Tebboune, Burhan Warn Against ‘Foreign Interferences’ in Sudan

Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune and Sudan's Sovereign Council General Abdulfattah al-Burhan in Algeria (Algerian Presidency)
Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune and Sudan's Sovereign Council General Abdulfattah al-Burhan in Algeria (Algerian Presidency)
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Tebboune, Burhan Warn Against ‘Foreign Interferences’ in Sudan

Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune and Sudan's Sovereign Council General Abdulfattah al-Burhan in Algeria (Algerian Presidency)
Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune and Sudan's Sovereign Council General Abdulfattah al-Burhan in Algeria (Algerian Presidency)

Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune affirmed his country's support for Sudan to overcome "difficult circumstances" and confront "evil forces" targeting it.
On Sunday, Tebboune received the Head of Sudan's Sovereign Council, General Abdulfattah al-Burhan, who started a two-day official visit to Algeria.
Tebboune received Burhan at the presidential headquarters, and together, they held bilateral talks and then chaired expanded discussions that included the two countries’ delegations.
During a joint press conference in Algiers, Tebboune asserted that Algeria "stands by Sudan to overcome the difficult circumstances and confront the forces of evil targeting it."
Tebboune said Algeria always supports Sudan, speaking of the "centuries-old relations" that unite their "two brotherly nations."
Burhan welcomed every action taken by Algeria, whether at the Arab or African level, to resolve the crisis in Sudan, warning that "Sudan is facing a conspiracy with the complicity of international and regional partners."
The Sudanese leader thanked Algeria, which he said had been "present at every Arab or regional discussion or negotiation."
Meanwhile, the Sudan Liberation Army Movement, led by Darfur governor Minni Arko Minawi, arrived Sunday in Gedaref, eastern Sudan.
Gedaref governor-designate, Mohamed Mahjoub, told the Sudan News Agency (SUNA) that Minawi's forces will participate with the Sudanese army to secure the country's state and eastern borders.
Mahjoub pointed out that the armed forces, the movement's forces, and the parties that signed the Juba Peace Agreement have been in coordination since they announced their support for the armed forces following the outbreak of war with the Rapid Support Forces (RSF).
The Sudan Liberation Army Movement's advisor for reconciliation and social peace, Brigadier General Yahya Hassanein, confirmed that his forces will support the armed forces in defending the country and ensure the unity of its people.
Hassanein said he was looking forward to increasing joint work with the state in many different aspects.
Furthermore, a delegation from the Coordination of Civil Democratic Forces (Taqaddum), led by former Prime Minister Abdullah Hamdok, is scheduled to head to South Sudan within days.
Taqaddum spokesman Alaeddine Naqd stated that Hamdok is expected to hold discussions with officials in Juba and President Salva Kiir Mayardit.
Naqd told Asharq Al-Awsat that the civil forces delegation will arrive in Juba at the end of this month to meet with South Sudan officials.
He explained that the meetings would discuss putting an end to the war and address South Sudan's role in achieving peace. He said officials are preparing for a meeting between the Taqaddum delegation and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement–North, led by Abdulaziz al-Hilu, and the Sudan Liberation Movement, led by Abdul Wahid Mohammad Nur.
The spokesman said the meetings aim to unify the forces opposed to the war, explaining that efforts are underway to organize a meeting with the two men.
Taqaddum sent two letters to Hilu and Nur calling them to a meeting to unify civil forces, and they responded by welcoming the efforts.
The Coordination also sent two letters to the Sudanese Communist Party and the Arab Socialist Baath Party for a meeting to unify efforts against war.
Sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that all components of Taqaddum are expected to participate in the Juba meetings.

The sources, who requested anonymity, said the broad participation aims to reflect diversity and present Taqaddum's road map and the Addis Ababa Declaration signed by the RSF leader.
They indicated that efforts are underway for a meeting between Burhan and Taqaddum's officials.



Belgian Agency Aid Worker Dies in Gaza

25 April 2024, Palestinian Territories, Rafah: Palestinians children walk next to a destroyed house following an Israeli airstrike. Photo: Abed Rahim Khatib/dpa
25 April 2024, Palestinian Territories, Rafah: Palestinians children walk next to a destroyed house following an Israeli airstrike. Photo: Abed Rahim Khatib/dpa
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Belgian Agency Aid Worker Dies in Gaza

25 April 2024, Palestinian Territories, Rafah: Palestinians children walk next to a destroyed house following an Israeli airstrike. Photo: Abed Rahim Khatib/dpa
25 April 2024, Palestinian Territories, Rafah: Palestinians children walk next to a destroyed house following an Israeli airstrike. Photo: Abed Rahim Khatib/dpa

An aid worker who was part of Belgium's development aid efforts in the Gaza Strip died in an Israeli strike on Rafah, the country's development minister, Caroline Gennez, said on Thursday.

"It is with deep sadness and horror that we learn of the death of our colleague Abdallah Nabhan (33) and his seven-year-old son Jamal, last night, following a bombardment by the Israeli army in the eastern part of the city of Rafah", the minister said in a statement.

Nabhan, whose nationality was not disclosed, worked for the Enabel agency, assisting small businesses, Reuters reported.
The statement said at least seven people were killed by the strike on a building that housed about 25 people, including displaced people from other parts of the Gaza Strip occupied by Israeli forces following an attack on Israel by Hamas last October.
"The indiscriminate bombing of civilian infrastructure and innocent civilians goes against every international and humanitarian law and the rules of war," Gennez said.


Biden Names New Special Envoy for Middle East Humanitarian Issues

Internally displaced Palestinians, who fled their homes due to the Israel-Hamas conflict, take shelter near the border with Egypt, in Rafah, southern Gaza Strip, 20 April 2024.  EPA/HAITHAM IMAD
Internally displaced Palestinians, who fled their homes due to the Israel-Hamas conflict, take shelter near the border with Egypt, in Rafah, southern Gaza Strip, 20 April 2024. EPA/HAITHAM IMAD
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Biden Names New Special Envoy for Middle East Humanitarian Issues

Internally displaced Palestinians, who fled their homes due to the Israel-Hamas conflict, take shelter near the border with Egypt, in Rafah, southern Gaza Strip, 20 April 2024.  EPA/HAITHAM IMAD
Internally displaced Palestinians, who fled their homes due to the Israel-Hamas conflict, take shelter near the border with Egypt, in Rafah, southern Gaza Strip, 20 April 2024. EPA/HAITHAM IMAD

US President Joe Biden on Thursday appointed Lise Grande as the new special envoy for Middle East humanitarian issues, the State Department said in a statement.

Grande, who replaces David Satterfield, is currently head of the independent US Institute of Peace.

She previously worked for the United Nations for more than 25 years, a career that included running aid operations in Yemen, Iraq and South Sudan.

The United Nations has long complained of obstacles to getting aid in and distributing it throughout Gaza in the six months since Israel began an aerial and ground offensive against the Gaza Strip's Hamas.

Israel's military campaign has reduced much of the territory of 2.3 million people to a wasteland with an unfolding humanitarian disaster since October, when Hamas ignited war by storming into southern Israel.

Satterfield said on Tuesday that Israel has taken significant steps in recent weeks on allowing aid into Gaza, but considerable work remained to be done as the risk of famine in the enclave is very high.


Ship Comes Under Houthi Attack off Coast of Yemen

FILED - 27 January 2024, Yemen, Gulf of Aden: The Marlin Luanda vessel on fire in the Gulf of Aden after it was reportedly struck by an anti-ship missile fired from a Houthi controlled area of Yemen. Photo: Indian Navy via ZUMA Wire/dpa
FILED - 27 January 2024, Yemen, Gulf of Aden: The Marlin Luanda vessel on fire in the Gulf of Aden after it was reportedly struck by an anti-ship missile fired from a Houthi controlled area of Yemen. Photo: Indian Navy via ZUMA Wire/dpa
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Ship Comes Under Houthi Attack off Coast of Yemen

FILED - 27 January 2024, Yemen, Gulf of Aden: The Marlin Luanda vessel on fire in the Gulf of Aden after it was reportedly struck by an anti-ship missile fired from a Houthi controlled area of Yemen. Photo: Indian Navy via ZUMA Wire/dpa
FILED - 27 January 2024, Yemen, Gulf of Aden: The Marlin Luanda vessel on fire in the Gulf of Aden after it was reportedly struck by an anti-ship missile fired from a Houthi controlled area of Yemen. Photo: Indian Navy via ZUMA Wire/dpa

A ship traveling in the Gulf of Aden came under attack Thursday, officials said, the latest assault likely carried out by Yemen's Houthis over Israel's ongoing war on Hamas in the Gaza Strip.
The attack comes after the US military said early Thursday an allied warship shot down a Houthi missile targeting a vessel the day before near the same area. The Houthis claimed Wednesday's assault, which comes after a period of relatively few attacks on shipping in the region over Israel’s ongoing war on Hamas in the Gaza Strip.
In Thursday's attack, a ship was targeted just over 25 kilometers (15 miles) southwest of Aden, the British military's United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations center said.
The captain “reports a loud bang heard and a splash and smoke seen coming from the sea,” the UKMTO said. “Vessel and all crew are safe.”
The attack was also reported by the private security firm Ambrey.
The Houthis did not immediately claim the attack, though it typically takes them hours to acknowledge an assault. European Union forces separately shot down a drone launched from Houthi territory on Thursday, Gen. Robert Brieger said.
The Houthis have launched more than 50 attacks on shipping, seized one vessel and sank another since November, according to the US Maritime Administration.
Houthi attacks have dropped in recent weeks as the group has been targeted by a US-led airstrike campaign in Yemen and shipping through the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden has declined because of the threat.
American officials have speculated that the Houthis may be running out of weapons as a result of the US-led campaign against them and firing off drones and missiles steadily in the last months.
However, Wednesday's attack was the first one by the Houthis in some time. An explosion struck some 130 kilometers (80 miles) southeast of Djibouti in the Gulf of Aden, the UKMTO said.
Early Thursday, the US military’s Central Command said the explosion came from a coalition warship shooting down the missile likely targeting the MV Yorktown, a US-flagged, owned and operated vessel with 18 US and four Greek crew members.
“There were no injuries or damage reported by US, coalition or commercial ships,” Central Command said.
Brig. Gen. Yahya Saree, a Houthi military spokesman, claimed the attack but insisted without evidence that the missile hit the Yorktown. Saree also claimed the Houthis targeted another ship in the Indian Ocean, without providing proof. The Houthis have made repeated claims that turned out to not be true during their yearslong war in Yemen.
The Houthis have said they will continue their attacks until Israel ends its war in Gaza, which has killed more than 34,000 Palestinians there. The war began after Hamas-led militants attacked Israel on Oct. 7, killing 1,200 people and taking some 250 others hostage.
Most of the ships targeted by the Houthis have had little or no direct connection to Israel, the US or other nations involved in the war.


Israel in 'Offensive Action' in South Lebanon

Lebanese villagers flash victory signs from their house which was hit by an Israeli airstrike, in Kfar Kila, a Lebanese border village with Israel, south Lebanon, Thursday, April 18, 2024. (AP Photo/Mohammed Zaatari)
Lebanese villagers flash victory signs from their house which was hit by an Israeli airstrike, in Kfar Kila, a Lebanese border village with Israel, south Lebanon, Thursday, April 18, 2024. (AP Photo/Mohammed Zaatari)
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Israel in 'Offensive Action' in South Lebanon

Lebanese villagers flash victory signs from their house which was hit by an Israeli airstrike, in Kfar Kila, a Lebanese border village with Israel, south Lebanon, Thursday, April 18, 2024. (AP Photo/Mohammed Zaatari)
Lebanese villagers flash victory signs from their house which was hit by an Israeli airstrike, in Kfar Kila, a Lebanese border village with Israel, south Lebanon, Thursday, April 18, 2024. (AP Photo/Mohammed Zaatari)

Israel said Wednesday its forces were carrying out "offensive action" in Lebanon after launching cross-border strikes targeting Hamas ally Hezbollah as Israeli aircraft and tanks pounded the Gaza Strip.
Since the Israel-Hamas war erupted on October 7, Lebanon's powerful Iran-backed Hezbollah group and Israeli forces have traded near-daily fire, heightening fears of a wider conflict breaking out, said AFP.
In war-battered Gaza, there has been mounting concern over Israeli plans to launch an assault on the southern Gazan city of Rafah, where 1.5 million people have sought refuge, many in makeshift encampments.
Aid groups warn any invasion would create catastrophic conditions for civilians. However, government spokesman David Mencer said Israel was "moving ahead" with its operation in Rafah, which Israeli officials have described as the "last" major Hamas stronghold where militants may be holding hostages.
Hamas meanwhile released a video of an Israeli-American man who was one of the 129 hostages Israel estimates remain in Gaza, a figure that includes 34 presumed dead.
Also on Wednesday, US President Joe Biden signed a bill authorizing $13 billion in military aid to close ally Israel.
The bill also included $1 billion in humanitarian aid for Gaza, which Biden demanded Israel allow reach Palestinians "without delay".
Middle East tensions remain high more than 200 days into the devastating war, which has also seen rising violence between Israel and Iran's proxies and allies in the region.
Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said that "many forces are deployed" along Israel's northern border, claiming the military has eliminated "half of Hezbollah's commanders in southern Lebanon" over months of violence.
Israel has struck increasingly deeper into Lebanon, while Hezbollah has stepped up rocket fire and drone attacks on Israeli military bases across the border.
Israeli forces are “currently carrying out offensive action throughout southern Lebanon", Gallant said, without specifying whether ground troops had crossed the border.
A spokesman for the United Nations peacekeeping force, UNIFIL, told AFP that "we didn't detect any ground crossing today."
The Israeli army had earlier said its forces struck around 40 Hezbollah targets in southern Lebanon, with Lebanese official media reporting at least 13 strikes on several villages.
The war in Gaza began with an unprecedented Hamas attack on October 7 that resulted in the deaths of around 1,170 people, according to an AFP tally of Israeli official figures.
In retaliation, Israel launched a military offensive that has killed at least 34,262 people in Gaza, mostly women and children, according to the Hamas-run territory's health ministry.


Israel Moving Forward with Rafah Assault to Pressure Hamas on Hostages

Palestinians mourn by the bodies of relatives killed in Israeli bombardment as they transport them for burial from the al-Najjar hospital in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, on April 25, 2024. (Photo by MOHAMMED ABED / AFP)
Palestinians mourn by the bodies of relatives killed in Israeli bombardment as they transport them for burial from the al-Najjar hospital in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, on April 25, 2024. (Photo by MOHAMMED ABED / AFP)
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Israel Moving Forward with Rafah Assault to Pressure Hamas on Hostages

Palestinians mourn by the bodies of relatives killed in Israeli bombardment as they transport them for burial from the al-Najjar hospital in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, on April 25, 2024. (Photo by MOHAMMED ABED / AFP)
Palestinians mourn by the bodies of relatives killed in Israeli bombardment as they transport them for burial from the al-Najjar hospital in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, on April 25, 2024. (Photo by MOHAMMED ABED / AFP)

Israel's biggest newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth said on Thursday that the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will move forward with plans for an all-out assault on Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip to pressure Hamas to resume hostage negotiations.

The daily said that Israel would attack Rafah to put more pressure on Hamas and increase chances for an agreement on the hostages who were taken by the militant group in its Oct. 7 attack on southern Israel.

On Wednesday, a spokesperson for Netanyahu's government said Israel was "moving ahead" with its plans for a ground operation on Rafah but gave no timeline.

The war, now in its seventh month, has killed more than 34,000 Palestinians, according to Gaza health authorities. The offensive has laid to waste much of the enclave, displacing most of its 2.3 million people and creating a humanitarian crisis.


Lebanon: Theft Gangs on Beirut Airport Road Terrify Passers-by

Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati and Interior Minister Bassam Mawlawi during a visit to Beirut airport on Wednesday (National News Agency)
Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati and Interior Minister Bassam Mawlawi during a visit to Beirut airport on Wednesday (National News Agency)
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Lebanon: Theft Gangs on Beirut Airport Road Terrify Passers-by

Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati and Interior Minister Bassam Mawlawi during a visit to Beirut airport on Wednesday (National News Agency)
Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati and Interior Minister Bassam Mawlawi during a visit to Beirut airport on Wednesday (National News Agency)

Lebanon’s airport road that links the country’s Rafik Hariri International Airport to the capital Beirut and to other areas has turned into a haven for outlaws and armed theft gangs leaving victims petrified and sometimes dead.
Months after security chaos, Lebanon’s security forces decided to take action and succeeded at arresting several members of these gangs mainly of Lebanese and Syrian nationalities. The arrests took place in the southern suburbs of Beirut and in the Bekaa region.
Sources following up closely on the file, said the “belated security awakening” came after a “green light” given by the Hezbollah party who lifted the cover off these gangs.
“These gangs roam freely in Hezbollah’s security square (in the southern suburb of Beirut). They have turned into a burden on the party. They tend to run into the southern suburbs for shelter each time they carry out a theft”, the sources said.
They tend to execute their crimes either late at night or at dawn fishing for people coming or heading to the airport, according to the sources.
A security source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told Asharq Al-Awsat that the armed gangs tend to carefully choose the timing when road traffic is low, taking strategic positions that make their escape an easy one.
He said: “More than thirty incidents have been reported since the beginning of the year”. The gangs “have exploited the absence of security presence on the airport road. Security forces do not patrol that area 24/7 like they used to before the economic crisis”.
Meanwhile, security and strategic expert, Naji Malaeb, told Asharq Al-Awsat that what is happening on the airport road is the result of self-imposed security that some people advocate for in Lebanon.
He said the southern suburbs area has turned into a haven for outlaws when Hezbollah turned it into a security zone outside the state’s control.
In March, a theft incident left a taxi driver dead inside the airport tunnel. Also, video footage circulating on social media recently showed two men, one of them carrying a rifle, on a motorbike chasing a man on a motorcycle.
A source close to Hezbollah denied claims that the party is providing shelter for those. He said the party provides the security forces with information about gangs.


Sisi Warns of ‘Catastrophic’ Consequences of an Israeli Assault on Rafah

FILED - 18 October 2023, Egypt, Cairo: President of Egypt Abdul Fattah al-Sisi is pictured in Cairo. Photo: Michael Kappeler/dpa Pool/dpa
FILED - 18 October 2023, Egypt, Cairo: President of Egypt Abdul Fattah al-Sisi is pictured in Cairo. Photo: Michael Kappeler/dpa Pool/dpa
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Sisi Warns of ‘Catastrophic’ Consequences of an Israeli Assault on Rafah

FILED - 18 October 2023, Egypt, Cairo: President of Egypt Abdul Fattah al-Sisi is pictured in Cairo. Photo: Michael Kappeler/dpa Pool/dpa
FILED - 18 October 2023, Egypt, Cairo: President of Egypt Abdul Fattah al-Sisi is pictured in Cairo. Photo: Michael Kappeler/dpa Pool/dpa

Egyptian President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi on Wednesday warned against any Israeli military assault on Rafah in the Gaza Strip.
Presidential spokesman Ahmed Fahmy said that Sisi’s concerns came during a telephone call with Prime Minister of the Netherlands Mark Rutte.

Sisi warned against what he described as “catastrophic” humanitarian consequences of any military act on Rafah, according to the Arab World Press.
The spokesman added in a statement published by the Egyptian presidency on its Facebook page that the war in Gaza must be brought to a halt, pointing to the dire consequences of an aggression against Rafah and its impact on regional peace and stability.
“It emphasizes the need for the international community to implement the related UN resolutions”, he said according to the statement.
Fahmy also pointed out that Sisi and Rutte stressed the need for joint swift efforts to reach a ceasefire in Gaza to allow the entry of humanitarian relief aid to the Palestinians in the Strip.
They also emphasized the importance of reaching a two-state solution to restore regional stability and peace.
On Tuesday, head of Egypt’s State Information Service Diaa Rashwan confirmed that Egypt has never discussed any plans with the Israeli side of a ground invasion on Rafah, denying reports published in US newspapers on this matter.
He stressed Egypt’s “firm and well-known” stance and complete rejection of this assault. “The Egyptian leadership has warned that any assault on Rafah will lead to massacres, heavy human losses, and widespread destruction", he stated.
Moreover, Egyptian security sources said that military and security coordination between Egypt and Israel over any Israeli incursion into Rafah did not mean approval of it.
Egypt welcomed the return of Palestinians northwards from Rafah, believing it to be in the interest of the population, the sources added.


White House Says ‘We Want Answers’ Over Reports of Mass Graves in Gaza

People and health workers unearth bodies found at Nasser Hospital in Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip on April 23, 2024. (Photo by AFP)
People and health workers unearth bodies found at Nasser Hospital in Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip on April 23, 2024. (Photo by AFP)
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White House Says ‘We Want Answers’ Over Reports of Mass Graves in Gaza

People and health workers unearth bodies found at Nasser Hospital in Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip on April 23, 2024. (Photo by AFP)
People and health workers unearth bodies found at Nasser Hospital in Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip on April 23, 2024. (Photo by AFP)

US officials have been in touch with Israeli counterparts about deeply disturbing reports of mass graves being found in Gaza, White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan said on Wednesday.

"Those reports were deeply disturbing," Sullivan said at a news briefing. "We have been in touch at multiple levels with the Israeli government. We want answers. We want to understand exactly what happened."

UN rights chief Volker Turk said on Tuesday he was "horrified" by the destruction of the Nasser and Al-Shifa medical facilities in Gaza and reports of mass graves containing hundreds of bodies there, according to a spokesperson.

Palestinian authorities reported finding hundreds of bodies in mass graves at Nasser hospital in Khan Younis this week after it was abandoned by Israeli troops. Bodies were also reported at the Al-Shifa site following an Israeli special forces operation.


Hamas Official Says Group Would Lay Down its Weapons If a Two-state Solution is Implemented

Senior Hamas leader Khalil al-Hayya is seen in the Egyptian capital Cairo on November 22, 2017. (AFP Photo/Mohamed El-Shahed)
Senior Hamas leader Khalil al-Hayya is seen in the Egyptian capital Cairo on November 22, 2017. (AFP Photo/Mohamed El-Shahed)
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Hamas Official Says Group Would Lay Down its Weapons If a Two-state Solution is Implemented

Senior Hamas leader Khalil al-Hayya is seen in the Egyptian capital Cairo on November 22, 2017. (AFP Photo/Mohamed El-Shahed)
Senior Hamas leader Khalil al-Hayya is seen in the Egyptian capital Cairo on November 22, 2017. (AFP Photo/Mohamed El-Shahed)

A top Hamas political official told The Associated Press the group is willing to agree to a truce of five years or more with Israel and that it would lay down its weapons and convert into a political party if an independent Palestinian state is established along pre-1967 borders.
The comments by Khalil al-Hayya in an interview Wednesday came amid a stalemate in months of cease-fire talks. The suggestion that Hamas would disarm appeared to be a significant concession by the militant group officially committed to Israel’s destruction.
But it's unlikely Israel would consider such a scenario. It has vowed to crush Hamas following the deadly Oct. 7 attacks that triggered the war, and its current leadership is adamantly opposed to the creation of a Palestinian state on lands Israel captured in the 1967 Mideast war.
Al-Hayya, a high-ranking Hamas official who has represented the Palestinian militants in negotiations for a cease-fire and hostage exchange, struck a sometimes defiant and other times conciliatory tone.
Speaking to the AP in Istanbul, Al-Hayya said Hamas wants to join the Palestine Liberation Organization, headed by the rival Fatah faction to form a unified government for Gaza and the West Bank. He said Hamas would accept “a fully sovereign Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip and the return of Palestinian refugees in accordance with the international resolutions,” along Israel’s pre-1967 borders.
If that happens, he said, the group's military wing would dissolve.
“All the experiences of people who fought against occupiers, when they became independent and obtained their rights and their state, what have these forces done? They have turned into political parties and their defending fighting forces have turned into the national army,” he said.
Over the years, Hamas has sometimes moderated its public position with respect to the possibility of a Palestinian state alongside Israel. But its political program still officially “rejects any alternative to the full liberation of Palestine, from the river to the sea" — referring to the area reaching from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea, which includes lands that now make up Israel.
Al-Hayya did not say whether his apparent embrace of a two-state solution would amount to an end to the Palestinian conflict with Israel or an interim step toward the group’s stated goal of destroying Israel.
There was no immediate reaction from Israel or the Palestinian Authority — the internationally recognized self-ruled government that Hamas drove out when it seized Gaza in 2007, a year after winning Palestinian parliamentary elections. After the Hamas takeover of Gaza, the Palestinian Authority was left with administering semi-autonomous pockets of the Israeli-occupied West Bank.
The Palestinian Authority hopes to establish an independent state in the West Bank, east Jerusalem and Gaza — areas captured by Israel in the 1967 Mideast war. While the international community overwhelmingly supports such a two-state solution, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s hard-line government rejects it.
The war in Gaza has dragged on for nearly seven months and cease-fire negotiations have stalled. The war began with the deadly Oct. 7 attack on southern Israel in which the Hamas-led group killed about 1,200 people, mostly civilians. Hamas dragged some 250 hostages into the enclave. The ensuing Israeli bombardment and ground offensive in Gaza has killed more than 34,000 Palestinians, most of them women and children, according to local health authorities, and displaced some 80% of Gaza's population of 2.3 million.
Israel is now preparing for an offensive in the southern city of Rafah, where more than 1 million Palestinians have fled to.
Israel says it has dismantled most of the initial two dozen Hamas battalions since the start of the war, but that the four remaining ones are holed up in Rafah. Israel argues that a Rafah offensive is necessary to achieve victory over Hamas.
Al-Hayya said such an offensive would not succeed in destroying Hamas. He said contacts between the political leadership outside and military leadership inside Gaza are “uninterrupted” by the war and “contacts, decisions and directions are made in consultation" between the two groups.
Israeli forces "have not destroyed more than 20% of (Hamas’) capabilities, neither human nor in the field,” he asserted. “If they can’t finish (Hamas) off, what is the solution? The solution is to go to consensus.”
In November, a weeklong cease-fire saw the release of more than 100 hostages in exchange for thousands of Palestinian prisoners held in Israel. But talks for a longer-term truce and release of the remaining hostages are now frozen, with each side accusing the other of intransigence.
Israeli and US officials have accused Hamas of not being serious about a deal.
Al-Hayya denied this, saying Hamas has made concessions regarding the number of Palestinian prisoners it wants released in exchange for the remaining Israeli hostages. He said the group does not know exactly how many hostages remain in Gaza and are still alive.
But he said Hamas will not back down from its demands for a permanent cease-fire and full withdrawal of Israeli troops, both of which Israel has balked at. Israel says it will continue military operations until Hamas is definitively defeated and will retain a security presence in Gaza afterwards.
“If we are not assured the war will end, why would I hand over the prisoners?” the Hamas leader said of the remaining hostages.
Al-Hayya also implicitly threatened that Hamas would attack Israeli or other forces who might be stationed around a floating pier the US is scrambling to build along Gaza's coastline to deliver aid by sea.
“We categorically reject any non-Palestinian presence in Gaza, whether at sea or on land, and we will deal with any military force present in these places, Israeli or otherwise ... as an occupying power,” he said.
Al-Hayya said Hamas does not regret the Oct. 7 attacks, despite the destruction it has brought down on Gaza and its people. He denied that Hamas had targeted civilians during the attacks — despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary — and said the operation succeeded in its goal of bringing the Palestinian issue back to the world’s attention.
And, he said, Israeli attempts to eradicate Hamas would ultimately fail to prevent future Palestinian armed uprisings.
"Let’s say that they have destroyed Hamas. Are the Palestinian people gone?” he asked.


US Coalition Warship Shoots Down Missile Fired by Yemen's Houthis over Gulf of Aden

A handout photo, made available on 21 November 2023, by the Houthi Military Media Center, depicts Houthi helicopter flying over the cargo ship 'Galaxy Leader' as they seize it in the Red Sea off the coast of Hodeidah. Photo: -/dpa
A handout photo, made available on 21 November 2023, by the Houthi Military Media Center, depicts Houthi helicopter flying over the cargo ship 'Galaxy Leader' as they seize it in the Red Sea off the coast of Hodeidah. Photo: -/dpa
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US Coalition Warship Shoots Down Missile Fired by Yemen's Houthis over Gulf of Aden

A handout photo, made available on 21 November 2023, by the Houthi Military Media Center, depicts Houthi helicopter flying over the cargo ship 'Galaxy Leader' as they seize it in the Red Sea off the coast of Hodeidah. Photo: -/dpa
A handout photo, made available on 21 November 2023, by the Houthi Military Media Center, depicts Houthi helicopter flying over the cargo ship 'Galaxy Leader' as they seize it in the Red Sea off the coast of Hodeidah. Photo: -/dpa

A warship — part of a US-led coalition protecting shipping in the Mideast — intercepted an anti-ship ballistic missile fired over the Gulf of Aden on Wednesday, the American military said, marking a new attack by Yemen's Houthis after a recent lull.
The Houthis claimed the assault, which comes after a period of relatively few attacks on shipping in the region over Israel's ongoing war on Hamas in the Gaza Strip, The Associated Press said.
The explosion happened some 130 kilometers (80 miles) southeast of Djibouti in the Gulf of Aden, the British military's United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations center said in a statement.
Early Thursday, the US military's Central Command said a coalition warship shot down the missile likely targeting the MV Yorktown, a US-flagged, owned and operated vessel with 18 US and four Greek crew members.
“There were no injuries or damage reported by US, coalition or commercial ships," Central Command said.
Brig. Gen. Yahya Saree, a Houthi military spokesman, claimed the attack but insisted without evidence that the missile hit the Yorktown. Saree also claimed the Houthis targeted another ship in the Indian Ocean, without providing proof. The Houthis have made repeated claims that turned out to not be true during their yearslong war in Yemen.
The Houthis have launched more than 50 attacks on shipping, seized one vessel and sank another since November, according to the US Maritime Administration.
Houthi attacks have dropped in recent weeks as the militias have been targeted by a US-led airstrike campaign in Yemen and shipping through the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden has declined because of the threat. American officials have speculated that the Houthis may be running out of weapons as a result of the US-led campaign against them and firing off drones and missiles steadily in the last months.
The Houthis have said they would continue their attacks until Israel ends its war in Gaza.
The ships targeted by the Houthis largely have had little or no direct connection to Israel, the US or other nations involved in the war. The group has also fired missiles toward Israel, though they have largely fallen short or been intercepted.