Why the Oslo Accords failed to put Palestinians on the path to statehood

Special Why the Oslo Accords failed to put Palestinians on the path to statehood
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US President Bill Clinton stood between Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, right, and Israeli PM Yitzak Rabin Rabin, left, on Sept.13, 1993, at the White House in Washington DC, after signing the Oslo accords. (AFP/File)
Special Why the Oslo Accords failed to put Palestinians on the path to statehood
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Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat (2nd-r), along with US President Bill Clinton and Middle East leaders, gather at the White House for the signing of the West Bank autonomy agreement between Israel and the PLO. (AFP/File)
Special Why the Oslo Accords failed to put Palestinians on the path to statehood
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Israeli Peace Now activists watch on a big screen the historic hand shake between Israel's late prime minister Yitzhak Rabin and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat in the presence of US President Bill Clinton at the White House in 1993, during a rally in Jerusalem's Old City 13 September 2000. (AFP)
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Updated 05 May 2024
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Why the Oslo Accords failed to put Palestinians on the path to statehood

Why the Oslo Accords failed to put Palestinians on the path to statehood
  • A memento being offered for sale was apparently torn from White House program for the Sept. 13, 1993, signing ceremony
  • Timing of sale amid Gaza war ironic in that the document is reminder of a conflict that has raged unresolved since 1948

LONDON: Monday, Sept. 13, 1993, was a sunny day in Washington and, for those gathered on the lawn of the White House, it seemed that a bright new era had dawned in the fraught relationship between Israel and the Palestinians.

The occasion was the formal signing of the Oslo Accords, a declaration of principles on interim Palestinian self-government that had been agreed in the Norwegian capital the previous month by Israeli and Palestinian negotiators.

It was a historic moment, and it produced a remarkable photograph that claimed its rightful place on the front pages of newspapers around the world: Israeli Prime Minister Yitzak Rabin and PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat smiling and shaking hands in front of a beaming US President Bill Clinton.




In this photo taken on Sept. 13, 1993, world leaders, dignitaries and peace advocates attend the historic signing of the Oslo Accords between Israel and Palestine at the White House lawn in Washington. (AFP/File)

With ironic timing, given the current tragedy unfolding in Gaza 30 years later, a unique memento of that day is being offered for sale by the Raab Collection, a US company that specializes in the buying and selling of important historical documents and autographs.

The single piece of paper, embossed with the golden seal of the President of the United States, and apparently torn from the White House program for the signing ceremony, is signed by all the key players on that hopeful day.




A unique memento of Monday, Sept. 13, 1993, is being offered for sale by the Raab Collection. The single piece of paper, embossed with the golden seal of the US president, and apparently torn from the White House program for the Oslo Accords signing ceremony, is signed by all the key players on that hopeful day. The document is offered for sale at $35,000. (Supplied)

According to Raab, which declines to reveal who put the document up for sale, it was “acquired from the archives of one of the important participants at the event.”

Each of the seven signatures has great value for any student of politics and history — here are the hands of Arafat, Rabin, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Israeli President Shimon Peres, US Secretary of State Warren Christopher, and Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev, whose country had co-sponsored the 1991 Madrid Conference that set the stage for the Oslo Accords.

Taken together, they offer a bittersweet reminder of a moment when, in the words that day of an ebullient Clinton, “we dare to pledge what for so long seemed difficult even to imagine: That the security of the Israeli people will be reconciled with the hopes of the Palestinian people and there will be more security and more hope for all.”




PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat (2nd-R) and Israeli PM Yitzhak Rabin (2nd-L) sign a Palestinian autonomy accord in the West Bank during ceremonies at the white House in Washington, DC, on September 1995. (AFP/File)

Rather like a rare stamp, the value of which is increased by a printing anomaly, the document includes a curious discrepancy. It was signed on Sept. 13, the day of the White House ceremony, but only two of the signatories added the date to their signature. While Abbas wrote the correct date, the 13th, Arafat dated his signature the 14th.

The document is offered for sale at $35,000, but in political terms, with the hope expressed that day by Clinton that it was the gateway to “a continuing process in which the parties transform the very way they see and understand each other,” it is worthless.

INNUMBERS

• 10 Israeli prime ministers since the signing of the Oslo Accords in 1993.

• 4 Palestinian prime ministers since creation of the post in 2013.

As a reminder of the seemingly intractable nature of a conflict that has raged unresolved since 1948, the 30-year-old document is priceless.

One of the witnesses on the White House lawn that September day in 1993 was philosopher Jerome M. Segal, a peace activist who in the spring of 1987 had been part of the first American-Jewish delegation to meet with the PLO leadership.




Jerome M. Segal, a philosopher and founder of the Jewish Peace Lobby, was part of the first American-Jewish delegation to meet with the PLO leadership in 1987. (Supplied)

The following year Segal played a key role in negotiations that led to the opening of a dialogue between the US and the PLO, and a series of essays he published is credited with having informed the PLO’s decision to issue a Declaration of Independence and launch a unilateral peace initiative in 1988.

In 1993, as he watched Arafat and Rabin shaking hands, Segal, the founder of the Jewish Peace Lobby, had good reason to think that the elusive prize of peace might actually be within grasp.

Four days before the signing, Arafat and Rabin had exchanged letters, the former renouncing violence and acknowledging Israel’s right to exist in peace and security, and the latter recognizing the PLO as the representative of the Palestinian people and committing to peace negotiations.




Israeli President Shimon Peres at the Sept. 13, 1993, White House South Lawn ceremony. Each of the seven signatures on the document has great value for any student of politics and history. (AFP file photo)

It was agreed that a new Palestinian National Authority would be formed, and would assume governing responsibilities in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. 

After five years, “permanent status” talks would be held to forge agreement on key issues to pave the way for the creation of a future Palestinian state, including borders, the right of return of Palestinian refugees, and the status of Jerusalem.

But Segal, and everyone else imbued with optimism on that bright September day, was to be disappointed. 




PLO political director Mahmoud Abbas (2nd R) signs the historic Israel-PLO Oslo Accords on Palestinian autonomy in the occupied territories on September 13, 1993 in a ceremony at the White House in Washington, D.C. as (from L to R) Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, unidentified aide, US President Bill Clinton and PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat look on. (AFP/File)

Many reasons have been proposed for the withering of the olive branch of Oslo, but according to Israeli-British historian Avi Shlaim, writing in 2005, “the fundamental cause behind the loss of trust and the loss of momentum was the Israeli policy of expanding settlements on the West Bank, which carried on under Labour as well as Likud.”

This policy — which continues to blight relations between Israel and the Palestinians to this day — “precluded the emergence of a viable Palestinian state, without which there can be no end to the conflict.”

In a terrible pre-echo of the provocative visits to the Al-Aqsa mosque compound carried out recently by some of the right-wing members of Benjamin Netanyahu’s cabinet, Ariel Sharon, while campaigning to become Israel’s prime minister in September 2000, made a similarly controversial visit to the site.




Israeli security officers escort right-wing opposition leader Ariel Sharon (C) out of the Al-Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem's Old City on September 28, 2000, as his intrusion into Islam's third holiest shrine provoked a riot, leaving 29 people hurt and leaving peace efforts in tatters. (AFP)

The result was an outbreak of violent protests by outraged Palestinians. The Second Intifada would last almost five years and claim thousands of lives.

For Segal, director of the International Peace Consultancy, the failure of Oslo owes less to the supposed intransigence of the PLO over the years than to the internal dynamics of Israeli politics.

“The thing to realize about Oslo is that since 1993, the Palestinians have had only two leaders, Arafat and Abu Mazen (Mahmoud Abbas, the second and current president of Palestine),” he told Arab News.

“Their positions on final status were almost identical, so there has been a consistency on the Palestinian side of a willingness to end the conflict and recognize the State of Israel — even through the Second Intifada, that never changed, and it’s still there today.

“But on the Israeli side, we’ve had enormous flip-flops, from Rabin, to Peres, to Netanyahu, to Ehud Barak, to Ariel Sharon, to Ehud Olmert, and back again to Netanyahu.”

The precarious nature of peace talks for Israeli politicians was underlined in November 1995 when, just two years after shaking Arafat’s hand, Rabin was assassinated by a right-wing Israeli extremist opposed to the Oslo Accords. 




World leaders stand behind the late Israeli Premier Yitzhak Rabin's coffin during his funeral at the Jerusalem Mount Herzl military cemetery on November 6, 1995. (ZOOM 77 photo via AFP)

“After Rabin’s death we have only had two Israeli prime ministers, Barak and Olmert, who have gone into serious final-status negotiations with the Palestinians,” said Segal.

Barak, who beat Netanyahu in the polls by a wide margin to become prime minister in 1999, “did it in a terrible context — the Second Intifada had already started.”

In 2000, Barak took part with Arafat in the Camp David Summit, which ended without agreement. As the violence continued in 2001, Barak stood for reelection as prime minister, losing to Ariel Sharon, one of the founders of Israel’s right-wing Likud party.




US President Bill Clinton (L) watches as Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat (C) confers with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak (R) on July 11, 2000 at the Camp David presidential retreat in Thumont, Maryland. (AFP/File)

In 2006, Sharon was succeeded by Ehud Olmert, leader of the more liberal Kadima party. By 2009 he too would be gone, enmeshed in a series of corruption allegations and succeeded by Netanyahu.

“So, in the entire period since 1993, we’ve actually had only two Israeli prime ministers, and for a combined total of not more than three years, under whom there was a serious effort to pursue the final negotiations envisioned by Oslo,” Segal said.

That, he added, “leads to a very interesting question: Why, with the promise of ending the conflict, does the Israeli public regularly elect prime ministers who aren’t interested, like Netanyahu — why, as I heard Avi Gill (a former director-general of Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs) put it, do Israelis poll left, but vote right?”




Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's (L) appointment of far-right politician Bezalel Smotrich, a leader of landgrabbers, has only helped scupper any chance for peaceful co-existence between Palestinians and Israelis. (AFP photo/File)

The answer, Segal believes, “is because they don’t believe they are losing anything by doing so.”

Ironically, given the unwillingness of every Israeli leader since Olmert to compromise in the interest of peace, “even though they would support the two-state solution, they don’t believe there’s a Palestinian partner who will. In their mind they’re not losing a conflict-ending agreement they might get if they had a left-wing leader, so they end up going for Mr. Security.”

This, believes Segal, is a crucial factor in the ongoing failure to find the peace that seemed so close in 1993.

“You have to deal with this, what I call ‘no-partnerism,’ the dogma that there is not, and has never been, a Palestinian partner for peace, because this is not just a Netanyahu thesis. It’s one that’s deep in the belief structure of the majority of Israelis.

On Oct. 6, the eve of the Hamas-led attack on Israel, Segal was optimistic that a breakthrough was close.

In his book “The Olive Branch from Palestine,” published in 2022, he had urged “a Palestinian return to unilateral peacemaking, with the Palestinians taking the lead in establishing ... a UN commission through which the Palestinians would advance, in full detail, without any ambiguity, the end-of-conflict, end-of-claims agreement that they are prepared to sign.”

This he dubbed UNSCOP-2, an allusion to the UN committee formed in 1947, which proposed the original partition plan for Palestine.

“On Oct. 6, I believed that we could get major changes through the UNSCOP-2 process. I believed that a committee could be created in a matter of months, that all I had to do was to get Abu Mazen across the line, to get him to go from calling on the secretary general of the UN to do something to doing something himself in the General Assembly, and we could move very rapidly.

“We talked to many countries at the UN. We even talked to Iran, and nobody was opposed. I believed that we could then put in front of the Israeli public something that in decades of conflict they have never had, which is a Palestinian ‘Yes’.”

By training a philosopher, Segal remains philosophical, despite the disastrous events of the past seven months.

“On Oct. 6, I was optimistic for the short term. Now I see the timeframe is very different, but I do have proposals. Our approach after Oct. 7 is what you could call ‘Gaza-first’.”




Israelis light 25,000 candles at Rabin Square in the Israeli coastal city Tel Aviv, on October 29, 2020, ahead of the 25th anniversary of the assassination of former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, Rabin was gunned down in Tel Aviv after a peace rally on November 4, 1995 by a right-wing Jewish extremist Yigal Amir. (AFP)

This is the reawakening of a plan first proposed by Segal in 1995 at the request of Israeli Prime Minister Peres — the idea that while granting Palestinians sovereignty over the West Bank might be an initial step too far for most Israelis, an experiment in Palestinian statehood limited at first to Gaza might win their confidence and, ultimately, lead to an Arab state that includes the West Bank.

In 1995, it was Arafat who rejected the plan, fearing not unreasonably that “Gaza first” would come to be “Gaza last,” with the PLO confined to the coastal strip in perpetuity, even though “I presented a 20-point proposal designed to give the PLO confidence that they wouldn’t get stuck in Gaza.”

The reason, Segal believes, is because Oslo was still alive, and it made sense for the PLO to hold out for what would prove to be the illusory promise of final-status talks.

Now his view is that “Gaza first” offers the only realistic hope of progress.

As he wrote in a column for Foreign Policy on Feb. 6, in the wake of Oct. 7 “no Israeli government will ever agree to a Palestinian state in the West Bank unless ­there is substantial confidence that it will not be a threat to Israel.”




Nearly 30 years on since Israeli assassins killed the Oslo Accords, shockwaves of the conflict are being felt even in college campuses around the world. (AFP)

If there is an answer, Segal concluded, “it will require abandoning the defunct Oslo paradigm, which sees Palestinian statehood emerging as a result of successful end-of-conflict negotiations. 

“The alternative is a sovereignty-in-Gaza-first approach, to test Palestinian statehood in Gaza first and, only if it is successful over an agreed period, to then move to negotiations on extending Palestinian sovereignty to the West Bank.”

Right now, Segal’s dogged commitment to the peace process is as admirable as it is remarkable.

But, in the face of a general lack of alternative proposals, it perhaps also offers the best hope of achieving Clinton’s wish, expressed on the White House lawn over 30 years ago, that “two peoples who have both known the bitterness of exile” might “put old sorrows and antagonisms behind them ... to work for a shared future shaped by the values of the Torah, the Qur’an, and the Bible.”
 

 


Blinken emphasized to Israel’s Gallant the need for post-war Gaza plan

Blinken emphasized to Israel’s Gallant the need for post-war Gaza plan
Updated 25 June 2024
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Blinken emphasized to Israel’s Gallant the need for post-war Gaza plan

Blinken emphasized to Israel’s Gallant the need for post-war Gaza plan
  • The Middle East remains on edge as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday that a coming end to the intense phase of fighting in Gaza would allow Israel to deploy more forces along the northern border with Lebanon
  • Hamas came to power in Gaza in 2006 after Israeli soldiers and settlers withdrew in 2005, but the enclave is still deemed as Israeli-occupied territory by the United Nations

WASHINGTON: US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Monday pressed Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant on the need for Israel to swiftly develop a robust post-war plan for Gaza and ensure the tensions with Hezbollah on Israel’s northern border do not escalate further.
“He (Blinken) updated Minister Gallant on ongoing diplomatic efforts to advance security, governance, and reconstruction in Gaza during a post-conflict period and emphasized the importance of that work to Israel’s security,” a State Department statement following the meeting said.
Washington has repeatedly urged Israel to craft a realistic post-war plan for Gaza and warned that the absence of it could trigger lawlessness and chaos as well as a comeback by Hamas in the Palestinian territory. Palestinians have previously said only an end to Israeli occupation and the creation of a Palestinian state will bring peace.
“He also underscored the importance of avoiding further escalation of the conflict and reaching a diplomatic resolution that allows both Israeli and Lebanese families to return to their homes,” the State Department added.
The Middle East remains on edge as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday that a coming end to the intense phase of fighting in Gaza would allow Israel to deploy more forces along the northern border with Lebanon.
Earlier in June, Hezbollah targeted Israeli towns and military sites with the largest volleys of rockets and drones in the hostilities so far, after an Israeli strike killed the most senior Hezbollah commander yet.
Gallant has been on a trip to Washington, D.C., and has also met Amos Hochstein and Brett McGurk, top aides to President Joe Biden, as well as CIA Director Bill Burns. He is set to meet with Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin on Tuesday.
A small group of protesters chanted slogans while holding a Palestinian flag as Gallant, for whom the International Criminal Court prosecutor Karim Khan is seeking an arrest warrant, entered the Department building.
The Israeli minister described his meetings in Washington, including the one with Blinken, as “critical,” according to comments released by his office.
“The meetings we are holding are extremely important and impactful on the future of the war in Gaza and our ability to achieve the goals of the war, on developments on the northern border, and other areas,” Gallant said.
Earlier at a news briefing, State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller told reporters Washington hoped to make progress in its talks with Gallant, although said there was still no agreement with Israel on a post-war Gaza plan even as Israel was getting close to ending major combat operations in Rafah.
“We have been quite consistent that for there to be an enduring defeat of Hamas, there needs to be a plan for what replaces them and what replaces that needs to be Palestinian-led governance, needs to be realistic security plans,” Miller said.
“We do not want to see them reoccupy Gaza, which is why we continue to push for an alternative to that,” Miller said.
Hamas came to power in Gaza in 2006 after Israeli soldiers and settlers withdrew in 2005, but the enclave is still deemed as Israeli-occupied territory by the United Nations. Israel controls access to Gaza. Hamas has been gaining popularity among Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip in recent months.
The war started when Palestinian Hamas militants burst over the border and attacked Israel on Oct. 7, killing 1,200 people and taking 250 others hostage, according to Israeli tallies.
The Israeli offensive in retaliation has killed almost 37,600 people, according to Palestinian health authorities, and has left Gaza in ruins.

 


Few civilians left in Rafah ‘trapped’ by the fighting

Few civilians left in Rafah ‘trapped’ by the fighting
Updated 25 June 2024
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Few civilians left in Rafah ‘trapped’ by the fighting

Few civilians left in Rafah ‘trapped’ by the fighting
  • There is “almost no one left” in Rafah, Abu Taha said, barring a handful of people who refused to leave their homes or who also came back later
  • The distress of the 2.4 million people in the narrow strip of land that is Gaza, already impoverished before the war, has increased with the fighting

RAFAH, Palestinian Territories: Rafah city center in Gaza lies deserted after most residents fled weeks of fighting between the Israeli military and Palestinian armed groups led by Hamas that punctuated daily life there.
Those who are left in the city feel trapped.
Israeli officials have described Rafah as the last Hamas stronghold in the Gaza Strip.
In early May troops entered the city in the south of the Palestinian territory, bombarding areas near the border with Egypt and forcing tens of thousands of residents to leave.
“There is no more water or food. We are totally trapped,” said Haitham Abu Taha.
He is one of the few Palestinians who returned to Rafah with his family after Israel’s army recently announced a daily pause on a southern route.
“It was better than staying in tents or with relatives because we were separated from each other,” he remembered thinking, before returning to find that soldiers “had not really withdrawn.”
There is “almost no one left” in Rafah, Abu Taha said, barring a handful of people who refused to leave their homes or who also came back later.
Over the desolate city’s sea of rubble, Palestinians say Israeli drones fly precise maneuvers at low altitudes.
Almost silent, they offer a detailed view of the terrain and have been used, Palestinians say, to carry out precision strikes since the Israel-Hamas war began more than eight months ago.

Abu Taha, 30, spoke of the “danger of quadcopter drones which mercilessly target anyone walking” in the streets.
“Many people were killed” by the quadcopters, 22-year-old Ismail Abu Shaar told AFP, claiming to have stayed at home to “protect” the area.
“The artillery, the shooting and the clashes” never stop, he said.
The Israeli military said on Monday it was “continuing intelligence-based targeted operations” in and around Rafah, adding that it had found “large amounts of weapons.”
“We are clearly approaching the point where we can say we have dismantled the Rafah Brigade (of Hamas), that it is defeated not in the sense that there are no more terrorists, but in the sense that it can no longer function as a fighting unit,” army chief Herzi Halevi said in a statement after touring Rafah late on Sunday.
However, Palestinian armed groups, notably Hamas armed wing the Ezzedine Al-Qassam Brigades, say they regularly operate in the area.
William Schomburg, representative of the International Committee of the Red Cross in Rafah, told journalists on Saturday that the city is now a “ghost town.”
“We see very few people, very significant destruction,” he said.
The distress of the 2.4 million people in the narrow strip of land that is Gaza, already impoverished before the war, has increased with the fighting.

International organizations have said for months they face extreme difficulties in providing humanitarian aid to civilians, while the Israeli authorities say they have allowed the aid in but it has not been collected for distribution.
Plumes of smoke rise regularly above Rafah, to which Egypt partly controlled access until the war changed the situation on the ground.
Before the Israeli ground offensive on the city began in early May, hundreds of thousands of Palestinians took refuge there, displaced from across the territory as the fighting intensified.
Many have left homes where they had lived for years or apartments they had rented at high prices after the war began — or tents erected in haste as the war tightened its grip on the city.
At the end of May, AFP correspondents saw hundreds of Palestinians fleeing Tal Al-Sultan, a district of Rafah which had just been hit by an Israeli strike that left 45 dead, according to the local authorities in the Hamas-run territory.
After strikes last week killed dozens, the east and center of the city are becoming even more empty as the people flee.
On flatbed vans and donkey carts, families piled patched-up solar panels, foam mattresses covered with flowers, wooden planks and plastic pipes.
A young boy pushed sheets of metal on an office chair.
Many say they simply do not have the means to embark on a new move, as the war closes in on the few who remain behind with them.
“We’re afraid to move because we fear being killed,” said Abu Taha.
 

 


Israeli military confirms death of hostage held in Gaza

Israeli military confirms death of hostage held in Gaza
Updated 25 June 2024
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Israeli military confirms death of hostage held in Gaza

Israeli military confirms death of hostage held in Gaza
  • Israeli authorities had previously confirmed Alatrash, a sergeant major in the Israeli military’s Bedouin Trackers Unit, was taken hostage on October 7

JERUSALEM: The Israeli military on Monday confirmed the death of a soldier held hostage by Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip for nearly nine months since Hamas’s October 7 attack.
In a separate statement the Hostages and Missing Families Forum said that Mohammad Alatrash was killed during the October attack on southern Israel and his body taken captive by Hamas militants.
Israeli authorities had previously confirmed Alatrash, a sergeant major in the Israeli military’s Bedouin Trackers Unit, was taken hostage on October 7.
Alatrash, 39, is survived by two wives and 13 children, the forum said in a statement.
“The Families Forum will continue to support and stand by the family during this difficult time and until his remains are returned to Israel,” it said.
The Hostages and Missing Families Forum meanwhile released a video showing the kidnapping of three other hostages on the day of the Hamas attack.
It showed Hersh Goldberg-Polin, Or Levy and Eliya Cohen being seized, loaded in a pick-up truck and driven away to Gaza by armed militants, some chanting “Allahu Akbar (God is Greatest).”
Goldberg-Polin is seen drenched in blood after part of his left arm was blown off in the attack.
In April, he appeared in a proof-of-life video released by Hamas in which he said the captives were living “in hell.” His left arm had been amputated below the elbow.
“The shocking abduction video of Hersh, Or and Eliya breaks all of our hearts and re-emphasizes the brutality of the enemy whom we have sworn to eliminate,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement after the release of the latest footage.
“We will not end the war until we return all ... of our loved ones home.”
Alatrash’s death raises the toll from Hamas’s attack to 1,195, most of them civilians, according to an AFP tally based on official Israeli figures.
Palestinian militants also took 251 people hostage in the attack, 116 of whom remain captive in the Gaza Strip, according to Israel.
Of those, the military says 42 are dead, including at least nine soldiers.
Israel’s retaliatory invasion and bombardment of the Gaza Strip has resulted in the deaths of at least 37,626 people, also mostly civilians, according to the health ministry in the Hamas-run territory.


Jordan police say they detonated explosives hidden in a warehouse in capital

Jordan police say they detonated explosives hidden in a warehouse in capital
Updated 25 June 2024
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Jordan police say they detonated explosives hidden in a warehouse in capital

Jordan police say they detonated explosives hidden in a warehouse in capital
  • Security officials said the incidents were terror-related based on the quantities of explosives found

AMMAN: Jordanian security forces said they uncovered and detonated explosives hidden in a commercial warehouse in an industrial area southeast of the capital Amman on Monday that security sources say were part of an Iran-linked plot to destabilize a key US ally.
Witnesses earlier said security forces had sealed the Abu Alanda area in a wide scale security operation two days after authorities announced they had detonated explosives uncovered in another location in the capital. The authorities said the explosives found on Monday were hidden by the same group of suspects who stored the explosives uncovered on Saturday in a crowded residential area close to a military airport used by US army planes. The authorities, who have not disclosed who was behind the storing of munitions or whether arrests have been made, say they will reveal details once the investigations are completed.
Over the past year, Jordan has said it has foiled many attempts to smuggle weapons by infiltrators linked to pro-Iranian militias in Syria, who it says have crossed its borders with rocket launchers and explosives, adding that some of the weapons managed to get through undetected.
Iran has denied being behind such attempts.
Security sources say some of the arms are bound for the neighboring Israeli-occupied West Bank, adding that they have arrested several Jordanians linked to Palestinian militants.
Security officials said the incidents were terror-related based on the quantities of explosives found. They said it is linked to Iran’s clandestine efforts to recruit agents to undertake sabotage acts within the kingdom to destabilize a key ally of Washington in the region.
Jordan has over 3,500 American troops stationed in several bases and, since the war between Israel and Palestinian militants in Gaza erupted in October, it has been increasingly targeted by Iranian-backed groups operating in neighboring Syria and Iraq.


1 in 5 in Gaza go days without eating, UN report says

1 in 5 in Gaza go days without eating, UN report says
Updated 25 June 2024
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1 in 5 in Gaza go days without eating, UN report says

1 in 5 in Gaza go days without eating, UN report says
  • More than 495,000 people in region facing catastrophic levels of acute food insecurity

LONDON: More than 495,000 people in Gaza, representing one in five of the enclave’s population, are now facing catastrophic levels of acute food insecurity, characterized by extreme lack of food, starvation, and exhaustion, according to a forthcoming UN report.

The latest “Special Snapshot” of Gaza from the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification will be published on Tuesday, The Guardian reported.

The UN report will also reveal that more than half of Gaza’s households have had to sell or exchange clothes to buy food, as the risk of famine remains high across the territory following recent violence.

Israeli authorities have tight control over entry into Gaza, and movements require military permission. Rubble has damaged the roads, fuel is in short supply, and power and communication networks are barely functional.

At the start of the war Israel imposed a complete siege on Gaza, which has only been gradually eased under US pressure. The war has significantly reduced Gaza’s ability to produce its own food.

The IPC noted that food deliveries and nutritional services to northern Gaza increased significantly in March and April, preventing a famine and improving conditions in the territory’s south. However, the situation has deteriorated again as a result of renewed hostilities, and the risk of famine remains in the Gaza Strip as long as the conflict continues and humanitarian access is limited, according to a draft report obtained by The Guardian.

More than half of households reported frequently running out of food at home, and more than 20 percent go entire days and nights without eating, The Guardian reported. The most recent trajectory is negative and highly unstable. If this trend continues, the improvements seen in April may be quickly reversed.

UN agencies and aid organizations report difficulties in reaching Kerem Shalom border crossing due to ongoing fighting, Israeli restrictions, coordination issues with the army, and the breakdown of law and order.

Although the IPC has not officially declared a famine — which requires a stringent set of conditions — the situation in Gaza is dire. Stage 5 hunger, which affects 22 percent of Gaza’s population, is comparable to famine conditions.

A formal famine declaration requires 20 percent of households to have an extreme lack of food, 30 percent of children to suffer from acute malnutrition, and at least two adults or four children per 10,000 people to die each day.

Volker Turk, the UN high commissioner for human rights, has said that Israel’s restrictions on humanitarian aid into Gaza may constitute the war crime of deliberate starvation. The World Food Programme and the Food and Agriculture Organization have warned that by the middle of July, more than 1 million people could be dead or starving.

A joint statement from Josep Borrell, the EU’s foreign policy chief, and the European Commissioner for Crisis Management Janez Lenarcic said: “The crisis in Gaza has reached another breaking point … The delivery of any meaningful humanitarian assistance inside Gaza has become almost impossible and the very fabric of civil society is unraveling.”

Ahead of the release of the IPC’s report on Gaza, Kate Phillips-Barrasso, vice president of global policy and advocacy at Mercy Corps, said: “People are enduring subhuman conditions, resorting to desperate measures like boiling weeds, eating animal feed, and exchanging clothes for money to stave off hunger and keep their children alive.

“The humanitarian situation is deteriorating rapidly, and the specter of famine continues to hang over Gaza … Humanitarian aid is limited … The international community must apply relentless pressure to achieve a ceasefire and ensure sustained humanitarian access now. The population cannot endure these hardships any longer.”