Two journalists are killed in an Israeli attack in the south of the Gaza Strip
Hamza Dahdouh, the son of Al Jazeera's Gaza bureau chief Wael Dahdouh, was one of two journalists killed in an Israeli strike in Gaza.
Several key Middle Eastern countries have come around to the idea of helping plan a postwar Gaza Strip, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Monday during a turbulent tour of the region aimed in part at preventing an expansion of the Israel-Hamas war .
Blinken also said he had found broad interest in normalizing ties with Israel among Arab nations he visited during his fourth trip to the region since October, provided some conditions are met.
Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Turkey have indicated they would consider participating in and contributing to shaping future reconstruction and governance for Gaza, Blinken told reporters. Previously they had waited for a ceasefire before committing.
The countries' leaders “agreed to work together and coordinate our efforts to help Gaza stabilize and recover, chart a political path for the Palestinians, and work toward long-term peace, security and stability across the region.” Blinken said.
With US mediation, Israel and Saudi Arabia had been negotiating to normalize relations before the brutal Hamas attack on October 7, which killed 1,200 people in Israeli border communities. Talks were halted shortly afterward when Israel launched a strong military response that led to the deaths of more than 23,000 Palestinians and rampant destruction, drawing sharp criticism from Arab nations.
However, Blinken said shortly before his departure from Saudi Arabia to Israel on Monday evening that normalization was starting at each of his stops and was far from dead.
“There is a clear interest here in pursuing this; “There is a clear interest in the region,” Blinken said. “But it will be necessary for the conflict in Gaza to end, and it will also clearly be necessary for there to be a practical path to a Palestinian state.” That's what I've heard from everyone we've talked to about it. “But that interest is there, it’s real and it could be transformative.”
Conflict reaches the 3-month mark: Two Palestinian journalists are killed in an airstrike
∎ Israeli forces killed three Palestinian militants on Monday in a shootout during an arrest in the West Bank, where violence has increased since the start of the war.
∎ Israel's defense minister says his country is fighting “against an axis, not a single enemy.” Yoav Gallant told the Wall Street Journal he believes Iran is using Hamas and Hezbollah to build military strength around Israel “to take advantage of them.”
Israeli warplanes struck Hezbollah infrastructure targets in Lebanon on Monday, as Israel threatened to expand a brutal war with Hamas that has already killed more than 20,000 Palestinians and left the Gaza Strip in ruins.
The clash came as Hezbollah said one of its top commanders had been killed in Lebanon, apparently by an Israeli attack. Wissam Hassan Al-Tawil, who led a unit that Israel said was working to infiltrate the northern border, was killed in an attack with his SUV in southern Lebanon.
The military said its advance into Lebanon was due to an anti-tank missile fired from Lebanese territory toward Kiryat Shmona, an Israeli town of 22,000 people 10 miles from the Lebanese border and about 115 miles north of Tel Aviv. The attacks came a day after Lt. Col. Herzi Halevi, the Israeli military's chief of staff, said Israel's current efforts to curb rocket attacks from Lebanon would be successful, “otherwise we will end up in a new war.”
Sheikh Ali Damoush, deputy chairman of Hezbollah's Executive Council, said there would be no talks on ending the cross-border clashes until Israel ends its “aggression against Gaza,” Al Jazeera reported.
Before leaving Saudi Arabia for Israel on Monday evening, Blinken told reporters that it was not in the best interests of Israel, Hezbollah or Lebanon for the war to escalate. “The Israelis have made it very clear to us that they want to find a diplomatic path forward,” he said.
Marwan Bishara, political analyst at Al Jazeera, says Israel's possible motives for killing al-Tawil include sending a message to the Biden administration that Israel will do whatever is necessary to provide security if the U.S. ” do nothing against Lebanon and Iran.”
But Bishara said other possible motives included “putting Hezbollah on notice” that Israel would not allow further attacks from across the northern border, retaliation for Hezbollah's recent attack on an Israeli air control base and/or attracting Gaza's attention. a front where Bishara suggests that the fighting is “not going well”.
Israel said it had largely neutralized Hamas's military capabilities in the northern Gaza Strip, although fighting and bombing continued there, and was now focusing on the territory's central region and the southern city of Khan Younis.
The Israeli military is expected to take a more surgical approach to operations in the south, responding to repeated U.S. calls to limit civilian casualties. Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari, the military's chief spokesman, said the process of dismantling Hamas in the enclave would take the entire year.
“We will do it in a different way, in a thorough way,” Hagari said, “based on the lessons we have learned from the fighting so far.”
Israel has already withdrawn thousands of troops from Gaza, and the Biden administration continues to push for Israeli forces to reduce the intensity of their offensive. According to Gaza's Health Ministry, more than 23,000 Palestinians have been killed since the war began, about two-thirds of them women and children.
When President Joe Biden was interrupted during his campaign speech in Charleston, South Carolina, on Monday by protesters calling for a ceasefire in Gaza, he said he understood their passion, adding: “I have been quietly working with the Israeli government to “to achieve this.” to reduce them and significantly remove them from the Gaza Strip.”
New York police said they arrested more than 325 people after hundreds of anti-war protesters blocked major bridges and a tunnel leading into Manhattan during rush hour Monday morning.
Some of the activists sat on streets and banded together with zip ties and cement-filled tires as they joined the growing number of protesters in the United States and elsewhere calling for a ceasefire in the Hamas-Israel conflict, which has reached nearly 25,000 Deaths.
New York Mayor Eric Adams disapproved of the protesters' tactics, saying: “The right to protest does not give you the right to block bridges and tunnels.”
Pope Francis once again condemned Hamas' attack on Israel and called on the international community to seek a two-state solution to end the crisis. The pope said in his annual State of the World address to the diplomatic corps at the Vatican that the attack led to the horrors unfolding in Gaza, which had “caused an exceptionally grave humanitarian crisis and unimaginable suffering” for the Palestinians. Civilian casualties should not be viewed as “collateral damage,” but as adults and children with names who lose their lives.
“I renew my call for a ceasefire on all fronts, including Lebanon, and for the immediate release of all hostages held in Gaza,” the pope said. “I ask that the Palestinian people receive humanitarian assistance and that hospitals, schools and places of worship receive the protection they need.”
Last week, in response to the Hamas massacre on October 7, Israel promised a repeat of the “Wrath of God” covert assassination campaign launched after the deadly Palestinian terrorist attack on Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich Olympics. The Mossad is “obliged to settle accounts” with the murderers behind October 7, said David Barnea, the head of the Israeli secret service Mossad. However, there are some differences between the current campaign and the previous one, including the number of perpetrators. In 1972 there were eight in total; This time there are more than 1,000. But there may also be some similarities.
“Once you hunt these people and they are primarily concerned with saving their skin, they become less available for planning, executing and coordinating terrorist attacks,” said former Israeli intelligence official Avi Melamed. Read more here.
As the Times of Israel reported, Israel announced that it is pending legislation that would allow the government to continue detaining about 150 suspected Hamas militants who were captured during the Oct. 7 attack on Israel. The prison sentences are set to expire on February 7, but the new bill allows for an additional 90 days of detention for the suspects. More than 1,000 militants crossed the border and most fled back to Gaza before Israel could mobilize its defense forces.
By law, indictments take longer than usual due to the “unique” nature of the investigation and interrogation process.
Contribution: The Associated Press