Heavy Fighting across Gaza as Israel Presses Ahead with Renewed US Military, Diplomatic Support

Smoke rises following an Israeli airstrike on Gaza's al-Shuja'ia district as seen from Nahal Oz, Israel, 09 December 2023. EPA/ATEF SAFADI
Smoke rises following an Israeli airstrike on Gaza's al-Shuja'ia district as seen from Nahal Oz, Israel, 09 December 2023. EPA/ATEF SAFADI
TT

Heavy Fighting across Gaza as Israel Presses Ahead with Renewed US Military, Diplomatic Support

Smoke rises following an Israeli airstrike on Gaza's al-Shuja'ia district as seen from Nahal Oz, Israel, 09 December 2023. EPA/ATEF SAFADI
Smoke rises following an Israeli airstrike on Gaza's al-Shuja'ia district as seen from Nahal Oz, Israel, 09 December 2023. EPA/ATEF SAFADI

Heavy fighting raged Sunday across Gaza, including in the devastated north, as Israel pressed ahead with its offensive after the US blocked the latest international push for a ceasefire and rushed more munitions to its close ally.

Israel has faced rising international outrage and calls for a permanent cease-fire after the killing of thousands of Palestinian civilians. About 90% of Gaza's 2.3 million people have been displaced within the besieged territory, where UN agencies say there is no safe place to flee.

The United States has lent vital support to the offensive once again in recent days, by vetoing United Nations Security Council efforts to end the fighting that enjoyed wide international support, and by pushing through an emergency sale of over $100 million worth of tank ammunition to Israel.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu thanked US President Joe Biden for the “important ammunition for the continuation of the war."

The US has pledged unwavering support for Israel's goal of crushing Hamas' military and governing abilities, and returning all the hostages captured in the Oct. 7 attack that triggered the war. Hamas and other Palestinian militants stormed into southern Israel that day, killing some 1,200 people and capturing around 240, over 100 of whom were released during a weeklong ceasefire late last month.

Israel's air and ground war in response has killed thousands of Palestinians, mostly civilians, and forced some 1.9 million people to flee their homes. With a trickle of aid allowed in, and delivery impossible in much of the territory, Palestinians face severe shortages of food, water and other basic goods.

"Expect public order to completely break down soon, and an even worse situation could unfold including epidemic diseases and increased pressure for mass displacement into Egypt,” UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told a forum in Qatar, a key intermediary.

Qatar’s prime minister, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, told the forum that mediation efforts will continue to stop the war and have all hostages released, but “unfortunately, we are not seeing the same willingness that we had seen in the weeks before.”

Israel's national security adviser, Tzachi Hanegbi, told Israel's Channel 12 TV that the US has set no deadline for Israel to achieve its goals of dismantling Hamas and returning all hostages.

“The evaluation that this can’t be measured in weeks is correct, and I’m not sure it can be measured in months,” he said.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken told CNN that “we have these discussions with Israel including about the duration as well as how it’s prosecuting this campaign against Hamas. These are decisions for Israel to make."

This is a war that cannot be won, Jordan’s foreign minister, Ayman Safadi, asserted to the Qatar forum, and warned that “Israel has created an amount of hatred that will haunt this region that will define generations to come.”

FIGHTING AND ARRESTS IN THE NORTH Israeli forces face heavy resistance, even in northern Gaza, where neighborhoods have been flattened by air strikes and where ground troops have operated for over six weeks.

Israel’s Channel 13 TV broadcast footage showing dozens of detainees stripped to their underwear, hands in the air. Several held assault rifles above their heads, and one man walked forward and placed a gun on the ground.

Other videos have shown groups of unarmed men held in similar conditions, without clothes, bound and blindfolded. Detainees from a group who were released Saturday told The Associated Press they had been beaten and denied food and water.

Israel has not commented on the latest video or the allegations of mistreatment, but government spokesman Eylon Levy said “increasing numbers” of Hamas fighters were surrendering.

Residents said there was still heavy fighting in the Gaza City neighborhood of Shijaiyah and the Jabaliya refugee camp, a dense urban area housing Palestinian families who fled or were driven out of what is now Israel during the 1948 war surrounding its creation.

“They are attacking anything that moves,” said Hamza Abu Fatouh, a Shijaiyah resident. He said the dead and wounded were left in the streets as ambulances could no longer reach the area, where Israeli snipers and tanks positioned themselves among abandoned buildings.

“The resistance also fights back,” he added.

Israel ordered the evacuation of the northern third of the territory, including Gaza City, early in the war, but tens of thousands of people have remained, fearing that the south would be no safer or that they would never be allowed to return to their homes.

Heavy fighting was also underway in and around the southern city of Khan Younis.

WAITING DAYS FOR FOOD The price of food has soared as much of Gaza faces severe shortages. Abdulsalam al-Majdalawi said he had come every day for nearly two weeks to a UN distribution center, hoping to get food for his family of seven.

“Every day, we spend five or six hours here and return home (empty handed),” he said. “Thank God, today they drew our name.”

With the war in its third month, the Palestinian death toll in Gaza has surpassed 17,700, the majority women and children, according to the Health Ministry in the Hamas-controlled territory. The ministry does not differentiate between civilian and combatant deaths.

Israel holds Hamas responsible for civilian casualties, saying the militants put civilians in danger by fighting in dense, residential neighborhoods. The military says 97 Israeli soldiers have died in the ground offensive. Palestinian militants have continued firing rockets into Israel.

Netanyahu’s office said Hamas still has 117 hostages, as well as the remains of 20 people killed in captivity or during the Oct. 7 attack. The militants hope to exchange them for Palestinians imprisoned by Israel.

Israel says it has provided detailed instructions for civilians to evacuate to safer areas, even as it strikes what it says are militant targets in all parts of the territory. Thousands have fled to the southern town of Rafah and other areas along the border with Egypt — one of the last areas where aid agencies are able to deliver food and water.

The war has raised tensions across the region, with Lebanon's Hezbollah trading fire with Israel along the border and other Iran-backed militant groups targeting the US in Syria and Iraq.

France said one of its warships in the Red Sea shot down two drones that approached it from Yemen, where Iran-backed Houthi rebels have vowed to halt Israeli shipping through the key waterway.

Israel’s national security adviser said Israel would give Western allies “some time” to organize a response but if the threats persist, “we will act to remove this blockade.”



Bodies Found at Gaza Hospital, Israel Wows to 'Increase Pressure' on Hamas

Palestinian health workers dig for bodies buried by Israeli forces in Nasser hospital compound in Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip on April 21, 2024. (Photo by AFP)
Palestinian health workers dig for bodies buried by Israeli forces in Nasser hospital compound in Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip on April 21, 2024. (Photo by AFP)
TT

Bodies Found at Gaza Hospital, Israel Wows to 'Increase Pressure' on Hamas

Palestinian health workers dig for bodies buried by Israeli forces in Nasser hospital compound in Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip on April 21, 2024. (Photo by AFP)
Palestinian health workers dig for bodies buried by Israeli forces in Nasser hospital compound in Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip on April 21, 2024. (Photo by AFP)

Gaza's civil defense said Sunday dozens of bodies had been found buried at a Gaza hospital complex previously raided by Israel, as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to ramp up military pressure on Hamas.

Netanyahu, who threatened action "in the coming days" but did not specify, has repeatedly said the Israeli army will launch a ground assault on Rafah despite international concern for civilians who have taken refuge in the southern city.

Gaza's civil defense agency said its teams had discovered 50 bodies since Saturday buried in the courtyard of the Nasser Medical Complex in Gaza's main southern city of Khan Yunis.

"We are continuing the search operation today and are waiting for all graves to be exhumed in order to give a final number of martyrs," Mahmud Bassal, spokesman for the civil defence agency, told AFP.

"There were no clothes on some bodies, which certainly indicates (the victims) faced torture and abuse," Bassal said.

Israel's military said it was checking the reports.

Hamas in a statement said the 50 bodies were exhumed from what it called a "mass grave of those executed in cold blood and buried with military bulldozers in the hospital's courtyard".

Israel pulled its ground forces from Khan Yunis on April 7 after carrying out what it called a "precise and limited operation" at the hospital, one of Gaza's biggest.

Hospitals in Gaza have faced the brunt of the Israeli assault, with the military accusing Hamas of using the facilities as command centers and to hold hostages abducted in the October 7 attack, claims denied by the Palestinian militants.

On Sunday, an AFP photographer saw civil defense crews exhuming human remains from the courtyard, while grieving relatives collected bodies wrapped in white.

Netanyahu, in a video statement on the eve of the Jewish holiday of Passover, said Israel "will deliver additional and painful blows" to Hamas.

"In the coming days we will increase the military and political pressure on Hamas because this is the only way to free our hostages," he said.

Israel estimates 129 captives remain in Gaza after the October 7 Hamas attack, including 34 who the military says are dead.

The army has said at least some of the hostages are held in Rafah, so far been spared an Israeli invasion and where most of Gaza's 2.4 million people have sought shelter.


Two Palestinians Killed by Israeli Troops in West Bank

Palestinians inspect the damage following an Israeli raid at Nur Shams camp, in Tulkarm, in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, April 21, 2024. REUTERS/Ammar Awad
Palestinians inspect the damage following an Israeli raid at Nur Shams camp, in Tulkarm, in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, April 21, 2024. REUTERS/Ammar Awad
TT

Two Palestinians Killed by Israeli Troops in West Bank

Palestinians inspect the damage following an Israeli raid at Nur Shams camp, in Tulkarm, in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, April 21, 2024. REUTERS/Ammar Awad
Palestinians inspect the damage following an Israeli raid at Nur Shams camp, in Tulkarm, in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, April 21, 2024. REUTERS/Ammar Awad

Israeli forces shot dead two Palestinian teenagers in the occupied West Bank Sunday, the Palestinian health ministry said, as the army confirmed it "neutralized" two attackers who fired at soldiers.

The incident, after numerous deaths during an Israeli raid further north in the Palestinian territory, added to a two-year surge of violence in the West Bank that has accelerated since the war in Gaza began on October 7.

The Palestinian health ministry in Ramallah said the deaths of the two Palestinians were "caused by occupation (Israeli army) bullets.”

It identified the two as Muhammad Majid Musa Jabareen, 19, and Musa Mahmud Musa Jabareen, 18.

According to the Israeli army, one of them attempted to stab soldiers that were in the area, “who responded with live fire and neutralized him."

At the same time, the other Palestinian “opened fire at the soldiers, who responded with live fire and neutralized him too,” the military said.

The official Palestinian news agency Wafa reported that the latest incident occurred at the entrance to the village of Beit Einun near the city of Hebron.

Quoting two Palestinian security sources, Wafa reported that the men succumbed to their wounds after they were fired on.

Following the incident troops stormed Beit Einun and raided several homes, the agency reported.

On Saturday, Israeli forces killed 14 Palestinians during a raid in the West Bank, while an ambulance driver was killed as he went to pick up wounded from a separate attack by violent Jewish settlers, Palestinian authorities said.
Israeli forces began an extended raid in the early hours of Friday in the Nur Shams area, near the flashpoint Palestinian city of Tulkarm and exchanged fire with armed fighters well into Saturday.


Israeli Strikes on Southern Gaza City of Rafah Kill 22, Mostly Children

A Palestinian woman checks the rubble of a home hit by overnight Israeli bombing in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on April 20, 2024, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas. (Photo by AFP)
A Palestinian woman checks the rubble of a home hit by overnight Israeli bombing in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on April 20, 2024, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas. (Photo by AFP)
TT

Israeli Strikes on Southern Gaza City of Rafah Kill 22, Mostly Children

A Palestinian woman checks the rubble of a home hit by overnight Israeli bombing in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on April 20, 2024, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas. (Photo by AFP)
A Palestinian woman checks the rubble of a home hit by overnight Israeli bombing in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on April 20, 2024, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas. (Photo by AFP)

Israeli strikes on the southern Gaza city of Rafah overnight killed 22 people, including 18 children, health officials said Sunday.

Israel has carried out near-daily air raids on Rafah, where more than half of Gaza's population of 2.3 million has sought refuge from fighting elsewhere. It has also vowed to expand its ground offensive to the city on the border with Egypt despite international calls for restraint, including from the US.

The first Israeli strike in Rafah killed a man, his wife and their 3-year-old child, according to the nearby Kuwaiti Hospital, which received the bodies. The woman was pregnant and the doctors managed to save the baby, the hospital said.
The second strike killed 17 children and two women, all from an extended family, according to hospital records. Mohammed al-Beheiri said his daughter, Rasha, and her six children, the youngest 18 months old, were among those killed. Her husband's second wife and their three children were still under the rubble, al-Beheiri said.

The Israel-Hamas war has killed over 34,000 Palestinians, according to local health officials, devastated Gaza's two largest cities and left a swath of destruction across the territory. Around 80% of the population have fled their homes to other parts of the besieged coastal enclave, which experts say is on the brink of famine.


Abbas: US Veto Against Palestine Full UN Membership is ‘Regrettable, Irresponsible’

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas (dpa)
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas (dpa)
TT

Abbas: US Veto Against Palestine Full UN Membership is ‘Regrettable, Irresponsible’

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas (dpa)
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas (dpa)

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Saturday termed the US veto at the Security Council against his country’s request for full membership in the UN as “disappointing, regrettable, shameful, irresponsible, and unjustified.”

In an interview with the official Palestinian news agency Wafa, the President said the US veto to block the resolution, which was introduced by Algeria, constitutes a blatant aggression against the rights, history, land, and sanctities of the Palestinian people, challenging the will of the international community.

“While the world agrees on the application of international law and stands by the Palestinian right, America continues to support the occupation, refusing to compel Israel to stop its genocidal war,” Abbas said.

“It provides Israel with weapons and funds,” the President added.

He then accused Washington of abandoning all promises regarding the two-state solution and achieving peace in the region.

“The Palestinian leadership will reconsider bilateral relations with the US to ensure the protection of our people’s interests, our cause, and our rights,” he affirmed.

Abbas warned that the entire region is heading towards further instability in the absence of a just solution to the Palestinian cause, based on Palestinian, Arab and international frameworks.

The US on Thursday vetoed a resolution at the UN Security Council that would have paved the way for the state of Palestine to gain full membership at the United Nations.

The vote in the 15-member Council was 12 in favor and two abstentions – the UK and Switzerland.


Lebanese Gangs Control Crossings on Syria Border

Lebanese-Syrian border crossing (Central News Agency)
Lebanese-Syrian border crossing (Central News Agency)
TT

Lebanese Gangs Control Crossings on Syria Border

Lebanese-Syrian border crossing (Central News Agency)
Lebanese-Syrian border crossing (Central News Agency)

The story of Lebanese Forces coordinator Pascal Sleiman’s murder on April 7 is still unfolding. His body was found in a Syrian village near Lebanon’s Hermel district, where stolen cars often cross into Syria from Lebanon due to lax border control.

This incident isn’t isolated; investigations show the perpetrators moved freely from Jbeil to Lebanese villages near Hermel.

Recently, during daylight hours, unidentified individuals kidnapped Syrian Mohammed Ghasab on the international road between the Lebanese towns of Riyaq and Baalbek, near Brital town’s entrance.

They took him into Syria through an illegal crossing, having lured him via social media ads about traveling to Europe. The General Directorate of Internal Security Forces had warned against such traps set by professional gangs.

Ghasab’s wife, Nariman Al-Munawar, received a ransom demand of $35,000 to release him, with instructions to send photos of the cash.

Speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat, Al-Munawar reaffirmed that she’s struggling to provide for her five children and wonders how she’ll come up with the ransom money.

Lebanon still struggles to control its border with Syria, where Syrian villages have become havens for criminal gangs involved in drug trafficking, car theft, and even human trafficking.

These areas, inhabited mostly by Lebanese, operate independently from state control.

They're connected to Lebanon and Syria by 17 illegal crossings, each with names like Alam Crossing and Nasser al-Din Crossing.

Lebanese authorities can only access these areas by coordinating with Syrian security, and vice versa.

Around 8,000 people live in these villages.

An unnamed security source told Asharq Al-Awsat that smuggling of humans, food, and stolen cars between Syria and Lebanon is rampant through these border crossings.

Gangs dealing in drugs and weapons operate freely in these areas, with visible weapons and no authority to stop them.

This activity spans a 22-kilometer border stretch from Al-Qaa to Saqiet al-Jisr, reaching the North Lebanon Governorate’s borders.

Despite efforts to control the borders, the situation remains chaotic.


UN Warns: Crisis of ‘Epic Proportions’ in Sudan

Undersecretary-General Rosemary DiCarlo briefs the 15-member Security Council on the situation in Sudan (UN)
Undersecretary-General Rosemary DiCarlo briefs the 15-member Security Council on the situation in Sudan (UN)
TT

UN Warns: Crisis of ‘Epic Proportions’ in Sudan

Undersecretary-General Rosemary DiCarlo briefs the 15-member Security Council on the situation in Sudan (UN)
Undersecretary-General Rosemary DiCarlo briefs the 15-member Security Council on the situation in Sudan (UN)

The year-old war in Sudan between the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) led by Gen. Abdel Fattah Burhan, and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) commanded by Mohammed Hamdan Dagalo, has sparked a crisis of epic proportions fueled by weapons from foreign supporters who continue to flout UN sanctions aimed at helping end the conflict, the UN political chief has said.

Briefing the 15-member Security Council on the situation in Sudan, Undersecretary-General Rosemary DiCarlo said Friday that fighting has spread to other parts of the country, especially urban areas and the western Darfur region.

She then painted a dire picture of the war's impact of over 14,000 dead, tens of thousands wounded, looming famine with 25 million people in need of life-saving assistance, and over 8.6 million forced to flee their homes.

Man-Made Crisis

DiCarlo said that since April 15, 2023, the Sudanese people have endured unbearable suffering.

She mentioned reports of widespread use of sexual violence as a weapon of war, the recruitment of children by parties to the conflict and the extensive use of torture and prolonged arbitrary detention by both parties.

“Thousands of homes, schools, hospitals, and other essential civilian infrastructure have been destroyed. The war has wrecked large swathes of the country’s productive sectors, crippling the economy,” the UN political chief told the Security Council.

In short, DiCarlo described the situation in Sudan as “a crisis of epic proportions. It is also wholly man-made.”

Dire Picture

Echoing that point, Mohamed Ibn Chambas, High Representative for the Silencing the Guns initiative of the African Union Commission, said external interference has been “a major factor” stymying efforts to negotiate a ceasefire and to stop the war.

“External support in terms of supply of war materiel and other means has been the main reason why this war has lasted for so long,” he said via videolink from Post Sudan. “It is the elephant in the room.”

“Yet, the ongoing year-long war has already set Sudan back several decades, he said.

Neither DiCarlo nor Chambas named any of the foreign supporters.

But report said Iran could have sold drones for government forces. Also, the RSF leader, Dagalo, has reportedly received support from Russia's Wagner mercenary group. UN experts said in a recent report that the RSF has also received support from Arab allied communities and new military supply lines running through Chad, Libya and South Sudan.

Al Fasher and Darfur

Edem Wosornu, the UN humanitarian office's director of operations, said, “I find it particularly distressing to see what has happened in Sudan, given where the country was before this conflict started. A safe refuge for more than 1 million refugees. A regional hub for medical facilities and universities. So much of this is now gone.”

Speaking on behalf of UN Emergency Relief Coordinator Martin Griffiths, she called on all warring parties to uphold their obligations under international law.

“Extremely concerning levels of conflict-related sexual violence continue to be reported, and aid workers, health workers and local volunteers are being killed, injured, harassed and arrested with impunity,” she said.

In addition, the spiraling violence in recent weeks poses an extreme and immediate danger to the 800,000 civilians who reside in El Fasher and risks triggering further clashes in other parts of Darfur, where more than nine million people are in dire need of assistance, she added.


US Senators Urge Biden to Impose Magnitsky Sanctions on Sudan's Hemedti

Sudan’s Rapid Support Forces (RSF) leader General Mohamed Hamdan ‘Hemedti’ Dagalo (Reuters)
Sudan’s Rapid Support Forces (RSF) leader General Mohamed Hamdan ‘Hemedti’ Dagalo (Reuters)
TT

US Senators Urge Biden to Impose Magnitsky Sanctions on Sudan's Hemedti

Sudan’s Rapid Support Forces (RSF) leader General Mohamed Hamdan ‘Hemedti’ Dagalo (Reuters)
Sudan’s Rapid Support Forces (RSF) leader General Mohamed Hamdan ‘Hemedti’ Dagalo (Reuters)

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee has written an open letter to US President Joe Biden, calling on him to swiftly determine whether or not he intends to impose sanctions under the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act with respect to Sudan’s Rapid Support Forces (RSF) and its leader, General Mohamed Hamdan ‘Hemedti’ Dagalo, both accused of gross violations of internationally recognized human rights.

The letter was written by Michael McCaul, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Benjamin Cardin, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Senator Jim Risch, ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Senator Gregory Meeks, ranking member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

“We jointly request a determination pursuant to the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act of whether Sudan's RSF and its Commander have engaged in activity described in subsection of that Act, such as gross violations of internationally recognized human rights committed against human rights defenders and persons seeking to expose illegal activity by government officials,” the Senators said in the letter.

War Crimes

The bi-partisan letter, which follows the one-year anniversary of the war in Sudan between the RSF and the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF), mentioned that on December 6, 2023, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the RSF had committed war crimes, crimes against humanity, and ethnic cleansing since the outbreak of fighting in Sudan on April 15, 2023.

The Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act authorizes sanctions against foreign persons who commit gross violations of internationally recognized human rights against individuals seeking: to expose illegal activity carried out by government officials; or to obtain, exercise, defend, or promote internationally recognized human rights and freedoms.

“The actions of the RSF and Hemedti, including those described above, more than meet that threshold,” the Senators affirmed.

RSF’s Financial Networks

The Senators then urged Biden to examine the RSF’s financial networks and sources of revenue, such as gold smuggling, and relationships with Russia and Wagner Group, and to assess whether they are also deserving of sanction under the Magnitsky Act for acts of significant corruption by government officials in Sudan.

The letter mentioned that on September 6, 2023, the US Department of Treasury sanctioned Abdelrahim Hamdan Dagalo, Hemedti's brother, as a leader of the RSF. It had also imposed visa restrictions on RSF General Abdul Rahman Juma.

It also stated that gunmen in RSF uniforms abducted and killed human rights activist and lawyer Ahmed Mohammed Abdullah and his colleague Adam Omer in Nyala, South Sudan, while Khamis Abdullah Abakar, the governor of West Darfur, was assassinated while he was in the custody of the RSF, just hours after he had criticized the RSF in a television interview, describing its actions as “genocide.”

In the letter, the Senators also said human rights lawyers, defenders, and democracy activists in El Geneina, West Darfur, faced targeted threats and killings by the RSF and allied militia, including Mohammed Ahmed Kudia, a member of the Darfur Network of Monitors, Khamis Arabab, a member of the Darfur Bar Association, Khidir Sulieman Abdelmageed, the head of the human rights organization Afkar, Abd Elrazeg Adam Mohammed, a member of the Darfur Network of Monitors, Tareg Hassan Yagoub Elmalik, a founding member of the Darfur Bar Association and El Sadeg Mohammed Ahmed Haroun, a member of the Darfur Bar Association who had filed cases against the RSF for its attacks on the Krinding IDP camp in 2021 and 2022.

Also, there have been numerous reported incidents of the RSF targeting journalists, the letter said, adding that the RSF arbitrarily detained dozens of civilians, including political activists.

Aid

On Friday, Senator Cardin delivered a speech on the Senate floor marking one year since the onset of civil war in Sudan, and called on the US and its international partners to ramp up humanitarian assistance for war-affected Sudanese and for impacted populations in surrounding countries.

Cardin also urged the House of Representatives to pass the national security supplemental without delay to bring needed aid to its partners around the world.


Israeli Troops Raid West Bank Refugee Camp, Gaza Fighting Continues

 An ambulance is seen near an Israeli military vehicle during an Israeli raid, at Nur Shams camp, in Tulkarm, in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, April 20, 2024. (Reuters)
An ambulance is seen near an Israeli military vehicle during an Israeli raid, at Nur Shams camp, in Tulkarm, in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, April 20, 2024. (Reuters)
TT

Israeli Troops Raid West Bank Refugee Camp, Gaza Fighting Continues

 An ambulance is seen near an Israeli military vehicle during an Israeli raid, at Nur Shams camp, in Tulkarm, in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, April 20, 2024. (Reuters)
An ambulance is seen near an Israeli military vehicle during an Israeli raid, at Nur Shams camp, in Tulkarm, in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, April 20, 2024. (Reuters)

Israeli forces fought Palestinian gunmen in the occupied West Bank on Saturday in the second day of a raid that has so far left at least two people dead, the Palestinian Health Ministry said, while fighting also continued in Gaza.

Israeli forces launched the raid on the Nur Shams area, near the Palestinian city of Tulkarm, on Friday. A number of gunmen were killed and more arrested, the Israeli military said, and at least four soldiers were wounded in fire exchanges.

Tulkarm Brigades group, which includes fighters from numerous Palestinian factions, said its members were still exchanging fire with Israeli forces on Saturday. At least three drones were seen hovering above Nur Shams, where Israeli military vehicles were massed and bursts of gunfire were heard.

In Gaza, Israeli strikes hit the southern city of Rafah, where over one million Palestinians are sheltering, as well as Al-Nuseirat in central Gaza, where at least five houses were destroyed, and the Al-Jabalia area in the north, health officials and Hamas media said.

The Israeli military said troops were carrying out raids in central Gaza, where they were engaged in close quarter combat with Palestinian fighters. Overall, Israeli strikes in Gaza killed 37 Palestinians and wounded 68 over the past 24 hours, Palestinian health authorities said.

Fighting has continued in Gaza despite the withdrawal of most of Israel's combat forces earlier this month from southern areas.

Rafah is the last Gaza area that Israeli ground forces have not entered in a more than six-month war aimed at eliminating the Hamas group that rules the enclave, following the Hamas attack on southern Israel on Oct. 7.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has faced wide international opposition to the plan to attack Rafah, where the military says the last remaining organized brigades of Hamas are located and where the remaining 133 Israeli hostages are believed to be held.

The Gaza war has overshadowed continuing violence in the West Bank and east Jerusalem, including regular army raids on militant groups, rampages by Jewish settlers in Palestinian villages, and street attacks by Palestinians on Israelis.

The Palestinian Health Ministry has confirmed the deaths of two people since Friday in Nur Shams, an area that houses refugees from the 1948 war and their descendants. One fatality was identified by Palestinian sources as a gunman. The second was a 16-year-old schoolboy, according to Palestinian officials.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas condemned the United States for effectively stopping the United Nations from recognizing a Palestinian state by casting a veto this week in the Security Council.

In an interview with the official Palestinian news agency WAFA, Abbas said the Palestinian Authority would reconsider bilateral relations with the United States.

The West Bank and Gaza are among the territories that the Palestinians seek for an independent state. US-brokered peace talks broke down a decade ago.


Palestinians to Reconsider US Ties after Veto of Bid for Full UN Membership, Abbas says

 Protesters attend a pro-Palestinian demonstration outside Barclays bank, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas, in London, Britain, April 20, 2024. (Reuters)
Protesters attend a pro-Palestinian demonstration outside Barclays bank, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas, in London, Britain, April 20, 2024. (Reuters)
TT

Palestinians to Reconsider US Ties after Veto of Bid for Full UN Membership, Abbas says

 Protesters attend a pro-Palestinian demonstration outside Barclays bank, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas, in London, Britain, April 20, 2024. (Reuters)
Protesters attend a pro-Palestinian demonstration outside Barclays bank, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas, in London, Britain, April 20, 2024. (Reuters)

The Palestinian Authority will reconsider bilateral relations with the US after Washington vetoed a Palestinian request for full United Nations membership, President Mahmoud Abbas said in an interview with the official WAFA news agency.

Earlier, China's foreign minister Wang Yi on Saturday said efforts to admit a Palestinian state into the United Nations were a move to rectify a prolonged injustice, state media Xinhua reported.

He made the comments at a joint press conference with his Papua New Guinea counterpart during a visit to country.

The United States on Thursday effectively stopped the UN from recognizing a Palestinian state by casting a veto in the Security Council.

"A prompt admission of Palestine into the United Nations is a move to rectify a prolonged historical injustice," Xinhua quoted Wang as saying.


Egypt Calls on Iran and Israel to Exercise Restraint

FILED - 19 October 2023, Egypt, Cairo: Egyptian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sameh Shoukry speaks during a press conference at Tahrir Palace. Photo: Stringer/dpa
FILED - 19 October 2023, Egypt, Cairo: Egyptian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sameh Shoukry speaks during a press conference at Tahrir Palace. Photo: Stringer/dpa
TT

Egypt Calls on Iran and Israel to Exercise Restraint

FILED - 19 October 2023, Egypt, Cairo: Egyptian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sameh Shoukry speaks during a press conference at Tahrir Palace. Photo: Stringer/dpa
FILED - 19 October 2023, Egypt, Cairo: Egyptian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sameh Shoukry speaks during a press conference at Tahrir Palace. Photo: Stringer/dpa

Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry on Saturday urged both Iran and Israel to exercise restraint amid high tensions in the Middle East.
Shoukry said “we are concerned about ongoing escalation in the region.
Separately, Shoukry said Egypt would host a Turkish delegation to prepare for a visit by Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to Türkiye in the near future.
Open fighting began April 1 with the suspected Israeli killing of Iranian generals at an Iranian diplomatic compound in Syria. That prompted Iran's retaliatory barrage last weekend of more than 300 missiles and drones that the US, Israel and regional and international partners helped bat down without significant damage in Israel. And then came Friday's apparent Israeli strike that hit near military and nuclear targets deep in the heart of Iran.