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Tuesday April 16, 2024

Israel postpones Gaza invasion to allow US missile defences in region: WSJ

Israeli attacks have claimed lives of at least 6,546 Palestinians, including 2,704 children, and injured 17,439 others

By Web Desk
October 25, 2023
A man reacts outside a burning collapsed building following Israeli bombardment in Gaza City this week. — AFP
A man reacts outside a burning collapsed building following Israeli bombardment in Gaza City this week. — AFP 

Israel has decided to postpone its invasion of Gaza in order to allow the US to quickly deploy missile defences in the area, as per US and Israeli officials' statements in a Wall Street Journal story on Wednesday.

Israeli attacks have taken the lives of at least 6,546 Palestinians, including 2,704 children, and injured 17,439 others, according to information released on Wednesday by the health ministry in Gaza, which is governed by Hamas.

Massive blast near Geo News office in Lebanon

A massive blast took place very close to the hotel where the Geo team was staying, as per reporters amid ongoing Israeli attacks on the besieged enclave after Hamas's October 7 assault.

According to local sources, it was a missile fired by Israel, aiming to target a Hezbollah's hideout.

Al-Jazeera bureau head's family killed in Israeli strike in Gaza

Wael Al-Dahdouh, the head of Al Jazeera Arabic's Gaza bureau, tragically lost his wife, son, and daughter in an Israeli airstrike.

Al-Dahdouh spoke out against the string of targeted strikes on people, including kids and women, while clearly startled.

He was at the hospital having just returned from covering an attack in Yarmouk when Nuseirat was one of the sites struck by Israeli airstrikes.

Al-Dahdouh stayed in Gaza City for 19 straight days in spite of the danger because he was committed to report on the people impacted by the continuing bombings.

Israel has forced civilians to relocate to southern Gaza, therefore many of the victims of its airstrikes are civilians.

Qatar's Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim Al Thani said on Wednesday that hostage negotiations had made some progress, after the Palestinian militant organisation Hamas kidnapped more than 200 hostages during their October 7 rampage in southern Israel.

Four hostages held by Hamas, including two Israeli women, were freed on Monday as a result of Qatar's open communication with both Israel and Hamas.

As Israel gets ready to launch a land invasion on the enclave, the Gulf state is coordinating with the United States to lead mediation discussions with Hamas and Israeli officials regarding the release of the hostages.

Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan claimed that an Israeli ground invasion of Gaza will turn the battle there into a slaughter while speaking in Doha.

According to Fidan, individuals who back Israel's policies under the guise of sympathy are "accomplices to its crimes."

According to survivors' accounts, on October 7, Hamas and other fighters went on a killing spree through southern Israel, seizing 222 people ranging in age from 9 months to 85 years. They shot drivers, hunted down civilians, including children, in their homes, and killed people by burning and stabbing.

Israel gears up for ground invasion of Gaza: Netanyahu

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced on television on Wednesday that Israel was getting ready to invade Gaza on foot, but he would not comment on the operation's timeline or other specifics.

He declared that the government's secret war cabinet would decide when to send forces into the blockaded Palestinian territory.

Macron warns Israel against making massive 'error' of invading Gaza

A "massive" Israeli ground incursion into the Gaza Strip would be "an error", French President Emmanuel Macron said in Cairo Wednesday, warning it would harm civilians without ensuring Israel´s long-term security.

"If it's a massive intervention that would put civilian lives at risk, I think it's an error... for Israel too because it is unlikely to protect Israel in the long term, and because it is incompatible with... international humanitarian law and the rules of law," Macron said after meeting Egypt's Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who also urged Israel to avoid an invasion.

Impact of continuous Israeli bombardment

As Israeli strikes persist into the 18th day, this animation depicts the impact of continuous bombardment on the small 365-square-km territory.

Israel strikes Syria

Israeli strikes killed eight soldiers in southern Syria early on Wednesday, Syrian state media said.

The Israeli military said it hit Syrian military infrastructure and mortars in response to rocket fire on Tuesday.

The defence ministry in Damascus said Aleppo airport in the north was bombed by Israel for the fourth time in a fortnight.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the Israeli strikes on southern Syria "destroyed arms depots and a Syrian air defence radar" and also targeted an infantry unit.

Hezbollah meets Hamas, Islamic Jihad leaders

Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah met leaders of Hamas and Islamic Jihad in Lebanon to discuss ways to support the Palestinian militant groups in their war with Israel, the Lebanese group said on Wednesday.

Hezbollah, which has traded cross-border fire with Israel since the onset of the war, said they discussed what was needed to "achieve real victory" in Gaza and stop Israel´s "brutal aggression".

War-hitting regional economies

The Israel-Hamas war is already battering the economies of nearby countries, the International Monetary Fund chief told an investor forum in Saudi Arabia on Wednesday.

"You look at the neighbouring countries — Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan — there the channels of impact are already visible," the IMF's Kristalina Georgieva told the Future Investment Initiative in Riyadh.

Israel slams Turkey's Erdogan for trying to 'defend' Hamas

Israel on Wednesday slammed Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan after he described Palestinian militant group and Gaza rulers Hamas as "liberators" fighting for their own land.

"The Turkish president´s attempt to defend the terrorist organisation and his inciting words will not change the horrors that the whole world has seen," the Israeli foreign ministry said in a statement more than two weeks after deadly attacks on Israel´s south that spiralled into war.

Rishi Sunak opposes total ceasefire in Gaza

In order to securely provide humanitarian relief to people in Gaza who are in need of food, water, or medicine, Rishi Sunak has urged for pauses in the Israel-Hamas combat.

The British prime minister acknowledged that there needed to be a "safer environment" for humanitarian organisations to assist Palestinians, even if he specifically refrained from endorsing the idea of a complete ceasefire.

During a discussion on Middle East events, a Labour backbencher accused Israel of punishing civilians "collectively" for "crimes they did not commit."

"The first and most important principle is that Israel has the right to defend itself under international law," Sunak said in the Commons on Wednesday.

'Hamas is a liberation group', says Erdogan

In his most strongest remarks to date regarding the Gaza conflict, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan declared today that Hamas is a liberation organisation fighting to defend Palestinian lands and people, not a terrorist organisation.

Speaking to MPs from his ruling AK Party, Erdogan also demanded an immediate halt to hostilities between Israeli and Palestinian forces and emphasised the need for cooperation amongst Muslim nations to achieve a comprehensive settlement.

“Hamas is not a terrorist organisation, it is a liberation group, ‘mujahideen’ waging a battle to protect its lands and people,” he said.

UN chief slams Israeli atrocities in Gaza

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has denounced a “clear violation” of international humanitarian law by Israeli forces in Gaza as Palestinians in the besieged territory are suffering from “never-before-seen” wounds from relentless airstrikes.

More than 5,700 Palestinians, also mostly civilians, have been martyred across the Gaza Strip in Israeli strikes, according to Gaza health officials.

A relative mourns by the bodies of members of the Abu Morad family who died following Israeli strikes earlier, during their funeral in Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip on October 24, 2023, amid the ongoing battles between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas. — AFP
A relative mourns by the bodies of members of the Abu Morad family who died following Israeli strikes earlier, during their funeral in Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip on October 24, 2023, amid the ongoing battles between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas. — AFP

The ministry put Tuesday´s toll at more than 700 people, with the UN saying it was the highest reported in a single day since the war began.

Overnight, at least 80 people were martyred, the Hamas government said on Wednesday.

The Israeli military has bombed entire neighbourhoods in the blockaded territory in response to unprecedented Hamas attacks inside Israel on October 7 that killed at least 1,400 people.

Opening an important UNSC session, Guterres said there was no excuse for the "appalling" violence by Hamas on October 7 but also warned against "collective punishment" of the Palestinians.

"I am deeply concerned about the clear violations of international humanitarian law that we are witnessing in Gaza. Let me be clear: No party to an armed conflict is above international humanitarian law," Guterres said, without explicitly naming Israel.

Guterres also said that the Hamas attacks "did not happen in a vacuum" as the Palestinians have been "subjected to 56 years of suffocating occupation".

The UN chief urged an immediate ceasefire as Israel pounds the Palestinian territory in response to Hamas attacks, with the crisis deeply dividing the Security Council.

Israel voiced anger over the UN chief´s plea before a high-level session of the Security Council, where the Palestinian foreign minister in turn denounced what he described as inaction in the conflict that has killed thousands on both sides, mostly civilians.

His remarks infuriated Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen who, pointing his finger at Guterres and raising his voice, recounted graphic accounts of civilians including young children killed in the deadliest single attack in Israeli history.

"Mr Secretary-General, in what world do you live?" Cohen said.

Rejecting tying the violence to the occupation, Cohen said Israel gave Gaza to the Palestinians "to the last millimeter" with its withdrawal in 2005.

Israel shortly afterwards imposed a blockade of the impoverished territory, in place ever since, after Hamas took power, and it still occupies the West Bank.

Israel´s ambassador to the United Nations, Gilad Erdan, called on Guterres to resign — writing on X, formerly known as Twitter, that the UN chief has "expressed an understanding for terrorism and murder".

Israel using ‘new deadly weapons’

Mohammad Abu Salmiya, the director general of Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City, says that he has never before seen the types of wounds and injuries occurring in the current war.

In an interview with Al Jazeera, Abu Salmiya said what he described as the new types of injuries were likely a result of Israel using “new deadly weapons” against the people of Gaza.

'Hospitals running out of fuel'

Doctors in Gaza say patients arriving at hospitals are showing signs of disease caused by overcrowding and poor sanitation after more than 1.4 million people fled their homes for temporary shelters under Israel's heaviest-ever bombardment.

All hospitals say they are running out of fuel to power their electricity generators, leaving them increasingly unable to treat the injured and ill. More than 40 medical centres have halted operations, a health ministry spokesman said.

UNRWA, the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, warned in a post on messaging platform X that it would halt operations in Gaza on Wednesday night because of the lack of fuel.

However, the Israeli military reaffirmed it would bar the entry of fuel to prevent Hamas from seizing it.

'16 martyred in Israeli air strikes'

At least 16 people were martyred and several others injured following the latest Israeli air strikes across Gaza early on Wednesday.

According to the Ministry of Interior in Gaza, the Israeli raids hit residential areas in Jabalia and Tal al-Hawa in the north, al-Nuseirat refugee camp in central Gaza and Khan Younis in the south, according to Al Jazeera.

Guterres, who personally travelled to the crossing between Egypt and Gaza in a push to let in assistance, welcomed the entry of three aid convoys so far through the Rafah crossing.

But Guterres said it was "a drop of aid in an ocean of need," as the UN agency for Palestinian refugees warned it would be forced to stop working Wednesday due to lack of fuel.

"To ease epic suffering, make the delivery of aid easier and safer, and facilitate the release of hostages, I reiterate my appeal for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire."

Israel, backed by the United States, has rejected calls to halt the offensive, saying it would only allow Hamas to regroup.

Jordan Queen slams West double standards

Queen Rania of Jordan has accused Western leaders of a “glaring double standard” for failing to condemn the deaths of civilians under Israeli bombardment in Gaza, as Israel’s war on Hamas threatens to destabilise relations between US and Arab leaders.

Speaking to CNN’s Christiane Amanpour in an exclusive interview, Rania said, “The people all around the Middle East, including in Jordan, we are just shocked and disappointed by the world’s reaction to this catastrophe that is unfolding. In the last couple of weeks, we have seen a glaring double standard in the world.”

“When October 7 happened, the world immediately and unequivocally stood by Israel and its right to defend itself and condemned the attack that happened … but what we’re seeing in the last couple of weeks, we’re seeing silence in the world,” she told CNN.

The United States last week vetoed a draft resolution on the crisis, saying it did not sufficiently support Israel´s right to respond to Hamas.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken asked the Security Council to back a new US-led resolution that "incorporates substantive feedback."

The draft, seen by AFP, would defend the "inherent right of all states" to self-defense while calling for compliance with international law. It would back "humanitarian pauses" to let in aid but not a full ceasefire.

Veto-wielding Russia — accustomed to being on the receiving end at the Security Council over its invasion of Ukraine — quickly said it would oppose the US draft, which also came under criticism from US regional ally Egypt.

600,000 IDPs sheltering in 150 UNRWA facilities

Nearly 600,000 internally displaced people are sheltered in 150 facilities of the United Nations Palestinian Refugee Agency (UNRWA) in Gaza, while at least 40 UNRWA installations have been impacted, the UN agency posted on Wednesday on the social media platform X.

"Our shelters are four times over their capacities - many people are sleeping in the streets as current facilities are overwhelmed," the agency added.