Sports

Middle East crisis live: UN agency calls Rafah a ‘pressure cooker of despair’ as Israel says offensive will move into city


Rafah is a ‘pressure cooker of despair’ as Gazans flee south, says UN agency

People who fled fighting in the Gaza Strip gather along an overcrowded street in Rafah on Thursday. Photograph: Mahmud Hams/AFP/Getty Images

The UN humanitarian office on Friday voiced concern about the hostilities in Khan Younis that have forced more people to flee to Rafah in the south of Gaza, describing the border town as a “pressure cooker of despair”, reports Reuters.

“I want to emphasise our deep concern about the escalation of hostilities in Khan Younis, which has resulted in an increase in the number of internally displaced people seeking refuge in Rafah in recent days,” said Jens Laerke, a spokesperson for the UN office for the coordination of humanitarian affairs.

“Thousands of Palestinians have continued to flee to the south, which is already hosting over half the population of about 2.3 million people … Rafah is a pressure cooker of despair, and we fear for what comes next.”

Israeli forces will continue their Gaza military campaign to Rafah, the Israeli defence minister, Yoav Gallant has said, despite the huge numbers of Palestinian civilians there.

Updated at 

Key events

Pro-Palestine march in London will end near Downing Street, say police

Daniel Boffey

Daniel Boffey

The latest pro-Palestine march of hundreds of thousands of protesters through central London will end with a rally near Downing Street after a climbdown from the Metropolitan police.

Following a meeting late on Thursday afternoon, organisers of the march said they had been given permission for the end stage of Saturday’s demonstration to take place on Whitehall.

Just hours earlier the Met had insisted that the “scale and frequency of marches” was causing serious disruption and that they did not support a request to extend the march into Whitehall.

The UK could officially recognise a Palestinian state after a ceasefire in Gaza without waiting for the outcome of what could be years of talks between Israel and the Palestinians on a two-state solution, the UK foreign secretary, David Cameron, has said.

Speaking during a visit on Thursday to Lebanon intended to tamp down regional tensions, the foreign secretary said no recognition could come while Hamas remained in Gaza, but that it could take place while Israeli negotiations with Palestinian leaders were continuing.

You can listen to Cameron’s comments in this clip:

David Cameron: UK could recognise a Palestinian state before a deal with Israel – video

Updated at 

Foiled attack on Israeli embassy in Stockholm being treated as potential ‘terrorist crime’, says security service

Sweden’s intelligence service said on Friday that the investigation into a foiled attack on the Israeli embassy in Stockholm this week was being treated as a potential “terrorist crime”, reports AFP.

Police were called to the embassy on Wednesday after a “dangerous object” was discovered on its grounds, which the national bomb squad destroyed after determining it was “live”. Police declined to comment on what the object was but media have reported it was a hand grenade.

“The preliminary investigation launched by the Swedish police authority on 31 January, following the discovery of a dangerous object at the Israeli embassy in Stockholm, has been taken over by the Swedish Security Service,” the service said in a statement.

“In connection with this, the criminal classification has been changed to a terrorist crime,” it added. The Israeli ambassador to Sweden, Ziv Nevo Kulman, said in a post to X that the embassy had been “subject to an attempted attack”. “We will not be intimidated by terror,” Kulman added.

Today we were subject to an attempted attack against the Embassy of Israel in Stockholm and its employees. We thank the Swedish authorities for their swift response. We will not be intimidated by terror.

— Ziv Nevo Kulman 🇮🇱🎗️ (@zivnk) January 31, 2024

Updated at 

105 killed in Gaza overnight, says health ministry

The Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza said 105 people were killed overnight, while the Hamas press office reported Israeli air and artillery bombardment around Khan Younis – southern Gaza’s main city and the focus of recent fighting.

AFP reports that leaflets calling on civilians to leave had again been dropped by Israeli aircraft over al-Shifa hospital’s compound.

Nearly four months of fighting had left Gaza “uninhabitable”, the UN said, while the Israeli siege had resulted in dire shortages of food, water, fuel and medicines.

Updated at 

Hamas gives ‘initial’ support to Gaza truce plan as fighting rages – reports

Fighting in Gaza raged on Friday with scores reported killed overnight, after Qatar said Hamas had given its “initial” support to a hostage-prisoner exchange deal that would pause its war with Israel, reports Agence France-Presse (AFP).

After a truce proposal agreed with Israeli negotiators was presented to Hamas on Thursday, Qatar’s foreign ministry spokesperson Majed al-Ansari said there were hopes of “good news” about a fresh pause to the fighting “in the next couple of weeks”.

Ansari said a truce plan thrashed out with Israeli negotiators by Egyptian, Qatari and US mediators in Paris earlier this week had received a “positive” initial response from Hamas. “That proposal has been approved by the Israeli side and now we have an initial positive confirmation from the Hamas side,” he said.

But a source close to Hamas told AFP: “There is no agreement on the framework of the agreement yet – the factions have important observations – and the Qatari statement is rushed and not true.”

A Hamas source told AFP that the group had been presented with a three-stage plan which would start with an initial six-week halt to the fighting to allow more aid deliveries into Gaza.

“Women, children and sick men over 60” among the Israeli hostages would also be released in exchange for Palestinian prisoners in Israel, the source told AFP, requesting anonymity because of the sensitivity of the talks.

There would also be “negotiations around the withdrawal of Israeli forces”, with possible additional phases involving more prisoner exchanges.

Updated at 

Iranian Revolutionary Guards adviser allegedly killed in Israeli attack in Damascus, says Al Jazeera

An Iranian Revolutionary Guards adviser in Damascus has been killed in an Israeli missile attack that targeted a southern district of the Syrian capital, according to semi-official Iranian news sites, reports Al Jazeera.

The news organisation said Iranian news sites had identified the adviser as Saeid Alidadi without sharing his rank.

As reported earlier, Syria’s state news agency Sana, citing a Syrian military source, said the country’s military had downed a number of Israeli missiles launched from the Golan Heights at southern Damascus.

Updated at 

Rafah is a ‘pressure cooker of despair’ as Gazans flee south, says UN agency

People who fled fighting in the Gaza Strip gather along an overcrowded street in Rafah on Thursday. Photograph: Mahmud Hams/AFP/Getty Images

The UN humanitarian office on Friday voiced concern about the hostilities in Khan Younis that have forced more people to flee to Rafah in the south of Gaza, describing the border town as a “pressure cooker of despair”, reports Reuters.

“I want to emphasise our deep concern about the escalation of hostilities in Khan Younis, which has resulted in an increase in the number of internally displaced people seeking refuge in Rafah in recent days,” said Jens Laerke, a spokesperson for the UN office for the coordination of humanitarian affairs.

“Thousands of Palestinians have continued to flee to the south, which is already hosting over half the population of about 2.3 million people … Rafah is a pressure cooker of despair, and we fear for what comes next.”

Israeli forces will continue their Gaza military campaign to Rafah, the Israeli defence minister, Yoav Gallant has said, despite the huge numbers of Palestinian civilians there.

Updated at 

Here are some of the latest images from Israel and Gaza on the news wires:

Demonstrators block a main road in Tel Aviv on Thursday demanding an immediate deal for the release of Israeli hostages held in the Gaza Strip by Hamas. Photograph: Ahmad Gharabli/AFP/Getty Images
Men carry tree branches gathered for firewood in the Maghazi camp for Palestinian refugees, which was severely damaged by Israeli bombardment on Thursday. Photograph: Anas Baba/AFP/Getty Images
Displaced Palestinians wait to receive food provided by a youth group at Rafah refugee camp in the southern Gaza Strip on Thursday. Photograph: Haitham Imad/EPA
Israeli protesters raise placards outside the Ministry of Defence in Tel Aviv on Thursday, calling for the release of Israeli hostages held by Hamas. Photograph: Ahmad Gharabli/AFP/Getty Images

Updated at 

Attacks against US forces will continue, says Iraq’s armed group al-Nujaba

The Iran-backed Iraqi armed group al-Nujaba said on Friday it will continue launching attacks on US forces until they withdraw from Iraq and the Gaza war ends, reports Reuters.

“Any [US] strike will result in an appropriate response,” al-Nujaba’s leader, Akram al-Kaabi, said in a statement, according to Al Jazeera.

Updated at 

A US federal court has dismissed a case accusing president Joe Biden and other senior US officials of being complicit in Israel’s alleged genocide in Gaza, reports Al Jazeera.

Despite the dismissal, the court’s decision urged Biden and his colleagues to examine “the results of their unflagging support” for Israel, including its human rights implications, says the Qatar-funded media organisation.

Al Jazeera said that the case was filed last year by human rights groups and individual Palestinians affected by the war, with the complaint accusing Biden, secretary of state Antony Blinken and secretary of defense Lloyd Austin of failing to fulfil their responsibilities under international and domestic law to prevent genocide.

The dismissal came late on Wednesday, reports Al Jazeera, stating that the US district court judge Jeffrey White dismissed the case on procedural grounds citing the division of powers under the US constitution. He said in his decision that “disputes over foreign policy are considered nonjusticiable political questions” and fall outside his jurisdiction.

“There are rare cases in which the preferred outcome is inaccessible to the court. This is one of those cases. The court is bound by precedent and the division of our coordinate branches of government to abstain from exercising jurisdiction in this matter,” he wrote.

But White added that, as the International Court of Justice (ICJ) said in a provisional ruling last week, “it is plausible that Israel’s conduct amounts to genocide.” “This court implores defendants to examine the results of their unflagging support of the military siege against the Palestinians in Gaza.”

Seven detained in Turkey for allegedly selling information to Israel’s the Mossad spy agency

Turkish police arrested seven people on Friday on suspicion of selling information to the Israeli intelligence service the Mossad, reports Associated Press (AP) citing the state-run Anadolu news agency.

The suspects, who allegedly passed details to the Mossad via private detectives, were detained in a joint operation with Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization, or MIT.

Acting on warrants issued by the Istanbul chief public prosecutor’s office, police anti-terror and intelligence branch officers carried out raids in Istanbul and the west coast city of Izmir, Anadolu reported. Two other suspects in the investigation are thought to have been detained earlier.

After the arrests on Friday, Anadolu cited a prosecution document as saying the operation targeted “Palestinian nationals and their families … within the scope of the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”

Last month, 34 people were detained by Turkish police on suspicion of spying for Israel, reports AP. They were accused of planning to carry out activities that included reconnaissance and “pursuing, assaulting and kidnapping” foreign nationals living in Turkey.

At the time, justice minister Yilmaz Tunc said most of the suspects were charged with committing “political or military espionage” on behalf of Israeli intelligence.

The Mossad is said to have recruited Palestinians and Syrian nationals in Turkey as part of an operation against foreigners living in Turkey.

‘We will not start a war’ but will respond strongly if anyone bullies us, says Iran’s president

Iran’s president Ebrahim Raisi said on Friday that his country will not start a war, but it will “respond strongly” to anyone who bullies it. Photograph: Iranian Presidency/ZUMA Press Wire/REX/Shutterstock

Iran’s president Ebrahim Raisi said on Friday that his country will not start a war, but it will “respond strongly” to anyone who bullies it, reports Reuters.

“We will not start any war, but if anyone wants to bully us they will receive a strong response,” Raisi said in a televised speech.

Raisi’s comments came after days of speculation about how Washington might
retaliate after three US soldiers were killed last Saturday in a strike on their base in Jordan by an Iranian-backed group.

CBS News, citing US officials, reported on Thursday that the US had approved plans for multi day strikes in Iraq and Syria against multiple targets, including Iranian personnel and facilities in those countries.

“Before, when they [the US] wanted to talk to us, they said the military option is on the table. Now they say they have no intention of a conflict with Iran,” Raisi said.

“The Islamic Republic’s military power in the region is not and never has been a threat to any country. Rather, it ensures security that the countries of the region can rely on and trust,” Raisi added.

The US has assessed that the drone that killed three of its soldiers and also wounded more than 40 other people, was made by Iran, four US. officials told Reuters.

Sources told the news agency that Iran’s Revolutionary Guards were pulling senior officers out of Syria.

Updated at 

Syrian military says Israel targeted south Damascus – report

The Syrian military says it downed a number of Israeli missiles launched from the Golan Heights that were targeting south Damascus on Friday, state news agency Sana reported citing a military source.

According to Reuters, reports of an explosion in the vicinity of Damascus circulated earlier overnight. There was no immediate comment from the Israeli military.

Israel has for years carried out attacks on what it has described as Iran-linked targets in Syria, where Tehran’s influence has grown since it began supporting president Bashar al-Assad in a civil war that started in 2011.

Since the 7 October attack on Israel by Hamas from Gaza, Israel has escalated its strikes on Iranian-backed militia targets in Syria and has also struck Syrian army air defences and some Syrian forces.

Half of US adults say Israel has ‘gone too far’ in war in Gaza, AP-NORC poll shows

According to a new AP-NORC poll, about seven out of 10 young people in Biden’s Democratic party disapprove of his approach to the conflict. Photograph: REX/Shutterstock

Half of US adults believe Israel’s war in Gaza has “gone too far”, a finding driven mainly by growing disapproval among Republicans and political independents, according to a poll by the Associated Press (AP) and the NORC centre for public affairs research.

Overall, 31% of US adults approve of president Joe Biden’s handling of the conflict, including just 46% of Democrats. Notably for Biden, about seven out of 10 young people in Biden’s Democratic party disapprove of his approach to the conflict.

In all, 50% of US adults now believe Israel’s military offensive has gone beyond what it should have, the poll found. That’s up from 40% in an AP-NORC poll conducted in November.

The poll shows 33% of Republicans thought Israel’s military response had gone too far, up from 18% in November, while 52% of independents said that, up from 39%. It also found that 62% of Democrats said they feel that way, roughly the same majority as in November.

Reporting on the findings AP said:

Fracture lines are growing in his [Biden’s]Democratic base, with some key Democratic blocs that Biden will likely need if he’s going to win a second term unhappy with his handling of the conflict.

About six in 10 non-white Democrats disapprove of how Biden is approaching the conflict, while about half of white Democrats approve.

Notably, about seven in 10 Democrats under 45 disapprove. That’s the opposite of the attitude of older Democrats, among whom nearly six in 10 approve.”

The poll also asked questions about the importance of the US helping to negotiate a ceasefire, concerns about a broader conflict in the Middle East and US support for Palestinians. AP report:

  • 35% of US adults now describe Israel as an ally that shares US interests and values. That’s back in line with the views from before the 7 October attack by Hamas on Israel, after a brief increase in November to 44%.

  • About six in 10 call recovering hostages being held by Hamas an important US priority, but only about three in 10 say it’s highly important to provide aid to Israel’s military to fight Hamas. A similar share of US adults say that about negotiating the establishment of an independent Palestinian state.

The poll of 1,152 adults was conducted using a sample drawn from NORC’s probability-based AmeriSpeak Panel, designed to represent the US population. It was conducted from 25 January-28 January 2024. That time period overlapped with the killing of three US troops in Jordan.

Updated at 

‘The world cannot abandon’ children in Gaza, says Unicef executive director

Catherine Russell, Unicef’s executive director, has warned that “the situation for children in Gaza grows bleaker every day”. In a post on X, Russell said: “The world cannot abandon them”.

She also shared a statement from Unicef that was published earlier this week, which addresses the allegations of several UNRWA staff being involved in the Hamas attacks on Israel on 7 October.

It reads:

The allegations of involvement of several UNRWA staff in the heinous attacks on Israel on 7 October are horrifying. As the secretary general has said, any UN employee involved in acts of terror will be held accountable.

However, we must not prevent an entire organization from delivering on its mandate to serve people in desperate need.

The harrowing events that have been snowballing in Gaza since 7 October have left hundreds of thousands of people homeless and on the brink of famine. UNRWA, as the largest humanitarian organisation in Gaza, has been providing food, shelter and protection, even as its own staff members were being displaced and killed.

Decisions by various member states to pause funds from UNRWA will have catastrophic consequences for the people of Gaza. No other entity has the capacity to deliver the scale and breadth of assistance that 2.2 million people in Gaza urgently need.

We appeal for these decisions to be reconsidered.

UNRWA has announced a full, independent review of the organization, and the UN’s Office of internal oversight services has been activated.

Withdrawing funds from UNRWA is perilous and would result in the collapse of the humanitarian system in Gaza, with far-reaching humanitarian and human rights consequences in the occupied Palestinian territory and across the region.

The world cannot abandon the people of Gaza.”

Updated at 





Source link

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button