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Gaza-Israel Conflict

Palestinians living in ‘unbearable’ conditions, UN says

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UNRWA Reports Dire Circumstances for Palestinians Amid Ongoing Conflict

The Gaza Strip has long been a focal point of conflict between Israel and Palestinian factions, with the latest escalation beginning with Hamas’s attack on southern Israel on October 7. In response, Israel launched a retaliatory offensive, resulting in extensive destruction and a severe humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

Louise Wateridge, a spokesperson for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), has painted a grim picture of life in Gaza. Describing conditions as “unbearable,” Wateridge detailed how residents are forced to live in bombed-out buildings and makeshift camps surrounded by heaps of trash. The basic necessities of life—water, sanitation, and food—are severely lacking.

The Gaza Strip has been described as “destroyed,” with buildings reduced to skeletons and rubble. Many people are now living in these precarious structures without proper shelter or sanitation. With sanitation services disrupted, waste is accumulating in massive piles near residential areas. This has led to unsanitary conditions, exacerbating the suffering of the population as temperatures rise. The prolonged conflict has led to severe food shortages. The visible health decline among residents, including UNRWA staff, underscores the critical nature of the food crisis.

The limited access to medical care has had devastating effects. Thousands of patients need evacuation for treatment, but logistical challenges and fuel shortages hinder the delivery of aid and the operation of medical services. The humanitarian crisis in Gaza has reached an unprecedented level, with the population facing daily struggles to survive. The destruction of infrastructure, coupled with the blockade and fuel shortages, has rendered basic living conditions intolerable.

The lack of food and medical care is visibly impacting the population, with people showing signs of malnutrition and deteriorating health. The inability to clear waste and provide sanitation services further aggravates the health risks, making the environment hazardous.

The situation in Gaza, as described by the UNRWA, highlights a dire humanitarian crisis that demands urgent attention and action. The combination of infrastructural destruction, food and fuel shortages, and lack of medical care has created conditions that are not just “unbearable” but life-threatening. Immediate international intervention is necessary to alleviate the suffering and prevent further deterioration of living conditions in the Gaza Strip.

Gaza-Israel Conflict

Israel strikes southern Lebanon after Hezbollah rocket attack

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Cross-border attacks between Israel and Hezbollah intensify as Gaza conflict threatens to expand regionally.

The border between Israel and Lebanon saw a dramatic escalation in hostilities on Thursday, as Israeli forces and the Lebanon-based militant group Hezbollah engaged in a fierce exchange of aerial attacks. This latest flare-up, part of months-long confrontations, has raised serious concerns about the ongoing Israeli war against Hamas in the Gaza Strip potentially spilling over into a broader regional conflict.

Hezbollah announced it had launched over 200 rockets at Israeli military bases, deploying “explosive drones” in response to Israel’s assassination of one of its commanders the previous day. The assault triggered air raid sirens across northern Israel. The Israeli military reported intercepting many of the rockets while launching retaliatory airstrikes on Hezbollah’s launch sites in Lebanon.

These attacks unfolded as Israeli officials deliberated over Hamas’s response to a new cease-fire proposal, which includes the release of hostages held in Gaza. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office disclosed that Israel is considering “some ideas” communicated by Hamas to Qatari mediators.

On Thursday, an Israeli government official revealed that a delegation had been dispatched to negotiate a hostage release deal with Hamas. Meanwhile, Netanyahu prepared for a crucial meeting with his security cabinet to review Hamas’s new positions regarding the cease-fire.

Israeli media reported that Netanyahu held a conversation with U.S. President Joe Biden on Thursday. Biden, who has been striving to broker a truce for months, supported Netanyahu’s decision to send negotiators to work with U.S., Qatari, and Egyptian mediators to finalize the deal.

“The President welcomed the Prime Minister’s decision to authorize his negotiators to engage with U.S., Qatari, and Egyptian mediators in an effort to close out the deal,” the White House stated, reaffirming Biden’s strong commitment to Israel’s security amid threats from Iranian-backed groups like Hezbollah.

The mediating countries — Qatar, Egypt, and the United States — have been tirelessly working to secure a deal that would free hostages and cease hostilities. Hamas’s latest proposals align with a three-phase plan Biden introduced in late May.

In parallel, the United Nations expressed deep concern over Israel’s recent evacuation order affecting significant portions of the Khan Younis and Rafah governorates, impacting up to 250,000 civilians. Andrea De Domenico, head of the U.N. office for humanitarian affairs in the Palestinian territories, highlighted the massive displacement this order has caused. “What we saw in the last two days is a constant flow of people moving out,” De Domenico reported from Jerusalem.

He described the operational challenges faced by U.N. agencies and their partners due to the evacuation, noting the daily struggle to deliver aid. Israel has repeatedly urged Palestinians to leave certain areas ahead of military offensives, ostensibly to protect civilians. However, these evacuations have led to repeated displacements for many.

De Domenico pointed out that 90% of Gaza’s population has been displaced at least once, and some as many as ten times, since the war between Israel and Hamas erupted in October. He emphasized the dire conditions in the designated “safe zones” along the coast, which are overcrowded and lack basic amenities.

“Nowhere and no one is safe in Gaza,” he warned. “We have seen over and over military operations and bombardment happening also in the heart of the humanitarian safe zone declared by Israel.”

The conflict, ignited by a Hamas-led militant attack on southern Israel on October 7, resulted in around 1,200 Israeli deaths and the abduction of over 250 hostages, predominantly civilians. Israel’s retaliatory campaign has led to more than 38,000 deaths and 87,000 injuries in Gaza, according to the enclave’s health ministry, leaving the region devastated.

As the situation deteriorates, the possibility of a broader regional conflict looms, with international mediators striving to navigate a path to peace amidst the rising tensions.

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Analysis

Is an Israel-Hezbollah War Inevitable?

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By signaling its unwavering support for Tel Aviv in any potential campaign, Washington may be edging this looming conflict closer to reality. The exchanges of fire between Israel and Hezbollah have been a persistent feature over the past eight months, recently intensifying to an alarming degree. This situation has the potential to escalate into a full-blown war in two primary ways.

One possible route to escalation is for the current tit-for-tat exchanges to spiral out of control, leading to an unintended and uncontrollable conflict. This could occur as each side attempts to deter future attacks by responding forcefully to the most recent ones. The second potential path to war would be a deliberate decision by one side to engage in full-scale conflict. Hezbollah is unlikely to choose this route. The organization has made it clear that its actions are in solidarity with the Palestinians in Gaza and in support of Hamas, rather than a desire for an all-out war with Israel. The 2006 conflict, which resulted in significant human and material costs for Hezbollah, serves as a cautionary tale.

Iran warns Israel of ‘obliterating’ war if Lebanon attacked

Israel, on the other hand, might consider launching a full-scale war in Lebanon in the coming months if the situation does not spiral out of control first. Reports suggest that U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has conveyed to Arab officials his belief that Israel is intent on invading Lebanon. Such an invasion would likely be driven by internal political and emotional factors rather than a clear-eyed assessment of Israeli security interests.

One of the driving factors behind this potential escalation is the plight of approximately 60,000 Israelis displaced from northern Israel due to security concerns. These individuals represent a significant political force advocating for decisive action to improve security and allow their return. Although a full-scale war might initially worsen the security situation, there is a misplaced hope that aggressive military action could lead to a long-term solution.

The personal political and legal situation of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is also a major factor. Netanyahu’s hold on power and his ability to avoid corruption charges may hinge on maintaining a state of war. With the “intense phase” of the war with Hamas seemingly drawing to a close, Netanyahu might see a new conflict with Hezbollah as essential to his political survival. His coalition partners, such as Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich and National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir, are also hardliners who favor military action against Hezbollah.

US warns Israeli offensive in Lebanon could bring wider war, draw in Iran

An additional factor is the belief among some Israelis that southern Lebanon is part of “greater Israel” and should be subject to military conquest and settlement. While this idea is on the fringe, it has gained some traction in recent years.

Israel’s previous military operations in Lebanon suggest that a new conflict would not achieve lasting security. Israel invaded Lebanon in 1978 and again in 1982, maintaining an occupation of southern Lebanon until 2000. Despite these efforts, Hezbollah remains a formidable force. The 2006 war demonstrated Hezbollah’s resilience, and the group has only grown stronger since then. Estimates of Hezbollah’s rocket and missile arsenal suggest it could inflict significant damage on Israel, despite the sophistication of Israeli air defenses.

The Biden administration genuinely seeks to avoid a new Israel-Hezbollah war, but its efforts face significant challenges. United Nations Security Council Resolution 1701, which aimed to resolve the 2006 conflict, provides a potential framework for peace. However, the current negative atmosphere and Hezbollah’s solidarity with Gaza Palestinians complicate these efforts.

UN Chief Warns: Lebanon Cannot Become Another Gaza

The administration’s declaratory policy, including assurances of support for Israel in the event of a conflict, may inadvertently encourage Israeli aggression. If a full-scale war does break out, the world is likely to view the United States as complicit, leading to diplomatic isolation and increased anti-American sentiment.

Ultimately, an Israeli invasion of Lebanon would likely result in extensive destruction without achieving long-term security. Instead, it could further entrench Hezbollah’s role as a defender against Israeli aggression and exacerbate regional instability. The Biden administration’s challenge is to navigate these complex dynamics and prevent a conflict that would have far-reaching and devastating consequences for the region and beyond.

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EDITORIAL

Russia Arming Houthis: A New Threat to Somaliland’s Security and Global Internet

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How Moscow’s Support for Yemen’s Rebels and Attacks on Submarine Cables Could Destabilize the Red Sea and Somaliland

In a provocative and highly controversial move, Russia’s potential provision of weapons to the Houthi rebels in Yemen threatens to escalate tensions in the already volatile Red Sea region. This development, coupled with the looming threat to submarine internet cables critical to global communications, could have far-reaching consequences for the Gulf of Aden, Somaliland, and the broader international community.

Russian state media figure Vladimir Solovyov recently suggested that Moscow should arm the Houthis to retaliate against Western support for Ukraine. This statement comes amid ongoing clashes between Iran-aligned Houthi rebels and Western forces in the Red Sea. The Houthis have been targeting ships, including a recent missile attack on the British-registered Rubymar vessel, escalating the conflict in a crucial maritime corridor.

If Russia follows through on Solovyov’s suggestion, it could transform the balance of power in the Red Sea. The Houthis, already emboldened by Iranian support, would gain access to more sophisticated weaponry, potentially including semi-submersible unmanned boats and advanced firearms. This could significantly increase the threat to international shipping and military assets in the region, leading to a broader conflict involving the Gulf states and their allies.

Adding another layer of complexity is the potential disruption of submarine cables, which are the backbone of global internet connectivity. These cables, spanning over 1.4 million kilometers of ocean floor, carry a significant portion of the world’s internet traffic. The Red Sea alone hosts around 16 cable systems that connect Europe to Asia, transporting data for up to 2.3 billion people.

The Houthi rebels have been accused of planning attacks on these crucial communication links. An incident in February 2024 saw the interruption of four internet cables in the Red Sea, impacting 25% of internet traffic between Asia, Europe, and the Middle East. While the Houthis denied involvement, suspicions remain high, given their history of targeting infrastructure in the region.

The deliberate targeting of submarine cables by the Houthis, potentially with Russian backing, could disrupt global communications, affecting everything from financial transactions to military operations. Such an attack would be a clear act of cyber warfare, with profound implications for international security and economic stability.

For Somaliland, the geopolitical stakes are particularly high. The unrecognized state has been seeking greater international legitimacy and support, notably offering the strategic port of Berbera as a military base to the United States. However, U.S. policy has been ambivalent, failing to capitalize on this opportunity while opposing Somaliland’s Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Ethiopia.

As Russia and China expand their influence in the region, Somaliland’s strategic importance grows. If the U.S. continues to neglect Somaliland, it risks losing a critical ally in the Red Sea to its rivals. Recognizing Somaliland and strengthening military and economic ties could counterbalance the influence of Russia and China, ensuring that the Red Sea remains a stable and secure maritime corridor.

The Gulf states, particularly Saudi Arabia and the UAE, also have a vested interest in the stability of the Red Sea. The disruption of submarine cables and the arming of the Houthis could threaten their economic and security interests, given their reliance on secure maritime routes for oil exports and other trade. Increased Houthi capabilities could lead to more frequent and severe attacks on shipping, potentially closing critical chokepoints like the Bab al-Mandab Strait.

The current U.S. administration faces a critical decision point. The neglect of Somaliland and the failure to adequately address the threats posed by Russian and Iranian activities in the Red Sea could have dire consequences. It is imperative for the U.S. and its allies to reassess their strategies in the region, taking decisive steps to support Somaliland’s quest for recognition and stability.

Strengthening military and intelligence cooperation with Somaliland could serve as a deterrent to Russian and Iranian ambitions. Additionally, enhancing the protection of submarine cables through international collaboration and advanced surveillance technologies is crucial to safeguarding global internet infrastructure.

The convergence of Russian support for the Houthis and the threat to submarine cables represents a significant and growing challenge for the international community. The potential for increased conflict in the Red Sea, coupled with the risk of major disruptions to global communications, demands urgent and coordinated action from Western governments.

Ignoring these threats could lead to a destabilized region, with far-reaching impacts on global security and economic stability. It is time for the West to recognize the strategic importance of Somaliland and the need for robust responses to the emerging threats in the Red Sea. Only through proactive and concerted efforts can the balance of power be maintained and the interests of the international community safeguarded.

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Gaza-Israel Conflict

Iran warns Israel of ‘obliterating’ war if Lebanon attacked

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As Gaza Conflict Intensifies, Tehran Warns of Regional Conflagration Involving Hezbollah –

In a stark and provocative warning, Iran has declared that any Israeli attack on Lebanon would trigger an ‘obliterating’ war involving all of Iran’s regional allies, known collectively as the Resistance Fronts. This statement, issued by Iran’s mission to New York, heightens fears of a broader regional conflict that could spiral out of the current Gaza war.

As the conflict in Gaza continues, near-daily exchanges of fire between Israel and Lebanon’s Hezbollah, an Iran-backed militant group, have raised the specter of a wider war. This month has seen an escalation in both military activity and inflammatory rhetoric from both sides. The Israeli military has publicly stated that its plans for an offensive in Lebanon have been “approved and validated.” In response, Hezbollah has warned that no part of Israel would be spared in a full-scale conflict.

On social media platform X, the Iranian mission labeled Israeli threats as psychological warfare. However, it ominously added that any full-scale Israeli military aggression would result in an ‘obliterating’ war, with all options on the table, including the full involvement of the Resistance Fronts.

The current Gaza conflict, which began in October following a surprise attack on southern Israel by Hamas militants, has already drawn in regional actors. Iran, a staunch supporter of Hamas, praised the attack while denying direct involvement. Yet, Hezbollah’s attacks on northern Israel and the actions of Iran-backed rebels in Yemen—who have targeted commercial ships in the Red Sea in solidarity with Palestinians—underscore the volatile regional dynamics.

Tensions were further inflamed in April when an Israeli airstrike leveled Iran’s consulate in Damascus, killing seven members of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, including two generals. Iran’s response was swift and severe, launching an unprecedented drone and missile attack on Israel on April 13 and 14. The subsequent explosions in Iran’s central province of Isfahan, reported by Iranian state media and attributed to retaliatory Israeli strikes, mark a significant escalation in the Israel-Iran conflict.

Despite these serious provocations, Iran has downplayed the reported Israeli raid. This downplaying, however, does little to ease the palpable tension in the region.

The potential for a wider conflict is not just a hypothetical scenario. With Hezbollah deeply entrenched in Lebanon and supported by Iran, any Israeli offensive could quickly draw in other members of the Resistance Fronts. This includes various militant groups across the Middle East that are aligned with Iran and hostile to Israel.

The stakes are high. A broader conflict could destabilize the entire region, affecting global oil supplies, disrupting international shipping routes, and sparking humanitarian crises on an unprecedented scale. The geopolitical ramifications would be profound, drawing in global powers and potentially reshaping alliances and enmities in the Middle East.

As the November 2024 elections approach in Somaliland, the shadow of these larger regional conflicts looms ominously. The tribal politics and clan loyalties that threaten to derail Somaliland’s democratic aspirations are, in a way, a microcosm of the broader Middle Eastern dynamics where allegiances and enmities often transcend national boundaries, influenced by historical, religious, and ideological ties.

The people of Somaliland, much like the broader Middle Eastern populace, desire peace and stability. Yet, their fate, like that of so many others in the region, is precariously balanced on the brink of larger geopolitical forces and the ambitions of powerful actors. The call for true democracy and adherence to the rule of law in Somaliland resonates with the broader regional desire for peace and self-determination, free from the destructive influences of external powers and internal divisions.

In this highly volatile context, the international community must closely monitor developments and support efforts to de-escalate tensions. Diplomacy, dialogue, and a commitment to peaceful resolutions are more critical than ever to prevent the descent into a full-scale regional war.

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Gaza-Israel Conflict

Israeli Airstrike Sparks Outrage: Hamas Leader’s Family Members Killed in Gaza

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In a tragic escalation of the Gaza conflict, an Israeli airstrike on Tuesday targeted a house in the Shati refugee camp, west of Gaza City, claiming the lives of 10 family members of Qatar-based Hamas political chief Ismail Haniyeh. This strike follows earlier attacks that had already claimed the lives of three of Haniyeh’s sons.

Israel’s military justified the airstrikes, citing their targeting of buildings in Shati and another area in northern Gaza allegedly used by Hamas militants involved in the recent Oct. 7 attack on Israel. The intensifying violence underscores the deepening animosity and deadly reprisals exchanged between the two sides.

Amidst the ongoing hostilities, Israel’s Supreme Court decision to compel ultra-Orthodox Jewish seminary students into military service has added political pressure on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition government. The decision, aimed at ending long-standing exemptions, comes amidst broader geopolitical tensions involving Hezbollah in Lebanon.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has urged restraint, cautioning against further escalation that could involve Lebanon and Hezbollah. The international community, represented by European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, emphasizes the urgent need for a ceasefire to facilitate humanitarian aid delivery to Gaza, where conditions are rapidly deteriorating.

The conflict has severely disrupted humanitarian efforts, with aid organizations highlighting the challenges in safely delivering essential supplies to Palestinians in Gaza. Despite efforts such as the U.S.-built aid pier facilitating substantial deliveries, logistical and safety concerns persist amid the ongoing violence.

Meanwhile, U.S. military assets, including the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower carrier strike group and the USS Theodore Roosevelt, are strategically deployed to the region to deter aggression and safeguard regional stability. These deployments underscore international efforts to mitigate the conflict’s broader regional implications.

As casualties mount and tensions escalate, the Israeli airstrike on Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh’s family members marks a critical escalation in the Gaza conflict. The international community’s calls for restraint and humanitarian assistance face mounting challenges amid the unfolding crisis, underscoring the urgent need for diplomatic solutions to end the violence and alleviate the suffering of civilians caught in the crossfire.

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Gaza-Israel Conflict

Massive Protests Erupt in Jerusalem Against Netanyahu’s War Policies

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Thousands of Israelis staged a massive demonstration in Jerusalem on Monday, voicing strong opposition to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s handling of the ongoing war in Gaza. The protest, which began outside the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, eventually moved to Netanyahu’s personal residence, signaling widespread discontent.

The demonstrators demanded that the Israeli government negotiate with Hamas to secure the release of the remaining hostages taken by the Palestinian militant group during their deadly raid on southern Israel last October. Additionally, protesters called for early parliamentary elections, expressing frustration with the current leadership.

Tensions escalated as some protesters attempted to breach police barricades, prompting security forces to use water cannons to disperse the crowd. The unrest highlighted the deepening dissatisfaction with Netanyahu’s wartime strategies and the political instability plaguing the country.

The protests came shortly after Netanyahu disbanded his war cabinet, a move anticipated following the resignations of centrist ex-generals Benny Gantz and Gadi Eisenkot. Both had stepped down last week due to disagreements over the war’s direction. Gantz, who had joined Netanyahu’s unity government at the war’s outset, had been instrumental in forming the war cabinet.

The disbandment has raised concerns about the effectiveness and unity of Israel’s government during a critical period. However, the White House described the dissolution as an internal matter, with the State Department reiterating that the U.S. will continue its interactions with Netanyahu’s administration.

In a related development, the Israeli military announced an 11-hour “tactical pause” in operations in parts of the southern Gaza Strip to facilitate the delivery of humanitarian aid. This pause, which applies to about 12 kilometers of road in the Rafah area, is intended to allow aid trucks to safely reach the Kerem Shalom crossing and distribute essential supplies to other parts of Gaza.

Despite the tactical pause, the broader conflict continues unabated. The limited halt aims to address the dire humanitarian situation in Gaza, where more than a million displaced Palestinians are in desperate need of aid. The United Nations has welcomed the pause but stressed the need for more comprehensive measures to address the humanitarian crisis.

Internationally, there have been calls for a complete ceasefire, with proposals for a six-week halt in fighting to facilitate broader negotiations, including the release of more hostages by Hamas. However, no significant breakthroughs in ceasefire talks have been reported.

Domestically, Netanyahu’s government faces criticism from ultranationalists who oppose any cessation of military actions. The ongoing conflict, marked by high civilian casualties and widespread displacement, has further strained Israel’s internal political landscape.

The mass protests in Jerusalem underscore the growing public frustration with Netanyahu’s leadership and the ongoing war in Gaza. As the political and humanitarian crises deepen, the calls for change and negotiations grow louder, challenging the government’s current approach and pushing for a reevaluation of strategies to address the conflict and its repercussions.

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Gaza-Israel Conflict

Netanyahu Dissolves War Cabinet Amidst Tactical Pause in Gaza

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu dissolved his war cabinet following the departure of former General Benny Gantz, who had joined the unity government at the war’s outset in October. Gantz’s exit left Netanyahu to dismantle the war cabinet, as it had been formed at his insistence.

Israel announced a tactical pause in its military operations in southern Gaza, allowing for an 11-hour window each day for humanitarian aid to enter. This pause aims to address the severe humanitarian crisis, although sporadic fighting continues.

The pause facilitates aid delivery through the Kerem Shalom crossing to southern and central Gaza, including Khan Younis and makeshift camps. Despite this, the international community continues to push for a comprehensive cease-fire, which remains elusive.

The limited cease-fire is a response to urgent humanitarian needs but has faced criticism from ultranationalist factions within Netanyahu’s government. The U.N. welcomed the move, hoping it leads to more substantial measures to alleviate the humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

The fighting in Gaza has resulted in significant casualties on both sides. Israel has reported over 300 soldier fatalities since the ground invasion began, while Hamas’s October 7 attack killed 1,200 Israelis and took 250 hostages. Gaza’s health officials report over 37,000 Palestinian deaths, including civilians and combatants.

Netanyahu’s decision to dissolve the war cabinet reflects ongoing political dynamics within Israel amidst the prolonged conflict with Hamas.

The tactical pause, although limited, aims to provide much-needed relief to the beleaguered population of Gaza, highlighting the complex interplay of military, humanitarian, and political factors in the region.

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Gaza-Israel Conflict

Biden softens comment on Netanyahu, Gaza war

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U.S. President Joe Biden, increasingly critical of Israel’s conduct of its war against Hamas militants in Gaza and a mounting Palestinian death toll, said in an interview published Tuesday that there is “every reason” to believe Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has dragged out the conflict to save himself politically.

But when asked later Tuesday whether Netanyahu was playing politics with the war, Biden seemed to backtrack, telling reporters, “I don’t think so. He’s trying to work out a serious problem he has.”

Last week, Biden announced an Israeli proposal for a Gaza cease-fire and pushed for global support of it. Hamas has yet to agree to it, and Netanyahu has been reserved in his comments about it, prompting Biden’s remark to Time magazine about Israel’s prime minister dragging out the war.

Netanyahu on Monday downplayed the immediate prospects for a cease-fire in the war with Hamas in Gaza, saying that a deal was a partial outline.

As the war nears the eight-month mark, the Israeli leader faces conflicting demands: Biden and other world leaders urge him to end the conflict, while right-wing lawmakers in the Israeli parliament say they will upend Netanyahu’s government if he agrees to a cease-fire without first erasing the last vestiges of Hamas control in Gaza.

Hamas said Tuesday it cannot agree to any deal unless Israel makes a “clear” commitment to a permanent cease-fire and a complete withdrawal of troops from Gaza. Netanyahu has often said Israeli forces will not leave Gaza without eliminating all Hamas elements from the territory.

Qatar, which alongside the United States and Egypt has been mediating Hamas-Israel talks in Cairo, has also urged Israel to provide a clear position on its intentions, one that has the backing of its entire government to reach a deal.

Biden acknowledged that he and Netanyahu have had tense relations as the death toll in Gaza has soared past the 36,000 mark — a figure that includes both civilians and combatants.

They are particularly at odds over whether a revitalized Palestinian Authority should govern Gaza after the war, which the United States favors, and Netanyahu rejects without offering a detailed plan of his own.

“My major disagreement with Netanyahu is, what happens after … Gaza’s over? What, what does it go back to? Do Israeli forces go back in?” Biden asked rhetorically.

“The answer is, if that’s the case, it can’t work,” he said.

White House national security spokesman John Kirby said Biden, in the Time interview, “was referencing what many critics have said” about Netanyahu’s actions, but that the U.S. will “let the prime minister speak to his own politics and to what his critics are saying.”

“For our part though, he and Prime Minister Netanyahu do not agree on everything, and he talked in that interview about some of the things they don’t agree on, such as on a two-state solution,” a newly formed Palestinian state living alongside Israel.

The fate of a proposal to halt fighting in Gaza remained uncertain Tuesday. Hamas has yet to give a definitive response to the proposal, Israeli officials are questioning some of the details, and the United States is seeking U.N. Security Council support for the deal’s acceptance and implementation.

A draft U.S. resolution seen by VOA calls on Hamas to fully accept and implement the cease-fire proposal “without delay and without condition.”

The basic outline of the deal includes a six-week halt in fighting, the release of some hostages from Gaza, daily deliveries of 600 trucks of aid for Palestinians, and further negotiations aimed at securing a permanent end to the conflict.

U.S. officials reiterated Monday that the cease-fire proposal, though presented publicly by Biden last week, is an Israeli proposal.

Kirby told reporters that making public negotiations that officials had declined to reveal in the past for fear of disrupting the negotiation process was not about putting pressure on Israeli officials, but rather, if anything, publicly pressuring Hamas and its leaders to accept the deal.

“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, catalyze a different outcome,” Kirby said.

Kirby said in earlier comments to reporters that if Hamas were to accept the proposal, Israel would, as well.

Netanyahu told a parliamentary committee Monday that “claims that we have agreed to a cease-fire without our conditions being met are incorrect,” according to a statement from his office.

Hamas launched the October 7 terror attack on Israel, killing about 1,200 people according to Israeli tallies, and taking roughly 250 hostages. About 120 of the hostages remain in Gaza, although the Israeli military says 37 of them are dead.

Israel’s retaliatory bombardments and ground offensive have killed at least 36,400 people in Gaza, mostly civilians, according to the Gaza Health Ministry.

On Tuesday, at least 11 Palestinians were killed in an Israeli airstrike in central Gaza, local hospitals said. Elsewhere, two policemen were killed while helping to protect humanitarian aid deliveries in Rafah, Palestinian medics told Reuters.

Some information for this report was provided by The Associated Press, Reuters and Agence France-Presse.

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