Greece Optimistic over Gaza Humanitarian Aid, Says FM

 A flare falls on Gaza, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas, as seen from south Israel November 17, 2023. (Reuters)
A flare falls on Gaza, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas, as seen from south Israel November 17, 2023. (Reuters)
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Greece Optimistic over Gaza Humanitarian Aid, Says FM

 A flare falls on Gaza, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas, as seen from south Israel November 17, 2023. (Reuters)
A flare falls on Gaza, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas, as seen from south Israel November 17, 2023. (Reuters)

Talks on opening a humanitarian aid corridor into north Gaza could yield results soon, Greece's foreign minister George Gerapetritis said on Friday, a day after meeting his Israeli and Palestinian counterparts.

Greece has repeatedly condemned the Oct. 7 attack by Hamas militants against Israel and believes its historical ties with the Arab world give it credibility as an honest broker.

"I am in constant communication with both parties and I am relatively optimistic that we could have some positive results soon," said the minister, who met Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki in Ramallah and Israeli counterpart Eli Cohen in Jerusalem on Thursday.

With world powers anxious to coordinate help for Palestinians in Gaza during Israel's bombardment and siege, Gerapetritis said he believed Israel was considering allowing increased aid and was keen to hear all possible options.

Cyprus has made a proposal, which Greece endorses, to open a maritime corridor to expand capacity for relief into the Palestinian enclave beyond the Rafah crossing from Egypt.

Another alternative is via a port in Israel then a northern entry point into Gaza, Gerapetritis said.

"The fastest way is the best way," he added, stressing that a humanitarian pause in fighting was essential.

Israel's right to self-defense was respected but must conform to international law and humanitarian values, Gerapetritis added, while the Palestinian people should be clearly differentiated from Hamas.

"We cannot put up with the situation in Gaza," he said. "It's the humanitarian moral values that we have to embrace, all of us, and we have to do it immediately."

After the war, he said, governance of Gaza must be "highly legitimized" and opposed to terrorism.

Asked about a possible influx of refugees, he said Greece was prepared, referring to a recent asylum pact agreed between European Union states, and would be willing to receive injured people.

Handling migration flows has been a tough task for Greece, an EU border, which received more than a million migrants and refugees in 2015-2016 who reached its shores from Türkiye.

Greece and Türkiye, historic rivals while also NATO allies, will discuss the issue in a summit in Athens next month, which is expected to yield some agreements.

With Türkiye labelling Israel a terror state, the Gaza conflict is another issue differentiating the two neighbors, but this should not hinder dialogue, Gerapetritis said.

"This should not prohibit us from discussing our problems and to setting forth in the agenda some win-win projects," he said.



Israel Carries Out New Raids in Gaza as Netanyahu Visits US 

This picture taken in Khan Younis shows smoke billowing during Israeli military operations in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, on July 24, 2024, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas. (AFP)
This picture taken in Khan Younis shows smoke billowing during Israeli military operations in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, on July 24, 2024, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas. (AFP)
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Israel Carries Out New Raids in Gaza as Netanyahu Visits US 

This picture taken in Khan Younis shows smoke billowing during Israeli military operations in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, on July 24, 2024, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas. (AFP)
This picture taken in Khan Younis shows smoke billowing during Israeli military operations in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, on July 24, 2024, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas. (AFP)

Israeli forces carried out new raids in the Gaza Strip on Wednesday, hours before Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was due to address the US Congress.

The latest Israeli attacks destroyed homes in towns east of Khan Younis in southern Gaza and thousands of people were forced to head west to seek shelter, residents said.

The Palestinian Civil Emergency Service said it had received distress calls from residents trapped in their homes in Bani Suhaila, east of Khan Younis, but were unable to reach the town.

Israel's military, which is trying to eradicate the armed group Hamas after the Oct. 7 attack on Israel, said it had been operating in areas from which fighters had been able to fire rockets into Israel and attack Israeli troops.

Gaza health officials said Israeli military strikes in the past 24 hours had killed at least 55 people, the latest casualties in a war that health authorities in the enclave say has killed more than 39,000 Palestinians.

"Where should we go? Shall we cross into the sea?" said Ghada, who has been displaced with her family six times during the war, said from Hamas City in northwestern Khan Younis.

"We are exhausted, starved, and want the war to end now, now not an hour later. Every day means more families are wiped off the registration book," she told Reuters via a chat app.

Local residents said they had been ordered to head west towards a designated humanitarian area, but that the area was now unsafe.

Israeli forces also carried out airstrikes on several areas of central and northern Gaza Strip, killing and wounding several Palestinians, health officials said.

Residents of Rafah, near the border with Egypt, said Israeli forces had blown up several houses in the west of the city.

PALESTINIANS CRITICISE U.S.

Hamas-led fighters triggered the war on Oct. 7 by storming into southern Israel, killing 1,200 people and taking 250 captives, according to Israeli tallies. Some 120 hostages are still being held though Israel believes one in three are dead.

Some Palestinians who gathered at a hospital in Khan Younis before funerals criticized the United States, Israel's most important international ally, for welcoming Netanyahu.

The Israel leader was due to address Congress later on Wednesday and to meet President Joe Biden at the White House on Thursday. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump said he would meet Netanyahu in Florida on Friday.

"The United States is a main partner in what is happening in Gaza. We are being killed because of the United States. We are being slaughtered by American planes, American ships, American tanks, and American troops," said Kazem Abu Taha, a displaced resident from Rafah.

A senior Hamas official, Sami Abu Zuhri, told Reuters: "The Congress invitation to Netanyahu to make a speech gives legitimacy to the crimes of the war of genocide in Gaza. Receiving a war criminal is a shame to all Americans."

Israel has rejected accusations brought by South Africa at the UN's top court that its military operation in Gaza is a state-led genocide campaign against Palestinians. It has reacted angrily to a decision by the International Criminal Court's prosecutor to seek an arrest warrant against Netanyahu.

Netanyahu said this week a deal to release Israelis held captive in Gaza could be near. But Hamas officials said Netanyahu was stalling and that they had not seen any change in the Israeli stance that would allow an agreement to be reached.

Hamas wants a ceasefire agreement to end the war in Gaza. Netanyahu says the war cannot end before Hamas is eradicated.