UN Envoy Expresses Disappointment with Syrian Regime over Geneva Talks Failure

UN Special Envoy to the Secretary General for Syria Staffan de Mistura. (Reuters)
UN Special Envoy to the Secretary General for Syria Staffan de Mistura. (Reuters)
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UN Envoy Expresses Disappointment with Syrian Regime over Geneva Talks Failure

UN Special Envoy to the Secretary General for Syria Staffan de Mistura. (Reuters)
UN Special Envoy to the Secretary General for Syria Staffan de Mistura. (Reuters)

United Nations mediator Staffan de Mistura expressed his disappointment on Thursday with the failure of the Geneva peace talks, describing them as a big missed opportunity.

He said at the end of the talks that there may be a new round next month if new ideas can be found to encourage Bashar Assad's regime to engage.

"I will probably need to come up with new ideas, parameters, about how to move the talks forward, particularly on constitution and elections," de Mistura said, adding that plans for Geneva talks in January depended on the outcome of discussions at the UN in New York next week.

“The goal we had was to bring about real negotiations,” de Mistura told a news conference. “Let me be frank. We did not achieve, we did not achieve these negotiations. In other words, negotiations in reality did not take place.

“I would conclude by saying (it was) a big missed opportunity. A golden opportunity at the end of this year when in fact there is a clear indication by many sides that the military operations are coming to a close,” he added.

De Mistura voiced milder disappointment with the Syrian opposition, after they arrived in Geneva ruling out any future role for Assad. But he said that tough public stance had been tempered by a mature position in the closed-door discussions.

De Mistura said he was leaving Geneva for consultations in New York with UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, followed by a meeting with the UN Security Council on Tuesday.

Earlier, Syrian regime negotiator Bashar al-Jaafari accused the opposition of sabotaging the latest Geneva talks.

Jaafari said Damascus did not want the talks to fail but the opposition had put down a precondition with a declaration that Assad had no role in Syria’s political transition.

De Mistura said the regime had wanted him to insist that the opposition withdraw the statement.

“That was not possible or a logical approach because to me it sounded like a precondition. The regime engaged me with only on (discussions about) terrorism. The truth is there is not one single subject they accepted except that one.”

Later on Thursday, the Syrian opposition urged from Geneva de Mistura to openly declare the sides that were responsible for the failure of the negotiations.

“The regime is challenging and undermining the international community,” said chief negotiator Nasser al-Hariri.

“We are committed to the political solution to the conflict,” he added, but warning that “the Geneva talks are on the verge of collapse and the world should mobilize to save them.”



UN Ends Political Mission in Sudan Where Conflict Continues

The United Nations headquarters building is seen from inside the General Assembly hall, on Sept. 21, 2021. (AP)
The United Nations headquarters building is seen from inside the General Assembly hall, on Sept. 21, 2021. (AP)
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UN Ends Political Mission in Sudan Where Conflict Continues

The United Nations headquarters building is seen from inside the General Assembly hall, on Sept. 21, 2021. (AP)
The United Nations headquarters building is seen from inside the General Assembly hall, on Sept. 21, 2021. (AP)

The United Nations Security Council voted Friday to end its political mission of a few hundred people dedicated to ending the civil war in Sudan.

Russia abstained from the unanimous vote to end UNITAMS, the United Nations Integrated Transition Assistance Mission in Sudan. The United States' and United Kingdom's ambassadors expressed dismay over the decision to pull out from Sudan but said the move was inevitable, given the Sudanese government's desire to end the mission's presence.

While the United States voted in favor of this resolution in order to enable a safe and orderly drawdown, US deputy ambassador Robert Wood said, “we are gravely concerned that a reduced international presence in the Sudan will only serve to embolden the perpetrators of atrocities.”

A paramilitary group known as the Rapid Support Forces has been at war against the Sudanese military since mid-April, when months of tension exploded into open fighting in the capital, Khartoum, and other urban areas.

The conflict has wrecked the country and forced more than 6 million people out of their homes, either to safer areas inside Sudan or to neighboring countries.

United Nations officials say that the UN will keep trying to help Sudanese people with the continuing presence of various humanitarian agencies.

“What is clear and what should be clear to everyone is that the United Nations is not leaving Sudan,” UN spokesman Stéphane Dujarric told reporters on Thursday.

But the end of UNITAMS removes a tool, albeit a flawed one, for trying to bring a measure of stability to Sudan, said Cameron Hudson, a former US official specializing in Africa and now a senior associate at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

“What we are looking at now is potentially an extended period of time when there is no overarching UN presence in the country,” Hudson said Friday.


Israeli Strikes Kill Over 175 People in Gaza after Cease-fire Ends

Palestinians carry wounded children following an Israeli strike on a house, after a temporary truce between Hamas and Israel expired, in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip December 1, 2023. REUTERS/Hatem Khaled
Palestinians carry wounded children following an Israeli strike on a house, after a temporary truce between Hamas and Israel expired, in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip December 1, 2023. REUTERS/Hatem Khaled
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Israeli Strikes Kill Over 175 People in Gaza after Cease-fire Ends

Palestinians carry wounded children following an Israeli strike on a house, after a temporary truce between Hamas and Israel expired, in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip December 1, 2023. REUTERS/Hatem Khaled
Palestinians carry wounded children following an Israeli strike on a house, after a temporary truce between Hamas and Israel expired, in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip December 1, 2023. REUTERS/Hatem Khaled

Israeli strikes on houses and buildings have killed at least 178 people throughout the Gaza Strip in the first hours of fighting after a weeklong truce collapsed Friday, according to the Health Ministry there.
Israel said it struck more than 200 Hamas targets. Militants in Gaza resumed firing rockets into Israel, and fighting broke out between Israel and Hezbollah militants operating along Israel's northern border with Lebanon, The Associated Press said.
Cease-fire mediator Qatar said efforts are ongoing to renew the truce, which saw Israel pause most military activity in Gaza and release 300 Palestinian prisoners in exchange for Hamas freeing over 100 hostages held in Gaza.
Weeks of Israeli bombardment and a ground campaign have left homeless more than three-quarters of Gaza's 2.3 million residents, causing a humanitarian crisis as they face widespread shortages of food, water and other supplies. No trucks carrying aid entered Gaza from Egypt on Friday, Palestinians authorities said.
Up until the truce began, more than 13,300 Palestinians have been killed — roughly two-thirds of them women and minors — according to the Health Ministry in Hamas-ruled Gaza. The toll is likely much higher. Some 1,200 Israelis were killed, mostly during Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack on Israel that triggered the war.


At Climate Summit, Türkiye, South Africa Hit Out at Israel over Gaza War

 South Africa President Cyril Ramaphosa speaks during a plenary session at the COP28 UN Climate Summit, Friday, Dec. 1, 2023, in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. (AP)
South Africa President Cyril Ramaphosa speaks during a plenary session at the COP28 UN Climate Summit, Friday, Dec. 1, 2023, in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. (AP)
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At Climate Summit, Türkiye, South Africa Hit Out at Israel over Gaza War

 South Africa President Cyril Ramaphosa speaks during a plenary session at the COP28 UN Climate Summit, Friday, Dec. 1, 2023, in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. (AP)
South Africa President Cyril Ramaphosa speaks during a plenary session at the COP28 UN Climate Summit, Friday, Dec. 1, 2023, in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. (AP)

As the ceasefire between Israel and Hamas collapsed, some world leaders at the UN climate summit criticized Israel on Friday and called for the Gaza war to end, while US and UK officials held meetings on the conflict on the gathering's sidelines.

The war's prominence in speeches at the Dubai event served to highlight international divisions over the bloodshed and presented a distraction for a summit where nations are trying to find consensus on the shared threat posed by climate change.

"While discussing the climate crisis, we cannot ignore the humanitarian crisis unfolding in the Palestinian territories right beside us," Türkiye’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told leaders during his formal speech to the COP28 conference.

"The current situation in Gaza constitutes a war crime and a crime against humanity; those responsible must be held accountable under international law," he said.

South Africa's President Cyril Ramaphosa echoed the sentiment.

"South Africa is appalled by the cruel tragedy that is under way in Gaza. The war against the innocent people of Palestine is a war crime that must be ended now," he said in his address.

Jordan's King Abdullah II said it was difficult to focus on global warming while the fighting was going on.

"This year's conference of the parties must recognize even more than ever that we cannot talk about climate change in isolation from the humanitarian tragedies unfolding around us," he said.

A group of demonstrators at the conference, some wearing shirts that spelled "ceasefire", chanted "Free Palestine". Elsewhere on the summit grounds, a display of shoes was meant to represent the thousands killed in Gaza.

An Israeli official told Reuters the military was abiding by international law and was intent on destroying the militant group Hamas.

"Today was pretty awful," Mohammed Ursof, a Palestinian student from Gaza based in Qatar and attending the summit, said of the resumption in fighting. The "international youth delegate" said he would try to raise awareness at the COP28 conference of the Palestinian cause.

Bilaterals

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Friday that he met officials from Arab states and discussed the future of the Gaza Strip on the sidelines of the COP28. A senior State Department official said Blinken met foreign ministers from Qatar, the UAE, Egypt, Jordan and Bahrain, alongside representatives of the Palestinian Authority.

The office of the British prime minister said Rishi Sunak and Qatar Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, both at the Dubai conference, discussed their deep regret over the collapse of the temporary pause in fighting.

Israel's President Isaac Herzog was also at COP28, where a day earlier he met UAE President Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan. The UAE is one of few Arab states with official ties with Israel

But Herzog, who stood in the traditional "family photo" with other world leaders, did not give his scheduled address on Friday.

Foreign Ministry Deputy Director General Oded Joseph told Reuters that Israel remained intent on freeing those held hostage by Hamas and destroying the militant group.

Israel's bombardment and invasion of Gaza has killed over 15,000 Palestinians, according to Gazan health officials. It was launched in retaliation for an attack by Hamas militants on Oct. 7 that killed 1,200 Israelis and foreigners, and led to 240 hostages being taken into Gaza.

The assault sparked outrage in the Arab world, though most Western leaders have supported what they say is Israel's right to defend itself. Israeli warplanes pounded Gaza on Friday.

Bahrain's King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa and Iraq's President Abdul Latif Rashid called for an end to the war.

Iran's delegation left the summit in protest at Israel's presence, Iranian media reported, while Colombia's President Gustavo Petro linked environmental issues with the war.

"If Palestine could be free today then tomorrow humanity will escape alive out of the throes of the climate crisis," he said.


UN Rights Office ‘Seriously Concerned’ about Israel’s Increased Arrest of Palestinians

 Israeli soldiers take part in a raid in the Balata refugee camp in Nablus, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas, in the Israeli-occupied West Bank November 23, 2023. (Reuters)
Israeli soldiers take part in a raid in the Balata refugee camp in Nablus, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas, in the Israeli-occupied West Bank November 23, 2023. (Reuters)
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UN Rights Office ‘Seriously Concerned’ about Israel’s Increased Arrest of Palestinians

 Israeli soldiers take part in a raid in the Balata refugee camp in Nablus, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas, in the Israeli-occupied West Bank November 23, 2023. (Reuters)
Israeli soldiers take part in a raid in the Balata refugee camp in Nablus, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas, in the Israeli-occupied West Bank November 23, 2023. (Reuters)

A United Nations office said on Friday it was "seriously concerned" about a dramatic rise in Israel's arrest of Palestinians and called for an investigation into allegations of torture in Israeli custody.

Israel has arrested more than 3,000 Palestinians in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, since the start of the Gaza war in early October and a record high number were being held without charge or trial, said a statement by the UN Human Rights Office in the occupied Palestinian territories.

Within the span of two months, six Palestinian men have died in Israeli custody, the highest number of cases in such a short period in decades, it said.

Since the Oct. 7 Hamas attack and Israel's subsequent heavy bombardment of Gaza, Palestinians held in Israeli jails have reported deteriorating conditions, including overcrowding, restricted access to food and water and limited visits from family or lawyers. Many have said they were subjected to beatings and abuse by detention guards, including rape threats.

"The massive rise in number of Palestinians arrested and detained, the number of reports of ill-treatment and humiliation suffered by those in custody, and the reported failure to adhere to basic due process raise serious questions about Israel's compliance with international humanitarian law and international human rights law," the UN Human Rights Office said.

"All cases of deaths in custody and allegations of torture and other ill-treatment must be investigated and accountability ensured."

Israel's Prison Service has said that all prisoners in its custody "are detained according to the provisions of the law" and that prisoner deaths were under investigation.

As part of a truce deal with the Palestinian group Hamas, which controls Gaza, Israel has released 240 Palestinian women and teenagers from its jails. More than half were detained without charge, according to Israel's records.

During the week-long pause in fighting, Israel arrested more than 260 Palestinians in the occupied West Bank, the Palestinian Prisoners Society said.


Two Killed in Lebanon as Israel, Hezbollah Resume Fire

A view shows a house that was damaged during Israeli shelling in recent weeks prior to a truce taking hold between Hamas and Israel that has informally extended to southern Lebanon, in Mhaibib village, near the border with Israel, southern Lebanon November 28, 2023. (Reuters)
A view shows a house that was damaged during Israeli shelling in recent weeks prior to a truce taking hold between Hamas and Israel that has informally extended to southern Lebanon, in Mhaibib village, near the border with Israel, southern Lebanon November 28, 2023. (Reuters)
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Two Killed in Lebanon as Israel, Hezbollah Resume Fire

A view shows a house that was damaged during Israeli shelling in recent weeks prior to a truce taking hold between Hamas and Israel that has informally extended to southern Lebanon, in Mhaibib village, near the border with Israel, southern Lebanon November 28, 2023. (Reuters)
A view shows a house that was damaged during Israeli shelling in recent weeks prior to a truce taking hold between Hamas and Israel that has informally extended to southern Lebanon, in Mhaibib village, near the border with Israel, southern Lebanon November 28, 2023. (Reuters)

Israeli shelling killed two people in south Lebanon on Friday, a Lebanese official said, as the collapse of a truce between Israel and the Palestinian militant group Hamas prompted a resumption of hostilities at the frontier.

The Iran-backed Lebanese group Hezbollah, a Hamas ally, said it had carried out several attacks on Israeli military positions at the border in support Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, where a weeklong pause in the fighting ended early on Friday.

The Israeli army said its artillery struck sources of fire from Lebanon and air defenses had intercepted two launches. The army also said it struck a "terrorist cell". Sirens warning of possible incoming rockets sounded in several towns in northern Israel, sending residents running for shelter.

Israeli shelling killed a woman and her 35-year-old son in the Lebanese border town of Houla, Shakeeb Koteich, the head of the town's municipal council, told Reuters, saying both were civilians.

"A shell landed near the house, and then a second one hit the house," Koteich said by telephone.

Following the eruption of the Hamas-Israel war on Oct. 7, Hezbollah mounted near daily rocket attacks on Israeli positions at the frontier while Israel waged air and artillery strikes in south Lebanon.

It has been the worst fighting since a 2006 war between Israel and Hezbollah, part of an Iran-backed alliance that also includes Hamas. About 100 people in Lebanon have been killed during the hostilities, 80 of them Hezbollah fighters. Tens of thousands of people have fled both sides of the border.

Hezbollah released statements claiming five attacks on Israeli military positions at the border, describing these as "in support of our steadfast Palestinian people ... and its valiant and honorable resistance".

Lebanon-based militants from Hamas and the Palestinian group Islamic Jihad have also mounted attacks from Lebanese territory.

"Hezbollah has linked what happens at the border with what happens in Gaza," said Nabil Boumonsef, deputy editor-in-chief of Lebanon's Annahar newspaper.

"All the while the war in Gaza continues Lebanon will remain threatened by the danger of a major escalation."

Senior Hezbollah politician Hassan Fadlallah earlier said the group was vigilant and ready after the Hamas-Israel truce ended.

"In Lebanon, we are concerned in facing this challenge, being vigilant, and always ready to confront any possibility and any danger that may arise in our country," he said.

"No one thinks that Lebanon has been spared from this Zionist targeting or that what is happening in Gaza cannot affect the situation in Lebanon," he said.


Blinken Says Discussed Future of Gaza with Arab Foreign Ministers

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks to the media prior to departure from Al Maktoum International Airport in Dubai, on December 1, 2023. (AP)
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks to the media prior to departure from Al Maktoum International Airport in Dubai, on December 1, 2023. (AP)
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Blinken Says Discussed Future of Gaza with Arab Foreign Ministers

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks to the media prior to departure from Al Maktoum International Airport in Dubai, on December 1, 2023. (AP)
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks to the media prior to departure from Al Maktoum International Airport in Dubai, on December 1, 2023. (AP)

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Friday that he met with officials from Arab states and discussed the future of the Gaza Strip, as Israel resumed its assault after a week-long truce with Palestinian Hamas militants broke down.

Before boarding a plane at the end of his third trip to the region since Oct. 7, when Hamas militants attacked Israel, killed more than 1,200 people and took 240 hostages, Blinken said the talks on Friday focused on the current situation in Gaza, the day after the conflict, and how to create a "durable, lasting and secure peace."

A senior State Department official said Blinken met foreign ministers from Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Jordan and Bahrain, alongside representatives of the Palestinian Authority, on the sidelines of the COP28 UN climate conference in Dubai.


Le Drian Pushes for Extending LAF Commander’s Term, Clashes with Bassil

French presidential envoy Jean-Yves Le Drian meets with head of the Free Patriotic Movement MP Gebran Bassil.(Photo: FPM website)
French presidential envoy Jean-Yves Le Drian meets with head of the Free Patriotic Movement MP Gebran Bassil.(Photo: FPM website)
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Le Drian Pushes for Extending LAF Commander’s Term, Clashes with Bassil

French presidential envoy Jean-Yves Le Drian meets with head of the Free Patriotic Movement MP Gebran Bassil.(Photo: FPM website)
French presidential envoy Jean-Yves Le Drian meets with head of the Free Patriotic Movement MP Gebran Bassil.(Photo: FPM website)

French presidential envoy Jean-Yves Le Drian continued his meetings with Lebanese politicians on Thursday, focusing on the necessity of maintaining calm in the South, avoiding sliding into a wide war, and extending the tenure of the Lebanese Army commander.

Local media said that the Lebanese Army talks led to a clash between the French diplomat and the head of the Free Patriotic Movement (FPM) MP Gebran Bassil.

According to informed sources, Le Drian emphasized the need to avoid vacuum in the position of army command, proposing an extension of the term of General Joseph Aoun. The majority of the political blocs favor this option, with the exception of the FPM, which is pushing for the appointment of a new commander.

This conflict with the FPM contributed to tension with Bassil, as the meeting between the two officials did not last more than 10 minutes.

Local channel LBC reported that Le Drian’s meeting with Bassil “ended in a dispute over the extension of the army commander’s term,” and that the FPM leader “rejected French intervention in this matter, being an internal issue.”

Meanwhile, Le Drian stressed the need to avoid such vacuum, especially under the current regional developments.

The French envoy started his tour on Thursday by meeting with the head of the Hezbollah parliamentary bloc, MP Mohammad Raad, in Beirut’s southern suburbs. Discussions touched on the presidential issue, the border developments, and the army commander’s tenure extension. He then met with Bassil, and left without making any statement.

Le Drian also held a lengthy meeting with the head of the Kataeb Party, MP Sami Gemayel, which the latter described as positive, pointing to a qualitative development in the French position.

Gemayel expressed concerns over Lebanon’s security, saying: “We are in a state of war, and we need a comprehensive national military institution that can protect Lebanon, and is capable of playing an important role in implementing Resolution 1701 and establishing Lebanon’s sovereignty over all its lands, and for this military institution to be strong and stable...”

The French envoy also met with MPs Michel Mouawad, Fouad Makhzoumi, Marc Daou, Michel Douaihy and Waddah Al-Sadiq, and members of the National Moderation bloc.

On Thursday evening, Le Drian hosted a dinner at the headquarters of the French Embassy in Beirut, attended by ambassadors of the member states of the Group of Five for Lebanon, which includes the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Qatar, the United States, and France, to brief them on the discussions he had in Lebanon.


Resumption of Gaza Hostilities 'Catastrophic', Says UN Rights Chief

An Israeli military helicopter releases a flare over the Israel-Gaza border, after a temporary truce between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas expired, as seen from southern Israel, December 1, 2023. REUTERS/Amir Cohen Acquire Licensing Rights
An Israeli military helicopter releases a flare over the Israel-Gaza border, after a temporary truce between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas expired, as seen from southern Israel, December 1, 2023. REUTERS/Amir Cohen Acquire Licensing Rights
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Resumption of Gaza Hostilities 'Catastrophic', Says UN Rights Chief

An Israeli military helicopter releases a flare over the Israel-Gaza border, after a temporary truce between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas expired, as seen from southern Israel, December 1, 2023. REUTERS/Amir Cohen Acquire Licensing Rights
An Israeli military helicopter releases a flare over the Israel-Gaza border, after a temporary truce between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas expired, as seen from southern Israel, December 1, 2023. REUTERS/Amir Cohen Acquire Licensing Rights

The United Nations human rights chief said the resumption of hostilities between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip on Friday was "catastrophic", with the situation now "beyond crisis point".

"The resumption of hostilities in Gaza is catastrophic. I urge all parties and states with influence over them to redouble efforts, immediately, to ensure a ceasefire -- on humanitarian and human rights grounds," Volker Turk said in a statement.

Israeli warplanes pounded Gaza, sending scores of wounded and dead pouring into hospitals, and rocket sirens blared in southern Israel on Friday.

As the deadline lapsed, Reuters journalists in Khan Younis in southern Gaza saw eastern areas come under intensive bombardment, sending columns of smoke rising into the sky. Residents took to the streets, fleeing for shelter further west and ferrying dead and injured people into hospitals.

In the north of the enclave, previously the main war zone, huge plumes of smoke rose above the ruins, seen from across the fence in Israel. The rattle of gunfire and thud of explosions rang out above the sound of barking dogs.

Barely two hours after the truce expired, Gaza health officials reported that 54 people had already been killed and dozens wounded in air strikes that hit at least eight homes.


Israeli Shells Near UN Site in Lebanon Prompt US Call for Resolution 1701 Compliance

UNIFIL patrol in South Lebanon near the border with Israel (Reuters)
UNIFIL patrol in South Lebanon near the border with Israel (Reuters)
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Israeli Shells Near UN Site in Lebanon Prompt US Call for Resolution 1701 Compliance

UNIFIL patrol in South Lebanon near the border with Israel (Reuters)
UNIFIL patrol in South Lebanon near the border with Israel (Reuters)

Local media reported on Thursday evening that six Israeli shells fell near a site of the international UNIFIL forces on the outskirts of the town of Marwahin in the western sector, and another on the outskirts of the town of Ramia.

This came amid intense diplomatic movement to prevent the expansion of the war, Lebanese parliamentary sources told Asharq Al-Awsat.

They added that international envoys have “expressed keenness for calm,” and stressed “the necessity of distancing the Lebanese front from the repercussions of the Gaza war, considering stability a priority for all.”

The fears come in light of deep changes that have occurred recently, beyond Hezbollah’s involvement in the Gaza battle, which are represented by modifications to the mandate of the international peacekeeping forces operating in the South (UNIFIL), in particular two recent amendments that allow the international forces to move without being escorted the Lebanese army.

- Implementation of UNSCR 1701

Washington expressed fears over the expansion of the war. The US Embassy in Beirut published on X a position by the US Ambassador to the United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, in which she said: “We continue to be concerned by the possibility of a further spillover of this conflict. In particular, the United States does not want to see conflict in Lebanon, where escalation would have grave implications for regional peace and security, and for the well-being of the Lebanese people. Restoring calm along the Israel-Lebanon border is of utmost importance, and fully implementing Security Council Resolution 1701 is a key component of this effort. UNIFIL plays a vital role along the Blue Line, and we expect all parties will ensure the safety of peacekeepers.”

Political forces opposed to Hezbollah, including the Lebanese Forces, are demanding the implementation of Resolution 1701, the withdrawal of the military from the border area, and the deployment of the Lebanese army alongside UNIFIL.

The Lebanese government says that Lebanon is committed to implementing Resolution 1701, but accuses Israel of constantly violating its terms, since its adoption.

Meanwhile, fears of renewed military actions mounted in the South, as violent explosions were heard on Thursday along the border area.

The National News Agency (NNA) reported hearing strong sounds in the southern borders.

The Israeli army said that it “succeeded in intercepting a suspicious air target that crossed from Lebanon into Israeli territory,” while no party claimed responsibility for attacks from the country.

A spokesperson for the UN peacekeeping force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) told Reuters a launch was detected from Lebanon towards Israel, followed by a retaliatory response from Israel.


UNICEF: Inaction on Gaza Amounts to 'Approval' of Killing Children

A Palestinian girl wounded in an Israeli strike is assisted, after a temporary truce between Hamas and Israel expired, at Nasser hospital in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip, December 1, 2023. REUTERS/Arafat Barbakh
A Palestinian girl wounded in an Israeli strike is assisted, after a temporary truce between Hamas and Israel expired, at Nasser hospital in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip, December 1, 2023. REUTERS/Arafat Barbakh
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UNICEF: Inaction on Gaza Amounts to 'Approval' of Killing Children

A Palestinian girl wounded in an Israeli strike is assisted, after a temporary truce between Hamas and Israel expired, at Nasser hospital in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip, December 1, 2023. REUTERS/Arafat Barbakh
A Palestinian girl wounded in an Israeli strike is assisted, after a temporary truce between Hamas and Israel expired, at Nasser hospital in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip, December 1, 2023. REUTERS/Arafat Barbakh

UNICEF on Friday appealed for a lasting ceasefire to be implemented in Gaza, describing inaction as "an approval of the killing of children" after a week-old truce between Israel and Hamas collapsed.

"A lasting ceasefire must be implemented," James Elder, spokesperon for UNICEF, told reporters via video link from Gaza.

"Inaction at its core is an approval of the killing of children."

Barely two hours after the truce expired, Gaza health officials reported that 35 people had already been killed and dozens wounded in air strikes that hit at least eight homes.
Medics and witnesses said the bombing was most intensive in Khan Younis and Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, and also targeted houses in central and northern areas.