An Israeli preemptive strike against Hezbollah was averted early in the Gaza war, top official says

Such a preemptive attack would have been a “strategic mistake” and would likely have triggered a regional war, Eisenkot said in a wide-ranging interview broadcast late Thursday on Israel’s Channel 12 TV.(REUTERS)
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Updated 19 January 2024
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An Israeli preemptive strike against Hezbollah was averted early in the Gaza war, top official says

  • Eisenkot said that a preemptive attack would have been a “strategic mistake
  • Since the start of the Gaza war, Israel and Hezbollah have traded cross-border strikes with escalating intensity

JERUSALEM: A member of Israel’s War Cabinet confirmed that early in the war against Hamas in Gaza, an Israeli preemptive strike against Lebanon’s Hezbollah militia was called off at the last minute.
Gadi Eisenkot, a former army chief, said he was among those arguing against such a strike in what he described as a stormy Oct. 11 Cabinet meeting that left him hoarse from shouting.
Such a preemptive attack would have been a “strategic mistake” and would likely have triggered a regional war, Eisenkot said in a wide-ranging interview broadcast late Thursday on Israel’s Channel 12 TV.
The interview marked the first time Eisenkot spoke in public about disagreements among Israeli leaders over the handling of the war, which was triggered by Hamas’ deadly Oct. 7 attack on Israel.
A month ago, The Wall Street Journal, reporting on the dramatic events of Oct. 11, said intervention by President Joe Biden was key to averting the strike. Israeli warplanes were in the air, awaiting orders, when Biden called Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and told him to stand down, the report said, citing people familiar with the call.
Eisenkot said loud objections raised by him and others during the Cabinet session were key to calling off the strike. At the time, he and former Defense Minister Benny Gantz, both opposition lawmakers, had just joined Netanyahu to help lead the war. Asked if their presence prevented a bad decision, he said: “Unequivocally.”
During the Oct. 11 meeting, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant and senior army officials were reportedly pressing for a strike against Hezbollah, considered by Israel to be a much more formidable foe than Hamas. Hezbollah is believed to have tens of thousands of missiles that can reach any target in Israel.
Since the start of the Gaza war, Israel and Hezbollah have traded cross-border strikes with gradually escalating intensity, even though neither side is believed to seek an all-out war which is bound to devastate both countries.
Israel and the Iran-backed Hezbollah are bitter enemies who fought a 34-day war in 2006 that ended in a draw. Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah said in a speech recently that if Israel started a war with Lebanon, the group would fight it “with no limits.”


Israeli strike kills 4 aid workers in Gaza ‘safe zone,’ UK-based group says

Updated 6 sec ago
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Israeli strike kills 4 aid workers in Gaza ‘safe zone,’ UK-based group says

The strike also killed three staffers from other aid groups using the warehouse, the Al-Khair foundation said
The warehouse was located in Muwasi, an area on Gaza’s Mediterranean coast that is part of a “humanitarian safe zone” where Israeli has told Palestinians to take refuge

GAZA: A UK-based aid group said one of its employees in Gaza was killed Friday in an Israeli strike that hit its warehouse located inside an Israeli-declared humanitarian safe zone. The strike also killed three staffers from other aid groups using the warehouse, the Al-Khair foundation said in a statement sent to The Associated Press.
The Israeli army did not immediately respond to AP’s request for comment on Friday’s strike.
The warehouse was located in Muwasi, an area on Gaza’s Mediterranean coast that is part of a “humanitarian safe zone” where Israeli has told Palestinians to take refuge.
After a two-week Israeli offensive in northern Gaza, dozens of bodies were collected throughout Gaza City’s Tel Al-Hawa neighborhood and brought to Al-Ahli Hospital on Friday morning. Civil defense workers said they were still recovering dead and wounded from destroyed streets and buildings.
Israel launched the war in Gaza after Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack in which militants stormed into southern Israel, killed some 1,200 people — mostly civilians — and abducted about 250. Since then, Israeli ground offensives and bombardments have killed more than 38,300 people in Gaza, according to the territory’s Health Ministry. It does not distinguish between combatants and civilians in its count.
Most of Gaza’s 2.3 million people are crammed into squalid tent camps in central and southern Gaza. Israeli restrictions, fighting and the breakdown of law and order have limited humanitarian aid efforts, causing widespread hunger and sparking fears of famine. The top United Nations court has ordered Israel to take steps to protect Palestinians as it examines genocide allegations against Israeli leaders. Israel denies the charge.



A UK-based aid group said one of its employees in Gaza was killed Friday in an Israeli strike that hit its warehouse located inside an Israeli-declared humanitarian safe zone. (AFP)

More than half a million children in Gaza missing out on vital education amid Israeli-Hamas war: UNRWA

Updated 19 min 57 sec ago
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More than half a million children in Gaza missing out on vital education amid Israeli-Hamas war: UNRWA

  • 600,000 children had been unable to attend school this year because of the ongoing Israeli-Hamas war

LONDON: The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees warned on Friday that the Gaza Strip was on the verge of “losing an entire generation of children” due to the ongoing Israeli aggression, now in its 10th month.

The organization said that more than 600,000 children had been unable to attend school this year because of the ongoing Israeli-Hamas war raging in the enclave. 

UNRWA added it would be extremely difficult for children to recover the education they have missed out on since the Oct. 7 Hamas attacks on southern Israel and the subsequent Israeli retaliation.

It also noted that two-thirds of its schools in Gaza had been destroyed, while the rest had been converted into shelters for hundreds of thousands of displaced Palestinians.

Statistics from the Hamas-run Palestinian Ministry of Health assert that approximately 16,000 children have died in Israeli bombings or from illness, famine and malnutrition since the start of the Israeli aggression. 

A letter penned by three experts published in the Lancet medical journal earlier this week said the number of children who might have died in the conflict could be much higher, with thousands of children believed to be trapped under the rubble of destroyed buildings.


UN court to give view on consequences of Israel occupation

Updated 12 July 2024
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UN court to give view on consequences of Israel occupation

  • Any opinion delivered by the International Court of Justice would be non-binding, but it will come amid mounting international legal pressure on Israel
  • "A public sitting will take place at the Peace Palace in The Hague ... during which Judge Nawaf Salam... will read out the Advisory Opinion," the ICJ said

THE HAGUE: The UN's top court will next week hand down its view on the legal consequences of Israel's occupation of Palestinian territories since 1967, a case in which some 52 countries made submissions.
Any opinion delivered by the International Court of Justice would be non-binding, but it will come amid mounting international legal pressure on Israel over the war in Gaza sparked by the brutal October 7 Hamas attacks.
"A public sitting will take place at the Peace Palace in The Hague (on July 19) ... during which Judge Nawaf Salam... will read out the Advisory Opinion," the ICJ said on Friday.
The ICJ held a week-long session in February to hear submissions from countries following a request from the United Nations late last year.
The UN has asked the ICJ to hand down an "advisory opinion" on the "legal consequences arising from the policies and practices of Israel in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem".
Most speakers during the hearings have demanded that Israel end its occupation, which came after a six-day Arab-Israeli war in 1967.
But the United States said Israel should not be legally obliged to withdraw without taking its "very real security needs" into account.
Speakers also warned a prolonged occupation posed an "extreme danger" to stability in the Middle East and beyond.
Israel did not take part in the oral hearings.
It submitted a written contribution, in which it described the questions the court had been asked as "prejudicial" and "tendentious".
The case before the court is separate from one brought by South Africa against Israel for alleged genocide during its current offensive in Gaza.
South Africa has gone to the ICJ several times arguing that the dire humanitarian situation means the court should issue further fresh emergency measures.
In an initial ruling on January 26, the ICJ ordered Israel to do everything it could to prevent acts of genocide during its military operation in Gaza.
It also called for the unconditional release of hostages taken by Palestinian militant group Hamas during its October 7 assault that sparked the war.


Israel’s security cabinet extends military service: report

Updated 12 July 2024
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Israel’s security cabinet extends military service: report

  • The 36-month rule will stay in force for the next eight years
  • Israel is planning to send draft notices to thousands of ultra-Orthodox seminary students

JERUSALEM: The Israeli government’s security cabinet has approved a plan to extend compulsory military service for men to 36 months from the current 32 months, Israel’s Ynet news outlet reported on Friday.
The 36-month rule will stay in force for the next eight years, Ynet reported, after a meeting of the security cabinet that took place late on Thursday.
The measure is likely to be submitted to a vote in a meeting of the full cabinet on Sunday, it said.
Israel’s military commanders have said they need to boost manpower so they can sustain the war with the Hamas militant group in Gaza and a confrontation with the Lebanon-based Hezbollah militia.
In a separate initiative, Israel is planning to send draft notices to thousands of ultra-Orthodox seminary students who were previously exempt from military service.


Hamas calls for independent Palestinian government in post-war Gaza

Updated 27 min 25 sec ago
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Hamas calls for independent Palestinian government in post-war Gaza

  • Negotiations occurring in Doha, Qatar and Cairo with aim of bringing about ceasefire in Gaza
  • Netanyahu demanded Israel retain control of Philadelphi corridor along border with Egypt

GAZA: Hamas is suggesting during ceasefire negotiations that an independent government of non-partisan figures run post-war Gaza and the Israeli-occupied West Bank, a member of the Palestinian Islamist movement’s political bureau said Friday.
“We proposed that a non-partisan national competency government manage Gaza and the West Bank after the war,” Hossam Badran said in a statement about the ongoing negotiations between Israel and Hamas with mediation from Qatar, Egypt, and the United States.
“The administration of Gaza after the war is a Palestinian internal matter without any external interference, and we will not discuss the day after the war in Gaza with any external parties,” Badran added.
A Hamas official told AFP the proposal for a non-partisan government was made “with the mediators.”
The government will “manage the affairs of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank in the initial phase after the war, paving the way for general elections” said the official, who did not want his name disclosed.
Badran’s remarks came after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu demanded that Israel retain control of the Philadelphi corridor, Gaza territory along the border with Egypt. This condition conflicts with Hamas’s position that Israel must withdraw from all Gaza territory after a ceasefire.
Netanyahu said on Thursday that control of the Philadelphi corridor is part of efforts to prevent “weapons to be smuggled to Hamas from Egypt.”
The negotiations are occurring in Doha, Qatar and Cairo, Egypt with the aim of bringing about a ceasefire in Gaza as well as the return of hostages still held there by Hamas.
The war began on Oct. 7 with Hamas’s unprecedented attack on southern Israel that resulted in the deaths of 1,195 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally based on Israeli figures.
The militants also seized 251 hostages, 116 of whom remain in Gaza, including 42 the military says are dead.
Israel responded with a military offensive that has killed at least 38,345 people in Gaza, also mostly civilians, according to data from the health ministry in Hamas-run Gaza