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Israel attacks Islamic Jihad in Gaza, killing 13



Abraham Accords passes first real test with Gaza conflict, but obstacles remain

Thirteen people were killed after Israel attacked targets of the militant Palestinian organisation Islamic Jihad, according to officials on Tuesday.

The Palestinian Health Ministry said the dead included four women and four children in the strikes on Gaza and Rafah.

Russians Jamal Khaswan and his wife and son were also among those killed in Israeli air strikes on Gaza, according to the Russian mission in the West Bank.

About 30 Palestinians were injured, some of them critically, the ministry said.

Militant groups said they would retaliate.

Israel’s army justified the operation by citing rocket attacks from Gaza on the Israeli border area in recent weeks.

The Israeli army said the three militants were Chalil Bahitini, a commander in the northern part of the Gaza Strip who was responsible for recent rocket attacks on Israel.

Jahed Ahnam, head of the military council, and Tarek Az Aldin, coordinated the attacks in the West Bank.

UN envoy, Tor Wennesland, condemned the civilian deaths as unacceptable.

“I urge all concerned to exercise maximum restraint to avoid an escalation.

“We must be prepared for every scenario – the IDF and security forces are prepared to defend every front,” Israeli Defence Minister, Yoav Gallant, said.

The military was ordered to prepare for a possible mobilisation of reservists.

The opposition backed the Israeli government’s deployment.

The U.S. was informed about the plans, according to media reports.

Several Arab countries, including Egypt and Jordan, condemned the Israeli attacks.

Civilians in southern Israel were ordered to stay near a designated shelter until Wednesday.

Border crossings with Gaza were closed and regional rail traffic was restricted.

According to eyewitnesses, the Gaza region saw little traffic, while schools, universities, and all ministries and public services were closed.

Amid fears of escalation, Managing Director of the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS), Tamir Hayman, has said.

“As far as Israel is concerned, Hamas is not the target of the operation but the main question that will determine the intensity of this conflict and its duration is whether or not Hamas will join the campaign.’’

Israeli news site Ynet reported that Israel had sent a message to Hamas that they were not targeted.

A Hamas spokesman said that the Palestinian people know how to respond to the crime of the targeted killing of Jihad members and attack the occupying power.

A Jihad spokesperson said that Israel had ignored all the initiatives of the mediators.

In August last year, Israel killed the jihadi military chief, Chalid Mansur, in an air strike.

Two other jihad members were killed, including Mansur’s deputy.

At that time, there were massive rocket attacks from the Palestinian territory and further Israeli air strikes.

An Egyptian-brokered ceasefire came into effect three days later.

The latest tensions stem from the death of Khader Adnan a week ago.

The senior member of the Islamic Jihad movement died after spending almost three months on hunger strike in an Israeli jail.

The Gaza Strip is home to more than two million people living in very poor conditions, while Hamas seized power in the Palestinian territory by force in 2007.

In response, Israel tightened a blockade of the coastal area, which was supported by Egypt.

The U.S., the EU, and Israel classify Hamas and Islamic Jihad as terrorist organisations.

Both groups were committed to the destruction of Israel.

Islamic Jihad, however, was seen as more radical than Hamas. 

– dpa

Foreign News

Libya’s Flood-ravaged Derna Struggles To Cope With Thousands Of Corpses



Residents and rescue workers in the devastated Libyan city of Derna are struggling to cope with the thousands of corpses washing up or decaying under rubble.

This is happening after a flood that smashed down buildings and swept people to sea.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) and other aid groups urged authorities in Libya to stop burying flood victims in mass graves, saying these could bring long-term mental distress to families or cause health risks if located near water.

A UN report said more than 1,000 people had so far been buried in that manner since Libya, a nation divided by a decade of conflict and political chaos, was hit on Sunday by torrential rain that caused two dams to burst.

Thousands were killed and thousands more are missing.

“Bodies are littering the streets, washing back on shore, and are buried under collapsed buildings and debris.

“In just two hours, one of my colleagues counted over 200 bodies on the beach near Derna,” Bilal Sablouh, International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) forensics manager for Africa, told a briefing in Geneva.

Ibrahim al-Arabi, health minister in Libya’s Tripoli-based western government, told Reuters he was certain groundwater was polluted with water mixed up with corpses, dead animals, refuse, and chemical substances.

“We urge people not to approach the wells in Derna,” he said.

Mohammad al-Qabisi, head of Derna’s Wahda Hospital, said a field hospital was treating people with chronic illnesses needing regular attention.

He said there were fears waterborne diseases would spread, but no cholera had been recorded so far.

Swathes of Derna, the centre point of the destruction in Libya’s east, were obliterated when the dams above the city broke, and the flood that swept down a usually dry riverbed brought down whole residential blocks while families were asleep.

The International Organization for Migration mission in Libya said more than 5,000 people were presumed dead, with 3,922 deaths registered in hospitals, and over 38,640 were displaced in the flood-stricken region.

The true death toll could be far higher, officials say.

“We should be afraid of an epidemic,” 60-year-old Nouri Mohamed said, at a bakery offering loaves for free. “There are still bodies underground … Now there are corpses starting to smell.”

The U.N. health agency together with the ICRC and the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies called for burials to be managed better.

“We urge authorities in communities touched by tragedy to not rush forward with mass burials or mass cremations,” Kazunobu Kojima, medical officer for biosafety and biosecurity in the WHO’s Health Emergencies Programme, said in the statement.

It called for individual graves, demarcated and documented, saying that hasty interments could lead to mental anguish for families as well as social and legal problems.

The bodies of victims of trauma from natural disasters “almost never” posed a health threat, it said, unless they were in or near freshwater supplies since corpses may leak excrement.

A doctor in Derna said this week that photos were being taken of unidentified bodies before burial, in case relatives could identify them later on.

Thursday’s UN report said more than 1,000 bodies in Derna and over 100 in Al Bayda, another coastal city hit by flooding, had been buried in mass graves.

The Norwegian Refugee Council, which has a team of 100 in Libya, said dead body management was the most pressing concern.

“I’ve heard from my team that there are mass graves where rescue workers were appealing: ‘Don’t bring us food, don’t bring us water, bring us body bags’,” the NRC’s Ahmed Bayram said. 

– Reuters

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Without France, there’d be no Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger – Macron



Malian president condoles with Macron over killing of French soldiers by jihadists

Without France’s military operations in the Sahel, “there would probably no longer be a Mali … Burkina Faso, and I’m not sure there would still be Niger”, French President Emmanuel Macron told French publication Le Point.

Macron is referring to the former colonial power’s interventions in the mid-2000s, Operations Serval and Barkhane.

French troops were moved from Mali to Niger after its military leaders cut ties with the former colonial power.

He said the interventions were done “at the request of African states” and were “successful” as his policy is facing scrutiny in the face of losing the allyship of the last remaining ally, Niger, and increasing negative sentiment from Africans.

*Niger Uranium site

He went on to explain that while these operations reflect France’s “honour” and “responsibility”, France could no longer remain involved “when there is a coup d’état, and the priority of the new regimes is not to fight terrorism” even though this is “tragic for the states concerned”.

In the interview, Macron defended his administration’s policy in the Sahel as one of partnership rather than focusing on security.

France refuses to acknowledge coup leader General Abdurahman Tchiani’s announcement that all military deals between Niger and France are terminated, and more than a thousand French troops remain stationed at a military base there. 

– Sputnik

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Ukraine Says Special Operation Troops Landed In Crimea



Ukraine says its troops landed in Crimea, the Black Sea peninsula that was illegally annexed by Russia in 2014 and which Kyiv says it is committed to retaking.

Ukraine’s military intelligence (HUR) carried out the landing as part of a special operation and all tasks were fulfilled, said Andrey Yusov, a spokesman for the agency, on Thursday.

Russian media reported the attack took place at Cape Tarkhankut, in the far west of Crimea, and that the Ukrainian forces had been repelled.

According to the Russian news outlets Mash and Shot, which delivers their reports on the social media platform Telegram, the Ukrainians landed in rubber boats near a campsite.

Holidaymakers there were startled by gunshots and explosions, they reported.

Shots reported, citing Russian intelligence circles, that the crews of four inflatable boats about 15 to 20 men were later killed.

Yusov denied Ukrainian losses in the course of the commando action and said it was Russian forces who were weakened, although he did not give a precise number of casualties.

The battlefield claims could not be independently verified. 

– dpa

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