Fighting rocks Gaza as major powers push for truce

Fighting rocks Gaza as major powers push for truce
Smoke plumes billow near tents sheltering displaced Palestinians in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on June 4, 2024 amid the ongoing conflict in the Palestinian territory between Israel and Hamas. (AFP)
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Updated 05 June 2024
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Fighting rocks Gaza as major powers push for truce

Fighting rocks Gaza as major powers push for truce
  • The Gaza war raged on unabated, with the Israeli military reporting its fighter jets struck around “65 terror targets” across Gaza

RAFAH, Palestinian Territories: Heavy fighting rocked Gaza on Tuesday after G7 and Arab powers urged both Israel and Hamas to agree to a truce and hostage release deal outlined by US President Joe Biden.
Mediator Qatar said it had yet to see statements from either side “that give us a lot of confidence,” but the foreign ministry said Doha was “working with both sides on proposals on the table.”
Washington said it would seek a UN Security Council resolution to back the three-phase roadmap which Biden presented last Friday as Israel’s plan, even as the war has ground on.
Under the proposal, fighting would stop for an initial six weeks and hostages would be swapped for Palestinian prisoners, ahead of the start of a phase to rebuild Gaza, Biden said.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has, however, stressed that fighting would only have to cease temporarily to free the captives, and that Israel still plans to destroy Hamas.
A statement from the premier’s office said Israel’s war cabinet was meeting in Jerusalem on Tuesday, but no further details were given.
A source with knowledge of the truce negotiations said CIA chief Bill Burns would be “returning to Doha... to continue working with mediators on reaching an agreement between Hamas and Israel on a ceasefire in Gaza and the release of hostages.”
Biden told Qatar’s emir that “Hamas is now the only obstacle to a complete ceasefire,” and “confirmed Israel’s readiness to move forward” with the terms he set out last week.
Hamas, which has long ruled the Palestinian territory of 2.4 million people, said Friday it viewed Biden’s outline “positively.”
But a senior Hamas official in Beirut on Tuesday accused Israel of seeking “endless” truce negotiations, and repeated the group’s position rejecting any deal that excludes a permanent ceasefire.
Hamas has stuck to that position in months of intermittent talks involving US, Qatari and Egyptian mediators.
Those three countries have now urged both sides to agree a truce deal, as have Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Jordan.
The Group of Seven countries also gave their full endorsement, arguing the plan would also bring vastly more aid into Gaza and “an enduring end to the crisis, with Israel’s security interests and Gazan civilian safety assured.”
“We call on Hamas to accept this deal, that Israel is ready to move forward with, and we urge countries with influence over Hamas to help ensure that it does so,” said the G7 which also includes Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy and Japan.
UN Middle East envoy Tor Wennesland also urged both sides to back the proposal, writing on X that “there is no alternative — and any delay, every day simply costs more lives.”
The Gaza war raged on unabated, with the Israeli military reporting its fighter jets struck around “65 terror targets” across Gaza and that troops located tunnel shafts and weapons in the southern city of Rafah.
It also said warplanes and ground forces were attacking targets in the Bureij area in central Gaza.
Four bodies were retrieved from a bombed house in Bureij, and three more from a destroyed building in Gaza City, the civil defense agency said.
Gaza’s government media office said another Israeli strike killed eight police officers in Deir Al-Balah.
The White House insisted Monday that the truce plan was Israel’s own and not drafted by Washington to put pressure on its key ally.
However, Biden also took a swipe in an interview with Time magazine at Netanyahu, who is leading a shaky right-wing coalition government and has been fighting corruption claims in court.
Asked if he believed the Israeli premier was dragging out the war for political self-preservation, Biden said: “There is every reason for people to draw that conclusion.”
Biden also said that he and Netanyahu were at odds over the need to create a Palestinian state.
“My major disagreement with Netanyahu is, what happens after... Gaza’s over? What, what does it go back to? Do Israeli forces go back in?” he asked.
“The answer is, if that’s the case, it can’t work.”
French President Emmanuel Macron on Tuesday told Netanyahu in a phone call that the Palestinian Authority of president Mahmud Abbas that rules parts of the occupied West Bank should “ensure the governance” of Gaza after the war.
Macron said the proposed truce deal “should reopen a credible perspective for the implementation of a two-state solution, the only one able to provide Israel with the necessary security guarantees and to respond to the legitimate aspirations of Palestinians.”
Netanyahu’s office said he told Macron Israel’s “fundamental objective,” in addition to securing the hostages’ release, was to eliminate Hamas, and that it was determined to do so.
On the political front, Slovenia’s parliament on Tuesday recognized the State of Palestine, following fellow European Union members Ireland and Spain as well as Norway last month in a move that enraged Israel.
The war was sparked by Hamas’s October 7 attack on southern Israel, which resulted in the deaths of 1,194 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally based on Israeli official figures.
Militants also took 251 hostages, 120 of whom remain in Gaza, including 41 the army says are dead.
The Israeli military on Monday confirmed the latest deaths of captives, naming them as Nadav Popplewell, 51, and three men in their 80s, Chaim Perry, Yoram Metzger and Amiram Cooper.
The Hostages Families Forum group, which has joined a series of mass protests demanding a truce deal, said the men “should have returned alive to their country and their families.”
Israel’s bombardment and ground offensive have killed at least 36,550 people in Gaza, also mostly civilians, according to the Hamas-run territory’s health ministry.
Some 55 percent of Gaza’s structures have been destroyed, damaged or “possibly damaged,” according to the United Nations satellite analysis agency.
Aid group Oxfam said displaced Gazans are living in “appalling” conditions, with children sometimes going for a whole day without food and thousands sharing the same toilet.
UN human rights chief Volker Turk also threw his support behind the truce plan, saying of the war that “we don’t even know how to describe it anymore.”
“It is beyond precarious. It is beyond catastrophic.”


Palestinian Authority at risk of collapse, Norway says

Palestinian Authority at risk of collapse, Norway says
Updated 54 min 39 sec ago
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Palestinian Authority at risk of collapse, Norway says

Palestinian Authority at risk of collapse, Norway says
  • Norway chairs the international donor group to the Palestinians and is a backer of the Palestinian Authority

OSLO: The Palestinian Authority could collapse in the coming months, Norwegian Foreign Minister Espen Barth Eide said on Monday, citing a lack of funding, continuing violence and the fact that half a million Palestinians are not allowed to work in Israel.
“The Palestinian Authority, with whom we work closely, are warning us that they might be collapsing this summer,” Barth Eide said.
Norway chairs the international donor group to the Palestinians and is a backer of the PA.


Jordan braces for scorching heatwave as temperatures soar

Jordan braces for scorching heatwave as temperatures soar
Updated 17 June 2024
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Jordan braces for scorching heatwave as temperatures soar

Jordan braces for scorching heatwave as temperatures soar
  • The Gulf of Aqaba reached highs of 45 celsius
  • Temperatures in Jordan are set to rise slightly, with the heatwave persisting

AMMAN: The Jordan Meteorological Department forecast extreme heat for Monday, with most regions of the country — particularly the desert areas, Jordan Valley, Dead Sea and Aqaba — experiencing intense temperatures.

The Gulf of Aqaba reached highs of 45 celsius, the Southern Jordan Valley 44 celsius, Dead Sea 43 celsius, while the Desert Regions and the Northern Jordan Valley reached highs of 41 celsius. 

Cloud cover at medium and high altitudes is expected in the south and east of the Kingdom, state news agency Petra reported, with moderate northwesterly winds occasionally becoming brisk.

The JMD cautioned people against prolonged sun exposure, which could lead to dehydration, especially for vulnerable groups such as the elderly and those with health conditions. It also highlighted the risk of forest fires and the dangers of leaving children or flammable items, like perfumes and sanitizers, inside vehicles.

Looking ahead to Tuesday, temperatures in Jordan are set to rise slightly, with the heatwave persisting. Most areas will remain hot, the JMD said, and desert regions will face sweltering conditions. Northeasterly winds will prevail, shifting to moderate northwesterly by evening.

The heatwave will continue into Wednesday, with another slight increase in temperatures. Conditions will be blistering and dry across the highlands, the JMD warned, with extreme heat persisting elsewhere. Northeasterly winds will turn to moderate northwesterly later in the day.

Thursday will bring a modest reprieve as temperatures dip slightly. However, the weather will remain hot across most areas, with the desert, Jordan Valley, Dead Sea, and Aqaba continuing to sizzle. Moderate northwesterly winds will occasionally become brisk.


Iran calls for joint action by Islamic nations to stop Gaza war

Iran calls for joint action by Islamic nations to stop Gaza war
Updated 17 June 2024
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Iran calls for joint action by Islamic nations to stop Gaza war

Iran calls for joint action by Islamic nations to stop Gaza war
  • Israel’s military offensive on Gaza has killed at least 37,337 people so far

TEHRAN: Iran’s Acting Foreign Minister Ali Bagheri Kani has called for joint action on the part of Islamic countries to pressure Israel into ending its brutal military activities in Gaza, which have devastated most of the enclave and killed thousands of Palestinians there.

Israel’s military offensive on Gaza has killed at least 37,337 people, mostly civilian women and children, since the Oct. 7 Hamas attack, according to the Hamas-run Health Ministry in Gaza.

Humanitarian supplies for millions of Palestinians displaced by the conflict have been squeezed despite the Israeli military declaring it would “pause” fighting daily around a southern route to facilitate aid flows.

The Iranian official also spoke with his Afghan counterpart Amir Khan Muttaqi via telephone on Sunday, with the two discussing bilateral relations as well as the situation in war-ravaged Gaza.

Kani reiterated Iran’s readiness to help Kabul resolve its challenges and achieve growth, Iran’s news agency IRNA reported.


Kuwaiti citizen detained for alleged involvement in extremist group

Kuwaiti citizen detained for alleged involvement in extremist group
Updated 17 June 2024
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Kuwaiti citizen detained for alleged involvement in extremist group

Kuwaiti citizen detained for alleged involvement in extremist group

KUWAIT CITY: The Public Prosecution in Kuwait has ordered the detention of a citizen on charges of joining a group aimed at illegally undermining the country’s basic systems, state news agency KUNA reported on Sunday.

The individual is also accused of receiving training in making explosives and preparing poisons for illicit purposes, as well as planning to leave the country to fight with the group, though he was unable to do so.

The Public Prosecution interrogated the accused and presented him with the charges, according to a statement released on its official account on X. Investigation procedures are ongoing.


Yemen’s Houthis announce new maritime operations in support of Gaza

Yemen’s Houthis announce new maritime operations in support of Gaza
Updated 17 June 2024
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Yemen’s Houthis announce new maritime operations in support of Gaza

Yemen’s Houthis announce new maritime operations in support of Gaza
  • The Houthis declared that attacks on Israel-linked shipping will persist until Israel ends its war on Gaza and lifts the siege on Palestinian territories

SANAA: The Houthi militia’s army spokesman, Yahya Saree, announced on Sunday that an American destroyer and two Israel-linked ships were targeted in recent operations in the Red and Arabian seas.

Saree said that the US destroyer was hit by ballistic missiles in the Red Sea, while the two ships — Captain Paris and Happy Condor — were targeted in the Arabian Sea using naval missiles and drones, respectively.

He stated that these ships were targeted because they were en route to ports in Israeli-occupied territories.

Saree reaffirmed Yemen’s stance, declaring that attacks on Israel-linked shipping will persist until Israel ends its war on Gaza and lifts the siege on Palestinian territories.

He also emphasized that the Yemeni army would continue to defend its territory against US-UK “aggression,” referring to joint airstrikes by the two Western nations, which the latter claim were launched to protect international shipping.

The Houthis have rejected these claims, asserting that their military operations in international waters, ongoing since mid-November, only target Israeli ships or vessels heading to Israeli-occupied ports.