Israeli military says it has struck several Houthi targets in Yemen in response to attacks

The Israeli Army said on July 13 it has struck several Houthi targets in western Yemen following a fatal drone attack by the rebel group in Tel Aviv the previous day. The Israeli strikes appeared to be the first on Yemeni soil since the Israel-Hamas war began in October.

A number of “military targets” were hit in the western port city of Hodeidah, a Houthi stronghold, the Israeli Army said, adding that its attack was “in response to the hundreds of attacks carried out against the state of Israel in recent months.”

Houthi spokesman Mohammed Abdulsalam wrote on social media platform X that Yemen was subjected to a “blatant Israeli aggression” that targeted fuel storage facilities and the province’s power station. He said the attacks aim “to increase the suffering of the people and to pressure Yemen to stop supporting Gaza.”

Mr. Abdulsalam said the attacks will only make the people of Yemen and its armed forces more determined to support Gaza. Mohamed Ali al-Houthi of the Supreme Political Council in Yemen wrote on X that “there will be impactful strikes.”

A media outlet controlled by Houthi rebels in Yemen, Al-Masirah TV, said the strikes on storage facilities for oil and diesel at the port and on the local electricity company caused deaths and injuries, and several people suffered severe burns. It said there was a large fire at the port and power cuts were widespread.

Health officials in Yemen said the strikes killed a number of people and injured others, but did not elaborate.

The drone attack by Houthi rebels killed one person in the center of Tel Aviv and wounded at least 10 others near the United States Embassy early on July 19.

Virtually all projectiles fired from the southern Arabian country toward Israel have so far been intercepted. Israel said air defences detected the drone on July 19 but an “error” occurred and “there was no interception.“

Since January, the U.S. and British forces have been striking targets in Yemen, in response to the Houthis’ attacks on commercial shipping that the rebels have described as retaliation for Israel’s actions in the war in Gaza. However, many of the ships targeted are not linked to Israel.

The joint force airstrikes have so far done little to deter the Iran-backed force.

Analysts and Western intelligence services have long accused Iran of arming the Houthis, a claim Tehran denies. In recent years, U.S. naval forces have intercepted a number of ships packed with rifles, rocket-propelled grenades and missile parts en route from Iran to Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen.

Also on July 20, at least 13 people were killed in three Israeli airstrikes that hit refugee camps in central Gaza overnight, according to Palestinian health officials, as cease-fire talks in Cairo appeared to make progress.

Among the dead in Nuseirat Refugee Camp and Bureij Refugee Camp were three children and one woman, according to Palestinian ambulance teams that transported the bodies to the nearby Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital. AP journalists counted the 13 corpses at the hospital.

Earlier, a medical team delivered a live baby from a Palestinian woman killed in an airstrike that hit her home in Nuseirat late Thursday evening.

Ola al-Kurd, 25, was killed along with six others in the blast, but was quickly rushed by emergency workers to Al-Awda Hospital in northern Gaza in the hope of saving the unborn child. Hours later, doctors told The Associated Press that a baby boy had been delivered.

The still-unnamed newborn is stable but has suffered from a shortage of oxygen and has been placed in an incubator, said Dr. Khalil Dajran on July 19.

Ola’s “husband and a relative survived yesterday’s strike, while everyone else died,” Majid al-Kurd, the deceased woman’s cousin, told the AP on July 20.

“The baby is in good health based on what doctors said,” he added.

The war in Gaza, which was sparked by Hamas’ October 7 attack on southern Israel, has killed more than 38,900 people, according to the territory’s Health Ministry, which does not distinguish between combatants and civilians in its count. The war has created a humanitarian catastrophe in the coastal Palestinian territory, displaced most of its 2.3 million population and triggered widespread hunger.

Hamas’ October attack killed 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and militants took about 250 hostage. About 120 remain in captivity, with about a third of them believed to be dead, according to Israeli authorities.

The Israel-Hamas war has left thousands of women and children dead, according to health officials in the Gaza Strip. In April, a premature Palestinian baby was rescued from her dead mother’s womb but died days later.

In the occupied West Bank, the Palestinian Health Ministry said a 20-year-old man was shot dead by Israeli forces late on July 19. Commenting on the shooting, the Israeli Army said its forces opened fire on a group of Palestinians hurling rocks at Israeli troops in the town of Beit Ummar.

An eyewitness said Ibrahim Zaqeq was not directly involved in the clashes and was standing nearby.

Zaqeq “just looked at them, they shot him in the head. I picked him up from here and took him to the clinic,” said Thare Abu Hashem.

On July 20, Hamas identified Zaqeq as one of its members. The militant group’s green flag was wrapped around his corpse during the funeral.

Violence has surged in the territory since the Gaza war began. At least 577 Palestinians in the West Bank have been killed by Israeli fire since then according to the Ramallah-based Health Ministry which tracks Palestinian deaths.

In Cairo, international mediators, including the United States, are continuing to push Israel and Hamas toward a phased deal that would halt the fighting and free about 120 hostages in Gaza.

On July 19, the U.S. Secretary of State, Anthony Blinken, said a cease-fire deal between Hamas and Israel that will release Israeli hostages captive by the group in Gaza is “inside the 10-yard line,” but added “we know that anything in the last 10 yards are the hardest.”

Fruitless stop-and-start negotiations between the warring sides have been underway since November’s one-week cease-fire, with both Hamas and Israel repeatedly accusing each other of scuppering the effort to reach a deal.

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Israeli strikes in southern, central Gaza kill more than 60 Palestinians, including in ’safe zone’

Palestinians look at the debris of destroyed tents and make shift housing structures following an Israeli military strike on the al-Mawasi camp for internally displaced people (IDP), near the city of Khan Yunis, southern Gaza Strip on July 13, 2024, in which 71 people were killed.
| Photo Credit: AFP

Israeli airstrikes killed more than 60 Palestinians in southern and central Gaza overnight and into Tuesday (July 16), including one that struck an Israeli-declared “safe zone” crowded with thousands of displaced people.

Airstrikes in recent days have brought a constant drumbeat of deaths of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, even as Israel has pulled back or scaled down major ground offensives in the north and south. Almost daily strikes have hit the “safe zone” covering some 60 square kilometres (23 square miles) along the Mediterranean coast, where Israel told fleeing Palestinians to take refuge to escape ground assaults. Israel has said it is pursuing Hamas militants who are hiding among civilians after offensives uprooted underground tunnel networks.

Tuesday’s deadliest strike hit a main street lined with market stalls outside the southern city of Khan Younis in Muwasi, at the heart of the zone that is packed with tent camps. Officials at Khan Younis’ Nasser Hospital said 17 people were killed.

Apparently referring to the strike, the Israeli military said in a statement that it targeted a commander in Islamic Jihad’s naval unit west of Khan Younis. It said it was looking into reports that civilians were killed.

The attack hit about a kilometre (0.6 miles) from a compound that Israel struck on July 13, saying it was targeting Hamas’ top military commander, Mohammed Deif. That blast, in an area also surrounded by tents, killed more than 90 Palestinians, including children, according to Gaza health officials. It is still not known if Deif was killed in the strike.

The new airstrikes came as Israel and Hamas continued to weigh the latest cease-fire proposal. Hamas has said talks meant to wind down the nine-month-long war would continue, even after Israel targeted Deif. International mediators are working to push Israel and Hamas toward a deal that would halt the fighting and free about 120 hostages held by the militant group in Gaza.

Israeli forces have repeatedly had to launch new offensives to combat Hamas fighters they say have been regrouping in parts of Gaza that the military has previously invaded. Still, the military has sounded increasingly confident that it has severely damaged the militants’ organization and infrastructure in its 9-month-old campaign.

The military said on July 16 that it has eliminated half of the leadership of Hamas’ military wing and that some 14,000 militants have been killed or detained. It said it killed six brigade commanders, over 20 battalion commanders, and approximately 150 company commanders from Hamas’ ranks, and that over the course of the war, it has hit 37,000 targets from the air within the Gaza Strip, including more than 25,000 terrorist infrastructure and launch sites.

The figures could not be independently confirmed.

Israel’s ground campaigns have focused on northern Gaza and the southern cities of Khan Younis and Rafah, where it says it has destroyed extensive Hamas tunnel networks. The offensives have left entire neighborhoods flattened. While ground operations continue in Rafah, airstrikes now appear to be hitting heavily in the areas untouched by previous offensives in the center and the coastal “safe zone.”

Strikes late July 15 and on July 16 hit the Nuseirat and Zawaida refugee camps in central Gaza. Strikes on four houses killed at least 24 people, including 10 women and four children, according to officials at Al Aqsa hospital in the nearby town of Deir al-Balah.

Another hit a U.N. school in Nuseirat where families were sheltering, killing at least nine people. AP footage showed the school’s yard covered in rubble and twisted metal from a structure that was hit. Workers carried bodies wrapped in blankets, as women and children watched from the classrooms where they have been living.

Israel’s military said Hamas militants were operating from the school to plan attacks. Its claim could not be independently confirmed.

Other strikes in Khan Younis and Rafah killed 12 people, according to medical officials and AP journalists. An AP journalist counted the bodies at the hospital before a funeral was held at its gates.

The military said air force planes struck some 40 targets in Gaza over the past day, among them observation posts, Hamas military structures and explosives-rigged buildings. Israel blames Hamas for civilian casualties because the militants operate in densely populated areas.

The Israeli military said on July 16 that it would begin sending draft notices to Jewish ultra-Orthodox men next week — a step that could destabilize Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government and trigger more large protests in the community. Under long-standing political arrangements, ultra-Orthodox men had been exempt from the draft, which is compulsory for most Jewish men — an exemption that created resentment among the general public in Israel.

The war in Gaza, which was sparked by Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack on southern Israel, has killed more than 38,600 people, according to the territory’s Health Ministry, which does not distinguish between combatants and civilians in its count. The war has created a humanitarian catastrophe in the coastal Palestinian territory, displaced most of its 2.3 million population and triggered widespread hunger.

Hamas’ October attack killed 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and militants took about 250 hostage. About 120 remain in captivity, with about a third of them believed to be dead, according to Israeli authorities.

Violence has also surged in the West Bank. On July 16, a Palestinian stabbed an Israeli policeman, wounding him lightly, before another officer opened fire, killing the assailant who was identified as a 19-year-old from Gaza.

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Watch: Israel-Palestine conflict: What’s the two-state solution?

Hamas’s October 7, 2023 attack in Israel and Israel’s continuing war on Gaza have brought the Palestine question back to the fore of West Asia’s geopolitics.

As the war has destroyed much of Gaza and killed 37,000 of its people, the world has also seen more and more countries voicing strong support for a future Palestine state. Recently, three European countries–Spain, Ireland and Norway–recognised the Palestine state.

More are expected to follow. Arab countries, including Saudi Arabia and Jordan, say there wouldn’t be lasting peace in the region unless the Palestine question is resolved. An internationally recognised solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict is what’s called the two-state solution.

What’s the two-state solution?

The short answer is simple: divide historical Palestine into an Arab state and a Jewish state to find lasting peace. But the long answer is complicated. Israel, a Jewish state, was created in Palestine in 1948. But a Palestine state is not yet a reality. So, a two-state solution today means the creation of a legitimate, sovereign Palestine state that enjoys the full rights like any other nation state under the UN Charter.

Let’s take a look at history.

The rootsof the two-state solution go back to the 1930s of the British-ruled Palestine. In 1936, the British government appointed a commission headed by Lord William Robert Peel (known as the Peel Commission) to investigate the causes of Arab-Jewish clashes in Palestine. A year later, the commission stated that the Mandate had become unworkable and proposed a partition of Palestine into a Jewish and Arab state. At that time, Jews accounted for some 28% of Palestine’s population. According to the Peel Commission proposal, the West Bank, Gaza and Negev desert should make up the Arab state while the much of Palestine’s coast and the fertile Galilee region should be part of the Jewish state. Arabs rejected the proposal.

After the Second World War, the UN Special Commission on Palestine (UNSCOP) put forward another partition plan after Britain expressed its interest in vacating the Mandate. UNSCOP proposed that Palestine be divided into three territories—a Jewish state, an Arab state and an international territory (Jerusalem). Jews made up roughly 32% of Palestine’s population at this time. According to the UNSCOP plan, the Jewish state was to have 56% of the Palestine land and the rest for the Arabs. The Partition plan was adopted in the UN General Assembly (Resolution 181), but it never made it to the Security Council. Arabs rejected the plan, while the Zionist leadership of Israeli settlers in Palestine accepted it.

As there was no UN Security Council decision on Partition, Zionists unilaterally declared the state of Israel on May 14, 1948, a day ahead of the expiration of the British Mandate. This triggered the first Arab-Israel war. And by the time a ceasefire was achieved in 1948, Israel had captured some 22% more territories, including West Jerusalem, than what the UN plan had proposed. Jordan seized the West Bank and East Jerusalem, including the Old City, while Egypt took the Gaza Strip.

Another pivotal event in the conflict was the 1967 Six Day War.

In the War, Israel captured the West Bank and East Jerusalem from Jordan, the Gaza Strip and the Sinai Peninsula from Egypt and the Golan Heights from Syria. So the whole historical Palestine has been under Israel’s control since 1967. Palestine nationalism emerged stronger in the 1960s, under the leadership of the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) and its Chairman Yasser Arafat.

The PLO initially demanded the “liberation” of the whole of Palestine, but during the Oslo process of the 1990s, it recognised the state of Israel and agreed to the creation of a state of Palestine within the 1967 border, which made up some 22% land of historical Palestine. Israel initially rejected any Palestinian claim to land and continued to term the PLO a “terrorist” organisation. But in the Camp David agreement, which followed the 1973 Yom Kippur War in which Egypt and Syria surprised Israel with an attack, it agreed to the Framework for Peace in the Middle East agreement. As part of Framework, Israel agreed to establish an autonomous self-governing Palestinian authority in the West Bank and Gaza Strip and implement the UN Resolution 242, which has demanded Israel pull back from all the territories it captured in 1967.              

The Framework laid the foundation for the Oslo Accords, which, signed in 1993 and 1995, formalised the two state solution. As part of the Oslo process, a Palestinian National Authority, a self-governing body, was created in the West Bank and Gaza. The PLO was internationally recognised as the legitimate representative body of the Palestinians. The West Bank was divided into Areas A, B and C. While the Palestinian Authority was to have limited powers in Areas A and B, Area C remained under Israeli control. But the promise of Oslo was the creation of an independent, sovereign Palestinian state which would live next to the Israeli state in peace. This promise has never been materialised. 

Why so? 

The first setback for the Oslo process was the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin, the Prime Minister who signed the Accords, in November 1995 by a Jewish extremist. Rabin’s Labour party was defeated in the subsequent elections and the right-wing Likud, under Benjamin Netanyahu’s leadership, came to power. The rise of Hamas, the Islamist militant group that was opposed Oslo saying the PLO made huge concessions to the Israelis, also contributed to the derailment of the peace process. 

There are specific structural factors that make the two-state solution unachievable, at least for now. One is boundary. Israel doesn’t have a clearly demarcated border. In 1948, it captured more territories than it was promised by the UN. In 1967, it expanded further by taking the whole of historical Palestine under its control. From 1970s onwards, Israel has been building illegal Jewish settlements in Palestinian territories. Palestinians say their future state should be based on the 1967 border, but Israel is not willing to make any such commitments.

Two, the status of settlers. Roughly 700,000 Jewish settlers are now living in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. If Israel is to withdraw to the 1967 border, they will have to pull back the settlers. The settlers are now a powerful bloc in the Israeli society and no Prime Minister can pull them back without facing political consequences.

Three, the state of Jerusalem. Palestinians say East Jerusalem, which hosts Al Aqsa, Islam’s third holiest mosque, should be the capital of their future state, while Israel says the whole of Jerusalem, which hosts the Western Wall, the holiest place in Judaism, is Israel’s “eternal capital”.

Four, the right of refugees to return to their homes. Some 700,000 Palestinians were displaced from their homes in 1948 when the state of Israel was declared. According to international law, they have a right to return to their homes (today, Israel proper). Israel says it won’t allow the Palestinian refugees to return.

While these are the structural factors that make the two state solution complicated, on the ground, Israel’s rightwing leadership show no willingness to make any concession to the Palestinians. For Israel, even the recognition of the state of Palestine by European countries, was a reward for “terrorism”. Israel wants to continue the status quo — the status quo of occupation. The Palestinians want to break that status quo.

Presentation: Stanly Johny

Production: Shibu Narayan

Video: Thamodharan B.

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Israeli strikes kill six in Gaza, including kids and U.N. worker, as truce talks show signs of progress

Separate Israeli airstrikes killed at least six people in central Gaza, including two children at a home and at least one United Nations worker, Palestinian hospital officials and first responders said, even as stalled cease-fire talks between Israel and Hamas show signs of renewed momentum.

Four out of every five people in Gaza — nearly 2 million Palestinians — have been driven into the territory’s center by expanding Israeli military offensives and evacuation orders, the army estimated earlier this week. Civilians are taking shelter in makeshift tent camps and crowded urban areas, and many have been displaced multiple times.

Violence also flared Friday in the occupied West Bank, where Israeli forces killed seven people in a raid and an airstrike, according to Palestinian health officials. And on the Israel-Lebanon border, rockets fired by militant group Hezbollah lightly wounded two Israeli soldiers, the army said, as concerns grow that these low-level clashes could escalate into a wider regional war.

An Israeli strike near the Maghazi refugee camp killed three adults and injured several others on Salah al-Din road, a major thoroughfare in Gaza, according to witnesses and officials at Al Aqsa Martyrs Hospital in the city of Deir al-Balah. At least one of the dead was wearing a U.N. vest when brought to the hospital.

An adult and two kids were also killed by a strike in the Nuseirat refugee camp, officials at the hospital said. That strike hit a home, according to the Palestinian Civil Defense rescue service.

Ambulances blared their horns as they rolled up to the medical center’s doors Friday evening, unloading the three bodies wrapped in thick household blankets. Laid out in the morgue, an Associated Press journalist observed the man’s bloodstained blue-and-white vest of the U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA.

At least one wounded man was also wearing a UNRWA vest. “Stand back a little, guys!” a man in a green medical uniform told a small crowd that gathered beside the ambulance. “Thank God you’re safe,” another man said as the wounded worker was brought inside.

The Israeli military did not immediately comment on the strikes. Israel blames civilian deaths on Hamas, saying militants operate among the population. Hamas denies the claim and accuses Israel of recklessly bombing civilians.

Around 250,000 people were affected earlier in the week by an Israeli order to evacuate half of the southern city of Khan Younis and a wide swath of the surrounding area. Most Palestinians seeking safety are either heading to an Israeli-declared “safe zone” centered on a coastal area called Muwasi, or the nearby city of Deir al-Balah, said the head of the U.N. humanitarian office for the Palestinian territories, Andrea De Domenico, on Wednesday.

A team of Israeli negotiators will resume talks next week on a cease-fire and hostage exchange deal with Hamas, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said Friday, signaling progress toward a deal to end the war in Gaza after negotiations appeared stuck for weeks.

The brief Israeli statement came hours after Hamas said its proposed amendments to a U.S. plan for a cease-fire “have been met with a positive response by the mediators.” The Palestinian militant group said Friday there was no set date for negotiations, and said Israel’s official position wasn’t yet known.

Mr. Netanyahu’s office said negotiators will emphasize to American, Qatari and Egyptian mediators that “there are still gaps between the parties” during talks in Doha, Qatar’s capital.

The main sticking point in the three-phase deal appears to be getting from the first to the second phase. Hamas is concerned that Israel will restart the war after the first phase, perhaps after making unrealistic demands in the talks. Israeli officials have expressed concern that Hamas will do the same, drawing out the talks and the initial cease-fire indefinitely without releasing the remaining hostages.

Away from the negotiating table, senior Hamas officials met with Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah, as well as the leader of the Islamic Group. Hamas said officials also met Friday with senior delegations from the Houthi rebels in Yemen and the Islamic Resistance in Iraq.

And in Washington, U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin spoke by phone with his Israeli counterpart, Yoav Gallant, in which they discussed regional security challenges and Austin expressed support for ongoing diplomatic efforts to resolve the conflict in Gaza.

Palestinian authorities say seven people were killed Friday during an Israeli military operation in an area of the West Bank city of Jenin, a known militant stronghold, where the Israeli military said it carried out “counterterrorism activity” that included an airstrike.

Israeli soldiers “encircled a building where terrorists have barricaded themselves in” and the soldiers exchanged fire with those inside, while an airstrike “struck several armed terrorists” in the area.

The Palestinian Health Ministry said a total of seven people were killed, but did not specify whether they died in the exchange of fire or the airstrike. The Islamic Jihad militant group named four of the dead as its members.

Violence has spiraled in the West Bank since the start of Israel’s war in Gaza, sparked by the Oct. 7 raid into southern Israel by Hamas militants who killed around 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and took more than 200 others as hostages.

The Palestinian Health Ministry says over 500 Palestinians have since been killed by Israeli fire in the West Bank. Most were killed during Israeli raids and violent protests. The dead also include bystanders and Palestinians killed in attacks by Jewish settlers.

In Gaza, Israeli bombardments and ground offensives have so far killed more than 38,000 Palestinians, Gaza’s Health Ministry says. The ministry does not differentiate between combatants and civilians in its count, but it includes thousands of women and children.

Israeli restrictions, ongoing fighting and the breakdown of law and order have curtailed humanitarian aid efforts, causing widespread hunger and sparking fears of famine. The top U.N. court has concluded there is a “plausible risk of genocide” in Gaza — a charge Israel strongly denies.

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Netanyahu has everything to lose and nothing to gain from deescalating

By Shlomo Roiter Jesner, President, Co-founder, Cambridge Middle East and North Africa Forum

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not represent in any way the editorial position of Euronews.

Once known as Mr Security, Netanyahu has made a career out of the persona he built for himself: the self-proclaimed “King Bibi” who can save Israel. Now, he’ll do anything to ensure self-preservation, Shlomo Roiter Jesner writes.

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The statement by Israel Defence Forces Spokesman Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari earlier this week took many by surprise, considering the severity of the picture he painted of the ongoing escalation on Israel’s northern border.

Warning that “Hezbollah’s increasing aggression is bringing us to the brink of what could be a wider escalation”, his statement was followed by Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz, not known to skimp on words, warning that the country was ready for an “all-out war” that would “change the rules of the game”.

What inspired statements as strong as these coming from Israel’s military and political leadership was the most violent week so far on the border with Lebanon — that is, since the recent escalation began following Hamas’s 7 October attack.

A similar escalation in rhetoric has been seen from Hezbollah’s side, which, for the first time in a number of days, took direct responsibility for UAV attacks near the Israeli city of Metullah.

Considering the death of the most senior Hezbollah official thus far, commander Taleb Abdullah, coupled with Hezbollah launching what has been some of its heaviest rocket barrages to date, in addition to overt threats from Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah to attack Israeli critical infrastructure using footage filmed by the terror organisation’s reconnaissance drones, the threat of escalation is very real.

Spats with Washington are not helping

With Amos Hochstein, US President Joe Biden’s senior aide, who has been serving as Biden’s mediator since the conflict began, visiting the region with an eye towards preventing further escalation, the question begging to be asked is what the US administration can practically do.

The state of relations between the United States and Israel is currently at an all-time low, rivalled only by the end of President Barack Obama’s time in office when Washington, in a rare move, abstained from a controversial UN Security Council resolution demanding an end to settlements.

Relations between Biden and Israel PM Benjamin Netanyahu reached their own low this week when Netanyahu, in an English-language social media video, accused the Biden administration of withholding military aid to Israel, the single largest recipient of American military aid globally.

The spat led to the rare cancellation of a strategic dialogue on Iran only a day before it was meant to take place in Washington with members of the Israeli delegation, including Israel’s National Security Advisor, already en route. “This decision makes it clear that there are consequences for pulling such stunts,” a US official, referring to Netanyahu’s clip, said.

And while Washington tries to reign in Israel’s prime minister, setting demands regarding Israeli operations in Rafah and cancelling the discussed meeting, what the Biden administration is missing is that they are dealing with a man who quite literally has nothing to lose.

Mr Security’s fall from grace

Israel’s longest-serving PM, once known as Mr Security, lacks the vast public support he once had, finding himself fourth out of six Israeli politicians, with only 42% support in a poll conducted in March.

He was followed only by Israel’s hard-right leaders, Bezalel Smotritch and Itamar Ben Gvir (with 37% and 33%, respectively).

The 7 October massacre and the intelligence and military failures that will forever be associated with that day saw all preconceived notions of Netanyahu as the only one who could ensure the safety and security which Israeli citizens so desperately seek shattered.

Indeed, calls for accountability are only getting stronger. Just this week, tens of thousands of protesters from all walks of Israeli society demanded a commission of inquiry, something that Netanyahu has been blocking State Comptroller Matanyahu Englman from putting together.

Despite his 17 years in power, shockingly, not one commission of inquiry has ever been formed, making “the likelihood of an inquiry very, very low,” according to professor of public policy at Hebrew University Raanan Sulitzeanu-Kenan.

On a personal level, it cannot be forgotten that Netanyahu is still facing an ongoing corruption trial, which resumed this December despite the war in Gaza.

Charged with fraud, bribery and breach of trust in three separate cases, it is obvious what Netanyahu has to gain by prolonging, if not escalating, Israel’s security situation.

In this light, only three months ago, Netanyahu’s lawyers petitioned the Jerusalem District Court to postpone testimonies “as long as there is no substantial change in the security situation in the country”.

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Vast arsenal of tools for self-preservation

With Netanyahu in a position where he exemplifies what James Baldwin called “the most dangerous creation in any society, the man who has nothing to lose”, Biden and the US must tread carefully when calling for deescalation.

Commonly known by his favourite nickname, Bibi, he has made a career out of the persona he built for himself: the self-proclaimed “King Bibi” who can save Israel.

Vilifying the US Democrats in an election year and perhaps subtly doing everything in his power to ensure an administration change are only some of the tools in his vast arsenal of self-preservation.

President Biden himself is also limited in this regard, needing to ensure the pro-Israel vote while painting a picture of someone who also cares about the humanitarian situation in Gaza.

Netanyahu easily takes advantage of this delicate balance, portraying every action by Washington as calling into question US’ unwavering support for the Jewish state.

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Although Hezbollah does not see a severe escalation with Israel to be in its strategic interest, it may nevertheless take advantage of Netanyahu’s desperate need for an ongoing security crisis, coupled with what it perceives to be a lull in the US-Israel relationship, to score a much-needed win on the security front.

Nasrallah is even less restrained than Netanyahu, with little regard for the future of Lebanon.

Who will shoot first?

Hezbollah will win in the eyes of the Lebanese public if it is seen as keeping Israel’s military at bay and will win the battle for hearts and minds if an escalation occurs, too.

This is due to the military losses that Israel would undoubtedly suffer, including on the home front and during an eventual reconstruction process in Lebanon.

Although Hezbollah would be responsible for the country’s destruction, it would also play an important role in its rebuilding, given the virtual non-existence of a central government in Lebanon.

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However, with recent polling in Israel showing 60% support attacking Hezbollah with full force and 36% wanting to see this in the immediate term, it is impossible to know which side the US has little to no control over will be the first to escalate.

Shlomo Roiter Jesner is President and Co-founder of the Cambridge Middle East and North Africa Forum. He is also CEO of London-based F&R Strategy Group, a geopolitical consultancy at the intersection of politics and business.

At Euronews, we believe all views matter. Contact us at [email protected] to send pitches or submissions and be part of the conversation.

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Hamas demands ‘complete halt’ to war in response to ceasefire proposal

The US says Israel supports the deal, which has been backed by the UN Security Council, but Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has given conflicting signals.

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Hamas says it has responded to a US-backed proposal for a ceasefire in Gaza — albeit with some “amendments” to the deal — and that its priority is to bring a “complete stop” to the eight-month war that has killed more than 37,000 people.

The foreign ministries of Qatar and Egypt, who have been key mediators alongside the US, confirmed that they had received Hamas’ response and said mediators were studying it.

“We’re in receipt of this reply that Hamas delivered to Qatar and to Egypt, and we are evaluating it right now,” White House national security spokesman John Kirby told reporters in Washington.

A separate Hamas spokesperson, Jihad Taha, said the response included “amendments that confirm the ceasefire, withdrawal, reconstruction and (prisoner) exchange”.

The proposal, announced by US President Joe Biden last month, calls for a three-phased plan that would begin with an initial six-week ceasefire and the release of some hostages in exchange for Palestinian prisoners.

Israeli forces would withdraw from populated areas and Palestinian civilians would be allowed to return to their homes. Hamas is still holding around 120 hostages, a third of whom are believed to be dead.

Phase one also requires the safe distribution of humanitarian assistance “at scale throughout the Gaza Strip,” which Biden said would lead to 600 trucks of aid entering Gaza every day.

At the same time, negotiations would be launched over the second phase, which is to bring “a permanent end to hostilities, in exchange for the release of all other hostages still in Gaza, and a full withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza.”

Phase three would launch “a major multi-year reconstruction plan for Gaza and the return of the remains of any deceased hostages still in Gaza to their families.”

The militant group endorsed a similar proposal last month that was rejected by Israel.

In a joint statement announcing that they had submitted their reply to Qatar and Egypt, Hamas and the smaller militant group Islamic Jihad said they were ready to “deal positively to arrive at an agreement” and that their priority is to bring a “complete stop” to the war.

A senior Hamas official, Osama Hamdan, told Lebanon’s Al-Mayadeen television that the group had “submitted some remarks on the proposal to the mediators,” without elaborating.

While supporting the broad outlines of the deal, Hamas officials have expressed wariness about the prospect that Israel will implement its terms, particularly provisions for an eventual permanent end to the fighting and full Israeli withdrawal from Gaza in return for the release of all hostages taken by Hamas on 7 October 2023.

The US says Israel has accepted the proposal, but Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has given conflicting signals, saying his government will not stop its campaign until Hamas is destroyed.

The transition from the first to the second phase appears to be a sticking point. Hamas wants assurances that Israel will not resume the war, and Israel wants to ensure that protracted negotiations over the second phase do not prolong the ceasefire indefinitely while leaving hostages in captivity.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has been in the region this week trying to push through the UN Security Council-backed deal, which calls for a six-week ceasefire that would eventually become permanent.

On Tuesday, he continued to pressure Hamas toward accepting the proposal, saying that the UN Security Council’s vote in its favour made it “as clear as it possibly could be” that the world supports the plan.

“Everyone’s vote is in, except for one vote, and that’s Hamas,” Blinken told reporters in Tel Aviv after meeting with Israeli officials.

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He said Netanyahu had reaffirmed his commitment to the proposal when they met late Monday.

Later on Tuesday, Blinken attended a Gaza aid conference in Jordan, where he announced over $400 million (€370 million) in additional aid for Palestinians in Gaza and the wider region, bringing the total US assistance sent over the past eight months to more than $674 million (€622 million).

UN Secretary-General António Guterres told the gathering that the amount of aid flowing to the UN in Gaza for distribution has plummeted by two-thirds since Israel launched an offensive in the territory’s southern city of Rafah in early May.

Guterres called for all border crossings to be opened, saying, “the speed and scale of the carnage and killing in Gaza” is beyond anything he has since he took the helm of the UN in 2017.

‘Israel and Hamas may have committed war crimes’

In a separate development, the UN human rights office said Israeli forces and Palestinian militants may have committed war crimes during the deadly Israeli raid that rescued four hostages over the weekend. At least 274 Palestinians were killed in the operation, according to Gaza’s Health Ministry.

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On Monday, the UN Security Council voted overwhelmingly to approve the proposal, with 14 of the 15 members voting in favour and Russia abstaining. The resolution calls on Israel and Hamas “to fully implement its terms without delay and without condition.”

Biden has presented the deal as an Israeli proposal, but Netanyahu has publicly disputed key aspects of it, saying there were parts left out by Biden. The conflicting signals appear to reflect Netanyahu’s political dilemma. His far-right coalition allies have rejected the proposal and have threatened to bring down his government if he ends the war without destroying Hamas.

A lasting ceasefire and the withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza would likely allow Hamas to retain control of the territory and rebuild its military capabilities.

But Netanyahu is also under mounting pressure to accept a deal to bring the hostages back. Thousands of Israelis, including families of the hostages, have demonstrated in favour of the US-backed plan.

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U.N. Security Council adopts a ceasefire resolution aimed at ending Israel-Hamas war in Gaza

The UN Security Council on June 10 overwhelmingly approved its first resolution endorsing a ceasefire plan aimed at ending the eight-month war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza.

The U.S.-sponsored resolution welcomes a ceasefire proposal announced by President Joe Biden that the United States says Israel has accepted. It calls on the militant Palestinian group Hamas to accept the three-phase plan.

The resolution — which was approved with 14 of the 15 Security Council members voting in favour and Russia abstaining — calls on Israel and Hamas “to fully implement its terms without delay and without condition.”

Whether Israel and Hamas agree to go forward with the plan remains in question, but the resolution’s strong support in the U.N.’s most powerful body puts added pressure on both parties to approve the proposal.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken was in Israel on June 10, where he urged Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to accept the plan for postwar Gaza as he pushed for more international pressure on Hamas to agree to the cease-fire proposal. Netanyahu has been skeptical of the deal, saying that Israel is still committed to destroying Hamas.

Hamas said it welcomed the adoption of the resolution and was ready to work with mediators in indirect negotiations with Israel to implement it. The statement was among the strongest from Hamas to date, but it stressed the group would continue its struggle against Israeli occupation and work on setting up a “fully sovereign” Palestinian state.

“Efforts are continuing to study and clarify some matters to ensure implementation by the Israeli side,” Hamas spokesperson Jihad Taha said Tuesday. He said Israel was “stalling and procrastinating and creating obstacles in order to continue the aggression.”

A senior Israeli diplomat did not directly mention the resolution, telling the council Israel’s position is unwavering: “We will continue until all of the hostages are returned and until Hamas’ military and governing capabilities are dismantled.”

“This also means that Israel will not engage in meaningless and endless negotiations, which can be exploited by Hamas as a means to stall for time,” Minister Counsellor Reut Shapir Ben Naftaly said.

U.S. Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield reiterated, however, that Israel has accepted the cease-fire deal, which is supported by countries around the world.

The resolution’s adoption, she said, “sent a clear message to Hamas to accept the cease-fire deal on the table.”

“The fighting could stop today, if Hamas would do the same,” Thomas-Greenfield told the council. “I repeat, this fighting could stop today.”

U.S. Deputy Ambassador Robert Wood told reporters earlier on Monday that the United States sees the deal as “the best, most realistic opportunity to bring at least a temporary halt to this war.”

Earlier on Monday, Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad leaders met in Qatar to discuss the proposed cease-fire deal and said later that any deal must lead to a permanent cease-fire, a full Israeli withdrawal from Gaza, reconstruction and “a serious exchange deal” between hostages in Gaza and Palestinians held in Israeli jails.

Russia’s UN Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia said Moscow abstained because details of the three-phase plan haven’t been disclosed and “we have a whole host of questions.”

“Hamas is called upon to accept this so-called deal, but still there is no clear clarity regarding official agreement from Israel,” Nebenzia said. ”Given the many statements from Israel on the extension of the war until Hamas is completely defeated … what specifically has Israel agreed to?”

Algeria’s U.N. Ambassador Amar Bendjama, the Arab representative on the council, said that while the text isn’t perfect, “it offers a glimmer of hope to the Palestinians, as the alternative is (the) continuing killing and suffering of the Palestinian people.”

“We voted for this text to give diplomacy a chance to reach an agreement that will end the aggression against the Palestinian people that has lasted far too long,” Bendjama said.

The war was sparked by Hamas’ surprise Oct. 7 attack in southern Israel in which militants killed about 1,200 people, mainly Israeli civilians, and took about 250 others hostage. About 120 hostages remain, with 43 pronounced dead.

Israel’s military offensive has killed more than 36,700 Palestinians and wounded more than 83,000 others, according to the Gaza Health Ministry. It has also destroyed about 80% of Gaza’s buildings, according to the U.N.

The Security Council adopted a resolution on March 25 demanding a humanitarian cease-fire in Gaza during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, with the U.S. abstaining, but there was no halt to the war.

Monday’s resolution underscores “the importance of the ongoing diplomatic efforts by Egypt, Qatar and the United States aimed at reaching a comprehensive cease-fire deal, consisting of three phases” and says the three countries are ready “to work to ensure negotiations keep going until all the agreements are reached.”

Biden’s May 31 announcement of the new proposal said it would begin with an initial six-week cease-fire and the release of hostages in exchange for Palestinian prisoners, the withdrawal of Israeli forces from populated areas in Gaza and the return of Palestinian civilians to all areas in the territory.

Phase one also requires the safe distribution of humanitarian assistance “at scale throughout the Gaza Strip,” which Biden said would lead to 600 trucks with aid entering Gaza every day.

In phase two, the resolution says that with the agreement of Israel and Hamas, “a permanent end to hostilities, in exchange for the release of all other hostages still in Gaza, and a full withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza” will take place.

Phase three would launch “a major multi-year reconstruction plan for Gaza and the return of the remains of any deceased hostages still in Gaza to their families.”

The resolution reiterates the Security Council’s “unwavering commitment to achieving the vision of a negotiated two-state solution where two democratic states, Israel and Palestine, live side by side in peace within secure and recognized borders.”

It also stresses “the importance of unifying the Gaza Strip with the West Bank under the Palestinian Authority,” something Netanyahu’s right-wing government has not agreed to.

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Biden takes a big swing at hostage-for-truce deal, puts onus on Israeli, Hamas officials to step up

President Joe Biden is looking past resistance from key Israeli officials as he presses Israel and Hamas to agree to a three-phase agreement that could immediately bring home dozens of Israeli hostages, free Palestinian prisoners and perhaps even lead to an endgame in the nearly eight-month-old Gaza war.

Mr. Biden’s big swing — during a tough reelection battle — could also demonstrate to a significant slice of his political base demoralized by his handling of the conflict that he’s doing his part to end the war that has killed more than 36,000 Palestinians and left hundreds of thousands struggling to meet basic needs.

White House officials on June 3 said Mr. Biden’s decision to make public what it describes as an Israeli proposal — just one day after it was delivered to Hamas — was driven by a desire to put Hamas on the spot. The move diverged from the U.S. administration’s position throughout the conflict to allow the Israelis to speak for themselves about hostage negotiations.

“The president felt that where we are in this war, where we are in the negotiations to get the hostages out, that it was time for a different approach and a time to make the proposal public, to try to energize the process here and catalyze a different outcome,” White House national security spokesman John Kirby said.

Almost immediately after Mr. Biden detailed the proposal — which includes a cease-fire and phased Israeli troop withdrawal from Gaza if Hamas releases all hostages — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said it would continue its war until Hamas was destroyed.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. File

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. File
| Photo Credit:
AP

Mr. Netanyahu’s political survival depends on a far-right coalition that is adamant about eradicating Hamas. He sowed further doubt about proposal’s viability on June 3 when he told an Israeli parliament committee that there are certain “gaps” in how Mr. Biden laid out the proposal. The Prime Minister said Israelis “reserve the right to return to war.”

Mr. Kirby played down differences between Mr. Biden and Mr. Netanyahu and underscored that the proposal was an Israeli one. He added that Mr. Biden agrees with Israelis that Hamas should not govern postwar Gaza nor does he “expect that Israel should have to live next door to that kind of a terrorist threat.”

“This wasn’t about jamming the prime minister, the war cabinet,” Mr. Kirby said. “This was about laying bare for the public to see how well and how faithfully and how assertively the Israelis came up with a new proposal. It shows how much they really want to get this done.”

But even if Hamas agreed to terms, it would require Mr. Netanyahu to make some difficult political calculations. Two leading members of his far-right coalition — National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir and Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich — have threatened to leave Mr. Netanyahu’s government if he signs off on the proposal. That would cause the coalition to collapse.

Mr. Smotrich said on June 3 that agreeing to a cease-fire would amount to a humiliation of Israel and a surrender. Increased military pressure, he said, is “the only language understood in the Middle East.”

Mr. Biden last week expressed concern about those in the Israeli government who “want to keep fighting for years” and don’t see freeing the hostages as a “priority.” Administration officials on June 3 warned Israeli officials that getting bogged down in Gaza could be detrimental to Israel’s national security.

“Endless conflict in Gaza in pursuit of some idea of total victory is not going to make Israel safer,” said State Department spokesman Matthew Miller.

Mr. Netanyahu has also faced pressure from families of hostages — officials say about 80 people captured by militants in the Oct. 7 attack are still alive and Hamas is holding the bodies of 43 others — to reach an agreement to free their loved ones. Opposition leader Yair Lapid, however, vowed over the weekend to provide a political safety net to Netanyahu, ensuring his government would not fall over the deal.

Even as the proposal faces stiff headwinds, the Biden administration said it was cautiously optimistic that a deal could be reached.

White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan urged world leaders to rally behind the proposal.

“They need to train their eyes on Hamas this week and say it’s time to come to the table to do this deal,” Mr. Sullivan said in an appearance at the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition conference in Washington.

To that end, Mr. Biden on June 3 spoke with Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani of Qatar, a key Hamas interlocutor, and said it was “the best possible opportunity for an agreement,” the White House said.

Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the U.S. envoy to the United Nations, said the U.S. circulated a draft resolution seeking support for the proposal from the 14 other members of the U.N. Security Council.

Mr. Sullivan, meanwhile, spoke to his Turkish counterpart, Akif Cagatay Kilic, about Turkey using its influence with Hamas to get them to accept the proposal. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has defended Hamas and hosted the group’s political leader, Ismail Haniyeh, for talks in April.

Group of Seven leaders on June 3 also endorsed the deal.

“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,” the G7 leaders said in a statement.

Mr. Biden acknowledged last week that getting beyond the first phase of the proposal would be difficult.

The first phase would last for six weeks and would include a cease-fire, a withdrawal of Israeli forces from all densely populated areas of Gaza and the release of a number of hostages, including women, the elderly and the wounded, in exchange for the release of hundreds of Palestinian prisoners.

The Israelis, under the proposal, would also allow 600 humanitarian aid trucks into Gaza each day during the first phase. The second phase would include the release of all remaining living hostages, including male soldiers, and Israeli forces would withdraw from Gaza.

Hamas is likely to make enormous demands about which Palestinian prisoners will be released and call on Israel to assure that it won’t continue to target top Hamas leaders.

Aaron David Miller, a former U.S. Middle East peace negotiator, said even getting to phase one — and the six-week pause in fighting — would bring about a “downshift in the escalation of the military campaign, fewer people dying.”

“I’m not sure they can expect much more,” said Mr. Miller, now a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. “Negotiations work in the end only if the parties feel sufficient pain accompanied by the prospects of gain, and that generates urgency. The only party that is in a hurry here is the Biden administration.”

Indeed, Israeli officials view the conflict on a far longer timeline.

Just last week, Israeli national security adviser Tzachi Hanegbi said he expected the war to drag on for another seven months, in order to destroy the military and governing capabilities of Hamas and the smaller Islamic Jihad militant group.

But with Election Day in the U.S. now just over five months away, Biden faces tightening pressure to more quickly resolve the Mideast conflict that’s left him bleeding support.

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Israel maintains a shadowy hospital in the desert for Gaza detainees. Critics allege mistreatment

Patients lying shackled and blindfolded on more than a dozen beds inside a white tent in the desert. Surgeries performed without adequate painkillers. Doctors who remain anonymous.

These are some of the conditions at Israel’s only hospital dedicated to treating Palestinians detained by the military in the Gaza Strip, three people who have worked there told The Associated Press, confirming similar accounts from human rights groups.

While Israel says it detains only suspected militants, many patients have turned out to be non-combatants taken during raids, held without trial and eventually returned to war-torn Gaza.

Eight months into the Israel-Hamas war, accusations of inhumane treatment at the Sde Teiman military field hospital are on the rise, and the Israeli government is under growing pressure to shut it down. Rights groups and other critics say what began as a temporary place to hold and treat militants after Oct. 7 has morphed into a harsh detention center with too little accountability.

The military denies the allegations of inhumane treatment and says all detainees needing medical attention receive it.

The hospital is near the city of Beersheba in southern Israel. It opened beside a detention center on a military base after the Oct. 7 Hamas attack on Israel because some civilian hospitals refused to treat wounded militants. Of the three workers interviewed by AP, two spoke on condition of anonymity because they feared government retribution and public rebuke.

“We are condemned by the left because we are not fulfilling ethical issues,” said Dr. Yoel Donchin, an anesthesiologist who has worked at Sde Teiman hospital since its earliest days and still works there. “We are condemned from the right because they think we are criminals for treating terrorists.”

The military this week said it formed a committee to investigate detention center conditions, but it was unclear if that included the hospital. Next week Israel’s highest court is set to hear arguments from human rights groups seeking to shut it down.

Israel has not granted journalists or the International Committee of the Red Cross access to the Sde Teiman facilities.

Israel has detained some 4,000 Palestinians since Oct. 7, according to official figures, though roughly 1,500 were released after the military determined they were not affiliated with Hamas. Israeli human rights groups say the majority of detainees have at some point passed through Sde Teiman, the country’s largest detention center.

Doctors there say they have treated many who appeared to be non-combatants.

“Now we have patients that are not so young, sick patients with diabetes and high blood pressure,” said Donchin, the anesthesiologist.

A soldier who worked at the hospital recounted an elderly man who underwent surgery on his leg without pain medication. “He was screaming and shaking,” said the soldier.

Between medical treatments, the soldier said patients were housed in the detention center, where they were exposed to squalid conditions and their wounds often developed infections. There was a separate area where older people slept on thin mattresses under floodlights, and a putrid smell hung in the air, he said.

The military said in a statement that all detainees are “reasonably suspected of being involved in terrorist activity.” It said they receive check-ups upon arrival and are transferred to the hospital when they require more serious treatment.

A medical worker who saw patients at the facility in the winter recounted teaching hospital workers how to wash wounds.

Donchin, who largely defended the facility against allegations of mistreatment but was critical of some of its practices, said most patients are diapered and not allowed to use the bathroom, shackled around their arms and legs and blindfolded.

“Their eyes are covered all the time. I don’t know what the security reason for this is,” he said.

The military disputed the accounts provided to AP, saying patients were handcuffed “in cases where the security risk requires it” and removed when they caused injury. Patients are rarely diapered, it said.

Dr. Michael Barilan, a professor at the Tel Aviv University Medical School who said he has spoken with over 15 hospital staff, disputed accounts of medical negligence. He said doctors are doing their best under difficult circumstances, and that the blindfolds originated out of a “fear (patients) would retaliate against those taking care of them.”

Days after Oct. 7, roughly 100 Israelis clashed with police outside one of the country’s main hospitals in response to false rumors it was treating a militant.

In the aftermath, some hospitals refused to treat detainees, fearful that doing so could endanger staff and disrupt operations. They were already overwhelmed by people wounded during the Hamas attack and expecting casualties to rise from an impending ground invasion.

As Israel pulled in scores of wounded Palestinians to Sde Teiman, it became clear the facility’s infirmary was not large enough, according to Barilan. An adjacent field hospital was built from scratch.

Israel’s Health Ministry laid out plans for the hospital in a December memo obtained by AP.

It said patients would be treated while handcuffed and blindfolded. Doctors, drafted into service by the military, would be kept anonymous to protect their “safety, lives and well-being.” The ministry referred all questions to the military when reached for comment.

Still, an April report from Physicians for Human Rights-Israel, drawing on interviews with hospital workers, said doctors at the facility faced “ethical, professional and even emotional distress.” Barilan said turnover has been high.

Patients with more complicated injuries have been transferred from the field hospital to civilian hospitals, but it has been done covertly to avoid arousing the public’s attention, Barilan said. And the process is fraught: The medical worker who spoke with AP said one detainee with a gunshot wound was discharged prematurely from a civilian hospital to Sde Teiman within hours of being treated, endangering his life.

The field hospital is overseen by military and health officials, but Donchin said parts of its operations are managed by KLP, a private logistics and security company whose website says it specializes in “high-risk environments.” The company did not respond to a request for comment.

Because it’s not under the same command as the military’s medical corps, the field hospital is not subject to Israel’s Patients Rights Act, according to Physicians for Human Rights-Israel.

A group from the Israeli Medical Association visited the hospital earlier this year but kept its findings private. The association did not respond to requests for comment.

The military told AP that 36 people from Gaza have died in Israel’s detention centers since Oct. 7, some of them because of illnesses or wounds sustained in the war. Physicians for Human Rights-Israel has alleged that some died from medical negligence.

Khaled Hammouda, a surgeon from Gaza, spent 22 days at one of Israel’s detention centers. He does not know where he was taken because he was blindfolded while he was transported. But he said he recognized a picture of Sde Teiman and said he saw at least one detainee, a prominent Gaza doctor who is believed to have been there.

Hammouda recalled asking a soldier if a pale 18-year-old who appeared to be suffering from internal bleeding could be taken to a doctor. The soldier took the teenager away, gave him intravenous fluids for a few hours, and then returned him.

“I told them, ‘He could die,'” Hammouda said. “‘They told me this is the limit.’”

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Israel PM Netanyahu acknowledges ‘tragic mistake’ after Rafah strike kills dozens of Palestinians

Children light candles during a march against Israel and in solidarity with Palestinians in the southern Gaza city of Rafah, on the Mediterranean Sea corniche in Beirut, Lebanon, Monday, May 27, 2024. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu acknowledged Monday that a “tragic mistake” had been made after an Israeli strike in the southern Gaza city of Rafah set fire to a tent camp housing displaced Palestinians and killed at least 45 people, according to local officials.
| Photo Credit: AP

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu acknowledged Monday that a “tragic mistake” had been made after an Israeli strike in the southern Gaza city of Rafah set fire to a tent camp housing displaced Palestinians and killed at least 45 people, according to local officials.

Israel has faced surging international criticism over its war with Hamas, with even some of its closest allies, particularly the United States, expressing outrage at civilian deaths.

Israel insists it adheres to international law even as it faces scrutiny in the world’s top courts, one of which last week demanded that it halt the offensive in Rafah.

Israel’s military had earlier said that it launched an investigation into civilian deaths after it struck a Hamas installation and killed two senior militants.

Sunday night’s attack, which appeared to be one of the war’s deadliest, helped push the overall Palestinian death toll in the war above 36,000, according to the Gaza Health Ministry, which does not distinguish between fighters and noncombatants in its tally.

“Despite our utmost efforts not to harm innocent civilians, last night, there was a tragic mistake,” Mr. Netanyahu said Monday in an address to Israel’s parliament.

“We are investigating the incident and will obtain a conclusion because this is our policy,” he said.

Mohammed Abuassa, who rushed to the scene in the northwestern neighbourhood of Tel al-Sultan, said rescuers “pulled out people who were in an unbearable state.” “We pulled out children who were in pieces. We pulled out young and elderly people. The fire in the camp was unreal,” he said.

At least 45 people were killed, according to the Gaza Health Ministry and the Palestinian Red Crescent rescue service. The ministry said the dead included at least 12 women, eight children and three older adults, with another three bodies burned beyond recognition.

In a separate development, Egypt’s military said one of its soldiers was shot dead during an exchange of fire in the Rafah area, without providing further details.

Israel said it was in contact with Egyptian authorities, and both sides said they were investigating.

Rafah, the southernmost Gaza city on the border with Egypt, had housed more than a million people — about half of Gaza’s population — displaced from other parts of the territory.

Most have fled once again since Israel launched what it called a limited incursion there earlier this month. Hundreds of thousands are packed into squalid tent camps in and around the city.

Mr. Netanyahu says Israel must destroy what he calls Hamas’ last remaining battalions in Rafah. The militant group launched a barrage of rockets Sunday from the city toward heavily populated central Israel, setting off air raid sirens but causing no injuries.

The strike on Rafah brought a new wave of condemnation, even from some of Israel’s close allies.

“These operations must stop. There are no safe areas in Rafah for Palestinian civilians. I call for full respect for international law and an immediate ceasefire,” French President Emmanuel Macron posted on X. Italian Defence Minister Guido Crosetto, in a TV interview, said such bombings are “spreading hatred, rooting hatred that will involve their children and grandchildren.” Qatar, a key mediator between Israel and Hamas in attempts to secure a cease-fire and the release of hostages held by Hamas, said the Rafah strike could “complicate” talks.

Negotiations, which appear to be restarting, have faltered repeatedly over Hamas’ demand for a lasting truce and the withdrawal of Israeli forces, terms Israeli leaders have publicly rejected.

Neighbouring Egypt and Jordan, which made peace with Israel decades ago, also condemned the Rafah strike. Egypt’s Foreign Ministry called it a “new and blatant violation of the rules of humanitarian international law.” Jordan’s Foreign Ministry called it a “war crime.” The Israeli military’s top legal official said authorities were examining the strikes and that the military regrets the loss of civilian life. Military Advocate General Maj. Gen. Yifat Tomer-Yerushalmi said such incidents occur “in a war of such scope and intensity.”

Speaking to an Israeli lawyers’ conference, Tomer-Yerushalmi said Israel has launched 70 criminal investigations into incidents that aroused suspicions of international law violations, including the deaths of civilians, the conditions at a detention facility holding suspected Palestinian militants and the deaths of some inmates in Israeli custody. She said incidents of “violence, property crimes and looting” were also being examined.

Israel has long maintained it has an independent judiciary capable of investigating and prosecuting abuses. But rights groups say Israeli authorities routinely fail to fully investigate violence against Palestinians and that even when soldiers are held accountable, the punishment is usually light.

Israel has denied allegations of genocide brought against it by South Africa at the International Court of Justice. Last week, the court ordered Israel to halt its offensive in Rafah, a ruling that it has no power to enforce.

Separately, the chief prosecutor at the International Criminal Court is seeking arrest warrants against Mr. Netanyahu and Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant, as well as three Hamas leaders, over alleged crimes linked to the war.

Israel says it does its best to adhere to the laws of war and says it faces an enemy that makes no such commitment, embeds itself in civilian areas and refuses to release Israeli hostages unconditionally.

Hamas triggered the war with its October 7 attack into Israel, in which Palestinian militants killed some 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and seized some 250 hostages. Hamas still holds about 100 hostages and the remains of around 30 others after most of the rest were released during a cease-fire last year.

Around 80% of Gaza’s 2.3 million people have fled their homes, severe hunger is widespread and UN officials say parts of the territory are experiencing famine.

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