Round of Rockets fired from Gaza as ceasefire comes to an end

Ceasefire-ends-12.1.23

Important Takeaways:

  • Israel-Hamas War Day 56: Rockets rain down on Israel’s South
  • Hamas in Gaza began firing rockets at Israel in the early hours of Friday morning, marking an end to the week-long ceasefire.
  • Over an hour before the ceasefire was set to end at 7 a.m., a rocket was fired from Gaza toward southern Israel, with a second round of rocket fire reported a few minutes before the end of the ceasefire. The rocket fire continued throughout the day, with over 45 rockets fired into Israel as of Thursday afternoon.
  • Three IDF soldiers were moderately wounded and two others were lightly wounded after a mortar fell near them near Nirim on Friday morning as the ceasefire ended
  • After the ceasefire ended, intense clashes were reported in the Sheikh Radwan neighborhood of Gaza City in northern Gaza, with Palestinian media reporting Israeli airstrikes throughout Gaza as well. The clashes expanded to additional areas in northern and central Gaza and Israeli airstrikes continued throughout the Strip.
  • On Friday afternoon, the IDF stated that, in the wake of the Hamas initiated resumption of fighting, the IDF hit over 200 targets in Gaza since 7:00 a.m. that morning

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2 more days of ceasefire; Hostages await their return home after 52 days

Never-Again-is-Now

Important Takeaways:

  • Israel and Hamas agreed to extend the four-day ceasefire two more days, in hopes that the pause will see the release of an additional 20 hostages.
  • On Monday, 11 Israelis, including 2 mothers and 9 children, returned home after 52 days in captivity by Hamas.
  • Among the reunions: 15-year-old Dafna and her 8-year-old sister Ela, who are now with their birth mother. Hamas murdered their father, step-father and step-brother in Kibbutz Nir Oz.
  • The White House expects more reunions
  • …the White House is skeptical concerning how Hamas may use the ceasefire.

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Jerusalem Post is reporting that Hamas began attacking Israeli Forces violating ceasefire

Release-hostages

Important Takeaways:

  • 11 Israeli hostages returned to Israel on Monday, bringing the total released to 76.
  • Hamas terrorists attacked Israeli forces in the northern Gaza Strip on Tuesday as efforts continued to extend the ongoing ceasefire, according to initial reports.
  • Shortly after the reported incident the spokesperson for Hamas’s al-Qassam Brigades Abu Obeidah claimed that Israeli forces had committed a “clear violation” of the ceasefire in the northern Gaza Strip and that Hamas had “dealt with this violation.”
  • “We are committed to the truce as long as the enemy has committed to it, and we call on the mediators to pressure the occupation to adhere to all the terms of the truce on the ground and in the air,” said Abu Obeidah.
  • Palestinian media claimed that shortly after the reported incident, Israeli fighter jets were scrambled over the Gaza Strip.

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US fails to block U.N. Security Council resolution demanding Gaza ceasefire

U.N.-Security-Council-Meets

Important Takeaways:

  • Forty days after the savage Hamas atrocities of October 7, the U.N. Security Council (UNSC) on Wednesday passed a resolution demanding a ceasefire and calling for “the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages held by Hamas and other groups, especially children.” The resolution did not condemn the Hamas atrocities that started the war
  • The resolution passed the 15-member UNSC by a vote of 12-0 on Wednesday. The United States, United Kingdom, and Russia abstained from the vote.
  • S. Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield said the United States abstained because it could not vote for a resolution that failed to condemn the Hamas atrocities or restate the right of U.N. member states to protect their citizens against terrorist attacks. She expressed approval of the call for Hamas to release its hostages, however.
  • “What are they afraid of?” she asked of UNSC members who refused to condemn the October 7 attacks. “Let’s be crystal clear: Hamas set this conflict in motion.”
  • UK Ambassador Barbara Woodward supported the call for a humanitarian pause, but also regretted that UNSC still could not bring itself to condemn the Hamas atrocities.
  • Tuoro Institute on Human Rights and the Holocaust director Anne Bayefsky immediately criticized the Biden administration for failing to block a resolution
  • “The Council resolution said the hostages were ‘held by Hamas and other groups’ – not that they were raped, mutilated and kidnapped by Hamas. It never mentioned Israel’s U.N. Charter right of self-defense. It refers only to civilians ‘in Gaza’ and never in Israel. It never mentions ongoing rocket attacks against Israelis. And yet the Biden administration refused to veto it,” Bayefsky told Fox News.

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Russians Target Hospital with Children in Mariupol

Revelations 6:3-4 “ when he opened the second seal, I heard the second living creature say, “Come!” 4 And out came another horse, bright red. Its rider was permitted to take peace from the earth, so that people should slay one another, and he was given a great sword.

Important Takeaways:

  • Ukraine accuses Russia of genocide after bombing of children’s hospital
  • Ukrainian’s president accused Russia of carrying out genocide after officials said Russian aircraft bombed a children’s hospital on Wednesday, burying patients in rubble despite a ceasefire deal for people to flee the besieged city of Mariupol.
  • Hospital hit by several Russian bombs, city council says
  • Moscow denies targeting civilians
  • Russia’s foreign minister arrives in Turkey for talks
  • Russia had earlier agreed to ceasefire for evacuation

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Peace Talks End with No Agreement of a Ceasefire

Matthew 24:6 “And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet.”

Important Takeaways:

  • Ukraine’s First Round Of Talks With Russia Ends Without A Ceasefire Agreement
  • A Russian rocket artillery barrage hit the city of Kharkiv, killing dozens of its residents, while the negotiations were ongoing.
  • Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is pressing the West to establish a no-fly zone over Ukraine, an idea that has been floated recently. However, NATO officials, among others, have all but ruled this out. “We have no intentions of moving into Ukraine neither on the ground or in the airspace,” NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg
  • The Russian government claims to have captured the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, which lies around 100 miles northeast of Crimea. Zaporizhzhia is the largest nuclear power plant in Europe and one of the top 10 largest such facilities in the world.
  • The Ukrainian military has put civilian casualty figures. A total of 352 civilians, including 14 children, have died in the fighting so far, according to the official statement.
  • Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby has warned that “Mr. Putin still has at his disposal significant combat power,” including in the Black Sea.

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Calls for ceasefire in Ethiopia grow amid deepening conflict

ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) -African and Western nations called for an immediate ceasefire in Ethiopia on Thursday after Tigrayan forces from the country’s north said they made advances towards the capital this week.

The U.S. special envoy for the Horn of Africa, Jeffrey Feltman, arrived in Addis Ababa to press for a halt to military operations and a start to ceasefire talks.

African Union Commission Chair Moussa Faki Mahamat said he met Feltman to discuss efforts towards dialogue and political solutions to the conflict, which pits the central government against the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) and its allies.

The European Union and the East African bloc the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) joined the chorus of bodies calling for a ceasefire. Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni announced an IGAD meeting on Nov. 16 to discuss the war.

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta urged the rival parties to lay down their arms and find a path to peace.

“The fighting must stop!” he said in a statement.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said he had spoken to Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed on Wednesday and offered to help create the conditions for a dialogue.

The government brushed off the calls for talks, said new recruits were heeding the call to fight on the government side and accused the Tigrayan forces of exaggerating their territorial gains.

“We are fighting an existential war,” it said in a statement issued by its communication service.

Abiy’s government declared a state of emergency on Tuesday as the Tigrayan forces threatened to push forward to Addis Ababa.

ADDIS ARRESTS

TPLF spokesman Getachew Reda said on Wednesday TPLF troops were in the town of Kemise in Amhara state, 325 km (200 miles) from the capital. Government and military spokespeople did not return calls seeking comment on his account.

The U.S. Embassy in Addis Ababa authorized the voluntary departure of some staff and family members because of the intensifying hostilities. Washington said on Wednesday it was “gravely concerned” about the situation and called for ceasefire talks and a halt to military operations.

The year-long conflict has killed thousands of people, forced more than two million more from their homes and left 400,000 people in Tigray facing famine.

The United States, the European Union and the United Nations said a de facto government blockade in Tigray must end to avert a large-scale famine. The government had denied blocking aid.

No humanitarian convoys have entered Tigray since Oct. 18 and no fuel to aid the humanitarian response has entered since early August, according to the United Nations.

Streets and shops in Addis Ababa, a city of around five million people, were busy as usual on Thursday morning, though some residents said there was a feeling of uneasy calm.

“There are rumors about the approach of the rebels. People debate about the conflict, most of the people accuse the government for what happened,” said one man, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Police had arrested “many people” in Addis Ababa since the government declared the state of emergency, police spokesperson Fasika Fanta said on Thursday.

Residents told Reuters on Wednesday many Tigrayans had been arrested. Fasika said arrests were not based on ethnicity.

YEAR-OLD CONFLICT

“We are only arresting those who are directly or indirectly supporting the illegal terrorist group,” Fasika said. “This includes moral, financial and propaganda support.”

He also said many people were registering weapons at police stations around the city in line with a government directive issued on Tuesday for people to prepare to defend their neighborhoods.

“Some are even coming with bombs and heavy weapons. We are registering those too,” he said.

Government spokesperson Legesse Tulu did not respond to requests for comment.

The conflict started last November when forces loyal to the TPLF, including some soldiers, seized military bases in Tigray. In response, Abiy sent more troops to the northern region.

The TPLF had dominated national politics for nearly three decades but lost much influence when Abiy took office in 2018.

The TPLF accused him of centralizing power at the expense of regional states – which Abiy denies.

TPLF spokesman Getachew on Wednesday pledged to minimize casualties in any drive to take Addis Ababa.

“We don’t intend to shoot at civilians and we don’t want bloodshed. If possible we would like the process to be peaceful,” he said.

A regional analyst, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the TPLF was likely to hold off on any advance on Addis Ababa until they secured the highway running from neighboring Djibouti to the capital.

Abiy’s spokesperson, Billene Seyoum, accused the international media of being “overly alarmist” in its coverage of Ethiopia.

“Perpetuating terrorist propaganda as truth from offices far off and detached from the ground is highly unethical,” she said in a tweet.

(Reporting by Addis Ababa newsroom; Additional reporting by George Obulutsa and Ayenat Mersie in Nairobi; Writing by Maggie Fick; Editing by Clarence Fernandez, Robert Birsel, Angus MacSwan and Andrew Heavens)

U.S. aid chief says emergency food in Ethiopia’s Tigray to run out this week

By Maggie Fick

NAIROBI (Reuters) -For the first time in nine months of war in Ethiopia’s Tigray region, aid workers will run out of food this week to deliver to millions of people who are going hungry, the head of the U.S. government’s humanitarian agency said, blaming the government for restricting access.

“USAID and its partners as well as other humanitarian organizations have depleted their stores of food items warehoused in Tigray,” Samantha Power, head of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), said in a statement late on Thursday.

“People in Tigray are starving with up to 900,000 in famine conditions and more than five million in desperate need of humanitarian assistance,” Power said. “This shortage is not because food is unavailable, but because the Ethiopian Government is obstructing humanitarian aid and personnel, including land convoys and air access.”

War broke out in November between Ethiopian troops and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), which controls the region. The conflict has killed thousands and sparked a humanitarian crisis in one of the world’s poorest regions.

Billene Seyoum, spokesperson for Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, did not respond to a request for comment. At a news conference on Friday, she did not refer to Power’s statement but dismissed allegations that the Ethiopian government is “purposely blocking humanitarian assistance”, saying the government is concerned about security.

“It is important to really address this continuing rhetoric because that is not the case,” Billene said. “Security is first and foremost a priority that cannot be compromised, it is a volatile area so in that regards there is going to be continuous checks and processes.”

On Thursday, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called for an immediate ceasefire and unrestricted aid access in Tigray. The U.N. warned last month that more than 100,000 children in Tigray could die of hunger.

Power’s statement said that 100 trucks carrying food and life-saving supplies need to be arriving each day in Tigray to meet the humanitarian needs there. As of a few days ago, only about 320 trucks had arrived, less than 7% of what is required, it said.

The Ethiopian government declared a unilateral ceasefire in June after Tigrayan forces re-captured the regional capital Mekelle and retook most of the region. The Tigrayan forces dismissed this as a “joke” and issued preconditions for truce talks.

(Reporting by Maggie Fick; Additional reporting by Ayenat Mersie and Giulia Paravicini; Editing by John Stonestreet and Frances Kerry)

U.S., other nations call for unimpeded delivery of aid to Syria

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States and other nations in a joint statement on Monday reiterated their call for immediate nation-wide ceasefire in Syria and unimpeded delivery of aid to the war-torn country.

The group of 19 countries as well as the European Union and Arab League said in the statement released after a meeting of their ministers that United Nations Security Council Resolution 2254, the 2015 resolution that laid out the steps for a ceasefire and political transition in Syria, is the “only solution” to the country’s decade-long conflict.

(Reporting by Lisa Lambert)

U.S., Egypt working closely to reinforce Gaza ceasefire, Blinken says

By Aidan Lewis and Nidal al-Mughrabi

CAIRO/GAZA (Reuters) -Egypt and the United States said they would work together to reinforce a ceasefire between Israel and Palestinian militants as U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken visited Cairo and Amman on Wednesday on a regional tour.

Egypt has longstanding relations with both sides in the conflict and played a key role in brokering the ceasefire after 11 days of violence, in coordination with the United States.

“We’ve had in Egypt a real and effective partner in dealing with the violence, bringing it to a close, relatively quickly,” Blinken said in Cairo after meeting with President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry and intelligence chief Abbas Kamel.

The United States and Egypt were now “working closely together build something positive,” he said. Egypt, Blinken said, is vital to shared aspirations for Palestinians and Israelis to “live in safety and security to enjoy equal measures of freedom, opportunity and dignity.”

Egyptian mediation in the conflict has raised questions whether Cairo might now feel under less U.S. pressure over its crackdown on political dissent that has steadily intensified in recent years.

Asked about the matter at a press conference later in the Jordanian capital Amman, Blinken said he had a “lengthy discussion” with Sisi on Cairo’s human rights record and the issue of detained American citizens.

“I think the fact that we had a lengthy exchange on that with President Sisi is a reflection of the fact that it remains very much on the agenda with Egypt,” Blinken said.

Sisi, who ousted the Muslim Brotherhood from power in 2013, has said there are no political prisoners in Egypt and that stability and security are paramount.

Blinken said he also discussed with Sisi Egypt’s water needs and the importance of finding a diplomatic solution to the giant Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam. Egypt regards the dam as a potentially existential threat as the largely arid country relies on the Nile for as much as 90% of its fresh water.

GAZA AID

Blinken arrived in Egypt after stops in Jerusalem and Ramallah on Tuesday, when he pledged that the United States would provide new aid to help rebuild the Gaza Strip, including $5.5 million in disaster relief and nearly $33 million for the U.N. Palestinian aid agency there, after hundreds of devastating Israeli air strikes.

Speaking in Amman, he said Washington intended to ensure that the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, which rules Gaza and is listed by Washington as a terrorist organization, did not benefit from humanitarian aid.

“In the coming days I’ll be consulting broadly with Gulf countries and other partners to ensure we all contribute to recovery, stability and the reduction of tensions,” he said.

Yehya Al-Sinwar, the Hamas chief in Gaza, said the group welcomed Arab and international efforts to rebuild the enclave.

“We will ease and facilitate the task for everyone and we will make sure that the process will be transparent and fair and we will make sure that no penny goes to Hamas or Qassam (the Hamas armed wing),” Sinwar told a news conference.

“We have satisfactory sources of money for Hamas and Qassam. A major part of it from Iran and part in donations from Arabs, Muslims and liberals of the world who are sympathetic to our people and their rights,” he added.

Egypt, which shares a border with Gaza and has security contacts with Hamas, is likely to have a role in channeling aid, a senior U.S. State Department official said earlier.

During the fighting, Egypt opened the Rafah border crossing between Gaza and its Sinai Peninsula in order to provide medical aid and evacuate the wounded.

It also sent a security delegation to Israel and Gaza to help bolster the ceasefire after it took effect on Friday.

(Additional reporting by Nidal al-Mughrabi in Gaza, Humeyra Pamuk, Daphne Psaledakis and Matt Spetalnick in Washington Editing by Mark Heinrich)