Posts Tagged ‘ceasefire’

UN ‘alarmed’ over renewed Yemen violence after Houthi drone attack — UN “shocked by the barbarity of war” — May lose credibility as peacekeeper

January 11, 2019

The UN envoy to Yemen said he was “alarmed” over the escalation of violence after a rebel drone attack on the country’s largest airbase killed six loyalist soldiers.

In tweets posted overnight Thursday Martin Griffiths urged all parties to Yemen’s protracted conflict to exercise restraint.

The Shiite Houthi rebels said they carried out the strike which hit a military parade at Al-Anad air base, in government-held Lahij province some 60 kilometres (40 miles) north of Yemen’s second city Aden.

Six loyalist soldiers were killed and at least 12 people wounded, including top commanders, medics said.

Wounded Yemeni soldiers were carried from the scene after a drone exploded above [Screengrab: Nabil Hasan/AFP]

Wounded Yemeni soldiers were carried from the scene after a drone exploded above [Screengrab: Nabil Hasan/AFP]

The attack comes as the UN, which brokered several agreements between the rebels and the Saudi-backed government at talks in Sweden last month, is desperately seeking to relaunch negotiations for an end to four years of devastating conflict.

Griffiths tweeted that he was “alarmed by today’s (Thursday) escalation of violence in Yemen”.

UN envoy Martin Griffiths has urged all parties to Yemen’s protracted conflict to exercise restraint. (AFP)

He urged “all parties to the conflict to exercise restraint and refrain from further escalation” and to “create a conducive environment to maintain the positive momentum generated” in Sweden.

The UN was hoping last month’s talks in Sweden would help launch formal peace talks between Yemen’s warring parties.

Thursday’s attack is likely to create a new obstacle for those efforts.

In Sweden, the warring sides agreed truce deals for the key rebel-held aid port of Hodeida and for battleground third city Taez.

The drone strike drew condemnation from the United Arab Emirates, a key contributor to the Saudi-led military coalition fighting the rebels.

Soldiers inspected the scene of the Houthi drone attack on the al-Anad air base [Reuters]

The “murderous drone attack tells you everything you need about the Houthis. Peace negotiations are a tactic to them, not a commitment,” UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash tweeted.

“464 ceasefire violations, 36 killed & 318 wounded since (Sweden) agreement. The international community must increase pressure,” he said, blaming the Houthis for the slow progress of peace efforts.

Five people were killed and 20 wounded in the drone attack according to government and Houthi sources [Reuters]

The war between the Houthis and loyalist troops escalated in March 2015, when President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi fled into Saudi exile, prompting the Saudi-led coalition to intervene.

The conflict has killed nearly 10,000 people and pushed some 14 million Yemenis to the brink of famine in the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, according to the United Nations.




Yemen soldiers killed in Houthi drone attack on base during a military parade

January 10, 2019

A drone attack on a Yemeni government base by the rebel Houthi movement has reportedly killed at least six soldiers and injured several senior officials.

A video appeared to show one drone exploding above al-Anad base, in Lahj province, during a military parade.

Sky News Arabia said army chief of staff Gen Abdullah al-Nakhi and Lahj governor Ahmed Abdullah were hurt.

A screengrab from a video shows the moment a drone explodes above Yemen's al-Anad military base in Lahj province (10 January 2018)

Drone seen exploding in AFP video

A Houthi-run TV channel said the rebels had targeted personnel from the Saudi-led coalition backing the government.

The attack comes a day after the UN special envoy to Yemen said the warring parties had largely been adhering to a ceasefire agreed last month around the Red Sea port of Hudaydah, which is crucial to the delivery of aid supplies.

Soldiers inspect damage to a VIP area after a drone attack on Yemen's al-Anad military base in Lahj province (10 January 2018)Image copyrightREUTERS
Image captionOne report said the attack was aimed at a podium where high-ranking officials were seated

However, Martin Griffiths told the UN Security Council that substantial progress was needed before more peace talks could be held on ending the civil war.

Yemen has been devastated by a conflict that escalated in early 2015, when the Houthis seized control of much of the west of the country and forced President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi to flee abroad.

Alarmed by the rise of a group they saw as an Iranian proxy, the UAE, Saudi Arabia and seven other Arab states intervened in an attempt to restore the government. They have received logistical and intelligence support from the US, UK and France.

At least 6,800 civilians have been killed and 10,700 injured in the fighting, according to the UN. Thousands more civilians have died from preventable causes, including malnutrition, disease and poor health.

Map showing control of Yemen


5 Houthi militants were killed attempting to launch ballistic missile towards Saudi Arabia from Al-Tayyar district in Saada earlier this week. (File/Reuters)

Cease-fire deal sees extremists take over Syria’s Idlib

January 10, 2019

The main extremist alliance in Syria’s Idlib region reached a deal on Thursday ending days of deadly fighting with rival rebels and extending its influence over the whole rebel enclave.

The agreement brings an immediate end to the fighting between Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham (HTS), led by Al-Qaeda’s former Syria affiliate, and the rival Turkish-backed National Liberation Front (NLF), according to the extremists’ propaganda website Ebaa.

Since September, Idlib has been shielded from a threatened government offensive by a precarious truce agreed between government ally Russia and rebel backer Turkey. (File/AFP)

“This morning, HTS and the NLF signed an agreement to put an end to ongoing fighting… and establish the control of the salvation government in all areas,” Ebaa said.

The so-called “salvation government” is the administrative arm of HTS, which has been gaining ground inside Syria’s last major rebel bastion in recent days.

Since September, Idlib has been shielded from a threatened government offensive by a precarious truce agreed between government ally Russia and rebel backer Turkey.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based monitor, said Thursday’s deal saw the whole rebel enclave come under HTS administrative control.

Other extremist factions — such as the Al-Qaeda-linked Hurras Al-Deen group and the Turkestan Islamic Party (TIP) — are present in other areas of Idlib but are allied with HTS, Observatory chief Rami Abdel Rahman said.

On Wednesday, a deal between HTS and rival rebel commanders saw the extremist-led alliance take control of two parts of Idlib, Sahl Al-Ghab and Jabal Shahshabo.

Last week, HTS seized dozens of villages from another NLF faction in the northeast of the enclave.


Yemen: 15 Houthis killed attempting to launch ballistic missile from Saada

January 9, 2019

15 Houthi militants were killed attempting to launch ballistic missile towards Saudi Arabia from Al-Tayyar district in Saada province on Wednesday, Saudi-owned Al Arabiya News Channel reported.

The United Nations envoy for Yemen held talks on Tuesday with the country’s president, as he sought to shore up a truce in key port Hodeidah.

5 Houthi militants were killed attempting to launch ballistic missile towards Saudi Arabia from Al-Tayyar district in Saada. (File/Reuters)

Martin Griffiths met with the Yemeni authorities after seeing Houthi militant leaders in Sanaa on a tour aimed at ensuring both sides make good on a ceasefire deal agreed in Sweden last month.

Yemen’s internationally recognized leader Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi expressed his “support for the efforts and work” of Griffiths at the talks in the Saudi capital, the Saba news agency reported.

Arab News


UN envoy in Yemen to push Hodeida truce

January 6, 2019

Martin Griffiths flew to Sanaa ahead of talks with Houthi rebels and representatives of the Yemeni government. The UN envoy is hoping to resolve the warring sides’ disagreements over the recently negotiated ceasefire.

UN Envoy to Yemen Martin Griffiths arrives in Sanaa

The UN envoy for Yemen, Martin Griffiths, was due to visit the port city of Hodeida on Sunday, as part of a trip to support a recent ceasefire in the war-torn nation. The Red Sea port in Hodeida is the entry point for the majority of imports to Yemen, where more than 22 million people now depend on humanitarian aid to survive.

Griffiths arrived in the capital, Sanaa, on Saturday. He is scheduled to hold talks there with Houthi rebel leaders before heading to the Saudi capital, Riyadh, to meet with Yemeni government officials.

In Sanaa, Griffiths will also meet retired Dutch general Patrick Cammaert, who has been appointed by the UN to head a truce monitoring team.

Yemen’s warring factions agreed to the ceasefire in Hodeida during UN-led talks in Sweden in December 2018. Under the deal, both the handover of Hodeida port and the redeployment of troops should have been completed within 14 days of the truce, which took effect on December 18.

Read more: Yemen is ‘the biggest humanitarian disaster in the world’

But that deadline has already lapsed. A member of the government’s truce monitoring team told the AFP news agency that no agreement had yet been reached on who should be responsible for the port.

A tenuous truce

Griffiths played a key role in the ceasefire negotiation and is hoping that during his trip he can push the two opposing sides to fully implement it, officials said.

This will not be an easy task, as both sides believe that they should run the port.

Yemen’s government has insisted that the port should be handed over to “the local authorities in accordance with Yemen law,” an official who requested anonymity told AFP.

Read more: Yemen: The devastating war waged with European weapons

As such, the government believes the port should be handed over to officials who ran the facility before the Houthis captured Hodeida in late 2014, the official said. But the Houthis insist that “the local authorities” actually refers to the officials currently running the port, with whom they share an alliance.

Yemen has been consumed by the conflict between the Iran-backed Houthi rebels and the Saudi-backed central government since 2015, when President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi fled into Saudi exile and the war escalated.

The conflict has unleashed the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, according to the UN, which says 14 million Yemenis are on the brink of famine.

jcg/rc (AFP, AP, dpa)

Now for the hard part – making good on China’s trade war truce promises

December 3, 2018

Image result for china, u.s., flags, pictures

The 90-day ceasefire gives Beijing time to tackle some of Washington’s biggest concerns but it all rests on just how far China will go


South China Morning Post

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 02 December, 2018, 9:33pm
UPDATED : Monday, 03 December, 2018, 11:11am

Beijing and Washington may have reached a ceasefire in further tariffs but China is facing a greater challenge to deliver on its promises to change its economic policy, observers said.

Analysts on both sides of the Pacific said the 90-day truce in the trade war between the world’s two biggest economies would buy Beijing time to address some of Washington’s greatest concerns, including intellectual property protections and market access. But much would depend on how far China was willing to go, they said.

After what both sides said was as a “highly successful meeting” between the leaders of the two countries in Buenos Aires on Saturday, US President Donald Trump agreed to hold off on plans to increase in tariffs on US$200 billion worth of Chinese imports from the 10 per cent now to 25 per cent on January 1.

In return, China agreed to “immediately begin negotiations on structural changes with respect to forced technology transfer, intellectual property protection, non-tariff barriers, cyber intrusions and cybertheft, services and agriculture”, according to the White House.

But the US could still go ahead with the 25 per cent tariff increase if both sides failed to reach an agreement within the 90 days, it said.

One of the key questions was just “how far China is willing to go and how hard of a line the Trump administration is going to hold”, said Nicholas Consonery, director of research firm Rhodium Group.

“We’ve got a window now to see how serious the Chinese government is about moving forward with structural economic reform,” Consonery said. “And recent history doesn’t lead us to a very optimistic place.”

Wu Xinbo, director of Fudan University’s Centre for American Studies, said he expected China would try to address US concerns by offering more concrete measures to reform its economy and open up its market. But a breakthrough in the 90 days depended on how determined China was in these areas, Wu said.

“The upcoming negotiations will be critical as we need to solve both short-term issues but also formulate a framework that would solve the long-term, structural issues,” he said.

Meanwhile in China there was no mention of the 90-day deadline, with state media focusing instead on Beijing’s “strong” stand in the trade talks.

A commentary posted on the social media account of state news agency Xinhua said Beijing had “stood firm in protecting its core interests” and struck back in a “strong and powerful manner”.

“We can see that the Chinese side has not lost its rational thinking because of bullying, nor did it panic in the face of the unprecedented trade war,” the commentary said.

Wang Yong, director of the Centre for International Political Economy at Peking University, said China would still need to be ready to deal with an increasingly hawkish Trump administration.

“China will still need to prepare for the worst scenario of a ‘decoupling’ of the Chinese and American economies, in particular in the hi-tech sector,” Wang said.

China would need to seize the moment to push for market reform, while at the same time redouble its efforts to develop home-grown technology through innovation, as well as diversify its trade partners, he said.

“It is possible that China will make adjustments on its industrial policies including expanding market access and intellectual property protection, but a fundamental change to its economic structure will be difficult to achieve,” Wang said. “The US will need to adjust its expectations in the next round of talks.”

William Zarit, chairman of the American Chamber of Commerce in China, said the most challenging area to resolve would be China’s discriminatory economic policies based on state support and protection of the domestic market.

“[These] need to be addressed in order to level the playing field and have a sustainable commercial relationship based on fairness and reciprocal treatment.”

Additional reporting by Robert Delaney

Ceasefire puts Qatar’s role in Gaza back in spotlight

November 21, 2018

At the end of a dirt track, an imposing new court complex stands as a symbol of Qatar’s investment in the Gaza Strip — back in the spotlight after a controversial ceasefire with Israel.

The Palace of Justice’s construction in Gaza is only the latest project financed by Qatar, whose involvement in the Palestinian enclave contributed to an Israeli political crisis in recent days that almost brought down the government.

Israeli Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman resigned on November 14 over a ceasefire that ended the worst escalation between Israel and Palestinian militants in Gaza since a 2014 war.

© AFP | In the impoverished Gaza Strip, where large areas have been levelled by successive wars with Israel, the imposing new court complex stands as a symbol of Qatari investment in the territory — back in the spotlight after a controversial ceasefire

When announcing his resignation, he called the ceasefire “capitulating to terror,” but also criticised recent aid to the blockaded Gaza Strip from Qatar that was approved by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Earlier this month, Qatar delivered $15 million in suitcases to pay civil servants’ salaries in the Hamas-run Gaza Strip, the first of six such planned payments for a total of $90 million.

Qatar has also been providing Gaza with fuel deliveries — again, approved by Netanyahu — to ease a severe electricity shortage.

Criticism by the hawkish Lieberman is unlikely to affect Qatar’s involvement in Gaza, some experts say.

“Qatar’s role in Gaza is of strategic importance to Israel as it allows the Jewish state to cooperate with Doha, while strengthening ties with an Arab Gulf state with whom it does not enjoy formal diplomatic relations,” said Sigurd Neubauer, a Middle East analyst based in Washington.

– ‘Streets are nice’ –

Engagement in Gaza has been a crucial pillar of Qatari foreign policy for some time.

Qatar and Hamas share links with Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, but its reasons for supporting the Gaza Strip go beyond that.

“The Palestinian issue remains important for all countries that want to play a role in the region,” said Jamal al-Fadi, a political science professor in Gaza.

Deep-pocketed Qatar, backed by huge gas resources, has provided support amounting to hundreds of millions of dollars to the enclave, where UN officials have repeatedly warned over deteriorating humanitarian conditions.

Projects include roads running along the seafront and from north to south as well as the court complex inaugurated in September.

At the entrance to the Al-Thani hospital in Gaza City, portraits of the emir of Qatar and his father remind visitors who paid for it.

Further south in Khan Yunis, Qatar has built a neighbourhood of 3,000 homes, called Hamad City, named for the former emir.

Gardens, schools and a mosque have been constructed amidst the new buildings.

“Before, my son’s house was 70 metres squared,” Aitaf Awda said.

Now seven of her family members live in a home 130 metres squared.

“We have a garden, the streets are nice,” she said. “The children aren’t stuck in the house anymore.”

Nearby, a shop across from the mosque is called “Thank You Qatar.”

– ‘Useful’ Qatar –

The latest statement from Doha’s foreign ministry talks about “its continued support to the brotherly Palestinian people”.

Hamas leaders have found refuge in Qatar, including former chief Khaled Meshaal, while some 100,000 Palestinians live there.

Beyond playing a role in a key regional cause, Doha has sought to position itself as a valuable asset to Western powers seeking progress between Israel and the Palestinians.

“Qatar has always seen the Palestinian issue, and specifically being a link to Hamas, as a way in which it can be useful to the Americans,” said Tobias Borck, an associate fellow with the London-based RUSI think tank.

That useful role continues, Neubauer says, with the close personal relationship between Mohammed al-Emadi, who runs Qatar’s humanitarian support for Gaza, and Jared Kushner, the White House adviser and President Donald Trump’s son-in-law.

“Qatar has coordinated its work in Gaza with Israel and the United States and is seen as a trusted partner,” says Kristian Ulrichsen, a fellow at Rice University’s Baker Institute.

– Too close to Hamas? –

The policy brings risks though.

In June 2017, when Qatar found itself at the centre of a diplomatic confrontation with its neighbours, its relationship with Hamas, designated a terrorist organisation by the European Union and the United States, came under intense scrutiny.

“When Trump came to office, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia saw it as an opportunity to bring down the government of Qatar,” said Neubauer.

“The message they brought to Trump officials was that Qatar was supporting Hamas, in other words, it was supporting terrorism.”

Although the White House appeared to back the extremist-supporting claims against Qatar in the fevered days of June last year, Doha now seems to have convinced Washington its role is crucial in restraining Hamas.


Netanyahu defends Gaza ceasefire after Israeli criticism

November 14, 2018

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday defended his decision to accept a ceasefire after the worst escalation with Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip since a 2014 war.

A Palestinian protester holds up a sign on Tuesday, November 13, during a demonstration in the occupied West Bank town of Hebron against the Israeli air strikes on Gaza. (AFP)

“In times of emergency, when making decisions crucial to security, the public can’t always be privy to the considerations that must be hidden from the enemy,” he said at a ceremony in honor of Israel’s founding father David Ben-Gurion.

“Our enemies begged for a ceasefire and they knew very well why.”

The deal has provoked criticism from within Netanyahu’s government as well as from Israelis who live near the Gaza Strip and want further action against its Islamist rulers Hamas.


Israel: Gaza man throws grenades at security fence, is shot and arrested

November 14, 2018

Border incident comes after massive, deadly clash between Israel and Hamas ends with a shaky ceasefire


A Palestinian uses a slingshot to hurl a stone towards Israeli forces across the fence during clashes by the border with Israel east of Gaza city on July 13, 2018. (AFP PHOTO / MAHMUD HAMS)

A Palestinian uses a slingshot to hurl a stone towards Israeli forces across the fence during clashes by the border with Israel east of Gaza city on July 13, 2018. (AFP PHOTO / MAHMUD HAMS)

Israeli troops shot and arrested a Palestinian man who threw a number of grenades at the security fence in the northern Gaza Strip on Wednesday morning, the army said.

The grenades failed to explode.

The incident came less than a day into a fragile ceasefire between Israel and terror groups in the Strip, after more than 460 rockets and mortars were fired into southern Israel over the course of 25 hours, killing one person. The military responded to the rockets with airstrikes throughout the Gaza Strip.

According to the Israel Defense Forces, when he was arrested, the suspect was found to be in possession of a pair of boltcutters and a knife.

His condition was not immediately known.

The suspect was handed over to the Shin Bet security service for questioning.

Officials assess the damage to a house after it was hit by a rocket fired by Palestinian militants from the Gaza Strip, in the southern Israeli city of Ashkelon, Israel, Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2018. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)

Otherwise, life in Israeli communities near Gaza slowly returned to normal on Wednesday after a quiet night signaled that the ceasefire was holding.

Schools, higher education institutes and businesses were to reopen and farmers could again work their fields, many of them adjacent to the Gaza Strip. Train services south of Ashkelon also resumed.

There were no reports of rocket fire into Israel, or of Israeli strikes on Gaza, since Tuesday afternoon, when the ceasefire reportedly went into effect. Palestinians said the truce was brokered by Egypt.

Israel has yet to officially confirm the existence of a ceasefire, but senior diplomatic officials indicated that Jerusalem would abide by it so long as terror groups in the Strip did as well.

In addition, the IDF Home Front Command on Tuesday night removed all restrictions on residents of southern Israel, declaring a “return to normalcy.”

Nevertheless, the IDF still kept reinforcements in place surrounding Gaza.

IDF forces seen gathering near the border with Gaza in southern Israel on November 13, 2018. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

The calm was not welcomed by all, with many in Israel demanding that the government do more to end the rocket threat from Hamas.

In a statement to residents, the head of the Eshkol regional council, Gadi Yarkoni, said: “We’ve had a difficult two days. Two days that are a continuation of life in the shadow of terrorism and a pendulum swinging between emergency and normalcy for eight months straight.”

He said he expected Israeli leaders and the army to “give us true peace and true calm” that would allow the communities to thrive. “We cannot accept the continued hopeless reality of life under the threat of terrorism that includes fires, balloons and rockets.”

Palestinian rockets are shot toward Israel from Gaza on November 12, 2018. (AP/Hatem Moussa)

According to the military, over 460 rockets and mortar shells were fired at southern Israel over the course of 25 hours on Monday and Tuesday. The Iron Dome missile defense system intercepted over 100 of them. Most of the rest landed in open fields, but dozens landed inside Israeli cities and towns, killing one person, injuring dozens more, and causing significant property damage.

In response to the rocket and mortar attacks, the Israeli military said it targeted approximately 160 sites in the Gaza Strip connected to the Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror groups, including four facilities that the army designated as “key strategic assets.”


400 rockets fired at Israel, IDF hits 150 terror targets in Gaza

Israeli military says 150 targets in Gaza have been hit thus far in response to Hamas attacks, in response to barrage on southern Israel.

Israeli air strike in southern Gaza

Israeli air strike in southern Gaza


Hamas-Israel flare-up threatens to escalate into a full-blown war

November 13, 2018

Some of the fiercest fighting since 2014 has erupted between Gaza’s Hamas militants and Israel following an Israeli raid on Sunday. The flare-up threatens to escalate into a full-blown war.

Smoke and flames during an Israeli air strike in Gaza (Reuters/A. Zakot)

Israeli warplanes pounded targets in the densely populated Gaza Strip on Monday, while Palestinian militants fired hundreds of mortars and rockets in the fiercest exchange of fire since the 2014 war.

The flare-up came a day after Hamas vowed revenge in response to an Israeli special forces operation in the Gaza Strip that killed six Hamas militants including a top commander. One Israeli soldier was killed and another wounded in the raid.

Read more: Israeli raid in Gaza leaves several dead, including IDF soldier and Hamas commander

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said on Monday evening they had struck more than 30 militant sites in response to more than 300 rocket and mortar launches from Gaza fired following the Israeli undercover raid on Sunday night. Hamas and Islamic Jihad claimed credit for the rocket launches.

Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus, an IDF spokesman, said the army had sent reinforcements to the Gaza frontier and bolstered its Iron Dome missile defense system.

“We continue to strike and retaliate against the military targets belonging to terrorist organizations in Gaza, and as for our intentions we will enhance these efforts as needed,” he told reporters.

The IDF said they had struck Hamas’ military intelligence headquarters, claiming the group had “intentionally established their HQ next to a school.”

Hamas accused Israel of “deliberate targeting of civilians and civilian facilities” in one of the most densely populated places in the world.

The Gaza health ministry said at least three Palestinians, including two militants, were killed in the Israeli strikes.

A 19-year-old Israeli soldier was in a critical condition after military bus in southern Israel was hit by an anti-tank missile, the IDF said.  Later, a man was killed when a rocket hit a building in southern Israel.

Among the Israeli targets was Hamas’ Al-Aqsa TV building in Gaza, which was destroyed after a series of warning shots were given for journalists to clear the building. The IDF accused the station of broadcasting “incitement and violence for years.”

“Tonight, the IDF made sure that this station won’t broadcast again,” the army said.

Hamas said in a statement that the demolishing of Al-Aqsa TV was an attack on the press and “reflects the Israeli occupation’s murderous mentality and exposes all its atrocious crimes, terror acts, and abhorrent violations against the Palestinian people.”

In 2010, the US Treasury listed Al-Aqsa TV as a specially designated global terrorist.

‘Back from the brink’

The escalation of violence has threatened to upend weeks of UN and Egyptian-led diplomacy to reach a long-term ceasefire between Israel and Hamas.

UN Middle East envoy Nickolay E. Mladenov said his office and Egypt were working to bring Gaza “back from the brink.”

“The escalation in the past 24hrs is EXTREMELY dangerous and reckless. Rockets must STOP, restraint must be shown by all!” he wrote on Twitter.

Nickolay E. MLADENOV@nmladenov

is working closely with and all concerned to ensure that steps back from the brink. The escalation in the past 24hrs is EXTREMELY dangerous and reckless. Rockets must STOP, restraint must be shown by all! No effort must be spared to reverse the spiral of violence

141 people are talking about this

Just before Sunday’s Israeli raid in Gaza that triggered the latest escalation, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that he was striving to reach a long-term ceasefire with Hamas rather than a new war.

“This is happening at a delicate juncture in Hamas-Israeli relations,” Hugh Lovatt, a regional expert at the European Council on Foreign Relations, told DW. “The two sides are attempting to come to a longer-term arrangement that can preserve calm in exchange for an easing of socio-economic conditions within Gaza.”

Hamas armed wing accused Israeli forces on Sunday of “infiltrated this evening in a civilian car” and assassinating a top commander. Israel had stressed the operation was an intelligence-gathering mission and “not intended to kill or abduct terrorists, but to strengthen Israeli security.”

Israeli forces take up positions above the border with GazaIsraeli forces take up positions above the border with Gaza

Blow to ceasefire talks, humanitarian situation

Netanyahu has come under criticism from members of his right-wing government for his decision to allow Qatar to provide money to the Hamas-run Gaza Strip to pay for salaries and provide other support to ease a humanitarian crisis in the coastal enclave.

Last week, Qatar delivered $15 million (€13.2 million) of cash in suitcases to the Gaza Strip. The payment was part of $90 million that Qatar has pledged to deliver to cover the salaries of thousands of employees in the Gaza Strip in the next six months.

The immediate impact of the Qatar payment was for Hamas to ease border protests on Friday. Since March 30, thousands of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip have gathered at weekly protests along the Israeli border to demand a lifting of an Israeli-Egyptian blockade and an improved humanitarian situation.

More than 200 Palestinians have been killed and thousands injured by Israeli forces during the Gaza protests in the past seven months, according to the enclave’s health ministry. One Israeli soldier has been killed.

Israeli Education Minister Naftali Bennett, the head of the right-wing Jewish Home party, likened the cash payments to the Gaza Strip as “protection money” paid to criminals. Hardline Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said he had opposed “transferring the money to Hamas.”

Israel and Hamas have fought three wars since 2008, but both sides have signaled that they want to avoid another full-scale conflict.

cw,kw/rc (AP, dpa, Reuters)