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Israel-Gaza updates

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8 January 2024, ABC News/Israel-Gaza updates

Western diplomats seek to prevent Gaza war spreading further after three months of war

Top US and European diplomats have sought ways to prevent the Gaza war from spreading further in the Middle East, but three months after the start of the conflict, more bloodshed has underlined the difficulties they face.

Gun battles have intensified in the southern Gaza town of Khan Younis as well as in districts in the centre of the densely populated Palestinian enclave.

Smoke rose from the sites of Israeli bombing on Sunday morning east and north of Khan Younis.

Israeli strikes on houses in Khan Younis killed 50 people, health officials in Nasser Hospital said on Sunday.

The Gaza Health Ministry reported on Monday 73 Palestinians had been killed and 99 injured in Israeli strikes on Gaza in the past day.

Israel says air traffic control base struck by Hezbollah barrage

Hezbollah has struck an air traffic control base in northern Israel, the Israeli military said on Sunday as it warned of “another war” with the Iran-backed militant group.

The Israeli military said Hezbollah fire hit the sensitive air traffic control base on Mount Meron on Saturday but air defences were not affected because backup systems were in place.

It said no soldiers were hurt and all damage would be repaired.

Nonetheless, it was one of the most serious attacks by Hezbollah in the months of fighting that has accompanied Israel’s war in Gaza and forced tens of thousands of Israelis to evacuate communities near the Lebanese border.

Hezbollah described its rocket barrage as an “initial response” to the targeted killing of a top Hamas leader in a Hezbollah stronghold in Beirut last week, which is presumed to have been carried out by Israel.

The Israeli military chief of staff, Lieutenant Colonel Herzi Halevi, said military pressure on Hezbollah, a Hamas ally, was rising and it would either be effective “or we will get to another war”.

Military spokesman Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari asserted that Israel’s focus on Hezbollah’s elite Radwan force was pushing it away from the border.

Israel has mostly sought to limit the fighting in its north. Hezbollah’s military capabilities are far superior to those of Hamas.

But Israeli leaders have said their patience is wearing thin and that if the tensions cannot be resolved through diplomacy, they are prepared to use force.

“I suggest that Hezbollah learn what Hamas has already learned in recent months: No terrorist is immune,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told his cabinet.

“We are determined to defend our citizens and to return the residents of the north safely to their homes.”

Israeli strike kills two Palestinian journalists in Gaza

An Israeli air strike on a car near Rafah in southern Gaza on Sunday killed two Palestinian journalists who were out reporting, according to health officials in Gaza and the journalists’ union there.

Hamza Al-Dahdouh and Mustafa Thuraya were both freelancers. Mr Al-Dahdouh had done freelance work for Al Jazeera and was the son of the Qatar-based TV station’s chief correspondent in Gaza, Wael Al-Dahdouh. A third freelancer, Hazem Rajab, was injured.

Al Jazeera Media Network condemned the killing of the two journalists and said it had been a deliberate attack.

“We urge the International Criminal Court, the governments and human rights organisations, and the United Nations to hold Israel accountable for its heinous crimes and demand an end to the targeting and killing of journalists,” the network said in a statement.

When contacted by AFP, the Israeli army requested the geographic coordinates of the strike. Several hours after the strike, the Israeli army had not replied to AFP’s request for a comment.

In a statement on December 16, in response to the death of another Al Jazeera journalist in Gaza, the Israeli army said: “The IDF has never, and will never, deliberately target journalists.”

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), an international watchdog, said that as of Saturday, 77 journalists and media workers had been killed — 70 Palestinians, four Israelis and three Lebanese.

A video posted on an Al Jazeera-linked YouTube channel showed Wael Al-Dahdouh crying next to his son’s body and holding his hand. Later, after his son’s burial, he said in televised remarks that journalists in Gaza would keep doing their job.

“All the world needs to see what is happening here,” he said.

Wael Dahdouh previously lost his wife, two children and a grandchild in an October 26 air strike, and was injured in an Israeli strike last month that killed a co-worker.

Israeli soldiers in the Gaza Strip killed gunmen loading weapons into a vehicle and dismantled a launch site that fired rockets towards Israel, the Israeli military said.

Hamas’ armed wing said its fighters destroyed a troop carrier in the Maghazi refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip.

Fresh violence in occupied West Bank

Outside Gaza there was fresh violence in the occupied West Bank.

Israeli aircraft fired on Palestinian militants who had attacked troops in the West Bank, the military said, and Palestinian health officials said six Palestinians were killed in the strike.

An Israeli border police officer was killed and others wounded when their vehicle was hit by an explosive device during operations in the West Bank city of Jenin, the military and police said.

Israeli police said on Sunday that officers responding to a car-ramming attack at a checkpoint in the occupied West Bank had shot a Palestinian girl, with medics confirming the child’s death.

“As a result of shooting at the terrorists, a girl who was in another vehicle at the checkpoint was hurt,” police said.

Israel’s emergency medical agency Magen David Adom said a three-year-old girl “was pronounced deceased” after an examination.

Confrontations in the West Bank have risen sharply since Israeli forces launched their retaliatory offensive on Gaza, laying waste to the strip as they seek to wipe out Hamas.

Hundreds of Palestinians have been killed in clashes with Israeli soldiers and settlers over the past weeks in the West Bank and security forces have made thousands of arrests.

Jordan’s King warns Blinken of ‘catastrophic repercussions’ of Israel’s military campaign

Jordan’s King Abdullah urged US Secretary of State Antony Blinken to use Washington’s influence over Israel to press it for an immediate ceasefire, a palace statement said, warning him of the “catastrophic repercussions” of Israel’s continued military campaign.

Mr Blinken and the European Union’s top diplomat, Josep Borrell, were on separate trips to the region to try to quell spillover from the war into Lebanon, the West Bank and Red Sea shipping lanes.

“This is a conflict that could easily metastasise, causing even more insecurity and even more suffering,” Mr Blinken told reporters during a joint news conference with Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani.

“So from day one, among other priorities, we have been intensely focused on working to prevent the conflict from spreading.”

Mr Blinken will also travel to Israel, the West Bank, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Egypt during his fourth trip to the region.

Mr Blinken will use the visits to get hesitant Muslim nations in the region to prepare to play a role in the reconstruction, governance and security of Gaza if and when Israel achieves its goal of eliminating Hamas, said a senior state department official.

After the meeting in Doha, Mr Blinken said Washington opposed the forcible displacement of Palestinians from Gaza or the occupied West Bank,

“Palestinian civilians must be able to return home as soon as conditions allow. They cannot, they must not, be pressed to leave Gaza,” he said at a press conference.

‘Fighting will continue’

Israeli military spokesperson Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari gave a round-up of the offensive on Saturday, saying Israeli forces had completely dismantled Hamas’s “military framework” in northern Gaza and had killed around 8,000 militants in that area.

“We are now focused on dismantling Hamas in the centre of and south of the [Gaza] strip,” he said in an online briefing.

“Fighting will continue during 2024. We are operating according to a plan to achieve the war’s goals, to dismantle Hamas in the north and south.”

Despite global concern over the death and destruction in Gaza and widespread calls for a ceasefire, Israeli public opinion remains firmly behind the operation, although support for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has fallen sharply.

He has vowed to press on with the retaliatory action.

“The war must not be stopped until we achieve all the goals — the elimination of Hamas, the return of all our hostages and ensuring that Gaza will no longer pose a threat to Israel,” Mr Netanyahu said at the start of a weekly cabinet meeting on Sunday.

“I say this to both our enemies and our friends.”

The October 7 Hamas rampage in southern Israel killed 1,200 people and 240 were taken hostage, according to Israeli officials.

More than 100 hostages are still believed to be held by Hamas.

According to Palestinian health officials, Israel’s offensive has killed 22,835 Palestinians.

Palestinian health ministry casualty figures do not differentiate between fighters and civilians, but the ministry has said that 70 per cent of Gaza’s dead are women and people under 18.

ABC/Wires

Article link: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2024-01-08/israel-gaza-western-diplomats-seek-ways-to-prevent-war-spreading/103291936
Article source: ABC News/Israel-Gaza updates: 8/1/2023

2024-05-08 07:04:10.000000