Israeli leaders criticized efforts by authorities in Qatar to broker a ceasefire deal on Thursday, as President Joe Biden appeared to be preparing to send the CIA director to begin talks.
while, Washington PostCiting officials familiar with the matter, they reported that CIA Director William J. Burns will travel to Europe within days for talks with officials from Israel, Egypt and Qatar to help negotiate a deal. The newspaper says that the Israeli proposal includes a cessation of fighting for 60 days and the release of the remaining hostages in stages, but Hamas demands a permanent ceasefire.
John Kirby, spokesman for the White House National Security Council, declined to confirm the Washington Post report.
Qatar was a key player in the negotiations that led to a week-long ceasefire and the release of more than 100 hostages in November. In recent days, the small Gulf emirate worked with Egypt to reach a new agreement to return more than 130 remaining hostages to their homeland.
In statements to hostage families leaked by Israel's Channel 12 and others, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu described Qatar's role as “problematic,” claiming that it could put more pressure on the Armed Islamic Group. Qatar is home to many senior Hamas leaders.
Qatari Foreign Ministry spokesman Majid Al-Ansari In response to Netanyahu's statements It was “irresponsible and destructive of efforts to save innocent lives, but not surprising.”
This led to a reaction from Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich. From the description of Qatar As a “patron of Hamas who is largely responsible for the massacre committed by Hamas against Israeli citizens.”
∎ The Palestinian Authority is negotiating a loan from the United Arab Emirates and Norway to compensate for tax revenues withheld by Israel, The Times of Israel Quoting a senior Western diplomat. Israel says the $75 million may be transferred to Hamas.
∎ Netanyahu pledged more than $900 million to support communities in northern Israel that have faced a sustained barrage of rocket attacks from Hezbollah fighters in Lebanon. More than 80,000 Israeli citizens were displaced. “We will continue to build communities,” Netanyahu said at a meeting of mayors. “We will make them thrive, more than before.”
∎ Israeli commando teams have strengthened their “operational control” over the city of Khan Yunis, a stronghold of Hamas terrorists, the Israeli army said in a statement. The statement added that a main Hamas headquarters was raided, and numerous weapons, tactical radios, night vision devices, maps, and intelligence information “of great value” were seized.
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An explosion in Gaza kills 20 Palestinians who were queuing for aid
Israeli bombing targeted a crowd of Palestinians waiting for humanitarian aid in Gaza City on Thursday, killing at least 20 people and wounding 150 others, the Gaza Health Ministry said. Ministry of Health spokesman Ashraf Al-Qudra said that the death toll from the attack that occurred in northern Gaza is likely to rise. The Israeli army said it was investigating these reports.
In southern Gaza, the death toll increased The number of raids on a United Nations shelter in Khan Yunis rose to 12. The shelter, which was bombed and caught fire on Wednesday, was a United Nations training center that had been converted to house thousands of Palestinians who were displaced due to the devastation caused by the Israeli military operation. Thomas White, a senior official at the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees, said more than 75 people were injured and 15 remained in critical condition on Thursday.
White did not classify Israel as the culprit in the shelter explosion. The Israeli army said it was still investigating the incident but did not believe the strike came from its aircraft or artillery, adding that a Hamas missile may have been the cause. Thomas said intense fighting near hospitals in Khan Yunis left “terrified workers, patients and sick people.” “The displaced people are trapped inside,” White said.
White said in a statement on Thursday: “Continued attacks on civilian sites in Khan Yunis are completely unacceptable and must stop immediately. People are being killed and injured.” As fighting intensified around hospitals and shelters hosting displaced people, people became trapped inside and life-saving operations were hampered.
Lebanon warns that it may suffer a blow from which it will not recover
Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz and the families of some hostages held by militants put pressure on Italian Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani to try to convince the Lebanese government to withdraw Hezbollah from southern Lebanon. Katz said that the alternative for Lebanon is “to receive a blow from which it will not recover.” Hezbollah fighters stationed in Lebanon have been clashing with Israel along Lebanon's southern border since the outbreak of war between Israel and Hamas in October.
“Tajani is a true friend of the State of Israel,” Katz said in a post on social media. “I and the families of the abductees told him that we have no other choice but to finish our mission in Gaza – to bring all the abductees home and eliminate Hamas. I asked him to work with the Lebanese government to withdraw Hezbollah from southern Lebanon, otherwise the state of Lebanon will take a blow from which it will not recover.”
Contributing: The Associated Press
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