Israel’s Netanyahu approves new Gaza ceasefire talks

Israel’s Netanyahu approves new Gaza ceasefire talks
Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has approved a new round of Gaza ceasefire talks to take place in Doha and Cairo, his office said Friday, days after the negotiations appeared stalled. (Reuters/File)
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Updated 29 March 2024
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Israel’s Netanyahu approves new Gaza ceasefire talks

Israel’s Netanyahu approves new Gaza ceasefire talks
  • Regional fallout from the conflict also flared, with Israel saying it killed a Hezbollah rocket commander in Lebanon, and several Hezbollah fighters killed in Syria strikes
  • Netanyahu’s office said new talks on a Gaza ceasefire and hostage release will take place in Doha and Cairo “in the coming days... with guidelines for moving forward in the negotiations“

GAZA STRIP, Palestinian Territories: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu approved Friday new talks on a Gaza ceasefire, a day after the world’s top court ordered Israel to ensure urgent humanitarian aid reaches people in the Palestinian territory.
But despite a binding United Nations Security Council resolution this week demanding an “immediate ceasefire,” fighting continued Friday, including around hospitals.
Regional fallout from the conflict also flared, with Israel saying it killed a Hezbollah rocket commander in Lebanon, and several Hezbollah fighters killed in Syria strikes that a war monitor blamed on Israel.
Netanyahu’s office said new talks on a Gaza ceasefire and hostage release will take place in Doha and Cairo “in the coming days... with guidelines for moving forward in the negotiations,” days after they appeared stalled.
In its order, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague said: “Palestinians in Gaza are no longer facing only a risk of famine, but... famine is setting in.”
Philippe Lazzarini, head of the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, posted on X that the ruling was “a stark reminder that the catastrophic humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip is man made + worsening.”
The court had ruled in January that Israel must facilitate “urgently needed” humanitarian aid to Gaza and prevent genocidal acts, but Israel rejected the case brought by South Africa.
The latest binding ICJ ruling, which has little means of enforcement, came as Israel’s military said Friday it was continuing operations in Al-Shifa Hospital, the territory’s largest, for a 12th day.
Throughout the coastal territory, dozens of people were killed overnight, the health ministry in Hamas-run Gaza said.
Among the dead were 12 people killed in a home in the southern city of Rafah, which has been regularly bombed ahead of a mooted Israeli ground operation there.
Men worked under the light of mobile phones to free people trapped under debris after an air strike, AFPTV images showed.
The ICJ ordered Israel to “take all necessary and effective measures to ensure, without delay” the supply “of urgently needed basic services and humanitarian assistance.”
The war began with Hamas’s October 7 attack that resulted in about 1,160 deaths in Israel, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally based on Israeli official figures.
Israel’s retaliatory campaign to destroy Hamas has killed at least 32,623 people, mostly women and children, Gaza’s health ministry says.
Large parts of the territory have been reduced to rubble, and most of Gaza’s population are now sheltering in Rafah.
On Monday the UN Security Council demanded an “immediate ceasefire” in Gaza, the release of hostages held by militants, and “ensuring humanitarian access.”
Member states are obliged to abide by such resolutions, but the Doctors Without Borders (MSF) charity said nothing has changed on the ground.
Aid groups say only a fraction of the supplies required have been allowed in since October, when Israel placed Gaza under near-total siege.
Israel has blamed shortages on the Palestinian side, namely a lack of capacity to distribute aid, with humanitarians saying not enough trucks are allowed in to make deliveries.
With limited ground access, several nations have staged airdrops, and a sea corridor from Cyprus has delivered its first food aid.
The UN says Gaza’s health system is collapsing “due to ongoing hostilities and access constraints.”
Israel’s military accuses Hamas and the Islamic Jihad of hiding inside medical facilities, using patients, staff and displaced people for cover — charges the militants have denied.
On Friday the army said it was “continuing precise operation activities in Shifa Hospital” where it began a raid early last week.
Troops first raided Al-Shifa in November, before Israel in January announced it had “completed the dismantling” of Hamas’s command structure in northern Gaza. Palestinian militants and commanders had since returned to Al-Shifa, the army said.
Netanyahu has said troops “are holding the northern Gaza Strip” and also the southern city of Khan Yunis, amid heavy fighting.
“We have bisected the Strip and we are preparing to enter Rafah,” he said Thursday.
Netanyahu is under domestic pressure over his failure to bring home all of the hostages seized by militants on October 7. Israel says about 130 captives remain in Gaza, including 34 presumed dead.
About 200 militants have been killed during the latest Al-Shifa operation, the military said.
Near Al-Amal Hospital in Khan Yunis, troops carried out “targeted raids on terrorist infrastructure,” killing dozens in combat backed by air support, the army said Thursday.
Israeli tanks and armored vehicles have massed around another Khan Yunis health facility, the Nasser Hospital, the Gaza health ministry said.
An analysis of satellite images shows heavily damaged areas around the Nasser and Al-Amal hospitals.
Since the Gaza war began, Israel has increased its strikes in Syria, targeting army positions and Iran-backed forces including Lebanon’s Hezbollah movement, a key Hamas ally.
A Britain-based war monitor said Israeli air strikes Friday in north Syria killed at least 42 people, six from Hezbollah and 36 Syrian soldiers.
And Israel’s military said it killed Ali Abdel Hassan Naim, deputy commander of Hezbollah’s rocket unit, in an air strike in south Lebanon Friday.
US, Egyptian and Qatari mediators have tried to secure a truce in Gaza, but those talks had appeared deadlocked more than halfway through the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
Tensions have risen between Netanyahu and Washington, which provides billions of dollars in military aid but has grown increasingly vocal about the war’s impact on civilians.
Washington has also raised the issue of Gaza’s post-war rule. It has suggested a future role for the Palestinian Authority, which has partial administrative control in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.
On Thursday, Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas approved the new government of prime minister Mohammed Mustafa, who said his cabinet will work on “visions to reunify the institutions, including assuming responsibility for Gaza.”
Hamas forcibly took Gaza from Abbas’s government in 2007.
Netanyahu says Israel must have “security responsibility” in Gaza, and has rejected calls for a Palestinian state.


UN experts say Sudan paramilitaries recruiting in Central Africa

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UN experts say Sudan paramilitaries recruiting in Central Africa

UN experts say Sudan paramilitaries recruiting in Central Africa
“The spillover effect of the conflict in the Sudan has significantly affected the situation in the Central African Republic,” said the expert committee
This “continues to constitute a security threat to civilians and an impediment to humanitarian activities in the area“

UNITED NATIONS: Sudanese paramilitary forces are using the Central African Republic as a “supply chain,” including for recruitment of fighters, according to a report published Friday by UN experts, who are concerned about a “spillover effect.”
Sudan descended into war in April 2023 when the generals in charge of the army and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) took up arms against each other in a fight for control, rejecting a plan to integrate.
“The spillover effect of the conflict in the Sudan has significantly affected the situation in the Central African Republic,” said the expert committee, formed by the UN Security Council to monitor sanctions on Central Africa.
They highlighted in particular the humanitarian situation, as the country sees an influx of millions of Sudanese refugees, as well as incursions by the two warring Sudanese parties — plus air raids by the Sudanese army in and around the Umm Dafog border post, where the RSF is present.
This “continues to constitute a security threat to civilians and an impediment to humanitarian activities in the area,” the experts said.
They insist the paramilitaries are also using the Am Dafok area in the Central African Republic on the border “as a key logistical hub.”
Because the RSF can “move between the two countries easily through a long-standing network” they have been able to recruit “from among armed groups in the Central African Republic.”
“Opposition armed groups from the Central African Republic have been reported to have actively recruited for, and sent members of their own groups to fight in, the Sudan under RSF,” the experts said.
They noted in particular fighters in Sudan since as early as August 2023 from the Central African rebel group Popular Front for the Rebirth of Central Africa (FPRC).
The experts said they are aware that this armed group and others “are still able to cross between the Sudan and the Central African Republic at will and use Sudanese territory to launch attacks.”
The experts thus called on Central African authorities to “counteract the surge in arms trafficking from neighboring countries, particularly given the current conflict situation in the Sudan.”
They also asked the leaders to combat “the infiltration of foreign fighters into the Central African Republic, which poses a significant long-term threat to the region.”

UAE, UK leaders discuss bilateral ties at G7 summit

UAE, UK leaders discuss bilateral ties at G7 summit
Updated 15 June 2024
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UAE, UK leaders discuss bilateral ties at G7 summit

UAE, UK leaders discuss bilateral ties at G7 summit
  • Sheikh Mohamed, Sunak discussed a number of regional and international issues of mutual interest

DUBAI: UAE President Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan met with UK Prime Minister Sunak on Friday on the sidelines of the G7 Summit session on artificial intelligence and energy in Apulia, Emirates News Agency reported.

During the meeting, the two leaders talked about how to strengthen and expand bilateral relations in a variety of areas, including economics and development.

The two leaders also discussed a number of regional and international issues of mutual interest, emphasizing the importance of laying the groundwork for peace, stability, and security in the Middle East.


Hezbollah keeps up pressure on Israel days after commander’s death

Hezbollah keeps up pressure on Israel days after commander’s death
Updated 15 June 2024
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Hezbollah keeps up pressure on Israel days after commander’s death

Hezbollah keeps up pressure on Israel days after commander’s death
  • Hezbollah said Saturday that it targeted the Meron base in northern Israel with “guided missiles,” and sent “attack drones” toward another Israeli base
  • The Israeli army said “two projectiles were fired from Lebanon toward the IDF (army) Aerial Control Unit in the area of Meron in northern Israel“

BEIRUT: Hezbollah on Saturday kept up retaliatory attacks on military positions in northern Israel, and one person was killed in Lebanon, days after an Israeli strike hit a senior commander from the Iran-backed group.
Senior Hezbollah commander Taleb Abdallah was killed in an Israeli strike in the village of Jouaiyya on Tuesday, alongside three comrades, a source close to the group had told AFP.
Hezbollah said Saturday that it targeted the Meron base in northern Israel with “guided missiles,” and sent “attack drones” toward another Israeli base “as part of the response to the attack and assassination carried out by the enemy in Jouaiyya.”
Israel and Hezbollah, a Hamas ally, have traded near-daily cross-border fire since the Palestinian militant group’s October 7 attack on Israel which triggered war in the Gaza Strip.
The Israeli army had confirmed it carried out the strike targeting Abdallah, describing him as “one of Hezbollah’s most senior commanders in southern Lebanon.”
On Saturday, the Israeli army said “two projectiles were fired from Lebanon toward the IDF (army) Aerial Control Unit in the area of Meron in northern Israel,” reporting “no injuries or damage to the unit’s capabilities.”
It also said “several aerial targets were identified crossing from Lebanon into Israeli territory” and falling in the Goren area, adding there were no reported injuries but that “a fire broke out.”
“Aircraft struck a Hezbollah terrorist” in south Lebanon’s Aitarun area, the military said, adding that “artillery fired to remove a threat,” also in the Aitarun area.
A source close to Hezbollah and rescuers affiliated with the group said a non-Lebanese man was killed in Aitarun, without providing further details.
Lebanon’s official National News Agency had reported unspecified casualties in an “Israeli drone” strike on a motorbike on the road between Aitarun and Bint Jbeil in southern Lebanon.
On Wednesday, top Hezbollah official Hashem Safieddine vowed the group would “increase the intensity, strength, quantity and quality of our attacks,” while speaking at Abdallah’s funeral.
A Lebanese military source said Abdallah was the “most important” Hezbollah commander to have been killed since the start of the war.
The cross-border violence has killed at least 471 people in Lebanon, most of them fighters but also including 91 civilians, according to an AFP tally.
Israeli authorities say at least 15 Israeli soldiers and 11 civilians have been killed in the country’s north.


Islamic Jihad says only way to free Israeli hostages is Gaza withdrawal, prisoner deal

Islamic Jihad says only way to free Israeli hostages is Gaza withdrawal, prisoner deal
Updated 15 June 2024
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Islamic Jihad says only way to free Israeli hostages is Gaza withdrawal, prisoner deal

Islamic Jihad says only way to free Israeli hostages is Gaza withdrawal, prisoner deal
  • The spokesman of Al-Quds Brigades made the remarks in a video posted on Telegram
  • Islamic Jihad is a smaller ally of Hamas

CAIRO: The armed wing of Palestinian Islamic Jihad said on Saturday the only way to return Israeli hostages is through Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza, ending its offensive and reaching a deal for exchanging Israeli hostages for Palestinian prisoners.
The spokesman of Al-Quds Brigades, the armed wing of the Palestinian group, made the remarks in a video posted on Telegram.
Islamic Jihad is a smaller ally of the militant Islamist group Hamas, which led a rampage in southern Israel on Oct. 7 in which 1,200 people were killed and over 250 taken hostage, according to Israeli tallies. More than 100 hostages are believed to remain captive in Gaza, although at least 40 have been declared dead in absentia by Israeli authorities.
At least 37,296 Palestinians have been killed in Israel’s military campaign to eliminate Hamas, according to the Gaza health ministry.


Erdogan says Biden faces a test of sincerity in handling of the Gaza war

Erdogan says Biden faces a test of sincerity in handling of the Gaza war
Updated 15 June 2024
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Erdogan says Biden faces a test of sincerity in handling of the Gaza war

Erdogan says Biden faces a test of sincerity in handling of the Gaza war
  • Biden expected to demonstrate that the Gaza ceasefire plan is not a calculated electoral tactic but a sincere effort to end the war

ISTANBUL: Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Saturday that US President Joe Biden is undergoing “a test of sincerity” in his handling of the Gaza war.
In an interview with reporters on his way back from the G7 Summit in Italy, Erdogan said Biden is expected to demonstrate that the Gaza ceasefire plan is not a calculated electoral tactic but a sincere effort to end the war.
He also said that Germany has softened its stance on sales of Eurofighter jets to Turkiye. In November, Turkiye said the country was in talks with Britain and Spain to buy Eurofighter Typhoons, though Germany objected the idea.
“Eurofighters are important to us,” he added.
Erdogan also said that inflation will be put on a more favorable position in the final quarter with the steps to be taken on interest rates.
“Policies aimed at rebalancing the economy are bearing fruit,” Erdogan said.