Israel-Palestine conflict: Too many Palestinians killed — Blinken

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said it was imperative that Israel do more to prevent civilian casualties in Gaza. He is visiting West Asia for the fourth time since 7 October 2023

Blinken called the killing of two freelance journalists in a strike in Gaza an 'unimaginable tragedy' (photo: IANS)
Blinken called the killing of two freelance journalists in a strike in Gaza an 'unimaginable tragedy' (photo: IANS)


Blinken says 'too many' innocent Palestinians killed

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken reiterated calls to protect civilians in Gaza during a visit to Qatar on Sunday, 7 January.

"Far too many Palestinians, innocent Palestinians, have already been killed," the top US diplomat said.

He also said the death of Al Jazeera journalists Hamza Wael al-Dahdouh and Mustafa Thuraya in a strike earlier in the day was an "unimaginable tragedy."

Blinken said Palestinians must be allowed to return home after the fighting and must not be displaced from the Gaza Strip.

At the same press conference, Qatari Prime Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani said that the killing of a senior Hamas official in Lebanon on Tuesday has affected Qatar's efforts to negotiate between Israel and Hamas militants.

Blinken's visit to the Gulf state was part of a week-long tour of the West Asia.

He will visit Israel later in the week, where he said he will raise the imperative of doing more to prevent civilians casualties in Gaza.

Israel names former Supreme Court president to ICJ panel hearing genocide case

Israel has named its former Supreme Court president Aharon Barak as an ad-hoc judge to join judges of the International Court of Justice (ICJ). The court will hear South Africa's application for Israel's military operation in Gaza to be declared a genocide.

The Reuters news agency reported that Barak will be on the bench when the court decides whether to order Israel to cease its military operations in Gaza as a provisional measure, pending a later decision on whether its actions contradict the Genocide Convention. The first hearings are expected to take place later this week. 

South Africa has asked its former deputy chief justice Dikgang Moseneke to join the panel.

Countries that don't have a judge of their nationality already on the bench can select an ad hoc judge to sit in.

South Africa, which has often condemned Israel's treatment of Palestinians and drawn comparisons to its own history as a former apartheid state, accused Israel of acting "with the requisite specific intent ... to destroy Palestinians in Gaza as part of the broader Palestinian national, racial and ethnical group."

Israel has denied it is committing genocide and has accused South Africa of assisting Hamas by bringing the case to the ICJ.

Two Palestinian journalists killed in airstrike, Gaza officials say

An Israeli air strike killed two journalists in the Gaza Strip, the Hamas-run Health Ministry and the journalists' union in the territory said.

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. According to the BBC, the group of journalists were hit as they were en route to report on areas designated as safe "humanitarian zones" by the Israeli military but which had recently been bombed. 

Hamza's father, Wael al-Dahdouh, is Al Jazeera's Gaza bureau chief.

"Al Jazeera Media Network strongly condemns the Israeli occupation forces' targeting of Palestinian journalists' car," the broadcaster said in a statement, accusing Israel of "violating the principles of freedom of the press."

The Israeli military did not immediately comment on the incident. In the past, it has denied targeting journalists deliberately. 

A video posted on an Al Jazeera-linked YouTube channel showed Wael al-Dahdouh crying next to his son's body and holding his hand. 

The veteran correspondent's wife, another son, daughter and grandson were killed in an Israeli strike in late October. He was himself injured in December by shrapnel to his hand and waist. 

The Committee to Protect Journalists, an international media rights watchdog, said that as of Saturday, 77 journalists and media workers had been killed while covering the conflict. This includes 70 Palestinians, four Israelis and three Lebanese, all working for a wide variety of media organizations, including Reuters, Agence France-Presse and Turkey’s Anadolu news agency.

Jordan king urges Blinken to push for Gaza cease-fire

Jordan's King Abdullah II has urged visiting US Secretary of State Antony Blinken to push for a ceasefire in the Gaza Strip.

The top US diplomat is on his fourth tour of the region since the outbreak of the Israel-Hamas conflict. 

King Abdullah warned Blinken against "the catastrophic repercussions of continuation of the aggression against Gaza, underlining the necessity of ending the tragic humanitarian crisis" there, a statement from the palace said.

He emphasized the crucial role of the United States in pressuring for a ceasefire and ensuring aid delivery.

"We have an intense focus on preventing this conflict from spreading," Blinken said in Amman.

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Published: 08 Jan 2024, 9:29 AM