English LCCC Newsbulletin For Lebanese, Lebanese Related, Global News & Editorials
For November 22/2023
Compiled & Prepared by: Elias Bejjani

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Bible Quotations For today
You are from your father the devil, and you choose to do your father’s desires

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint John 08/41-45: “You are indeed doing what your father does.’ They said to him, ‘We are not illegitimate children; we have one father, God himself.’Jesus said to them, ‘If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and now I am here. I did not come on my own, but he sent me. Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot accept my word. You are from your father the devil, and you choose to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks according to his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies. But because I tell the truth, you do not believe me.”

Titles For The Latest English LCCC Lebanese & Lebanese Related News & Editorials published on November 21-22/2023
Petition To The UN H.E. Antonio Guterres Calling For The Implementation of the UN Resolution 1701
Russia’s Wagner preparing to provide air defense to ‘Hezbollah or Iran’: White House
White House declassifies intel suggesting Wagner Group is preparing to provide air defense capability to Hezbollah or Iran
Russian Anti-Tank And Anti-Ship Missiles Sent To Syrian Government Reach Hizbullah's Arsenal
Two journalists among 8 killed as Israel hits targets in Lebanon
Killing of al-Mayadeen journalists spurs widespread outcry in Lebanon
Israel kills 2 journalists, 2 civilians in south Lebanon, Hezbollah retaliates
Israeli airstrikes on Lebanon kill 4 Palestinian militants
Alleged Israeli Strike on Reporters in Lebanon Takes Journalists’ Death Toll to 50
Hezbollah vows to retaliate against Israel's killing of journalists in S. Lebanon
Lebanese Journalists: Hizbullah Is Dragging Lebanon Into A Devastating War With Israel
Hezbollah Is Holding Lebanon Hostage

Titles For The Latest English LCCC Miscellaneous Reports And News published on November 21-22/2023
Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu says war against Hamas will not stop after cease-fire
Hopes for hostages as Israel, Hamas, Qatar say progress in talks
Relatives of Gaza hostages say stop talk of execution for Hamas detainees
Canada awaiting news of possible deal between Israel, Hamas to release hostages: Joly
Saudi crown prince: We demand ‘serious’ peace process for Palestinian state
Israel recalls its ambassador from South Africa
Gaza health officials say they lost the ability to count dead as Israeli offensive intensifies
Scotland/SPs back Gaza ceasefire calls as Yousaf warns of cruelty facing patients
Saudi crown prince: We demand ‘serious’ peace process for Palestinian state
EU faces growing Muslim animosity over Gaza war stance — Borrell
US fires on and kills hostile forces after attack in Iraq, US official says
The White House is concerned Iran may provide ballistic missiles to Russia for use against Ukraine

Titles For The Latest English LCCC  analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on November 21-22/2023
The Curious Case of Rob Malley/Peter Schweizer/Gatestone Institute./November 21, 2023
Kurdish Columnist, Nizar Jaff, On Saudi Website: It Is The Iranian Regime That Ignited The Fires Of War; The Solution Is To Topple This Regime/MEMRI/November 21, 2023
‘We Will Drink Your Blood and Eat Your Skull’: A Legacy of Islamic Savagery/Raymond Ibrahim/November 21, 2023
After Gaza, The Great Sorting Begins/Amb. Alberto M. Fernandez*/MEMRI/November 21, 2023
Between Israelis and Palestinians, a Lethal Psychological Chasm Grows/Roger Cohen/The New York Times/November 21, 2023
Gaza ceasefire would allow both sides to begin recovery process/Yossi Mekelberg/Arab News/November 21, 2023

Latest English LCCC Lebanese & Lebanese Related News & Editorials published on November 21-22/2023
Petition To The UN H.E. Antonio Guterres Calling For The Implementation of the UN Resolution 1701
H.E. Antonio Guterres
Secretary General United Nations
New York, NY USA
November 2023
Your Excellency,
The undersigned call upon the UN once more to enforce United Nations Security Council Resolution 1559 which Calls for the disbanding and disarmament of all Lebanese and non-Lebanese militias.
We reaffirm its call for the strict respect of the sovereignty, territorial integrity, unity, and political independence of Lebanon under the sole and exclusive authority of the Government of Lebanon throughout Lebanon.
Hezbollah has never complied with UNSCR 1559 directive and the UN has done little to impede their campaign of violence and intimidation against the free Lebanese people and beyond. The tentacles of Hezbollah are reaching throughout the Middle east and as far as Latin America.
The war Hamas has started with Israel is very likely to spill over into Lebanon as long as Hezbollah continues to act in a provoking fashion, such as firing rockets from southern Lebanon into Israeli territory.
It is clear that Iran is the main driver of this conflict and the hostile actions it encourages and propagates.
The UN Secretary General has the moral obligation to call on Iran to cease and desist its support of terror immediately.
Understanding the power of the security council members of what the UN can reasonably do at this time, we respectfully implore you to deliver the maximum pressure on Iran to yield to the International concern and force Hezbollah to comply with UNSCR 1559 , a strong message that can prove to be a powerful tool when wielded by the right man at the right time. A strong united pressure of this clear message will deliver a positive result against terrorism and avoiding a destructive war in Lebanon.
In hope for a speedy end to this conflict

Russia’s Wagner preparing to provide air defense to ‘Hezbollah or Iran’: White House
AFP/November 21, 2023
WASHINGTON: The White House said Tuesday that Russia’s mercenary Wagner group was preparing to bolster the air defenses of Lebanon’s Hezbollah movement or the regime in Tehran, as part of an “unprecedented defense cooperation” between the two US adversaries. “Our information... indicates that Wagner, at the direction of the Russian government, was preparing to provide an air defense capability to either Hezbollah or Iran,” National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told reporters.

White House declassifies intel suggesting Wagner Group is preparing to provide air defense capability to Hezbollah or Iran
Natasha Bertrand, CNN/November 21/2023
The White House released recently declassified intelligence on Tuesday confirming that the Russian mercenary organization Wagner group has been preparing to provide an air defense capability “to either Hezbollah or Iran,” according to National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby. Wagner was preparing to provide the capability at the direction of the Russian government, Kirby said. The newly downgraded intelligence did not specify where the missile system would be coming from. But CNN previously reported that the Wagner Group had been tasked with carrying out the delivery of a surface-to-air SA-22 missile system from Syria to the Iran-backed militant group Hezbollah in Lebanon. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad agreed to provide Hezbollah with the Russian-made missile defense system, known as a Pantsir, two people familiar with the intelligence told CNN last month. “We will closely monitor for whether Wagner provides military equipment to Hezbollah or Iran,” Kirby said. “We are prepared to use our counterterrorism sanctions authorities against Russian individuals or entities making these destabilizing transfers.” Russia’s role in directing the transfer of an air defense system to Hezbollah reflects Moscow’s ongoing arms relationship with Iran and its proxies, which has only strengthened since Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022. The US is also concerned that Iran is preparing to provide Russia with ballistic missiles, which Iran showcased to Russian Defense Minister Shoigu during the latter’s visit to Tehran in September, Kirby said on Tuesday. Wagner and Hezbollah fighters have also both operated in Syria for years, where they have been working alongside Russian and Syrian armed forces to bolster the Assad regime against the Syrian opposition. Hezbollah began to pull its fighters out in recent years, but the group is also backed by Iran, which is a close Assad ally. A source familiar with western intelligence told CNN previously that there has been evidence of increasing collaboration between Hezbollah and Wagner in Syria. The possibility that Hezbollah could soon have a new air defense system comes amid concerns that the militants are considering opening a new front in Israel’s war on Hamas, on Israel’s northern border with Lebanon. The US has repeatedly warned Hezbollah and other Iran-backed groups to stay out of the conflict and has positioned aircraft carriers and troops in the region to try to deter against a potential escalation. Still, Iran-backed militia groups have launched over 60 attacks on US forces in Iraq and Syria since October 17, prompting the US to respond with strikes on the militants. The US intelligence community has assessed that Iran has been calibrating its response to Israel’s military intervention in Gaza to avoid direct conflict with Israel or the US, while still exacting costs on its adversaries via its proxy groups, CNN has reported. But Iran does not maintain perfect control of its umbrella of these proxy groups, officials say—in particular over Hezbollah. Hezbollah is an ally of Hamas, the group that attacked Israel on October 7, and has long positioned itself as fighting against Israel.  Hezbollah and Israel have engaged in cross-border strikes on each other in northern Israel and southern Lebanon over the last month, but US officials believe Hezbollah is for now not planning on entering the war in force.

Russian Anti-Tank And Anti-Ship Missiles Sent To Syrian Government Reach Hizbullah's Arsenal
MEMRI/November 21, 2023
Lebanon, Russia, Syria | Special Dispatch No. 10971
On November 8, 2023, Reuters news agency, quoting its own sources, reported that Hizbullah had the Soviet-designed Yakhont universal medium-range anti-ship missile,[1] which, called the P-800 Onix, can be launched from the air, from land, and from underwater. According to the agency, Hizbullah may have acquired the Yakhont from Syria, where its fighters have been fighting on the side of the country's President Bashar Al-Assad and government forces since 2011.
The infographic from the official website[2] of Yakhont manufacturer NPO Mashinostroeniya[3] demonstrates the operations of the Bastion"stationary coastal missile system equipped with a unified Yakhont supersonic homing anti-ship cruise missile. In the image, red lines depict data from combat and homing systems, green lines depict data moving between command points, and blue lines depict the data of land- and air-based homing systems. The missile is designed to engage ships of various classes and types, landing formations, convoys, ship and aircraft carrier strike groups, and land-based targets in conditions of intensive fire and electronic countermeasures.
The first reports of Russian arms supplied to Syria ending up in the hands of Hizbullah appeared in 2006.[4] At that time, Hizbullah had acquired several Russian-made weapons systems supplied to Syria under agreements signed in 1995-1996 and used against Israeli forces during the armed conflict in Lebanon. The systems acquired were the ATGM 9M133 Kornet and 9K115-2 Metis-M, both of which are man-portable anti-tank guided missile systems, and the RPG-29 Vampir, a Soviet reusable RPG launcher. Israel has repeatedly expressed its concern about military cooperation between Moscow and Damascus. In August 2006, according to the Russian Kommersant daily,[5] then Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert informed Russian President Vladimir Putin that Hizbullah was using Russian-made anti-tank weapons that it had obtained from Syria. Journalists said that Israel provided the Kremlin with irrefutable evidence and in response the latter had promised to influence Damascus, though publicly denying the fact. Then Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov stated: "The claims that Hizbullah has Russian 'Kornet' anti-tank systems is complete nonsense. No one has provided us with any evidence of Hizbullah possessing of these systems."[6] He noted that Hizbullah indeed had not only Russian, but also American and even Israeli-made weapons.
Though it is unclear to what degree Russian authorities could control the future of weapons transferred to Al-Assad, the supply of arms continued. In 2010, Russia planned based on a 2007 contract to supply Yakhont missiles to Assad, which again caused concern in Israel.[7] Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu asked then prime minister Vladimir Putin to put the deal on hold. The result of the negotiations is unclear, but on February 26, 2011, then Russian Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov stated that Russia would fullfil contracts on the Yakhont, supplying 72 missiles in total, including a supply of the K-300P Bastion-P coastal defence missile system.[8] At that time the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute[9] reported that Russia accounted for 71 percent of all Syrian arms supplies.[10] In 2015, Kommersant reported that small arms, grenade launchers, BTR-82A armored personnel carriers, and Ural military trucks had been supplied to Syria.[11]
Some of this equipment requires skilled maintenance. The Yakhont missile system requires an inspection every three years, while the warranty period of the missiles themselves is seven years. If Hizbullah indeed acquired the systems supplied to Syria in 2011, which were likely manufactured probably even earlier, the missiles may be 12 or 13 years old, meaning that even with regular maintenance, the chances of operational failure of these systems are growing.
"All our contacts in the area of military-technical co-operation with the Syrians are absolutely legal. Nevertheless, we take into account the situation in that region and supply them only with weapons that cannot be used against other countries. Believe me: everything they have is aimed solely at protecting their borders and fighting terrorists,"[12] said then general director of "Rosoboronexport"Anatoly Isaikin. Rosoboronexport is a state company tasked with exporting weapons, dual-use products, and related services and technologies. (Source: TKB.RF).
So, the Yakhont systems that are in the service of the Syrian military may have ended up in the hands of Hizbullah, though Presidential Administration Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov firmly denied claims of a direct transfer of arms to the Shi'ite militant group,[13] with media supporting the "general party-line." The Izvestia daily, quoting a source "close to Hizbullah's political leadership" wrote on November 10, 2023: "This kind of publication can be percieved as intimidation on the part of the United States and as an attempt to demonize the Lebanese paramilitary party. The Americans used exactly the same strategy in Iraq as an excuse to justify their invasion in 2003."[14]
The veracity of Moscow's claims is unclear, as photos and video of Russian-produced weapons under Hizbullah control are disseminated on social media. Despite the November 10 claims of Russian Defense Minister Ivanov on the "Operation Z: Military Correspondents of the Russian Spring" Telegram channel posted[15] a video of the destruction of an Israeli M113 APC with a Kornet anti-tank system by Hizbullah. So it is possible that Hizbullah has the Yakhont or another similar type of missile.
Though the Kremlin is not the only supplier of arms to Assad's regime – China, North Korea, and Belarus also provide arms to the Syrian president – it is probably the main one. While it is hard to tell to what extent the Russian authorities can influence the arms already transferred to the Syrian regime, there is no doubt that the authorities are aware of Israel's concerns, which have been reiterated many times. The abundance of arms in Syria – over the years more than $2.2 billion worth of military equipment has been imported into the country –has facilitated the emergence of a grey and black arms market,[16] which may be a source of illegal arms for Hizbullah.
[1] Reuters.com/world/middle-east/hezbollahs-anti-ship-missiles-bolster-its-threat-us-navy-2023-11-08/
[2] Npomash.ru/activities/ru/missile3.htm
[3] Npomash.ru/activities/ru/missile3.htm
[4] Wherein, military cooperation between the USSR and the Syrian Arab Republic dates back to 1980, when the 'Treaty of friendship and cooperation' between the two countries was signed. The supplies surged back in 2015 when the said traety was renewed. (rbc.ru/politics/09/09/2015/55f057fa9a79477224e62a06)
[5] Kommersant.ru/doc/708257
[6] Kommersant.ru/doc/703330
[7] Lenta.ru/news/2010/09/17/rocket/
[8] Ria.ru/20110226/339201737.html
[9] Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.
[10] Sipri.org/sites/default/files/2023-06/yb23_summary_en_1.pdf
[11] Kommersant.ru/doc/2806541
[12] Kommersant.ru/doc/2707945
[13] Gazeta.ru/politics/news/2023/11/03/21636055.shtml?updated
[14] Iz.ru/1602821/andrei-krasnobaev-prokhor-dorenko/pritcely-na-rasstoianii-est-li-u-khezbolly-rossiiskie-rakety-iakhont
[15] T.me/RVvoenkor/54641
[16] See for example: gjia.georgetown.edu/2019/09/02/the-arms-trade-and-syria/; armscontrol.org/act/2012-05/urgent-need-arms-trade-treaty.

Two journalists among 8 killed as Israel hits targets in Lebanon
Arab News/November 21, 2023
BEIRUT: Eight people were killed on Tuesday in southern Lebanon due to Israeli artillery shelling and drone attacks, among the victims a journalist and photojournalist. Farah Omar, a correspondent for Al-Mayadeen TV, and photojournalist Rabie Al-Maamari, were killed in an Israeli airstrike in the Tayr Harfa triangle. Civilian Hussein Aqeel, who happened to be with them, also lost his life. Al-Mayadeen expressed deep sorrow for the loss of “the martyrs Farah Omar and Rabie Al-Maamari, who died as a result of treacherous Israeli targeting.”Ghassan bin Jiddo, Al-Mayadeen director, said the journalists were deliberately targeted: “It was a direct attack, it was not by chance.”The incident brought the total number of civilian casualties to 19 since the beginning of hostilities between Hezbollah and the Israeli army on the southern front, which commenced on Oct. 8. Over the course of the past 45 days, over 70 Hezbollah members have also been killed. Prime Minister Najib Mikati strongly condemned “the Israeli aggression that targeted media professionals in the south.”He said: “This aggression proves that there are no limits to Israeli crimes, and (Israel’s) ultimate goal is to silence the media that exposes its crimes and attacks.”
Foreign Minister Abdullah Bou Habib said from Brussels after a meeting with his Belgian counterpart: “Lebanon will lodge a complaint with the UN Security Council, and we demand the condemnation of this heinous crime.”Bou Habib expressed his fears that “the Gaza fire will spread to the Middle East if there is no concerted effort to extinguish it.”Hezbollah condemned the targeting of journalists with Al-Mayadeen TV, saying: “This crime, and the previous assassination of journalist Essam Al-Abdullah, targeting the media convoy in Yaroun, and the killing of dozens of journalists in Gaza, reveal the crucial role played by the media in exposing the enemy’s terrorist acts. The Islamic resistance will not let this aggression and the loss of innocent lives go unpunished.”Hezbollah subsequently declared that it launched an assault on “an Israeli military intelligence unit positioned in a residence on the periphery of the Al-Manara settlement using two precision-guided missiles, which led to its members being killed or wounded.”An intensification of violence on the southern Lebanese border increases the potential for clashes there to escalate into a full-blown conflict with uncertain outcomes.
An observer told Arab News that the current escalation coincided with the announcement that Amos Hochstein, US advisor for global energy security affairs, would arrive in Israel on Monday for talks aimed at preventing an expansion of the war toward the northern border with Lebanon.
“It also coincides with the announcement that Israel and Hamas are approaching a truce agreement. The Israeli escalation in southern Lebanon may be aimed at dragging Hezbollah into war on the northern front, particularly since it is uncertain whether any truce agreement will include the southern Lebanese front,” the observer added. Israel intensified operations in the early hours of Tuesday morning. Israeli warplanes launched attacks on the heights of Kfar Shuba, Aita Al-Shaab, and Al-Jebin, and artillery bombed the towns of Tair Harfa, Al-Naqoura, Aita Al-Shaab, Yaroun, Rab El Thalathine, Al-Adisa, Al-Khiyam, and Kafr Kila. The most serious targeting was of a Lebanese army center in the Wazzani area, but there were only material damages.
Israeli bombing also hit a house in the town of Kafr Kila, killing Laiqa Sarhan, 80, and wounding her granddaughter, Alaa Al-Qassem, a Syrian national. A number of Sarhan’s grandchildren who were in the house survived. In the Al-Shaytiya area, Israeli bombs resulted in the death of four occupants of a vehicle. There are unverified reports suggesting that one of the deceased is Khalil Kharaz, the deputy commander of the Al-Qassam Brigades in Lebanon, the military arm of Hamas. The Israeli army said that it targeted “three cells on Lebanese territory specialized in launching anti-tank missiles.”
The Islamic Resistance, the military wing of Hezbollah, announced that “in response to the Zionist enemy’s targeting of homes in the southern villages, the Islamic Resistance targeted a house in the Metulla settlement where Israeli enemy soldiers were stationed, using suitable weapons, resulting in a direct hit. Additionally, Hadab Al-Bustan and Al-Raheb locations off Aita Al-Shaab were targeted, achieving direct hits on these targets as well.”According to the observer, the focus of this operation is in line with “Hezbollah’s increased efforts to target Israeli military installations and disrupt their operations by effectively disabling surveillance methods and inflicting maximum casualties on the Israeli army. This objective was achieved on Monday through the precise targeting of military gatherings, particularly at the Pranet barracks.”The Lebanese Press Editors Syndicate condemned “the treacherous and direct Israeli attack in an airstrike on the media team,” adding that it was “a deliberate attack that amounts to an assassination, and Tel Aviv bears direct responsibility for it.”The syndicate has brought up the matter of “this massacre” to the UN, its affiliated bodies, and press unions around the world, including those from Arab and Asian regions. It called for “a formal complaint to be lodged with the International Criminal Court and the International Court of Justice against Israel. The evidence of Israel’s crimes has been captured in audio and video recordings.”

Killing of al-Mayadeen journalists spurs widespread outcry in Lebanon

Associated Press/November 21 2023
The killing of two journalists reporting for the Beirut-based Al-Mayadeen TV Tuesday spurred a widespread outcry in Lebanon. Correspondent Farah Omar and cameraman Rabih Maamari were killed in Tayr Harfa by an Israeli strike on southern Lebanon. “It was direct targeting. It was not a coincidence,” said Ghassan bin Jiddo, director of the TV channel, holding back his tears in a live broadcast. They join "the martyrs of Gaza,” he said. Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri and caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati condemned the strike. “This aggression proves again that there are no limits to Israel's crimes whose main goal is to silence the media that is revealing its crimes,” Mikati said. “Treacherous Israel is targeting media crews in south Lebanon,” Lebanese Information Minister Ziad Makary said, describing the strike as “outrageous.” Free Patriotic Movement chief Jebran Bassil, the Kataeb party, and the Lebanese Forces also condemned the attack. Hezbollah's media office vowed in a statement that the killing of the journalists “will not pass without retaliation.”It later responded by attacking an Israeli military intelligence unit in the Manara settlement, and confirmed that the attack has caused casualties. Hamas also condemned the attack, calling it in a statement "a continuation of the savage war on our Palestinian people and our Arab and Muslim nation.”In her last live report shortly before her death, Omar cited a Hezbollah statement issued Tuesday morning claiming a strike on a house in the northern Israeli city of Metula, where Israeli soldiers were stationed. Hezbollah said was in retaliation for Israel targeting civilian homes in south Lebanon. “We are still in the early hours of the day, and we are following any developments that might happen,” were some of the last words that Omar spoke. Local media reported several other Israeli strikes in southern Lebanon on Tuesday. Another strike on a home in the border village of Kfarkela killed a woman and seriously wounded her granddaughter. Israeli shelling in southern Lebanon on Oct. 14 killed Reuters videojournalist Issam Abduallah and wounded other journalists from France’s international news agency, Agence France-Presse, and Qatar’s Al-Jazeera TV.

Israel kills 2 journalists, 2 civilians in south Lebanon, Hezbollah retaliates
Agence France Presse/November 21 2023
Two civilians and two journalists were Killed Tuesday in south Lebanon by Israeli bombardment. Al-Mayadeen reporter and videographer Farah Omar, 25 years old, and Rabih al-Maamari, a father of two, have been killed as Israel targeted a group of journalists between Tayr Harfa and al-Jebbayn.
Hezbollah in response attacked with two missiles an Israeli intelligence unit inside a home in the Manara settlement facing the Lebanese border town of Mays al-Jabal. The group confirmed in a statement that the attack has caused deaths and injuries. Hezbollah said the Manara attack was a preliminary response, after its media dept. vowed that the attack “will not go without a response” from Hezbollah. Hezbollah later announced shelling a military factory in Israel's Shlomi, a military barracks in Beit Hillel and a gathering of troops in Avivim in response to a recent attack on an aluminum factory in Nabatieh and the journalists and civilians in the South. Hussein Akil, a civilian from the village who guided the journalists, was also killed in the bombardement. Al-Mayadeen director Ghassan bin Jiddo said Akil was a "contributor" to the channel. "It was a direct attack, it was not by chance," Bin Jiddo said, holding back his tears in a live broadcast. They join "the martyrs of Gaza,” he said. Last week, the Israeli government blocked Al-Mayadeen TV news channel from broadcasting in Israel. An elderly woman, Laiqa Sarhan, 80, was also killed Tuesday and her granddaughter was wounded in an Israeli airstrike on their house in Kfarkela in southern Lebanon. A source in the area's Marjayoun hospital, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to speak to the media, said the seven-year-old granddaughter was in a serious condition. An Israeli drone also bombed an SUV car on a road between Shaaitiyeh and al-Qlayleh near Tyre, killing four Hamas militants who were inside it. At least 95 people have been killed on the Lebanese side, according to an AFP tally, most of them Hezbollah combatants but including at least 14 civilians, three of them journalists. On October 13, Reuters journalist Issam Abdallah was killed and six other journalists from AFP, Al Jazeera and Reuters wounded while covering the cross-border fire. Lebanese authorities have accused Israel of being responsible. The Israeli army has said it is looking into the circumstances. Earlier on Tuesday, Hezbollah targeted Israeli troops in Metulla in northern Israel with three anti-tank missiles. The house where Israeli soldiers were gathered in Metulla suffered a "direct hit", Hezbollah said. The Israel-Lebanon border has seen daily exchanges of fire since the Israel-Hamas war began on October 7. Hezbollah also attacked several Israeli posts -- including the Hadb al-Bustan, Jal al-Alam, Jal al-Dayr and al-Raheb posts -- and a group of Israeli soldiers in the Malkia post. Hezbollah later attacked an Israeli tank near Netu'a.
The group said all attacks were "direct hits".
Israeli fighter jets and artillery struck in response several border towns in south Lebanon including Aita al-Shaab, Tayr Harfa, al-Naqoura, Halta, al-Jebbayn, Shihine, Majdalzoun, Rmeish, Yaroune, Rob tlatine, al-Khiam, Kfarkela, al-Wazzani and Beit Leef. Deadly skirmishes on Israel's northern border began on October 7 when Gaza-based Palestinian militant group Hamas attacked southern Israel, killing around 1,200 people and taking about 240 hostage, according to Israeli officials. Israel has vowed to destroy Hamas, and its subsequent military campaign on Gaza has killed more than 13,000 people, mostly civilians. Hezbollah chief Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah said this month that his group, a Hamas ally, was using new weapons against Israel, including Burkan missiles, adding that they could carry "a payload of 300-500 kilogrammes". The group has also been using attack drones for the first time and has flown reconnaissance drones deep into Israel, Nasrallah said. Six soldiers and three civilians have been killed on the Israeli side, according to authorities there.

Israeli airstrikes on Lebanon kill 4 Palestinian militants
Associated Press/November 21 2023
An Israeli strike killed Tuesday four Palestinian members of the Hamas militant group in the village of Chaatiyeh near the Mediterranean coast. The four Palestinians who were in an SUV car on a road between Chaatiyeh and al-Qlayleh near Tyre, were bombed by a drone. A Palestinian official said they were members of the Qassam Brigades, Hamas' military wing, while other Hamas and Lebanese officials confirmed that the four killed were members of Hamas. The Israeli military did not immediately comment on the strike. The Lebanon-Israel border has been witnessing daily exchanges of fire between Hezbollah and Israeli troops. The clashes began a day after Hamas' attack on southern Israel on Oct. 7. Israel has since carried out a wide-scale military campaign in the Gaza Strip, killing more than 12,700 people. Hamas has large presences in Lebanon, which is home to tens of thousands of Palestinians, many of them living in the country’s 12 refugee camps. On Oct. 14, Hamas said three of its fighters were killed along the border and their bodies held by Israel.

Alleged Israeli Strike on Reporters in Lebanon Takes Journalists’ Death Toll to 50
Daily Beast/News Correspondent/November 21 2023
Two reporters working for a TV station in Lebanon were killed along with a third person Tuesday in an airstrike which the Lebanese prime minister blamed on Israel.
Al Mayadeen, the channel which employed the journalists, said the strike about a mile from the Israeli border had deliberately targeted the TV crew owing to the channel’s pro-Palestinian sympathies and its support for Iran’s regional military alliance.
Broadcaster NBN Lebanon quoted Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati as saying: “This attack proves once again that there are no limits to Israeli crimes, and that its goal is to silence the media that exposes its crimes and attacks.”Al Mayadeen named the journalists killed as Farah Omar, a correspondent, and camera operator Rabie al-Memari. The third person was identified as Hussein Aqil. Al Mayadeen Director Ghassan bin Jiddo said the strike came after Israel decided to block access to the network’s website this month, according to Al Jazeera. Jiddo also said Aqil was a “contributor” to the channel, though the network told Reuters that he was not working with them. In response to the attack, Hezbollah lawmaker Hassan Fadlallah said: “The crime against the Al Mayadeen team is intentional. The resistance will not tolerate harm to civilians and any harm to them will not go without a price, as part of the equation.”
Lebanon’s National News Agency later reported that another Israeli air raid had killed four more people in a car in southern Lebanon on Tuesday. The strike allegedly occurred around seven miles from the Israeli border. The war between Israel and Hamas—which has also seen significant cross-border violence between Israel and Hezbollah—has led to the deaths of at least 50 journalists and media workers since Oct. 7, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ). The media watchdog said the conflict produced the “deadliest month for journalists since CPJ began gathering data in 1992.”

Hezbollah vows to retaliate against Israel's killing of journalists in S. Lebanon
Xinhua/November 21 2023
Hezbollah, a Lebanese Shiite military group, vowed Tuesday to retaliate against Israel's "brutal aggression" after two journalists from Lebanese TV channel Al-Mayadeen were killed in Israeli attacks on the southern village of Tayr Harfa. "This crime, the previous attack on Reuters photojournalist Issam Abdallah, the killing of dozens of journalists in Gaza and the destruction of their headquarters by the occupation forces, reveals the important role played by the media in exposing the enemy's practices and exposing its horrific crimes against civilians, especially in the Gaza Strip," Hezbollah said in a statement.
The military group called on international media and humanitarian bodies to condemn the "crime and similar crimes that preceded it," and "exert the highest levels of pressure" on the Israeli government to stop its attacks on media professionals and civilians.
Meanwhile, Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati strongly condemned the Israeli attacks that killed media professionals in the south on Tuesday. He said the attack proved once again that "Israel's goal is to silence the media that exposes its crimes and attacks."For his part, Lebanese Defense Minister Maurice Slim called for "a unified and effective Arab and international position in the face of the continuous Israeli aggression as statements of denunciation and condemnation are no longer sufficient."
Farah Omar, a reporter working for local TV channel Al-Mayadeen, and Rabih Al-Maamari, a photographer working for the same channel, were covering the events in southern Lebanon on Tuesday when two Israeli drones hit them, killing both of them and a civilian named Hussein Akil, Lebanese TV channel Al-Manar reported. On Oct. 13, Issam Abdallah, a Lebanese photojournalist working for Reuters, was killed while covering Israeli attacks in the southern village of Alma al-Shaab while several other journalists working for Agence France-Presse and Al Jazeera were injured. On Oct. 14, the Lebanese Foreign Ministry submitted a complaint to the United Nations Security Council against Israel for launching attacks on journalists. The Lebanon-Israel border witnessed increased tension for over six weeks after Lebanese armed group Hezbollah fired dozens of rockets toward Shebaa Farms on Oct. 8 in support of the Hamas attacks on Israel the previous day, prompting the Israeli forces to respond by firing heavy artillery toward several areas in southeastern Lebanon.

Lebanese Journalists: Hizbullah Is Dragging Lebanon Into A Devastating War With Israel
MEMRI/November 21, 2023
Lebanon, Palestine | Special Dispatch No. 10969
Amid the escalating attacks launched at Israel from South Lebanon by Hizbullah and other armed organizations there, both Lebanese and Palestinian, many in Lebanon are increasingly concerned that the country will be dragged into a confrontation with Israel.[1] There is also concern about the growing power of the Palestinian militias in the country, and a possible return of the situation that prevailed there in the 1970s and 1980s, when Palestinian organizations were given free rein and dragged the country into a devastating war.
Articles in the Lebanese press rejected Hizbullah's claim that its military action deters Israel from attacking Lebanon, and noted the heavy price that the country, and especially the south, are paying for Hizbullah's activity. They added that most of the public, even in Hizbullah strongholds, will not support a decision by this organization to drag Lebanon into a war with Israel, given the dire consequences this would have. Some of them complained about the helplessness of the Lebanese government, which is unable to prevent the presence of armed militias on the border with Israel, and argued that deploying the Lebanese army and UNIFIL there is the only way to avert further escalation.
Destruction in the Dahiya, Hizbullah's stronghold in Beirut, in the wake of the 2006 war between Israel and Hizbullah (Image: Al-Akhbar, Lebanon, July 23, 2007)
The following are translated excerpts from some of these articles:
Editor Of Lebanese Daily: Most Lebanese Oppose Involving Lebanon In The War Between Israel And Hamas; UNIFIL And Lebanese Army Must Deploy Along The Border
In a November 6, 2023 article, Bechara Charbel, editor of the Lebanese daily Nida Al-Watan, which is known for opposing Hizbullah and Iran's involvement in Lebanon, wrote that the majority of Lebanese will not support a Hizbullah decision to involve Lebanon in the war between Israel and Hamas, due to the heavy cost of such a war. He wrote: "Nobody can fool themselves and others into believing that the Lebanese will unite behind Hizbullah if the interests of the resistance axis require [it] to increase the provocations [against Israel] to the point of joining the war, with the goal of keeping Hamas in the equation of the conflict. Let's set aside the tactical discourse aired by the media of the resistance and the hypocrisy of their Christian allies, and ask the Lebanese people directly: Do you want war and are you prepared to pay the price for it? The overwhelming majority will say that war will be just another tragedy to add to the [country's] collapse, and that, in the best-case scenario, Israel will end up paying a heavy price, but Lebanon will still pay twice as much, because of the disparity [of power between them] – not to mention that the decision to join the war will be in the hands of one party [i.e., Hizbullah] or sect that does not represent the state or all of Lebanon.
"There is one solution today that will prevent war in South [Lebanon] and will serve as a basis for country-wide stability, and this is to immediately deploy the [Lebanese] military and the international forces [UNIFIL] along the border. Any influential element that ignores this bears responsibility for justifying aggression [against Lebanon], and is failing to fulfill its obligation to return the institutions and the security to the citizens..." [2]
Lebanese Journalist: Lebanon Is Quaking With Fear At The Prospect Of War With Israel; The Actions Of Hizbullah And The Other Militias Harm Lebanon
Lebanese journalist Yousuf Bazzi wrote in the online daily Almodon.com that Hizbullah's "deterrence" actions are very dangerous for Lebanon and anger even the organization's supporters. These actions, he argued, could embroil Lebanon in a war with Israel that would not improve the situation in Gaza but would have devastating consequences for Lebanon itself. He wrote: "There has recently been dissatisfaction among Hizbullah's supporters, under the headline 'the people of the South are Lebanese too'… Because, if the rationale for the military action [against Israel] is that it serves as deterrence and prevents aggression against Lebanon, then this argument excludes [the people of the south from the fold of] the Lebanese people, ignores them and ascribes no importance to their displacement [from their homes], the destruction of their homes and lands, the burning of their crops and forests, the death of their children and of innocent people among them and the loss of their honor…
"The harvest [of the war] this month – even ignoring the economic damage caused to Lebanon and the social and political costs – has been very bitter from a military and humanitarian point of view. It seems that the entire perception of deterrence has been cast into doubt, as [Hizbullah's] irresponsible behavior continues to expand and deepen. In fact, there seems to be a withdrawal even from the April Understandings,[3] and a dangerous revival of the terrible Cairo Agreement,[4] which brought ruin upon South [Lebanon] and a historic tragedy upon the country.
"The worst thing is that this limited 'campaign' will have no impact on the course of the disastrous Gaza [war]… [yet] this campaign increases [the likelihood] of the darkest scenario: that Israel's explosive madness and its war machine will be turned against Lebanon on the pretext of preventing a recurrence of [Hamas'] October 7 attack in the north [of Israel]. This excuse will be politically and militarily supported by the U.S., as evident from what is happening in the Mediterranean, which is full of warships.
"In this context, Lebanon is quaking with fear, because the military action is no longer just a testing of the balance of deterrence and power [between Israel and Hizbullah], and has breached the so-called 'rules of the conflict' that ensure the border security and the sense of security of both sides. A war that breaks out when [Lebanon] is bankrupt… and has no purpose except saving the honor of the [resistance] axis, is not an attractive prospect for any Lebanese citizen. What is even worse is that [this war] may be an emulation of [what is happening] in Gaza, and we may not even enjoy the sympathy that is extended to the Palestinians thanks to their just cause…
"I say this so that blood will not be held cheap, so that the acts of heroism will not be in vain, and so that the death of our young people will not be considered insignificant. We do not need more massacres of children to prove that we are the victims and that the enemy is barbaric, especially since its barbarity may not outrage the world, [even] if we have become suicidal [enough to join the war]."[5]
Lebanese Columnist: South Lebanon Is On The Brink Of A Volcano; The Lebanese State May Collapse
Nida Al-Watan columnist Alain Sarkis warned about a possible loss of control by the Lebanese government. He argued that the current situation, whereby Hizbullah and other militias attack Israel from South Lebanon, takes the country back to dark periods of its history when it was controlled by Lebanese and Palestinian militias that brought ruin upon it.
He wrote: "South Lebanon has become a lawless war zone again, and the Lebanese people's dream of having a real state, [which was born] after the 2005 Cedar Revolution[6] and the passing of [UN Security Council] Resolution 1701, has faded away. The south is on the brink of a volcano and nobody knows when it might erupt, because decisions of war and peace are not in the hands of the state, and the military events and developments leave room for every possibility."
Stressing the Lebanese people's opposition to weapons outside the control of the state, Sarkis expressed doubt that any organization except Hizbullah is really responsible for attacks launched at Israel from South Lebanon, writing: "After 2005, the political leaders of the sovereign [Lebanese state] called to confine weapons to the [Lebanese] military and legitimate [security] forces, and to formulate a defense strategy [for Lebanon]. There was opposition to Hizbullah usurping [the state's authority to make] decisions about war and peace. Yet the Lebanese, who are suffering from the collapse of their state, were [recently] surprised to discover that there is more than one faction taking responsibility, even if only formally, for [military] actions in South Lebanon under the protection of Hizbullah.
"[Military] action [against Israel] in the south is not limited to Hizbullah, for every now and again various elements, Lebanese and non-Lebanese, claim responsibility for firing rockets from the south, including [Fatah's military wing,] the Al-Aqsa Brigades, [Hamas' military wing, the Izz Al-Din] Al-Qassam Brigades and the Al-Fajr Forces, which belong to Al-Jama'a Al-Islamiya [a branch of the Lebanese Muslim Brotherhood]… and the state is the last to know anything about this.
"South Lebanon suffered the nightmare of the Palestinian fida'i [self-sacrifice] operations, which undermined the state's prosperity and devastated it. The climax came in 1969 when the Cairo Agreement, which legitimized these fida'i operations, was signed and ratified by the [Lebanese] parliament… The nightmare of the Cairo Agreement passed when president Amine Gemayel and the PLO agreed to abolish it in June 1987, and it ended for good in 1989 with the ratification of the Taif Agreement…[7]
"But [today] the situation seems bleak, since the sovereign forces are witnessing a regression to previous [historical] periods. The Taif Agreement has been torpedoed by the militias' refusal to surrender their arms and by the improper implementation of the agreement. And that's not all. We have [in fact] revived something like the Cairo Agreement, only this time with no formal agreement and without the consent of the Lebanese people.
"According to the military data, there are no military positions of Hamas and the [Palestinian] Islamic Jihad in South Lebanon, and it is also a known fact that the strongest Palestinian faction in Lebanon is Fatah. Therefore, the sovereign forces wonder where these [Palestinian] fighters come from and why the state and the [security] apparatuses do not arrest them, especially since the state controls the entrances and exists of the [Palestinian] refugee camps. We are not talking about smugglers of furniture, fuel or flour, but of people carrying rockets and rocket launchers without the knowledge of the legitimate [authorities], [an action] that can boomerang against Lebanon in the form of an attack by the enemy [i.e., Israel].
"Warnings about a loss of control in the south are increasing. If these factions are acting under the oversight of Hizbullah, and [Hizbullah] is simply [using them to] provide a Sunni and Palestinian cover for its own military action, then the Lebanese state seems helpless. If someone is thinking of reviving the Cairo Agreement, [they should know that] the great majority of Lebanese do not like the idea of the state collapsing, and they might do something to extricate it from this anomalous situation."[8]
[1] See MEMRI reports: Special Dispatch No. 10852, Lebanese Politicians To Hizbullah: Don't Involve Lebanon In A War Against Israel, October 11, 2023; Special Dispatch No. 10891 – Criticism In Lebanon: The Government Has No Authority; Iran And Hizbullah Decide On Matters Of War And Peace, October 20, 2023.
[2] Nidaalwatan.com, November 6, 2023.
[3] The April Understandings are a written but informal agreement signed by Israel and Hizbullah in 1996 after Operation Grapes of Wrath, which includes a complete ceasefire between the sides.
[4] This was a secret agreement was signed in November 1969 by the PLO and the Lebanese government, which granted the former permission to conduct its activities from Lebanon.
[5] Almodon.com, November 9, 2023.
[6] The Cedar Revolution was a series of mass protests in Lebanon calling for the withdrawal of the Syrian military presence from the country following the February 14, 2005 assassination of Lebanese prime minister Rafik Al-Hariri. In the wake of the protests Syria completed the withdrawal of its forces from Lebanon and the pro-Syrian Lebanese government was ousted.
[7] The Taif Agreement, signed in 1989 at the conclusion of the Lebanese civil war, distributed political, civil, and military authority in the country along sectarian lines.
[8] Nidaalwatan.com, November 9, 2023.

Hezbollah Is Holding Lebanon Hostage
By: Dag Henrik Tuastad is Associate Professor of Middle East Studies at the University of Oslo and former PRIO researcher.
In 1982, Israel invaded Lebanon in order to drive out the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). The invasion marked the start of a dangerous balance of terror between Israel and Hezbollah.
Hundreds of people gather to follow the speech of Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah, on a screen, in Beirut, Lebanon on November 3, 2023.
Lebanon held its breath on Friday 3 November. People stood by their packed suitcases, ready to travel to the airport to leave the country.
Even Lebanon’s prime minister, Najib Mikati, sat in front of the television, waiting to find out whether the country he leads was at war. Then Hassan Nasrallah, leader of Hezbollah, the world’s most heavily armed non-state actor, came to the lectern.
War was off – for now. Nasrallah congratulated Hamas and added that this was the Palestinians’ war. Hezbollah had known nothing about the attacks on 7 October. Hezbollah would keep Israel in check in the north, but nothing in Nasrallah’s speech signalled an escalation. Every day that passes with minor clashes, there is a risk that an attack by one side could trigger massive retaliation and destroy the balance of terror between Israel and Hezbollah.
Today, Hezbollah is effectively holding Lebanon hostage. It can do so for two reasons. First, because Hezbollah is so powerful. Second, because the Lebanese state is so weak.
A bandit state
Corruption within Lebanon’s political institutions and state agencies has been systemic ever since the end of the civil war in 1990. When Lebanon’s warlords laid down their weapons after 15 years of civil war and 150,000 deaths, they did so in return for a promise that they would be given control of the state, rather than be prosecuted for war crimes. Regardless of the composition of Lebanon’s elected parliament, every government, as well as every single institutional organ, from local councils to the diplomatic corps, as well as positions in privatized companies and so on, is divided up between the former warlords’ political factions. The result is that the leaders of the Sunni Muslim, Shiite Muslim, Druze and various Christian denominations, always get their share of the cake. As a consequence, these leaders have developed a peculiar understanding of politics: to them, politics is about serving their loyal supporters, not the population in general. And in order to provide for the members of their factions, their incomes, including their personal incomes, are channelled through the political positions they control. This corruption is a source of huge popular discontent. But as was said during the demonstrations of autumn 2019: “You can’t protest against a state that doesn’t exist.” Large parts of the population hate the sectarian system, while at the same time they are dependent on their leaders for protection in a country where one never knows when underlying sectarian conflicts will flare up again.
Opposition to sectarianism has been less widespread, however, among Lebanon’s Shiite Muslims. The reason is that after the Iranian revolution of 1979 and the emergence of Hezbollah, the Shiites, who had previously been a marginalized and sometimes despised underclass, experienced an upturn in their status.
A Hezbollah state
In 1982, Israel invaded Lebanon in order to drive out the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). The occupation of south Lebanon caused tens of thousands of Shiites to become internally displaced, with many fleeing to al-Dahya, a slum area south of Beirut. Hezbollah, ‘God’s party’, was founded to fight against the Israeli occupation. When Israel withdrew from Lebanon after 18 years of occupation, it was as a result of Hezbollah’s resistance. Hezbollah became hugely popular, including for its social and cultural activities. In Shiite areas, such as al-Dahya, a Hezbollah state emerged. The Hezbollah movement, bankrolled by Iran, had its own hospitals and healthcare institutions, schools, fuel stations and shops, charitable organizations for the relief of poverty, police and intelligence services, prisons, banks, construction companies, scout groups and even Lebanon’s best football team.
The political wing of the movement came to put its stamp on Lebanese politics. In 2018, when Hezbollah won the general election, the group gained control over state institutions, including the health ministry. As a result, Hezbollah gained the ability to finance its own hospitals directly from state funds. At the same time, the movement’s military control over south Lebanon is almost total. Accordingly, the movement’s alliance with Iran is to both parties’ advantage. Iran has created Hezbollah as a mini-state that is more powerful than the Lebanese state. But Iran does not wish to destroy its most important military front against Israel.
A dangerous balancing act
According to an opinion poll published by The Economist, 68 percent of Lebanese do not want war with Israel. Even a majority of Shiites, 51 percent, oppose a war. A war could cause hundreds of thousands of Shiites to flee from south Lebanon and al-Dahya towards the Christian and Sunni heartlands in the north. This could cause huge sectarian tensions and potentially violent conflict. War could cause both the Lebanese state and the country’s economy to collapse. If Hezbollah does not go ‘all-in’ for war, then the balance of terror is the most important reason. Hezbollah, with its trained soldiers and 150,000 missiles, is Iran’s strongest card to prevent an Israeli or American attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities. Hezbollah is Iran’s most important regional defensive bulwark, and a war would weaken it. For this reason, Hezbollah’s strategy is controlled escalation. They must engage militarily in order to maintain their credibility among their anti-Israeli supporters, but they must avoid losing control of the violence and triggering full-scale war. This is a dangerous balancing act.
**Dag Henrik Tuastad is Associate Professor of Middle East Studies at the University of Oslo and former PRIO researcher.
This text was first published in Norwegian by Aftenposten 14 November 2023
Translation from Norwegian: Fidotext

Titles For The Latest English LCCC Miscellaneous Reports And News published on November 21-22/2023
Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu says war against Hamas will not stop after cease-fire
JERUSALEM (AP)/November 21, 2023
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says Israel will continue its war against Hamas, even if a temporary cease-fire is reached with the Islamic militant group to release hostages. In comments Tuesday ahead of an expected Cabinet vote on a cease-fire proposal, Netanyahu vowed to press ahead. “We are at war, and we will continue the war,” he said. “We will continue until we achieve all our goals.”The Israeli Cabinet was expected to vote on a plan that would halt Israel’s offensive in Gaza for several days in exchange for the release of about 50 of the 240 hostages held by Hamas. Israel has vowed to continue the war until it destroys Hamas’ military capabilities and returns all hostages. Netanyahu's comments came as Israel and Hamas appeared close to a deal to temporarily halt their devastating six-week war so that dozens of hostages being held in the Gaza Strip could be freed in exchange for Palestinians in Israeli prisons. Hamas predicted a Qatari-mediated deal could be reached in “the coming hours.”“We are advancing,” Netanyahu told troops during a visit earlier Tuesday to a training base. “I hope there will be good news soon.”Netanyahu’s office said the special three-member War Cabinet met Tuesday and would be followed by meetings of his Security Cabinet, a forum of senior security officials, and the full Cabinet. There was no word on whether a vote would take place, and details of a deal were not released. Israeli media reported that an agreement would include a five-day halt in Israel’s offensive in Gaza and the release of 50 hostages held by Hamas in exchange for some 150 Palestinian prisoners held by Israel. Israel’s Channel 12 TV said the first releases would take place Thursday or Friday and continue for several days. Talks have repeatedly stalled. But even if a deal is reached, it would not mean an end to the war, which erupted on Oct. 7 after Hamas militants stormed across the border into southern Israel and killed at least 1,200 people, most of them civilians, and kidnapped some 240 others. Meanwhile, Israeli troops battled Palestinian militants in an urban refugee camp in northern Gaza and around hospitals overcrowded with patients and sheltering families.
In weeks of Israeli airstrikes and a ground invasion, more than 11,000 Palestinians have been killed, two-thirds of them women and minors, and more than 2,700 others are missing and believed to be buried under rubble, according to Gaza’s Health Ministry. The ministry says it has been unable to update its count since Nov. 11 because of the health sector’s collapse. Gaza health officials say the toll has risen sharply since, and hospitals continue to report deaths from daily strikes, often dozens at a time. The Health Ministry in the West Bank last reported a toll of 13,300 but stopped providing its own count Tuesday without giving a reason. Because of that, and because officials there declined to explain in detail how they tracked deaths after Nov. 11, the AP decided to stop reporting its count. The Health Ministry toll does not differentiate between civilians and combatants. Israel says it has killed thousands of Hamas militants but has not provided evidence for its count. In southern Lebanon, an Israeli strike killed two journalists with Al-Mayadeen TV, according to the Hezbollah-allied Pan-Arab network and Lebanese officials. There was no immediate comment from the Israeli military. A separate Israeli drone strike in Lebanon killed four Hamas members, a Palestinian official and a Lebanon security official said. The Israeli military has been trading fire almost daily across the border with Lebanon’s Hezbollah group and Palestinian militants since the outbreak of the war.
Israel, the United States and Qatar, which mediates with Hamas, have negotiated for weeks over a hostage release that would be paired with a temporary cease-fire and the entry of more aid. In Washington, President Joe Biden said Tuesday that a deal on releasing some hostages was “very close.”"We could bring some of these hostages home very soon,” he said at the White House. Qatar’s Foreign Ministry spokesman, Majed al-Ansari expressed optimism, telling reporters that “we are at the closest point we ever had been in reaching an agreement.” He added that negotiations were at a “critical and final stage.” Izzat Rishq, a senior Hamas official, said Tuesday that an agreement could be reached “in the coming hours,” in which Hamas would release captives and Israel would release Palestinian prisoners. Hamas’ leader-in-exile, Ismail Haniyeh, also said they were close to a deal. Israel’s Channel 12 TV, citing anonymous Israeli officials, said a truce could be extended and additional Palestinian prisoners released if there were additional hostages freed.
Inside Gaza, the front line of the war shifted to the Jabaliya refugee camp, a densely built district of concrete buildings near Gaza City that houses families displaced in the 1948 war surrounding Israel’s creation. Israel has bombarded the area for weeks, and the military said Hamas fighters have regrouped there and in other eastern districts after being pushed out of much of Gaza City. The fighting in Jabaliya also affected two nearby hospitals, trapping hundreds of patients and displaced people sheltering inside. A strike Tuesday hit inside one of the facilities, al-Awda, killing four people, including three doctors, the hospital director told Al-Jazeera TV. The director, Ahmed Mahna, blamed the strike on Israel, a claim that AP could not independently confirm. Residents of Jabaliya said there was heavy fighting as Israeli forces tried to advance under the cover of airstrikes. “They are facing stiff resistance,” said Hamza Abu Mansour, a university student. The Israeli military said strikes hit three tunnel shafts where fighters were hiding and destroyed rocket launchers. Footage released by the military showed Israeli soldiers patrolling on foot as gunfire echoed around them. It was not possible to independently confirm details of the fighting. It’s unclear how many Palestinian civilians remain in northern Gaza, but the U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees estimates that some 160,000 people are still in its shelters there, though it can no longer provide services. Thousands more still shelter in several hospitals in the north even after many fled south in recent weeks. Most hospitals are no longer operational. The hospital situation in Gaza is “catastrophic,” Michael Ryan, a senior World Health Organization official, said Monday. With Israeli troops surrounding the Indonesia Hospital, also near Jabaliya, staff had to bury 50 dead in the facility's courtyard, a senior Health Ministry official in the hospital, Munir al-Boursh, told Al-Jazeera TV. Up to 600 wounded people and some 2,000 displaced Palestinians remain stranded at the hospital, according to Gaza’s Health Ministry. A similar standoff played out in recent days at Shifa Hospital, Gaza’s largest, where over 250 patients and medical workers are stranded after the evacuation of 31 premature babies. Israel has provided evidence in recent days of a militant presence at Shifa. But it has yet to substantiate its claims that Hamas had a major command center beneath the facility, allegations denied by Hamas and hospital staff.
Most of Gaza's population of 2.3 million have crowded into the southern section of the Gaza Strip, where Israeli strikes have continued and where the military says it intends to extend its ground invasion. Many are packed into U.N.-run schools and other facilities across the territory’s south or sleeping on the streets outside, even as winter rains have pelted the coastal enclave in recent days. There are shortages of food, water and fuel for generators across all of Gaza, which has had no central electricity for over a month. Strikes overnight crushed residential buildings in the Nusseirat refugee camp in central Gaza, killing at least 20 people, according to hospital officials. Footage from the scene showed the legs of five young boys sticking out from under a collapsed concrete slab of one home. Israel continues to strike what it says are militant targets throughout Gaza, often killing women and children. Israel accuses Hamas of using civilians as human shields.

Hopes for hostages as Israel, Hamas, Qatar say progress in talks
Agence France Presse/November 21 2023
Hopes mounted Tuesday that Hamas could release dozens of hostages from war-torn Gaza after the militant group's leader and key mediator Qatar said a truce deal was in sight and the Israeli premier pointed to "progress". "We are close to reaching a deal on a truce," Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh said, according to a statement sent by his office to AFP, after US President Joe Biden indicated an accord was on the cards. In Qatar, foreign ministry spokesman Majed Al-Ansari said "we're very optimistic, very hopeful" and told reporters: "We are at the closest point we ever had been in reaching an agreement."Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has vowed to destroy Hamas, told soldiers at a military base that "we are making progress" on the return of hostages. "I hope there will be good news soon," he added before his office announced that the war and security cabinets and government would meet Tuesday evening.
CNN quoted an unnamed senior US official as saying a deal was "very close" and could be announced by Qatar later on Tuesday, citing sources familiar with the talks. Hopes of a breakthrough have been mounting since Qatar on Sunday said only "minor" practical issues remained to secure a deal. Speculation grew further when the International Committee of the Red Cross, which is often involved in prisoner exchanges and hostage releases, said on Monday that its president had met Haniyeh in Qatar. Despite the efforts towards a truce, fighting raged on in Gaza's bloodiest ever war, sparked by the October 7 attack in which Israel says Hamas gunmen killed around 1,200 people, mostly civilians. In retaliation, Israel launched a relentless bombing campaign and ground offensive in the Gaza Strip. According to the Hamas government, the war has killed more than 13,300 people, thousands of them children. Sources from Hamas and Islamic Jihad, which also participated in the attacks, told AFP on condition of anonymity that their groups had agreed to the terms of a truce deal. The tentative agreement would include a five-day truce, comprised of a complete ceasefire on the ground and an end to Israeli air operations over Gaza, except in the north, where they would only halt for six hours daily. Under the deal, which the sources said could yet change, between 50 and 100 Israeli civilian and foreign hostages would be released, but no military personnel. In exchange, some 300 Palestinians would be freed from Israeli jails, among them women and minors. China's President Xi Jinping called for an "international peace conference" to resolve the conflict. Pope Francis was due to hold private meetings Wednesday with relatives of Israeli hostages and of Palestinians trapped in Gaza, the Vatican said.
'Waiting for answers'
A truce agreement could bring some respite for Gazans who have endured more than six weeks under Israel bombardment and an expanding ground offensive. Large parts of Gaza have been flattened by thousands of air strikes, and the territory is under siege, with minimal food, water and fuel allowed to enter.
According to the Hamas and Islamic Jihad sources, the proposed deal would also allow for up to 300 trucks of food and medical aid to enter Gaza. Israel has vowed to press on with its offensive, pledging to crush Hamas and ensure the hostages are released. "We will not stop fighting until we bring our hostages home," Netanyahu declared after a meeting Monday with relatives of those abducted. The Israeli military meanwhile said air strikes had hit "around 250" Hamas targets in the past day, destroying three underground shafts in the Jabalia area, which it said it had fully surrounded. Two Israeli soldiers were killed "in operational activity" in northern Gaza, it added. In Lebanon, official media said two journalists from Al-Mayadeen television and two other civilians were killed in cross-border shelling in the south.
Israel said only it was "looking into the details" of the incident.
Premature babies
Medics and patients have been increasingly caught up in the fighting, as Israel expanded its operation across northern Gaza. The Hamas-run health ministry said Israel had laid siege to and hit the Indonesian Hospital in Jabalia on Monday, killing dozens, but there was no independent confirmation of the toll. Twenty-eight premature babies from Gaza's largest hospital, Al-Shifa, were taken to Egypt for treatment on Monday. Three others evacuated from Al-Shifa remain in southern Gaza, the World Health Organization said on Tuesday. Two babies died before the evacuation, the UN agency said.
The Indonesian Hospital lies near Gaza's largest refugee camp Jabalia, which has been the scene of intense Israeli bombing in recent days. The health ministry official said there were still about 400 patients inside the hospital, as well as 2,000 people seeking shelter. Around 200 people were evacuated from the hospital on Monday and bussed to the relative safety of a hospital in Khan Yunis in southern Gaza. At the packed Al-Nasser Hospital in Khan Yunis, an AFP reporter saw bloodied children being carried in and lying dazed on gurneys. "We miraculously got out," said one man who said he escaped the Indonesian Hospital. "We still have brothers there. I just can't..." he said, his voice trailing off.
International criticism
Israel says Hamas uses medical facilities to hide fighters and as bases for operations, making them legitimate military objectives, while insisting it does everything possible to limit harm to civilians. But criticism of Israel's conduct of the war has grown, from international agencies and some governments, with protest marches held across the world. On Tuesday, South Africa's President Cyril Ramaphosa accused Israel of war crimes and "genocide" in Gaza. The World Health Organization said it was "appalled" by the strike on the Indonesian Hospital, calling it just one of 164 documented attacks on health facilities and workers since the war began. The UN children's agency meanwhile warned that fuel shortages and worsening sanitation in Gaza were shaping up to be "a perfect storm for tragedy" through the spread of disease.

Relatives of Gaza hostages say stop talk of execution for Hamas detainees
JERUSALEM (Reuters)/November 21 2023
- Relatives of some of the 240 people held by Hamas in Gaza urged far-right Israeli lawmakers on Monday not to pursue proposed capital punishment for captured Palestinian militants, saying that even talk of doing so might endanger the hostages. A number of suspected gunmen were detained after members of the armed Islamist faction breached the Gaza Strip border on Oct. 7 and went on a rampage, killing over 1,200 people and kidnapping others, Israel said. Israel's Justice Ministry said on Nov. 7 that a task force was discussing how to try the Palestinians who had been detained and secure "punishments befitting the severity of the horrors committed" for those convicted. Far-right National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir has called for the death penalty, which is dormant on Israel's law books.Some of the relatives of the people held captive by Hamas in Gaza worry the publicity around the capital punishment debate could invite reprisals even as hopes of a deal to free some of them is growing. The hostages have already been threatened with execution by Hamas and are at risk of being hurt or killed in the military offensive launched by Israel in response to the Oct. 7 attack. "It would mean playing along with their mind games. And in return we would get pictures of our loves ones murdered, ended, with the State of Israel and not them (Hamas) being blamed for it," Yarden Gonen, whose sister Romi is among the hostages, told Ben-Gvir and his party colleagues during a parliamentary panel. "Don't pursue this until after they are back here," she said. "Don't put my sister's blood on your hands."
Two gunmen who had crossed into Israel during the Oct. 7 Hamas attack were caught by Israeli security forces around a month later, Israel's police announced on Monday. The two had hid out in a Bedouin city in southern Israel. Israeli authorities have not published the full number of Palestinians detained for infiltrating. The military said it captured more than 300 Palestinians from armed groups in Gaza who have been brought to Israel for interrogation. The only court-ordered execution in Israel was of convicted Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann in 1962. Israeli military courts, which often handle cases involving Palestinians, have the power to hand down the death penalty by a unanimous decision of three judges, although this has never been implemented. Over the years, hawkish politicians have proposed easing terms for such sentencing, saying executions deter terrorism. Doing this was "more critical now than ever," Ben-Gvir said, "first of all, for the sake of those murdered and who fell in the line of duty and, no less, so that there will be no more people kidnapped". His proposal has moved slowly in parliament. The conservative Likud party of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has shown little interest in advancing it during its long rule. Linor Dan-Calderon, three of whose relatives are hostages, accused Ben-Gvir's party of having "confused priorities". "You've gotten mixed up, because we are a nation that pursues life, not one that pursues revenge - even if, in the past, we did something to Eichmann," she said. "I am simply asking you to drop this from the agenda."

Canada awaiting news of possible deal between Israel, Hamas to release hostages: Joly
OTTAWA/The Canadian Press/November 21, 2023
Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly says Canada is closely watching for a potential deal between Israel and Hamas to release hostages. Joly says Canada expects that any deal will include the freeing of all hostages, permission for all foreign nationals to leave the Gaza Strip and substantially more humanitarian aid for those in the besieged territory. Senior Hamas officials say that an agreement could be reached today in which the militant group would release hostages and Israel would free Palestinian prisoners. The possible breakthrough follows weeks of negotiations between Israel, the U.S. and Qatar, after Hamas gunmen and their allies killed an estimated 1,200 people and captured roughly 240 hostages on Oct. 7. Israel's army is widening its military operations today across northern Gaza, part of a retaliation campaign that the territory's health officials say has killed more than 12,700 people. No Canadians were added today to a list of foreign nationals approved to cross into Egypt from the territory, where Joly says about 200 people with ties to Canada are still waiting for a chance to get out. Ottawa says more than 450 Canadians, permanent residents and their relatives have made the trip out of the Palestinian territory since the conflict began. Joly told reporters that she spoke about a possible hostage deal with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken last week, and that she discussed it on Tuesday morning with her Qatari counterpart. "What we expect from this deal is we want to make sure that all hostages are released, that all foreign nationals are allowed to get out of Gaza — including, of course, the around 200 Canadians that are still in Gaza — and humanitarian (aid) needs to be able to get in, and way more than has been allowed to at this point," she told reporters on Parliament Hill on Tuesday. "We are still calling for humanitarian pauses, a humanitarian truce, which would lead to a potential ceasefire."

Saudi crown prince: We demand ‘serious’ peace process for Palestinian state
Arab News/November 21/ 2023
RIYADH: Saudi Arabia demands the start of a serious and comprehensive peace process to establish a Palestinian state along the borders of 1967, the Kingdom’s crown prince said on Tuesday. Addressing a virtual summit of the BRICS group, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said there is no way to achieve security and stability in Palestine except through the implementation of international decisions related to a two-state solution. The crown prince added that the Kingdom rejected the enforced displacement of Palestinians and called on all countries to stop exporting arms to Israel.
“We demand an immediate halt to Israeli military operations in Gaza,” he said. Prince Mohammed said the Kingdom had worked tirelessly since the beginning of the crisis to protect civilians in the Gaza Strip and demanded the immediate entry of aid into the territory. The Kingdom has so far sent 15 planes carrying various relief aid, including shelter materials, food and ambulances, to Palestinian people inside the Gaza Strip. It also set up a sea bridge to deliver aid to Palestinians last week. Meanwhile, the chair of the extraordinary BRICS summit accused Israel of war crimes and “genocide” in Gaza. South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said: “The collective punishment of Palestinian civilians through the unlawful use of force by Israel is a war crime. The deliberate denial of medicine, fuel, food and water to the residents of Gaza is tantamount to genocide.”

Israel recalls its ambassador from South Africa

Daniel De Simone & Basillioh Rukanga - BBC News, Johannesburg & Nairobi/November 21, 2023
Israel has recalled its ambassador in South Africa "for consultations", Israel's foreign ministry has said. It follows the "latest South African statements" on Israel, ministry spokesperson Lior Haiat said on X without giving specifics. South Africa has been highly critical of Israel's military operation in Gaza. On Monday it urged the International Criminal Court (ICC) to issue an arrest warrant for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu by mid-December. Minister in the Presidency Khumbudzo Ntshavheni said failure to do so would signal a "total failure" of global governance. The recall of Israeli Ambassador Eliav Belotserkovsky comes just before South Africa is due to host a virtual summit of the Brics group of nations, which includes China and Russia, on the Israel-Hamas war. The meeting to be chaired by South African President Cyril Ramaphosa hopes to draw up a common response to the conflict. Also on Tuesday, South Africa's parliament is expected to vote on whether to close the Israeli embassy and suspend all diplomatic relations until Israel agrees to a cease-fire and commits to negotiations facilitated by the UN. The governing African National Congress has agreed to the motion but whether the party or the government will support the motion in parliament remains to be seen. Israel launched a major military campaign in Gaza in response to a cross-border attack by hundreds of Hamas gunmen on 7 October, in which at least 1,200 people were killed and about 240 others taken hostage. Gaza's Hamas-run health ministry says at least 13,000 people have been killed in the territory since Israel launched its retaliatory campaign. The UN Security Council has called for "urgent and extended humanitarian pauses" for "a sufficient number of days" to allow UN agencies to safely enter the sealed-off territory. South Africa, which has long been a vocal supporter of the Palestinian cause, has been critical of the nature of Israel response which it has described as "collective punishment". The country, along with Bangladesh, Bolivia, Comoros and Djibouti, has submitted a referral to the ICC to investigate whether war crimes and crimes against humanity have been committed in Gaza. South Africa has recalled its diplomats from Israel. There has been no South African ambassador in Israel for five years.

Gaza health officials say they lost the ability to count dead as Israeli offensive intensifies
JERUSALEM (AP)/November 21, 2023
Palestinian health officials in Gaza said Tuesday that they have lost the ability to count the dead because of the collapse of parts of the enclave's health system and the difficulty of retrieving bodies from areas overrun by Israeli tanks and troops. he Health Ministry in Hamas-controlled Gaza, which carefully tracked casualties over the first five weeks of war, gave its most recent death toll of 11,078 on Nov. 10. The United Nations humanitarian office, which cites the Health Ministry death toll in its regular reports, still refers to 11,078 as the last verified death toll from the war.
The challenges involved in verifying the number of dead have mounted as Israel's ground invasion has intensified and at times severed phone and internet service and sown chaos across the territory.
“Unfortunately, the Ministry of Health has not yet been able to issue its statistics because there is a breakdown in communication between hospitals and disruption to the internet,” ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Qidra told The Associated Press. The electronic database that health authorities use to compile casualties from hospitals “is no longer able to count the names and tally the statistics," he said. Al-Qidra said the ministry was trying to restart the program and resume communication with hospitals. edics say it's far too dangerous now to recover the untold scores of dead bodies in Gaza City, where Israeli bulldozers have blocked streets and tanks fire at anything in their path. fficials at the Health Ministry, long seen as the most reliable local source for casualties, said they believe the death toll has jumped sharply in the past week based on doctors' estimates after airstrikes on densely populated neighborhoods and reports from families about missing loved ones. But they said it had become virtually impossible to arrive at a precise number of victims. No one has correct numbers, that’s not possible anymore,” Health Ministry official Mehdat Abbas said. “People are thrown in the streets. They’re under the rubble. Who can count the bodies and release the death toll in a press conference?”Abbas' comments appeared to be a dig at the Health Ministry in the occupied West Bank, where the internationally recognized Palestinian Authority, a rival of Hamas, administers autonomous enclaves.
The West Bank ministry in Ramallah gave similar casualty counts to its counterpart in Gaza over the first five weeks of war. But after the Gaza ministry stopped counting, health authorities in Ramallah kept releasing regular reports with death tolls — most recently 13,300 — without discussing their methodology. U.N. agencies said they could not verify the West Bank ministry's numbers. The Health Ministry in the West Bank stopped providing its own count Tuesday without giving a reason. Because of that, and because officials there declined to explain in detail how they tracked deaths after Nov. 11, the AP decided to stop reporting the West Bank count. uthorities in Gaza said they could not account for how the West Bank’s Health Ministry tallied the numbers. Al-Qidra described the figures released by the Ramallah-based ministry as “personal statistics” unrelated to Gaza's ministry. “If someone is sitting in an air-conditioned office, he can say whatever he wants,” Abbas said. "But if you come to the field here, no one can work between tanks to count how many people are killed.”Last week, the Health Ministry in Gaza vacated its headquarters in Shifa Hospital, Gaza’s largest, as Israeli forces besieged and raided the facility, which they accuse Hamas of using to conduct militant operations. Hamas and health officials have denied the allegations. mployees responsible for tallying the dead have been scattered across the southern Gaza Strip and struggle to coordinate with each other and with hospitals due to frequent communication outages. very hospital in the northern strip has shut down except for the Awda Hospital, a private facility in the urban refugee camp of Jabaliya, just north of Gaza City, where doctors conduct surgery with flashlights and treat patients on blood-slicked floors. It's chaos. There are bombs all around us, air attacks, tank attacks, snipers and gunshots,” said hospital Director Ahmad Muhanna. “We are trying to keep the best estimates we can, but with each second, more patients come and it gets harder.”In many cases now, death certificates are nonexistent, he said. Without a clear tally of the deaths, advocates worry that the conflict will grind on without accountability. They say the numbers matter because they can have a direct impact on policy and the global sense of urgency. We have to get these numbers for history,” said Shawan Jabarin, director of the Palestinian human rights group al-Haq. “The accountability is one thing and to teach the next generations exactly what happened. It's important for transitional justice, for peace.”

Scotland/SPs back Gaza ceasefire calls as Yousaf warns of cruelty facing patients
Media: UK News/November 21, 2023
Calls for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza have been backed by MSPs as Scotland’s First Minister described the “cruelty” facing patients in the region’s hospitals. Humza Yousaf led a debate on Tuesday where he condemned the “abhorrent terrorist attacks” by Hamas while urging the Scottish Parliament to take a stand against collective punishment on Palestinians. r Yousaf opened the debate by remembering the fear experienced by his mother-in-law Elizabeth El-Nakla after the conflict erupted following the October 7 attacks on Israel. hile Mrs El-Nakla and her husband Maged, the parents of Mr Yousaf’s wife Nadia, escaped the conflict and returned to Dundee, their family remains in Gaza, their son Mohammed, a doctor, and his poorly grandmother, 92. r Yousaf told MSPs doctors in Gaza were having to take dangerous risks to treat their patients as vital supplies ran out. e said: “This Government is unequivocal in its condemnation of the Israeli government cutting off water, food, fuel and supplies to the entire population of Gaza. Collective punishment can never be justified. “Doctors, like my own brother-in-law Mohammed, are forced to practice medieval medicine, reportedly amputating limbs, stitching up serious wounds, even performing caesarean sections, without sufficient anaesthetic. This is a cruelty that cannot be allowed to continue. This Parliament and the international community must unite in calling for an immediate ceasefire.”The motion, amended by a Scottish Labour amendment which called for the International Criminal Court to investigate the conflict’s conduct, passed by 90 votes to 28. owever, a Scottish Tory amendment, instead backing an humanitarian pause, fell by 89 votes to 28. cottish Tory external affairs spokesman Donald Cameron said: “Israel has the right to defend itself against terrorists, but every precaution must be taken by the Israeli government to protect innocent civilians from harm.”He said the Scottish Tories “abhor the loss of innocent lives” but added that there was “no hope” a ceasefire would work.
Israel-Hamas conflict
He said: “A ceasefire requires both of the two opposing sides to support it and, regrettably, it has been clear for some time now that Hamas will not respect a ceasefire.“When that is the approach and leadership of Hamas, there is no hope that a full and meaningful ceasefire would work at this stage.”Scottish Labour, however, backed the Scottish Government motion after UK Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer whipped MPs to reject ceasefire amendments in Westminster. cottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar said “the full force of international diplomacy must be used to create the conditions to make an immediate ceasefire a reality”.Prior to the debate, Mr Yousaf wrote to Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, urging him to recognise Palestine within the borders set out in 1967.He also sent a similar letter to Sir Keir, arguing the move would help to end the “political impasse” between Israel and Palestine.

Saudi crown prince: We demand ‘serious’ peace process for Palestinian state
Arab News/November 21/ 2023
RIYADH: Saudi Arabia demands the start of a serious and comprehensive peace process to establish a Palestinian state along the borders of 1967, the Kingdom’s crown prince said on Tuesday. Addressing a virtual summit of the BRICS group, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said there is no way to achieve security and stability in Palestine except through the implementation of international decisions related to a two-state solution. The crown prince added that the Kingdom rejected the enforced displacement of Palestinians and called on all countries to stop exporting arms to Israel.
“We demand an immediate halt to Israeli military operations in Gaza,” he said. Prince Mohammed said the Kingdom had worked tirelessly since the beginning of the crisis to protect civilians in the Gaza Strip and demanded the immediate entry of aid into the territory. The Kingdom has so far sent 15 planes carrying various relief aid, including shelter materials, food and ambulances, to Palestinian people inside the Gaza Strip. It also set up a sea bridge to deliver aid to Palestinians last week. Meanwhile, the chair of the extraordinary BRICS summit accused Israel of war crimes and “genocide” in Gaza. South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said: “The collective punishment of Palestinian civilians through the unlawful use of force by Israel is a war crime. The deliberate denial of medicine, fuel, food and water to the residents of Gaza is tantamount to genocide.”

EU faces growing Muslim animosity over Gaza war stance — Borrell
Reuters/November 21, 2023
BRUSSELS: The European Union faces growing animosity across the Muslim world and beyond due to accusations of pro-Israel bias and double standards over the war in Gaza, the bloc’s foreign policy chief has warned. Josep Borrell said he feared such acrimony could undermine diplomatic support for Ukraine in the Global South and the EU’s ability to insist on human rights clauses in international agreements. He said the EU had to show “more empathy” for the loss of Palestinian civilian lives in Israel’s war against Hamas, launched in response to the deadly Oct. 7 cross-border assault by the Palestinian militant group. His comments came in interviews with Reuters during a five-day Middle East trip that took him to the rubble of Kibbutz Be’eri devastated by Hamas, the West Bank, a regional security conference in Bahrain and royal audiences in Qatar and Jordan. On the trip, which ended on Monday evening, Borrell heard Arab leaders and Palestinian civil society activists complain that the 27-nation EU was not applying the same standards to Israel’s war in Gaza that it applies to Russia’s war in Ukraine. “All of them were really criticizing the posture of the European Union as one-sided,” Borrell said. Waving his mobile phone, he said he had already received messages from some ministers signalling they would not support Ukraine next time there was a vote at the United Nations. “If things continue a couple of weeks like this, the animosity against Europeans (will grow),” he added. In response to the criticism, Borrell stressed human lives had the same value everywhere and that the EU had unanimously urged immediate humanitarian pauses to get aid to Palestinians in Gaza and quadrupled its humanitarian aid for the enclave. But Arab leaders want an immediate end to Israel’s bombardment, which has killed at least 13,300 Palestinians, including at least 5,600 children, according to Gaza’s Hamas-run government. They have lambasted both the EU and the United States for not condemning Israel’s bombing campaign in Gaza, in contrast to the West’s response to the invasion of Ukraine. Israel has stressed that it is responding to the deadliest attack in its history, in which about 1,200 people were killed and 240 taken hostage, according to Israeli tallies. It says it is attacking civilian areas as that is where Hamas operates and it is trying to avoid innocent casualties.
As High Representative for foreign policy, Borrell is charged with crafting common positions among EU members. A neighbor of the Middle East and home to substantial Jewish and Muslim populations, the EU has a major stake in the latest crisis. Although not in the same league as the United States, it has some diplomatic weight in the region, not least as the biggest donor of aid to Palestinians. But the bloc has struggled for a united stance beyond condemnation of the Hamas attack. It has largely limited itself to support for Israel’s right to defend itself within international law and calls for pauses in fighting. Individual member countries, meanwhile, such as Germany, Austria, the Czech Republic and Hungary have stressed strong support for Israel while others such as Ireland, Belgium and Spain have criticized Israel’s military action. France has called for a humanitarian truce that would pave the way for a cease-fire. Borrell, a veteran Spanish Socialist politician, last month declared that some of Israel’s actions contravened international law — to the annoyance of some EU member countries. He avoided such direct public criticism on his trip. He also sought to show understanding for the pain felt by Israelis, recalling his own experience on a kibbutz in the 1960s. But he said the EU also should do more to demonstrate it also cares about Palestinian lives and this could come through stronger calls for aid to get into Gaza and a renewed push for a Palestinian state under the so-called “two-state solution.”

US fires on and kills hostile forces after attack in Iraq, US official says

Haley Britzky and Natasha Bertrand, CNN/November 21, 2023
A US military aircraft fired on a vehicle and killed hostile forces following an attack on US and coalition forces at Al-Asad Airbase in Iraq on Monday evening, a US official told CNN on Tuesday. t’s unclear how many hostiles were killed and whether US personnel were injured in the attack on Al-Asad. Two US officials said the US AC-130 gunship, which is capable of firing artillery at ground-based targets, was acting in defense. s of Monday afternoon, there had been at least 64 attacks on US and coalition forces in Iraq and Syria, including several on forces at Al-Asad.
As of last week, at least 56 US troops had sustained minor injuries in the attacks since October 17 — at least 25 of them being traumatic brain injuries — and all had since returned to duty. t’s unclear if an AC-130 has been used to respond to attacks in this way since October 17, though a US official said the US has returned fire on hostile forces multiple times. The US has also carried out three strikes in Syria in response to the continuous attacks on US troops. he US first carried out a strike on two facilities in Abu Kamal linked to Iranian-backed militias on October 26, then struck a weapons storage facility in Maysalun in Deir Ezzor, Syria, used by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and affiliated groups on November 8. Days later on November 12, The US carried out more strikes on a training facility and safe house in Syria near Abu Kamal and Mayadin, respectively.
The attacks on US and coalition forces started after Hamas’ attack on Israel, and the Pentagon has maintained that the US has been successful in deterring any escalatory actions that would expand the conflict outside of Israel and Gaza despite the continued attacks on US forces. Taking us back — is deterrence working? We feel that it is,” Deputy Pentagon Press Secretary Sabrina Singh told reporters last week. “We have not seen this war spread into a wider regional conflict. We have … conducted three different strikes. We responded most recently this weekend. And again, we will always reserve the right to respond at a time and place of our choosing in the future.”

The White House is concerned Iran may provide ballistic missiles to Russia for use against Ukraine
WASHINGTON (AP)/November 21, 2023
The White House voiced concern Tuesday that Iran may provide Russia with ballistic missiles for use in its war against Ukraine, a development that likely would be disastrous for the Ukrainian people, a U.S. national security official said. National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby noted that Iran already has been providing Russia with unmanned aerial vehicles or drones, guided aerial bombs and artillery ammunition, and may be preparing “to go a step further in its support for Russia.”Kirby highlighted a September meeting in which Iran hosted Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu to show off a range of ballistic missile systems, sparking U.S. concern. “We are therefore concerned that Iran is considering providing Russia with ballistic missiles now for use in Ukraine,” Kirby told reporters during a conference call. “In return for that support, Russia has been offering Tehran unprecedented defense cooperation, including on missiles, electronics and air defense.”Kirby's warning came as President Joe Biden's request for more than $61 billion in emergency U.S. funding to continue to support Ukraine's defense remained stalled in Congress. The additional aid for Ukraine is part of a larger $106 billion funding request from the Democratic president that also would support Israel, Taiwan and the U.S. operations on the border with Mexico. A growing group of lawmakers in the Republican Party, which controls the House of Representatives, opposes sending more money to Ukraine.
Kirby and other top U.S. officials have been urging Congress to pass aid for Ukraine, saying existing funding is drying up.
He also noted Iran's announcement earlier this year that it had finalized a deal to buy Su-35 fighter jets from Russia, and said Iran is looking to buy additional military equipment from Russia, including attack helicopters, radars and combat-trainer aircraft.
“In total, Iran is seeking billions of dollars worth of military equipment from Russia to strengthen its military capabilities," Kirby said. “Russia has also been helping Iran develop and maintain its satellite collection capabilities and other space-based programs.”He said the burgeoning military partnership between Iran and Russia is harmful to Ukraine, Iran's neighbors in the Middle East and “quite frankly to the international community.”At the direction of the Russian government, Kirby said the Wagner mercenary group was preparing to provide an air-defense capability to either Hezbollah or Iran. He said the U.S. would be watching to see whether that happens and was prepared to use “counterterrorism sanctions authority against Russian individuals or entities that might make these destabilizing transfers." Russia has used Wagner in the past when it has wanted to be able to deny involvement, especially in foreign military operations. The U.S. says the Kremlin’s reliance on Iran, as well as North Korea — countries largely isolated on the international stage for their nuclear programs and human rights records — shows desperation. That comes in the face of Ukrainian resistance and the success of the global coalition in disrupting Russian military supply chains and denying replacements for weapons lost on the battlefield. The White House has said Russia has turned to North Korea for artillery. U.S. officials say Iran has also provided Russia with artillery and tank rounds for its invasion of Ukraine. The U.S. and other countries have taken steps to thwart the potential supply, sale or transfer involving Iran and ballistic missile-related items, Kirby said. The U.S. has also issued guidance to private companies about Iranian missile procurement practices to make sure they aren't inadvertently supporting Iran's development efforts. Last May, the White House said Russia was interested in buying additional advanced attack drones from Iran for use in the war against Ukraine after it used up most of the 400 drones it had previously purchased from Tehran. A U.S. intelligence finding released in June asserted that Iran was providing Russia with materials to build a drone manufacturing plant east of Moscow as the Kremlin looks to lock in a steady supply of weaponry for the war.

The Latest English LCCC  analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published
on November 21-22/2023
The Curious Case of Rob Malley
Peter Schweizer/Gatestone Institute./November 21, 2023
More bad news for Malley emerged recently when a large cache of Iranian government correspondence and emails was revealed by Semafor and Iran International. In email exchanges between Iranian Foreign Ministry officials working under the supposedly moderate then President Hassan Rouhani, they congratulate each other for the public success of what they called the "Iran Experts Initiative (IEI)," a propaganda effort they created back in 2014, and reportedly "funded and directed by an IRGC official...
The IEI cultivated a network of sympathetic academics and intellectuals "with the aim of shaping political and public opinion as the Iranian government, then led by Hassan Rouhani, pursued a nuclear deal with the U.S."
Other former officials told the Daily Caller that Malley and a previous advisor of his, Ariane Tabatabai, who holds a senior, security clearance level job at the Defense Department, are "compromised" and had no place running Washington's Iran policy.
Tabatabai is still employed at the Pentagon where, noted the investigative reporter Lee Smith, "she has been serving as chief of staff for the assistant secretary of defense for special operations, Christopher Maier... Tabatabai's emails show her enthusiastically submitting to the control of top Iranian officials, who then guided her efforts to propagandize and collect intelligence on U.S. and allied officials in order to advance the interests of the Islamic Republic."
"The contents of the emails," wrote Lee Smith, "are damning, showing a group of Iranian American academics being recruited by the Iranian regime, meeting together in foreign countries to receive instructions from top regime officials, and pledging their personal loyalty to the regime....
Tabatabai still has high-level security clearance and access to classified information. The FBI has reportedly "refused to remove her." So, while Israel fights for its existence, a genocidal Iran is using three of its proxies — Hamas, Hezbollah, and the Houthis in Yemen — Tabatabai, who according to Rep. Brian Mast (R-FL), "had the mission of influencing U.S. policymakers to agree with what the Iranian government wanted," may be sending classified information about planned U.S. and Israeli military moves back to Iran.... What could possibly go wrong?
[The] use of the term "cosmopolitan" here hits on a core tenet of New Left ideology, where concern for one's own country is seen as jingoism, and the welfare of other nations, even those openly hostile to the US, occupies the highest priority.
How was [Ms. Tabatabai's] "top level security clearance" approved and why is she still employed in a senior position at the Pentagon?
[T]he case of Rob Malley indicates a deeper rot in our politics.... [Malley] is far closer to those Ivy League professors currently tweeting gleefully in favor of... the terrorist group Hamas, just to cite the most current example.
It is a wonder Malley ever passed a background check in the first place.
The path from the clandestine treason of Alger Hiss to the case of Robert Malley indicates a deeper rot in our politics. In Malley's case, his pro-Iranian sympathy is these days the very epitome of the mindset at schools such as Harvard, thanks to the triumph of the Left's "long march" through academia.
Hamas's war against Israel, coordinated with Iran, has exposed the fault lines in the American Left.
While mainstream Democratic liberals have sided with the innocent Israelis massacred by Hamas terrorists, leftist "Squad" members in Congress compete with Ivy League campus radicals to outdo one another by championing the vicious murderers as a "resistance."
Anti-Israel sentiment has been oozing through those cracks on the Left for years, but the presidency of Barack Obama certainly primed the pump. Obama's choice of advisors reflected his deep distrust of Israel and penchant for supporting Palestinians and appeasing Iran. One of those advisor choices, the now-disgraced Robert Malley, is a case-in-point.
This summer, Malley was placed on unpaid leave from the State Department and had his security clearance revoked after an internal investigation found he had "mishandled classified information."
Malley's case is evidently serious enough that he is also now under investigation by the FBI, which would appear to suggest potential criminal charges of bribery or possibly even espionage.
Republicans on the House Oversight Committee are now preparing to subpoena Malley and the State Department for documents pertaining to his suspension, a situation that some observers say is among the worst scandals in department history. Due to Iran's involvement in the Hamas invasion of Israel, they are scrutinizing Malley's role in negotiating the Biden administration's September agreement that released $6 billion of frozen Iranian oil revenues to Tehran as part of a broader prisoner-swap agreement. Under political pressure after Hamas's jihadist pogrom in southern Israel, the Biden administration reluctantly agreed to refreeze those funds.
More bad news for Malley emerged recently when a large cache of Iranian government correspondence and emails was revealed by Semafor and Iran International. In email exchanges between Iranian Foreign Ministry officials working under the supposedly moderate then President Hassan Rouhani, they congratulate each other for the public success of what they called the "Iran Experts Initiative (IEI)," a propaganda effort they created back in 2014, and reportedly "funded and directed by an IRGC official named Mostafa Zahrani. Zahrani was the point of contact between IEI members and Javad Zarif, then Iran's foreign minister." The IEI cultivated a network of sympathetic academics and intellectuals "with the aim of shaping political and public opinion as the Iranian government, then led by Hassan Rouhani, pursued a nuclear deal with the U.S."
At least two of the people on the Foreign Ministry's list were, or became, top aides to Malley, while a third was hired by the think tank Malley ran before re-joining the State Department.
Malley's well known pro-Iran sympathies made him a target of Republicans outraged by the Iran nuclear deal.
Gabriel Noronha, who formerly served as a special adviser on Iran at the State Department under Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, charged that while Malley worked for Biden as his envoy to Iran, he and his negotiating team "purposefully funneled billions of dollars to [Iran] through lack of sanctions enforcement and provision of sanctions relief that has given them somewhere between $50 [billion] and $80 billion over the last two and a half years."
"Rob Malley deserves extensive scrutiny — yesterday, today and tomorrow," Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) told reporters recently after news broke that officers of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) planned and signed off on the massacre committed by Hamas terrorists from Gaza against Israel. "These reports," he added, "could not be more concerning, and they hint at what could be the worst State Department scandal since Alger Hiss."
Other former officials told the Daily Caller that Malley and a previous advisor of his, Ariane Tabatabai, who holds a senior, security clearance level job at the Defense Department, are "compromised" and had no place running Washington's Iran policy. Tabatabai is still employed at the Pentagon where, noted the investigative reporter Lee Smith, "she has been serving as chief of staff for the assistant secretary of defense for special operations, Christopher Maier."
"Tabatabai's emails show her enthusiastically submitting to the control of top Iranian officials, who then guided her efforts to propagandize and collect intelligence on U.S. and allied officials in order to advance the interests of the Islamic Republic."
Smith also wrote:
"The contents of the emails are damning, showing a group of Iranian American academics being recruited by the Iranian regime, meeting together in foreign countries to receive instructions from top regime officials, and pledging their personal loyalty to the regime...."
Most recently, a report delivered to the White House charges that Tabatabai and other members of the IEI were also engaged in a "covert campaign" to smear Iran's leading opposition group, known as the Mojahedin-e Khalq (MEK). According to Ivan Sascha Sheehan, an associate dean of the University of Baltimore's College of Public Affairs:
"By seeking to neutralize favorable impressions of the organization among Washington's foreign policy elite, Tehran sought to take down an entity capable of aiding Western attempts to curtail the Iranian regime's nuclear weapons program, malign regional agenda, human rights abuses, and fundamentalist inclinations."
Tabatabai still has high-level security clearance and access to classified information. The FBI has reportedly "refused to remove her." So, while Israel fights for its existence, a genocidal Iran is using three of its proxies — Hamas, Hezbollah, and the Houthis in Yemen — Tabatabai, who according to Rep. Brian Mast (R-FL), "had the mission of influencing U.S. policymakers to agree with what the Iranian government wanted," may be sending classified information about planned U.S. and Israeli military moves back to Iran.
A spokesman for the Department of Defense told the Washington Free Beacon, "We are honored to have her serve." What could possibly go wrong?
Regarding Iran in particular, it would be hard to name someone who has been as relentlessly influential in the left wing's foreign policy sphere as Malley. A longtime friend of Secretary of State Antony Blinken— they attended the École Jeannine Manuel in Paris together — Malley served under the presidencies of both Bill Clinton and his college friend Barack Obama before being named as President Joe Biden's official envoy to Iran.
Under Clinton, Malley was as Special Assistant for Arab-Israeli Affairs, where he oversaw the Camp David negotiations between Palestine Liberation Organization head Yasser Arafat and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak. He sat out the Republican administration of George W. Bush and worked for the George Soros-funded International Crisis Group, where he continued to advocate for radical shifts in foreign policies. In 2008, when Obama ran for president, he tapped Malley, his friend and former Harvard classmate, to serve as his campaign advisor for Middle East foreign policy — until Malley was forced to resign in May 2008, after it was reported that he was in close communication with members of Hamas.
Malley, however, returned again in 2014, first as senior director of the National Security Council, then soon becoming Obama's Special Assistant for Middle East policy. Sure enough, it was Malley who oversaw Obama's 2015 "Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, known colloquially as the "Iran nuclear deal," over the objections of its regional allies, including Israel.
It was no surprise, therefore, when the incoming Biden administration tapped Malley to be its official envoy to Iran as part of its aborted attempt to resurrect Obama's Iran deal. It had been rejected at the time by the Senate and was discarded completely by the Trump administration. Now finally, Malley himself is being discarded.
The puzzling thing is that throughout his career, Malley has been so pro-Iran, so pro-Hamas, and so anti-Israel that the wonder is: "Why is this just now becoming news?"
Malley has been consistent in supporting America's Middle East adversaries throughout his government and think tank service.
Malley's life story makes it clear enough. His mother was a New Yorker who worked for the Algerian National Liberation Front at the UN; his father Simon Malley was an Egyptian-born member of the communist party, and an Arab nationalist who worked in the 1950s for Egypt's notoriously anti-Semitic President Gamal Abdel Nasser. Simon Malley left Egypt to continue life as a Marxist intellectual in Paris, where his prolific writing championed the same Third World-focused, anti-imperialist, anti-American Marxist worldview that has since consumed many of America's college campuses. The Malley family would later be expelled from France to the U.S. in 1980 because of Simon's hostility to French policies
in Africa.
"As his father was logging in an impressive 20-hour interview with Fidel Castro and many more hours with Yasir Arafat, Robert Malley's childhood was a cosmopolitan, internationalist, and Third Worldist one that exposed him from an early age to a vast world of anti-imperialist passions and revolutionary intrigue," noted the writer Hussein Aboubakr Mansour in a recent profile of Malley. Mansour is an Egyptian-born former jihadi who later renounced his past and became a supporter of the United States and Israel.
Mansour's use of the term "cosmopolitan" here hits on a core tenet of New Left ideology, where concern for one's own country is seen as jingoism, and the welfare of other nations, even those openly hostile to the US, occupies the highest priority.
Young Robert Malley apparently absorbed his father's politics and hatred of Israel so thoroughly that he was writing anti-Zionist op-eds for the Yale Daily News just a month into his freshman year. Throughout his later career in various political offices or writing for left-wing think tanks, Malley has consistently voiced support for the Iranian regime and for radical foreign policy ideas, along the way amassing an army of critics on the political right, who are now challenging not just his ideas and influence, but even his loyalty to the United States.
With this background, the wonder is that he has come this far. His status as a senior policy expert on Iran, at least within left-wing Democratic Party circles, might strike one as astounding. If we assume the worst conclusion to the ongoing FBI investigation, Malley, while serving as the Biden administration's emissary to Iran, committed espionage by giving US secret information to the Iranian regime, just as his protégé Tabatabai might still be doing. How was her "top level security clearance" approved and why is she still employed in a senior position at the Pentagon?
If anything, Issa's conjuring up the ghost of Alger Hiss misses a critical distinction. Hiss was outwardly an American patriot, the son of a privileged background who became a Soviet spy and passed secrets to the KGB, all while appearing to work diligently for the US State Department. Hiss acted as though he were above such suspicions.
Malley, on the other hand, has made no bones about his pro-Tehran leanings, ever. In fact, he has been completely open about it for decades. Which conclusion, I wonder, would be more surprising? That Rob Malley has been passing secrets to the hated Iranian mullahs, or that he has not been?
The path from the clandestine treason of Hiss to the case of Malley indicates a deeper rot in our politics. Both Hiss and Malley were Harvard-educated foreign policy professionals, yet Hiss's status as a member of the Ivy League elite was used as his strongest defense against the espionage charges leveled against him. In Malley's case, however, his pro-Iranian sympathy is these days the very epitome of the mindset at schools such as Harvard, thanks to the triumph of the Left's "long march" through academia.
Malley had no need to hide what he really thought. His stances are interchangeable with any number of left-wing foreign policy intellectuals who are right now teaching students at those same schools. Malley is nothing like the sneaky Hiss. He is far closer to those Ivy League professors currently tweeting gleefully in favor of the terrorist group Hamas, just to cite the most current example.
Following the end of the Cold War, "anti-imperialist" left-wing radicals such as Malley came to terms with and were able to influence liberals with whom they had previously battled. In his recent article, Mansour summed up this metamorphosis:
"In this context, one could see Malley's conversion to American liberalism, his joining of the bureaucratic ranks of what he once considered 'American imperialism' was part of a larger phenomenon in which the Western leftwing anti-imperialist intelligentsia was fragmented between those who formed anti-globalization, anti-war, and environmentalist movements and those who merged with the liberal establishment and shaped its progressive wing. Like Obama himself, they were a new American class of international, urban, highly mobile, and highly credentialed professional intellectuals who came to age in the Edward Said moment. They are both comfortable in the professional corporate world and the activist world and both at home in Western and non-Western countries. They no longer believed in what Foucault propagandized as the spiritual humanism of the Iranian Islamic Revolution, nor in the inevitable world-transforming triumph of Palestinian guerrillas. They no longer believed in the conspiratorial villainy of American imperialism, but neither did they believe in American patriotism. Unlike what hot-headed and ill-tempered American conservative populists say, they do not hate America, and they do not work for America's enemies, but they are merely ambivalent to what we think America represents."
Worth noting is that this assessment was written in July, before the news about Malley's involvement and the Iranian Foreign Ministry's control of the "Iran Experts Initiative" came to light.
It is a wonder Malley ever passed a background check in the first place.
Peter Schweizer, President of the Governmental Accountability Institute, is a Gatestone Institute Distinguished Senior Fellow and author of the new book, Red Handed: How American Elites are Helping China Win.
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Kurdish Columnist, Nizar Jaff, On Saudi Website: It Is The Iranian Regime That Ignited The Fires Of War; The Solution Is To Topple This Regime
MEMRI/November 21, 2023
Iran, Saudi Arabia, Palestine | Special Dispatch No. 10970
In an article on the Saudi news website Elaph, Kurdish journalist Nizar Jaff accused the Iranian leaders of hypocrisy, saying that they shed crocodile tears over the war in Gaza and deny having any hand in it, when the fact is that they are the force behind Hamas in Gaza, behind Hizbullah in Lebanon and behind the militias in Iraq. Iran, he adds, started the war in Gaza in order to draw attention away from the popular protests within its own borders, while playing on the religious sentiments of the people in the region. These people must understand that the solution to their problems lies in opposing the Iranian regime and overthrowing it, he concluded.
The following are translated excerpts from his article:[1]
"The leaders of the Iranian regime have placed themselves in a difficult and complicated position, which is like a red-hot furnace. At the same time, the Western countries have also placed themselves in a difficult [situation by taking] the dubious and vague position of trying to appease the Iranian regime and aligning with it on the war in Gaza, even though there is plenty of testimony and proof that Tehran is involved [in this war].
"Between these two infuriating positions, [Iranian Supreme Leader Ali] Khamenei and [President Ebrahim] Raisi shed crocodile tears, and the Western capitals issue statements of solidarity [with Gaza], saying that the situation must be addressed but taking no clear and open stance that explicitly clarifies that the Iranian regime is the one that ignited the fires of this war. [Nor do they clarify that] there is no choice but to address the issue and contend with it precisely from this perspective.
"Anyone who follows the statements and positions of the leaders of the Iranian regime about the war in Gaza finds that they are riddled with contradictions and display open hypocrisy of every kind. This is especially conspicuous when they stress that the Iranian regime has nothing to do with the deliberate attacks on the American bases in the region, which were perpetrated by the proxies of this regime. The one pulling the strings of these proxies is the Iranian regime itself.
"We do not know who the leaders of the Iranian regime think they are fooling with this false claim. Do they expect us to believe that Hizbullah has a will of its own and that its decisions are independent, when its secretary-general, [Hassan Nasrallah himself], has described himself as a soldier of Khamenei and when all the means at his disposal were donated by Iran? [Do they expect us] to believe that the Iraqi Badr militia [is independent] when its commander, Hadi Al-Ameri, took part in tours and attacks against the Iraqi Forces [in the Saddam Hussein era] and is on the payroll of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, etc., etc., and there is plenty of more proof and examples. Do they expect us to believe this regime [when it claims] that it does not arm its proxies and use them as agents to carry out its decisions and orders?
"Gaza is being destroyed, and, due to their involvement in this, the leaders of the Iranian regime appear sometimes as peace-lovers, as saints who weep over what is happening and call for an immediate ceasefire, and at other times as rapacious birds of prey that issue warnings and threaten to employ their proxies – the same ones they claim are independent and are sovereign in deciding whether to take part in this war or not. But the truth, which the mullahs of Tehran are surely well aware of, is that what [the famous Syrian poet] Nizar Qabbani wrote – 'he who starts a fire extinguishes it' – is not really the case. [The truth is] that he who starts a fire will be consumed by it or at least will sustain some burns. This is what prevents the Iranian mullahs and their proxies from taking the initiative and [officially] joining this war. They know that the outcome will certainly not be in their favor.
"I do not know how long the Muslim street, and especially the Shi'ite street, will continue to be deceived by the flagrant hypocrisy of the Iranian regime. This regime was and is pursuing a specific agenda, which exploits the religion and the [Shi'ite] sect to attain goals and objectives, and especially to save [Iran] from own its deep crisis, from the domestic anger [against the regime] and the popular Iranian resistance [against it] that has reached a climax, in particular after the latest uprising that lasted months and pushed the regime into a very tight corner. This regime is certainly willing to bet on anything, including on its proxies, in order to ensure its survival…
"The method of the Iranian regime – [a method] of distracting the peoples of the region, especially by playing on religious and sectarian sentiment and even using the herd mentality – is the method that was used by the Europeans in the 20s and 30s of the previous century. This method is gone for good. But when will the peoples of the region recognize this truth, and realize that the root and the source of their current unresolvable problems is the hypocritical conduct of the hypocritical regime in Tehran? [When will they realize that] the only solution to this is to contend with this regime and replace it by backing and supporting the Iranian people's legitimate struggle for freedom and change[?] Any other solution is just jumping from the scorching sand into the fire."
[1] Elaph.com, November 1, 2023.

‘We Will Drink Your Blood and Eat Your Skull’: A Legacy of Islamic Savagery
Raymond Ibrahim/November 21, 2023
What’s the deal with Muslim calls for, not just violence, but eating the flesh or drinking the blood of their infidel enemies?
Consider the case of Ahed Tamimi, described by Wikipedia as
a Palestinian activist … in the occupied West Bank in Palestine. She is best known for appearances in images and videos in which she confronts Israeli soldiers. Tamimi’s advocates consider her a freedom fighter for Palestine… In December 2017, she was detained by Israeli authorities for slapping a soldier. The incident was filmed and went viral, attracting international interest and debate. Tamimi was sentenced to eight months in prison after agreeing to a plea bargain and released on 29 July 2018… [I]n February 2018, the famous Israeli poet Yehonatan Geffen, the nephew of Moshe Dayan, posted a poem on his Instagram page that ended with the following lines: “You, Ahed Tamimi, The red-haired, Like David who slapped Goliath, Will be counted among the likes of Joan of Arc, Hannah Senesh and Anne Frank.”
Well, this “heroine” recently wrote the following on her Instagram:
We are waiting for you [Jewish settlers] in all the cities of the West Bank, from Hebron to Jenin. We will slaughter you and you will say that what Hitler did to you was a joke. We will drink your blood and eat your skull. Come on, we’re waiting for you.
Much, as usual, can be said here, but of interest to me are the cannibalistic references, and the fact that they are common among Muslims—and, as can now be seen, not just of the so-called “radical” variety.
The Islamic State, for instance, has repeatedly stated that “American blood is best, and we will taste it soon.” Nor was this just “picturesque” language. According to a 2017 report, “Islamic State terrorists are teaching their fighters to eat non-Muslims, it has emerged.” (I saved one picture from those days, since likely expunged, of an Obama-sponsored Free Syrian Army “rebel” digging into the heart of a fallen Syrian soldier in 2013.)
Where do these anthropophaginian tendencies come from?
In fact, calls to devour “infidels,” especially as a terror tactic, are common throughout Islamic history. Some well-documented anecdotes come to mind, beginning with the source of inspiration for ISIS’s calls to drink American blood: During the earliest Muslim invasions of Roman Syria, one of Muhammad’s companions, ‘Ubadah bin al-Samat, told a Christian commander that “We have tasted blood and find none sweeter than the blood of Romans.”
Another example concerns that jihadist par excellence, Khalid bin al-Walid (d.642). Dubbed the “Sword of Allah” by Muhammad for his prowess, he holds a revered position among jihadist groups. During the Ridda—or “apostasy wars” on several Arab tribes that sought to break away from Islam following Muhammad’s death—Khalid falsely accused Malik bin Nuwayra, a well-liked Arab chieftain, of apostasy. After slaughtering him, Khalid raped—Muslim sources call it “married”—Malik’s wife. Not content,
He [Khalid] ordered his [Malik’s] head and he combined it with two stones and cooked a pot over them. And Khalid ate from it that night to terrify the apostate Arab tribes and others. And it was said that Malik’s hair created such a blaze that the meat was so thoroughly cooked [from Muslim historian al-Tabari’s multi-volume chronicle, al-bidaya w’al nihaya; Arabic excerpt here].
Another anecdote concerns the Islamic conquest of Spain. According to Muslim chronicler Ibn Abdul Hakam, after capturing a group of Christian winemakers, the Islamic invaders
made them prisoners. After that they took one of the vinedressers, slaughtered him, cut him in pieces, and boiled him, while the rest of his companions looked on. They had also boiled meat in other cauldrons. When the meat was cooked, they threw away the flesh of that man which they had boiled; no one knowing that it was thrown away: and they ate the meat which they had boiled, while the rest of the vinedressers were spectators. These did not doubt but that the Moslems ate the flesh of their companion; the rest being afterwards sent away informed the people of Andalus [Christian Spain] that the Moslems feed on human flesh, acquainting them with what had been done to the vinedresser [source].
Tarek ibn Ziyad—another jihadist extraordinaire, revered for burning his boats on reaching Spain’s shores as proof of his commitment to jihad or “martyrdom”—also had Christian captives slaughtered, cooked up, and apparently eaten in front of their fellow hostages. Then, according to Muslim historian Ahmad ibn Muhammad al-Maqqari, the Muslim hero “allowed some of the captives to escape, that they might report to their countrymen what they had seen. And thus the stratagem produced the desired effect, since the report of the fugitives contributed in no small degree to increase the panic of the infidels” [The History of the Mohammedan Dynasty, p. 276].
Note that, according to the above cited Muslim chroniclers, the jihadists engaged in these cannibalistic practices to terrorize and create panic among infidels and apostates, that is, as a form of psychological warfare. This is further pronounced when, as they often do, the chroniclers quote or paraphrase Koran verses that call for “striking terror” into the hearts of nonbelievers (e.g., 3:151, 8:12, 8:60) in juxtaposition to the savage accounts they relay.
Years back, I watched and linked to a video of a modern day Egyptian cleric also making it clear that Khalid’s actions were calculated to terrify the apostates. Although YouTube has, as usual, since taken down the video, here’s my original translation of the cleric’s remarks:
People wonder how our lord Khalid could have eaten from such meat? Oh yes—he ate from it! Our lord Khalid had a very strong character, a great appetite, and everything! All to terrorize the desert Arabs [apostates]. The matter requires determination; these matters require strength—terrorism.
Indeed, none other than Al Azhar—the Muslim world’s most prestigious university, which hosted Obama’s 2009 “New Beginning” speech—teaches that “those who don’t pray can be grilled and then eaten.”
The reason is simple: such a barbarous heritage doesn’t belong to ISIS any more than it does to Al Azhar. It belongs to Islam—hence why a young Palestinian darling is now telling Israelis that she will “drink your blood and eat your skull.”

After Gaza, The Great Sorting Begins
Amb. Alberto M. Fernandez*/MEMRI/November 21, 2023
Palestine | MEMRI Daily Brief No. 545
As the Hamas-Israel War of 2023 entered its second month, there is some clarity in the region amidst much uncertainty. There are some things that are very different and some which are strikingly similar. Certainly, for Israel, the attack launched on October 7th, 2023 and the slaughter by Hamas of over a thousand Israeli citizens changed much in terms of Israelis' sense of their own security. The effect of this attack on Israeli policies going forward will be dramatic in ways we do not fully understand.
For the ordinary Palestinians in Gaza, the war has been a disaster much larger and deeper than previous, periodic exchanges of fire between Hamas and Israel. Another change has been the (so far only partial) debut of Iran's network of militias and terrorist groups in the region. While Hamas has been taking the full force of Israel's response, the Iranian-directed network has allowed the Houthis in Yemen to lob long-distance missiles and drones at Israel while Iranian surrogates in Syria and Iraq have mostly concentrated on attacking American bases in those countries. Hizbullah, the jewel in the crown of this Iranian regional network has so far refrained from fully entering the war.
As for the region as a whole and the Muslim world in particular, the anger and turmoil has been extensive but – some may disagree with me – it has been very much along the lines seen in past bloody confrontations between Israel and its adversaries, larger at times but similar in noise, scope, and impact. I lived through two of those confrontations while in government – the 2006 Tammuz War with Hizbullah and (while working in Jordan) the so-called battle of Jenin in 2002. Both of these clashes were shorter and smaller than the current war, but the discourse was similar, a mixture of euphoria at the beginning followed by rage at the end and vacillations between the two. This current war may change the face of Israel and of the Palestinians, but I doubt what, if any, lasting effects it will have on the region as a whole.
Where the Gaza War is indeed breaking new ground is not so much in the region – more of the same there – but in the West. The size and the scope of pro-Palestine marches and activism has been unprecedented. Some of this is due to unchecked migration to the West over the past decades and clearly many of the demonstrators comes from migrant Muslim backgrounds. But also, Muslim demonstrators have been joined by the local, homegrown left – young Socialists, Communists, Greens and others. And not surprisingly, advocacy for Palestine has inevitably included violence and intimidation of Jewish communities from Australia to Harvard.
Large demonstrations in the West about foreign policy issues are not new. There have been large protests in the past about American nukes in Europe or about the war in Iraq. Twenty years ago, in the United States, hundreds of thousands of young people rallied to "Save Darfur." Decades earlier the U.S. War in Vietnam led to mass protests worldwide, especially among American and European university students. But all of those rallies, even the largest, were essentially standalone protests on particular niche issues. The people doing them may have considered themselves leftists or liberals but an overall program transcending the specific issue at hand was rarely if ever enunciated except perhaps by a tiny, deeply committed political fringe. Darfur was forgotten as people moved on to other trendier causes of the moment, because Darfur was not connected to anything else.
In contrast, the pro-Hamas rallies in the West are nothing if not connected and "intersectional." There is an overlap with the activism associated with Black Lives Matter, with Antifa and with progressive activism on gender and ethnic issues. While many joked at incongruous banners announcing "Queers for Palestine," it actually makes sense if Palestine nationalism is seen as part of supposed liberation or anti-colonial movements in the Global South, which are themselves connected to anti-Western, anti-white or anti-system progressive movements embedded in Western societies.
The Great Sorting occurring will be confusing and jarring to many. The Democratic Party in the U.S. is – or was – the party of the overwhelming majority (68% in a 2021 Pew Research poll). It was also the party of the majority of American Muslims of American Jews (66% in a 2017 Pew Research poll). This means that those who may presumably be the strongest advocates of different sides in the conflict are to be found inside the same political party.
While a plurality of Americans (47%) support Israel in this war, 30% believe Israel has gone too far. But in contrast, among Democrats, a slight majority (51% in a late November 2023 NBC News poll) believe Israel has gone too far and only 27% believed that Israel's military actions are justified. A wealth of other polling also shows younger people in general being more critical of Israel than older Americans.
Republicans are generally perceived as being more pro-Israel of the two American parties, but will this matter in 2024? Many of the public critics of Israel seen since October 7th also have a visceral hatred of the United States, seeing it, like Israel, as an oppressive, white, "settler colonialist" state. But Republicans have also grown increasingly wary of foreign entanglements after Afghanistan, Iraq, and Ukraine. The common wisdom in U.S. elections is that foreign policy issues don't really matter. But will they matter this time, given that both on the left and on the right, foreign issues are now connected to broader domestic conceptions of nationhood, history, ethnicity and identity?
And beyond America, the mass rallies seen in favor of Palestine have been shocking to many in the West, showing how rapidly Western societies have been influenced by mass migration over the past couple of decades. Migration skeptics like Hungary's Viktor Orban have been seemingly vindicated. And the alliance of much of migrant society (with a few notable exceptions) with the political left has been graphically revealed. This is the same political left which is extremely powerful if not hegemonic in Western academia, culture, media, and government bureaucracies. The same left which has the power to mobilize aggressive, media-savvy "instamobs" dominating both the street and media coverage. Reaction is surely coming from the political right, although it may come late in a political game where the political left has built-in institutional advantages.
The Great Sorting has already begun but how it will end is not clear. What began as the latest episode in a decades-long war over land in the Holy Land is potentially transforming politics in the West, rather than in the supposedly volatile Middle East, where it is largely business as usual.
*Alberto M. Fernandez is Vice President of MEMRI.

Between Israelis and Palestinians, a Lethal Psychological Chasm Grows
Roger Cohen/The New York Times/November 21, 2023
JERUSALEM — Eight years after the foundation of the state of Israel, Moshe Dayan, the chief of staff of the Israeli military, stood close to the Gaza border to pronounce a eulogy for a 21-year-old Israeli security officer slain by Palestinian and Egyptian assailants. “Let us not today cast blame on his murderers,” he said in 1956. “What can we say against their terrible hatred of us? For eight years now, they have sat in the refugee camps of Gaza and have watched how, before their very eyes, we have turned their land and villages, where they and their forefathers previously dwelled, into our home.”His short speech, a little longer than Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address and a powerful reference for Israelis, is perhaps recalled less for this insight into Palestinian anger than for Dayan’s resolute conclusion.“Without the steel helmet and the cannon’s maw, we will not be able to plant a tree and build a home,” he said. Today, 67 years later, at a time when Jews have again lost their lives to Palestinian gunmen at the same kibbutz, Nahal Oz, that Roi Rotberg guarded, Dayan’s explicit evocation of the sources of Palestinian “hatred and desire for revenge” remains rare in Israel. Many Israelis have preferred to avert their gaze from the rage at their doorstep.
In the same way, Palestinian insight into the devouring specters of antisemitic persecution awakened in Jews by the Oct. 7 Hamas terrorist attack appears negligible. Mutual empathy is very hard to find.
“Each side begs for the status of five-star victim,” said Mohammad Darawshe, the director of strategy at the Givat Haviva Center for Shared Society, which promotes Jewish-Arab dialogue and is about an hour’s drive north of Jerusalem. “If you are stuck in victimhood, you see everyone else as victimizing and dehumanizing.”The consequence is a psychological chasm so deep that Palestinians are invisible as individuals to Israeli Jews, and vice versa. There are exceptions, of course: Some Israelis and Palestinians have dedicated themselves to bridging that divide. But generally, the narratives of the two sides diverge, burying any perception of shared humanity.
The 1948 Arab-Israeli war, known to Israelis as the War of Independence, is the Nakba, or catastrophe, to Palestinians. Nakba vies with Holocaust as each side invokes “genocide.”The relentless weaponization of history goes all the way back to biblical times and the divergent fates of the estranged sons of Abraham — Isaac, the patriarch of the Israelites, and Ishmael, a prophet of Islam. “On Oct. 7, Hamas trampled on every sensitive nerve in the Israeli psyche,” said Itamar Rabinovich, a former Israeli ambassador to the United States. “Hatred, fear and anxiety are now at their most extreme. But in the end there are two peoples coveting the same land, and two sides to the story you have to try to see.”The demonization knows no bounds. Since the Hamas attack last month, Yoav Gallant, the Israeli defense minister, has spoken of fighting “human animals.” Ismail Haniyeh, the head of the Hamas political bureau, has described Israel as “neo-Nazis supported by colonial forces.” Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, has in turn called Hamas “the new Nazis.”
One Israeli lawmaker, Ofer Cassif, has alluded to “pogroms” against Palestinians to describe the relentless Israeli bombardment of Gaza, a word whose specific historical meaning is the slaughter of Jews and a word that many Israelis have used to describe the killing by Hamas of some 1,200 people last month, according to Israeli authorities.
Of course, wartime propaganda describing enemies as monstrous is not confined to the Middle East. The United States portrayed the Japanese as subhuman during World War II, and the Japanese represented Americans as deformed brutes. Nazis depicted Jews as vermin to justify mass murder.
But something in the Israeli-Palestinian confrontation — two peoples located at the nexus of places holy to Judaism, Islam and Christianity — imbues the conflict with a peculiarly ferocious charge resistant to every attempt to tame its potency.
“After 76 years, Israelis and Palestinians have only one thing in common: the sense of living beside people who want to kill you,” said Rula Daoud, a Palestinian Israeli who works to promote peace as a director of an organization called Standing Together.
She dates her decision to try to build bridges between the two peoples to an incident in a bakery in the southern Israeli city of Ashdod during the 2014 war in Gaza. She was standing in line for bread reading a newspaper with a photograph of Palestinian children who had been killed. “I hope they all die, I hope they all burn to death!” the Israeli woman next to her exclaimed. “Oh really?” Daoud said, gripped by rage. “Shall we stand on the roof here and watch the children of Gaza burn?”
Soon after, she quit a job in audio therapy, determined to overcome the blindness of hatred. In general the decades since the collapse of the Oslo Accord of 1993 have accentuated the psychological gulf. Day-to-day interaction between Israelis and Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza has been drastically reduced by walls and fences in a push for physical separation.
Almost forgotten are the Palestine Liberation Organization’s recognition in 1993 of Israel’s right to exist in peace, and Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin’s determination to pursue that peace, a decision that cost him his life in 1995 at the hands of an extreme right-wing Israeli assassin who said he acted “on the orders of God.”These were the ephemeral glimmerings of shared humanity, soon quashed.
In the intervening decades, Hamas and the ultranationalist religious Israeli right have each extended their influence. The conflict now involves fundamentalist religious ideologies, distinct in critical regards but equally convinced that all the land between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River has been deeded to them by God.
A political and military struggle between two national movements for the same land can be resolved by compromise, at least in theory. France and Germany settled their differences in Alsace-Lorraine. Peace came to Ireland. But absolutist claims of divine right to territory appear impossible to reconcile.
“The humanity of the other is less acknowledged for the simple reason that human contact has become rare,” said Yuval Shany, a professor of international law at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Where there is contact, as between Israel’s Jewish and Palestinian populations, some measure of empathy stirs.
In 2014, during an earlier round of Israel-Hamas fighting, I stood in eastern Gaza City, gazing at tangles of iron rods, jagged outcrops of masonry and air thick with dust. At the time, a 9-year-old child in Gaza had memories of three wars in six years and needed no indoctrination in hatred. Mahmoud al-Zahar, a co-founder of Hamas, whose charter calls for Israel’s destruction, told me in an interview that year: “Israel will be eliminated because it is a foreign body.” Referring to Israeli Jews, he said, “Why should they come from Ethiopia, or Poland or America? There are 6 million in Palestine. OK, take them. America is very wide. You can make a new district for Jews.”The delusional fantasy that the enemy can be made to vanish has since grown. “On the Palestinian side, the ideal solution has become that Israel disappear,” Shany said. “On the Israeli side, there is a desire for Gaza to go away, even if that means bombing it away. Of course, that is not a solution.”Neither people, Israeli nor Palestinian, present in roughly equal numbers on the land to which they are fiercely attached, is going away. But increasingly each has denied even the identity of the other. West Bank Palestinians seldom refer to “Israelis,” almost always to “Jews.” Israel resists calling its Arab minority, more than 20% of the population, “Palestinians,” which is what they are.
“You are dealing with two traumatized peoples,” said Gershom Gorenberg, a historian and author. “The trauma of the present is linked to multigenerational trauma. People can’t even agree on events, let alone what the events mean.”
A deadly explosion occurred at the Ahli Arab Hospital in Gaza City on Oct 17. Beyond that, everything about it is disputed.
Absent recognition, dialogue or understanding, blood flows. Rabinovich, the former Israeli ambassador, said he had seen a video of a Hamas gunman involved in the Oct. 7 massacre. The gunman phones his father back in Gaza and says: “I am on the other side killing Jews. They cannot live happily when we live the way we live.”The Palestinian hatred Moshe Dayan perceived and vowed to resist by being “prepared and armed, strong and determined,” grows still, fed by Israeli oppression, fencing-off and control, as well as chronic Palestinian misgovernment. Palestinians in Gaza, whose dead number more than 12,000 according to the Health Ministry in Gaza, fear annihilation. These fears are met by the “Never Again” of a Jewish people that knows the meaning of genocide in the form of the Holocaust and sought through the foundation of its own state to put an end to millennial persecution.
The defeat on Oct. 7 was a shattering blow to this aspiration. This war in Gaza, triggered by Hamas’ ruthless application of its charter, is existential in that sense for an Israel that suddenly feels smaller and more vulnerable.
“If we cannot get beyond the walls, share this land, and come to value life over death, we are all doomed,” Daoud said. “Every three years or so, we will be sending kids of 18 and 19 to their deaths.”
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Gaza ceasefire would allow both sides to begin recovery process

Yossi Mekelberg/Arab News/November 21, 2023
In the convoluted discourse of the current war in Gaza, a call for a ceasefire, even a humanitarian one, has become the trigger for accusations of being a Hamas sympathizer. But nothing could be further from the truth. Supporting a ceasefire is simply a desperate call to stop the killing and the suffering of those who, through no fault of their own, are caught up in this war.
Israel’s objectives of ensuring that the atrocities of Oct. 7 never happen again and that the 239 hostages return home safely have been justifiably supported by most of the international community since Day 1. To call for a ceasefire by no means belittles the heinous crimes committed by Hamas that triggered this war. Instead, it is a call to stop innocent Palestinians paying with their lives for crimes committed by others, as Gaza is being reduced to rubble. It is estimated that Israel’s bombardment and its other military activities have already killed more than 13,000 Palestinians, with more than twice that number injured, most of them civilians.
At no point should the appalling deeds perpetrated by Hamas have been taken as a license to inflict immeasurable suffering on 2.3 million people, most of whom are stateless refugees inhabiting this tiny piece of territory. The very same voices in the international community that were raised in support of Israel in one of its darkest moments in the wake of Oct. 7 should have demanded from the outset that the war declared by Israel on Hamas would not become a war on the Palestinians in Gaza.
Israel was caught completely by surprise by Hamas’ attack and it quickly became apparent that there was no ready-made plan to respond to it. While the anger in Israel is understandable and justifiable, it is equally clear that, collectively, a traumatized country and an unprepared government felt forced to respond with its vast military power. On the other hand, it could not clearly articulate its objectives, either in military terms or, more importantly, in political terms, which is a dangerous combination that could only end in the use of excessive force.
Gaza was suffering from a humanitarian crisis long before Oct. 7, whereby 80 percent of its population relied on foreign aid
“Destroy Hamas” might be a pleasing war cry for a very angry Israeli public but, even if it is achievable, this task has been accompanied by the thinking that, in order to minimize casualties among its soldiers, Israel would conduct the war with no regard for civilian casualties among Palestinians. But Israel is a sovereign and democratic state and member of the UN, which puts it under an obligation to comply with standards of behavior that are in line with international law and the rules of war. It is the task of the international community to not remain as a bystander while a humanitarian disaster unfolds.
Gaza was suffering from a humanitarian crisis long before Oct. 7, whereby 80 percent of its population relied on foreign aid. Now it faces a full-blown humanitarian disaster, deriving not only from the huge scale of the killings among its population but also from the rapid deterioration in health conditions due to lack of access to medicine, food, clean water and sanitation, while most hospitals are barely functioning due to the fighting and the intermittent electricity service.
Israel’s forcing of hundreds of thousands to flee from the north of Gaza to the south might have saved some lives, but even in the south of the Strip they are by no means safe. And considering that many are refugees, they are once more displaced and with no access to their basic needs. Most humanitarian organizations that operate in Gaza, chief among them UNRWA, are running out of supplies, while electricity and communication networks are switched on and off by Israel at will.
The fast-deteriorating humanitarian conditions could get much worse, however, because Israel’s objective of destroying Hamas, without defining exactly what that means, might only result in another never-ending war. Will the fighting stop when the last Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad militants are killed or captured? Will it end once the group’s entire military and political leadership has been eliminated? A commitment to an absolute objective leaves very little room for political maneuvering to stop the fighting and move on to deal with the situation in the political sphere.
Israel’s objective of destroying Hamas, without defining exactly what that means, might only result in another never-ending war
However, as the Israeli army broadens its ground incursions, the Israeli government is constantly keeping an eye on what its allies, especially Washington, are stating publicly, as it calculates how long it might have until the pressure starts mounting for a ceasefire to be agreed. For now, the only clue we have from this quarter of the international community is a slow and grudging change of language that is calling on Israel for more restraint. A growing number of world leaders, including presidents Joe Biden and Emmanuel Macron and prime ministers Rishi Sunak and Justin Trudeau, are now expressing their deep concern over the numbers of civilian casualties, with the US and UK last week allowing the passing of a UN Security Council resolution calling for humanitarian pauses. This suggests that the next stage will be a demand for at least a humanitarian ceasefire, if not a complete one.In the absence of clarity from the US and Europe with regard to a ceasefire, it was UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres who last week expressed his concerns by posting on social media: “I am deeply disturbed by the horrible situation and dramatic loss of life in several hospitals in Gaza. In the name of humanity, I call for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire.” It is for the rest of the international community to get behind the UN chief to ensure that disarming Hamas does not mean the continuing carnage of civilians in Gaza and to begin working for a better future for Gaza — and eventually for all Israelis and Palestinians. Calling for a ceasefire is not about saving Hamas or suggesting that it should in any shape or form have a role to play in Palestinian politics, but it is instead a call to begin rebuilding a place that has endured so much suffering. It also means starting what will be a long and arduous process for both societies to recover from the trauma they are currently undergoing. When the hostilities cease and the hostages return home to their loved ones, it will be for all involved to internalize that such measures are necessary to prevent any future bloodshed and must only be taken through diplomatic negotiations and painful compromises.
*Yossi Mekelberg is a professor of international relations and an associate fellow of the MENA Program at Chatham House. X: @YMekelberg