Israel-Palestine conflict: Baerbock urges less 'intensive' operation

On a visit to Israel, Germany's foreign minister called for the Israeli government to ease its military campaign in Gaza. Meanwhile, UN 'very concerned' by journalist death toll in Gaza

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock met with President Isaac Herzog during a visit to Israel. (photo: DW)
German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock met with President Isaac Herzog during a visit to Israel. (photo: DW)
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Biden says he is working with Israel to 'significantly get out' of Gaza

US President Joe Biden said he was attempting to convince Israel to curtail its military offensive in Gaza.

"I've been quietly working with the Israeli government to get them to reduce and significantly get out of Gaza," Biden said after protesters calling for a cease-fire disrupted him during a campaign speech in Charleston, South Carolina.

"I understand their passion," Biden said of the protesters as security removed them from the church where he spoke. 

Biden has firmly supported Israel during its military operation against Hamas militants following the October 7 attacks but has increasingly called on Israel to avoid civilian casualties.

UN 'very concerned' by journalist death toll in Gaza

The UN Human Rights office expressed concern on Monday, 8 January over the amount of media workers who had been killed in Gaza.

"Very concerned by high death toll of media workers in Gaza," the UN rights office said on X, formerly Twitter, demanding that all such cases be "thoroughly, independently investigated to ensure strict compliance with international law, and violations prosecuted."

Sunday saw two reporters killed in a strike on their vehicle.

Freelance journalists Hamza Wael al-Dahdouh and Mustafa Thuraya died when their car was struck while driving between Rafah and Khan Younis in southern Gaza.

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said Thuraya and Hamza, who's father Wael al-Dahdouh, is Al Jazeera's Gaza bureau chief, was killed in the attack was traveling in a car with a Palestinian militant.

"An IDF aircraft identified and struck a terrorist who operated an aircraft that posed a threat to IDF troops. We are aware of the reports that during the strike, two other suspects who were in the same vehicle as the terrorist were also hit," the Israeli army said.

On Monday press freedom watchdog, the Committee to Protect Journalists, said that according to its investigations at least 79 journalists and media workers had been killed since the start of the Israel-Hamas conflict.


Blinken in Saudi Arabia for talks with Crown Prince

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is in Saudi Arabia for talks with de facto ruler , Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Blinken is expected to discuss the Red Sea attacks by the Iranian-backed Houthis while also touching on the potential normalization of ties with Israel.

Discussions to that end were put on hold after the beginning of the Israel-Hamas war which began after the Hamas Islamist group launched a terror attack on southern Israel on October 7.

The meeting is to take place in a tent in Al Ula, a historic oasis in western Saudi.

"This is a conflict that could easily metastasise, causing even more insecurity and even more suffering," Blinken said on Sunday in Qatar, the previous leg of his whistlestop tour which began January 4 and will wrap up on the 11th.

Blinken also discussed efforts to prevent the Gaza conflict from spreading with EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell who is also in Saudi Arabia. 

German foreign minister calls for West Bank Palestinians' protection

Germany's top diplomat Annalena Baerbock on Monday called on Israel to provide better protection for Palestinians in West Bank communities from settler attacks as she met with residents of the village of al-Mazraa al-Kiblija.

She also met Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh and Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki in Ramallah.

"It is the responsibility of the Israeli army to protect the Palestinians from violent settlers," said Baerbock.

It is also the "responsibility of the Israeli government to implement and enforce the rule of law in the event of attacks on people who live here legitimately and who are attacked illegally," Baerbock added. "What is happening here is illegal — illegal under Israeli law and illegal under international law."

The West Bank is one of two Palestinian territories, along with the Gaza Strip. It has been under military occupation by Israel since the end of the Six-Day War in 1967.

Violence has surged there ever since the October 7 terror attacks by the militant Palestinian group Hamas in southern Israel that killed over 1,100 people.

While global attention has largely focused on the humanitarian situation in Gaza, hundreds of Palestinians have also been killed in the West Bank and east Jerusalem in the past months, according to the UN.

Baerbock has also urged Israel to ease its military campaign in the Gaza Strip and do more to protect civilians. Baerbock is on her fourth visit to the region since October 7.


Senior Hezbollah commander killed in Israeli strike — reports

A top Hezbollah commander has been killed by an Israeli strike in southern Lebanon, according to the Reuters news agency and AFP who both cited unnamed security sources.

AFP quoted the source as saying that that the commander "had a leading role in managing Hezbollah's operations in the south."

The official added that he "was killed in an Israeli strike targeting his car in the south."

Hezbollah has been exchanging fire with Israel on a near-daily basis since the Hamas terror attack on October 7. 

Last week, senior Hamas official Sale Arouri was among those killed in a drone strike on a Hamas office in Beirut.

Arouri was deputy to Hamas' political leader, Ismail Haniyeh, and the most senior Hamas figure killed since the start of the war with Israel.

Hamas, and Hezbollah's military wing, are considered terrorist groups by several countries, including the US and the European Union.

WHO forced to cancel medical resupply mission due to safety guarantees

The World Health Organization (WHO) on Sunday said it had to cancel a planned mission to transport medical supplies to northern Gaza due to lack of safety guarantees.

The WHO said the mission cancellation was the fourth since December 26, and meant that it had been 12 days since the organization had managed to reach the northern part of the Palestinian territory.

In a post on social media, the WHO office in the occupied Palestinian territories said: "Heavy bombardment, movement restrictions and interrupted communications are making it nearly impossible to deliver medical supplies regularly and safely across Gaza, particularly in the North." 

The WHO had been trying to get medical supplies to five hospitals in the north, including the al-Awda Hospital.

The WHO said hospitals were severely short-staffed and "perilous conditions" were impeding patients' access to health facilities.

The Hamas-run Health Ministry, meanwhile, on Monday said that 249 Palestinians had been killed in Gaza over the past 24 hours. The ministry doesn't provide a breakdown as to how many of its figures are combatants or civilians. However, it is considered by several UN agencies as a largely reliable source on casualties in Gaza. 

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Published: 09 Jan 2024, 9:19 AM
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