Turkish Military Vehicle Hit by Improvised Explosive Device

Turkish soldiers in a tank and an armored vehicle patrol on the road to the town of Beytussebab in the southeastern Sirnak province, Turkey, September 28, 2015. REUTERS/Stringer
Turkish soldiers in a tank and an armored vehicle patrol on the road to the town of Beytussebab in the southeastern Sirnak province, Turkey, September 28, 2015. REUTERS/Stringer
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Turkish Military Vehicle Hit by Improvised Explosive Device

Turkish soldiers in a tank and an armored vehicle patrol on the road to the town of Beytussebab in the southeastern Sirnak province, Turkey, September 28, 2015. REUTERS/Stringer
Turkish soldiers in a tank and an armored vehicle patrol on the road to the town of Beytussebab in the southeastern Sirnak province, Turkey, September 28, 2015. REUTERS/Stringer

A Turkish military vehicle was hit by an improvised explosive device in the southeastern province of Hakkari, killing one soldier, security sources said on Monday.

According to a Reuters report, the device was detonated by militants of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) as the vehicle was passing the road near Turkey's border with Iraq, the sources said.

Turkey's largely Kurdish southeast has been rocked by violence following the collapse of a 2-1/2-year ceasefire between the state and the PKK in 2015. The autonomy-seeking PKK took up arms in 1984, and more than 40,000 people have died in the conflict. It is considered a terrorist organization by Turkey, the United States and the European Union.

On that note, the US embassy issued statement reiterating its stance on the PKK and its jailed leader, Abdullah Ocalan.

“The US government works together with Turkey in the fight against terrorism and maintenance of stability in the region,” it said on Twitter.

“The PKK is listed among foreign terror organizations. Ocalan has been jailed in Turkey for his actions related to the PKK. He is not a person to be respected.”

Ocalan has been in jail in Turkey since 1999 on a treason conviction. More than 40,000 people, most of them Kurds, have died in the fighting since the PKK took up arms against the state in 1984.

The PKK is considered a terrorist organization by each of the United States, Turkey and the European Union.



Syrians Lead Push to Create Global Chemical Weapons Tribunal

20 August 2023, Syria, Idlib: Children play next to a destroyed building with a mural painted on it during a commemoration event for the 10th anniversary of the Ghouta chemical attack. Photo: Anas Alkharboutli/dpa
20 August 2023, Syria, Idlib: Children play next to a destroyed building with a mural painted on it during a commemoration event for the 10th anniversary of the Ghouta chemical attack. Photo: Anas Alkharboutli/dpa
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Syrians Lead Push to Create Global Chemical Weapons Tribunal

20 August 2023, Syria, Idlib: Children play next to a destroyed building with a mural painted on it during a commemoration event for the 10th anniversary of the Ghouta chemical attack. Photo: Anas Alkharboutli/dpa
20 August 2023, Syria, Idlib: Children play next to a destroyed building with a mural painted on it during a commemoration event for the 10th anniversary of the Ghouta chemical attack. Photo: Anas Alkharboutli/dpa

Illegal chemical weapons attacks killed and injured thousands during Syria's civil war, many of them children, but more than a decade later the perpetrators go unpunished.
That could change under an initiative to create a new tribunal for such atrocities launched in The Hague on Thursday.
A dozen Syrian rights groups, international legal experts and others have quietly spent two years laying the groundwork for a new treaty-based court which could put on trial alleged users of banned toxic agents worldwide, Reuters said.
"The tribunal for us Syrians is hope," said Safaa Kamel, 35, a teacher from the Jobar suburb of Syria's capital Damascus, recalling the Aug. 21, 2013, sarin gas attack in the Ghouta district which killed more than 1,000 people, many in their sleep.
"The symptoms that we had were nausea, vomiting, yellowing of the face, some fainting. Even among the little ones. There was so much fear," she told Reuters from Afrin, a northwest Syrian town where she sought refuge. "We'll never be able to erase from our memories how they were all lined up."
Many diplomatic and expert meetings between states have been held to discuss the proposal, including the political, legal and funding feasibility, documents seen by Reuters showed.
Diplomats from at least 44 countries across all continents have been engaged in the discussions, some of them at ministerial level, said Ibrahim Olabi, a British-Syrian barrister, a key figure behind the initiative.
"While it's Syrians that are calling for it, for the use of chemical weapons in Syria, if states so wish, it could be far beyond Syria," Olabi told Reuters.
The Exceptional Chemical Weapons Tribunal proposal was launched on Nov. 30, the day victims of chemical attacks are remembered worldwide. The next step will be for states to agree on the wording of a treaty.
"SOME KIND OF JUSTICE"
The use of chemical weapons is banned under the Geneva Conventions that codified the laws of war. That ban was strengthened by the 1997 Chemical Weapons Convention, a non-proliferation treaty joined by 193 states which is overseen by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).
But political division over the Syrian war at the OPCW and the United Nations led to the blocking of efforts to bring accountability for the widespread violations in international law in hundreds of suspected chemical attacks.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's government has denied using chemical weapons against its opponents in the civil war, which broke out in March 2011 and has now largely settled into a stalemate. Its information ministry did not respond to a Reuters request for comment.
Countries including France have opened prosecutions under so-called universal jurisdiction for war crimes, but in those situations where the International Criminal Court is not able to act there is no legal body that can prosecute individual suspects of chemical weapons use globally.
"Having those voices say 'we need some kind of justice ...I think that's going to be powerful," Dapo Akande, a British barrister and member of the United Nations International Law Commission, told Reuters.
There have been international courts for war crimes, from the Balkans to Rwanda and Lebanon, but none that focused on the specific crime of deploying chemical weapons, Akande said.
"It would be trying to fill a gap in the sense that it would essentially be for cases where the International Criminal Court is unable to exercise jurisdiction. And that would, I think, be particularly innovative about it."
The ICC, the world's permanent war crimes court in The Hague, has no jurisdiction in Syria.
The OPCW has the power to investigate claims of chemical weapons use and in some cases identify alleged perpetrators, but it has no prosecutorial powers. It said in January that Syria was responsible for an attack in Douma in 2018 that killed 43 people.
A UN-OPCW Joint Investigative Mechanism (JIM) found that the Syrian government used the nerve agent sarin in an April 2017 attack and has repeatedly used chlorine as a weapon. It blamed ISIS militants for mustard gas use.
Syria's ally Russia has repeatedly vetoed attempts to extend the JIM's mandate, which expired in November 2017.
TEN YEARS LATE
For Dr. Mohamad Salim Namour, who helped treat hundreds of patients after the 2013 Ghouta attack, the images of the choking and dying still bring him to tears. He recalled one child survivor lying among the bodies ask him: "Am I still alive?"
"We feel bitter that accountability is coming ten years late...We hope that we don't have to wait another 10 years," he told Reuters in The Hague.
"Let international law and justice take its course."
Only a tiny fraction of about 200 investigations into Syrian war crimes conducted by mostly European countries relate to chemical attacks, the UN body tasked with investigating Syria crimes, the International, Impartial and Independent Mechanism (IIIM) told Reuters.
IIIM head Catherine Marchi-Uhel said there are not enough justice opportunities for chemical weapons attacks in Syria and that her agency was ready to work with a new court.
"An international body with dedicated resources and a team that has developed expertise on building cases around chemical weapons incidents might be well placed to deal with these types of cases," she said.


Israel and Hamas Agree to Extend Temporary Truce

A Palestinian man sits in an armchair outside a destroyed building in Gaza City on Wednesday, Nov. 29, 2023, the sixth day of the temporary cease-fire between Hamas and Israel. (AP Photo/Mohammed Hajjar)
A Palestinian man sits in an armchair outside a destroyed building in Gaza City on Wednesday, Nov. 29, 2023, the sixth day of the temporary cease-fire between Hamas and Israel. (AP Photo/Mohammed Hajjar)
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Israel and Hamas Agree to Extend Temporary Truce

A Palestinian man sits in an armchair outside a destroyed building in Gaza City on Wednesday, Nov. 29, 2023, the sixth day of the temporary cease-fire between Hamas and Israel. (AP Photo/Mohammed Hajjar)
A Palestinian man sits in an armchair outside a destroyed building in Gaza City on Wednesday, Nov. 29, 2023, the sixth day of the temporary cease-fire between Hamas and Israel. (AP Photo/Mohammed Hajjar)

Israel and Hamas struck a last-minute agreement on Thursday to extend their six-day ceasefire by at least one more day to allow negotiators to keep working on deals to swap hostages held in Gaza for Palestinian prisoners.
The truce has allowed much needed humanitarian aid into Gaza after much of the coastal territory of 2.3 million was reduced to wasteland in response to a deadly rampage by Hamas militants into southern Israel on Oct. 7, said Reuters.
"In light of the mediators' efforts to continue the process of releasing the hostages and subject to the terms of the framework, the operational pause will continue," the Israeli military said in a statement, released minutes before the temporary truce was due to expire at 0500 GMT.
Hamas, which freed 16 hostages in exchange for 30 Palestinian prisoners on Wednesday, said in a statement the truce would continue for a seventh day.
The conditions of the ceasefire, including the halt of hostilities and the entry of humanitarian aid, remain the same, according to a foreign ministry spokesperson from Qatar, which has been a key mediator between the warring sides, along with Egypt and the United States.
"A short time ago, Israel was given a list of women and children in accordance with the terms of the agreement, and therefore the truce will continue," the Israeli prime minister’s office said in a statement.
Hamas earlier said Israel had refused to receive a further seven women and children and the bodies of three other hostages in exchange for extending the truce.
Hamas had said a family of three Israeli hostages, including the youngest hostage, 10-month-old Kfir Bibas, had been killed during Israel's bombardment of the enclave.
Before the agreement, both Israel and Hamas had said they were ready to resume fighting.
Ninety-seven hostages have been freed since the start of the truce, according to a Reuters tally. The Israeli military says 145 hostages remain in Gaza.
On Wednesday night, two Russian citizens and four Thai citizens were released outside the framework of the agreement while the 10 Israeli citizens freed included five dual nationals, officials said. They were a Dutch dual citizen, who is also a minor, three German dual citizens and one US dual citizen.
DIPLOMATIC PUSH
Israel has sworn to annihilate Hamas, which rules Gaza, in response to the Oct. 7 rampage by the militant group, when Israel says gunmen killed 1,200 people and took 240 hostages.
Before the truce, Israel bombarded the territory for seven weeks and killed more than 15,000 Palestinians, according to health authorities in the coastal strip.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken had arrived in Tel Aviv earlier on Thursday, his third trip to the region since the Oct. 7 attack, to discuss extending the pause in fighting.
US President Joe Biden was determined to secure the release of all hostages held by Hamas after American Liat Beinin was freed on Wednesday, the White House said in a statement.
The US is urging Israel to narrow the zone of combat and clarify where Palestinian civilians can seek safety during any Israeli operation in southern Gaza, US officials said on Wednesday, to prevent a repeat of the massive death toll from Israel's northern Gaza attacks.
Jordan will host a conference attended by the main UN, regional and international relief agencies on Thursday to coordinate aid to Gaza, official media said.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned on Wednesday the Gaza Strip was in the midst of an "epic humanitarian catastrophe," and he and others called for a ceasefire to replace the temporary truce.
China called on the Security Council on Thursday to formulate a "concrete" timetable and roadmap for a two-state solution to achieve a "comprehensive, just and lasting" settlement of the Palestinian issue


Jordan Says to Host a Conference to Coordinate Aid to Gaza

Palestinians gather as they wait to receive flour bags distributed by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) during a temporary truce between Hamas and Israel, in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip, November 29, 2023. (Reuters)
Palestinians gather as they wait to receive flour bags distributed by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) during a temporary truce between Hamas and Israel, in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip, November 29, 2023. (Reuters)
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Jordan Says to Host a Conference to Coordinate Aid to Gaza

Palestinians gather as they wait to receive flour bags distributed by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) during a temporary truce between Hamas and Israel, in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip, November 29, 2023. (Reuters)
Palestinians gather as they wait to receive flour bags distributed by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) during a temporary truce between Hamas and Israel, in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip, November 29, 2023. (Reuters)

Jordan will host on Thursday an international conference attended by the main UN bodies and regional and international relief agencies to coordinate humanitarian aid to war-devastated Gaza, official media said.

They said UN aid chief Martin Griffiths and key UN bodies and NGO's involved in ramping up aid to Gaza will be present at the conference, along with representatives of Western and Arab countries involved in the aid effort.


UN Chief Says Gaza in Midst of ‘Epic Humanitarian Catastrophe’

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres listens during a UN Security Council meeting on the situation in the Middle East, and the Israel-Hamas war at the United Nations headquarters on November 29, 2023 in New York City. (AFP)
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres listens during a UN Security Council meeting on the situation in the Middle East, and the Israel-Hamas war at the United Nations headquarters on November 29, 2023 in New York City. (AFP)
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UN Chief Says Gaza in Midst of ‘Epic Humanitarian Catastrophe’

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres listens during a UN Security Council meeting on the situation in the Middle East, and the Israel-Hamas war at the United Nations headquarters on November 29, 2023 in New York City. (AFP)
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres listens during a UN Security Council meeting on the situation in the Middle East, and the Israel-Hamas war at the United Nations headquarters on November 29, 2023 in New York City. (AFP)

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Wednesday said the Gaza Strip was in the midst of an "epic humanitarian catastrophe", urging the world not to look away.

"Intense negotiations are taking place to prolong the truce – which we strongly welcome - but we believe we need a true humanitarian ceasefire," he told a meeting of the UN Security Council, chaired by China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi because China is president of the 15-member council for November.

Last-minute negotiations were continuing between Israel and Palestinian militants Hamas on Wednesday to extend a truce in Gaza.

Guterres briefed the council on the implementation of a resolution it adopted earlier this month that called for humanitarian pauses in fighting to allow aid access and the release of all hostages held by Hamas.

The United Nations has scaled up the delivery of humanitarian aid to Gaza - a coastal enclave of 2.3 million people - during the truce, but Guterres said the level of aid "remains completely inadequate to meet the huge needs."

"The people of Gaza are in the midst of an epic humanitarian catastrophe before the eyes of the world," he said. "We must not look away."

Several Arab foreign ministers also travelled to New York and were due to address the council later on Wednesday.

"The truce must become a ceasefire, a permanent ceasefire. The massacres cannot be allowed to resume," Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki told the Security Council.

"Our people are faced with an existential threat. Make no mistake about it. With all the talk about the destruction of Israel, it is Palestine that is facing a plan to destroy it, implemented in broad daylight," he said.

"Anyone who supports a ceasefire basically support Hamas continued reign of terror in Gaza. Hamas is a genocidal terror organization - they don't hide it - not a reliable partner for peace," Israel's UN Ambassador Gilad Erdan told the Security Council.

Israel says Hamas militants killed 1,200 people and took about 240 hostage in a surprise assault on Oct. 7. Israel has focused its retaliation against Hamas in Gaza, bombarding it from the air, imposing a siege and launching a ground assault.


Israeli Official Says Hamas Has Enough Hostages to Cover 2-3 Day Truce Extension

Palestinians look at the houses destroyed in Israeli strikes during the conflict, amid the temporary truce between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas, at Khan Younis refugee camp, in the southern Gaza Strip, November 29, 2023. (Reuters)
Palestinians look at the houses destroyed in Israeli strikes during the conflict, amid the temporary truce between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas, at Khan Younis refugee camp, in the southern Gaza Strip, November 29, 2023. (Reuters)
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Israeli Official Says Hamas Has Enough Hostages to Cover 2-3 Day Truce Extension

Palestinians look at the houses destroyed in Israeli strikes during the conflict, amid the temporary truce between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas, at Khan Younis refugee camp, in the southern Gaza Strip, November 29, 2023. (Reuters)
Palestinians look at the houses destroyed in Israeli strikes during the conflict, amid the temporary truce between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas, at Khan Younis refugee camp, in the southern Gaza Strip, November 29, 2023. (Reuters)

Israel believes Hamas has enough women and children hostages to allow the current pause in fighting in Gaza to be extended by another two to three days, an official involved in the negotiating process said on Wednesday.

"We know for a fact that there are additional hostages in the hands of Hamas for at least two more days, potentially three days from the list of women and children," said the official, who spoke on condition that he not be named.

"Any additional agreement would be conditional on first of all releasing these remaining women and children and only then could we negotiate follow-on agreements," he said.

The official made the remark on the last day of a two-day extension to the original pause in fighting agreed to allow hostages held by Hamas to be exchanged for Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails.

"We are of course fully prepared to resume fighting, but our preference would be to continue," the official said.

On Wednesday, he said Hamas was expected to release 10 Israeli hostages and another two hostages with joint Israeli and Russian citizenship who were being freed under a separate agreement between the movement and Russia.


WHO Says Gaza’s Health System Must Be Protected as Disease Spreads

A mosque destroyed in Israeli strikes during the conflict lies in ruin, amid a temporary truce between the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas and Israel, in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip November 29, 2023. (Reuters)
A mosque destroyed in Israeli strikes during the conflict lies in ruin, amid a temporary truce between the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas and Israel, in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip November 29, 2023. (Reuters)
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WHO Says Gaza’s Health System Must Be Protected as Disease Spreads

A mosque destroyed in Israeli strikes during the conflict lies in ruin, amid a temporary truce between the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas and Israel, in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip November 29, 2023. (Reuters)
A mosque destroyed in Israeli strikes during the conflict lies in ruin, amid a temporary truce between the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas and Israel, in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip November 29, 2023. (Reuters)

The World Health Organization (WHO) on Wednesday called for Gaza's vulnerable health infrastructure to be safeguarded as the war-torn enclave faces an increased risk of epidemics and challenges in detecting infectious diseases.

A fragile truce agreement between Israel and Hamas last week has allowed WHO and aid organizations to increase their deliveries of essential supplies but these have been far from enough to meet the needs of Gaza's 2.3 million people.

Speaking at a press conference in Geneva, World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said only 15 of Gaza's 36 hospitals were still functioning and were completely overwhelmed.

"Of the 25 hospitals north of the Wadi Gaza (river) before the conflict began, only three are functioning at the most basic level, but they lack fuel, water and food," Tedros said.

"The remaining health system capacity must be protected, supported and expanded."

WHO has sounded the alarm about the spread of infectious disease in Gaza, where the internal displacement of the population has caused overcrowding in shelters and other temporary living facilities.

The agency has noted a staggering increase in cases of diarrhea, especially among infants and children, and detected "very serious signals around acute jaundice syndrome" in the enclave.

"With severe overcrowding, the risks are increasing for epidemics of respiratory tract infections, acute watery diarrhea, hepatitis, scabies, lice and other diseases," Tedros said.

Tedros, who said that 1.3 million people were currently living in shelters in Gaza, said the enclave had recorded 111,000 acute respiratory infections, 24,000 cases of skin rash and 12,000 cases of scabies since the conflict began.

Mike Ryan, head of WHO's Health Emergencies Program, said the detection of infectious diseases in Gaza had become more complicated given that samples could not longer be sent to Israel or the West Bank for processing.

"Not only has Gaza lost its hospital capability, it has lost its ability to confirm even the most basic of diseases," he said. "This creates a blindspot where we have huge risk of epidemic diseases."

The WHO welcomed the extension of the truce but said the prospect of the conflict flaring up again was very high and could further harm the health system.

"Any resumption of violence could damage the health facilities and make more health facilities dysfunctional," said Richard Peeperkorn, WHO Representative in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

"Gaza can absolutely not afford to lose more hospital beds... We need to make the vulnerable system work again."


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.