What does Israel’s rescue of 4 captives, and the killing of 274 Palestinians, mean for truce talks?

This handout picture released by the Israeli Army on June 8, 2024, shows Noa Argamani (L), 26-years-old, being standing next to a relative (2nd L) at the Sheba Tel-HaShomer Medical Centre, after her rescue from the Gaza Strip by the Israeli army, in Ramat Gan near Tel Aviv on June 8, 2024, amid the ongoing conflict in the Palestinian territory between Israel and the militant group Hamas. (AFP)
This handout picture released by the Israeli Army on June 8, 2024, shows Noa Argamani (L), 26-years-old, being standing next to a relative (2nd L) at the Sheba Tel-HaShomer Medical Centre, after her rescue from the Gaza Strip by the Israeli army, in Ramat Gan near Tel Aviv on June 8, 2024, amid the ongoing conflict in the Palestinian territory between Israel and the militant group Hamas. (AFP)
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Updated 11 June 2024
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What does Israel’s rescue of 4 captives, and the killing of 274 Palestinians, mean for truce talks?

What does Israel’s rescue of 4 captives, and the killing of 274 Palestinians, mean for truce talks?
  • Over 100 hostages were released during a weeklong ceasefire last year, in exchange for Palestinians imprisoned by Israel, and reaching a similar agreement is still widely seen as the only way of getting the rest of the hostages back

TEL AVIV, Israel: Israel’s dramatic weekend rescue of four hostages from the Gaza Strip, in an operation that local health officials say killed 274 Palestinians, came at a sensitive time in the 8-month-old war, as Israel and Hamas weigh a US proposal for a ceasefire and the release of the remaining captives.
Both sides face renewed pressure to make a deal: The complex rescue is unlikely to be replicated on a scale needed to bring back scores of remaining hostages, and it was a powerful reminder for Israelis that there are still surviving captives held in harsh conditions. Hamas now has four fewer bargaining chips.




Palestinian medics treat a wounded youth in an Israeli bombardment on a residential building owned by the al-Telbani family in Al Zawaiyda area, at al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital in Deir al-Balah, central Gaza Strip, late Monday, June 10, 2024. (AP

But they could also dig in, as they repeatedly have over months of indirect negotiations mediated by the United States, Qatar and Egypt. Hamas is still insisting on an end to the war as part of any agreement, while Israel says it is still committed to destroying the militant group.
Here is a look at the fallout from the operation and how it might affect ceasefire talks:
ELATION, AND MOUNTING CALLS FOR A DEAL
The rescue operation was Israel’s most successful since the start of the war, bringing home four of the roughly 250 captives seized by Hamas in its Oct. 7 cross-border attack, including Noa Argamani, who became an icon of the struggle to free the hostages.
The raid also killed at least 274 Palestinians, according to the Gaza Health Ministry, deepening the suffering of people in Gaza who have had to endure the brutal war and a humanitarian catastrophe. The ministry does not distinguish between fighters and civilians in its tallies.
The rescue was met with elation in Israel, which is still reeling from the Hamas attack and agonizing over the fate of the 80 captives and the remains of over 40 others still held in Gaza. Israeli hard-liners are likely to seize on it as proof that military pressure alone will bring the rest back.
But only three other hostages have been freed by military force since the start of the war. Another three were mistakenly killed by Israeli forces after they escaped on their own, and Hamas says others have been killed in Israeli airstrikes.
“If anyone believes that yesterday’s operation absolves the government of the need to strike a deal, they are living a fantasy,” Israeli columnist Nahum Barnea wrote in the mass-selling Yediot Aharonot newspaper. “There are people out there who need to be saved, and the sooner the better.”
Even the Israeli army’s spokesman, Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari, acknowledged the limits of military force. “What will bring most of the hostages back home alive is a deal,” he told reporters.
Over 100 hostages were released during a weeklong ceasefire last year, in exchange for Palestinians imprisoned by Israel, and reaching a similar agreement is still widely seen as the only way of getting the rest of the hostages back. Hours after Saturday’s rescue, tens of thousands of Israelis attended protests in Tel Aviv calling for such a deal.
US President Joe Biden last week announced a proposal for a phased plan for a ceasefire and hostage release, setting in motion the administration’s most concentrated diplomatic push for a truce.
Biden described it as an Israeli proposal, but Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has publicly questioned some aspects of it, particularly its call for the withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza and a lasting truce. His ultranationalist coalition partners have threatened to bring down his government if he ends the war without destroying Hamas.
That appears to have only deepened suspicions on the part of Hamas, which has demanded international guarantees that the war will end. It’s unclear if such guarantees have been offered, and Hamas has not yet officially responded to the plan.
NETANYAHU SEEKS TO GAIN
The rescue operation was a rare win for Netanyahu, who many Israelis blame for the security failures leading up to the Oct. 7 attack and the failure to return the hostages despite months of grinding war.
He has reveled in the operation’s success, rushing Saturday to the hospital where the freed hostages were held and meeting with each of them as cameras rolled. The rescue operation will likely help rehabilitate his image.
But as the elation fades, he will still face heavy pressure from an American administration that wants to wind the war down and an ultranationalist base that wants to vanquish Hamas at all costs. His main political opponent, the retired general Benny Gantz, quit the emergency wartime coalition on Sunday, leaving Netanyahu even more beholden to the hard-liners.
Netanyahu is already facing criticism from some of the families of deceased hostages, who say they received no such visits and accuse him of only taking credit for the war’s successes. Israel will also likely face heightened international pressure over the raid’s high Palestinian death toll.
“The success in freeing four hostages is a magnificent tactical victory that has not changed our deplorable strategic situation,” columnist Ben Caspit wrote in Israel’s Maariv daily.
It all makes for a tough balancing act, even for someone like Netanyahu, who friends and foes alike consider to be a master politician.
The operation could provide the kind of boost with the Israeli public that would allow him to justify making a deal with Hamas. Or he might conclude that time is on his side, and that he can drive a harder bargain with the militants as they grapple with a major setback.
HAMAS LOSES BARGAINING CHIPS
Hamas has lost four precious bargaining chips it had hoped to trade for high-profile Palestinian prisoners. Argamani, widely known from a video showing her pleading for her life as militants dragged her away on a motorcycle, was a particularly significant loss for Hamas.
The raid may have also dealt a blow to Hamas’ morale. In the Oct. 7 attack, Hamas managed to humiliate a country with a far superior army, and since then it has repeatedly regrouped despite devastating military operations across Gaza.
But the fact that Israel was able to mount a complex rescue operation in broad daylight in the center of a crowded urban area has at least temporarily restored some of the mystique that Israel’s security forces lost on Oct. 7.
The operation also refocused global attention on the hostage crisis at a time when the US is rallying world pressure on Hamas to accept the ceasefire deal.
But Hamas has a long history of withstanding pressure from Israel and others — often at enormous cost to Palestinians. The militants may conclude that it’s best to use the remaining hostages to end the war while they still can — or they might just look for better places to hide them.
 

 


UAE contributes $5 million to United Nations OCHA for humanitarian efforts in Sudan

UAE contributes $5 million to United Nations OCHA for humanitarian efforts in Sudan
Updated 12 sec ago
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UAE contributes $5 million to United Nations OCHA for humanitarian efforts in Sudan

UAE contributes $5 million to United Nations OCHA for humanitarian efforts in Sudan

DUBAI: The UAE will allocate $5 million to support the Sudan Humanitarian Fund (SHF) that would be managed by the United Nations, state-run WAM news agency reported. 
In an agreement with the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), the UAE contribution to the Sudan Humanitarian Fund will be managed by OCHA, in order to “facilitate access to funds to address the most critical humanitarian needs and emergencies on the ground,” WAM reported. 
Martin Griffiths, Undersecretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, in a statement said: “We are deeply grateful to the Government and the people of the United Arab Emirates for your generous support of $70 million to help bring relief to the people of Sudan through the United Nations. With this allocation, we can bolster our lifesaving support to families and communities caught up in Sudan's unprecedented humanitarian crisis.”
“The UAE’s long-term support to Sudan is a testament to our dedication to fostering a prosperous Sudan and promoting stability in the region. We are pleased to partner with OCHA and other UN agencies to deliver vital aid to those most impacted,” according to Lana Nusseibeh, the UAE’s Assistant Minister for Political Affairs and Envoy of the Minister of Foreign Affairs.
“I reiterate the UAE’s unwavering position is to call for an immediate and permanent ceasefire, and a peaceful solution to the crisis,” she added.

Meanwhile, Emirati officials also signed an agreement with the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) to address the humanitarian crisis in Sudan and prevent the imminent risk of famine. 

FAO has received US$5 million in funding from the UAE, which will be directed towards the project titled ‘Mitigating Famine in Sudan – Support to Conflict-Affected Vulnerable Smallholder Farming and Pastoralist Households’.

The FAO project, set to run for one year, aims to provide emergency crop, livestock, and veterinary assistance to 275,000 vulnerable smallholder farmer and pastoralist households, benefiting approximately 1,375,000 individuals.

The UAE contributions to OCHA and FAO are part of a broader commitment of $70 million dedicated to addressing urgent humanitarian needs in Sudan, through UN agencies and humanitarian organizations.

This funding is a substantial portion of the $100 million pledge made by the UAE in April at a global humanitarian conference for Sudan and its neighboring countries.
This contribution takes the total amount of UAE aid to Sudan in the past 10 years to more than $3.5 billion.


Red Cross says 22 killed in shelling near Gaza office

Red Cross says 22 killed in shelling near Gaza office
Updated 22 June 2024
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Red Cross says 22 killed in shelling near Gaza office

Red Cross says 22 killed in shelling near Gaza office
  • “This grave security incident is one of several in recent days,” Red Cross says
  • Humanitarian organization says Gaza office was ‘damaged’ in a shell attack Friday 

GENEVA: The International Committee of the Red Cross said its Gaza office was ‘damaged’ by in a shell attack Friday that killed at least 22 people who had taken shelter around the compound.
The ICRC did not say who fired the “heavy calibre projectiles” but in a statement on the X platform said they “damaged the structure of the ICRC office,” which is surrounded by hundreds of displaced persons living in tents.
It said 22 bodies and 45 wounded had been taken to a nearby Red Cross field hospital after the shelling, and there were “reports of additional casualties.”
“Heavy-calibre projectiles landed within meters of the office and residences of the International Committee of the Red Cross on Friday afternoon,” the statement said.
“Firing so dangerously close to humanitarian structures, of whose locations the parties to the conflict are aware and which are clearly marked with the Red Cross emblem, puts the lives of civilians and Red Cross staff at risk,” said the body.
“This grave security incident is one of several in recent days,” it added.
“Previously stray bullets have reached ICRC structures. We decry these incidents that put the lives of humanitarians and civilians at risk.”

 


Red Cross says 22 killed in shelling near Gaza office

Red Cross says 22 killed in shelling near Gaza office
Updated 22 June 2024
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Red Cross says 22 killed in shelling near Gaza office

Red Cross says 22 killed in shelling near Gaza office
  • It said 22 bodies and 45 wounded had been taken to a nearby Red Cross field hospital after the shelling, and there were “reports of additional casualties”

GENEVA: The International Committee of the Red Cross said its Gaza office was ‘damaged’ by in a shell attack Friday that killed at least 22 people who had taken shelter around the compound.
The ICRC did not say who fired the “heavy calibre projectiles” but in a statement on the X platform said they “damaged the structure of the ICRC office,” which is surrounded by hundreds of displaced persons living in tents.
It said 22 bodies and 45 wounded had been taken to a nearby Red Cross field hospital after the shelling, and there were “reports of additional casualties.”
“Heavy-calibre projectiles landed within meters of the office and residences of the International Committee of the Red Cross on Friday afternoon,” the statement said.
“Firing so dangerously close to humanitarian structures, of whose locations the parties to the conflict are aware and which are clearly marked with the Red Cross emblem, puts the lives of civilians and Red Cross staff at risk,” said the body.
“This grave security incident is one of several in recent days,” it added.
“Previously stray bullets have reached ICRC structures. We decry these incidents that put the lives of humanitarians and civilians at risk.”

 


Likely Yemen Houthi rebel attack targets ship in Gulf of Aden as Eisenhower reportedly heads home

Likely Yemen Houthi rebel attack targets ship in Gulf of Aden as Eisenhower reportedly heads home
Updated 26 min 38 sec ago
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Likely Yemen Houthi rebel attack targets ship in Gulf of Aden as Eisenhower reportedly heads home

Likely Yemen Houthi rebel attack targets ship in Gulf of Aden as Eisenhower reportedly heads home
  • The Yemeni militant Houthi group has been launching drone and missile strikes in the key waterway since November in what it says is solidarity with Palestinian militants in Gaza

DUBAI: A commercial ship traveling through the Gulf of Aden saw explosions near the vessel, authorities said Saturday, likely the latest attack by Yemen’s Houthi rebels attempting to target the shipping lane.
The apparent fire by the Houthis comes after the sinking this week of the ship Tutor, which marked what appears to be a new escalation by the Iranian-backed Houthis in their campaign of attacks on ships in the vital maritime corridor over the Israel-Hamas war in the Gaza Strip.
Meanwhile, US officials reportedly ordered the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower, the aircraft carrier leading America’s response to the Houthi attacks, to return home.
The captain of the ship targeted late Friday saw “explosions in the vicinity of the vessel,” the British military’s United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations center said.
“The crew are reported safe and the vessel is proceeding to its next port of call,” the UKMTO said, without elaborating on whether the ship sustained any damage.
The Houthis, who have held Yemen’s capital, Sanaa, since 2014, did not immediately claim the attack. However, it can take the rebels hours or even days to acknowledge their assaults.
The Houthis on Friday released footage of one of their drone boats, the “Tufan,” or “Flood,” which they said targeted the Tutor.
The Houthis have launched more than 60 attacks targeting specific vessels and fired off other missiles and drones in their campaign that has killed a total of four sailors. They have seized one vessel and sunk two since November. A US-led airstrike campaign has targeted the Houthis since January, with a series of strikes May 30 killing at least 16 people and wounding 42 others, the rebels say.
In March, the Belize-flagged Rubymar carrying fertilizer became the first to sink in the Red Sea after taking on water for days following a rebel attack.
The Houthis have maintained that their attacks target ships linked to Israel, the United States or Britain. However, many of the ships attacked have little or no connection to the Israel-Hamas war.
Meanwhile, the US Naval Institute’s news service reported, citing an anonymous official, that the Eisenhower would be returning home to Norfolk, Virginia, after an over eight-month deployment in combat that the Navy says is its most intense since World War II. The report said an aircraft carrier operating in the Pacific would be taking the Eisenhower’s place.
The closest American aircraft carrier known to be operating in Asia is the USS Theodore Roosevelt. The Roosevelt anchored Saturday in Busan, South Korea, amid Seoul’s ongoing tensions with North Korea.


Qatar working to ‘bridge the gap’ between Israel and Hamas

Qatar working to ‘bridge the gap’ between Israel and Hamas
Updated 22 June 2024
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Qatar working to ‘bridge the gap’ between Israel and Hamas

Qatar working to ‘bridge the gap’ between Israel and Hamas
  • Qatar-based Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh said in a statement that the Palestinian Islamist movement was open to “any document or initiative that ensures the foundations of the resistance’s position in ceasefire negotiations”
  • Israel has killed at least 37,431 people in Gaza, also mostly civilians, according to the Hamas-run territory’s health ministry

MADRID: Qatar said Friday it was pursuing efforts to “bridge the gap” between Israel and Palestinian militant group Hamas to reach a ceasefire in Gaza and release Israeli hostages held there.
The Gulf emirate, the United States and Egypt, have been engaged in months of negotiations for a ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas war that erupted on October 7.
There has been one seven-day pause in November which led to the release of more than 100 hostages. Efforts since have been deadlocked.
“We have continued our efforts without interruption over the last few days,” Qatar’s Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani told a news conference in Madrid with Spanish Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Albares.
“There have been several meetings with the Hamas leadership to try to bridge the gap between the two parties and reach an agreement that will lead to a ceasefire and the release of the Israeli hostages,” he added.
The talks are based on a plan US President Joe Biden laid out on May 31 calling for an Israeli withdrawal from “major population centers” in Gaza and a six week ceasefire, which could be extended if negotiators need more time to seek a permanent deal.
“Efforts are continuing, but so far we have not reached a formula that we feel is the most appropriate and closest to what has been presented,” the Qatari prime minister said.
“As soon as this is done, we will communicate with the Israeli side to try to bridge the gap and reach an agreement as quickly as possible,” he added.
Qatar-based Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh said in a statement that the Palestinian Islamist movement was open to “any document or initiative that ensures the foundations of the resistance’s position in ceasefire negotiations.”
Hamas has insisted on the complete withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza and a permanent ceasefire before the release of all hostages sought by Israel. The Israeli goverment has rejected the demands.
Haniyeh said “the priority is to stop the criminal war on our people.”
The Gaza 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, 116 of whom remain in Gaza, including 41 the army says are dead.
Israel’s retaliatory offensive has killed at least 37,431 people in Gaza, also mostly civilians, according to the Hamas-run territory’s health ministry.