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Israel, Hamas reject ICC bid to arrest leaders for ‘war crimes’




Israel and Hamas, engaged in heavy fighting in the Gaza Strip, both angrily rejected on Monday moves to arrest their leaders for “war crimes.”

The International Criminal Court (ICC)’s prosecutor Karim Khan said he had applied for arrest warrants for top Israeli and Hamas leaders over the conflict.

Israel slammed as a “historical disgrace” the demand targeting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, while the Palestinian militant group Hamas said it “strongly condemns” the move.

The U.S., Israel’s top ally, also rejected the ICC bid, with President Joe Biden denouncing it as “outrageous” and Secretary of State Antony Blinken warning the move “could jeopardize” efforts for a ceasefire in Gaza.

UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Tor Wennesland called for the resumption of negotiations between Israel and Hamas at the UN Security Council on Monday.

“If talks do not resume, I fear for the worst for the beleaguered and terrified civilians in Rafah, for the hostages held in unimaginable conditions for more than 225 days, and for an overstretched humanitarian operation that remains on the brink inside the (Gaza) Strip,” Wennesland said.

Also on Monday, Greek Foreign Minister George Gerapetritis urged enhanced joint efforts to halt the hostilities in Gaza and called on the international community to promote the two-state solution to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict during his meeting with his Egyptian counterpart Sameh Shoukry.

The Israel-Hamas conflict continues to grind on unabated, with Israeli forces battling Hamas in Gaza’s far-southern city of Rafah, as well as in other flashpoints in central and northern areas.

Israel’s retaliatory offensive against Hamas has killed at least 35,562 people in Gaza, mostly civilians, according to the Hamas-run territory’s Health Ministry.

The UN said more than 812,000 Palestinians had fled Rafah, near the Egyptian border. Meanwhile, the European Union warned that 31 of Gaza’s 36 hospitals are no longer functioning while the rest are on the verge of collapse with more than 9,000 severely injured people at risk of dying.

The humanitarian suffering in Gaza has been eased only by sporadic aid shipments by land, air and sea, but truck arrivals have slowed to a trickle amid the Rafah operation.

The UN did not receive any aid from the pier on Sunday or Monday. “We need to make sure that the necessary security and logistical arrangements are in place before we proceed,” Reuters cited a UN official, who asked not to be named, as saying.

Another senior UN aid official, Edem Wosornu, told the UN Security Council that the closure of the Rafah crossing from Egypt had stopped the delivery of at least 82,000 tonnes of supplies, while access at Israel’s Kerem Shalom crossing was limited due to “hostilities, challenging logistical conditions, and complex coordination procedures.”

Source(s): CGTN

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Future of truce proposal uncertain as Gazans appeal for end to suffering





Negotiations over the latest Gaza ceasefire proposal continue as Palestinians in the besieged enclave appeal for an end to the humanitarian tragedy.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Wednesday that Hamas’ response to the latest U.S.-backed ceasefire-for-hostages proposal included “numerous changes” to what was originally presented, some of which were unacceptable.

“Hamas has proposed numerous changes to the proposal that was on the table. We discussed those changes last night with Egyptian colleagues and today with the prime minister” of Qatar, Blinken told a press conference in Doha, Qatar. “Some of the changes are workable; some are not.”

“In the days ahead, we are going to continue to push on an urgent basis – with our partners, with Qatar, with Egypt – to try to close this deal,” Blinken said.

In response to Blinken, a source close to Hamas, who required anonymity, said “all we did was reaffirming our commitment to what was presented on May 5 by the mediators, and we did not discuss any new ideas or proposals.”

Noting the latest ceasefire proposal includes clauses allowing Israel to resume the fighting in Gaza after the second phase if the negotiations do not yield positive results, the source said Hamas “requested official international guarantees to prevent Israel from resuming the war and to commit to the terms of the agreement phases.”

The U.S. has said Israel accepted the proposal, but Israel has not publicly stated this.

Also on Wednesday, two Egyptian security sources told Reuters that Hamas wanted written guarantees from the U.S. for a permanent ceasefire and withdrawal of Israeli forces from the Gaza Strip in order to sign off on the truce proposal.

Despite the negotiations, Israel continued its bombing and airstrikes in Gaza, with the Palestinian death toll from the ongoing conflict rising to 37,202, according to health authorities in Gaza.

Palestinian civilians who had been displaced by over eight months of fighting had hoped that the ceasefire plan would be put into effect.

“My house was bombed. How long are we going to have to endure the conflict?” a displaced Palestinian told CMG.

“We want a solution that will allow us to rest, so that we can live in peace and tranquility like the rest of the world, and not have to fight every time. Our children, only 16 or 17 years old, have already witnessed several armed conflicts.”

Philippe Lazzarini, head of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), said on Tuesday that more than 600,000 Palestinian children are being deprived of an education in the besieged enclave and are on the verge of becoming a lost generation.

Source(s): CGTN

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Fighting continues as future of U.S. ceasefire plan for Gaza is uncertain





Deadly fighting rocked Gaza on Tuesday as Hamas formally responded to a U.S. ceasefire proposal and Jordan hosted an emergency summit for the besieged Palestinian territory.

Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad said in a joint statement on Tuesday that they had delivered their response to the proposal to Qatari and Egyptian mediators, expressing a “willingness to deal positively in order to reach an agreement.” They emphasized their priority of stopping the conflict in the Gaza Strip and ensuring the complete withdrawal of Israeli forces from the territory.

Egypt and Qatar said they had received Hamas’ response to the proposal but did not disclose its contents.

White House spokesman John Kirby said the U.S. had received Hamas’s response and was evaluating it.

An Israeli official said on Tuesday that Israel had received Hamas’s response to the U.S.-drafted proposal and the movement had rejected it, Xinhua reported, citing Israel’s state-owned Kan TV news.

The United States has said Israel has accepted its proposal, but Israel has not publicly said it has. Israel, which has continued assaults in central and southern Gaza, has repeatedly said it would not commit to an end to its military operation in Gaza before Hamas is eliminated.

In addition to the ceasefire proposal, Jordan hosted an emergency summit on Tuesday for the besieged Palestinian territory.

The conference, titled “Call for Action: Urgent Humanitarian Response for Gaza” and co-organized by Egypt, and the United Nations, called for intensified efforts to aid the Palestinians and aimed to develop a collective response to the dire humanitarian situation in the enclave.

In his remarks at the conference, Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi called on countries to compel Israel to stop “using hunger as a weapon” in Gaza and to remove obstacles to delivering humanitarian aid to people there.

For his part, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who also attended the conference, urged support for humanitarian aid programs presented by the Palestinian Authority and other countries to assist the afflicted Palestinian people.

“The (Palestinian) government has presented its programs for relief, restoration of basic services, institutional reform, and financial and economic stability, and has announced its readiness to take on duties in Gaza, including all crossings into the strip, just as in the West Bank,” said Abbas.

He urged the Security Council and the international community to pressure Israel to open all land crossings into Gaza and hand them over to the Palestinian government.

Also at the conference, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called on the international community to support Jordan’s crucial role in assisting Gaza residents and as a key regional hub for humanitarian work.

Source(s): CGTN

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UN Security Council adopts Gaza ceasefire resolution





The UN Security Council on Monday adopted a U.S.-drafted resolution aimed at reaching a comprehensive ceasefire deal in three phases to end the war in Gaza.

Adopted by a large majority of 14 votes in favor and Russia abstaining, Resolution 2735 also urges both parties to the conflict to fully implement the terms of the proposal “without delay and without condition.”

According to the resolution, phase one includes an “immediate, full, and complete ceasefire with the release of hostages including women, the elderly and the wounded, the return of the remains of some hostages who have been killed, and the exchange of Palestinian prisoners.”

It calls for the withdrawal of Israeli forces from “populated areas” of Gaza, the return of Palestinians to their homes and neighborhoods throughout the enclave, including in the north, as well as the safe and effective distribution of humanitarian assistance at scale.

Phase two would see a permanent end to hostilities “in exchange for the release of all other hostages still in Gaza, and a full withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza.”

In phase three, “a major multi-year reconstruction plan for Gaza” would begin, and the remains of any deceased hostages still in Gaza would be returned to Israel.

The council also underlined the proposal’s provision that if negotiations take longer than six weeks for phase one, the ceasefire will continue as long as talks continue.

The resolution says that Israel has “accepted” the deal and “calls upon” Hamas to do the same.

It also notes that the Security Council rejects any attempt at demographic or territorial change in the Gaza Strip, including any actions that reduce the territory of the enclave.

The text also reiterates the council’s “unwavering commitment” to the vision of the two-state solution where two democratic states, Israel and Palestine, live side by side in peace within secure and recognized borders consistent with international law and relevant UN resolutions.

The resolution says that “in this regard stresses the importance of unifying the Gaza Strip with the West Bank under the Palestinian Authority.”

Later on Monday, Hamas announced that it welcomes the resolution, saying that it’s ready to cooperate with the mediators to engage in indirect negotiations to implement resolution principles “that are consistent with the demands of our people and resistance,” including a permanent ceasefire in Gaza, the full withdrawal of Israeli forces, prisoner-hostage exchange and reconstruction.

The Palestinian presidency hailed the adoption of the resolution as a step in the right direction to stop the ongoing conflict in the Gaza Strip, the Palestinian News Agency WAFA reported.

The Palestinian presidency also called on all parties to fulfill their responsibilities to implement the resolution.

China’s permanent representative to the United Nations Fu Cong said after voting in favor for the resolution that China calls for the immediate realization of an unconditional and lasting ceasefire and urges the sponsor to adopt a responsible attitude and make sincere efforts for the realization of an immediate and permanent ceasefire.

Noting that there are still many ambiguities in the draft, Fu said China still has legitimate concerns about whether the main parties will accept the ceasefire proposal and whether the three-stage arrangement can be successfully transitioned.

Russia’s UN ambassador, Vasily Nebenzia, countered that the council was signing on to the plan without “details” and “giving a carte blanche.”

Meanwhile, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken held talks in Israel with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday, the latest effort to halt the conflict, which is in its ninth month.

Since October 7, the conflict has killed at least 37,124 people in Gaza, mostly civilians, according to the Gaza health ministry.

The UN strongly urges all parties to prioritize the protection of civilians who are bearing the brunt of this conflict, particularly women and children. Everyone has obligations under international law. They must comply with those obligations, Stephane Dujarric, spokesperson for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, told a daily press briefing on Monday.

Source(s): CGTN

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