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Israel announced a new front in its war against Hamas as the terror group gave its ‘initial’ answer to the proposed hostage deal.

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3 February 2024, Herald Sun Updates, by Justin Vallejo and Adella Beaini

Israel announced a new front in its war against Hamas as the terror group gave its ‘initial’ answer to the proposed hostage deal.

Israel will shift forces to the town of Rafah in the south of Gaza, and north towards the border of Lebanon, as troops target Hamas’s last major stronghold and turn their attention to “what’s next” with Hezbollah.

It comes as Hamas gave its “initial” approval to a hostage-for-prisoner exchange deal that would pause fighting “in the next couple of weeks”.

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said the shift to Rafah, where thousands of Palestinians have fled from the war-torn north, would hasten the release of the hostages.

“We are achieving our missions in Khan Younis, and we will also reach Rafah and eliminate terror elements that threaten us,” Mr Yoav said.

RAFAH A ‘PRESSURE COOKER OF DESPAIR’

The UN voiced fears Friday about worsening conditions in southern Gaza, saying a surge in people seeking safety in Rafah had made the town a “pressure cooker of despair”.

The United Nations’ humanitarian agency OCHA said it was deeply concerned about the escalation of hostilities in Khan Yunis, which had resulted in increased numbers heading further south to Rafah in recent days.

“Most are living in makeshift structures, tents or out in the open,” OCHA spokesman Jens Laerke told a briefing in Geneva.

“Rafahis a pressure cooker of despair, and we fear for what comes next,” Laerke said.

BELGIUM SUMMONS ISRAELI AMBASSADOR OVER OFFICE BOMBING

Belgium’s Minister of Development Cooperation Caroline Gennez has said that she and Foreign Minister Hadja Lahbib will summon Israel’s ambassador over the destruction of a building hosting the Belgian Agency for Development Cooperation in Gaza.

“The office building of Enabel, the Belgian Agency for Development Cooperation, in Gaza, has been bombed and is completely destroyed,” Gennez said in a social media post.

“Attacking civilian buildings is and remains totally unacceptable. Together with [Hadja Lahbib], I will summon the Israeli ambassador.”

PROTESTERS MARCH OUTSIDE BIDEN VISIT

Hundreds of protesters have marched Michigan seeking to pressure visiting US President Joe Biden to end support for Israel as it fights Hamas in Gaza.

“We won’t vote on election day,” marchers chant, driving home Democratic concerns of how the administration’s stance could affect Biden’s chances of carrying the key swing state in November, home to the US’s largest concentration of Arab-Americans.

Activists with the “Abandon Biden” movement said earlier that demonstrators are “on standby” and that protests will be held at the president’s events once they determine the locations.

ACTIONAID ‘HORRIFIED’ AT HOSPITAL BOMBING

The al-Awda hospital in northern Gaza has been hit by bombing at least three times in the last three days.

Several people were injured, and the building also suffered damaged in these “reprehensible” attacks, the organisation said in a statement on Thursday.

The hospital is one of the only functional hospitals in the north of Gaza and the only facility able to provide maternity services.

Dr Adnan, the hospital’s head of obstetrics and gynaecology, said the staff “will never stop” working despite coming under attack.

“We are peaceful people, and we provide a purely medical service, and we have no relation to anything,” he said.

US APPROVES STRIKES ON IRAN ‘PERSONNEL AND FACILITIES’

Plans have been approved for the US military to launch a series of strikes targeting Iranian “personnel and facilities” in Iraq and Syria in retaliation for the death of three American troops.

US officials speaking on condition of anonymity said the weather would determine when the strikes would begin, adding the attacks “won’t be a one-off”.

It comes after the White House officially blamed the drone attack on a US base in Jordan as being launched by the Islamic Resistance in Iraq, an umbrella of Iran-backed militias like Kataib Hezbollah.

US officials told CBS News the military was waiting for improved weather before launching the strikes in an effort to minimise civilian casualties due to poor visibility.

Iran threatened to “decisively respond” if the US attacked the Islamic Republic to retaliate for Sunday’s attack on Tower 22, which killed three and injured more than 40.

“(US President Joe Biden) believes that it is important to respond in an appropriate way,” said National Security Council Spokesman John Kirby.

“The first thing you see won’t be the last thing … it won’t be a one-off.”

US STRIKES AGAINST YEMEN

A new explosion was reported off Yemen after US strikes targeted 10 attack drones and a ground control station belonging to the Iran-backed Houthi rebels.

The explosion, reported by the United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations agency, happened near a vessel west of the port city of Hodeida on Thursday local time.

No damage to the ship or injuries to the crew was reported.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the blast, which followed a flurry of missile strikes by the Houthis who have harassed Red Sea shipping for months, triggering reprisal attacks by the United States and Britain.

Early Thursday in Yemen, US forces targeted a “Houthi UAV ground control station and 10 Houthi one-way UAVs” that “presented an imminent threat to merchant vessels and the US Navy ships in the region”, a CENTCOM statement said, using an abbreviation for unmanned aerial vehicles or drones.

Article link: https://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/world/israehamas-war-us-approves-strikes-on-iran-personnel-and-facilities/news-story/f00a39c59513a835752a49835d88019a
Article source: Herald Sun Updates/Justin Vallejo and Adella Beaini/3.2.2024

2024-05-08 07:04:10.000000