Israeli airstrike in Gaza kills three sons of Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh

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Israeli airstrike in Gaza kills three sons of Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh

Friday, 12 April 2024 | AP | Jerusalem

An Israeli airstrike in Gaza killed three sons of Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh, according to Israel’s army and the militant group’s official media, with Haniyeh accusing Israel of acting in “the spirit of revenge and murder.”

The Israeli military confirmed it carried out the attack Wednesday, saying the men conducted militant activity in central Gaza, without elaborating. Hamas said four of the leader’s grandchildren were also killed.

In an interview with the Al Jazeera satellite channel, Haniyeh said the killings would not pressure Hamas into softening its positions amid ongoing cease-fire negotiations with Israel, brokered by international mediators.

Haniyeh left Gaza in 2019 and lives in exile in Qatar. The top Hamas leader in Gaza is Yehya Sinwar, who masterminded the October 7 attack on Israel that sparked the war. Some 1,200 people were killed in the attack, mostly civilians, and Palestinian militants took around 250 people hostage.

Israel’s six-month war against Hamas has devastated the Gaza Strip and pushed the tiny Palestinian territory into a humanitarian crisis, leaving more than 1 million people on the brink of starvation.

Israeli bombardments and ground offensives have killed at least 33,360 Palestinians and wounded 74,993, Gaza’s Health Ministry says. The ministry doesn’t differentiate between civilians and combatants in its tally, but says women and children make up two-thirds of the dead.

 

GERMAN AIRLINE LUFTHANSA EXTENDS FLIGHT SUSPENSIONS TO AND FROM TEHRAN

BERLIN – German airline Lufthansa says its flights to and from Tehran will remain suspended through Saturday “due to the current situation in the Middle East.”

Lufthansa, which usually has five flights per week from Frankfurt to Tehran, suspended its flights on Saturday, initially until Thursday.

In an emailed response to a query about the flights on Thursday, the company didn’t elaborate on its concerns about the situation. Iran has vowed to retaliate against Israel over an attack on its consulate in Damascus earlier this month.

Lufthansa said that flights by its Austrian Airlines subsidiary to Tehran continue because, due to the shorter flight time from Vienna, it can run the flights as “daylight operations,” with the plane returning immediately after arrival in Tehran.

It said that flights to and from Frankfurt had to be cancelled “as Lufthansa has decided not to let the crew disembark in Tehran.”

 

BIDEN VOWS ‘IRONCLAD’ SUPPORT FOR ISRAEL AS IRAN THREATENS TO STRIKE

WASHINGTON - US President Joe Biden emphasised his country’s “ironclad” support for Israel on Wednesday as Iran vows to retaliate for this month’s deadly strike on the Iranian Consulate in Syria.

The US military believes Israel carried out the airstrike on Iran’s diplomatic station, which killed two top generals and others. Israel has not commented on the attack, however Tehran says it holds Israel responsible.

The White House says it had no prior knowledge of the operation, but has repeatedly promised to back Israel in the face of Iranian threats.

Biden spoke Wednesday alongside Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, who is in Washington for an official visit.

“We also want to address the Iranian threat — to launch a significant attack on Israel,” Biden said during a joint news conference.

“Our commitment to Israel’s security against these threats from Iran and its proxies is ironclad. We say it again, ironclad, and we’re going to do all we can to protect Israel’s security,” Biden said.

Earlier Wednesday, Iran’s supreme leader repeated a promise to retaliate against Israel. And Israel’s foreign minister threatened Wednesday that his country’s forces would strike Iran directly if the Islamic Republic launched an attack from its territory against Israel.

Since the Israel’s war in Gaza against Hamas began six months ago, there have been near-daily exchanges of fire along the Israel-Lebanon border between Israeli forces and the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah, which is backed by Iran.

Tehran also backs an umbrella group of Iraqi militias that have attacked US military bases and positions in Syria and Iraq.

 

FOOD AID CHARITY SAYS ISRAELI STRIKE WOUNDED PALESTINIAN STAFFER ON SAME DAY AS DEADLY CONVOY ATTACKS

JERUSALEM — A off-duty Palestinian staff member with the food aid charity World Central Kitchen was badly wounded by an Israeli airstrike in Gaza on April 1, the same day seven other staffers were killed in a separate Israeli attack.

The staffer, identified only as Amro, was pulled from the rubble of a residence after an Israeli strike hit a nearby mosque, in the vicinity of a WCK warehouse and kitchen, the charity said Wednesday. He spent time in a coma, and WCK said is still recovering in a hospital from head and hand injuries.

Amro had joined WCK at the start of the year, the charity said in a statement, and before the war had owned a sweet shop that was destroyed by Israeli bombardments.

The statement said Amro turned down chances to leave Gaza several times: “He always says, I am here serving people hot food every day. I will not leave my job and let them suffer.’”

On April 1, Israeli airstrikes on an aid convoy killed seven WCK workers — six foreigners and one Palestinian. Israel says the deaths were a tragic error. WCK laid the blame squarely on Israel’s military, saying the army had coordinated over the movement of the cars carrying the workers as they left northern Gaza.

Nearly every day, strikes level buildings with Palestinian families inside, killing men, women and children, with no explanation of the target or independent accountability over the proportionality of the strike. Israel blames the large number of civilian casualties on militants, saying they operate among the population.

 

ISRAEL PLANS TO OPEN A NEW ENTRY POINT FOR AID INTO NORTHERN GAZA INSTEAD OF THE DAMAGED EREZ CROSSING

TEL AVIV, Israel — Israel will soon open a new crossing to deliver humanitarian aid into the hard-hit northern Gaza Strip, Israel’s Defence Minister Yoav Gallant said Wednesday.

Gallant’s announcement comes at a time of heavy US pressure to increase the flow of desperately needed aid into Gaza. Earlier Wednesday, US President Joe Biden said Israel’s efforts are still “not enough.”

Israeli officials say the new crossing will be built instead of using the damaged Erez crossing, which Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pledged last week to open. Erez was destroyed by Hamas militants during their October 7 attack and was designed for pedestrians, not cargo, according to COGAT, the Israeli military body in charge of Palestinian civilian affairs.

An official from COGAT said the new crossing would be close to the beachfront on Gaza’s northern tip. It was not clear exactly when the crossing will be opened. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to talk to the media.

At a briefing with reporters, Gallant said Israel plans a number of additional steps to improve the humanitarian situation – including using its port in the southern Israeli city of Ashdod to accept aid shipments for the Palestinians. It was not clear when the port would open.

He also says Israel will allow Jordan to deliver more aid to Gaza, and that Israel is working with the US on infrastructure projects such as new water lines.

Israel faces pressure from the US to increase aid into Gaza, where its offensive has wreaked an unprecedented humanitarian catastrophe. Aid groups say supplies are not reaching people quickly enough, blaming Israeli restrictions and noting that thousands of trucks are waiting to enter Gaza.

 

 

BIDEN SAYS ISRAEL STILL NOT DOING ENOUGH TO GET AID INTO GAZA

WASHINGTON — US President Joe Biden said Wednesday that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is not doing enough to increase humanitarian aid into Gaza.

“We’ll see what he does in terms of meeting the commitments that he made to me,” Biden said at the White House.

Biden has warned Netanyahu that future US support for the war depends on swift implementation of new steps to protect civilians and aid workers. Although the flow of trucks has increased since Biden spoke with Netanyahu last week, the US president said Israel should open another access point in Gaza’s north.

Israel halted aid deliveries to Gaza in the early days of the war, but under US pressure has slowly increased the number of trucks allowed to enter the territory.

Still, aid groups say supplies are not reaching desperate people quickly enough, blaming Israeli restrictions and noting that thousands of trucks are waiting to enter Gaza. Countries have attempted less efficient ways to deliver aid, including airdrops and by sea.

 

IRAN’S SUPREME LEADER AGAIN PLEDGES RETALIATION AGAINST ISRAEL OVER KILLINGS OF IRANIAN GENERALS

JERUSALEM — Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei again promised to retaliate against Israel over the killings of Iranian generals in a strike on its consulate in Syria.

Khamenei spoke Wednesday at a prayer ceremony in Tehran celebrating the first day of the Eid al-Fitr holiday and the end of the Muslim holy fasting month of Ramadan.

He said last week’s attack on Iran’s consulate in Damascus, widely blamed on Israel, was akin to an attack on Iranian territory. “The evil regime must be punished, and it will be punished,” he added.

Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz appeared to respond, posting on social platform X in both Farsi and Hebrew: “If Iran attacks from its territory, Israel will respond and attack in Iran.”

The strike on April 1 killed 12 people, including seven Iranian Revolutionary Guard members, four Syrians and a Hezbollah militia member.

Rahul Datta

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