Egypt Wants to Shift Focus to Developing Countries in Climate Talks, Says Official

A picture taken on June 24, 2021 shows the Strawberry supermoon rising over buildings in the Egyptian capital Cairo. (AFP via Getty Images)
A picture taken on June 24, 2021 shows the Strawberry supermoon rising over buildings in the Egyptian capital Cairo. (AFP via Getty Images)
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Egypt Wants to Shift Focus to Developing Countries in Climate Talks, Says Official

A picture taken on June 24, 2021 shows the Strawberry supermoon rising over buildings in the Egyptian capital Cairo. (AFP via Getty Images)
A picture taken on June 24, 2021 shows the Strawberry supermoon rising over buildings in the Egyptian capital Cairo. (AFP via Getty Images)

Egypt will position itself as an impartial arbiter while hosting this year's COP27 UN climate summit, as it pushes other nations to act on climate pledges while promoting the interests of the developing world, a senior Egyptian official said.

Egypt would also welcome protests within the rules of the Nov. 7-18 summit in Sharm El-Sheikh, said Wael Aboulmagd, special representative to the COP27 president.

A natural gas exporter, Egypt takes over presidency of the UN climate talks from Britain. Last year's summit in Glasgow, Scotland, ended with the nearly 200 countries in attendance promising to strengthen their climate pledges this year.

Wealthy nations also disappointed many in Glasgow by saying they would not deliver the $100 billion per year promised from 2020 until 2023 to help developing countries with their energy transition and with adapting to a warming world.

Delivering this financing is among Egypt's priorities for COP27. It also wants to focus on securing separate "loss and damage" funds, or compensation payments to climate-vulnerable countries already suffering from climate-related weather extremes, Aboulmagd said in an interview.

"There are issues that are of interest and priority to developing countries, and there are high expectations from us as a developing country to ensure that these issues are taken on board and that they achieve commensurate progress with how important they are," he said.

But Egypt also would seek to mediate between developed and developing countries that have clashed over issues including carbon emissions and climate financing, as it tries to help steer a move from pledges to action, Aboulmagd said.

"In this particular year it is in the interest of the process that a perception of impartiality and equal distance from everyone is maintained."

Aboulmagd said Egypt was working to launch about 17 voluntary initiatives in areas including food and agriculture and water management, hoping to inspire ideas and action to help countries meet their pledges.

Egypt is fine tuning its own updated target for cutting greenhouse gas emissions, known as a nationally determined contribution (NDC).

"We intend to move even faster, despite very difficult circumstances," Aboulmagd said, referring to economic disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine.

To promote global access and representation at COP27, Egypt has sought to fast track accreditation for under-represented civil society organizations from Africa, Aboulmagd said, adding that he hoped climate campaigners and activists play a constructive role.

"There are certain rules and we're working with the secretariat to ensure that if there are people who want to protest, they're entitled to do that, and it's done in a peaceful manner," he said.

"It's good to have people yelling at you - hopefully not throwing stuff at you, but just yelling at you and we're accustomed to that."

Egypt's government had worked with hotels to provide affordable accommodation for participants in Sharm El-Sheikh, a tourist resort on the Red Sea, he said.

"What we have done to the utmost is to ensure that decent hotels and very reasonable rates are made available."



Vessel Attacked by Missiles Southeast of Yemen's Aden, UKMTO

A cargo ship docked in the port of Aden in Yemen, where it arrived after being attacked in the Red Sea (Reuters)
A cargo ship docked in the port of Aden in Yemen, where it arrived after being attacked in the Red Sea (Reuters)
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Vessel Attacked by Missiles Southeast of Yemen's Aden, UKMTO

A cargo ship docked in the port of Aden in Yemen, where it arrived after being attacked in the Red Sea (Reuters)
A cargo ship docked in the port of Aden in Yemen, where it arrived after being attacked in the Red Sea (Reuters)

Two missiles were fired at a vessel off the southeast coast of the Yemeni city of Aden on Thursday, causing a fire onboard, Britain's maritime agencies said, as Houthis keep up attacks on shipping to show support for the Palestinians in the Gaza war.

British maritime security firm Ambrey identified the vessel as a Palau-flagged, UK-owned general cargo ship which was headed in the direction of the Red Sea from Thailand.

US-led coalition forces are responding to the incident, which took place 70 nautical miles from Aden, the United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO) agency said, without elaborating.

"It has been reported that a vessel was attacked by two missiles, resulting in a fire on board," the UKMTO said, Reuters reported.

The Iran-backed Houthis, who control Yemen's most populous regions, have disrupted commercial shipping in the Red Sea and Bab al-Mandab Strait in recent months, forcing firms to take a longer, more expensive route around Africa.

The attacks in the Red Sea have raised concerns that the Israel-Hamas war in Gaza will create further instability across the already volatile, oil-rich Middle East.

The United States has formed an international coalition to protect maritime navigation in the Red Sea in response to the Houthi attacks.


US Defends Israeli Occupation of Palestine at ICJ

President of Court Nawaf Salam gestures during a hearing at the International Court of Justice (AFP)
President of Court Nawaf Salam gestures during a hearing at the International Court of Justice (AFP)
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US Defends Israeli Occupation of Palestine at ICJ

President of Court Nawaf Salam gestures during a hearing at the International Court of Justice (AFP)
President of Court Nawaf Salam gestures during a hearing at the International Court of Justice (AFP)

The US administration defended the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem, believing the International Court of Justice (ICJ) should not issue a ruling calling on Israel to “immediately and unconditionally withdraw” from the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967.

At the request of the General Assembly, the Court will review the legitimacy of the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories, including the West Bank and East Jerusalem, in an issue that has long been part of major discussions and decisions at the United Nations.

Israel refused to participate in the sessions but sent a letter to the Court last year, considering that the focus of the proceedings failed to “recognize Israel’s right and duty to protect its citizens” or its right to security.

In his briefing before the Court, US State Department official Richard Visek said that the 15-judge panel should not seek to settle the decades-long Palestinian-Israeli conflict “through an advisory opinion.

“They have asked you to try to resolve the whole dispute between the parties through an advisory opinion, addressed to questions focusing on the acts of only one party.”

He said that only the establishment of an independent Palestinian state “living safely and securely alongside” Israel could bring about lasting peace, repeating a longstanding US position, but the prospect of which appears even more elusive amid the war in Gaza.

“An enduring peace requires progress on these balanced elements,” he told the judges.

“This conflict cannot be resolved through violence or unilateral actions,” Visek said. “Negotiations are the path to a lasting peace.”

The State Department legal adviser asked the UN court to uphold the “established framework” for peace that he said UN bodies had agreed to, one that is contingent on a “broader end to belligerence” against Israel, rather than to heed calls by other nations for Israel’s “unilateral and unconditional withdrawal” from occupied territories.

The Oct. 7 Hamas-led attacks on Israel were a reminder of the threats facing the country and of its security needs, Visek said, “and they persist.”

“Regrettably, those needs have been ignored by many of the participants in asserting how the court should consider the questions before it,” he said, referring to other countries’ testimony in the hearings.

- Ending the occupation

Earlier this week, Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki called on the Court to uphold the Palestinians’ right to self-determination and declare that the Israeli occupation is illegal and must end immediately, completely, and unconditionally.

The idea of Land for Peace has been a cornerstone of US-led diplomacy for decades and the basis of the “Camp David” agreement between Israel and Egypt.

Last month, the Court, which usually hears disputes between countries, issued a ruling on the case filed by South Africa, accusing Israel of committing genocide against the Palestinians in Gaza.

The judges issued a temporary order calling on Israel to take steps to prevent genocide in the Strip.

The US remained Israel’s strongest ally at the international level.

The United States has remained Israel’s staunchest defender internationally.

However, the Biden administration, under increasing pressure from parts of the Democratic Party, has also shown signs of impatience with Israel’s conduct of the war, the rising toll in Gaza, and the plight of Palestinians under Israeli occupation.

President Biden this month said that Israel’s military response in Gaza had been “over the top” and that the immense civilian suffering had “to stop.”

After the hearings, which are scheduled to conclude on Monday, the Court will issue a nonbinding, advisory opinion. That decision is expected to take several months.


Israeli Army Claims to Have Found Document Confirming Sinwar was Displeased with Hezbollah

The site of an Israeli raid in Ghaziyeh near Sidon, south Lebanon (Reuters)
The site of an Israeli raid in Ghaziyeh near Sidon, south Lebanon (Reuters)
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Israeli Army Claims to Have Found Document Confirming Sinwar was Displeased with Hezbollah

The site of an Israeli raid in Ghaziyeh near Sidon, south Lebanon (Reuters)
The site of an Israeli raid in Ghaziyeh near Sidon, south Lebanon (Reuters)

The Israeli army claimed it had uncovered documents revealing that Hezbollah provoked Hamas politburo members for not waging a war against Israel as promised.

During its operation in Khan Younis, the Israeli army alleged it obtained documents, including a report of Sinwar criticizing Hezbollah.

A report published by the military correspondent of the Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper, Yossi Yehoshua, stated that during operations in Khan Yunis, Israeli forces discovered new documents shedding light on why the Hamas leader believed the Shiite "axis of resistance," namely Hezbollah and Iran, would actively engage.

The document revealed Sinwar's communication with his people: "We received a commitment that the axis will participate in the large liberation project due to the nature of the relationship we are working on."

The newspaper said that there were additional documents that reaffirmed the commitment Sinwar received, stating that the operation in southern Israel would trigger concomitant action from the north, on which Hezbollah trained under the banner of "occupying the Galilee."

The Israeli newspaper said that in the end, the "mullahs in Tehran and Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah in Beirut let Sinwar down."

The newspaper published several justifications for Hezbollah's behavior, saying the party did promote 15 Fajr units - condensed battalions of its elite Radwan forces - along the border, from Naqoura in the west to Mount Dov in the east, and prepared for immediate invasion.

However, it did not know the exact timing of Hamas' action, and even after it happened, the order was not given as quickly as Sinwar would have hoped.

It claimed that Hezbollah's delay allowed Israeli forces, primarily reservists, who were mobilized from their homes, to arrive at their positions and hold the line for that tense day.

The gap between Sinwar's hopes, as shown in the document, and what happened in practice raises the question of why Hezbollah refrained from an action that would have presented Israel with a stricter challenge while still handling Hamas' surprise attack.

One explanation would be caution on Hezbollah's part to assess the operation's success, and by the time Nasrallah understood its dimensions, Israel had organized in the north in a way that prevented effective implementation of the plan to occupy Galilee settlements.

According to an Israeli source, the reason for avoiding a full-scale war in the north differs.

The source stated that Hezbollah's basic desire was to enter immediately, but Iran held the organization back because it knew Israel would react forcefully.

Tehran did not build Hezbollah's dangerous capabilities at a cost of a billion dollars a year to serve as a force multiplier for Hamas but instead as a sharp response to a potential Israeli attack on its nuclear facilities.

Last December, the French Le Figaro newspaper published a report claiming Sinwar was angry with Hezbollah because the party broke its pledge, but the group was also angry with him because he had not informed it in advance of the attack on Oct. 7.

Le Figaro said that Sinwar and Mohammad Deif were angry that Nasrallah did not use the full force of Hezbollah after the attack on southern Israel, and they sent an angry message to this effect.

The head of Hamas politburo, Ismail Haniyeh, traveled to Tehran to urge Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei to join the war, but he rejected his request.


Gunmen Kill One Israeli on West Bank Highway

Israeli emergency services gather at the scene of a shooting attack on February 22, 2024  ear Maale Adumim settlement, east of Jerusalem. (Photo by AHMAD GHARABLI / AFP)
Israeli emergency services gather at the scene of a shooting attack on February 22, 2024 ear Maale Adumim settlement, east of Jerusalem. (Photo by AHMAD GHARABLI / AFP)
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Gunmen Kill One Israeli on West Bank Highway

Israeli emergency services gather at the scene of a shooting attack on February 22, 2024  ear Maale Adumim settlement, east of Jerusalem. (Photo by AHMAD GHARABLI / AFP)
Israeli emergency services gather at the scene of a shooting attack on February 22, 2024 ear Maale Adumim settlement, east of Jerusalem. (Photo by AHMAD GHARABLI / AFP)

Three Palestinians opened fire at motorists near an Israeli checkpoint in the occupied West Bank near Jerusalem on Thursday, killing one person and wounding five others, emergency services said.

Two women were seriously wounded, the head of Israel's ambulance service Eli Bean told public broadcaster Kan. Police said officers shot dead two gunmen and wounded a third. A spokesperson said the gunmen were Palestinian but gave no further details.

Tensions in the West Bank are already high due to Israel's war in Gaza.

Thursday’s shooting comes after two people were shot dead on Friday at a bus stop in southern Israel near the town of Kiryat Malakhi.

The West Bank has seen near-daily raids by the Israeli military on Palestinians that have often turned deadly, as well as Palestinian attacks on Israeli settlers.

Israeli troops and settlers have killed at least 400 Palestinians in the West Bank since the Gaza war began, according to the Palestinian health ministry in Ramallah.


US Launches Strikes Against Houthi Targets in Yemen

A photo published by the US Navy of a fighter participating in operations against Houthi targets. (EPA)
A photo published by the US Navy of a fighter participating in operations against Houthi targets. (EPA)
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US Launches Strikes Against Houthi Targets in Yemen

A photo published by the US Navy of a fighter participating in operations against Houthi targets. (EPA)
A photo published by the US Navy of a fighter participating in operations against Houthi targets. (EPA)

The US military conducted strikes against Houthi targets in Yemen, US Central Command announced on Thursday.

“CENTCOM forces conducted four self-defense strikes against seven mobile Houthi Anti-Ship Cruise Missiles and one mobile Anti-Ship Ballistic Missile launcher that were prepared to launch toward the Red Sea,” said the statement.

“Additionally, during this time frame, CENTCOM forces shot down a one-way attack unmanned aircraft system (UAS) in self-defense.”

The “forces identified the missiles, launchers, and UAS originating from Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen and determined that they presented an imminent threat to merchant vessels and to the US Navy ships in the region,” it added.

CENTCOM said its forces “subsequently struck and destroyed the missiles, launchers and UAS in self-defense,” noting that these actions will protect freedom of navigation and make international waters safer.


MWL Sec-Gen: Islam Rejects Conflict, Civilizational Clash

The Interfaith Round Table hosts the Secretary-General of the Muslim World League (Asharq Al-Awsat)
The Interfaith Round Table hosts the Secretary-General of the Muslim World League (Asharq Al-Awsat)
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MWL Sec-Gen: Islam Rejects Conflict, Civilizational Clash

The Interfaith Round Table hosts the Secretary-General of the Muslim World League (Asharq Al-Awsat)
The Interfaith Round Table hosts the Secretary-General of the Muslim World League (Asharq Al-Awsat)

Interfaith leaders met in Albania at roundtable discussions, marking an unprecedented event that included various influential figures for the first time in Albania's history.

The Secretary-General of the Muslim World League (MWL), Mohammad al-Issa, chaired a delegation to Tirana, where several Albanian ministers and religious and official figures received them.

Issa said in his speech that Albania presented an inspiring model for the coexistence of its religious diversity, which has become an integral part of the values of the Albanian people.

He asserted that countries of religious and ethnic diversity needed to share this inspiring experience.

The roundtable meeting was followed by a joint dinner in his honor, in the presence of a senior Albanian minister and diplomats, led by Saudi Ambassador Faisal bin Ghazi Hefzi and the Vatican Ambassador.

The President of Albania, Bajram Begaj, received the Secretary-General at the Presidential Palace, where he was awarded the highest medal in Albania, 'The State Order for World-Renowned Spiritual Figures.'

During the meeting, they discussed topics of common interest and emphasized the role of the MWL in serving humanity.

Albania's head of the Islamic Sheikhdom and the Grand Mufti asked Sheikh Issa to deliver a Friday sermon in the historic mosque, which is more than 200 years old.

In his sermon, Issa spoke about the values of Islam and Muslim behavior, recalling the biography of Prophet Mohammed as a role model that embodies the values of Islam.

After that, the Secretary-General gave two separate lectures to academics and students in Tirana, in which he spoke about Islamic thought: "its roots,its reality," and its "fortification," explaining important rules in reading the texts of the Qur'an, the Sunnah, and legal, intellectual, and historical writings.

The two lectures considered the diversity of discourse according to the need between "academics" and "students" and were translated into Albanian.

The Islamic Sheikhdom, which has 35 Fatwa Houses, also hosted the Secretary-General at its headquarters.

The President of the Sheikhdom welcomed Issa to the Balkans, congratulating the tremendous success of the League's Conference to promote peace and coexistence in the Balkans, notably the comprehensive positive response that the "Sarajevo Declaration" received.

He lauded the League's efforts and its great Islamic message in promoting coexistence and its outstanding efforts in confronting various forms of hatred, extremism, and Islamophobia.

The President stressed the League's value among Muslims around the world, and Islamic minorities in particular, noting that its efforts had a significant impact in enhancing their positive presence and coexistence in their countries.

For his part, Issa said that the League was established by Muslims, asserting its pride in serving them, especially the Islamic sheikhdoms, which bear a great responsibility and a pivotal role in promoting the values of Islam.

Later, the League Sec-Gen discussed several topics of common interest with the Speaker, Lindita Nikolla.

Nikolla expressed the Republic of Albania's profound appreciation for the visit by the League, highlighting its significant role in advancing peace and fostering religious and cultural coexistence among varied communities.

Issa conveyed his pleasure in visiting Albania, lauding it as a prime example of international excellence in embracing national and particularly religious diversity.

He further stressed that Islam categorically rejects all forms of concepts and theories that promote conflict and civilizational clashes.

Also, during his visit to Tirana, Issa met Prime Minister Edi Rama on Wednesday and discussed topics of common interest.

During the meeting, the two parties explored several topics of mutual interest, and Rama commended the MWL's global efforts in promoting harmony among diverse societies.

The Prime Minister invited the MWL to organize an international conference in Tirana to foster understanding and cooperation among civilizations. It aims to enhance global awareness of religious, ethnic, and cultural diversity, drawing on Albania's experience.

After his official visit, the Secretary-General received the "Foundation Shield," a symbol of preserving Islamic identity in Albania and the Balkans.

He visited the Sharia school in Tirana, founded 100 years ago, and went through difficult periods in the region's history.

Issa urged the students and teachers to continue the school's historical journey and to arm themselves with knowledge and awareness to serve their country, their nation, and the great message of Islam.


Families Demand Release of Jailed Tunisian Opposition Figures

Tunisian activist Ezzeddine Hazgui speaks at a news conference on February 21 - AFP
Tunisian activist Ezzeddine Hazgui speaks at a news conference on February 21 - AFP
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Families Demand Release of Jailed Tunisian Opposition Figures

Tunisian activist Ezzeddine Hazgui speaks at a news conference on February 21 - AFP
Tunisian activist Ezzeddine Hazgui speaks at a news conference on February 21 - AFP

Families of several jailed Tunisian opposition figures on Wednesday called for their release, including a number of detainees on hunger strike.

Since February 2023, more than 20 opposition figures, whom Tunisian President Kais Saied has dubbed "terrorists", have been held on suspicion of involvement in "conspiracy against the internal and external security of the state".

Among them are politician Jawhar Ben Mbarek, leader of the Islamist-inspired Ennahdha party Rached Ghannouchi, and Issam Chebbi, a leader of the opposition National Salvation Front -- all of whom have been on hunger strike for days to demand their release.

"For a year they have been in prison without any crime or charge," said Ben Mbarek's father, Ezzedine Hazgui. "This is arbitrary detention and a crime against humanity."

Speaking at a press conference with other family members of the jailed opposition figures, Hazgui told AFP that President Saied "is arresting all of his political opponents".

Lawyer Dalila Msaddek, from the detainees' defense committee, told the press conference: "The hunger strike is starting to take its toll on their health, but they insist on continuing."

Several Tunisian and international human rights organizations have called for the release of the opposition figures, condemning court proceedings against them.


US Senators: It is 'Urgent' for Hezbollah-Israel War to De-escalate Soon

Lebanese Hezbollah fighters take part in cross-border raids, part of large-scale military exercise, in Aaramta bordering Israel on May 21, 2023, ahead of the anniversary of Israel's withdrawal from southern Lebanon in 2000. (AFP)
Lebanese Hezbollah fighters take part in cross-border raids, part of large-scale military exercise, in Aaramta bordering Israel on May 21, 2023, ahead of the anniversary of Israel's withdrawal from southern Lebanon in 2000. (AFP)
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US Senators: It is 'Urgent' for Hezbollah-Israel War to De-escalate Soon

Lebanese Hezbollah fighters take part in cross-border raids, part of large-scale military exercise, in Aaramta bordering Israel on May 21, 2023, ahead of the anniversary of Israel's withdrawal from southern Lebanon in 2000. (AFP)
Lebanese Hezbollah fighters take part in cross-border raids, part of large-scale military exercise, in Aaramta bordering Israel on May 21, 2023, ahead of the anniversary of Israel's withdrawal from southern Lebanon in 2000. (AFP)

The Israeli military and Hezbollah have a window to de-escalate tensions along Lebanon's southern border before a possible Israeli military offensive against the Lebanese armed group, two Democratic US senators told Reuters on Wednesday.

Senators Chris Coons and Richard Blumenthal met Lebanese officials on a tour of the region, which has been gripped by conflict following Hamas's Oct. 7 attack on Israel, which responded with a heavy air, land, and sea assault on Gaza.

In Lebanon, Israeli shelling has killed nearly 190 Hezbollah fighters and 50 civilians. A dozen Israeli troops and five Israeli civilians have been killed in northern Israel, and tens of thousands have been displaced on each side.

"The next few weeks are a real hinge point - for Gaza, for Israel, for Lebanon, for the Red Sea, for Iraq," said Coons, adding that a ceasefire for Gaza could have "positive consequences" for Lebanon, Reuters reported.

"It could create that window of 45 days, quite likely during Ramadan as well, when the next steps can be taken to begin to build the confidence that could lead to a full implementation of (United Nations Security Council resolution) 1701," he said.

That 2006 resolution ended the last major conflict between Hezbollah and Israel and says no armed factions should be present in a swathe of south Lebanon except the Lebanese army.

France submitted a written proposal to Lebanon earlier this month on a possible diplomatic resolution. US envoy Amos Hochstein has also been working on a plan, which Coons said he hoped was "making steady progress" without sharing further details. He said there was an "urgency" for both sides to de-escalate.

The senators said they told Lebanese Speaker of Parliament Nabih Berri, who heads the Hezbollah-allied Amal Movement, that Israel "is not bluffing" about an offensive.

"It's not just rhetoric. It will act. And we hope that that message was conveyed to Hezbollah," Blumenthal said.


Hezbollah Hits Back After Israel Strike Kills Woman, Girl In Lebanon

Smoke billows after an Israeli airstrike on a village in southern Lebanon. (AFP)
Smoke billows after an Israeli airstrike on a village in southern Lebanon. (AFP)
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Hezbollah Hits Back After Israel Strike Kills Woman, Girl In Lebanon

Smoke billows after an Israeli airstrike on a village in southern Lebanon. (AFP)
Smoke billows after an Israeli airstrike on a village in southern Lebanon. (AFP)

An Israeli air strike on south Lebanon killed a woman and a girl on Wednesday, prompting Lebanon's powerful Hezbollah movement to retaliate with rocket fire.

The Iran-backed Hezbollah movement and its arch-foe Israel have been exchanging near-daily fire across the border since the Israel-Hamas war broke out on October 7.

Lebanon's state-run National News Agency said that Khadija Salman was killed and her daughter seriously wounded in the "enemy" strike on the southern village of Majdal Zun.

Requesting anonymity, a hospital source confirmed the woman had died and her daughter remained in serious condition, adding that a young girl was also killed.

Rescue workers said several other people were wounded and rushed to hospital, AFP reported.

In the evening, Hezbollah said it fired several rockets at the Matzuva kibbutz across the border in Israel "in response to Israeli attacks on villages and civilian homes" including Majdal Zun.

The Lebanese movement also claimed responsibility for 11 other operations against Israeli military positions on the border.

The cross-border exchanges since October have killed at least 271 people on the Lebanese side, most of them Hezbollah fighters but also including 42 civilians, according to an AFP tally.

On the Israeli side, 10 soldiers and six civilians have been killed, according to the Israeli army.

Last week, Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah vowed that Israel would pay "with blood", after 10 civilians, including seven members of one family, were killed in Lebanon's largest single-day death toll so far. Five Hezbollah fighters were also killed.


Israeli War Cabinet Member Gantz Says ‘Promising Early Signs’ on New Hostage Deal

 An Israeli tank fires into the Gaza Strip from Israel, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, as seen from Israel, February 21, 2024. (Reuters)
An Israeli tank fires into the Gaza Strip from Israel, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, as seen from Israel, February 21, 2024. (Reuters)
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Israeli War Cabinet Member Gantz Says ‘Promising Early Signs’ on New Hostage Deal

 An Israeli tank fires into the Gaza Strip from Israel, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, as seen from Israel, February 21, 2024. (Reuters)
An Israeli tank fires into the Gaza Strip from Israel, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, as seen from Israel, February 21, 2024. (Reuters)

Israeli war cabinet member Benny Gantz said on Wednesday there were "promising early signs of progress" on a new deal to release hostages from Gaza amid regional talks to secure a pause in the war.

"There are ongoing attempts to promote a new hostage deal and there are promising early signs of possible progress," Gantz said in a televised press briefing.

"We will not stop looking for a way and we will not miss any opportunity to bring our girls and boys home."

But he added that if no new deal were struck, the Israeli military would keep fighting in Gaza even into the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which begins next month.

"If a new hostage deal is not achieved, we will continue operating also during Ramadan," he said.