Iraqi PM Rejects Resignation of 3 Taqaddum Party Ministers

Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammad Shia al-Sudani with Speaker Mohammad al-Halbousi (file photo: Iraqi Premiership)
Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammad Shia al-Sudani with Speaker Mohammad al-Halbousi (file photo: Iraqi Premiership)
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Iraqi PM Rejects Resignation of 3 Taqaddum Party Ministers

Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammad Shia al-Sudani with Speaker Mohammad al-Halbousi (file photo: Iraqi Premiership)
Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammad Shia al-Sudani with Speaker Mohammad al-Halbousi (file photo: Iraqi Premiership)

Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammad Shia al-Sudani rejected the resignations of three ministers who took the move in protest of a ruling by Iraq’s court to terminate the tenure of Speaker Mohammad al-Halbousi.
The Federal Supreme Court, the highest judicial body in Iraq, ruled to remove Halbousi, the influential Sunni Speaker, from his position after a complaint filed against him by a representative on charges of “forgery.”
In response, the Taqaddum Party, led by Halbousi, announced the resignation of its three ministers in the government.
Government spokesman Bassem al-Awadi said in a statement that the Prime Minister rejected the resignations submitted by the Ministers of Planning, Industry, and Culture, and accordingly, they will resume their executive duty.
The statement explained that the rejection comes from the government’s desire to ensure political representation for all components and political forces of the Iraqi people and in harmony with the government’s commitments to support and maintain political stability.
Iraq’s political process is based on power sharing between different sects, and it has become a tradition that the position of President goes to the Kurds, the Prime Minister is Shia, and the Speaker is Sunni.
Appointing officials to positions is an arduous issue in Iraq that lasts for months, often due to endless negotiations and political deals that go through many obstacles.
The parliament, with 329 representatives, is dominated by an alliance that includes Iran-affiliated Shiite parties, which named the current Prime Minister.
Halbousi rejected the ruling on November 14, removing him from his position and dropping his parliamentary membership, pledging to take necessary steps to “preserve constitutional rights.”
The Supreme Court issued its ruling after a complaint submitted by a lawmaker of the Taqaddum party, led by Halbousi. The party leader was accused of “forgery.”
The court confirmed the lawsuit, in which Halbousi was accused of forcing his party’s representatives to submit a signed, undated resignation letter. He later used the paper to terminate the lawmaker’s membership in January.



Morocco, Austria Discuss Ways to Address Security Threats

Morocco's Director General of Territory Surveillance (DGST) Abdellatif Hammouchi meets with the Director of the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) William Burns. (MAP)
Morocco's Director General of Territory Surveillance (DGST) Abdellatif Hammouchi meets with the Director of the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) William Burns. (MAP)
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Morocco, Austria Discuss Ways to Address Security Threats

Morocco's Director General of Territory Surveillance (DGST) Abdellatif Hammouchi meets with the Director of the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) William Burns. (MAP)
Morocco's Director General of Territory Surveillance (DGST) Abdellatif Hammouchi meets with the Director of the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) William Burns. (MAP)

Director General of Morocco’s National Security and Territorial Surveillance Abdellatif Hammouchi held talks in Vienna on Tuesday with Austria’s Director of the State Protection and Intelligence Directorate, Omar Haijawi Pirchner.

The meeting took place on the sidelines of Hammouchi’s participation in the 91st session of the General Assembly of the International Criminal Police Organization, Interpol, held from November 28 to December 1.

The meeting focused on ways of strengthening cooperation between the two countries in all security-related areas, as well as on mechanisms for developing collaboration to meet the various security challenges and threats.

It was attended by executives and officials from the Directorate General of National Security (DGSN) and the Directorate General of Territorial Surveillance (DGST), as well as officials from Austria’s State Protection and Intelligence Directorate.

Hammouchi’s visit is part of Morocco’s commitment to consolidating international security cooperation.

The visit also demonstrates the North African country’s willingness to share its experience and expertise in the fight against terrorism and organized crime with the security services of various friendly and brotherly countries, as well as with all international partners.


Macron Urges Lebanon to Avoid Being Dragged into War

President Macron speaks at an economic conference in Nantes. (Reuters)
President Macron speaks at an economic conference in Nantes. (Reuters)
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Macron Urges Lebanon to Avoid Being Dragged into War

President Macron speaks at an economic conference in Nantes. (Reuters)
President Macron speaks at an economic conference in Nantes. (Reuters)

French President Emmanuel Macron warned on Tuesday against the spillover of Israel’s war on Hamas in Gaza to Lebanon.

The spillover of the conflict into Lebanon “will have serious repercussions for the country,” Macron said in a letter to caretaker Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati on the occasion of Lebanon's Independence Day, which falls on November 22.

Macron stressed that the creation of appropriate conditions for the election of a Lebanese president and the formation of an operational government is an urgent issue, and that his personal representative, Jean-Yves Le Drian, who is currently in Beirut, continues to work in this direction.

“France, given the historical relations that bind our two countries, is redoubling its efforts to strengthen the stability, security and independence of Lebanon. We have always supported these goals,” he said.

Macron added: “France recognizes that it has a unique responsibility towards your country, a responsibility that is reflected in particular by the role we play within the UNIFIL peacekeeping forces. No party should use Lebanese territory in a way contrary to its sovereign interests. Today we must avoid the worst. I therefore invite you to continue your efforts in this direction.”

The French President continued: “I had indicated to the Israeli Prime Minister, every time I communicated with him, all the attention we were paying to your country, and I had told him of my concern about the dangers of escalation and expansion of the conflict to Lebanon.”

In addition to this fundamental issue, Macron said it is urgent to stabilize Lebanese institutions. “The presidential vacuum that has persisted for more than a year is weighing heavily on the country's ability to emerge from the current crisis and avoid the deterioration of security related to the ongoing war in Gaza,” he stated.

“Without a president or an effective government, there is no possibility of breaking the security, social, economic and financial impasse that the Lebanese people are suffering from,” he warned.

Meanwhile, the French Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Ludovic Pouille, said on his X account that Le Drian, had a “fruitful meeting” in Riyadh with the advisor within the General Secretariat of the Saudi Council of Ministers, Nizar Al-Aloula.

Pouille emphasized that Paris and Riyadh are working together for the stability and security of Lebanon, and to ensure that presidential elections are held as soon as possible.


Report: Netanyahu Rejected Plan to Kill Hamas' Yahya Sinwar Six Times

Leader of Hamas in Gaza Yahya al-Sinwar. (AP)
Leader of Hamas in Gaza Yahya al-Sinwar. (AP)
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Report: Netanyahu Rejected Plan to Kill Hamas' Yahya Sinwar Six Times

Leader of Hamas in Gaza Yahya al-Sinwar. (AP)
Leader of Hamas in Gaza Yahya al-Sinwar. (AP)

Israeli former defense minister Avigdor Liberman confirmed on Tuesday a Maariv report saying Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had rejected - several times - a plan to kill leader of Hamas in Gaza, Yahya al-Sinwar.

The report by Ben Caspit said that between 2011 and 2023, Netanyahu rejected several plans presented by the Shin Bet to eliminate Sinwar and other senior members of the Palestinian movement.

Netanyahu’s office denied the reports.

However, Liberman said Netanyahu was the one who granted “immunity” to Sinwar and the leaders of Hamas, standing against any attempts to neutralize them.

“I'm stating this not as mere speculation, but as someone with personal knowledge of the matter,” he stated.

In his report, Caspit said Netanyahu rejected the plan to eliminate Sinwar at least six times in recent years. He added that the plan was put forward to Netanyahu by the three most recent heads of the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) during their respective tenures: Yoram Cohen, Nadav Argaman, and the current head, Ronen Bar.

Caspit wrote that according to conversations with numerous senior figures in the security establishment, the operational plan was well-thought-out and actionable that could be put into motion at any given moment.

According to the plan, Sinwar didn’t spend most of his time in hiding; he maintained a visible presence and did not move between secret apartments or bunkers, unlike Lebanon’s Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah, who has followed such practices since 2006.

A month ago, former Shin Bet head Cohen revealed to “Meet the Press” that the agency had recommended conduction operations targeting all of Hamas' leaders in Gaza. He said Netanyahu rejected all of these operational opportunities.

Caspit, a leading journalist in Israel, has accused Netanyahu of systematically strengthening Hamas to deepen divisions between the Palestinian factions. He is also working on weakening the Palestinian Authority and its President Mahmoud Abbas.

Netanyahu views Hamas as a “treasure” that will help him scuttle the two-state solution, continued Caspit. He added that the first favor Netanyahu offered Hamas was the prisoner swap deal that saw the release of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit in return for 1,027 Palestinian detainees, including Sinwar, in 2011.


Israel, Hamas Due to Release More People amid Efforts to Extend Truce

Palestinians walk amid the rubble of destroyed buildings in Gaza City on the northern Gaza strip following weeks of Israeli bombardment, as a four-day ceasefire took effect on November 24, 2023. (Photo by AFP)
Palestinians walk amid the rubble of destroyed buildings in Gaza City on the northern Gaza strip following weeks of Israeli bombardment, as a four-day ceasefire took effect on November 24, 2023. (Photo by AFP)
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Israel, Hamas Due to Release More People amid Efforts to Extend Truce

Palestinians walk amid the rubble of destroyed buildings in Gaza City on the northern Gaza strip following weeks of Israeli bombardment, as a four-day ceasefire took effect on November 24, 2023. (Photo by AFP)
Palestinians walk amid the rubble of destroyed buildings in Gaza City on the northern Gaza strip following weeks of Israeli bombardment, as a four-day ceasefire took effect on November 24, 2023. (Photo by AFP)

Hamas and Israel were expected to release more hostages and prisoners on Wednesday, the last day of a prolonged six-day truce in the Gaza Strip conflict, as attention focused on whether mediator Qatar could negotiate another extension.
Israeli media, citing the prime minister's office, reported that Israel received a list of hostages expected to be released by Hamas on Wednesday. The prime minister's office had no immediate comment, Reuters said.
Israel has said the truce could be prolonged further, provided Hamas continues to free at least 10 Israeli hostages per day. But with fewer women and children still in captivity, keeping the guns quiet beyond Wednesday may require negotiating to free at least some Israeli men for the first time.
The Palestinian group Hamas and allied group Islamic Jihad freed 12 hostages on Tuesday, bringing the total released since the truce began on Friday to 81. Those have been mostly Israeli women and children along with foreign citizens.
The hostages - 10 Israeli women and two Thai citizens - were aged 17 to 84 and included a mother-daughter pair. All were given initial medical checks then moved to Israeli hospitals where they were to meet their families.
A short time later, Israel released 30 Palestinians from Ofer Prison in the occupied West Bank and a Jerusalem detention center. The Palestinian Prisoner's Club, a semi-official organization, said half were women and the remainder were teenage males. That brought the total number of Palestinians released under the truce to 180.
The hostages were among some 240 people seized by Hamas gunmen during a rampage into southern Israel on Oct. 7 in which Israel says 1,200 people were killed. Israel's bombardment of Hamas-ruled Gaza in retaliation has killed more than 15,000 Gazans, health authorities there said.
Qatar, which mediated indirect talks between Hamas and Israel that resulted in the ceasefire, on Tuesday hosted the spy chiefs from Israel's Mossad and the United States' CIA.
The officials discussed possible parameters of a new phase of the truce deal including Hamas releasing hostages who are men or military personnel, not just women and children, a source briefed on the matter said. They also considered what might be needed to reach a ceasefire lasting more than a handful of days.
Qatar spoke to Hamas before the meeting to get a sense of what the group might agree to. The Israelis and Hamas are now internally discussing the ideas explored at the meeting, the source added.
Separately, foreign ministers of the Group of Seven nations on Tuesday called in a joint statement for an extension of the ceasefire and more humanitarian aid.
About 159 hostages remain in Gaza. The White House said on Tuesday this includes eight to nine Americans. US national security spokesperson John Kirby said the US was hopeful Hamas would release more Americans, and the US government would work with Qatar to extend the pause in fighting.
"We want to see all the hostages out. The way to do that is these pauses," Kirby told reporters traveling on the president's plane on Tuesday.
WARNING OF MORE DEATHS DUE TO DISEASE IN GAZA
The truce has brought Gaza its first respite after seven weeks of fighting and bombardment that has reduced much of the seaside enclave to rubble. It had been due to expire overnight into Tuesday, but both sides agreed to extend the pause to allow for the release of more people.
Israel's siege has led to the collapse of Gaza's health care system, especially in the north where no hospitals remain functioning. The World Health Organization said more Gazans could soon be dying of disease than from bombing and many had no access to medicines, vaccines, safe water and hygiene and no food.
More than two-thirds of Gaza's 2.3 million people have lost their homes to Israeli bombardments, with thousands of families sleeping rough in makeshift shelters with only the belongings they could carry. They are desperately short of food, fuel and clean water.
"We have a dramatic humanitarian situation. At the same time, we want to have the full release of all hostages, that we believe should be unconditional and immediate. But we need a humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza now," UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told reporters on Tuesday.
The temporary ceasefire has allowed about 800 aid trucks to enter Gaza, and the first of three US planes with humanitarian supplies for Gaza landed in Egypt on Tuesday.
UN aid chief Martin Griffiths was to travel to the Jordanian capital Amman on Wednesday to discuss opening the Kerem Shalom crossing to allow for humanitarian aid to enter Gaza from Israel.
Located at the intersection of Israel, the Gaza Strip and Egypt, the Kerem Shalom crossing transported more than 60% of the aid going into Gaza before the current conflict.
Aid for Gaza now comes through the Rafah crossing on the Egyptian border, which was designed for pedestrian crossings and not trucks.


Arab Countries Congratulate Saudi Arabia on Winning Bid to Host Expo 2030 in Riyadh 

A light display created using drones is performed after Riyadh won the right to host the 2030 World Expo at the King Abdullah Financial District in Riyadh, on November 28, 2023. (AFP)
A light display created using drones is performed after Riyadh won the right to host the 2030 World Expo at the King Abdullah Financial District in Riyadh, on November 28, 2023. (AFP)
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Arab Countries Congratulate Saudi Arabia on Winning Bid to Host Expo 2030 in Riyadh 

A light display created using drones is performed after Riyadh won the right to host the 2030 World Expo at the King Abdullah Financial District in Riyadh, on November 28, 2023. (AFP)
A light display created using drones is performed after Riyadh won the right to host the 2030 World Expo at the King Abdullah Financial District in Riyadh, on November 28, 2023. (AFP)

Arab countries congratulated on Tuesday Saudi Arabia on winning its bid to host Expo 2030 in the capital Riyadh. 

The Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs expressed its confidence in the Kingdom’s ability to organize this important international event.  

In a statement, the ministry stressed that the Kingdom’s organizing of this international event embodies the amount of appreciation for the bid it submitted and confidence in its ability to successfully organize the event. It wished the Saudi people further success and progress.  

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas congratulated Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud on the occasion.  

In his cable to King Salman, he expressed the pride of his country and all Arabs in this great win, which came as a result of the effort and excellence of the wise leadership in the Kingdom, competent authorities and Saudi people.  

Abbas underscored his best wishes of constant good health and happiness to King Salman and further progress and prosperity for the Saudi people.  

In a similar cable, the Palestinian President also congratulated Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, Crown Prince and Prime Minister, on the well-deserved win.  

He underlined his confidence that this important international event will be a success. 

Jordan expressed its sincere congratulations to Saudi Arabia on its successful bid. 

The Jordanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said Tuesday the victory is a culmination of the successes and achievements reached by the Kingdom in various fields. 

It is a testimony to its distinguished ability to host such important global events, which have been admired across the globe, it added. 


Jordan’s King Says Israeli Actions in Gaza and West Bank ‘Negate Human Values’

Crowds of locals and displaced Palestinians walk past destroyed buildings in the southern Gaza Strip city of Khan Yunis on November 28, 2023. (AFP)
Crowds of locals and displaced Palestinians walk past destroyed buildings in the southern Gaza Strip city of Khan Yunis on November 28, 2023. (AFP)
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Jordan’s King Says Israeli Actions in Gaza and West Bank ‘Negate Human Values’

Crowds of locals and displaced Palestinians walk past destroyed buildings in the southern Gaza Strip city of Khan Yunis on November 28, 2023. (AFP)
Crowds of locals and displaced Palestinians walk past destroyed buildings in the southern Gaza Strip city of Khan Yunis on November 28, 2023. (AFP)

Jordan's King Abdullah said on Tuesday Israel's military campaigns in Gaza and army operations in the West Bank "negate human values and the right of life."

In remarks carried on state media, the monarch who again called for an end to the war, said the Israeli siege on the enclave that prevented for weeks the entry of medicine, food and fuel and cut electricity supplies, amounted to war crimes.

"These are war crimes.. we cannot stay silent," the monarch said.


UN Aid Chief Heads to Jordan for Talks to Open Second Crossing into Gaza

 Palestinians visit their houses destroyed in the Israeli bombings southeast of the Gaza City on Tuesday, Nov. 28, 2023 on the fifth day of the temporary ceasefire between Hamas and Israel. (AP)
Palestinians visit their houses destroyed in the Israeli bombings southeast of the Gaza City on Tuesday, Nov. 28, 2023 on the fifth day of the temporary ceasefire between Hamas and Israel. (AP)
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UN Aid Chief Heads to Jordan for Talks to Open Second Crossing into Gaza

 Palestinians visit their houses destroyed in the Israeli bombings southeast of the Gaza City on Tuesday, Nov. 28, 2023 on the fifth day of the temporary ceasefire between Hamas and Israel. (AP)
Palestinians visit their houses destroyed in the Israeli bombings southeast of the Gaza City on Tuesday, Nov. 28, 2023 on the fifth day of the temporary ceasefire between Hamas and Israel. (AP)

UN aid chief Martin Griffiths will travel to the Jordanian capital Amman on Wednesday for talks on the possibility of opening the Kerem Shalom crossing to allow for humanitarian aid to enter Gaza from Israel.

Located at the intersection of Israel, the Gaza Strip and Egypt, the Kerem Shalom crossing was used to carry more than 60% of the truckloads going into Gaza before the current conflict.

Aid currently being allowed into Gaza comes through the Rafah crossing on the Egyptian border, which was designed for pedestrian crossings and not trucks.

"We have said from start we need more than one crossing," Griffiths told a briefing of member states at the United Nations in Geneva on Tuesday.

"The opportunity to use Kerem Shalom should be explored, and that will be topic in Amman. It would hugely add scope (to the response)."

A Western diplomat said there was no prospect of opening the Kerem Shalom crossing for the moment. The diplomat said that Israel does not want to open the crossing because their troops are located in the area.

There was no immediate comment from Israel.

Since a fragile truce came into force last week, some 200 trucks have carried aid into Gaza on a daily basis, but the amount of aid is nowhere near enough to meet the needs of its population.

"We know that more humanitarian aid should be delivered in Gaza. We know how we could increase it, but there are constraints beyond our control," Griffiths said.

"We know that the people of Gaza need much more from us."

Since the truce, the United Nations has scaled up the delivery of humanitarian aid to Gaza and sent aid to some northern areas that had been largely cut off for weeks due to Israeli bombing.

"We need to have reliable and scalable aid delivery mechanisms, that include all humanitarian partners - including NGOs," Griffiths said.

"We are refining prioritization, advocating for more entry points and the resumption of (the) private sector."


More People at Risk of Death from Disease Than Bombings in Gaza, Warns WHO 

Palestinians eat outside amid the destruction caused by Israeli strikes in the village of Khuzaa, east of Khan Yunis near the border fence between Israel and the southern Gaza Strip on November 27, 2023, amid a truce in battles between Israel and the Palestinian militant group Hamas. (AFP) 
Palestinians eat outside amid the destruction caused by Israeli strikes in the village of Khuzaa, east of Khan Yunis near the border fence between Israel and the southern Gaza Strip on November 27, 2023, amid a truce in battles between Israel and the Palestinian militant group Hamas. (AFP) 
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More People at Risk of Death from Disease Than Bombings in Gaza, Warns WHO 

Palestinians eat outside amid the destruction caused by Israeli strikes in the village of Khuzaa, east of Khan Yunis near the border fence between Israel and the southern Gaza Strip on November 27, 2023, amid a truce in battles between Israel and the Palestinian militant group Hamas. (AFP) 
Palestinians eat outside amid the destruction caused by Israeli strikes in the village of Khuzaa, east of Khan Yunis near the border fence between Israel and the southern Gaza Strip on November 27, 2023, amid a truce in battles between Israel and the Palestinian militant group Hamas. (AFP) 

More people could die from disease than from bombings in the Gaza Strip if its health system is not repaired, a World Health Organization spokesperson said on Tuesday. 

Gaza health authorities deemed reliable by the United Nations say more than 15,000 people have been confirmed killed in Israel's bombardment of Gaza, around 40% of them children, with many more dead feared to be lost under rubble. 

Israel has sworn to annihilate Hamas, the militant group that rules Gaza, after its gunmen burst across the fence and killed around 1,200 people and seized 240 captives on Oct. 7. 

"Eventually we will see more people dying from disease than we are even seeing from the bombardment if we are not able to put back (together) this health system," said the WHO's Margaret Harris at a UN briefing in Geneva. 

She repeated concerns about a rise in outbreaks of infectious diseases, particularly diarrheal diseases. 

Citing a UN report on the living conditions of displaced residents in northern Gaza, she said: "(There are) no medicines, no vaccination activities, no access to safe water and hygiene and no food. We saw a very high number of cases of diarrhea among infants," she said. 

She described the collapse of Al Shifa Hospital in northern Gaza as a "tragedy" and voiced concern about the detention of some of its medical staff by Israeli forces during a WHO evacuation convoy. 

James Elder, a spokesperson from the UN Children's Agency in Gaza, told reporters by videolink that hospitals in Gaza were full of children with war wounds and gastroenteritis from drinking dirty water. 

"I met a lot of parents... They know exactly what their children need. They don't have access to safe water and it's crippling them," he said. 

He described seeing one child with part of his leg missing lying on the hospital floor for several hours, without receiving treatment for lack of medical staff. 


US Asking Israel to Avoid Civilian Displacements in Any South Gaza Offensive 

Displaced Palestinians gather next to tents sheltering people in Khan Yunis near the border fence between Israel and the southern Gaza Strip on November 27, 2023, amid a truce in battles between Israel and Hamas. (AFP)
Displaced Palestinians gather next to tents sheltering people in Khan Yunis near the border fence between Israel and the southern Gaza Strip on November 27, 2023, amid a truce in battles between Israel and Hamas. (AFP)
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US Asking Israel to Avoid Civilian Displacements in Any South Gaza Offensive 

Displaced Palestinians gather next to tents sheltering people in Khan Yunis near the border fence between Israel and the southern Gaza Strip on November 27, 2023, amid a truce in battles between Israel and Hamas. (AFP)
Displaced Palestinians gather next to tents sheltering people in Khan Yunis near the border fence between Israel and the southern Gaza Strip on November 27, 2023, amid a truce in battles between Israel and Hamas. (AFP)

The US is asking Israel to take greater care to protect civilians and limit damage to infrastructure if it launches an offensive in southern Gaza to avoid further displacements that would overwhelm humanitarian efforts, senior US officials said.

The Israeli offensive in northern Gaza has proven devastating, with thousands of Palestinians killed and vast numbers of survivors left homeless and forced to flee south by a relentless bombing campaign and a lack of essentials such as food, power and water.

As Israel begins to look toward south Gaza to continue battling Hamas militants after a pause in fighting to release hostages, US officials said they have been talking to the Israelis about taking greater care in the south, where there were now about 2 million people.

The message has been delivered from President Joe Biden on down, the officials told reporters on a conference call.

"We have reinforced this in very clear language with the government of Israel - very important that the conduct of the Israeli campaign when it moves to the south must be done in a way that is to a maximum extent not designed to produce significant further displacement of persons," one official said.

"You cannot have the sort of scale of displacement that took place in the north, replicated in the south. It will be beyond disruptive, it will be beyond the capacity of any humanitarian support network," the official said, adding: "It can't happen."

The official said the campaign needed to be "deconflicted" from power, water, humanitarian sites and hospitals in south and central Gaza, meaning avoid attacks on those types of infrastructure sites.

He said the Israelis had been receptive to the notion "that a different type of campaign has to be conducted in the south."

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Monday described an extended truce between Israel and Palestinian militants Hamas as "a glimpse of hope and humanity," but warned it was not enough time to meet the aid needs of the Gaza Strip.

Mediator Qatar said on Monday the initial four-day truce had been extended by two days, continuing a pause in seven weeks of warfare that has killed thousands and laid waste to the Palestinian enclave.

A second US official said Washington would like to see the humanitarian pause extended as long as possible.

The official said the first of three relief aid flights conducted by the US military would land in northern Sinai on Tuesday carrying badly needed supplies for Gaza, with two more planned in coming days.

The flights would bring medical items, food aid and winter items that would be delivered by the United Nations.

The officials said aid deliveries to Gaza were currently running at about 240 truckloads a day, but this was nowhere near enough to meet needs.

They said the effort would need to turn to commercial contracts to get deliveries up to 400 trucks a day and the US side had been discussing this with Israel.

"To get that volume of assistance, inspection procedures will need to be increased and enhanced and you're going to need to resort to commercial contracting within Gaza to meet the trucks coming in from Egypt," the first official said.

"We hope that after this pause concludes that can be phase two of the humanitarian program," he said.


Israeli Shell Hits Southern Lebanon Following Truce Extension 

US peacekeepers patrol next to a damage house in the Lebanese side of the Lebanese-Israeli border in the southern village of Marwahin, Lebanon, Saturday, Nov. 25, 2023. (AP)
US peacekeepers patrol next to a damage house in the Lebanese side of the Lebanese-Israeli border in the southern village of Marwahin, Lebanon, Saturday, Nov. 25, 2023. (AP)
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Israeli Shell Hits Southern Lebanon Following Truce Extension 

US peacekeepers patrol next to a damage house in the Lebanese side of the Lebanese-Israeli border in the southern village of Marwahin, Lebanon, Saturday, Nov. 25, 2023. (AP)
US peacekeepers patrol next to a damage house in the Lebanese side of the Lebanese-Israeli border in the southern village of Marwahin, Lebanon, Saturday, Nov. 25, 2023. (AP)

Lebanese media reported that an Israeli shell struck the outskirts of a town in south Lebanon on Tuesday, hours after a temporary truce between the Palestinian group Hamas and Israel was extended for two days. 

A spokesperson for the Israeli army said it was "currently not aware of such an incident". 

Lebanon's state-owned National News Agency and the Lebanese broadcaster al-Jadeed reported an Israeli shell had struck the outskirts of the town of Aita al-Shaab on Tuesday morning. Both outlets cited their correspondents as the source. 

Weeks of cross-border shelling between Israel and the Lebanese armed group Hezbollah came to a halt on Friday when the Palestinian group Hamas - a Hezbollah ally - and Israel agreed the temporary truce in their conflict which erupted on Oct. 7. 

A spokesperson for the UN peacekeeping force in Lebanon UNIFIL said it was looking into the reports.