WHO cancels aid delivery to Gaza – DW – 01/10/2024


Skip next section US: Iranian support of ‘escalatory’ Houthi Red Sea attacks must stop

January 10, 2024

US: Iranian support of ‘escalatory’ Houthi Red Sea attacks must stop

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has threatened consequences if Houthi attacks on commercial shipping lanes in the Red Sea continue. In Washington, the White House has again demanded that Iran stop providing support to the rebels.

“We’ve repeatedly tried to make clear to Iran, as other countries have as well, that the support that they’re providing to the Houthis, including for these actions, needs to stop,” said Blinken, adding that, if not, the United States will “consult with its partners” about next steps.

Since war erupted between Israel and Hamas on October 7, the Iran-backed Houthis in Yemen have launched 26 attacks on commercial ships in the Red Sea in support of their Islamist allies in Hamas.

The most significant attack came late on January 9, local time, when US and British warships shot down over 20 missiles and drones launched from Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen. 

“Despite what the Houthis may say, they are threatening and targeting commercial vessels with ties to countries all over the world, many of which have no connection to Israel whatsoever,” said White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby. “These attacks are unlawful and escalatory.” 

Blinken diplomatic tour aims to calm Middle East tensions

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Skip next section Red Crescent: Six workers killed in strike on Gaza ambulance

January 10, 2024

Red Crescent: Six workers killed in strike on Gaza ambulance

An Israeli strike that hit an ambulance killed six members of the Palestinian Red Crescent, the aid organization said on Wednesday, increasing the number killed from an earlier count of four.

The ambulance was hit on Salah al-Din Street, a major north-south axis in central Gaza. The route is regularly occupied by thousands of people fleeing Israeli bombs. The Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry added that several people were killed in an Israeli airstrike near a Deir al-Balah hospital earlier in the day.

The Health Ministry claims that more than 120 ambulances have been destroyed and at least 326 health workers killed since Israel began its military operation in response to Hamas’ October 7 attacks that killed 1,200 people and saw 240 others taken hostage. Hamas is classified as a terrorist organization by Israel, Germany and the United States, among other countries.

The Israeli military operation has killed over 23,200 people in Gaza, mostly women and children, according to the enclave’s Health Ministry, which does not differentiate between civilians and militants in its casualty figures. 

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Skip next section WHO cancels aid mission to Gaza over security concerns

January 10, 2024

WHO cancels aid mission to Gaza over security concerns

The World Health Organization (WHO) on Wednesday said it could not move forward with an aid mission to Gaza, citing security concerns. It was the sixth such cancellation in recent weeks.

The last such mission to Gaza took place on December 26.

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the WHO’s director-general, said the UN agency canceled the mission after it failed to gain approval for a request to visit the embattled region.

“The barrier is access. We call on Israel to approve requests by WHO and other partners to deliver humanitarian aid,” he said.

Tedros also said the WHO was not given security assurances.

“Intense bombardment, restrictions on movement, fuel shortage and interrupted communications make it impossible for WHO and our partners to reach those in need,” Tedros said during a virtual press conference from Geneva.

“We call on Israel to approve requests by WHO and other partners to deliver humanitarian aid,” he added.

The WHO said only 15 of 32 hospitals in the Gaza Strip remain at least partially operable.

Gaza: Humanitarian crisis deepens as fighting rages

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Skip next section Hezbollah, Iran don’t want larger conflict but there’s danger of escalation — German expert says

January 10, 2024

Hezbollah, Iran don’t want larger conflict but there’s danger of escalation — German expert says

Top diplomats from the United States and Germany were in the Middle East on Wednesday, holding talks with regional leaders in an effort to keep the Israel-Hamas war in Gaza from expanding into a more regional conflict. Much of the focus has been on preventing the conflict from spreading to Lebanon.

“I’ve got the impression Hezbollah and Iran both agree that they do not want a larger conflict, but if sufficiently provoked by the Israelis, there is, of course, the danger of escalation,” Guido Steinberg of the German Institute for International & Security Affairs told DW.

There were likely indirect talks taking place between the US and Hezbollah through the Lebanese government, and Steinberg said his impression was that German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock’s trip to Lebanon was aimed at avoiding an escalation of hostilities.

“It’s impossible for Western governments to talk to Hezbollah because it is listed as a terrorist organization,” Steinberg said. Still, he added that there were ways of engaging through intermediaries and the Lebanese government.

“The problem is, Hezbollah is not only a Lebanese organization but it’s an Iranian client, and we do not know exactly who calls the shots in this relationship right now,” Steinberg said.

Hezbollah is an Iran-backed Shiite political party and militant group in Lebanon. Hezbollah is considered a terrorist organization by the US, Germany and several Sunni Arab countries, while the EU lists its armed wing as a terrorist group.

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Skip next section Right-wing Israeli politician defends call to burn Gaza down

January 10, 2024

Right-wing Israeli politician defends call to burn Gaza down

A right-wing Israeli member of parliament stood by his call for Gaza to be burnt down during an interview with a local radio station.

The comment came ahead of a hearing at the International Court of Justice brought by South Africa for it to consider whether Israel is committing genocide against Palestinians in Gaza.

Nissim Vaturi, a member of the governing Likud Party, backed up his now-deleted post on social media platform X during an interview with the Hakol Baramah radio station.

Several weeks ago, Vaturi wrote: “Burn Gaza now and nothing less!” During the course of Wednesday’s radio interview, Vaturi said he had no regrets about the post.

The Times of Israel newspaper quoted Vaturi as saying: “I stand behind my words”  and then adding, “It is better to burn down buildings rather than have soldiers harmed. There are no innocents there.”

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Skip next section Germany to provide €15 million to Lebanon

January 10, 2024

Germany to provide €15 million to Lebanon

Germany will provide Lebanon with €15 million ($16.4 million) to help the country’s military secure the southern parts of the country as hostilities between the Hezbollah militant group and Israel continue.

The more the UN’s UNIFIL observer mission is supported “in these times, the more we can support the Lebanese army, the stronger our joint contribution to de-escalation can be,” German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said during a visit to UNIFIL in Beirut.

Baerbock said a well-equipped and well-trained Lebanese army that was paid like other armies “is just as important as a Lebanese government capable of acting.” 

Baerbock added that a professional army was a crucial factor when conducting checks on Lebanese territory and containing armed militias and terrorist groups. 

The UN mission has been monitoring the border area between Israel and Lebanon since 1978.

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Skip next section Germany condemns Houthi attacks in the Red Sea

January 10, 2024

Germany condemns Houthi attacks in the Red Sea

Germany on Wednesday condemned the latest attacks on vessels in the Red Sea by Iranian-backed Houthi militants, Reuters news agency reported citing a foreign ministry spokesperson.

The attacks “show that the Houthis are clearly focusing on escalation against international merchant shipping and the ships of our partners and allies in the region,” the spokesperson was quoted as saying.

On Sunday, Germany’s foreign ministry said that Iran-backed Hezbollah and the Houthis “must cease playing with fire.”

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock is currently on a visit to the Middle East in a trip aimed at helping prevent the Israel-Hamas war from spiraling into a wider regional conflict.

Why are shipping firms suspending routes in the Red Sea?

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Skip next section Israel’s military continues strikes in central and southern Gaza

January 10, 2024

Israel’s military continues strikes in central and southern Gaza

Israeli troops seen combing though rubble
The IDF has recently been concentrating operations in southern Gaza Image: Israel Defense Forces via REUTERS

Israeli forces have continued hitting targets in the city of Khan Younis and the al-Maghazi refugee camp in central Gaza.

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) on Wednesday said that troops had struck around 150 Hamas targets over the past day.

The IDF said dozens of Hamas militants were killed in fighting in Khan Younis, while 15 underground tunnel shafts were discovered in the al-Maghazi refugee camp.

Rocket launchers, drones and explosive devices were also discovered, according to the IDF.

Israel’s military has posted footage on social media that it says shows troops engaging in close-quarter combat with Hamas militants.

The Hamas-run Health Ministry says over 23,000 Palestinians have been killed since the start of the war but does not give a number of the amount of Hamas militants that have been killed.

Hamas is designated as a terrorist organization by the US, the EU and several other governments.

The Islamist group launched a large-scale terror attack on southern Israel on October 7 in which over 1,100 people were killed and hundreds of others taken hostage.

Israel intensifies operations, Gaza death toll rising

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Skip next section Blinken meets with Palestinian leader in occupied West Bank

January 10, 2024

Blinken meets with Palestinian leader in occupied West Bank

Antony Blinken shakes hands with Mahmoud Abbas
The US Secretary of State is visiting the Middle East for the fourth time since October 7Image: Evelyn Hockstein/REUTERS

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken met Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority (PA), in the occupied West Bank on Wednesday for talks expected to center on post-war scenarios for Gaza. 

Blinken told Abbas that Washington supported “tangible steps” towards the creation of a Palestinian state.

He also reiterated Washington’s position that a Palestinian state must stand alongside Israel, “with both living in peace and security,” State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said.

On Tuesday evening, Blinken told reporters he would discuss steps the PA can take to reform itself and improve governance with Abbas.

The US is looking to rally support around postwar plans that would include steps toward establishing a Palestinian state that Washington hopes the PA could help govern. 

During Blinken’s fourth visit to the Middle East since the conflict began, he also met with several top officials in Arab countries and said he secured commitments to assistance for the rebuilding of post-war Gaza. 

Blinken has also expressed optimism that mending Israel’s ties with Arab countries after the war is still possible, but only if there is “a pathway to a Palestinian state.”

The visit came a day after Blinken held talks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his war Cabinet. Netanyahu’s government remains adamantly opposed to the creation of a Palestinian state alongside Israel. 

Israel has vowed to destroy Hamas following the militant group’s unprecedented terror attack on October 7. Hamas, which currently rules Gaza, is designated as a terrorist organization by the US, EU, and several other countries.

What is the two-state solution?

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Skip next section German foreign minister meets Lebanese leaders

January 10, 2024

German foreign minister meets Lebanese leaders

Annalena Baerbock and Najib Mikati talking
Annalena Baerbock has met with Lebanon’s caretaker prime minister, Najib MikatiImage: MOHAMED AZAKIR/REUTERS

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock met with Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati on Wednesday as she continues a Middle East visit that aims to help prevent Israel’s war against the Islamist militant group Hamas from escalating into a wider regional conflict.

Talks likely centered on the ongoing fighting between the Lebanese Shiite militant group Hezbollah and Israel, who have been trading cross-border fire in recent days.

Talks were also planned with the chief of the Lebanese army, Joseph Aoun.

Baerbock is also to meet with troops involved in the UN’s UNIFIL mission, which since 1978 has been tasked with keeping peace on the Lebanese-Israeli border. Germany has participated in the mission since 2006, with some 200 military personnel currently taking part, along with navy ships.

The visit to Lebanon is the last stage of Baerbock’s fourth Middle East trip since October 7, the day the Palestinian militant group Hamas carried out a deadly raid in southern Israel, killing more than 1,100 Israelis, mostly civilians. Germany is one of the countries that has designated Hamas a terrorist organization.

Since then, Israel has been trying to eradicate the group in the Gaza Strip in an offensive that the Health Ministry in the Hamas-run territory says has killed more than 23,000 people. The ministry does not differentiate between militants and civilians in the figures it supplies.

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Skip next section UK defense secretary says Houthi Red Sea attack ‘largest’ to date

January 10, 2024

UK defense secretary says Houthi Red Sea attack ‘largest’ to date

UK Defense Secretary Grant Shapps said on Wednesday that British and US naval forces “repelled the largest attack by the Iranian-backed Houthis in the Red Sea to date.”

Shapps added that multiple attack drones had been destroyed by HMS Diamond, a Type 45 air defense destroyer.

“Deploying Sea Viper missiles and guns, Diamond destroyed multiple attack drones heading for her and commercial shipping in the area, with no injuries or damage sustained to Diamond or her crew,” Shapp said on social media. 

The British defense secretary warned that should the attacks continue, “the Houthis will bear the consequences.”

A Houthi spokesperson later on Wednesday said the group launched “a large number” of missiles and drones targeting an American ship, adding that it was in response to a US naval attack on Houthis last Sunday. 

https://p.dw.com/p/4b340

Skip next section US military reports ‘complex’ Houthi attack in Red Sea

January 10, 2024

US military reports ‘complex’ Houthi attack in Red Sea

The US military said it countered a “complex attack” by Iran-backed Houthis on commercial ships in the Red Sea off the coast of Yemen on Tuesday night. 

The US Navy and the UK’s Royal Navy shot down more than 20 missiles and drones launched from Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen, US Central Command said on social media.

The UK called it the “largest attack” yet since Yemen-based Houthis began targeting ships along the key route in response to Israel’s war on Hamas in Gaza. 

There were no injuries or damage reported.

The attack happened off the Yemeni port cities of Hodeida and Mokha, according to the private intelligence firm Ambrey.

In Hodeida, Ambrey said ships described seeing missiles and drones. US-allied warships in the area urged “vessels to proceed at maximum speed.”

Off the coast of Mokha, ships saw missiles fired, a drone in the air and small vessels trailing them, Ambrey said early Wednesday.

The Iran-backed rebels have attacked commercial ships 26 times since the war began and have vowed to continue attacks until Israel halts the conflict in Gaza.

Meanwhile, the UN Security Council has scheduled a vote Wednesday on a US-proposed resolution demanding an immediate halt to the attacks.

The draft resolution says the attacks impede global commerce “and undermine navigational rights and freedoms as well as regional peace and security.”

What’s behind recent Houthi attacks in the Red Sea?

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Skip next section Israel says it killed Hezbollah air commander, group denies it

January 10, 2024

Israel says it killed Hezbollah air commander, group denies it

Israel said on Tuesday it had killed the commander of Hezbollah’s southern drone unit, but the Lebanese militant group dismissed the claim.

Israel Defense Forces Arabic spokesman Avichay Adraee said they killed Ali Hussein Barji in an air strike.

“He led dozens of operations which used explosive drones and reconnaissance drones against Israel and the IDF,” Adraee said.

The Hezbollah press office said the “commander was never subjected to any assassination attempt.”

Hezbollah, an Iran-backed Shiite political party and militant group, is considered a terrorist organization by the US, Germany and several Sunni Arab countries, while the EU lists its armed wing as a terrorist group.

https://p.dw.com/p/4b2nm

Skip next section Blinken says Israel must work with Palestinian leaders

January 10, 2024

Blinken says Israel must work with Palestinian leaders

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken urged Israel to make “hard choices” if it wants to normalize relations with neighbors and to support Palestinian leaders willing to coexist peacefully.

“Israel must be a partner of the Palestinian leaders who are willing to lead their people and live side-by-side in peace with Israel.”

Blinken has visited Israel’s Arab neighbors in recent days to discuss plans for the future governance of Gaza and the territory’s integration into the wider Middle East.

The US and Israel are united in the war against Hamas militants but sharply divided over Gaza’s future.

Israel has so far ruled out calls to allow the internationally recognized Palestinian Authority, which was ousted from Gaza when Islamist militants Hamas seized power in 2007, to govern Gaza and instead talked about maintaining open-ended military control over the territory.

The US believes a “revitalized” authority should return to govern the enclave.

Speaking at a press conference in Tel Aviv, Blinken also said the “daily toll of war on civilians in Gaza, particularly on children, is far too high.”

Blinken says toll on Gaza civilians ‘far too high’

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tj,mk,rmt/wmr (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters) 

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