pot over a small fire in the sand.
“We fled for our lives right in the middle of the battle. A rocket was thrown in the school and we barely made it out alive,” she said. “We were forcefully displaced from Khan Younis; they followed us. And now we’ve been forcefully displaced to Rafah, but where else are we meant to go?“
In Gaza City in the north of the narrow coastal enclave, residents reported further Israeli air strikes and tank shelling. Fighting has resurged in Gaza City two months after Israel said it had subdued the area.
In parts of urban north Gaza, displaced people venturing back to check the fate of their homes after some Israeli tanks pulled back told Reuters they were shocked to find few buildings still standing, with rows of multi-floor apartment blocks razed and roads flipped upside down by Israeli bulldozers and bombs.
During his Middle East swing, Blinken aims to win backing for US plans for what would follow a Gaza truce: rebuilding and running the tiny territory, and ultimately for a Palestinian state — which Israel now rules out — and for Arab countries to normalize relations with Israel.
The ceasefire proposal, as described by sources close to the talks, envisages a truce of at least 40 days when militants would free civilians among remaining hostages they are holding, followed by later phases to hand over soldiers and bodies, in exchange for releases of Palestinians imprisoned in Israel.
The only truce so far lasted just a week in November.


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 23 April 2024
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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.