Israel pushes ahead with plans for 3,500 settler homes

Israel pushes ahead with plans for 3,500 settler homes
The Israeli settlement of Efrat, near the Palestinian town of Al-Khader, south of Bethlehem, occupied West Bank, Mar. 6, 2024. (AFP)
Short Url
Updated 07 March 2024
Follow

Israel pushes ahead with plans for 3,500 settler homes

Israel pushes ahead with plans for 3,500 settler homes
  • Israeli settlement watchdog Peace Now said there were 3,426 homes advanced through a planning committee
  • Bezalel Smotrich: Our enemies must know that any harm done to us would result in more construction, more development and even more control over the entire country

JERUSALEM: The Israeli government has pushed forward construction plans for 3,500 settler homes in the occupied West Bank, a hard-line minister said Wednesday.
The move comes after Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich last month vowed to expand settlements, in response to Palestinian gunmen killing an Israeli civilian and wounding several others in the West Bank.
“Nearly 3,500 settlement units,” minister Orit Strock wrote Wednesday on X, formerly Twitter.
“We promised — we are delivering... Together we will continue to advance the settlements,” added Struck, an ally of fellow extreme-right settler Smotrich.
The move also came as Israel is engaged in a war with Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip since the Islamist group’s deadly attack on southern Israeli communities on October 7.
Israeli settlement watchdog Peace Now said there were 3,426 homes advanced through a planning committee, across Maale Adumim and Kedar, east of Jerusalem, and Efrat, south of the city.
“Our enemies must know that any harm done to us would result in more construction, more development and even more control over the entire country,” Smotrich said after three Palestinian gunmen shot dead an Israeli and injured several near Maale Adumim settlement on February 22.
Greenlighting the next step for the pre-planned homes comes less than two weeks after US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said any Israeli settlement expansion would be “counterproductive to reaching enduring peace” with the Palestinians.
Israel captured the West Bank, east Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip in the 1967 Arab-Israeli war and settlements in the Palestinian territories are illegal international law.
Despite opposition abroad, Israel has in recent decades build dozens of settlements across the West Bank.
They are now home to more than 490,000 Israelis, who live alongside around three million Palestinians in the territory.


Biden adviser will be in Israel on Monday to avoid escalation between Israel, Lebanon

US Senior Advisor for Energy Security Amos Hochstein. (AFP)
US Senior Advisor for Energy Security Amos Hochstein. (AFP)
Updated 6 sec ago
Follow

Biden adviser will be in Israel on Monday to avoid escalation between Israel, Lebanon

US Senior Advisor for Energy Security Amos Hochstein. (AFP)

WASHINGTON: A senior Biden adviser will travel to Israel on Monday for meetings to avoid further escalation between Israel and Lebanon, a White House official said.
Amos Hochstein will advance efforts to avoid further escalation along the “Blue Line” between Israel and Lebanon, said the official, who did not wish to be identified.
Attacks between Israel and Iran-backed Hezbollah militants in Lebanon have led to worries of a deeper war across the Middle East.


Russian forces kill Daesh-linked hostage takers at detention center

Russian forces kill Daesh-linked hostage takers at detention center
Updated 17 June 2024
Follow

Russian forces kill Daesh-linked hostage takers at detention center

Russian forces kill Daesh-linked hostage takers at detention center
  • “The criminals were eliminated,” Russia’s Federal Penitentiary Service said in a statement, which said a “special operation” had taken place to free the hostages

MOSCOW: Russian special forces freed two prison guards and shot dead six inmates linked to the Daesh militant group who had taken them hostage at a detention center in the southern city of Rostov on Sunday, Russian media said.
State media said that some of the men had been convicted of terrorism offenses and were accused of affiliation with the Daesh militant group, which claimed responsibility for a deadly attack on a Moscow concert hall in March.
The six hostage takers, one of whom wore a headband with the flag used by the Daesh that bears an Arabic inscription, knocked out window bars and climbed down several floors by rope before taking the guards hostage with a knife and fire axe.
In video published by the 112 Telegram channel, one was shown brandishing a knife beside one of the bound guards in Rostov-on-Don. In negotiations with the authorities, they demanded free passage out of the prison.
But Russian special forces decided to storm the prison. Intense automatic gunfire could be heard in footage published on Russian Telegram channels. Video published by the 112 Telegram channel showed the six dead men in pools of blood.
“The criminals were eliminated,” Russia’s Federal Penitentiary Service said in a statement, which said a “special operation” had taken place to free the hostages.
“The employees who were being held hostage were released. They are uninjured,” the prison service said.
Ambulances were seen entering the complex.
Daesh, a Sunni Muslim militant group, was defeated in Iraq and Syria by a combination of US-led forces, Kurdish fighters, and Russian, Iranian, Syrian soldiers. It splintered into different regional groups that have claimed a number of deadly attacks across the world.
Daesh, named after an old term for the region that included parts of Iran, Turkmenistan and Afghanistan, claimed responsibility for the March attack on the Crocus City Hall outside Moscow in which 145 people died.
According to Russian media, the hostage takers were from Russia’s southern republic of Ingushetia and three of them had been detained in 2022 for planning an attack on a court in another Russian republic, Karachay-Cherkessia.  

 


Israel warns of escalation from cross-border fire from Hezbollah

Israel warns of escalation from cross-border fire from Hezbollah
Updated 17 June 2024
Follow

Israel warns of escalation from cross-border fire from Hezbollah

Israel warns of escalation from cross-border fire from Hezbollah
  • Hezbollah says it will not halt fire unless Israel stops its military offensive on Gaza

JERUSALEM: Intensified cross-border fire from Lebanon’s Hezbollah movement into Israel could trigger serious escalation, the Israeli military said on Sunday.
“Hezbollah’s increasing aggression is bringing us to the brink of what could be a wider escalation, one that could have devastating consequences for Lebanon and the entire region,” Israeli military spokesperson Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari said in a video statement in English.
Iran-backed Hezbollah last week launched the largest volleys of rockets and drones yet in the eight months it has been exchanging fire with the Israeli military, in parallel with the Gaza war.
After the relatively heavy exchanges over the past week, Sunday saw a marked drop in Hezbollah fire, while the Israeli military said that it had carried out several air strikes against the group in southern Lebanon.
The US and France are working on a negotiated settlement to the hostilities along Lebanon’s southern border. Hezbollah says it will not halt fire unless Israel stops its military offensive on Gaza.
“Israel will take the necessary measures to protect its civilians — until security along our border with Lebanon is restored,” Hagari said.


‘No joy’: Gazans mark somber Eid in shadow of war

‘No joy’: Gazans mark somber Eid in shadow  of war
Updated 17 June 2024
Follow

‘No joy’: Gazans mark somber Eid in shadow of war

‘No joy’: Gazans mark somber Eid in shadow  of war
  • Many Palestinians forced to spend holiday without their loved ones
  • I hope the world will put pressure to end the war on us because we are truly dying, and our children are broken

GAZA STRIP: In tents in the stifling heat and bombed-out mosques, Gazans on Sunday marked the start of the Eid Al-Adha holiday, devoid of the usual cheer as the Israel-Hamas war raged on.

“There is no joy. We have been robbed of it,” said Malakiya Salman, a 57-year-old displaced woman now living in a tent in Khan Younis City in the southern Gaza Strip.
Gazans, like Muslims the world over, would usually slaughter sheep for the holiday — whose Arabic name means “feast of the sacrifice” — and share the meat with the needy.
Parents would also give their children new clothes and money for the celebration.
But this year, after more than eight months of a devastating Israeli campaign that has flattened much of Gaza, displaced most of the besieged territory’s 2.4 million people, and sparked repeated warnings of famine, the Eid is a day of misery for many.
“I hope the world will put pressure to end the war on us because we are truly dying, and our children are broken,” said Salman.
Her family was displaced from the far-southern city of Rafah, a recent focus of the fighting which began after Hamas’s Oct. 7 attack on southern Israel.
The military on Sunday morning announced a “tactical pause of military activity” around a Rafah-area route to facilitate the delivery of desperately needed humanitarian aid to Gazans.
AFP correspondents said there were no reports of strikes or shelling since dawn, though the Israeli military stressed there was “no cessation of hostilities in the southern Gaza Strip.”
The brief respite in fighting allowed worshippers a rare moment of calm on holiday.
Many gathered for the Eid Al-Adha morning prayer in the courtyard of Gaza City’s historic Omari Mosque, which was heavily damaged in Israeli bombardment, placing down their frayed prayer mats next to mounds of rubble.
The sound of prayers traveled down some of the city’s destroyed and abandoned streets.
“Since this morning, we’ve felt a sudden calm with no gunfire or bombings ... It’s strange,” said 30-year-old Haitham Al-Ghura from Gaza City.
He hoped the pause meant a permanent ceasefire was near, though truce mediation efforts have stalled for months.
In several areas of the war-battered territory, especially in Gaza City, young boys were seen manning roadside shops selling perfumes, lotions, and other items against the backdrop of piles of rubble from destroyed buildings and homes.
Many vendors used umbrellas to protect themselves from the scorching sun as they sold household items on Gaza City’s main market street. But there were few buyers.
Food and other goods can reach four or five times their usual price, but those who cling to the holiday traditions can still afford them.
In Khan Younis, displaced man Majdi Abdul Raouf spent 4,500 shekels ($1,200) — a small fortune for most Gazans — on a sheep to sacrifice.
“I was determined to buy it despite the high prices, to perform these rituals and bring some joy and happiness to the children in the displacement camp,” said the 60-year-old, who fled his home in Rafah.
“There is sadness, severe pain, and suffering, but I insisted on having a different kind of day.”
The deadliest-ever Gaza war began after Hamas’s unprecedented Oct. 7 attack.
Israel’s retaliatory offensive has killed at least 37,337 people in Gaza, also mostly civilians, according to the Health Ministry in the territory.
For many, a halt in fighting can never bring back what has been lost.
“We’ve lost many people, there’s a lot of destruction,” said Umm Mohammed Al-Katri from Jabalia refugee camp in northern Gaza.
“This Eid is completely different,” she said, with many Gazans forced to spend the holiday without their loved ones killed or displaced during the war.
Grieving families on Sunday flocked to cemeteries and other makeshift burial sites, where wooden planks marked the graves.
“I feel comfort here,” said Khalil Diab Essbiah at the cemetery where his two children are buried.
Even with the constant buzzing of Israeli drones overhead, visitors at the cemetery “can feel relieved of the genocide we are in and the death and destruction,” he said.
Hanaa Abu Jazar, 11, also displaced from Rafah to the tent city in Khan Yunis, said: “We see the (Israeli) occupation killing children, women and the elderly.”
“How can we celebrate?” asked the girl.

 


Jordan conducts three airdrops in southern Gaza

Jordan conducts three airdrops in southern Gaza
Updated 17 June 2024
Follow

Jordan conducts three airdrops in southern Gaza

Jordan conducts three airdrops in southern Gaza
  • Aid packages containing food, clothing, and sweets were delivered to various locations in the southern Gaza

AMMAN: Jordan’s armed forces conducted three airdrops to the southern part of Gaza on Sunday, in collaboration with Egypt, to mark the first day of Eid Al-Adha, Jordan News Agency reported.
Aid packages containing food, clothing, and sweets were delivered to various locations in the southern Gaza Strip by two planes from the Royal Jordanian Air Force and an aircraft from Egypt.
Earlier on Saturday, a 45-truck humanitarian aid convoy arrived in Gaza, sent by the JAF and the Jordan Hashemite Charity Organization (JHCO).
In cooperation with its regional and international allies, the Jordanian armed forces have carried out 261 airdrops and delivered 1,970 trucks of aid since the beginning of Israel’s onslaught on Gaza.
WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that “a significant proportion of Gaza’s population is now facing catastrophic hunger and famine-like conditions,” as Israel continues to impose severe restrictions on the supply of food, water, medicine, and fuel to the Strip.