Monday, June 17, 2024

Israel-Gaza war live: Biden calls on Hamas to accept ceasefire deal in wake of UNSC vote

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Welcome and opening summary …

Welcome to our latest live coverage of the Israel-Gaza war. I am Martin Belam and I’ll be with you for the next few hours.

The US president, Joe Biden, has called on Hamas to accept a ceasefire deal, in the wake of a successful UN security council vote on the proposal – the first time the body has endorsed a comprehensive peace deal to end the Gaza war.

The security council adopted a resolution calling for Hamas to agree to a three-phase hostage-for-ceasefire deal, initially outlined by Joe Biden on 31 May.

A Hamas statement said the group welcomed the resolution, though it was not immediately clear if that meant the leadership in Gaza accepted the ceasefire plan. The position of the Israeli government is also ambiguous.

In a post on social media after the vote, Biden said:

The UN security council just adopted our resolution calling on Hamas to accept the deal to establish a ceasefire with the release of hostages.

Hamas says it wants a ceasefire. This deal is an opportunity to prove they mean it.

The UN Security Council just adopted our resolution calling on Hamas to accept the deal to establish a ceasefire with the release of hostages.

Hamas says it wants a ceasefire. This deal is an opportunity to prove they mean it.

— President Biden (@POTUS) June 10, 2024

Meanwhile, the US secretary of state Antony Blinken will hold talks with key Israeli opposition figures on Tuesday, a day after he arrived in the country to push a ceasefire plan, reports Agence France-Presse.

Blinken will on Tuesday meet Benny Gantz, the former army chief who quit prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government on Sunday, in Tel Aviv, as well as opposition leader Yair Lapid.

After a stopover in Egypt, where he called on regional governments to “press Hamas to say yes” to the ceasefire proposal, Blinken met Netanyahu in Jerusalem on Monday.

The US secretary of state is on his eighth tour of the region since the start of the war, and is also expected to stop in Jordan and Qatar.

More on that in a moment but first, a summary of the latest developments:

  • Antony Blinken has said there is a “sense of urgency” around proposals for an immediate ceasefire, confirming that Egyptian mediators had spoken to Hamas earlier today. While he refused to be drawn on details of the conversations, the US secretary of state said his country greatly appreciated the role being played by Egypt, but also said that everybody in the region needed to apply pressure to Hamas to get them to accept the deal that was on the table. Senior Hamas official Sami Abu Zuhri told Reuters Blinken’s comments were “biased to Israel” and that his stance is a real obstacle to reaching an agreement

  • However the prospect of a hostage deal between Israel and Hamas appears to be rapidly receding after the far-right Israeli cabinet member Bezalel Smotrich – on whom Benjamin Netanyahu is now reliant after the resignations of more moderate ministers at the weekend – said he would oppose a deal. Smotrich’s comments, during a Knesset committee meeting, came amid the fallout from the resignation of the former army chief of staff Benny Gantz from the war cabinet. Gantz quit on the same weekend that Israel rescued four Israeli hostages held in Gaza in an operation that Gaza’s health ministry said killed more than 270 Palestinians and injured hundreds more

  • Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi on Monday stressed the importance of international efforts to remove obstacles to delivery of aid to the Gaza Strip during his meeting with Blinken

  • The Palestine Red Crescent Society has criticised Israel for continuing to keep the Rafah border closed, calling it “an enforcement of collective punishment” while Gaza suffers what it describes as “acute levels of famine”

  • The health ministry in Hamas-run Gaza has issued new casualty figures, claiming that 37,124 Palestinians have been killed during Israel’s military campaign in the territory, with 84,712 injured. It has not been possible for journalists to independently verify the casualty figures being issued during the conflict

  • Humanitarian assistance has begun to come ashore in Gaza from a US-made pier once more, two weeks after the short-lived sea corridor was suspended due to storm damage, but security concerns after one of the bloodiest days of the war meant the aid was not distributed. The head of the World Food Programme (WFP), Cindy McCain, said the food distribution from the pier had been “paused” because she was “concerned about the safety of our people”. An Israeli military operation on Saturday freed four hostages but killed 274 Palestinians and left one Israeli commando dead.

  • Jordan will host a summit Tuesday on the urgent humanitarian response for Palestinians. The summit seeks to bring together leaders and aid officials to “determine means for enhancing the international community’s response to the humanitarian disaster in the Gaza Strip”, according to the Jordanian royal court, and is jointly organised by the UN, Jordan and Egypt on the Dead Sea coast. US secretary of state Antony Blinken will attend, as well as Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas.

  • Israeli forces killed four Palestinians on Monday in the occupied West Bank, the Palestinian Authority said, one of whom the military said had started a fire at an Israeli outpost, reports Agence France-Presse (AFP). Hundreds of Palestinians and more than a dozen Israelis have been killed in violence across the West Bank since the outbreak of Israel-Gaza war.

  • Israeli strikes targeting a convoy of tankers in northeastern Lebanon late Monday killed three members of Hezbollah, an NGO and a military source told AFP. “Three Hezbollah members were killed by nine Israeli missile strikes that targeted a convoy of tankers and a building” in a village in Hermel district on the border with Syria, the military source told AFP, adding that three people were also wounded. Two others were also killed in the attack, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights war monitor.

  • Yemen’s Houthis said on Monday they had arrested an “American-Israeli spy cell”, a few days after the Iran-backed group detained about a dozen United Nations personnel. The alleged cell included former staff of the US embassy in Yemen, according to a television statement from Abdel Hakim Al Khaiwani, the Houthis’ intelligence chief. Israeli government officials had no immediate comment, and the UN declined to comment on the allegations. The US state department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

  • Israel’s parliament voted Tuesday to revive a controversial law to conscript ultra-Orthodox Jews, which is backed by prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Lawmakers voted 63 to 57 to press ahead with the legislation, which foresees the gradual and limited increase in ultra-Orthodox Jews doing military service. The majority of Israeli Jews must serve in the military, but the ultra-Orthodox community has been exempt in favour of religious study.

Key events

Emanuel Fabian, military correspondent at the Times of Israel, has posted to social media a video which appears to show an interception above the skies of Haifa while warning sirens were sounding.

Hours earlier, Israel’s military said it had intercepted “a suspicious aerial target off the coast of Haifa”, and had also taken action against a target approaching Israel from the east. In that instance, the IDF said:

IAF fighter jets successfully intercepted a suspicious aerial target that approached Israeli territory from the east. The suspicious aerial target was monitored by IDF soldiers, did not cross into Israeli territory and no sirens were sounded according to protocol. No injuries or damage were reported.

The claims have not been independently verified.

Hamas has said that one of its commanders in the Israeli-occupied West Bank was killed in a clash with Israeli forces yesterday.

Associated Press reports that in a statement released late on Monday, Hamas said Mohammed Jaber Abdo was killed along with three other fighters in a village near Ramallah.

A joint statement by the Israeli army and police earlier on Monday said undercover forces had tracked down a suspect wanted in an attack on a nearby Jewish settlement.

US secretary of state Antony Blinken has posted to social media images of him meeting Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and defense minister Yoav Gallant.

Met with @IsraeliPM Netanyahu and Defense Minister @yoavgallant to reiterate the U.S. commitment to the deal on the table that would achieve a ceasefire in Gaza, secure the release of all hostages, and surge humanitarian aid. pic.twitter.com/Qthqxkv2FU

— Secretary Antony Blinken (@SecBlinken) June 11, 2024

Palestinian news agency Wafa reports that civil defence crews have recovered “scores” of bodies from under the rubble of homes targeted by Israeli warplanes in Gaza City in the north of the territory.

It also reports that a number of civilians were killed and others were injured overnight by Israeli strikes targeting Nuseirat refugee camp.

The claims have not been independently verified.

Overnight Israel’s military has announced that four of its troops have been killed in southern Gaza.

That takes the total number killed since Israel began its ground offensive in the territory to 298. Including those killed during the surprise Hamas attack inside Israel on 7 October, the war has in total seen 650 Israeli troops killed.

Over 3,750 troops have been wounded during the conflict, with 252 wounded troops currently hospitalised. It has not been possible for journalists to independently verify the casualty figures being issued during the conflict.

Welcome and opening summary …

Welcome to our latest live coverage of the Israel-Gaza war. I am Martin Belam and I’ll be with you for the next few hours.

The US president, Joe Biden, has called on Hamas to accept a ceasefire deal, in the wake of a successful UN security council vote on the proposal – the first time the body has endorsed a comprehensive peace deal to end the Gaza war.

The security council adopted a resolution calling for Hamas to agree to a three-phase hostage-for-ceasefire deal, initially outlined by Joe Biden on 31 May.

A Hamas statement said the group welcomed the resolution, though it was not immediately clear if that meant the leadership in Gaza accepted the ceasefire plan. The position of the Israeli government is also ambiguous.

In a post on social media after the vote, Biden said:

The UN security council just adopted our resolution calling on Hamas to accept the deal to establish a ceasefire with the release of hostages.

Hamas says it wants a ceasefire. This deal is an opportunity to prove they mean it.

The UN Security Council just adopted our resolution calling on Hamas to accept the deal to establish a ceasefire with the release of hostages.

Hamas says it wants a ceasefire. This deal is an opportunity to prove they mean it.

— President Biden (@POTUS) June 10, 2024

Meanwhile, the US secretary of state Antony Blinken will hold talks with key Israeli opposition figures on Tuesday, a day after he arrived in the country to push a ceasefire plan, reports Agence France-Presse.

Blinken will on Tuesday meet Benny Gantz, the former army chief who quit prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government on Sunday, in Tel Aviv, as well as opposition leader Yair Lapid.

After a stopover in Egypt, where he called on regional governments to “press Hamas to say yes” to the ceasefire proposal, Blinken met Netanyahu in Jerusalem on Monday.

The US secretary of state is on his eighth tour of the region since the start of the war, and is also expected to stop in Jordan and Qatar.

More on that in a moment but first, a summary of the latest developments:

  • Antony Blinken has said there is a “sense of urgency” around proposals for an immediate ceasefire, confirming that Egyptian mediators had spoken to Hamas earlier today. While he refused to be drawn on details of the conversations, the US secretary of state said his country greatly appreciated the role being played by Egypt, but also said that everybody in the region needed to apply pressure to Hamas to get them to accept the deal that was on the table. Senior Hamas official Sami Abu Zuhri told Reuters Blinken’s comments were “biased to Israel” and that his stance is a real obstacle to reaching an agreement

  • However the prospect of a hostage deal between Israel and Hamas appears to be rapidly receding after the far-right Israeli cabinet member Bezalel Smotrich – on whom Benjamin Netanyahu is now reliant after the resignations of more moderate ministers at the weekend – said he would oppose a deal. Smotrich’s comments, during a Knesset committee meeting, came amid the fallout from the resignation of the former army chief of staff Benny Gantz from the war cabinet. Gantz quit on the same weekend that Israel rescued four Israeli hostages held in Gaza in an operation that Gaza’s health ministry said killed more than 270 Palestinians and injured hundreds more

  • Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi on Monday stressed the importance of international efforts to remove obstacles to delivery of aid to the Gaza Strip during his meeting with Blinken

  • The Palestine Red Crescent Society has criticised Israel for continuing to keep the Rafah border closed, calling it “an enforcement of collective punishment” while Gaza suffers what it describes as “acute levels of famine”

  • The health ministry in Hamas-run Gaza has issued new casualty figures, claiming that 37,124 Palestinians have been killed during Israel’s military campaign in the territory, with 84,712 injured. It has not been possible for journalists to independently verify the casualty figures being issued during the conflict

  • Humanitarian assistance has begun to come ashore in Gaza from a US-made pier once more, two weeks after the short-lived sea corridor was suspended due to storm damage, but security concerns after one of the bloodiest days of the war meant the aid was not distributed. The head of the World Food Programme (WFP), Cindy McCain, said the food distribution from the pier had been “paused” because she was “concerned about the safety of our people”. An Israeli military operation on Saturday freed four hostages but killed 274 Palestinians and left one Israeli commando dead.

  • Jordan will host a summit Tuesday on the urgent humanitarian response for Palestinians. The summit seeks to bring together leaders and aid officials to “determine means for enhancing the international community’s response to the humanitarian disaster in the Gaza Strip”, according to the Jordanian royal court, and is jointly organised by the UN, Jordan and Egypt on the Dead Sea coast. US secretary of state Antony Blinken will attend, as well as Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas.

  • Israeli forces killed four Palestinians on Monday in the occupied West Bank, the Palestinian Authority said, one of whom the military said had started a fire at an Israeli outpost, reports Agence France-Presse (AFP). Hundreds of Palestinians and more than a dozen Israelis have been killed in violence across the West Bank since the outbreak of Israel-Gaza war.

  • Israeli strikes targeting a convoy of tankers in northeastern Lebanon late Monday killed three members of Hezbollah, an NGO and a military source told AFP. “Three Hezbollah members were killed by nine Israeli missile strikes that targeted a convoy of tankers and a building” in a village in Hermel district on the border with Syria, the military source told AFP, adding that three people were also wounded. Two others were also killed in the attack, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights war monitor.

  • Yemen’s Houthis said on Monday they had arrested an “American-Israeli spy cell”, a few days after the Iran-backed group detained about a dozen United Nations personnel. The alleged cell included former staff of the US embassy in Yemen, according to a television statement from Abdel Hakim Al Khaiwani, the Houthis’ intelligence chief. Israeli government officials had no immediate comment, and the UN declined to comment on the allegations. The US state department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

  • Israel’s parliament voted Tuesday to revive a controversial law to conscript ultra-Orthodox Jews, which is backed by prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Lawmakers voted 63 to 57 to press ahead with the legislation, which foresees the gradual and limited increase in ultra-Orthodox Jews doing military service. The majority of Israeli Jews must serve in the military, but the ultra-Orthodox community has been exempt in favour of religious study.

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