JERUSALEM (AP) — Israel and Hamas on Tuesday appeared close to a deal to temporarily halt their devastating six-week war for dozens of hostages being held in the Gaza Strip to be freed in exchange for Palestinians in Israeli prisons.
But as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu convened his Cabinet for a vote, he vowed to resume the Israeli offensive against Hamas as soon as the truce ends.
“We are at war, and we will continue the war,” he said. “We will continue until we achieve all our goals.”
The Israeli Cabinet was expected to vote on a plan that would halt Israel’s offensive in Gaza for several days in exchange for the release of about 50 of the 240 hostages held by Hamas. Israel has vowed to continue the war until it destroys Hamas’ military capabilities and returns all hostages.
Hamas predicted a Qatari-mediated deal could be reached in “the coming hours.”
Netanyahu acknowledged that the Cabinet faced a tough decision, but supporting the cease-fire was the right thing to do. Netanyahu appeared to have enough support to pass the measure, despite opposition from some hard-line ministers.
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Netanyahu said that during the lull, intelligence efforts will be maintained, allowing the army to prepare for the next stages of battle. He said the battle would continue until “Gaza will not threaten Israel.”
The announcement came as Israeli troops battled Palestinian militants in an urban refugee camp in northern Gaza and around hospitals overcrowded with patients and sheltering families.
Details of the expected cease-fire deal were not released. Israeli media reported that an agreement would include a five-day halt in Israel’s offensive in Gaza and the release of 50 hostages held by Hamas in exchange for some 150 Palestinian prisoners held by Israel.
Israel’s Channel 12 TV said the first releases would take place Thursday or Friday and continue for several days.
Talks have repeatedly stalled. But even if a deal is reached, it would not mean an end to the war, which erupted on Oct. 7 after Hamas militants stormed across the border into southern Israel and killed at least 1,200 people, most of them civilians, and kidnapped some 240 others.
THE TOLL IN GAZA
In weeks of Israeli airstrikes and a ground invasion, more than 11,000 Palestinians have been killed, two-thirds of them women and minors, and more than 2,700 others are missing and believed to be buried under rubble, according to Gaza’s Health Ministry. The ministry says it has been unable to update its count since Nov. 11 because of the health sector’s collapse.
Gaza health officials say the toll has risen sharply since, and hospitals continue to report deaths from daily strikes, often dozens at a time.
The Health Ministry in the West Bank last reported a toll of 13,300 but stopped providing its own count Tuesday without giving a reason. Because of that, and because officials there declined to explain in detail how they tracked deaths after Nov. 11, the AP decided to stop reporting its count.
The Health Ministry toll does not differentiate between civilians and combatants. Israel says it has killed thousands of Hamas militants but has not provided evidence for its count.
In southern Lebanon, an Israeli strike killed two journalists with Al-Mayadeen TV, according to the Hezbollah-allied Pan-Arab network and Lebanese officials. There was no immediate comment from the Israeli military. A separate Israeli drone strike in Lebanon killed four Hamas members, a Palestinian official and a Lebanon security official said.
The Israeli military has been trading fire almost daily across the border with Lebanon’s Hezbollah group and Palestinian militants since the outbreak of the war.
TALKS ON HOSTAGES
Israel, the United States and Qatar, which mediates with Hamas, have negotiated for weeks over a hostage release that would be paired with a temporary cease-fire and the entry of more aid.
In Washington, President Joe Biden said Tuesday that a deal on releasing some hostages was “very close.”
"We could bring some of these hostages home very soon,” he said at the White House.
Qatar’s Foreign Ministry spokesman, Majed al-Ansari expressed optimism, telling reporters that “we are at the closest point we ever had been in reaching an agreement.” He added that negotiations were at a “critical and final stage.”
Izzat Rishq, a senior Hamas official, said Tuesday that an agreement could be reached “in the coming hours,” in which Hamas would release captives and Israel would release Palestinian prisoners. Hamas’ leader-in-exile, Ismail Haniyeh, also said they were close to a deal.
Israel’s Channel 12 TV, citing anonymous Israeli officials, said a truce could be extended and additional Palestinian prisoners released if there were additional hostages freed.
FIGHTING IN JABALIYA AND AROUND HOSPITALS
Inside Gaza, the front line of the war shifted to the Jabaliya refugee camp, a densely built district of concrete buildings near Gaza City that houses families displaced in the 1948 war surrounding Israel’s creation. Israel has bombarded the area for weeks, and the military said Hamas fighters have regrouped there and in other eastern districts after being pushed out of much of Gaza City.
The fighting in Jabaliya also affected two nearby hospitals, trapping hundreds of patients and displaced people sheltering inside. A strike Tuesday hit inside one of the facilities, al-Awda, killing four people, including three doctors, the hospital director told Al-Jazeera TV. The director, Ahmed Mahna, blamed the strike on Israel, a claim that AP could not independently confirm. The medical aid group Doctors Without Borders confirmed that two of the doctors killed worked for it.
Residents of Jabaliya said there was heavy fighting as Israeli forces tried to advance under the cover of airstrikes. “They are facing stiff resistance,” said Hamza Abu Mansour, a university student.
The Israeli military said strikes hit three tunnel shafts where fighters were hiding and destroyed rocket launchers. Footage released by the military showed Israeli soldiers patrolling on foot as gunfire echoed around them.
It was not possible to independently confirm details of the fighting.
It’s unclear how many Palestinian civilians remain in northern Gaza, but the U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees estimates that some 160,000 people are still in its shelters there, though it can no longer provide services. Thousands more still shelter in several hospitals in the north even after many fled south in recent weeks.
Most hospitals are no longer operational. The hospital situation in Gaza is “catastrophic,” Michael Ryan, a senior World Health Organization official, said Monday.
With Israeli troops surrounding the Indonesia Hospital, also near Jabaliya, staff had to bury 50 dead in the facility's courtyard, a senior Health Ministry official in the hospital, Munir al-Boursh, told Al-Jazeera TV.
Up to 600 wounded people and some 2,000 displaced Palestinians remain stranded at the hospital, according to Gaza’s Health Ministry.
A similar standoff played out in recent days at Shifa Hospital, Gaza’s largest, where over 250 patients and medical workers are stranded after the evacuation of 31 premature babies.
Israel has provided evidence in recent days of a militant presence at Shifa. But it has yet to substantiate its claims that Hamas had a major command center beneath the facility, allegations denied by Hamas and hospital staff.
DIRE CONDITIONS IN NORTH AND SOUTH
Most of Gaza's population of 2.3 million have crowded into the southern section of the Gaza Strip, where Israeli strikes have continued and where the military says it intends to extend its ground invasion. Many are packed into U.N.-run schools and other facilities across the territory’s south or sleeping on the streets outside, even as winter rains have pelted the coastal enclave in recent days.
There are shortages of food, water and fuel for generators across all of Gaza, which has had no central electricity for over a month.
Strikes overnight crushed residential buildings in the Nusseirat refugee camp in central Gaza, killing at least 20 people, according to hospital officials. Footage from the scene showed the legs of five young boys sticking out from under a collapsed concrete slab of one home.
Israel continues to strike what it says are militant targets throughout Gaza, often killing women and children. Israel accuses Hamas of using civilians as human shields.
Jeffery reported from Cairo. Associated Press writers Wafaa Shurafa in Deir al-Balah, Gaza Strip; Samy Magdy in Cairo; and Melanie Lidman in Jerusalem contributed.
Full AP coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/israel-hamas-war.
For 14 years, Netanyahu's policy was to keep Hamas in power; the pogrom of October 7, 2023, helps the Israeli prime minister preserve his own rule
Much ink has been spilled describing the longtime relationship – rather, alliance – between Benjamin Netanyahu and Hamas. And still, the very fact that there has been close cooperation between the Israeli prime minister (with the support of many on the right) and the fundamentalist organization seemingly evaporated from most of the current analyses – everyone’s talking about “failures,” “mistakes” and “contzeptziot” (fixed conceptions). Given this, there is a need not only to review the history of cooperation but also to conclude unequivocally: The pogrom of October 7, 2023, helps Netanyahu, and not for the first time, to preserve his rule, certainly in the short term.
The MO of Netanyahu’s policy since his return to the Prime Minister’s Office in 2009 has and continues to be, on the one hand, bolstering the rule of Hamas in the Gaza Strip, and, on the other, weakening the Palestinian Authority.
His return to power was accompanied by a complete turnaround from the policy of his predecessor, Ehud Olmert, who sought to end the conflict through a peace treaty with the most moderate Palestinian leader – PA President Mahmoud Abbas.
For the last 14 years, while implementing a divide-and-conquer policy vis-a-vis the West Bank and Gaza, “Abu Yair” (“Yair’s father,” in Arabic, as Netanyahu called himself while campaigning in the Arab community before one recent election) has resisted any attempt, military or diplomatic, that might bring an end to the Hamas regime.
In practice, since the Cast Lead operation in late 2008 and early 2009, during the Olmert era, Hamas’ rule has not faced any genuine military threat. On the contrary: The group has been supported by the Israeli prime minister, and funded with his assistance.
When Netanyahu declared in April 2019, as he has after every other round of fighting, that “we have restored deterrence with Hamas” and that “we have blocked the main supply routes,” he was lying through his teeth.
For over a decade, Netanyahu has lent a hand, in various ways, to the growing military and political power of Hamas. Netanyahu is the one who turned Hamas from a terror organization with few resources into a semi-state body.
Releasing Palestinian prisoners, allowing cash transfers, as the Qatari envoy comes and goes to Gaza as he pleases, agreeing to the import of a broad array of goods, construction materials in particular, with the knowledge that much of the material will be designated for terrorism and not for building civilian infrastructure, increasing the number of work permits in Israel for Palestinian workers from Gaza, and more. All these developments created symbiosis between the flowering of fundamentalist terrorism and preservation of Netanyahu’s rule.
Take note: It would be a mistake to assume that Netanyahu thought about the well-being of the poor and oppressed Gazans – who are also victims of Hamas – when allowing the transfer of funds (some of which, as noted, didn’t go to building infrastructure but rather military armament). His goal was to hurt Abbas and prevent division of the Land of Israel into two states.
It’s important to remember that without those funds from Qatar (and Iran), Hamas would not have had the money to maintain its reign of terror, and its regime would have been dependent on restraint.
In practice, the injection of cash (as opposed to bank deposits, which are far more accountable) from Qatar, a practice that Netanyahu supported and approved, has served to strengthen the military arm of Hamas since 2012.
Thus, Netanyahu indirectly funded Hamas after Abbas decided to stop providing it with funds that he knew would end up being used for terrorism against him, his policies and his people. It’s important not to ignore that Hamas used this money to buy the means through which Israelis have been murdered for years.
In parallel, from a security standpoint, since Operation Protective Edge in 2014, Netanyahu has been guided by a policy that almost completely ignored the terrorism of the rockets and the incendiary kites and balloons. Occasionally, the media has been exposed to a dog-and-pony show, when such weapons were captured, but not more than that.
It’s worth reminding that last year, the “government of change” (the short-lived coalition led by Naftali Bennett and Yair Lapid) exercised a different policy, one of whose expressions was the halting of funding for Hamas arriving via suitcases full of cash. When Netanyahu tweeted, on May 30, 2022, that “Hamas is interested in the existence of the weak Bennett government,” he was lying to the public. The government of change was a disaster for Hamas.
Netanyahu’s nightmare was the collapse of the Hamas regime – something that Israel could have expedited, albeit for a difficult price. One of the proofs for this claim was given during Operation Protective Edge.
At the time, Netanyahu leaked to the media the contents of a presentation that the military had made to the security cabinet laying out the potential repercussions of conquering Gaza. The premier knew that the secret document, which noted that occupying Gaza would cost the lives of hundreds of soldiers, would create an atmosphere of opposition to a widespread ground invasion.
In March 2019, Naftali Bennett told the Channel 13 program Hamakor: “Someone took care to leak that to the media to create an excuse for not taking action… it’s one of the gravest leaks in Israeli history.” Of course, the leak was not investigated, despite many demands from members of the Knesset. In closed-door conversations, Benny Gantz said then, when he was the IDF’s chief of staff, “Bibi leaked this.”
Let this sink in. Netanyahu leaked a “top secret” document in order to thwart the military and diplomatic position of the cabinet, which sought to defeat Hamas with various means. We should heed what Avigdor Lieberman told Yedioth Ahronoth, in an interview published just before the October 7 assault, that Netanyahu “continuously thwarted all the targeted assassinations.”
It should be stressed that Netanyahu’s policy of keeping Hamas in charge in Gaza didn’t find expression only through opposition to physical occupation of Gaza and to assassinations of key Hamas players, but also in his determination to thwart any political reconciliation between the PA – Fatah in particular – and Hamas. A prominent example is Netanyahu’s behavior in late 2017, when talks between Fatah and Hamas were actually taking place.
A fundamental disagreement between Abbas and Hamas concerned the question of the Islamist group’s military being subordinate to to the PA. Hamas agreed that the PA would return to running all civilian matters in Gaza but refused to yield its arms.
Egypt and the United States supported reconciliation and worked to achieve it. Netanyahu totally opposed the idea, asserting repeatedly that “reconciliation between Hamas and the PLO makes achieving peace harder.” Of course, Netanyahu didn’t pursue peace, which wasn’t on the agenda in any way back then. His position only served Hamas.
Over the years, from time to time, various figures on both sides of the political spectrum repeatedly pointed to the axis of cooperation between Netanyahu and Hamas. On the one hand, for example, Yuval Diskin, head of the Shin Bet security service from 2005 to 2011, told Yedioth Ahronoth in January 2013, “If we look at it over the years, one of the main people contributing to Hamas’s strengthening has been Bibi Netanyahu, since his first term as prime minister.”
In August 2019, former prime minister Ehud Barak told Army Radio that people who believed that Netanyahu had no strategy were mistaken. “His strategy is to keep Hamas alive and kicking… even at the price of abandoning the citizens [of the south] … in order to weaken the PA in Ramallah.”
And former IDF chief of staff Gadi Eisenkot told Maariv in January 2022 that Netanyahu acted “in total opposition to the national assessment of the National Security Council, which determined that there was a need to disconnect from the Palestinians and establish two states.” Israel moved in the exact opposition direction, weakening the PA and strengthening Hamas.
Shin Bet head Nadav Argaman spoke about this when he finished his term in 2021. He warned explicitly that the lack of dialogue between Israel and the PA had the effect of weakening the latter while bolstering Hamas.
He warned that the relative quiet in the West Bank at the time was deceptive, and that “Israel must find a way to cooperate with the PA and to strengthen it.” Eisenkot commented, in that same 2022 interview, that Argaman was right. “This is what’s happening, and it’s dangerous,” he added.
People on the right said similar things. One of the mantras being repeated was that of newly elected MK Bezalel Smotrich, who in 2015 told the Knesset Channel that “Hamas is an asset and Abu Mazen is a burden,” referring to Abbas by his nom de guerre.
In April 2019, Jonatan Urich, one of Netanyahu’s media advisers and a Likud spokesman, told Makor Rishon that one of Netanyahu’s achievements was separating Gaza (both politically and conceptually) from the West Bank. Netanyahu “basically smashed the vision of the Palestinian state in these two places,” he boasted. “Some of the achievement is related to the Qatari money reaching Hamas each month.”
Around the same time in 2019, Likud MK Galit Distel Atbaryan wrote in an effusively complimentary Facebook post: “We must say this honestly – Netanyahu wants Hamas on its feet, and he is ready to pay almost any incomprehensible price for this. Half the country is paralyzed, children and parents are suffering from post-trauma, homes are blown up, people are killed, a street cat holds a nuclear tiger by the balls.” Read it but don’t believe it? It’s worth believing, because this is exactly the policy by which Netanyahu comported himself.
The prime minister himself spoke briefly at times about his position regarding Hamas. In March 2019, he said during a meeting of Likud MKs, at which the subject of transfer of funds to Hamas was under discussion, that, “Whoever opposes a Palestinian state must support delivery of funds to Gaza because maintaining separation between the PA in the West Bank and Hamas in Gaza will prevent the establishment of a Palestinian state.”
In a tweet two months later, Channel 13 quoted former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak as telling a Kuwaiti newspaper: “Netanyahu isn’t interested in a two-state solution. Rather, he wants to separate Gaza from the West Bank, as he told me at the end of 2010.”
Gen. (Res.) Gershon Hacohen, a prominent right winger, made things crystal clear in an interview with the online magazine Mida in May 2019. “When Netanyahu didn’t go to war in Gaza to defeat the Hamas regime, he basically prevented Abu Mazen from establishing a united Palestinian state,” he recalled at the time. “We need to exploit the situation of separation created between Gaza and Ramallah. It’s an Israeli interest of the highest level, and you can’t understand the situation in Gaza without understanding this context.”
Netanyahu’s entire policy since 2009 has sought to destroy any possibility of a diplomatic agreement with the Palestinians. It’s the theme of his rule, which depends on the continuation of the conflict. Destroying democracy is an additional aspect of his continuing rule, something that has brought many of us out to the streets during the past year.
In that same 2019 interview with Army Radio, Barak said that Netanyahu was keeping the south “on a constant low flame.” One should pay particular attention to his assertion that the security establishment laid on the cabinet table several times plans “to drain the swamp” of Hamas in Gaza, but the cabinet never discussed them.
Netanyahu knew, Barak added, “that it’s easier with Hamas to explain to Israelis that there is no one to sit with and no one to talk to. If the PA strengthens… then there will be someone to talk to.”
Back to Distel Atbaryan: “Mark my words – Benjamin Netanyahu keeps Hamas on its feet so that the entire State of Israel won’t become the ‘Gaza envelope.’” She warned of disaster “if Hamas collapses,” in which case, “Abu Mazen is liable to control Gaza. If he will control it, voices from the left will arise advocating negotiations and a diplomatic settlement and a Palestinian state, including in Judea and Samaria.” Netanyahu’s mouthpieces are incessantly pumping out such messages.
Benjamin Netanyahu and Hamas have an unspoken political alliance against their common enemy – the Palestinian Authority. In other words, Netanyahu has cooperation and agreement with a group whose goal is the destruction of the State of Israel and the murder of Jews.
New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman was on the mark when he wrote in May 2021, at the time of the establishment of the government of change, that Netanyahu and Hamas were scared of the possibility of a diplomatic breakthrough. He wrote that the premier and Hamas both “wanted to destroy the possibility of political change before it could destroy them politically.”
He then explained that they didn’t need to talk or have an agreement between them. “They each understand what the other needs to stay in power and consciously or unconsciously behave in ways to ensure that they deliver it.”
I could go on and on expanding on the subject of this cooperation, but the preceding examples speak for themselves. The 2023 pogrom is a result of Netanyahu’s policy. It is not “a failure of the concept” – rather, this is the concept: Netanyahu and Hamas are political partners, and both sides have fulfilled their side of the bargain.
In the future, more details will emerge that will shed additional light on that mutual understanding. Don’t make the mistake of thinking – even now – that as long as Netanyahu and his present government are responsible for making decisions, the Hamas regime will collapse. There will be a lot of talk and pyrotechnics about the current “war against terror,” but sustaining Hamas is more important to Netanyahu than a few dead kibbutzniks.
A Brief History of the Netanyahu-Hamas Alliance (rsn.org)
was reviewed by The New York Times, did not set a date for the attack, but described a methodical assault designed to overwhelm the fortifications around the Gaza Strip, take over Israeli cities and storm key military bases, including a division headquarters.
Hamas followed the blueprint with shocking precision. The document called for a barrage of rockets at the outset of the attack, drones to knock out the security cameras and automated machine guns along the border, and gunmen to pour into Israel en masse in paragliders, on motorcycles and on foot — all of which happened on Oct. 7.
A girl who would be perfectly safe now if Oct 7th invasion did not happen.
Do I have this right? You rightly condemn Hamas for the rape of Israeli women on October 7th. And then turn around and say it's okay for IDF soldiers to rape Arab women to boost their morale?What the actual fuck.Yes it's from 2016 but mother fuckhttps://twitter.com/AdameMedia/status/1730674447357554918?t=s8OCb49m0Mt_YBEV9PEJMA&s=19
A girl who would be perfectly safe now if Oct 7th invasion did not happen.
What are your thoughts on Israel knowing of the plans of attack for a year, taking no action and having an “enemy (Hamas) of my enemy (Palestinian Authority) is my friend (Hamas)” relationship with Hamas?Is growing up in Gaza, as it’s been, “perfectly alive” to you? Maybe if 1948 didn’t happen she’d have the opportunity to grow up to be an adult, eh?
The Israeli military heavily bombarded southern Gaza on Saturday and ordered residents of several Palestinian border towns in the area to leave their homes, appearing to set the stage for a ground invasion in the south as hostilities resumed after the collapse of a weeklong truce with Hamas.
The Israeli demand for evacuations evoked similar orders the military gave before invading northern Gaza in late October, and it added to the fear and uncertainty hanging over Gaza’s 2.2 million people as a new phase appeared to begin in the nearly two-month war.
A girl who would be perfectly safe now if Oct 7th invasion did not happen.
What are your thoughts on Israel knowing of the plans of attack for a year, taking no action and having an “enemy (Hamas) of my enemy (Palestinian Authority) is my friend (Hamas)” relationship with Hamas?Is growing up in Gaza, as it’s been, “perfectly alive” to you? Maybe if 1948 didn’t happen she’d have the opportunity to grow up to be an adult, eh?
I miss the whataboutism Hal. With the solid (rumors?) we can have drinks at stitch next September while some of us poor suckers forced to pay a grand to sit anywhere lower than the rafters, unless they finally decide to play the proper amount of shows to meet the unprecedented demand my city has for this glorious band.anyway you can point to 1948, I can point to 1917 or 1800 or 1813 BCE or you’re going to tell me 3836 years history gives Israel zero voice and I’ll need to defend stories of the key man on this land living 175 years.the brutal reality remains many lands are occupied, including the one you are likely enjoying right now by the winner of wars. Not recognizing a people’s right to exist peacefully has consequences and wars have results. That’s the brutal truth. Authoritarian rule also has terrible implications for the poor folks of Gaza but it’s good that you support authoritarianism when it involves the Jewish people. Maybe we can celebrate the end of American democracy as we join the domain of authoritarianism next November.you may say apartheid, and I will point out the fact that West Bank a b and c is the specific result of two peace treaties signed by Palestinian leadership, and their unwillingness to continue negotiations for a two state solution continues to present day. We’ve been thru this scores of times but it gets us nowhere.and the bottom line is this conflict has zero to do with Palestinian political issues. They started this war by murdering 1400 likely liberal Jews who fully supported the plight of the Gazans.have you or any of the libs here bothered to do any homework on this terrible issue, (despite gimme driving songs of praise about some long banned commenters) you would have learned that the Israeli land near Gaza that was attacked was very left leaning and very supportive of Gaza. That’s who the Palestinians decided to murder when they began this conflict. People who supported their claims. This has zero to do with their complicated politics. It has to do with the Gaza decision to kill innocent liberal Jews, and it appears a wing of American liberals support that so,you and Twitter boy keep up your whataboutism nonsense, get a solid block of libs to hate on Bidens policies as trump continues to lead almost every swing state poll, and we can drink in glory next fall, listen to some glorious tunes at the likely center of this bands universe, sorry kraken land, as we welcome american authoritarianism, because people can’t be bothered to do a little research and learn about who the Gazans killed on Oct 7
KHAN YOUNIS, Gaza Strip (AP) — Israel pounded targets in the crowded southern half of the Gaza Strip on Saturday and ordered more neighborhoods designated for attack to evacuate, driving up the death toll even as the United States and others urged it to do more to protect Gaza civilians a day after a truce collapsed.
At least 200 Palestinians have been killed since the fighting resumed Friday morning following the weeklong truce with the territory’s ruling militant group Hamas, according to the Health Ministry in Gaza. Several homes were hit across Gaza on Saturday, with multiple casualties reported in a strike that flattened a multi-story building on the outskirts of Gaza City.
Separately, the ministry announced that the overall death toll in Gaza since the Oct. 7 start of the Israel-Hamas war surpassed 15,200, a sharp jump from the previous count of more than 13,300 on Nov. 20. The ministry does not differentiate between civilians and combatants, but it said 70% of the dead were women and children. It also said more than 40,000 people had been wounded since the war began.
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Live updates | Israeli strikes kill over 175 people in Gaza after cease-fire ends, officials say
The appeal from the United States, Israel's closest ally, to do more to protect civilians came after an air and ground offensive in the first weeks of the war devastated large areas of northern Gaza. Some 2 million Palestinians, almost the entire population of Gaza, are now crammed into the territory's southern half.
Israel’s military said Saturday that it had hit more than 400 Hamas targets across Gaza over the past day, using airstrikes and shelling from tanks and navy gunships. It included more than 50 strikes in the city of Khan Younis and surrounding areas in southern Gaza.
At least nine people, including three children, were killed in a strike on a house in Deir al-Balah city in the south, according to the hospital where the bodies were taken. The hospital also received seven bodies of others killed in overnight airstrikes, including two children.
In northern Gaza, an airstrike flattened a residential building hosting displaced families in the urban refugee camp of Jabaliya on the outskirts of Gaza City. The strike left dozens dead or wounded, said residents Hamza Obeid and Amal Radwan.
“There was a loud bang, then the building turned into a pile of rubble,” Obeid said. AP video showed smoke rising from a fire as men, some in sandals, picked their way over the debris. Lt. Col. Peter Lerner, an Israeli army spokesperson, confirmed that the Israeli military was operating in Jabaliya.
Meanwhile, Palestinian militant groups in Gaza said they fired a barrage of rockets on southern Israel. There were no immediate reports of damage or injuries. Lerner said Hamas had launched more than 250 rockets at Israel since the cease-fire ended.
In the clearest sign yet that a return to negotiations for further truces was unlikely, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu directed negotiators to return to Israel.
With the resumption of fighting, the Israeli military published an online map carving up the Gaza Strip into hundreds of numbered parcels and asked residents to familiarize themselves with the number of their location ahead of evacuation warnings.
On Saturday, the military listed more than two dozen parcel numbers in areas around Gaza City in the north and east of Khan Younis. Separately, it dropped leaflets with evacuation orders over towns east of Khan Younis.
One Khan Younis resident said a neighbor received a call from the Israeli army warning that houses in the area would be hit and everyone should leave. “We told them, ‘We have nothing here, why do you want to strike it?’" said the resident, Hikmat al-Qidra. Al-Qidra said the house was destroyed.
The maps and leaflets generated panic and confusion, especially in the crowded south. Unable to go to northern Gaza or neighboring Egypt, their only escape is to move around within the 220-square-kilometer (85-square-mile) area.
“There is no place to go,” said Emad Hajar, who fled with his wife and three children from the north a month ago to Khan Younis. “They expelled us from the north, and now they are pushing us to leave the south."
Amal Radwan, who sheltered in the Jabaliya refugee camp, said she wasn't aware of such a map, adding that she and many others were not able to leave because of the relentless bombardment.
Mark Regev, a senior advisor to Netanyahu, said Israel was making “maximum effort to safeguard Gazan civilians" and the military has used leafleting, phone calls, and radio and TV broadcasts to urge Gazans to move from specific areas. “We’ve not asked the whole population of the south to relocate,” he said.
Regev added that Israel is considering a future security buffer zone that would not allow Gazans direct access to the border fence on foot, adding that Israel does not plan to annex any territory from Gaza.
Israel says it is targeting Hamas operatives and blames civilian casualties on the militants, accusing them of operating in residential neighborhoods. It claims to have killed thousands of militants, without providing evidence. Israel says 77 of its soldiers have been killed in the ground offensive in northern Gaza.
Also Saturday, the Palestinian Red Crescent said it had received the first convoy of aid trucks through the Rafah crossing since fighting resumed. Wael Abu Omar, a spokesman for the Palestinian Crossings Authority, said a convoy of 100 trucks entered Gaza, including three carrying 150,000 liters (nearly 40,000 gallons) of fuel.
“Current conditions do not allow for a meaningful humanitarian response, and I fear will spell disaster for the civilian population,” Pascal Hundt, in charge of operations in Gaza for the International Committee of the Red Cross, said.
Meanwhile, U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris, in Dubai on Saturday for the COP28 climate conference, said in a meeting with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi that “under no circumstances” would the United States permit the forced relocation of Palestinians from Gaza or the West Bank, the besiegement of Gaza or redrawing of its borders, according to a U.S. summary.
Harris was expected to outline proposals with regional leaders to “put Palestinian voices at the center” of planning the next steps for Gaza after the conflict, according to the White House. President Joe Biden’s administration has emphasized the need for an eventual two-state solution, with Israel and a Palestinian state coexisting.
The Oct. 7 attack by Hamas and other militants killed about 1,200 people, mostly civilians, in southern Israel, and around 240 people were taken captive.
The renewed hostilities have heightened concerns for 136 hostages who, according to the Israeli military, are still held by Hamas and other militants after 105 were freed during the truce. A 70-year-old woman held by Hamas was declared dead on Saturday, according to her kibbutz, bringing the total number of known dead hostages to eight.
During the truce, Israel freed 240 Palestinians from its prisons. Most of those released by both sides were women and children.
The truce's end also saw new activity along Israel's northern border. Lebanon’s militant Hezbollah group said its fighters attacked at least five Israeli posts along the border, and Israeli forces struck several areas on the Lebanese side. There were no reports of casualties.
Mroue reported from Beirut and Anna reported from New York. Associated Press writer Julia Frankel in Jerusalem contributed to this report.
Full AP coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/israel-hamas-war
20 years have passed since the Oslo accords were signed on the White
House lawn. For all their shortcomings and ambiguities, the accords
constituted a historic breakthrough in the century-old conflict between
Jews and Arabs in Palestine. It was the first peace agreement between
the two principal parties to the conflict: Israelis and Palestinians.
accords represented real progress on three fronts: the Palestine
Liberation Organisation recognised the state of Israel; Israel
recognised the PLO as the representative of the Palestinian people; and
both sides agreed to resolve their outstanding differences by peaceful
means. Mutual recognition replaced mutual rejection. In short, this
promised at least the beginning of a reconciliation between two bitterly
antagonistic national movements. And the hesitant handshake between Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat clinched the historic compromise.
to the architecture of Oslo was the notion of gradualism. The text did
not address any of the key issues in this dispute: Jerusalem; the right
of return of 1948 refugees; the status of Jewish settlements built on
occupied Palestinian land; or the borders of the Palestinian entity. All
these "permanent status" issues were deferred for negotiations towards
the end of the five-year transition period. Basically, this was a modest
experiment in Palestinian self-government, starting with the Gaza Strip
and the West Bank town of Jericho.
text did not promise or even mention an independent Palestinian state
at the end of the transition period. The Palestinians believed that in
return for giving up their claim to 78% of historic Palestine, they
would gain an independent state in the remaining 22%, with a capital
city in Jerusalem. They were to be bitterly disappointed.
surrounded Oslo from the moment it saw the light of day. The 21 October
1993 issue of the London Review of Books ran two articles; Edward Said
put the case against in the first. He called the agreement "an instrument of Palestinian surrender, a Palestinian Versailles",
arguing that it set aside international legality and compromised the
fundamental national rights of the Palestinian people. It could not
advance genuine Palestinian self-determination because that meant
freedom, sovereignty, and equality, rather than perpetual subservience
In my own article I put the case for Oslo.
I believed that it would set in motion a gradual but irreversible
process of Israeli withdrawal from the occupied territories and that it
would pave the way to Palestinian statehood. From today's perspective,
20 years on, it is clear that Said was right in his analysis and I was
In 2000 the Oslo peace process broke down following the failure of the Camp David summit
and the outbreak of the second intifada. Why? Israelis claim that the
Palestinians made a strategic choice to return to violence and
consequently there was no Palestinian partner for peace. As I see it,
Palestinian violence was a contributory factor, but not the main cause.
The fundamental reason was that Israel reneged on its side of the deal.
Sadly, the Jewish fanatic who assassinated Rabin in 1995
achieved his broader aim of derailing the peace train. In 1996 the
rightwing Likud returned to power under the leadership of Binyamin
Netanyahu. He made no effort to conceal his deep antagonism to Oslo,
denouncing it as incompatible with Israel's right to security and with
the historic right of the Jewish people to the whole land of Israel. And
he spent his first three years as PM in a largely successful attempt to
arrest, undermine, and subvert the accords concluded by his Labour
Particularly destructive of the
peace project was the policy of expanding Israeli settlements on
occupied Palestinian territory. These settlements are illegal under
international law and constitute a huge obstacle to peace. Building
civilian settlements beyond the Green Line
does not violate the letter of the Oslo accords but it most decidedly
violates its spirit. As a result of settlement expansion the area
available for a Palestinian state has been steadily shrinking to the
point where a two-state solution is barely conceivable.
so-called security barrier that Israel has been building on the West
Bank since 2002 further encroaches on Palestinian land. Land-grabbing
and peace-making do not go together: it is one or the other. Oslo is
essentially a land-for-peace deal. By expanding settlements all Israeli
governments, Labour as well as Likud, contributed massively to its
The rate of settlement growth in the West Bank and Israeli-annexed East Jerusalem is staggering. At the end of 1993 there were 115,700 Israeli settlers in the occupied territories. Their number doubled during the following decade.
Today the number of Israeli settlers on the West Bank exceeds 350,000.
There are an additional 300,000 Jews living in settlements across the
pre-1967 border in East Jerusalem. Thousands more settlement homes are
planned or under construction. Despite his best efforts, John Kerry, the
US secretary of state, failed to get the Netanyahu government to accept
a settlement freeze as a precondition for renewing the peace talks
suspended in 2010. As long as Netanyahu remains in power, it is a safe
bet that no breakthrough will be achieved in the new round of talks. He
is the procrastinator par excellence, the double-faced prime minister
who pretends to negotiate the partition of the pizza while continuing to
gobble it up.
Oslo accords had many faults, chief of which was the failure to
proscribe settlement expansion while peace talks were in progress. But
the agreement was not doomed to failure from the start, as its critics
allege. Oslo faltered and eventually broke down because Likud-led
governments negotiated in bad faith. This turned the much-vaunted peace
process into a charade. In fact, it was worse than a charade: it
provided Israel with just the cover it was looking for to continue to
pursue with impunity its illegal and aggressive colonial project on the
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On Sept. 13, 1993, the world watched as Israeli Prime Minister
Yitzhak Rabin and Palestine Liberation Organization Chairman Yasser
Arafat shook hands on the White House lawn. It was a stunning moment. The famous handshake between adversaries marked the beginning of what became known as the Oslo Accords, a framework for talks between Israeli and Palestinian representatives, mediated by U.S. diplomats.
The idea was that through open-ended negotiations and
confidence-building measures, Palestinians would eventually take control
over their own affairs in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem –
territories that Israel had illegally occupied following the 1967 Six-Day War.
After an interim period of five years,
the thinking went, a Palestinian state would exist side by side with
Israel. And through such a two-state solution, peace between Israel and
the Palestinians could be achieved.
Thirty years later, it is clear the Oslo Accords have achieved
neither peace nor a two-state solution. So far in 2023 alone, over 200
Palestinians and nearly 30 Israelis have been killed. Israel has the most right-wing, nationalist government in its history, and the Palestinian leadership is weak and divided. There is little prospect for a return to negotiations anytime soon.
How did this grim reality emerge from such high hopes in 1993? Many analysts point to violations of the terms of the accords committed by both sides. Others blame a lack of accountability, which allowed those violations to go unchecked.
Certainly, there is plenty of blame to go around. But as a scholar of Palestinian history, it is clear to me that the Oslo peace process failed because the framework itself was deeply flawed in three key ways.
First, it ignored the power imbalance between the two sides. Second,
it focused on ending violence by Palestinian militant groups while
overlooking acts of violence committed by the Israeli state. And third, it sought peace as the end goal, rather than justice.
Let’s break each one of these down.
The Palestinian Liberation Organization, or PLO, had implicitly recognized Israel in 1988. But a more formal statement was needed for Israel to agree to talks. In an exchange of letters on Sept. 9, 1993, Arafat wrote to Rabin, “The PLO recognizes the right of the State of Israel to exist in peace and security.”
In formally recognizing Israel’s right to exist, the PLO essentially gave up sole sovereign claims to 78% of the Palestinians’ historic homeland that was now claimed by Israel.
In response, Rabin wrote to Arafat
that Israel would “recognize the PLO as the representative of the
Palestinian people.” He did not recognize the Palestinians’ right to
form their own state.
In a “Declaration of Principles,”
signed by Arafat and Rabin at the White House on Sept. 13, it was
stated that the aim of the talks was “the implementation of Security
Council resolutions 242 (from 1967) and 338 (from 1973).” Those U.N.
resolutions call on Israel to withdraw from territories it occupied in
1967. But they do not explicitly call for the establishment of a
Since then, Israel has expropriated nearly half of the West Bank for the exclusive use of Jewish settlers, in violation of international law. It also routinely siphons off water from Palestinian underground aquifers for the use of the settlers, while depriving Palestinians access to their own water.
As a result of these and other measures, life for Palestinians became worse
during the post-Oslo years, not better. As Palestinians lost further
control over their lands, homes and resources, their ability to
establish a state grew more distant.
Yet, by insisting that bilateral negotiations take place between a
powerful state and a stateless people – rather than under the auspices
of the United Nations or other international body – the Oslo framework
ignored the power imbalance between Israel and the Palestinians. U.S.
mediators would insist that both sides needed to compromise. But Israel held far more military, economic and diplomatic power than the Palestinians.
By ignoring this power imbalance, the Oslo Accords effectively
allowed Israel to continue to confiscate land and resources with no
consequences. With 60% of the West Bank under Israeli control, the prospects for a viable, independent Palestinian state were undermined.
A 1994 follow-up agreement stated,
“Both sides shall take all measures necessary in order to prevent acts
of terrorism, crime and hostilities directed against each other.” It
added that “the Palestinian side shall take all measures necessary to
prevent such hostile acts directed against the Settlements, the
infrastructure serving them and the Military Installation Area.”
Successive Israeli governments have interpreted “hostile acts”
broadly. As a result, even Palestinians who have defended their lands
through nonviolent means have been arrested, imprisoned and shot at by Israeli soldiers.
The agreement also stated
that “the Israeli side shall take all measures necessary to prevent
such hostile acts emanating from the Settlements and directed against
Palestinians.” But it does not mention Israeli military violence against
To enforce this agreement, the Palestinian Authority – an autonomous body that rules over Palestinians in the West Bank – agreed to coordinate
with the Israeli military over security matters. It would either arrest
Palestinians whom Israel suspects of carrying out hostilities or allow
Israel to enter Palestinian areas and arrest suspects themselves.
This coordination protects Israelis from Palestinian violence, but it
does not protect Palestinians from violence by the Israeli military.
Since fall 2000, the Israel military has killed eight times as many Palestinians as compared with Israelis killed by Palestinians. Half of those Palestinian victims were not involved in hostilities when they were killed, according to analysis from the Israeli human rights group B'Tselem.
Palestinians are also subjected to other kinds of human rights abuses from the Israeli state. These include home demolitions, imprisonment without charge or trial and abuse at checkpoints. Most soldiers accused of harming Palestinians do not face consequences for their actions, according to Yesh Din, an Israeli human rights organization.
This kind of structural violence and abuse – perpetrated by the state
against marginalized groups – rarely makes headlines in Western media.
Such a lack of awareness reinforces Israel’s ability to control
Palestinians’ lives and further undermines the prospects for peace.
Yet this exclusive focus on achieving peace has, I believe, also been part of the problem. American and Israeli diplomats narrowly defined peace
as the absence of armed violence and set that as the overarching goal.
They believed that if Palestinians refrained from committing acts of
violence, then peace through a two-state solution could be achieved.
Coverage that mirrored this perspective in the mainstream U.S. media further entrenched this view.
But this understanding of peace has ignored the Palestinians’ need
for justice. At a minimum, justice to many Palestinians would have meant
an end to security cooperation between the Palestinian Authority and Israel and the establishment of an independent, democratic Palestinian state on the remaining 22% of their homeland.
But with the power imbalances enshrined in the Oslo framework, and
with U.S. mediators focusing more on peace – measured by incidents of
Palestinian violence over those perpetrated by the Israeli state – this
was not to be.
One month after the famous handshake, the Palestinian scholar Edward Said described the Oslo Accords as “an instrument of Palestinian surrender.” Recently, a group of leading political scientists called on U.S. policymakers to abandon
the Oslo framework and the two-state solution altogether. They call on
the U.S. to “advocate for equality, citizenship, and human rights for
all Jews and Palestinians living within the single state dominated by
It is, I believe, an urgent call. Life for Palestinians is getting worse, not better. A growing number of international human rights organizations and public figures describe the current reality on the ground in Israel-Palestine as a form of apartheid.
Thirty years after their famous handshake, Arafat and Rabin have long
since passed. It’s time to admit that the process they kick-started is
also now confined to history.
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The Prime Minister announced that the Bar-Ilan [University] speech is null and void… Netanyahu's entire political biography is a fight against the creation of a Palestinian state.
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hands with Yasir Arafat, whom he cordially loathed. He spoke with a solemnity somehow accentuated by his awkwardness, in contrast to the slick sloganeering of his nemesis, Benjamin Netanyahu. Rabin looked at the sweep of history, not the latest polls. Rabin knew that there is no escaping the moral corrosion involved in subjugating another people. With Israelis and Palestinians claiming the same land, only compromise between them could bring security in the end.
I was reminded of all this watching “Incitement,” the fine new Israeli movie directed by Yaron Zilberman that takes a fresh look at the assassination, and particularly at the world of Messianic zealotry that produced and sustained and motivated Amir, a 25-year-old law student at Bar-Ilan University. He was no loner. He emerged from the significant section of Israeli society that viewed Rabin as a traitor.
I don't get equating one terrorist act as full justification to kill tens of thousands of innocents in order to get a few terrorists not to mention the apartheid conditions that have existed as long as I have been alive. Then going back to ancient history and myth as justification for who the land belongs to. It's like people don't remember that colonizer governments allowed people to be forcibly pushed off their land and driven from their homes, in 1948, to establish a state for people who were abused *checks notes* by Europeans. Weird that this land wasn't carved out of oh say Germany. Instead the Palestinians and Arab world have had to pay for the destabilization.I'm all for a two state solution, I don't think it is a reality with the parties currently in control. Neither are operating in good faith nor have been for quite a while. How ever barbarous the October attack was, nothing compares to the barbarism of an unchecked fully modern war machine, operating under a media blackout.