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Arab states condemn U.S. for vetoing UNSC resolution on Gaza ceasefire

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Arab states have condemned the United States for vetoing another United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolution demanding an immediate ceasefire in the Gaza Strip, as looming Israeli attacks on the southernmost Gazan city of Rafah raise concerns that the humanitarian crisis in the Palestinian enclave may deepen.

During an emergency session of the UN Security Council held in New York on Tuesday, the draft resolution put forward on behalf of Arab states by Algeria won 13 votes in favor among the 15 members of the Security Council. The United States voted against it, while Britain abstained.

Massive outcry

“The U.S. veto, which defies the will of the international community, will give an additional green light to Israel to continue its aggression against our people in the Gaza Strip and to carry out its bloody attack on Rafah,” the Palestinian presidency said in a statement carried by Palestine’s official news agency WAFA on Wednesday.

Secretary-General of the Arab League (AL) Ahmed Aboul Gheit on Wednesday voiced his “deep regret” over the U.S. move, the third time since the outbreak of the Israel-Hamas conflict in October last year that the United States interfered to fail a draft resolution aimed to reach a ceasefire.

The U.S. positions undermined the credibility of the international system and contributed to the paralysis witnessed by the United Nations, Aboul Gheit was quoted as saying in an AL statement.

Egypt and Qatar, having been actively brokering deals between Israel and Hamas since their conflict began, have expressed their regret.

Egypt strongly denounced the “selectivity and double standards in dealing with wars and armed conflicts in various regions of the world,” the Egyptian Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Tuesday.

In a statement released on Wednesday, the Syrian Foreign Ministry slammed the U.S. veto as “arbitrary and disgraceful,” accusing the U.S. of being hypocritical, as it claimed to support human rights while allowing the Israeli “killing machine” to continue its attacks on Palestinian civilians.

Jordan, which borders Israel and has normalized ties with Israel, expressed on Tuesday its regret and disappointment at the failure of the UN Security Council to adopt a resolution on a ceasefire in the Gaza Strip.

“All those impeding such calls should review their policies and calculations because wrong decisions today will have a cost on our region and our world tomorrow. This cost will be violence and instability, ” Algeria’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations Amar Bendjama was quoted by the UN news as saying on Tuesday.

Deep concern

The resolution was put forward at a time when Israel has signaled its intention to conduct a ground operation in Rafah, Gaza’s southernmost city that shelters about 1.4 million Palestinians, to “eliminate” Hamas and rescue Israeli hostages who were taken by Hamas militants in October.

While visiting the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) troops on Tuesday in southern Israel, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reaffirmed that his country will continue the fighting until all goals are achieved. “There is no pressure – none that can change this,” he said.

Israel’s reported plan for an assault on Rafah has sounded alarm bells globally, with many countries urging restraint or cancellation of the operation.

Regional countries, including Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Bahrain, voiced deep concern over the potential offensive on Monday.

Twenty-six EU member states called for an “immediate humanitarian pause that would lead to a sustainable ceasefire” in the besieged Gaza Strip, the bloc’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said in Brussels on Monday.

U.S. adding to crisis

Despite the mounting calls for a ceasefire in Gaza, the Biden administration is preparing to send a new package of weapons to Israel, which is estimated to be worth tens of millions of U.S. dollars, the Wall Street Journal reported last week, citing anonymous U.S. officials.

“The Americans are not doing anything practical to stop the (Israel-Hamas) war,” said Youssef Diab, a political analyst from the Lebanese University.

The repeated trips to Israel by U.S. President Joe Biden and U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, as well as the U.S. financial and military support for Israel, have given Israel the green light to continue the war on Gaza and kill more children, he said.

Source(s): CGTN

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Israeli strikes intensify across Gaza, army urges evacuation

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Israel on Tuesday ordered residents of the city of Beit Lahia in the northern Gaza Strip to evacuate “urgently” ahead of a new planned onslaught in the area.

“You are in a dangerous combat zone,” Avichay Adraee, a spokesman for the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), wrote on the social media platform X.

He stated that the army has an imminent plan to “act with great force” against militant infrastructure in the area.

Israeli attacks intensified on Tuesday, with reports of strikes in the northern regions, where the IDF had previously pulled back some of its forces, as well as in central and southern areas.

Several air strikes and ground shelling were reported in the central and southern areas of the Gaza Strip, as residents described almost non-stop bombardment, according to Reuters.

The Hamas-run Health Ministry said on Tuesday in a press statement that the Israeli army killed 32 Palestinians and wounded 59 others during the past 24 hours, bringing the total death toll to 34,183 and injuries to 77,143 since the Israel-Hamas conflict broke out on October 7, 2023.

Meanwhile, Lebanon’s Hezbollah group announced on Tuesday that it had struck Israeli bases north of the city of Acre with a drone, in its deepest strike into Israeli territory since the conflict began.

According to the Israeli military, it was unaware of any of its facilities being targeted by Hezbollah, but had stated earlier on Tuesday that it had intercepted two “aerial targets” off Israel’s northern coast.

Satellite photos analyzed by the Associated Press appear to show a new compound of tents being built near Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip as the Israeli military signals that it plans an offensive on the city of Rafah. But a Palestinian health official later said the tent camp was being set up to house displaced people who are currently sheltering in a hospital and is not related to any impending military operation.

Khan Younis has been targeted by repeated Israeli military operations over recent weeks. According to an AP report on Tuesday, Israel said it has planned to evacuate civilians from Rafah during an anticipated offensive on the southern city, where hundreds of thousands of people have taken refuge during the conflict.

More than 1 million residents in the Gaza Strip have lost their homes and 75 percent of the population have been displaced since the outbreak of the Israel-Hamas conflict 200 days ago, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) said on Tuesday.

“Destruction is everywhere in Gaza. Damage to critical infrastructure is immense,” UNRWA wrote in a post on X.

In a recorded speech marking the 200th day of the conflict, Abu Ubaida, spokesperson for the Al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, accused Israel of impeding mediation efforts for a ceasefire.

Israeli media reported on Monday that preparations were underway to expand the humanitarian zone in the Gaza Strip ahead of a possible Israeli attack on the southernmost Gazan city of Rafah.

Rafah is the last refuge for more than 1.4 million Palestinians who were displaced from the northern and central parts of the Gaza Strip.

Source(s): CGTN

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Biden tells Zelenskyy new arms will be provided quickly to Ukraine

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U.S. President Joe Biden told Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy over phone on Monday that his administration will soon quickly provide additional arms to Ukraine once a bill authorizing related funds clears Congress and becomes law.

“President Biden shared that his administration will quickly provide significant new security assistance packages to meet Ukraine’s urgent battlefield and air defense needs as soon as the Senate passes the national security supplemental and he signs it into law,” the White House said in a readout of the call.

Biden was referring to the $61 billion aid for Ukraine that the House passed Saturday. The measure, now bundled with other foreign aid funding, will be voted on as a comprehensive national security supplemental appropriations bill in the Senate this week, with passage all but certain and Biden pledging to sign it as soon as it reaches his desk.

“President Biden also underscored that the U.S. economic assistance will help maintain financial stability, build back critical infrastructure,” the readout said, adding that the economic assistance will also “support reform as Ukraine moves forward on the path of Euro-Atlantic integration.”

Zelenskyy said on Telegram that the new aid from Washington is expected to strengthen Ukraine’s air defense as well as its long-range and artillery capabilities.

The Ukrainian president also discussed with Biden the work on a bilateral security agreement and the preparations for the Global Peace Summit in Switzerland slated for mid-June, he said.

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said on X on Saturday that senators have reached an agreement to vote on the national security supplemental on Tuesday.

Source(s): CGTN

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Israel ups pressure on Hamas as UNICEF decries child deaths in Gaza

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday vowed to ramp up military pressure on Hamas, despite the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) warning last week that one child was being killed or injured every 10 minutes in the Gaza Strip.

“With one child killed or injured every 10 minutes (in Gaza), above anything else, we need a ceasefire. It is the only way to stop the killing and maiming of children,” UNICEF Communication Specialist Tess Ingram said during a press briefing in Geneva on April 16.

With no breakthrough yet in truce talks between Israel and Hamas, Netanyahu pledged to intensify the military crackdown in Hamas in a video address. “We will strike it with additional painful blows – and this will happen soon,” he said without elaborating on the time and place.

“In the coming days we will increase the military and political pressure on Hamas because this is the only way to free our hostages and achieve our victory.”

The prime minister’s latest remarks came a day after U.S. lawmakers approved $13 billion in new military aid to Israel, even as global criticism mounts over the dire humanitarian crisis in the besieged Gaza Strip.

Netanyahu also condemned an anticipated U.S. sanction against a unit of its army forces. “If anyone thinks they can impose sanctions on a unit in the IDF (Israel Defense Forces), I will fight it with all my might.”

The Biden administration is slated to announce sanctions against the IDF’s Netzah Yehuda battalion for alleged human rights abuses against Palestinians in the West Bank, which would be the first time the U.S. has ever taken such a step.

Israeli war cabinet minister Benny Gantz also urged U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken in a phone call to reconsider potential sanctions against an Israeli military unit, his office said on Sunday.

Gantz told Blinken that the move would harm Israel’s legitimacy in time of the ongoing Gaza conflict, asserting that “it has no justification because Israel has a strong and independent judicial system.”

Two U.S. officials familiar with the situation said the U.S. announcement could come as soon as Monday, AP reported.

The officials told AP that about five Israeli units were investigated and all but one had been found to have taken action to remedy the violations. The Leahy Law, named for former Senator Patrick Leahy, bars U.S. aid from going to foreign military units that have committed human rights abuses.

The U.S. review was launched before the Israel-Hamas conflict and not connected to recent Israeli actions inside Gaza or the West Bank.

The incidents that were the subject of allegations took place in the West Bank and mostly occurred before the Israel-Hamas conflict, the outlet said.

Before the Gaza conflict, violence had already been on the rise in the West Bank and it has risen since with frequent Israeli raids, Palestinian street attacks and settler rampages in Palestinian villages.

Source(s): CGTN

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