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Israel pushes southern Gaza assault, Jordan decries damage to hospital




Israel pressed its assault on Khan Younis in southern Gaza on Wednesday, sending tanks westwards while Jordan decried shelling that badly damaged its field hospital in the city.

The Jordanian army said it held Israel responsible for a “flagrant breach of international law” in damage to the facility. Israel’s military denied striking or damaging the hospital, saying it opened fire after encountering a “terrorist cell” next to the hospital.

In a statement, Israel’s military said it coordinated the presence of troops in the area in advance with authorities and added medics were instructed to go to safer areas. It said it could not identify the source of gunfire that injured a medical worker and the hospital remained “fully functioning.”

People in and around another hospital, Nasser, fled as tanks approached the district overnight following an Israeli army statement that it had come under fire from the area.

Palestinian health officials said seven people were killed by Israeli air strikes that damaged homes near the hospital, one of only a third of Gaza’s hospitals still partially operational.

Farther south from the hospital in nearby Rafah, Palestinian health official said 16 people were killed when an Israeli missile hit a house in the city just before midnight on Wednesday. Several other people were wounded, they said, expecting the number of fatalities to increase.

Israeli government spokesperson Eylon Levy said extra field hospitals were expected to be up and running in the coming days.

“These have of course been necessitated by Hamas’ strategic militarization of Gaza’s existing hospitals,” he said, adding this showed that Hamas militants were the ones breaching international law. Hamas denies using hospitals for cover.

Explosions from shelling and air strikes sounded further west in Khan Younis as the Israeli tanks moved on. Lines of thick black smoke rose from bomb sites.

As night fell, residents reported heavy Israeli tank and aerial bombing in Khan Younis as well as the Al-Maghazi refugee camp in central Gaza.

Israel said it had killed six Palestinian fighters, including the southern district Hamas officer in charge of interrogating suspected spies. The military said in a statement that the killing of counter-espionage officer Bilal Nofal “significantly impacts the terrorist organization’s capacity to develop and enhance its capabilities”.

‘Missiles falling on us’

Further south in Rafah, where hundreds of thousands of people have moved on Israeli advice, people cried over several shrouded bodies, including of a young girl, Masa.

“We were asleep and then we found the missiles falling on us. We got up and couldn’t see anything. We started checking on each other. The girl was martyred,” said her aunt, Tahreer Shoman, adding that her siblings had been wounded but survived.

In central Gaza, the Israeli military said it killed militants in Deir al-Balah who tried to fire mortars at its forces. It said soldiers apprehended seven militants and killed several others and destroyed rocket launchers in the area of Bureij, from which it said 25 rockets had been fired on Tuesday.

Fighting also raged in densely populated Jabalia in northern Gaza on Wednesday, a day after Israeli tanks stormed back into parts of the north they left last week.

In early January, Israel announced it was scaling back operations in the north of the Palestinian enclave as part of what it called a more targeted approach in its offensive against Hamas after operations that flattened entire residential districts.

At least $15 billion will be needed just to rebuild houses in Gaza, the head of the Palestine Investment Fund, Mohammed Mustafa, told the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, on Wednesday, without taking into account the extensive damage to basic infrastructure and hospitals.

Israel’s military campaign has left Gaza’s population facing crisis levels of hunger and at growing risk from disease as supplies run low, aid agencies say.

Aid destined for Palestinian residents and Israeli hostages in Gaza arrived in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula on Wednesday under a deal brokered by France and Qatar, Egyptian security and Red Crescent officials said.

The Palestine Red Crescent Society later said 146 trucks carrying humanitarian aid entered Gaza from the Kerem Shalom crossing with Israel. From the Rafah crossing with Egypt, 48 trucks entered carrying food, water and medical supplies in addition to 12 commercial trucks, it said.

The head of the United Nations’ relief agency UNRWA, Philippe Lazzarini, described desperate scenes of overcrowding in Rafah on the Egyptian border. He said more than 1.2 million people there were seeking shelter from the fighting.

With “the struggle for survival consuming every hour”, Gazans are trying to protect themselves from the cold and rain using makeshift structures of plastic sheeting, said Lazzarini in a post on the UNRWA website, renewing his call for a humanitarian ceasefire.

Communications were down across Gaza on Wednesday for a sixth day, leaving its Palestinian inhabitants unable to receive warnings on social media about the movement of Israeli forces. Most have already been forced to flee several times.


Palestinian health officials said 163 Gazans had been reported killed over the past 24 hours, taking the death toll to 24,448. Israel’s Gaza offensive is in its fourth month.

Israel reported two more soldiers killed, taking the toll since it began ground operations in Gaza to 193.

Israel says it has killed 9,000 Hamas militants and has vowed to “eliminate” the enclave’s Hamas rulers after gunmen stormed into southern Israel, killing 1,200 people, according to Israeli tallies. On Wednesday, Israel adjusted the number of people it says were taken hostage on October 7 to 253 from 240.

Around half of the hostages were released in an October truce during which some Palestinian prisoners were also freed.

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Israel moves into north Gaza Hamas stronghold, pounds Rafah





Israel’s tanks pushed into the heart of Jabalia in northern Gaza on Thursday, facing anti-tank rockets and mortar bombs from militants concentrated there, while in the south, its forces pounded Rafah without advancing, Palestinian residents and militants said.

The slow progress of Israel’s offensive, more than seven months after Hamas’ deadly cross-border raid prompted it, highlighted the difficulty of achieving Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s aim of eradicating the militant group.

Armed wings of Hamas and its ally Islamic Jihad have been able to fight up and down the Gaza Strip, using heavily fortified tunnels to stage attacks in both the north—the focus of Israel’s initial invasion—and new battlegrounds like Rafah.

“We are wearing Hamas down,” Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said, announcing that more troops would be deployed in Rafah, where he said several tunnels had been destroyed.

Senior Hamas official Sami Abu Zuhri responded that the group would defend its people “by all means.”

Israel says four Hamas battalions are now in Rafah along with hostages abducted during the October 7 assault, but it faces international pressure not to invade the city, where hundreds of thousands of displaced Palestinian civilians are sheltering.

South Africa asked the top UN court to order a halt to Israel’s Rafah offensive, saying it was “part of the endgame in which Gaza is utterly destroyed.” Israel has denied South African allegations of genocide in Gaza and said it had complied with an earlier court order to step up aid.

The Gaza death toll has risen to 35,272, health officials in the Hamas-run coastal enclave said, and malnutrition is widespread with international aid efforts blocked by the violence and Israel’s de-facto shutdowns of its Kerem Shalom crossing and the Rafah border crossing with Egypt.

Israel says it needs to eliminate the organization after the deaths of 1,200 people on October 7 and to free the 128 hostages still held out of the 253 abducted by the militants, according to its tallies.

Source(s): CGTN

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President Xi: progress in China-Russia ties attributable to five principles





Chinese President Xi Jinping said on Thursday that the progress in China-Russia relations is attributable to the two countries’ commitment to the five principles of mutual respect, win-win cooperation, lasting friendship, strategic coordination, and fairness and justice.

President Xi made the remarks during a joint press conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin, following their talks at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing.

Describing the talks as “sincere and cordial,” Xi said they had a comprehensive review of the successful experience in developing the China-Russia relationship over the past 75 years since establishing diplomatic ties.

The China-Russia relationship has become a prime example of a new form of international relations as well as good-neighborly relations between two major countries, Xi told reporters.

Non-alliance, non-confrontation, not targeting any third party

President Xi said China and Russia are committed to mutual respect as the fundamental principle of relations and always render support for each other’s core interests.

Xi said he and Putin agree that the key to the two countries finding a new path to growing relations between major and neighboring countries lies in mutual respect and equality, as well as steadfast mutual support on issues concerning each other’s core interests and major concerns.

“This is central to the China-Russia comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination for the new era,” he said.

The two sides will uphold the principles of non-alliance, non-confrontation and not targeting any third party, Xi added.

China and Russia will continue to deepen two-way political trust, respect each other’s choice of development path, and realize development and revitalization with each other’s firm support, he said.

Win-win cooperation

China and Russia are committed to win-win cooperation as the driving force of relations and work to foster a new paradigm of mutual benefit, Xi said.

Last year, the two-way trade exceeded $240 billion, close to 2.7 times that of a decade ago, he noted. “This is a good indication of the all-round cooperation of mutual benefit that continues to deepen between the two countries.”

Xi stressed that he and Putin agree that the two countries need to look for areas where their interests converge, tap into their comparative strengths, deepen the integration of interests and enable each other’s success.

The two countries need to make further structural improvements to their cooperation, consolidate the good momentum in trade and other traditional areas of cooperation, support the formation of platforms and networks for basic research, continue to unlock cooperation potential in frontier areas, step up cooperation on ports, transportation and logistics, and help keep the global industrial and supply chains stable, he said.

People-to-people and cultural exchanges

President Xi said that China and Russia are committed to lasting friendship as the foundation of relations and carry forward the torch of Sino-Russian friendship.

Both China and Russia have a long history and a splendid culture, he said.

“The works of Pushkin and Tolstoy are household names in China, and Peking Opera and tai chi are much loved by the Russian people,” said Xi.

By focusing on implementing the Roadmap for China-Russia Cooperation on People-to-People and Cultural Exchanges Before 2030, the two countries are expanding people-to-people and cultural ties, he said.

Xi and Putin have also set 2024 and 2025 as China-Russia Years of Culture.

The two sides have proposed a series of cultural activities that are down to earth, close to people’s hearts and popular among them, and encouraged closer interactions between various sectors and at subnational levels, so as to enhance mutual understanding and affinity between the two peoples, Xi said.

Multipolarity and multilateralism

China and Russia are committed to strategic coordination as an underpinning of relations and steering global governance in the right direction, President Xi stressed.

The two countries are firmly committed to safeguarding the UN-centered international system and the international order underpinned by international law, he said.

Xi said China and Russia should stay in close coordination and collaboration on multilateral platforms such as the UN, APEC and G20, and advance multipolarity and economic globalization in the spirit of true multilateralism.

With Russia chairing BRICS this year and China taking over the chairmanship of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization later this year, the two sides will support each other’s chairmanship, build a high-quality partnership that is more comprehensive, close, practical and inclusive, and build the unity and strength of the Global South, he said.

Dedication to political settlement of hotspots

President Xi said China and Russia are committed to fairness and justice as the purpose of relations and dedicated to the political settlement of hotspots.

The Cold War mentality still exists, and unilateralism, hegemonism, bloc confrontation and power politics threaten world peace and the security of all countries, he said.

The two presidents are of the view that it is urgent to solve the Palestine-Israel conflict, he noted.

The UN resolutions must be earnestly implemented, and the question of Palestine must be solved on the basis of the two-state solution, said Xi.

The two sides believe that a political settlement is the right way forward for the Ukraine crisis.

China’s position on the issue is consistent and clear, including observing the purposes and principles of the UN Charter, respecting the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries, respecting the legitimate security concerns of all parties, and building a new security architecture that is balanced, effective and sustainable, Xi said.

“China hopes that peace and stability will return to the European continent at an early date and stands ready to play a constructive role to this end,” he said.

On Thursday, the Chinese and Russian presidents also signed and issued the Joint Statement of the People’s Republic of China and the Russian Federation on Deepening the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership of Coordination for the New Era in the Context of the 75th Anniversary of China-Russia Diplomatic Relations.

The leaders also witnessed the signing of a number of intergovernmental and interagency cooperation documents.

Source(s): CGTN

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President Xi: relations with Russia have been moving forward steadily





Chinese President Xi Jinping on Thursday hailed relations with Russia as the two countries celebrate 75 years of diplomatic ties.

With the concerted efforts of the two sides, China-Russia relations have been moving forward steadily, with enhanced comprehensive strategic coordination and further cooperation on economy and trade, investment, energy and people-to-people exchanges, at the subnational level and in other fields, President Xi said when meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin during large-group talks at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing.

Xi pointed out that Putin’s trip to China is his first foreign visit since he began his new term as Russian president, fully demonstrating the great importance Putin and the Russian government attach to developing China-Russia relations. China highly appreciates this, the Chinese president said.

Xi said China is advancing Chinese modernization on all fronts and moving faster to foster new quality productive forces through high-quality development, which will add new drivers to global economic growth.

Both China and Russia are permanent members of the UN Security Council and major emerging markets, Xi noted. It is the shared strategic choice of both countries to deepen strategic coordination, expand mutually beneficial cooperation and follow the general historical trend of multipolarity in the world and economic globalization, Xi told his Russian counterpart.

Xi said he believes the two sides should take the 75th anniversary of diplomatic ties as a new starting point, further synergize development strategies and continue to enrich bilateral cooperation, to bring greater benefits to the two countries and their people.

The Chinese president also expressed his readiness to work with Putin to jointly steer the future direction of bilateral relations and make new plans for cooperation between the two countries in various fields.

Source(s)L CGTN

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