Bloodshed Is Only Growing
31 December 2023, Daily Telegraph, by Justin Vallejo
Israel launched “extensive” and “widespread” strikes in southern Lebanon as increased rocket barrages from Hezbollah threatened to spiral the conflict into a wider regional war.
The escalation comes after the terror group claimed responsibility for missile attacks against northern Israel in retribution for “martyred” Australian Ali Bazzi and his brother Ibrahim Bazzi.
The Israeli Defence Force said fighter jets struck rocket launching positions, an antitank missile squad, and military infrastructure used by the terror group.
“Moreover, the IDF struck a Hezbollah terrorist cell responsible for launching antitank missiles in the area of Aitaroun and a missile launcher used to launch toward the area of Bar’am in northern Israel earlier today,” an Israeli military statement said.
Hezbollah announced the targeting of settlements in northern Israel with a barrage of 30 Katyusha rockets towards Kiryat Shmona “in response to the enemy’s repeated crimes and its targeting of civilian houses in Bint Jbeil”.
Ali and Ibrahim Bazzi, and Ibrahim’s wife Shorouq Hammoud, were killed in the Israeli air strike on Bint Jbeil.
“With great pride and honour, the Islamic Resistance brings to life the martyr, the Mujahid, Ali Ahmed Bazzi Qassem, from the city of Bint Jbeil in southern Lebanon, who rose as a martyr on the road to Jerusalem,” Hezbollah said in a statement.
Acting Foreign Minister Mark Dreyfus has said Australia is investigating Hezbollah’s claim that Ali Bazzi was one of its terrorists.
Israel intensified its activity against Hezbollah along the northern border with Lebanon amid its ongoing war against Hamas in Gaza.
The IDF said it destroyed a hide-out being used by Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar as it closed the net around northern Gaza while reinforcements arrived in Khan Younis in the south.
Sinwar has remained elusive during Israel’s ground counter offensive, despite rumours of his whereabouts regularly circulating throughout the enclave.
Intense fighting around central Deir al-Balah and Khan Yunis has driven about 100,000 newly displaced people into already overcrowded Rafah, said the UN humanitarian office.
The UN Security Council met in New York following reports of further escalation of tensions in the West Bank.
Israel continued to pound Gaza in the south and strike Hezbollah in the north as Egypt hosted a Hamas delegation for talks to end the conflict. Cairo has proposed a plan involving renewable ceasefires, a staggered release of hostages for Palestinian prisoners and ultimately an end to the war, say sources close to Hamas.
A Hamas official said the delegation would “give the response of the Palestinian factions, including several observations” regarding the proposal Egypt submitted to Hamas and Islamic Jihad.
Hamas would seek “guarantees for a complete Israeli military withdrawal” from Gaza, the official said.
Israel has not officially commented on the Cairo plan but Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told families of hostages they “are in contact” with the Egyptian mediators and promised “we are working to bring them all back”.
Meanwhile, South Africa has filed an application at the International Court of Justice to start proceedings against Israel for what it claims are “genocidal” acts in Gaza.
It asked the court to issue an urgent order declaring that Israel was in breach of its obligations under the Genocide Convention – prompting a furious reaction from Israel, which denounced the case as a “blood libel”.
The court application is the latest move by South Africa, a vociferous critic of Israel’s war in Gaza, to turn up the pressure after its parliament voted last month to suspend diplomatic relations with Israel and close its embassy in Pretoria.
South Africa has backed the Palestinian push for statehood for decades, likening the plight of Palestinians to that of the black majority in South Africa during apartheid.
Israel vehemently rejects that comparison.
In a statement posted on Twitter/X, Lior Haiat, an Israeli foreign ministry spokesman, said the country “rejects with disgust the blood libel spread by South Africa and its application to the International Court of Justice”.
“South Africa’s claim lacks both a factual and a legal basis, and constitutes despicable and contemptuous exploitation of the court.”
He added: “South Africa is co-operating with a terrorist organisation that is calling for the destruction of the state of Israel.”
The legal application cites Israel’s obligations under the Genocide Convention, of which both countries are signatories.
The International Court of Justice is the United Nations organ which settles disputes between states in accordance with international law, the only such body to do so. It is not a criminal court, that is the International Criminal Court – the jurisdiction of which Israel, like the US and Russia, does not recognise.Article link: https://todayspaper.dailytelegraph.com.au/infinity/article_popover_share.aspx?guid=2323434f-a5d9-4f5c-b961-c19a859358a4&share=true
Article source: Daily Telegraph | Justin Vallejo | 31.12.23