Gaza cease-fire talks at an impasse as Netahyahu calls Hamas demands 'delusional'

Gaza cease-fire talks at an impasse as Netahyahu calls Hamas demands ‘delusional’

Hamas calls Israel’s decision to restrict Palestinians’ entry to Al-Aqsa Mosque during Ramadan ‘a violation of freedom’

Hamas has called Israel’s decision to restrict Palestinians from Al-Aqsa Mosque during Ramadan “a violation of freedom of worship” at the mosque.

Israeli authorities plan to restrict access to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, where the Al-Aqsa Mosque is located, ahead of Ramadan, war Cabinet minister Benny Gantz said earlier.

A statement from the militant group said the move “indicates the occupation’s intention to escalate its aggression against Al-Aqsa Mosque during the month of Ramadan” and called it “an intensification of the Zionist crime and religious war led by the group of extremist settlers in the terrorist occupation government.”

It called on Palestinians living in “occupied territories,” as well as Jerusalem and the West Bank, “to reject this criminal decision, to resist the arrogance of the occupation, and to mobilize and march and be present in the blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque.”

The group also warned that restricting access to the mosque “will not pass without accountability.”

U.S. conducted five self-defense strikes in Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen, military says

Reuters

The United States conducted five self-defense strikes in areas of Yemen controlled by the Iranian-backed Houthi militia, U.S. Central Command said today.

It said it struck three mobile anti-ship cruise missiles, one unmanned underwater vessel and one unmanned surface vessel on Saturday.

“This is the first observed Houthi employment of a UUV since attacks began in Oct. 23,” CENTCOM said in a post on X.

Central Command said it had determined the missiles and vessels presented an imminent threat to U.S. Navy ships and merchant ships in the area.

The Houthi attacks in the Red Sea area have been one sign of spreading conflict in the Middle East since war erupted between Israel and Hamas after the militant Palestinian group’s deadly assault on Israel on Oct.7.

The Houthis, who control the most populous parts of Yemen, say their attacks are in solidarity with Palestinians as Israel strikes Gaza. But the U.S. and its allies characterize them as indiscriminate and a menace to global trade.

Faced with mounting Red Sea violence, major shipping lines have largely abandoned the critical trade route for longer routes around Africa. This has increased costs, feeding worries about global inflation while sapping Egypt of crucial foreign revenue from shippers sailing the Suez Canal to or from the Red Sea.

Israel slams Brazilian president for comparing Gaza war to the Holocaust

The Associated Press

Israel condemned Brazil’s president for comparing the war in Gaza to the Holocaust, accusing him of being antisemitic and trivializing the Nazi genocide of European Jews during World War II.

The outcry further strained relations between the countries, which have deteriorated since President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva returned to office last year. Lula has portrayed himself as a leader of the “Global South,” a loosely defined group of developing countries.

Speaking to reporters at the African Union summit in Ethiopia, Lula said that “what is happening in the Gaza Strip and to the Palestinian people hasn’t been seen in any other moment in history. Actually, it did when Hitler decided to kill the Jews.”

Such comments strike a raw nerve in Israel, a country established as a haven for Jews in the wake of the Holocaust. Israel rejects any comparisons of its conduct in the war in Gaza to the Holocaust.

Netanyahu said today that Lula’s comments “trivialized the Holocaust” and “crossed a red line.” He also accused Lula of being a “virulent antisemite.”

Foreign Minister Israel Katz wrote on X, formerly Twitter, that he had summoned Brazil’s ambassador in Israel for a reprimand. Katz called Lula’s comments “shameful and serious.”

Lula’s comments came after leaders at the AU summit on Saturday condemned Israel’s offensive in Gaza and called for its immediate end.

Netanyahu: Hostage release possible through ‘strong military action’

Netanyahu said today that a hostage release “can be achieved through strong military action and tough negotiations.”

The “tough position” involves pressuring Hamas and groups that can pressure Hamas, he said in an address at the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organization at the Museum of Tolerance in Jerusalem.

“That tough position has to involve the exertion of pressure. And the exertion of pressure is not merely on Hamas itself, but on those who can exert pressure on Hamas, beginning with Qatar,” Netanyahu said, adding that Qatar “can press Hamas as no one else can” because “Hamas is dependent on them financially.”

“I urge you to press Qatar to press Hamas, because we want our hostages released,” Netanyahu said. “I hope that we can achieve a deal soon to release more of our hostages. But deal or no deal, we have to finish the job to get total victory.”

14 patients evacuated from Nasser Hospital, but more than 100 trapped inside, Health Ministry says

Gaza’s Health Ministry said today that 14 patients were evacuated from the inoperable Nasser Hospital in Khan Younis with assistance from the World Health Organization.

The ministry previously reported that 150 patients were inside the hospital with nowhere to go because of an Israeli raid on the facility. The people who were able to evacuate today included five dialysis patients and three intensive care patients, the health ministry said.

The World Health Organization said earlier that it was blocked from accessing Nasser hospital for two days, permitted by Israeli authorities only to deliver fuel but not allowed inside the facility.

Israeli government reaches agreement for residents to return to communities near Gaza border

Israel residents who have been displaced from their homes in Sderot and other communities in the western Negev area near the border with Gaza should be able to return as soon as March 1, Israeli officials said.

The Finance Ministry released a joint statement with the prime minister’s office with details about an agreement that would also provide grants to those who are not ready to return. According to the statement, “acclimation grants” would be provided for those who wish to stay in hotels until early July.

“It was agreed that under the grant outline, the level would be determined according to the date of return and the needs stemming from the length of the acclimation period,” the statement said.

Israel’s government will still have to approve the plan.

More than 7,000 Palestinians arrested since start of war, Palestinian authorities say

About 7,075 Palestinians have been arrested since Oct. 7, the Commission for the Affairs of Prisoners and Ex-Prisoners said.

They include 15 people who were arrested since last night in Ramallah, Jericho, Nablus, Bethlehem, Hebron and Tulkarm, the commission said in a statement. Israeli officials have said they are seeking out people with ties to Hamas in the occupied West Bank.

“It is noteworthy that the data related to arrest cases includes those who were kept in detention by the occupation, or those who were later released,” the statement said.

According to the commission, those detained were arrested in myriad ways, such as by being taken into custody in their homes or at checkpoints or by being pressured to surrender. The United Nations has described numerous “search and arrest operations” by Israeli forces over the last few months,  » …
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