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Israel under heat after over 100 were killed while seeking aid in Gaza

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Israel has drawn heat from the international community after more than 100 people were killed as they waited for an aid delivery in the Gaza Strip on Thursday, an incident that Palestinian health authorities blamed on Israeli forces but was attributed by Israel to crowds that surrounded the air trucks.

Shots were fired as hundreds of people gathered around an aid convoy coordinated by Israel to send relief to the Palestinians in Gaza, who are undergoing a humanitarian disaster owning to Israel’s months-old bombardment of the coastal enclave since Hamas’ deadly rampage in southern Israel on October 7.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said it was an “ugly massacre” by Israel, and France condemned “unjustifiable Israeli fire” in the scramble for food aid.

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’s office also issued a statement denouncing the incident, without assigning blame.

At least 112 people were killed and more than 280 wounded in the incident near Gaza City, Palestinian health officials said.

Israel said it was not to blame for the “unfortunate” event. One Israeli official said there had been two incidents, hundreds of meters apart. In the first, dozens were killed or injured as they tried to take aid from the trucks and were trampled or run over, according to the official.

He said there was a second, subsequent incident as the trucks moved off. Some people in the crowd approached troops who felt under threat and opened fire, killing an unknown number in a “limited response,” he said. He dismissed the casualty toll given by Gaza authorities but gave no figure himself.

In a rebuttal to the Israeli account, Hamas said the Gaza health ministry had presented “undeniable” evidence of “direct firing at citizens, including headshots aimed at immediate killing, in addition to the testimonies of all witnesses who confirmed being targeted with direct fire without posing any threat to the occupying army.”

Jordan’s foreign ministry, in a statement following the incident, reiterated its condemnation of Israel’s persistent aggression and said its brutal targeting of civilians was a blatant violation of international law.

The Turkish foreign ministry said “Israel has added another crime to its crimes against humanity.”

Hamas said the incident could jeopardize talks in Qatar aimed at securing a ceasefire and the release of Israeli hostages it is holding. When asked if he thought it would complicate the talks, U.S. President Joe Biden said: “I know it will.”

The U.S. State Department said it was urgently seeking information on the incident, as did the French foreign ministry.

The incident has added more strains to health facilities that are already on the brink of collapse in Gaza. Medics said they could not cope with the flood of serious injuries, which came as the death toll in nearly five months of war passed 30,000, according to Palestinian health authorities.

In a statement on Thursday, UN human rights chief Volker Turk said war crimes had been committed by all parties in the conflict between Israel and Hamas, calling for them to be investigated and for those responsible to be held accountable.

Source(s): CGTN

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Iran warns against retaliation after first direct attack on Israel

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Iran’s mission to the United Nations said on early Sunday that Tehran’s retaliation for an attack on its diplomatic compound in Syria has ended, warning Israel against “another mistake” after Iran’s first military strike on Israeli territory.

The statement came after the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) launched a suite of explosive drones and fired missiles at Israel late Saturday, further raising tensions between the two countries over Israel’s alleged killing of senior IRGC commanders in Syria earlier this month.

“Should the Israeli regime make another mistake, Iran’s response will be considerably more severe. It is a conflict between Iran and the rogue Israeli regime, from which the U.S. MUST STAY AWAY!” the Iranian mission said on social media platform X.

Sirens wailed, and the loud sounds of suspected drone interceptions reverberated across Israel. The Israel Defense Forces said it had intercepted most of the 200 missiles and drones headed toward the country. A Reuters report said the U.S. military in the region had also shot down an undisclosed number of drones.

Still, in the early hours of Sunday, a senior Israeli official vowed to respond in an “unprecedented” way and urged Israelis to remain awake for what might be coming afterward, local media reported.

In Washington, U.S. President Joe Biden, an ardent supporter of Israel’s ongoing war in Gaza, cut short his weekend vacation and met with his national security team, after which he reaffirmed his “commitment to Israel’s security” on X.

The IRGC strike was an inevitable response as the United Nations Security Council failed to condemn Israel’s alleged attack on Iran’s diplomatic facility in Syria, Wei Mingchen, an associate research fellow of the Institute of West-Asian and African Studies of Chines Academy of Social Science, told CGTN.

But Iran’s warning about an Israeli response indicated its unwillingness to see the expansion of hostilities into a major Middle Eastern conflict or a full-blown war between the two countries – a deescalatory tone that’s directed toward both Israel and the U.S., Wei said.

War between Israel and Iran would “incur tremendous security, social and economic damage to the Islamic Republic,” he said.

Source(s): CGTN

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Iran launches large-scale drone, missile attack against Israel

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JERUSALEM, April 14 (Xinhua) — Iran has launched unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and missiles toward Israel, the Israeli military said on Saturday night.

Israel Defense Forces (IDF) Spokesman Daniel Hagari said in a press briefing that the drones would take several hours to arrive in Israeli airspace and that the country’s defense systems would try to intercept them.

An official statement said the Israeli airspace will be closed from 00:30 a.m. (2130 GMT).

The Israeli military said in a statement that it is “constantly monitoring the operational situation.” According to the statement, “the IDF Aerial Defense Array is on high alert, along with Israel Air Force fighter jets and Israeli Navy vessels that are on a defense mission in Israeli air and naval space.”

Hagari called the Iranian aerial attack on Israel “a severe and dangerous escalation,” adding that Israel’s “defensive and offensive capabilities are at the highest level of readiness ahead of this large-scale attack from Iran.”

Israeli and U.S. forces are in “close coordination” and “dozens” of fighter jets are currently airborne, preparing for the Iranian aircraft’s arrival in Israeli airspace, according to the Israeli army.

Meanwhile, two Israeli officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed to Xinhua that several cruise missiles were also launched from Iran toward Israel.

Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) confirmed in a broadcast statement that it had launched missile and drone attacks on Israel from Iran.

The IRGC added the details of the operation would be announced soon, stressing that it was carried out with the approval of the Supreme National Security Council of Iran and under the supervision of the General Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces.

Iranian media reported that about 50 UAVs have been launched. Israel’s state-owned Kan TV news reported that the drones were launched from Iran as well as from other countries allied with Iran.

Israel has been on heightened alert over the past few days following Iranian threats to avenge the killing of seven Iranian officers in its consular building in Damascus, Syria, earlier in April, which was carried out by Israel, according to Iran.

Source(s): Xinhua

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Hamas leader’s family killed in Israeli strike as truce talks drag on

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An Israeli strike on Wednesday killed three of Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh’s sons in Gaza, as conflict rages in the Palestinian territory despite ongoing truce negotiations.

Hamas said in a statement that three of Haniyeh’s sons and four of his grandchildren were killed in the air strike. Israel confirmed the killings, saying the sons were “Hamas operatives” who were “on their way to carry out terrorist activities.”

The strike came as talks in Cairo dragged on, with Hamas still considering the latest proposal. A framework being circulated would halt fighting for six weeks and see the exchange of about 40 hostages for hundreds of Palestinian prisoners.

U.S. President Joe Biden, speaking at a news conference on Wednesday, said, “It’s now up to Hamas. They need to move on the proposal that’s been made.”

Reacting to the strike that killed his sons and grandchildren, Haniyeh told Al Jazeera, “If they (Israel) think that targeting my children at the peak of these talks and before the movement’s response, if they think that this will force Hamas to change its positions, they are delusional.”

“Our demands are clear and specific, and we will not make concessions on them,” Haniyeh said.

Israel’s offensive in the past months has killed at least 33,482 people in Gaza, mostly women and children, according to the Hamas-run health ministry.

Israeli troops would nevertheless enter Rafah and return to Khan Yunis, from which they withdrew several days ago, said Israeli war cabinet member Benny Gantz.

The army would have to fight for years to come “in the Gaza Strip and in the West Bank, and on the Lebanon front,” Gantz added.

As the conflict rages, there has been a growing chorus of international criticism aimed at the lack of aid entering the territory.

Humanitarian groups have accused Israel of using starvation as a weapon in the conflict, where UN experts say half the population is facing “catastrophic” food insecurity.

Israel denies the charges, and has repeatedly blamed the UN and aid organizations for distribution problems.

On Wednesday, Israel’s Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said they are planning on distributing aid to Gaza through a new crossing and a port just north of the besieged territory.

“We plan to flood Gaza with aid and we are expecting to reach 500 trucks per day,” Gallant said.

He also vowed to “streamline security checks” that aid organizations had blamed for choking the flow of aid through six months of the conflict.

Israel promised last week it would open the Erez crossing in the north after a tense telephone call between Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in which the U.S. president demanded “immediate action” on aid.

But it is understood Israel’s trucks will not use the crossing, with the country’s media reporting that the government feared protests from far-right groups who are against any aid reaching Gaza.

Source(s): CGTN

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