Iranian official warns Israel that its embassies are not safe after deadly Damascus strike

Update Iranian official warns Israel that its embassies are not safe after deadly Damascus strike
A picture shows Israel's national flag at the entrance of Israeli embassy in Rome on April 5, 2024. (File/AFP)
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Updated 10 April 2024
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Iranian official warns Israel that its embassies are not safe after deadly Damascus strike

Iranian official warns Israel that its embassies are not safe after deadly Damascus strike
  • Gen. Rahim Safavi, a military adviser to Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, signaled that the attack on a diplomatic mission could be met with a similar response
  • In response, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said: “Whoever harms us or plans to harm us, we will harm them” 

JERUSALEM: A top Iranian military adviser on Sunday warned Israel that none of its embassies were safe following last week’s strike in Damascus blamed on Israel that killed two elite Iranian generals. Regional tensions threaten to draw the Middle East into a wider conflict as Israel’s war against Hamas marks six months.
The remarks by Gen. Rahim Safavi, a military adviser to Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, signaled that the attack on a diplomatic mission could be met with a similar response. Israel has not directly acknowledged its involvement.
“None of the embassies of the (Israeli) regime are safe anymore,” Safavi was quoted as saying by the semi-official Tasnim agency. He spoke at a ceremony in Tehran for the generals killed in the strike that flattened an Iranian consular building.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel was prepared for any response. “Whoever harms us or plans to harm us, we will harm them,” he told a Cabinet meeting.




General Yahya Rahim Safavi, military adviser of Iran Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. (X: @IranIntl_En)

The regional tensions came at the six-month mark of the war, which was sparked when Hamas-led militants crossed from Gaza into Israel, killing 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and taking about 250 captive. Israel retaliated with a fierce bombardment and ground offensive that has killed more than 33,000 Palestinians, mostly women and children, according to local health authorities.
Also Sunday, Israel’s military announced it was drawing back forces from the 98th paratroopers division who had been operating in the area of Khan Younis in southern Gaza, bringing Israeli troop levels in Gaza to some of the lowest levels since the war began. The Hamas stronghold has been the main focus of Israel’s offensive in recent months.
The forces withdrew to recuperate and prepare for future operations, while a significant number remain elsewhere in Gaza, said Israeli military officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to speak to the media.
Israel maintains troops in devastated northern Gaza and can send them south when needed. Israel has vowed a ground offensive on the southernmost Gaza city of Rafah, considered Hamas’ last stronghold. But the area shelters some 1.4 million people — more than half of Gaza’s population. The prospect of an offensive has raised global alarm, including from top ally the US, which has demanded to see a credible plan to protect civilians.
The war’s six-month mark has been met with growing frustration in Israel, where anti-government protests have swelled and anger is mounting over what some Israelis see as government inaction to help free the remaining roughly 130 hostages, about a quarter of whom are said by Israel to be dead.
Negotiations in pursuit of a ceasefire in exchange for the hostages’ release were expected to resume in Cairo on Sunday. An Israeli delegation led by the head of the Mossad intelligence agency was due to depart for Cairo, according to an Israeli official who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter with the media.
“Israel is prepared for a deal; Israel is not prepared to surrender,” Netanyahu said. “Instead of the international pressure being directed at Israel, which is only causing Hamas to harden its positions, the pressure of the international community needs to be directed at Hamas.”
Pressure rose for action now.
“This doesn’t seem a war against terror. This doesn’t seem anymore a war about defending Israel. This really, at this point, seems it’s a war against humanity itself,” Chef Jose Andres told ABC, days after an Israeli airstrike killed seven of his World Central Kitchen colleagues in Gaza. Aid deliveries on a crucial new sea route to the territory were suspended.
The UN and partners now warn of “imminent famine” for more than 1 million people in Gaza as humanitarian workers urge Israel to loosen restrictions on the delivery of aid overland, the only way to meet soaring needs as some Palestinians forage for weeds to eat.
Mothers who have given birth in Gaza since the war began are especially vulnerable.
The Health Ministry in Gaza said the bodies of 38 people killed in Israel’s bombardment had been brought to the territory’s remaining functional hospitals in the past 24 hours. Hospitals also received 71 wounded, it said.
The ministry said 33,175 have been killed since the war began. The ministry doesn’t differentiate between civilians and combatants but says two-thirds of the dead are children and women. Another 75,886 have been wounded.
Israel’s military continued to suffer losses, including in Khan Younis, where the military said four soldiers were killed in a battle with militants.
Over 600 Israeli soldiers have been killed since Oct. 7, including 260 in the Gaza ground operation, according to Israel’s government.
 


Health ministry in Hamas-run Gaza says war death toll at 37,372

Health ministry in Hamas-run Gaza says war death toll at 37,372
Updated 18 June 2024
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Health ministry in Hamas-run Gaza says war death toll at 37,372

Health ministry in Hamas-run Gaza says war death toll at 37,372
  • The toll includes at least 25 deaths in the past 24 hours, a ministry statement said

GAZA STRIP, Palestinian Territories: The health ministry in Hamas-run Gaza said Tuesday that at least 37,372 people have been killed in the territory during more than eight months of war between Israel and Palestinian militants.
The toll includes at least 25 deaths in the past 24 hours, a ministry statement said, adding that a total of 85,452 people had been wounded in the Gaza Strip since the war began when Hamas militants attacked Israel on October 7.


US envoy says diplomacy ‘urgent’ to stop Israel-Lebanon border clashes

US envoy says diplomacy ‘urgent’ to stop Israel-Lebanon border clashes
Updated 18 June 2024
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US envoy says diplomacy ‘urgent’ to stop Israel-Lebanon border clashes

US envoy says diplomacy ‘urgent’ to stop Israel-Lebanon border clashes
  • US envoy Amos Hochstein: ‘The conflict... between Israel and Hezbollah has gone on for long enough’

BEIRUT: US envoy Amos Hochstein Tuesday called for the “urgent” de-escalation of cross-border exchanges of fire between Lebanon’s Hezbollah and Israeli forces raging since the start of the Gaza war.

“The conflict... between Israel and Hezbollah has gone on for long enough,” the presidential envoy said on a visit to Beirut.

“It’s in everyone’s interest to resolve it quickly and diplomatically — that is both achievable and it is urgent.”

The powerful Iran-backed armed group, an ally of the Palestinian militant movement Hamas, stepped up attacks on northern Israel last week after an Israeli strike killed one of its senior commanders.

But since Saturday afternoon, Hezbollah has not claimed any attacks against Israel, despite Israeli strikes on the border area in Lebanon’s south including one on Monday that killed a fighter.

Hochstein met with Lebanese parliament speaker Nabih Berri, a day after holding talks in Jerusalem with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

“Speaker Berri and I had a very a good discussion,” Hochstein said.

“We discussed the current security and political situation in Lebanon as well as the deal on the table right now with respect to Gaza, which also presents an opportunity to end the conflict across the Blue Line,” the demarcation line between Israel and Lebanon.

US President Joe Biden last month outlined a truce proposal which Hochstein said would “ultimately the end of the conflict in Gaza.”

“A ceasefire in Gaza and, or, an alternative diplomatic solution could also bring the conflict across the Blue Line to an end” and allow the return of displaced civilians to southern Lebanon and northern Israel, the envoy added.

Hezbollah last week said it has carried out more than 2,100 military operations against Israel since October 8, the day after Hamas’s attack that sparked the ongoing war in the Gaza Strip.

The Israel-Lebanon border violence has killed at least 473 people on the Lebanese side, most of them fighters but also including 92 civilians, according to an AFP tally.

Israeli authorities say at least 15 soldiers and 11 civilians have been killed in the country’s north.


UAE allocates $70 million in humanitarian aid for Sudan

UAE allocates $70 million in humanitarian aid for Sudan
Updated 18 June 2024
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UAE allocates $70 million in humanitarian aid for Sudan

UAE allocates $70 million in humanitarian aid for Sudan
  • Since the onset of the crisis, the UAE has launched an air bridge with Sudan and Chad

DUBAI: The UAE has said 70 percent of the $100 million pledge it announced for UN agencies last April will go towards supporting humanitarian aid efforts in Sudan, Emirates News Agency (WAM) reported.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the funds would be directed to key UN partners, including the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, the World Food Programme, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, the Food and Agriculture Organization, and the World Health Organization. The money will provide food and health support, protect women and children, and offer livelihoods and shelter in emergencies.
Minister of State for International Cooperation Reem bint Ibrahim Al-Hashemi emphasized the UAE’s commitment to humanitarian support for the Sudanese people. She highlighted ongoing efforts to provide aid in cooperation with the WFP, including operations in El-Fasher and other areas in Sudan.
Since the onset of the crisis, the UAE has launched an air bridge with Sudan and Chad, delivering 9,500 tons of food and medical supplies through 148 relief flights and a ship carrying some 1,000 tons of urgent supplies. Additionally, the UAE has supported Sudanese refugee camps in Chad and South Sudan by providing food.


Major blaze rips through northern Jordan

Major blaze rips through northern Jordan
Updated 18 June 2024
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Major blaze rips through northern Jordan

Major blaze rips through northern Jordan
  • The fire affected over 320,000 square meters of trees and dry grass

DUBAI:  Civil Defense teams on Monday extinguished a fire that spread from the Zamal area in the Koura District to the Anaba area in the Northern Mazar District.

Koura District Superintendent Bassem Al-Khalayleh informed the Jordan News Agency that the fire affected over 320 dunams (320,000 square meters) of trees and dry grass. He praised the quick response of the Civil Defense, which contained and extinguished the fire, preventing it from spreading to neighboring areas.

Al-Khalayleh urged citizens to clean the areas surrounding their homes, remove waste and dead vegetation that pose safety risks, ensure the presence and readiness of fire extinguishers, and educate individuals about fire hazards. He emphasized the dangers of throwing cigarette butts in forests, leaving flammable waste unattended, lighting fires in grassy areas, and using fireworks near forests or residential areas.

Jordan is currently experiencing a severe heatwave, with temperatures soaring to record highs of 45 degrees Celsius in several regions.

The Jordan Meteorological Department reported that the heatwave is expected to persist over the coming days, particularly impacting the desert areas, Jordan Valley, Dead Sea, and Aqaba. Residents are advised to stay indoors during peak sunlight hours, stay hydrated, and avoid strenuous outdoor activities.


Tunisian security units foil 59 sea border crossing attempts, rescue 1,806 migrants

Tunisian security units foil 59 sea border crossing attempts, rescue 1,806 migrants
Updated 18 June 2024
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Tunisian security units foil 59 sea border crossing attempts, rescue 1,806 migrants

Tunisian security units foil 59 sea border crossing attempts, rescue 1,806 migrants
  • At least 18 Tunisians were rescued on June 15 and 16 with the remainder being from sub-Saharan countries

DUBAI: Security units in Tunisia thwarted 59 attempts to illegally cross its sea borders and rescued 1,806 individuals, state news agency Tunis Afrique Press reported on Monday.

At least 18 Tunisians were rescued on June 15 and 16 with the remainder being from sub-Saharan countries, the Directorate General of the National Guard announced in a statement.

Two bodies were also recovered, and 24 wanted individuals, including smugglers and middlemen, were detained. In addition, the authorities seized boats and outboard motors used in illegal migration operations.