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Labor, Coalition clash over security checks for 2000 Palestinian visas

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The federal government has accused the Coalition of trying to whip up fear by suggesting that terrorists or terrorist sympathisers from Palestine may be receiving fast-tracked visas to enter Australia.

As the opposition attacks the government over border protection after around 40 asylum seekers arrived by boat in Western Australia, it has also argued that the government is not applying sufficiently tough security checks for visa applicants from the occupied Palestinian territories.

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Israel retaliates with Gaza strikes after Palestinian militants kill hundreds and take hostages

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Israel says it is now at war with Hamas, launching air strikes on Gaza and vowing to inflict an “unprecedented price” after dozens of Hamas militants broke out of the blockaded Gaza Strip and into nearby Israeli towns, killing hundreds and abducting others in an unprecedented operation.

The surprise early morning attack — which was backed by a barrage of rockets fired from within Gaza — killed at least 250 people and wounded more than 1,500, according to Israel’s national rescue service, during a major Jewish holiday on Saturday local time.

Israel said the Iran-backed group had declared war as its army confirmed fighting with militants in several Israeli towns and military bases near Gaza.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to retaliate.

“Our enemy will pay a price the type of which it has never known,” he said.

“We are in a war and we will win it.”

‘The morning of defeat and humiliation’

Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh said the assault that began in Gaza would spread to the West Bank and Jerusalem.

“This was the morning of defeat and humiliation upon our enemy, its soldiers and its settlers,” he said.

“What happened reveals the greatness of our preparation. What happened today reveals the weakness of the enemy.”

Israel’s national rescue service said at least 200 people were killed and hundreds injured, making it the deadliest attack in Israel in years.

The Israeli military said it had responded with air strikes into Gaza, where witnesses reported hearing heavy explosions and multiple dead and injured being carried into hospitals.

At least 232 people in the Gaza Strip have been killed and at least 1,700 injured in Israel’s retaliation, the Palestinian Health Ministry said.

Air strikes in the evening flattened a 14-story residential tower that also holds Hamas offices in central Gaza City.

The Israeli military said navy forces killed dozens of Palestinian militants trying to infiltrate Israel by sea.

Hamas says it is holding dozens of Israeli captives

Hamas deputy chief Saleh al-Arouri told Al Jazeera the group was holding a large number of Israeli captives, including senior officials. He said Hamas had enough captives to make Israel free all Palestinians in its jails.

Israel army spokesman Daniel Hagari confirmed “there are kidnapped soldiers and civilians”.

“I can’t give figures about them at the moment. It’s a war crime committed by Hamas and they will pay the price,” he said.

Abu Obedia, a Hamas military spokesperson said the captives were being held in “safe places” and militant tunnels.

The militant Islamic Jihad group said it had joined the attacks and was holding several Israeli soldiers captive.

Hamas footage on its Telegram account showed its fighters pulling Israeli soldiers out of a tank.

Gunbattles in Israeli towns

The attack marked an unprecedented infiltration into Israel by an unknown number of Hamas gunmen crossing from the Gaza Strip, and the heaviest blow for Israel in the conflict with Palestinians since the suicide bombings of the Second Intifada some two decades ago.

Israeli army Major General Ghasan Alyan warned Hamas had “opened the gates of hell”.

The army said its forces were engaged in live gun battles in several locations near the Gaza Strip, in an operation labelled “Swords of Iron”.

Israeli media reported gun battles between bands of Palestinian fighters and security forces in towns in southern Israel.

Israel’s police chief said there were “21 active scenes” in southern Israel.

In Gaza, people rushed to buy supplies in anticipation of days of conflict ahead. Some evacuated their homes and headed for shelters.

Israeli Defence Minister Gallant said “troops are fighting against the enemy at every location” and authorised the call-up of reservists.

“We were told there are terrorists inside the kibbutz, we can hear gunfire,” a young woman named Dvir, from Beeri Kibbutz, told Israeli Army Radio from her bomb shelter.

Hamas media displayed videos of what it said were bodies of Israeli soldiers brought to Gaza by fighters, and Palestinian gunmen inside Israeli homes and touring an Israeli town in jeeps reportedly been driven into Israel by the attackers.

Reuters was not immediately able to verify the footage.

In Gaza, the roar of rocket launches could be heard and residents reported armed clashes along the separation fence with Israel, near the southern town of Khan Younis, and said they had seen significant movement of armed fighters.

Palestinians in Gaza were bracing for Israel’s response.

 

“We are afraid,” Palestinian woman, Amal Abu Daqqa, told Reuters as she left her house in Khan Younis.

US vows defence support for Israel

The United States on Saturday condemned the attacks by “Hamas terrorists” against Israel and vowed to ensure the key US ally had the means to defend itself.

President Joe Biden described the assault as “horrific” and said that he had spoken to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to underline that the United States stood “ready to offer all appropriate means of support”.

As the attacks threatened to trigger a wider conflict, Mr Biden warned “against any other party hostile to Israel seeking advantage in this situation”.

Mr Biden stressed that Israel — which the United States has supplied with billions of dollars of arms — has “a right to defend itself and its people”.

Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin reaffirmed Washington’s “unwavering” commitment, saying “over the coming days the Department of Defence will work to ensure that Israel has what it needs to defend itself and protect civilians”.

Article link: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2023-10-08/israel-and-hamas-at-war-after-surprise-attacks-from-gaza-strip/102947962
Article source: ABC | 8.10.23

2024-02-22 05:36:48.000000
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Israel at war after Hamas launches land, sea and air invasion from the Gaza Strip

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Hamas launched an unprecedented attack on Israel, firing thousands of rockets as dozens of fighters infiltrated the heavily fortified border in several locations by air, land, and sea and catching the country off-guard on a major holiday. Photo: Tsafrir Abayov/Associated Presss

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said his country was at war with Hamas after the Iran-backed terror group launched a “9/11 level event” in by far the deadliest day of violence in Israel since the Yom Kippur war 50 years ago.

Islamic Jihadists used the Sabbath to launch the all-out assault with motorised paragliders, speed boats, bulldozers and motorbikes to surprise Israeli positions while 5,000 rockets overwhelmed the Iron Dome defence system.

Israel vowed revenge on Hamas for opening the “gates of hell” into the Gaza Strip, with reports of hundreds of deaths and Jewish hostages being dragged into the Palestinian territory.

More than 230 Gazans were also killed when Israel responded with retaliatory strikes.

In a video address, Israel’s Prime Minister said Hamas would be held responsible for the well-being of the captives.

“We will take mighty vengeance for this black day,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said.

“Hamas launched a cruel and wicked war. We will win this war but the price is too heavy to bear,” he said. “Hamas wants to murder us all. This is an enemy that murders mothers and children in their homes, in their beds. An enemy that abducts elderly, children, teenage girls.”

Israeli citizens pleaded for help as gunmen swept across as many as 22 locations as far as 24 kilometres from the Gaza border on the Jewish holiday when much of the country was disconnected from mass communication while in prayer.

Bodies of Israeli civilians were strewn across the streets of Sderot in southern Israel, Reuters reported.

“I went out, I saw loads of bodies of terrorists, civilians, cars shot up. A sea of bodies, inside Sderot along the road, other places, loads of bodies,” Shlomi from Sderot told Reuters.

US President Joe Biden said on Sunday that US support for Israel was “rock solid and unwavering” the large-scale surprise attack by Hamas.

“The United States stands with Israel. We will not ever fail to have their back,” Mr Biden said in a televised statement at the White House, flanked by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

The US President discouraged other parties hostile to Israel from exploiting these attacks. “The world is watching,” he warned.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said Israel had the nation’s support. “Australia stands with our friend Israel in this time,” he said in a statement.

“We condemn the indiscriminate and abhorrent attacks by Hamas on Israel, its cities and civilians. We recognise Israel’s right to defend itself.”

The UN Security Council will hold an emergency meeting on Monday at 6am (AEDT) to address the situation in the Middle East.

At least 40 Israelis were confirmed dead, Israeli authorities said, and at least 545 people were injured, according to reports from Israeli hospitals.

At least 270 Palestinians have been killed so far and more than 1,000 injured, according to Palestinian medical authorities.

Videos online show troops being mobilised, fighter jets unleashing hellfire, and navy ships destroying speedboats attempting an amphibious landing.

“We’re looking at truly a 9/11 level event,” said James Stavridis, a former NATO high-ranking leader.

Palestinians in Gaza were seen celebrating alongside what were said to be Israeli army vehicles on Saturday (October 7).

World leaders condemned the attack that Hamas’s military commander in Gaza, Mohammad Deif, said was just the first phase of “Operation Al-Aqsa Storm, launched to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the 1973 Arab-Israeli war.

It comes months after Mr Biden released US$6 billion in frozen assets to Hamas’s main benefactor, Iran, leading to outrage over both the funding of the attack and what experts are calling an “embarrassing intelligence failure” is Israel’s security state.

Palestinian militant group Hamas launched a large-scale surprise attack against Israel Saturday, firing thousands of rockets from Gaza and sending ground units to…

The Islamist group started the attack around 6.30am on Saturday local time (2.30pm Saturday AEDT) with thousands of rockets aimed as far as Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, some bypassing the Iron Dome defence system and hitting buildings.

“Send help, please!” one Israeli woman sheltering with her two-year-old child pleaded as militants outside opened fire at her house and tried to break into their safe room, Israeli media reported.

As night fell, Israel had ordered its state-run electricity company to stop the power supply to Gaza, said Energy Minister Israel Katz.

The escalation follows months of rising violence, mostly in the occupied West Bank, and tensions around Gaza’s border and at contested holy sites in Jerusalem.

The Israeli military says that fighting is continuing in 22 locations in southern Israel 12 hours after Hamas militants carried out a surprise infiltration into the area. In a…

Some regional leaders urged restraint after Saturday’s deadly Hamas attack targeting Israel and the retaliation that followed, but others blamed Israel itself and some celebrated the surprise assault.

Egypt President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi warned “against the danger of the situation deteriorating and sliding into more violence”.

A senior adviser to Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei voiced support, calling it a “proud operation”, while Britain’s foreign minister James Cleverly condemned the attacks.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued a public statement saying: “Citizens of Israel, we are at war. And we will win.

Mr Netanyahu said he instructed the military to clear Israeli villages of Hamas militants who had crossed into Israel.

“I instructed a wide-scale call for reserves to respond militarily at an intensity and scale that the enemy has not known before. The enemy will pay a price they have never paid before.”

Smoke rises over Gaza City during Israeli air strike. Palestinian militants have begun a “war” against

Executive Council of Australian Jewry co-CEO Alex Ryvchin issued a statement saying it condemned the unprovoked attack from the air and on the ground on sovereign Israeli territory by Hamas terrorists.

“In addition to a massive rocket barrage targeting Israel’s metropolitan areas, Hamas forces have infiltrated into Israel with the clear aim of murdering civilians and taking hostages,” he said.

“These acts constitute egregious war crimes in their targeting of civilians and are an armed attack against a sovereign state.

“We expect the State of Israel to take all necessary measures to defend itself and to defeat the terror forces of Hamas and restore peace for Israel’s citizens.

“We call upon the Australian Government to condemn without equivocation these flagrant crimes.

“Any calls for de-escalation by “both sides” or attempts to draw equivalences between the crimes of a terrorist organisation and the defensive measures of a sovereign and democratic state are misconceived and only play into the hands of the terrorists.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the people of Israel at this time.”

The Australian Government issued information for those in need of emergency consular assistance to contact the Australian Government’s 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre on 1300 555 135 (within Australia) or +61 2 6261 3305 (from overseas).

Article link: https://www.adelaidenow.com.au/news/world/israel-declares-state-of-war-alert-affter-hamas-fires-5000-rockets/news-story/c5e1e10ccf3ebf61796078f999e94f05
Article source: Adelaide Advertiser | Justin Vallejo | October 8, 2023

2024-02-22 05:36:48.000000
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A House in Jerusalem

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The Gothic ghost story, in which past wrongs manifest as hauntings, is a genre that has undoubted resonance and power when it comes to exploring the injustices and unreconciled legacies of colonialism. In Muayad Alayan’s A House in Jerusalem, the ghostly presence emerges from the Nakba, the catastrophic events of 1948 that saw the violent displacement of the Palestinians from their homeland with the foundation of the modern Israeli state.

A real strength of Alayan’s film, which is co-written with his brother Rami Musa Alayan, is that though it doesn’t shirk the uncanny, it welds its unsettling Gothic elements to a fable-like narrative that also works as a satisfying adventure movie. The choices the director makes in his framing and editing prioritise the point of view of an English child, Rebecca. However, as the story unfolds, we increasingly perceive the world through the eyes of the ghost, the young child Rasha (Sheherazade Makhoul Farrell), who was separated from her parents in 1948 when the Israeli soldiers – who she refers to as “the men with guns” – forcibly removed the family from their house in Jerusalem.

Rebecca’s mother has died tragically in a car accident a year before. Her father, Michael (Johnny Harris), decides to take the grieving child to a house in Jerusalem that was left to him by his grandfather. In a restrained, unfussy performance, Harris conveys the pain of grief, as well as the distress a parent experiences at seeing their child sink into depression.

Harris’s thoughtfulness as an actor is most evident in the space he gives the young actor, Miley Locke, who plays Rebecca. Locke’s rawness is evident, but Harris’s performance offers us the ballast to be convinced of the love between father and daughter. Locke’s untutored acting jars initially, but as the film unfolds, her wary seriousness is increasingly apt for the role. Rebecca is a child who has become aware of tragedy from too early an age. It makes sense that she has the courage to seek peace and resolution for her friend, the ghost Rasha.

Rebecca is drawn to a trapdoor in the garden of her new home. When she opens it, she discovers a doll floating in water that fills the hole. She pulls the doll out and washes it, entranced by its embroidered clothes. Michael thinks the doll is dirty and flings it in the garbage. Almost immediately, Rasha makes her appearance, though only Rebecca can see her. When she tries to tell her father the house is haunted, he thinks her visions are due to her grief and takes her to a therapist.

There is nothing sinister in the actions of the adults around Rebecca, who are trying their best. What is increasingly clear to her, and to us, is that they are not only disavowing the supernatural. Their denial includes the history of the house and, by extension, the whole of Israeli society.

Alayan sets up the Gothic conventions unhurriedly. He doesn’t short-change the pleasures that audiences expect from the genre, although he mostly films the ramshackle villa in bright summer daylight. It is not long before Rasha reveals herself openly to Rebecca and they begin a tentative friendship. There is real beauty in the interactions between the two girls, such as Rasha’s bewildered, comic responses to Rebecca’s mobile phone. Our belief in the solidity of their friendship is important, as it will make sense of the risks Rebecca will take to discover the reasons for her friend’s ghostly suffering.

Alayan’s identification of the horrors of this story in the everyday workings of the Israeli state rather than the paranormal has rigorous purpose. Through her friendship with Rasha, Rebecca begins to notice discordant figures in her daily walk to her new school. When she observes an old Palestinian man smoking, or a young Palestinian child getting on his bike, the looks they return are hesitant and fearful.

There are contradictions at play in A House in Jerusalem, in the tensions between the formal demands of the classic horror film and the girls’-own-adventure elements of the story. This is clearest in the film’s stand-out sequence, where Rebecca decides to run away and attempts to find Rasha’s relatives in a refugee camp in Bethlehem. Alayan’s background in documentary is clear when he shoots Rebecca’s entry into the camp at night. The sequence is almost hallucinatory: the lighting accentuates the oppressive infrastructure of the camp. At the same time, the camera finds beauty in the refugee community: a recurring glimpse of a graffiti mural of Mary and Joseph trying to find shelter in the city; how the inhabitants defiantly decorate their homes with symbols of their struggle.

Alayan is too realist, too pragmatic, to truly evoke the strange and dreamlike. He doesn’t have the intuitive sense of the fantastic that a filmmaker such as Guillermo del Toro brought to Pan’s Labyrinth (2006) or with which Carlos Saura imbued Cría Cuervos (1976). These two films, which deal with the legacies of Spanish fascism while centring their narratives on children dealing with loss, are clear influences. But there is no real moment of genuine terror in A House in Jerusalem: we never experience Rasha or Rebecca’s fears viscerally, and so our response to their respective suffering is muted.

This is exacerbated by the film’s simplistic use of spoken language. The Palestinian Rasha understands Rebecca’s English perfectly. Of course, within the logic of a ghost story we can accept this convention, but when Rebecca enters the camp and meets the woman whom she believes is Rasha’s mother (Souad Faress), this older woman also speaks and understands English perfectly.

This disavowal of the specificity of language might make the film more palatable for English-speaking audiences, but I can’t help seeing it as an opportunity lost. It squanders the chance to illuminate how the hierarchy of language in Israel and Palestine continues to reinforce the colonial legacy. It also betrays the truth that sometimes horror is too overwhelming an experience to be communicated in words, that it requires the language of the uncanny and the absurd to be understood. It is that insight that gives del Toro’s and Saura’s films their continuing authority.

In the film’s final moments, there is a sense that Alayan knows that the truth of suffering and grief – whether it is a child’s loss of a parent or the continuing reverberations of the Nakba in the lives of contemporary Palestinians – cannot be resolved by polemic or the neat conventions required by genre. A suggestion that ghosts might not be satisfied by reconciliation is the most emotionally charged and potent moment in the film.

A House in Jerusalem is genuinely moving. Although I wish Alayan were less earthbound as a director, that he trusted his audiences to accept the elliptical and sinister, this is a film of real intelligence and craft. Its mood is gentle, and the pluckiness and verve of Locke’s and Makhoul Farrell’s performances lend Rebecca and Rasha a mischief and resilience that kept reminding me of the classic animated feature Coraline. Like that movie, this is a film that understands the best kind of children’s story doesn’t talk down to either the adult or the child.

A House in Jerusalem is playing at the Palestinian Film Festival, which runs in Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne, Canberra and Perth from October 13-29.

Article link: https://www.thesaturdaypaper.com.au/culture/film/2023/10/07/house-jerusalem
Article source: The Saturday Paper | Christos Tsiolkas | 7.10.23

2024-02-22 05:36:48.000000
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Unis ‘must define anti-Semitism’, says ECAJ

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The nation’s top Jewish organisation has repeated a call for universities around the country to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition of anti-Semitism after the UNSW students representative council on Monday endorsed the wording.

It was one of the first elected student bodies in the country to adopt the definition, which has attracted some controversy. Supporters say the definition is anodyne and would help clearly define anti-Semitism while critics say it could be used to stifle legitimate criticism of Israel.

The definition reads: “Anti-Semitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred towards Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of anti-Semitism are directed towards Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, towards Jewish community institutions and religious facilities”.

It also lists some examples, including: “Denying the Jewish ­people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a state of Israel is a racist endeavour” and “Drawing comparisons of contemporary ­Israeli policy to that of the Nazis”.

Several Australian universities have adopted the definition, including Melbourne University and Monash University.

ANU chose not to and La Trobe adopted an amended version that took out the examples.

This came after the MPs – the Parliamentary Friends of IHRA – sent an open letter to vice-chancellors in November last year urging them to adopt the definition.

The Executive Council of Australian Jewry welcomed the UNSW SRC’s move. “As an UNSW alumnus, I was proud to see the SRC reject the campaign of fear, disinformation and paranoia pushed by anti-Israel fanatics,” said co-CEO Alex Ryvchin.

“They tried to turn a modest request by Jewish students to adopt the standard definition of anti-Semitism as a non-binding educational tool into a pitched battle about Israel and they failed.

“We look forward to … every university following suit. The Jewish community knows what anti-Semitism is and it’s time for institutions to act with clarity and integrity and ignore the … bullying tactics of fringe groups and pro-Palestinian activists who know and care nothing about fighting anti-Semitism.”

Zac Morris, UNSW student and incoming Australian Union of Jewish Students vice-president, said the decision by the UNSW SRC “to consult, listen and stand with Jewish students is a significant step in creating a more inclusive, understanding university community for all students”.

Article link: https://www.theaustralian.com.au/higher-education/unis-must-define-antisemitism-says-ecaj/news-story/901e13d518978e5789cd0cfd7b9e1b14
Article source: The Australian | Noah Yim | October 5, 2023

2024-02-22 05:36:48.000000
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Why Israel-Palestine war 75 years in the making

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Seventy-five years ago, Israel was born as the homeland for the Jewish people in the wake of the Holocaust, the Nazi genocide of six million Jews in World War II.

The dawn of the new state triggered rejoicing among Jewish immigrants to Palestine, but spelt mass displacement and suffering for their Palestinian Arab neighbours, triggering a conflict that has defined Israel ever since.

Here are 10 key dates in the country’s history:

1948: Jewish state born

On 14 May, 1948 Zionist leader David Ben-Gurion proclaims the independence of the state of Israel, formed out of the British Mandate of Palestine.

Jews had been promised “a national home” by Britain in 1917.

In 1947, the UN votes to make it a reality by partitioning Palestine into separate Jewish and Arab states.

Over 760,000 Palestinians are driven from their homes with the creation of Israel in 1948 or flee in what Palestinians call the “Nakba” (catastrophe).

Israel’s Arab neighbours oppose the founding of Israel, which leads to an eight-month war.

Jordan occupies the West Bank, including east Jerusalem while Egypt takes the coastal Gaza Strip.

Israel’s first Prime Minister David Ben Gurion reads the Declaration of Independence in the Tel Aviv Museum Hall, 1948.

Israel’s first Prime Minister David Ben Gurion reads the Declaration of Independence in the Tel Aviv Museum Hall, 1948.

1967: Six-Day War

In June 1967, Israel crushes its Arab neighbours in the Six-Day War, seizing the West Bank including east Jerusalem from Jordan, the Golan Heights from Syria, and the Gaza Strip and Sinai Peninsula from Egypt.

On day one, Israel stages an air assault that destroys more than 90 per cent of Egypt’s air force on the tarmac.

It goes on to occupy 70,000 square kilometres of Palestinian territory, which it begins to settle.

The United Nations declares the occupation of Palestinian territory illegal.

Egyptian prisoners are rounded up by Israeli troops after being captured near Al Arish in the Sinai during the Six Day War.

Egyptian prisoners are rounded up by Israeli troops after being captured near Al Arish in the Sinai during the Six Day War.

Truckload of Egyptian prisoners pass an Israeli armoured column near El Arish during the Six Day War.

Truckload of Egyptian prisoners pass an Israeli armoured column near El Arish during the Six Day War.

1973: Yom Kippur War

On 6 October, 1973, Egypt and Syria launch a surprise attack on Israel on the Jewish fast of Yom Kippur to try to win back their lost territories, but are repulsed.

1979: Peace with Egypt

The September 1978 US-brokered Camp David Accords between Israel and Egypt lead the following year to the first peace treaty between Israel and an Arab neighbour.

1982: Israel invades Lebanon

Israel invades Lebanon in June 1982, in the middle of the country’s civil war, to rout Palestinian militants based there.

In September that year, Israeli-backed Lebanese Christian militia massacre hundreds of Palestinians living in the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps in Beirut.

Israeli troops remain in southern Lebanon until 2000.

In 2006, after the Lebanese Shiite militant group Hezbollah abducts an Israeli soldier, Israel launches a devastating month-long offensive in Lebanon.

1993: Oslo Accords

In 1993, Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) sign a peace agreement after secret negotiations in Oslo.

The deal, which calls for a phased Israeli withdrawal from the occupied territories, comes six years after the start of the first intifada, or Palestinian uprising, against Israeli rule.

Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin and exiled PLO leader Yasser Arafat make history by shaking hands at the White House after the signing of the accords.

Arafat returns to the Palestinian territories in July 1994 after 27 years in exile.

1995: Rabin assassinated

Rabin in 1994 shares the Nobel Peace Prize with Foreign Minister Shimon Peres and Arafat for their peace efforts.

The following year Rabin is assassinated in Tel Aviv by a Jewish right-wing extremist opposed to the Oslo Accords.

2002-2005: Second intifada

In September 2000, right-wing Israeli opposition leader Ariel Sharon visits annexed east Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa mosque compound, the third-holiest site in Islam known as Temple Mount to Jews, who revere it as their most sacred site.

His visit, seen by Palestinians as a provocation, is the spark for a second intifada.

Following a wave of suicide bombings, Israel launches in 2002 its largest military operation in the West Bank since the 1967 war.

2005: Gaza pullout

The last Israeli forces leave Gaza after a 38-year occupation in September 2005, but soon afterwards impose a stifling land, air and sea blockade on the territory.

Tensions rise after the radical Islamist movement Hamas takes control of Gaza in 2006 after winning elections.

Israel fights four wars with Hamas in 2008, 2012, 2014 and 2021, launching devastating air strikes on Gaza after coming under rocket fire from the territory.

Over 1,400 Palestinian civilians are killed in the 2014 offensive alone, as well as six Israeli civilians, according to UN figures.

2009: Netanyahu in power

The head of the right-wing party Likud, Benjamin Netanyahu, returns to power in March 2009, a decade after his first stint as premier.

He goes on to enjoy a record-breaking run as Israel’s leader. During his tenure, relentless settlement expansion leaves the prospect of a separate Palestinian state hanging by a thread.

After a brief spell in the political desert in 2021-2022, the Israeli leader, who faces charges of corruption, returns in December 2022 at the head of the country’s most right-wing government ever.

In 2023, his government unveils controversial judicial reforms that spark months of mass protests, with demonstrators accusing Netanyahu of undermining Israel’s democracy.

Article link: https://www.themercury.com.au/news/world/why-israelpalestine-war-75-years-in-the-making/news-story/20858c341fdc1687cb8648723ffa9084
Article source: News Corp Australia Network | October 8, 2023

2024-02-22 05:36:48.000000
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Israel at war: Hostages taken to Gaza, sirens and explosions continue as night falls

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Israel has vowed to exact an “unprecedented price” for one of the deadliest attacks on the nation’s home soil in decades, declaring war on the Palestinian militant group Hamas after its surprise invasion by land, sea and air.

War erupted in the region on Saturday (Israel time) after Hamas militants fired thousands of rockets across the border, catching the country and intelligence services unawares with a multi-front sunrise attack unseen in its level of co-ordination.

By Saturday evening, Israeli media had reported at least 250 Israelis had been killed and more than 1000 were injured, while Gazan health officials said 232 people were killed and 1697 wounded during Israel’s retaliatory air strikes on Gaza City. The death toll on both sides is expected to rise.

World leaders from across the globe have condemned the attack, including Prime Minister Anthony Albanese who said Australia stands with its friend Israel.

“We condemn the indiscriminate and abhorrent attacks by Hamas on Israel, its cities and civilians,” he said on X, formerly known as Twitter. “We recognise Israel’s right to defend itself.”

Explosions and sirens that rang out across Israel continued into Saturday night, including at Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion airport, where passengers and a CNN television crew were forced to shelter with their bags on the tarmac. International airlines have cancelled or diverted flights from Israel.

Millions of Israelis celebrating an important religious holiday were forced to hunker down in safe rooms and bomb shelters, while Hamas carried out a mass invasion of Israeli army bases and towns.

Some militants entered using paragliders and motorbikes, with others kidnapping soldiers and civilians to take back to Gaza. Israel’s Defence Force has accused Hamas of abducting “prisoners of war”.

In a televised address, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared the “murderous surprise attack” would not be tolerated and that the country was at war.

“Not in an operation or in rounds, but at war … We are in a war, and we will win it,” he said.

Israel has announced a mass army mobilisation, while tens of thousands of army reservists have been called up to respond to the assault, which erupted almost 50 years to the day of the 1973 Yom Kippur war.

“We will bring the fight to them with might and scale which the enemy has not yet known … The enemy will pay an unprecedented price,” Netanyahu said.

Rockets began falling across Israel about 6am on Saturday (Israel time), while armed Hamas militants infiltrated southern towns raining gunfire on civilians.

In Sderot, in southern Israel near Gaza, bodies of Israeli civilians lay across a highway, surrounded by broken glass, Reuters reported.

Israeli has since begun targeted retaliatory air strikes on the Gaza Strip, destroying buildings in populated civilian areas.

As night fell, the death toll kept climbing and Hamas said it fired a fresh fusillade of roughly 150 rockets at Tel Aviv.

A rare recorded message from the leader of Hamas’ military wing, Mohammed Deif, on Saturday announced the start of the assault, which he called “Operation Al-Aqsa Storm”.

“Today, the people are regaining their revolution. This is the day of the greatest battle to end the last occupation on earth,” he said, claiming that 5000 rockets had been launched to strike Israel.

Deif called on Palestinians from east Jerusalem to northern Israel to join the fight, urging them to seek weapons: “If you have a gun, get it out. This is the time to use it – get out with trucks, cars, axes. Today, the most honorable history begins.”

Later, Hamas deputy chief Saleh al-Arouri told the TV network Al Jazeera that the group was holding dozens of Israelis hostage, including senior officials. He indicated that Hamas wants to trade its hostages for militants imprisoned in Israel.

Political commentators have lambasted the Israeli government over its failure to anticipate the attack, foreshadowing likely recriminations over the unseen attack.

Chuck Freilich, a former deputy national security adviser in Israel, told The Washington Post it was “a total failure of intelligence and a failure of operational readiness, so there will have to be an accounting”.

The surprise assault took place on Simchat Torah, a normally joyous day when Jews complete the annual cycle of reading the Torah scroll. It marks the most serious escalation since Israel and Hamas fought a 10-day war in 2021, when 4300 rockets were fired over the course of 11 days.

Videos posted on social media showed hundreds of Israelis attending a desert music festival fleeing and screaming as soldiers launched surprise raids.

Other videos from Gaza showed an apparently lifeless body of an Israeli soldier being trampled by an angry crowd shouting “God is great,” another showed an Israeli soldier being dragged from a tank. The authenticity of the videos could not immediately be verified.

The incident has attracted condemnation from leaders across the world, with US President Joe Biden reiterating the country’s support for Israel in a short, scripted statement delivered at the White House.

“When I spoke with Prime Minister Netanyahu this morning, I told him the US stands with the people of Israel in the face of these terrorist assaults. Israel has the right to defend itself and his people full stop. There’s never a justification for terrorist attacks,” he said.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, French President Emmanuel Macron, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and British Foreign Minister James Cleverly have all also condemned the Hamas attack.

Meanwhile, Iran’s foreign ministry said attacks by its ally Hamas on Israel on Saturday were an act of self-defence by Palestinians, and called on Muslim countries to support their rights. Qatar echoed that sentiment with remarks that Israel alone was responsible for the ongoing escalation of violence with the Palestinian people.

The Iran-backed Lebanese group Hezbollah, one of Israel’s adversaries, said it was in direct contact with the leadership of the Palestinian resistance. It said the action by Hamas was “a message to those seeking normalisation with Israel”.

Article link: https://www.theage.com.au/world/middle-east/israel-at-war-hostages-taken-to-gaza-sirens-and-explosions-continue-as-night-falls-20231008-p5eaih.html
Article source: The Age (Reuters, Bloomberg, AP) | Lucy Cormack | October 8, 2023

2024-02-22 05:36:48.000000
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Israel retaliates with Gaza strikes after Palestinian militants kill hundreds and take hostages

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Israel says it is now at war with Hamas, launching air strikes on Gaza and vowing to inflict an “unprecedented price” after dozens of Hamas militants broke out of the blockaded Gaza Strip and into nearby Israeli towns, killing hundreds and abducting others in an unprecedented operation.

The surprise early morning attack — which was backed by a barrage of rockets fired from within Gaza — killed at least 250 people and wounded more than 1,500, according to Israel’s national rescue service, during a major Jewish holiday on Saturday local time.

Israel said the Iran-backed group had declared war as its army confirmed fighting with militants in several Israeli towns and military bases near Gaza.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to retaliate.

“Our enemy will pay a price the type of which it has never known,” he said.

“We are in a war and we will win it.”

‘The morning of defeat and humiliation’

Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh said the assault that began in Gaza would spread to the West Bank and Jerusalem.

“This was the morning of defeat and humiliation upon our enemy, its soldiers and its settlers,” he said.

“What happened reveals the greatness of our preparation. What happened today reveals the weakness of the enemy.”

Israel’s national rescue service said at least 200 people were killed and hundreds injured, making it the deadliest attack in Israel in years.

The Israeli military said it had responded with air strikes into Gaza, where witnesses reported hearing heavy explosions and multiple dead and injured being carried into hospitals.

At least 232 people in the Gaza Strip have been killed and at least 1,700 injured in Israel’s retaliation, the Palestinian Health Ministry said.

Air strikes in the evening flattened a 14-story residential tower that also holds Hamas offices in central Gaza City.

The Israeli military said navy forces killed dozens of Palestinian militants trying to infiltrate Israel by sea.

Hamas says it is holding dozens of Israeli captives

Hamas deputy chief Saleh al-Arouri told Al Jazeera the group was holding a large number of Israeli captives, including senior officials. He said Hamas had enough captives to make Israel free all Palestinians in its jails.

Israel army spokesman Daniel Hagari confirmed “there are kidnapped soldiers and civilians”.

“I can’t give figures about them at the moment. It’s a war crime committed by Hamas and they will pay the price,” he said.

Abu Obedia, a Hamas military spokesperson said the captives were being held in “safe places” and militant tunnels.

The militant Islamic Jihad group said it had joined the attacks and was holding several Israeli soldiers captive.

Hamas footage on its Telegram account showed its fighters pulling Israeli soldiers out of a tank.

Gunbattles in Israeli towns

The attack marked an unprecedented infiltration into Israel by an unknown number of Hamas gunmen crossing from the Gaza Strip, and the heaviest blow for Israel in the conflict with Palestinians since the suicide bombings of the Second Intifada some two decades ago.

Israeli army Major General Ghasan Alyan warned Hamas had “opened the gates of hell”.

The army said its forces were engaged in live gun battles in several locations near the Gaza Strip, in an operation labelled “Swords of Iron”.

Israeli media reported gun battles between bands of Palestinian fighters and security forces in towns in southern Israel.

Israel’s police chief said there were “21 active scenes” in southern Israel.

In Gaza, people rushed to buy supplies in anticipation of days of conflict ahead. Some evacuated their homes and headed for shelters.

Israeli Defence Minister Gallant said “troops are fighting against the enemy at every location” and authorised the call-up of reservists.

“We were told there are terrorists inside the kibbutz, we can hear gunfire,” a young woman named Dvir, from Beeri Kibbutz, told Israeli Army Radio from her bomb shelter.

Hamas media displayed videos of what it said were bodies of Israeli soldiers brought to Gaza by fighters, and Palestinian gunmen inside Israeli homes and touring an Israeli town in jeeps reportedly been driven into Israel by the attackers.

Reuters was not immediately able to verify the footage.

In Gaza, the roar of rocket launches could be heard and residents reported armed clashes along the separation fence with Israel, near the southern town of Khan Younis, and said they had seen significant movement of armed fighters.

Palestinians in Gaza were bracing for Israel’s response.

 

“We are afraid,” Palestinian woman, Amal Abu Daqqa, told Reuters as she left her house in Khan Younis.

US vows defence support for Israel

The United States on Saturday condemned the attacks by “Hamas terrorists” against Israel and vowed to ensure the key US ally had the means to defend itself.

President Joe Biden described the assault as “horrific” and said that he had spoken to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to underline that the United States stood “ready to offer all appropriate means of support”.

As the attacks threatened to trigger a wider conflict, Mr Biden warned “against any other party hostile to Israel seeking advantage in this situation”.

Mr Biden stressed that Israel — which the United States has supplied with billions of dollars of arms — has “a right to defend itself and its people”.

Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin reaffirmed Washington’s “unwavering” commitment, saying “over the coming days the Department of Defence will work to ensure that Israel has what it needs to defend itself and protect civilians”.

Article link: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2023-10-08/israel-and-hamas-at-war-after-surprise-attacks-from-gaza-strip/102947962
Article source: ABC | 8.10.23

2024-02-22 05:36:48.000000
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Divided Israel marks war for its survival 50 years on

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Israel is marking the 50th anniversary of the 1973 war that brought the country to the verge of catastrophic defeat, but the wartime unity that helped it survive seems a distant memory to a generation increasingly at odds over the country they inherited.
The war began with a surprise attack on two fronts by Syrian tank columns and Egyptian brigades that caught Israeli forces off guard at the start of Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, the holiest day in the Jewish calendar.
Completely unprepared and with many soldiers on leave, Israel’s army buckled initially before regaining the initiative and repelling its enemies in a series of decisive encounters on the northern Golan Heights and in the southern Sinai desert.
“There was terrifying fear, but we had faith that ultimately we would overcome – we had to,” said Uzy Zwebner, 69, who was rushed into battle against the Egyptians at the start of the war as a newly trained tank commander before being wounded.
The 50th anniversary has seen a flurry of newspaper editorials, television documentaries and features airing criticism of then-Prime Minister Golda Meir and her government for their failure to prepare.
Several of Israel’s leaders fought in the war as young men, including conservative Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and former Labour Party premier Ehud Barak, and their experience helped solidify a determination to do whatever they believed necessary to protect Israel’s security from outside enemies.
Increasingly, however, any sense of unity has been eroded in a climate of increasing polarisation over the internal dynamics of Israeli society, brought out most clearly this year in the poisonous battle over Netanyahu’s plans to overhaul the powers of the judiciary.
The issue has exposed deep divisions between his nationalist-religious supporters and more liberal and secular sections of Israeli society, posing major questions about the constitutional foundations of Israel and its future direction.
Hundreds of thousands have taken to the streets in weekly protests against the changes, which the government says are needed to rein in over-mighty liberal judges who encroach into politics, but which critics regard as an assault on Israel’s country’s democratic foundations.

Among the protesters, large numbers of military reservists have declared they would refuse to attend duty, prompting warnings from the military establishment that the country’s security was potentially at risk.
“The ability to manage a dispute is one of the signs of a healthy society, but a dispute that is followed by a deepening of polarisation and division in Israeli society is dangerous,” the army chief of staff General Herzi Halevi said in a speech last month commemorating the 1973 war.
Although the war itself induced an immediate sense of national unity, many Israelis were profoundly shocked the country had been left exposed, fighting for its life as Syrian and Egyptian tanks poured across the battlefield.
Coming a few years after the 1967 war in which Israeli forces defeated their Arab neighbours in less than a week, capturing territories where Palestinians now seek statehood, the cost in lives and the unpreparedness of the country in 1973 sparked recriminations that have continued to this day.
Israeli forces, helped by United States airlifts of supplies and equipment, battled numerically superior Syrian and Egyptian formations backed by the Soviet Union before a United Nations-brokered ceasefire halted the fighting after some three weeks.
More than 2600 Israelis including Zwebner’s brother were killed, the largest loss of life Israel has ever suffered in a single war.
On the other side, no exact casualty figures are known but estimates run as high as 15,000 Egyptian and 3500 Syrian dead.
Five years later, Israel signed a peace deal with Egypt, its first with an Arab country, then with Jordan in 1994, followed in 2020 by normalisation agreements with two Gulf states under the Abraham Accords.
For many frontline soldiers, the war remains a traumatic event but the feeling many express five decades later is pride in having helped save their country.
“I had a meeting with my friends this week which really made me emotional, but you feel very much like you saved the existence of Israel,” Zwebner said.
For Zwebner, who opposes the judicial overhaul, a lesson of the 1973 war was that people had to be prepared to think for themselves rather than blindly accept what leaders of any kind said.

“I think it’s good ultimately so leaders don’t think that whatever they do is just taken for granted and that they are allowed to do anything,” he said.

-By Emily Rose and James Mackenzie
Australian Associated Press

Article link: https://www.canberratimes.com.au/story/8377508/divided-israel-marks-war-for-its-survival-50-years-on/
Article source: Canberra Times

2024-02-22 05:36:48.000000
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Analysis | Saudi Progress With Israel ‘Parachutes Over Palestine,’ Leaving Jordan’s Abdullah Frustrated

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Jordanian King Abdullah couldn’t have been clearer when he spoke about the normalization process cooking between Israel and Saudi Arabia: “This belief, by some in the region, that you can parachute over Palestine, deal with the Arabs and work your way back – that does not work.”

“And even those countries that have Abraham Accords with Israel have difficulty moving publicly on those issues when Israelis and Palestinians are dying,” he added. “So unless we solve this problem, there will never be a true peace.”

Speaking at the Al-Monitor/Semafor Middle East Global Summit last month, which took place on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York, he said, “There are two elephants in the room” – one is the younger generation of Palestinian leaders, whose identity and goals are not known, and the second is “where is Israel going? How can we have an understanding of a political horizon? Is it a one-state solution that you want? Is it a two-state solution? And I’m sure your state solution is different than mine.”

His words weren’t only directed at Israel; they also reverberated in Saudi Arabia, where according to recent reports the government is willing to be “flexible” regarding the so-called Palestinian conditions it will demand prior to normalization with Israel. This is parachuting over the Palestinian problem that the king means, and the trap that he’s also warning the Saudis about.

Abdullah has a belly full of grudges against Israel, and particularly against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The ties between them suffer from severe frost, with those close to Abdullah speaking of “promises unkept and new promises meant to mollify the king.”

“However,” a senior Jordanian source adds, “we have already learned that there is no one to trust on the Israeli side except for the Israeli intelligence personnel, who efficiently maintain the ties between the two countries.”

Jordanian anxiety regarding Israeli normalization with Saudi Arabia stems from Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s aim to style himself the custodian of all holy places, and not just the custodian of the two holy places located within his borders, as his official title.

Will Israel give Saudi Arabia an official status at the Temple Mount compound, known as Haram a-Sharif, and push out Jordan, which received custodianship over the compound in its own peace agreement with Israel? Israeli sources claim that the question of the holy places is “off limits” in negotiations with Riyadh.

“Israel will continue to abide by its commitments to Jordan, as will the United States,” a Foreign Ministry source told Haaretz. But these promises are not being made publicly. There was no Israeli or American announcement on the matter, and the fear in Jordan is that the commitment may fade amid excitement over the rush toward normalization.

The subject actually came up at a meeting in Egypt about a month ago, attended by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sissi and Abdullah, to discuss “common interests and coordination ahead of the normalization.” From past bitter experience, Abdullah fears a repeat of the discussions held ahead of former U.S. President Donald Trump’s “deal of the century,” which saw Jordan on the sidelines and not as an active participant.

Now it seems that Israel, Saudi Arabia and the United States are again “parachuting” over Jordan, like the move, which may greatly impact its position vis-à-vis the Palestinians, has nothing to do with it.

Against Abdullah’s official position, which adheres to the two-state solution, even if he realizes that it’s not realistic, and in light of Saudi Arabia’s elastic position and the nature of the Israeli government, there are also other voices discussing the best strategy for Jordan.

A report published in August by the Jordanian think tank Institute for Policy and Society offers three options. The first: Leave things as they are, meaning continue to cling to the two-state solution even if only decoratively, thus adopting the American position, which does not truly believe in the feasibility of this option.

The second: Prepare for the “one-state” solution, which for Jordan means abandoning its traditional policy, and in practice turning the Palestinian problem into an Israeli problem – renouncing any Jordanian responsibility for the fate of the Palestinians.

The third option is going in the other direction: Not renouncing responsibility or clinging to the illusion of two states, but intervening in Palestinian politics to build a consensual leadership, to include all Palestinian factions, meaning Hamas as well, to ensure the ties between Jordan and the Palestinians, and restore Jordan’s position as the Palestinians’ sponsor.

Abdullah has yet to adopt the conclusions of the study, but in New York he said explicitly: “We Jordanians, Arabs, Israelis, Americans do not know who the younger generation of Palestinians are. And this is very, very important for us to be able to reach out to, to these young voices.”

This is a new and fascinating position, which, if accepted by the Palestinians, may force Israel, Saudi Arabia and the rest of the Abraham Accords signatories, extant and future, to recognize Jordan’s authority and status.

By so doing, it will lead not only to Jordanian involvement in all diplomatic efforts, but also to establishing Amman as a managing entity for events in the territories, although not a controlling one, to neutralize the Saudi ambitions, and perhaps to curb those of Israel as well.

Article link: https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/2023-10-02/ty-article/.premium/saudi-progress-with-israel-parachutes-over-palestine-frustrates-jordans-abdullah/0000018a-ec94-d12f-afbf-edd5acbe0000
Article source: Haaretz | Zvi Bar'el | Oct 2, 2023

2024-02-22 05:36:48.000000
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