English LCCC Newsbulletin For Lebanese, Lebanese Related, Global News & Editorials
For March 06/2024
Compiled & Prepared by: Elias Bejjani

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Bible Quotations For today
The Miracle Of Curing the Centurion Slave
Saint Luke 07/01-10/:”After Jesus had finished all his sayings in the hearing of the people, he entered Capernaum. A centurion there had a slave whom he valued highly, and who was ill and close to death. When he heard about Jesus, he sent some Jewish elders to him, asking him to come and heal his slave. When they came to Jesus, they appealed to him earnestly, saying, ‘He is worthy of having you do this for him, for he loves our people, and it is he who built our synagogue for us.’And Jesus went with them, but when he was not far from the house, the centurion sent friends to say to him, ‘Lord, do not trouble yourself, for I am not worthy to have you come under my roof; therefore I did not presume to come to you. But only speak the word, and let my servant be healed. For I also am a man set under authority, with soldiers under me; and I say to one, “Go”, and he goes, and to another, “Come”, and he comes, and to my slave, “Do this”, and the slave does it.’ When Jesus heard this he was amazed at him, and turning to the crowd that followed him, he said, ‘I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith.’When those who had been sent returned to the house, they found the slave in good health.”

Titles For The Latest English LCCC Lebanese & Lebanese Related News & Editorials published on March 05-06/2024
Elias Bejjani/Video/ Let us be unequivocally clear, Hezbollah is an Iranian jihadist terrorist organization//March 05, 2024
Video and Text/To All Owners of Tamed Political Parties, Politicians, Clergymen, and Mouthpiece Figures such as Gebran Bassil and Melhem Riachi: Let us be unequivocally clear, Hezbollah is an Iranian jihadist terrorist organization./Elias Bejjani/March 05, 2024
Gallant tells Hochstein Israel committed to diplomacy but may resort to military action
Hochstein holds 'positive' talks with Berri amid 'encouraging' signs
Three civilians killed in Israel strike on Lebanon
Hezbollah targets Kiryat Shmona in response to Bint Jbeil strike
Talks on ending Lebanon-Israel border hostilities to begin in Ramadan, Lebanese PM says
Hezbollah buries the “Moderation” initiative with “There is no president but a resistance man”
Mikati: Hockstein has entrusted us with a mechanism for 1701. Israel informs the American envoy that it is close to a decision on war.
Unusual measures in the suburb... “Israeli aggression in its heart”?
Since the start of the battles 5 months ago, Hula has paid the price for its steadfastness with 8 martyrs
Moderation Bloc's presidential initiative hinging on 'Hezbollah's answers'
Mikati says only way to peace is 'deterring Israel'
Raad: We have not used all our weapons yet
Berri lauds National Moderation bloc's presidential initiative
Lebanese state initiates roadmap to address Syrian refugee crisis: Mechanism unveiled
Lebanese Forces criticize Berri's 'obstruction' of presidential elections
Hezbollah Deputy Secretary-General emphasizes support for Frangieh, asserts readiness to respond to Israeli actions if Gaza ceasefire excludes southern Lebanon
Relationship with the Free Patriotic Movement
Maronite Patriarch Cardinal Mar Bechara Boutros Al-Rai broaches local, regional developments with MP Douaihy, meets Tripoli Bar Association delegation
United Nations and European Union improve the livelihoods and employment prospects for youth in Tripoli and Al-Beddawi
Lebanese Army Chief broaches general situation with MP Abou El-Hessen, discusses retired military personnel affairs with Armed Forces Retirees Association...
Fuel prices in Lebanon: Gasoline up, diesel down in recent adjustments
The American envoy punishes Bou Habib... by meeting with Maronite representatives/Ghada Halawi/Nedal Al Watan/March 06, 2024
Hochstein, with his advice and warnings: “The reassuring and the frightening”/Munir Al-Rabie/Al-Modon/March 06, 2024

Titles For The Latest English LCCC Miscellaneous Reports And News published on March 05-06/2024
Diplomatic push for Israel-Hamas ceasefire intensifies
Gaza Strip: Ceasefire talks between Hamas and mediators broke up on Tuesday in Cairo with no breakthrough
At least 17 killed in an Israeli airstrike in southern Gaza
Famine looms in Gaza — how will the world know it has arrived?
Sullivan, Qatar PM discussed potential ceasefire for hostage release
Saudi FM warns Israel against offensive in Rafah during OIC meeting
Netanyahu leaned on Gantz to help unify Israel, now Gantz is more popular
Israel to let same numbers into Al-Aqsa during first week of Ramadan as in previous years, statement by Netanyahu's office says
Erdogan says Israeli settlers major obstacle to peace
Turkey detains 7 more people for selling information to Mossad
3 Red Sea data cables cut as Houthis launch more attacks in vital waterway
US forces down drones, missile fired from Yemen at warship
Pro-Palestinian group sues Canada over military exports to Israel
Israel and UN trade allegations of 'terrorism,' torture

Titles For The Latest English LCCC  analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources on March 05-06/2024
In conclusion... Gaza died and Sinwar lived!/Muhammad Al-Saed/Okaz/March 05, 2024
The Illusion of a Palestinian 'Demilitarized' State/Bassam Tawil/Gatestone Institute./March 05/2024
Gazans need international protection, not just a ceasefire/Osama Al-Sharif/Arab News/March 05, 2024
Using smartphones in class smartly is better than a ban/Yossi Mekelberg/Arab News/March 05, 2024
What will the US election mean for its foreign policy?/Dalia Al-Aqidi/Arab News/March 05, 2024
What Democrats’ ‘uncommitted’ campaign means for US policy/Kerry Boyd Anderson/Arab News/March 05, 2024

Latest English LCCC Lebanese & Lebanese Related News & Editorials published on March 05-06/2024
Elias Bejjani/Video/ Let us be unequivocally clear, Hezbollah is an Iranian jihadist terrorist organization.

March 05, 2024

Video and Text/To All Owners of Tamed Political Parties, Politicians, Clergymen, and Mouthpiece Figures such as Gebran Bassil and Melhem Riachi: Let us be unequivocally clear, Hezbollah is an Iranian jihadist terrorist organization.
Elias Bejjani/March 05, 2024

It is imperative to uphold the truth and address national matters candidly, devoid of falsehoods. It is our staunch belief that any Lebanese politician, political party owner, journalist, activist, citizen, or religious figure who propagates the false notion that Hezbollah is a legitimate Lebanese resistance entity is not only deceiving the public, but also inflicting harm upon Lebanon and its people. Such individuals must be Judicially held accountable.
It is high time to debunk the fabricated myths, legends, and delusions surrounding Hezbollah, the Iranian terrorist proxy. None of the below following assertions hold any truth:
Hezbollah is a Lebanese entity representing the Shiite community in parliament.
Hezbollah is a legitimate armed resistance body in Lebanon.
Hezbollah liberated South Lebanon from Israeli occupation in 2000.
Hezbollah defeated Israel in the 2006 war.
Hezbollah's armed members killed in Lebanon or abroad while fighting in Iranian battlefields are martyrs.
Hezbollah is defending Lebanon from Israel and jihadist groups such as ISIS, Daesh, and Al Qaeda.
These claims, in addition to many other similar false allegations are nothing but lies, illusions, and self-deception.
The undeniable reality about Hezbollah is as follows:
Hezbollah is solely an Iranian jihadist armed proxy and an enemy of Lebanon and its people. This fact has been explicitly stated and proudly proclaimed by the party's leaders, from the highest echelons to the ranks.
Contrary to claims, Hezbollah does not represent the Shiite communities in Lebanon; instead, it holds them hostages through coercion and terrorism. It sends their youth to senseless deaths in battles for the Iranian regime across various countries, including Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Yemen, and Gaza. Furthermore, Hezbollah has imposed its 27 members of parliament on the Shiites through force, intimidation, and assassinations, preventing any opposition against its terrorist agenda.
The deaths of Hezbollah members in South Lebanon, and i other Iranian battlefields are not martyrs but victims. Legally, Hezbollah leaders who recruit individuals without any legal Lebanese or international law standards must face judicial accountability.
Hezbollah did not liberate South Lebanon in 2000, nor did it emerge victorious in the 2006 war. Instead, it continues to occupy South Lebanon, as well as exert control over the entire country following the withdrawal of Israeli and Syrian forces. The 2006 war brought catastrophe upon Lebanon and its people, while Israel's withdrawal from South Lebanon in 2000 was solely driven by Israeli political and strategic agendas.
Contrary to popular belief, it was Hezbollah that declared war against Israel and initiated aggression following the start of the Gaza war in October, 07/ 2023, not the other way around.
Therefore, anyone who promotes the fallacy of appeasing Hezbollah within the Lebanese framework, altering the Lebanese system, or legitimizing its Iranian weapons under the guise of a defensive strategy must face legal consequences.
In accordance with global standards of sovereignty and independence, leaders of the terrorist Iranian proxy, Hezbollah, must be apprehended and brought to justice.
Additionally, UN resolutions pertaining to Lebanon (such as the Armistice Accord, Resolution 1559, Resolution 1701, and Resolution 1860), as well as the "Taif Agreement", must be enforced. These resolutions and agreements mandate the disarmament of all Lebanese and non-Lebanese militias, and the establishment of state authority through legitimate and sovereign forces across Lebanese territory. In conclusion, Lebanon's current woes stem not from its system but from the Iranian occupation masked by corrupt and deceitful politicians and rulers. That is the undeniable truth.

Gallant tells Hochstein Israel committed to diplomacy but may resort to military action
Naharnet/March 05, 2024
Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant on Tuesday held talks with U.S. mediator Amos Hochstein, who had visited Lebanon on Monday as he seeks to mediate a solution for the Israel-Hezbollah border conflict. “We are committed to the political efforts to reach an agreement, but Hezbollah's aggression brings us closer to a decision point regarding our military action in Lebanon," Gallant told Hochstein. Hochstein had said Monday that a diplomatic solution was key to ending nearly five months of intensifying hostilities between Hezbollah and Israel. "A diplomatic solution is the only way to end the current hostilities" and achieve "a lasting fair security arrangement between Lebanon and Israel," Hochstein told reporters in Beirut, adding that "a temporary ceasefire is not enough.""A limited war is not containable," he warned after meeting with Speaker Nabih Berri, a Hezbollah ally.
Security along the Blue Line, demarcated by the United Nations in 2000 after Israeli troops pulled out of southern Lebanon, "has to change in order to guarantee everyone's security," he added. The cross-border fighting has displaced tens of thousands on both sides and has killed at least 299 people in Lebanon, most of them Hezbollah fighters but also including 49 civilians. In Israel, at least 10 soldiers and seven civilians have been killed and Israel has repeatedly warned that it might launch an operation against Hezbollah to secure the border area and return its residents to the north.

Hochstein holds 'positive' talks with Berri amid 'encouraging' signs
Naharnet/March 05, 2024
A “positive atmosphere” engulfed the meeting that Speaker Nabih Berri held Monday with U.S. mediator Amos Hochstein, informed sources said. “The two men agreed on a host of encouraging signs, which if respected and implemented on the ground would lead to halting the war in the South between Israel and Hezbollah,” the sources told Annahar newspaper in remarks published Tuesday. “Hochstein did not carry a written paper containing his proposals, but rather raised old and new ideas involving a halt of military operations, the return of displaced residents to both sides of the border, and halting military activities south of the Litani River, which would eventually lead to discussing a comprehensive agreement over the situation on the border, from the B1 point all the way to the Shebaa Farms,” the sources added. According to ad-Diyar newspaper, Hochstein told Berri that once a truce is declared in Gaza, he would return to Lebanon to “discuss a blueprint for the implementation of Resolution 1701.”Al-Akhbar newspaper meanwhile said that the U.S. envoy’s proposals included ideas for “creating an economic support program for the southern areas and pledges that would guarantee the resumption of oil and gas exploration by the global companies.” Quoting officials who met with Hochstein, the daily said the U.S. mediator stated that Washington “wants, at any cost, to reach a mechanism that would prevent a deterioration of things on the Lebanese front to a major confrontation.”And as the Nidaa al-Watan newspaper said Hezbollah told Hochstein through Berri that “there won’t be discussions before the Gaza truce,” al-Liwaa daily said Hochstein called for consolidating calm in the South during the expected Gaza truce and maintaining it even if war resumes in the Palestinian enclave.

Three civilians killed in Israel strike on Lebanon
Agencies/March 05, 2024
BEIRUT: A Lebanese couple and their son were killed Tuesday in an Israeli strike on a house in the southern border village of Hula, Lebanon’s official National News Agency reported. Lebanon’s Iran-backed Hezbollah movement and Israel have traded deadly cross-border fire on a near-daily basis since war broke out in October between Israel and Gaza’s rulers Hamas, a Hezbollah ally. “The three civilians, Hassan Hussein, his wife, Ruwaida Mustafa, and their 25-year-old son, Ali Hussein, were killed in the enemy raid on a three-story house in Hula,” NNA said. “Search operations and the removal of rubble are continuing,” it added. Shortly before the strike, Hezbollah said it had targeted the Israeli city of Kiryat Shmona in response to Israeli attacks on “civilian homes,” particularly Bint Jbeil. The Lebanese Shiite movement also said it carried out several attacks on Israeli military positions on the border on Tuesday. NNA had reported on Monday evening that Israeli air raids targeted Bint Jbeil, but no casualties were reported. Also on Monday, a missile fired from Lebanon killed a foreign worker in Israel, according to the army, and three Hezbollah-affiliated paramedics were killed in an Israeli raid on southern Lebanon, according to Hezbollah. It came as US envoy Amos Hochstein said a diplomatic solution was key to ending nearly five months of intensifying hostilities between Hezbollah and Israel. “A diplomatic solution is the only way to end the current hostilities” and achieve “a lasting fair security arrangement between Lebanon and Israel,” he said, adding “a temporary ceasefire is not enough.”Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant has said there will be no let-up in Israeli action against Hezbollah even if a Gaza ceasefire is secured. The fighting has killed at least 302 people in Lebanon, most of them Hezbollah fighters but also including at least 51 civilians, according to an AFP tally. In Israel, at least 10 soldiers and seven civilians have been killed.

Hezbollah targets Kiryat Shmona in response to Bint Jbeil strike
Associated Press/March 05, 2024
Hezbollah targeted Tuesday Kiryat Shmona and carried out four other attacks on northern Israel, while Israeli artillery shelled in response the Marjayoun plain and al-Wazzani. Hezbollah said it targeted Kiryat Shmona "in response to the Israeli attacks on southern villages and civilians, especially on Bint Jbeil."
The group had attacked at dawn an Israeli force near the al-Raheb post with artillery shells and another armored force later in the day in the Berkat Risha post. The group also targeted a group of soldiers on the Tayhat hill and a Merkava tank in the Netu'a settlement "while it was shelling villages and civilians." The attack on Netu'a inflicted casualties, according to Hezbollah's statement. The attacks Tuesday came after a deadly and violent day during which an Israeli airstrike killed three Hezbollah paramedics in Odaisseh and a missile strike blamed on Hezbollah - although not claimed by the group - killed at least one foreign worker in Margaliot in northern Israel. Later on Monday, Israeli warplanes raided the southern towns of al-Sultaniyeh, Seddiqin and Bint Jbeil. The deadly violence Monday came as a senior U.S. envoy visited Beirut and warned that a Gaza truce wouldn't necessarily apply to conflict along the Lebanon-Israel border. Amos Hochstein urged the parties to reach a lasting cease-fire at the border following meetings Monday with Lebanese leaders. His comments came hours after Hezbollah deputy leader Naim Qassem said the only way to restore calm along the border is to end the war on Gaza.
Since the Israel-Hamas war started, Hezbollah has been exchanging fire with Israel almost daily, displacing thousands of people and spiking fear that the conflict may spread through the region. In northern Israel, 60,000 people have evacuated, the Israeli government says. "People won't come back anytime soon, they're scared, it's dangerous," Haim Menus, 70, said Monday while buying hardware at one of the rare stores open in the nearly abandoned northern Israeli town of Kiryat Shmona. He is one of the few who have remained, working curtailed hours at a bakery.
"An anti-tank missile could come at any time," Menus said. Moments later, an anti-tank missile struck a field in the nearby community of Margaliot as sirens blared, killing one Indian worker and injuring seven other foreign workers from India and Thailand, according the Israel Rescue Services and the Israeli army. In Beirut, Hochstein began his talks by meeting Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri. He later met with caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati and the army commander, Gen. Joseph Aoun. Asked if a cease-fire in the Gaza Strip would include Lebanon, he said it wouldn't necessarily be the case "that when you have a cease-fire in Gaza, it automatically extends. That is why we are here today to be able to have a conversation and discussions" on the situation in Lebanon. Since the Israel-Hamas war began, more than 215 Hezbollah fighters and nearly 40 civilians were killed on the Lebanese side while in Israel, nine soldiers and 10 civilians were left dead in the attacks. Israeli officials have threatened a wider war in Lebanon if Hezbollah does not withdraw its elite fighters north of the Litani River as stipulated in a 2006 truce that ended a 34-day Israel-Hezbollah war. Western diplomats have brought forward a series of proposals for a cessation of hostilities between Israel and Hezbollah, most of which would hinge on Hezbollah moving its forces 7-10 kilometers away from the border. Qassem, Hezbollah's deputy leader, blasted the United States in a speech Monday during a conference held in the group's stronghold south of Beirut attended by Muslim clerics from several regional states. He blamed Washington for using its veto power three times to prevent resolutions at the U.N. Security Council to end the war in Gaza. "We have said it clearly that whoever wants to be a mediator should mediate to stop the aggression," Qassem said in his speech. He added that those who don't want the war to expand in the region should deal with the cause "which is the brutal and criminal aggression by America and Israel against Gaza.""Stop the aggression on Gaza and the war will stop in the region," he said.

Talks on ending Lebanon-Israel border hostilities to begin in Ramadan, Lebanese PM says
REUTERS/March 06, 2024
BEIRUT: Indirect talks to end hostilities along the Lebanese-Israeli border will begin during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan which starts next week, Lebanon’s caretaker prime minister Najib Mikati said on Tuesday. Powerful Lebanese armed group Hezbollah and Israel have been exchanging fire for nearly five months in parallel with the Gaza war, prompting diplomatic efforts aimed at staving off an escalation. In an interview on Tuesday night with local Lebanese broadcaster Al Jadeed, Mikati said long-term stability on the southern border required Israel to stop violating Lebanon’s territorial integrity and to return territories it occupies all along the border. He said Lebanon’s parliament speaker Nabih Berri — who is close to Hezbollah — was studying a proposal suggested verbally by US envoy Amos Hochstein, who was in Beirut on Monday. Mikati said the proposal centered on how to fully implement United Nations Security Council Resolution 1701, which ended the month-long war fought in 2006 between Hezbollah and Israel. It calls for a withdrawal of non-state armed actors from southern Lebanon and a deployment of up to 15,000 Lebanese army troops. Lebanon has accused Israel of violating the resolution more than 30,000 times, and says it would be ready to implement it fully. Mikati said Hochstein’s proposal also included “a development plan for south Lebanon,” that would be backed by Arab states and other countries outside the region. He said Lebanon still had questions about the proposal and had some preliminary comments on it, and that either he or Berri would speak to Hochstein within the next 48 hours, particularly to learn Israel’s position as the US envoy traveled on to Tel Aviv from Beirut. Mikati said the timeline for implementation was “elastic.” Hezbollah is one of several Iran-aligned groups around the Middle East that have entered the fray since Oct. 7, when Hamas militants stormed Israel from the Gaza Strip, triggering a fierce Israeli land, air and sea offensive on Gaza. Hezbollah, an ally of Hamas, has said its campaign aims to support the Palestinians under Israeli bombardment. Mikati told Reuters in an exclusive interview last week that a halt to fighting in the Gaza Strip would trigger indirect talks to end hostilities along Lebanon’s southern border. But in Beirut on Monday, Hochstein warned that a truce in Gaza would not necessarily automatically bring calm to Lebanon’s southern border and he warned about the risks of an escalation of the conflict.

Hezbollah buries the “Moderation” initiative with “There is no president but a resistance man”
Mikati: Hockstein has entrusted us with a mechanism for 1701. Israel informs the American envoy that it is close to a decision on war.
Neda Al Watan/March 06, 2024

What Israel said after its officials’ talks yesterday with US envoy Amos Hockstein, and through Defense Minister Yoav Galant, indicates that the military option to resolve the conflict on the front with Lebanon is still adjacent to the diplomatic option. On the other hand, caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati revealed yesterday evening that the American envoy “put a proposal on the table and Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri is studying it and there will be a response to it, and we have questions that we are waiting for answers from the American envoy.” He said: “Hochstein presented oral ideas, but there is no written paper on the Lebanon front.” Mikati expressed his belief that Berri “is consulting with Hezbollah,” noting that “when we have a written paper on Hochstein’s proposal, I will consult with the party.” He concluded that “the Hochstein initiative will, over time, gain international coverage.” In this context, diplomatic circles told “Nidaa al-Watan” that Hochstein informed Lebanese officials that “Israel does not want to repeat the 2006 experience in terms of implementing Resolution 1701, which remained practically unimplemented for almost 18 years.” As for the conditions on the field on the southern border, yesterday evening was marked by the announcement by the “Islamic Resistance,” the military wing of the “Party,” in a statement that it had “bombed the Kfar Blum colony with dozens of Katyusha rockets.” The statement said that this bombing was in order to support Gaza and in response to “A civilian’s house was targeted and a woman, her husband, and their son were martyred in the town of Hula.” What about the Hockstein talks in Israel? He went to Tel Aviv immediately after his visit to Lebanon and met with Israeli War Council member Benny Gantz. Then he met Gallant, who told him the following: “We are committed to the diplomatic process. However, Hezbollah’s aggression brings us closer to a critical point in decision-making regarding our military activities in Lebanon.” Gallant-Hochstein warned that Hezbollah was dragging the parties into a “dangerous” escalation. According to a readout from the Israeli Defense Minister's Office, Gallant and Hockstein spoke of "Hezbollah's daily attacks with rockets, shells and drones, as well as efforts to reach an agreement that would see the Iran-backed organization withdraw from the border and end hostilities, to empower some 80,000 displaced people." Residents of northern Israel are unable to return to their homes. In parallel, Israeli media reported that “Gantz informed US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan that Israel is not seeking war with Lebanon.” At the same time, “Gantz told Sullivan that Washington’s supply of weapons to Israel would make Hezbollah think twice before any escalation.” From developments related to the south, to developments related to the presidential file, “Call of the Nation” learned that what the mediators on the line of this file heard was that “Hezbollah” is being tougher presidentially, and it refuses to repeat the experience of President Michel Suleiman. What is accepted is the election of the head of the Marada Movement, Suleiman Franjieh, or the election of a president who resembles former president Emile Lahoud, whom the “party” used to call and still calls the “resistance president.” Therefore, there is no room for testing a centrist president or one who submits to Western pressure.” This information concludes by saying that “the parliamentary initiative of the Moderation Front was practically torpedoed, and the “party” took charge of burying it.”

Unusual measures in the suburb... “Israeli aggression in its heart”?
Janoubia/March 05, 2024
A website close to Hezbollah revealed that “unusual” security measures were taken in the southern suburb of Beirut recently, indicating fears of “hostile Israeli action” against it. Al-Ahed website said in information published on Tuesday afternoon, citing security sources, that there were “severe and unusual measures witnessed in the suburb by security forces and Hezbollah members.” The party also “tightened the security of its centers after becoming concerned about a number of violations that occurred recently in the suburb.” Reports indicated strange arrests that took place last week in the suburb, of members of UNIFIL, another of a Dutch group affiliated with the embassy, and a third of a Spanish diplomat. The three parties said they lost their way before they were arrested by the party and then handed over to the security and judicial services. Security sources told Al-Ahed website that “the measures taken in the suburb are for the purpose of prevention and precaution,” and that the main reason “is due to fear of Israeli hostile action in the heart of the suburb.” Since October 8, Israel has launched an aggression against Hezbollah members in a number of southern border areas. It also carried out an assassination operation in the heart of the southern suburbs on January 3, killing the deputy head of Hamas and the movement’s leader in the West Bank, Saleh Al-Arouri, and two leaders of the “Hamas” Brigades. Al-Qassam” in Lebanon. According to statistics from the Janoubia website, 232 party members, including seven paramedics, have so far been martyred in the ongoing bombing operations.

Since the start of the battles 5 months ago, Hula has paid the price for its steadfastness with 8 martyrs
Hussein Saad/Janoubia/March 05, 2024
The continuous Israeli attacks on his town of Hula did not force the citizen, Hassan Ali Hussein, to leave the town and its land, which he loves and tills. He remained steadfast with his wife and children, in the northern neighborhood of Hula, close to its cemetery. He was one of the few steadfast people, digging the graves of the dead and martyrs. Until the day he was martyred, along with his wife Ruwaida Mustafa and Falza Kabdeh Ali, by Israeli enemy missiles that destroyed the house on their innocent and tender bodies. Hassan, his wife, and their son, Ali, fell under the Israeli hatred, so they joined the convoy of martyrs, who had no sin except to punish them for clinging to the town, which from 1948 until today has provided hundreds of martyrs. After the martyrdom of Nasifa Mazraani and her son Muhammad, at the beginning of the Israeli aggression, as a result of a bombing on their house, after that, three martyrs fell, in a bombing on the old neighborhoods of the town, namely Gendarmerie Ali Mahdi, Hussein Musa Hussein and Noha Mazraani, so that the number of civilian martyrs in this town rose to, Eight martyrs, along with the martyrs of today's massacre, preceded by Ahmed Hassan Mustafa, a martyr on the road to Jerusalem. As in the past, a number of southern towns experienced, directly and indirectly, the terror caused by the enemy’s military raids on homes and the fake raids that shook the homes of citizens throughout the south. After Houla, Israeli aircraft raided a three-story house in the town of Dibin, near Marjayoun, destroying it, while emergency sources reported four wounded civilians. This was preceded by violent raids in which heavy missiles were used, including houses in Majdal Zoun, the Butm Mountains, Kafra and Aita al-Shaab, in addition to throwing thermal balloons, the Lebanese Army Command in Baban Laha warned against approaching or touching these balloons. Meanwhile, Hezbollah responded to the targeting of civilians in Houla, by bombing the Kfar Blum settlement with dozens of Katyusha rockets, and also targeting a building in the Kiryat Shmona settlement and directly hitting it. The party also launched, according to statements from its military media, attacks on the occupation sites in Al-Tahat, Al-Baghdadi, and Ruwaisat Al-Alam. Al-Raheb, Birkat Risha, and the Natua settlement. The Israeli media described the missiles launched from Lebanon, towards the occupied Palestinian north, as the largest in number since the beginning of the war, as their number exceeded seventy missiles.

Moderation Bloc's presidential initiative hinging on 'Hezbollah's answers'

Naharnet/March 05, 2024
Monday’s meeting between the National Moderation Bloc and Hezbollah’s parliamentary bloc did not lead to setting a date for a consultative parliamentary meeting that would kickstart the Moderation Bloc’s initiative that is aimed at securing the election of a new president, media reports said. The bloc is “awaiting answers from Hezbollah regarding some related details,” Asharq al-Awsat newspaper reported on Tuesday. The National Moderation Bloc had met with the other parliamentary blocs prior to its meeting with Hezbollah in Haret Hreik on Monday.
“Hezbollah’s MPs expressed certain concerns over the initiative, but we presented answers,” Moderation Bloc sources told Asharq al-Awsat. “We’re optimistic regarding the initiative, because it has pushed several parties forward in the presidential election file,” the sources added. After they receive the answers from Hezbollah’s bloc, the members of the Moderation Bloc are supposed to brief Speaker Nabih Berri on the outcome of their meetings in order to decide the next steps, specifically as to the consultative parliamentary meeting, Asharq al-Awsat said.

Mikati says only way to peace is 'deterring Israel'
Naharnet/March 05, 2024
Caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati called Tuesday on the international community to stop Israel's agressions and to work on peaceful solutions for the region. "In order for this region to know peace and prosperity, Israeli aggressions against southern Lebanon and Gaza must stop [...] and Israel must be compelled to implement international resolutions, especially Resolution 1701," Mikati said, adding that "Israel must also withdraw from all the Lebanese territories that are still occupied." The PM urged the Lebanese to unite and unify their voices to demand the international community to deter Israel and work to provide peaceful solutions to the region.

Raad: We have not used all our weapons yet
Naharnet /March 05, 2024
14 hours agoThe head of Hezbollah’s parliamentary bloc, MP Mohammad Raad, noted Tuesday that Hezbollah is “still committed to accuracy in the deterrence equations it has imposed on the Israeli enemy.”Israel is “trying to evade” the aforementioned equations, “but will not be able to revoke them,” Raad stressed. “Why is Israel threatening, warning and giving one deadline after another and why is it not committing an act that would entangle it the same way it is entangled in Gaza? Because it knows that a trouble with the Lebanese would have dire consequences for its entity,” Raad said. “We do not wish for war and we are not seeking it, but we are fully prepared to face it,” the lawmaker went on to say. Noting that Hezbollah is trying to spare Lebanon and its people an all-out war with Israel because it would involve “blood and losses,” Raad emphasized that “the biggest and strategic loser in it would be the Zionist enemy.”“We have not used all our weapons and we have not yet opened the arms depots of open war. The enemy knows this,” Raad added.

Berri lauds National Moderation bloc's presidential initiative
Naharnet/March 05, 2024
Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri is open to a presidential initiative by the National Moderation bloc. "Their initiative is clear - there is no ambiguity,” Berri told al-Joumhouria, in remarks published Tuesday, adding that he has expressed "positivity" towards it. Berri said he has discussed with the bloc's MPs the smallest details about the initiative. He expressed willingness to call for an open session with successive rounds, but said that rounds cannot go on indefinitely."If MPs fail to agree on a president's name through dialogue, I am ready to call for an electoral session with successive rounds, but if we fail to elect a president in that session, it is my duty to end it, and schedule another one," Berri explained. "Otherwise, keeping the session open would disrupt the legislative role of Parliament, the only constitutional institution still functioning today."

Lebanese state initiates roadmap to address Syrian refugee crisis: Mechanism unveiled
LBCI/March 05, 2024
The Lebanese state has consistently linked resolving the Syrian refugee crisis to obtaining data from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to develop a plan for organizing their presence or facilitating their return to their homeland. On December 5, 2023, the General Security received the data, representing only the number of refugees in Lebanon, which is 1,486,000 refugees without including additional details. Therefore, the state, particularly the Ministry of Interior and the General Security, has initiated a roadmap to directly regulate the legal status of refugees and a mechanism for their return. The mechanism aims to categorize refugees between those who hold the status of "refugee," that is, those who came to Lebanon before 2015 and are protected by the international humanitarian law designated for displaced persons, and those who arrived after 2015 after the Lebanese state closed its borders and issued a decision to stop registering those coming from Syria under the status of refugee, but under a separate category. The latter group falls under Lebanese law, without international legal protection. They must obtain residency or work permits and fulfill all their obligations, such as taxes and others. This roadmap will be implemented in collaboration with municipalities and some associations to gather information about all refugees. The initiative will start in the northern Matn district as a pilot phase and will later extend to all districts. Thus, the state is attempting to find a solution to this crisis, away from politics, narrow interests, and, most importantly, far from the racism that some apply to this issue.

Lebanese Forces criticize Berri's 'obstruction' of presidential elections

LBCI/March 05, 2024
The media office of the Lebanese Forces party stated in a press release that Speaker of the Parliament Nabih Berri "has not only persisted in obstructing the presidential elections for over a year and four months but has also taken it upon himself to stifle any serious initiative for holding the presidential elections."
It said that his latest attempt was to "place obstacles in the path of the National Moderation bloc initiative, seeking to hinder it." It added: "After the National Moderation bloc made strides in preparing for a natural and intuitive consultative meeting among parliamentary blocs in preparation for electing a president, Speaker Berri imposed conditions here and obstacles there. So, where is the problem if parliamentary blocs convene for a mini-parliamentary session in the Parliament? Isn't it customary, conventional, and logical to conduct this type of consultation as preparation for the presidential elections?"The statement continued, "The irony lies in obstructing the presidential elections and distracting people every day with new 'news' far from reality and the Constitution." "If Speaker Berri, you insist on your candidate, that is your right, but it is by no means your right to continue obstructing the presidential elections because you could not secure the parliamentary majority that authorizes victory.""What is truly strange and perplexing is keeping Lebanon without a president and without constitutional regularity in one of the most critical phases the country is going through, only to achieve the equation of 'either our candidate or a vacuum, and let Lebanon deal with the consequences," it said. The press release concluded, "What is truly strange and perplexing is the insistence on unconstitutional methods, as the presidential elections must take precedence in an open session and successive daily rounds until the election of a president."

Hezbollah Deputy Secretary-General emphasizes support for Frangieh, asserts readiness to respond to Israeli actions if Gaza ceasefire excludes southern Lebanon

LBCI/March 05, 2024
Sheikh Naim Qassem, the Deputy Secretary-General of Hezbollah, reaffirmed Sleiman Frangieh's position as their primary presidential candidate, stating, "At present, we are not considering another candidate. Others must adapt, not us." Sheikh Naim Qassem also confirmed, "We have yet to provide a definitive response to the National Moderation Bloc regarding the presidential initiative." In an interview on LBCI's "Kalam Bel Siyasa," Qassem highlighted that Sleiman Frangieh embodies the resistance axis's political ethos, "encompassing the Free Patriotic Movement from our perspective."He further noted, "Frangieh has reconciled with Geagea, maintains engagements with Arab nations, communicates with the Americans, and is open to dialogue with all parties."He identified the current presidential deadlock as internal, emphasizing the parties' unwillingness to compromise. "Why should we be the ones to compromise? They cannot assign blame to us; we do not impose our will on anyone, nor should anyone impose theirs on us."Qassem questioned, "Who are they seeking? A president who opposes Hezbollah? That is something we cannot accept. Only the future will tell; perhaps we will support Frangieh as president." He refuted the notion of a Christian coalition against the Hezbollah-Amal alliance. "The convergence between the Free Patriotic Movement and the Lebanese Forces was aimed at sidelining Sleiman Frangieh and nominating another candidate," he stressed. He also emphasized that the constitution ensures sectarian balance by requiring a quorum of 86 members of parliament (MPs), thereby validating the right of Hezbollah and its allies to obstruct the quorum in successive sessions. He stated, "We reserve the right to disagreement. When will they relinquish their obstinacy?

Relationship with the Free Patriotic Movement
Regarding Hezbollah's relationship with the Free Patriotic Movement, he expressed that both parties have come to different beliefs and visions. They agreed that each would voice its perspective, acknowledging differences on multiple topics. Qassem mentioned, "We have decided within the party to abstain from engaging in debates about the relationship with the Free Patriotic Movement." He noted, "While the Mar Mikhael understanding with the Free Patriotic Movement is on pause, communication remains open."
War in the South
Qassem reflected on Hezbollah's pragmatism in the current conflict between the party and Israel in southern Lebanon. He said that the party had made the greatest sacrifices and suffered the most casualties to preserve Lebanese life. "We separate the southern events from the domestic scenario," he said. He declared, "The US leads the conflict, not Israel; we have borne the burden." He asserted, "We have not embroiled Lebanon in conflict; the Israeli adversary exists independently and does not need a justification to initiate conflict against us. Our belief is in preemptive confrontation against the Israelis, viewing it as a justified response following their assault on Gaza."The Deputy Secretary-General remarked, "Israel will hesitate to escalate if it perceives our readiness; should it proceed, we will respond more vigorously. We haven't dragged Lebanon into conflict; a significant Israeli threat exists, capable of initiating conflict at any moment without pretext. Early deterrence is crucial to safeguard Lebanon, ensuring Israeli restraint benefits all Lebanese."He further explained, "An undeterred enemy poses a constant threat of war. It's in every Lebanese's interest for this adversary to remain deterred. The timing demonstrates solidarity with Gaza and serves Lebanon's interests. We are positioned defensively against an encroaching enemy." Sheikh Qassem stated, "We have no intention of initiating war, but cannot remain passive if one is imposed. Without effective deterrence, the Israelis will persist.""Amos Hochstein's directives do not bind us; we do not interfere in state and government-led negotiations. Upon the cessation of hostilities, these matters will be deliberated," he announced. He noted, "In the ongoing conflict in Gaza, no commitments or agreements are in place. Should a ceasefire emerge in Gaza, and if the Israelis reject peace in southern Lebanon, we will resist them. They cannot impose terms on us; they will face defeat."

Maronite Patriarch Cardinal Mar Bechara Boutros Al-Rai broaches local, regional developments with MP Douaihy, meets Tripoli Bar Association delegation

NNA/March 05, 2024
Maronite Patriarch Cardinal Mar Bechara Boutros Al-Rai, on Monday received, in Bkerke,, MP Michel Douaihy, with whom he discussed the current developments locally and regionally.Patriarch Rahi then received in Bkerke the head of the Tripoli Bar Association, Sami Al-Hassan, on top of a delegation from the Association, who paid him a protocol visit. Discussions reportedly touched on the current general situation. Following the visit, Al-Hassan stressed "the necessity of speeding up the election of a President of the Republic in order to regularize work in all institutions, and to preserve public liberties and freedom of expression." Al-Hassan added, "We also touched on the existing conflict and dispute in Qornet al-Sawda between the towns of Bsharri and Bekaa Safrin and the necessity of cooperation to end this dispute in accordance with the law and personal and tribal reconciliation in order to preserve coexistence."

United Nations and European Union improve the livelihoods and employment prospects for youth in Tripoli and Al-Beddawi
NNA/March 05, 2024
Committed to supporting local authorities improve livelihoods and youth services in Lebanon, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat) with the generous support of the European Union inaugurated the newly digitized public library system at Nawfal Palace, Tripoli and business incubator and agricultural training center at the rehabilitated Al-Beddawi Castle in Al-Beddawi municipality. The protracted socioeconomic, financial, and political crises in Lebanon have severely impacted municipalities, including those of Tripoli and Al-Beddawi. This has affected the services municipalities can provide, as well as their efforts to preserve historical buildings such as Nawfal Palace and Al-Beddawi Castle.
Nawfal Palace
The rehabilitation of the Palace was made possible through the European Union's funding of US$ 145,000. This contribution not only facilitated the restoration work but also equipped the palace with CCTV cameras, a sound system, a high-definition projector, and other essential equipment that supported the library’s modernization. The work involved eliminating water leaks and restoring the historical ceilings, building facades, windows, and walls. This initial phase was completed in August 2023, and the Palace re-opened to the public in September of the same year.
The second phase of the restoration, recently finalized, includes the renovation of remaining parts of the Palace's ceiling and the establishment of a library archiving system to monitor the usage of the library's books. This will facilitate residents access to invaluable content at the palace library, home to over 10,000 volumes spanning diverse disciplines and including century-old documents. It will also contribute to revitalizing both the palace and its library, and in creating an inclusive cultural space for all. Al-Beddawi Castle Business Incubator and Agricultural Initiative
The business incubator and agricultural initiative at Al-Beddawi castle were implemented by the UN in partnership with the municipality to complement its socioeconomic development plan through the European Union's funding of US$ 251,310. The main objective of this initiative is to improve the socioeconomic situation of young people in Al-Beddawi municipality, through the provision of vocational and business-related training opportunities. These trainings, which the municipality will implement in partnership with different local civil society organizations, come in response to the very high unemployment rate among young people in the area. The first trainings are expected to start in April 2024 and will benefit at least 80 young people in the first training round.  To accommodate the trainings, several improvements were made to the castle – a historically classified building – including upgrading its electrical network and lighting, as well as the installation of a solar power system to provide the castle with continuous and green electricity. Furthermore, the castle’s facilities were renovated, and its roof was weatherproofed to prevent water leaks.
The business incubator was equipped with electrical appliances and information technology equipment. Furthermore, a studio sound system will be delivered in the coming period to facilitate the delivery of trainings in partnership with QUAD related to entrepreneurship, market analysis, and marketing among others. As part of the agricultural initiative, two municipal lands were upgraded to allow for agricultural related trainings. The lands were equipped with an electrical generator, irrigation system, water tanks, and solar panels. A water truck will also be provided in the ensuing months as well as all needed gardening tools, seeds, and plants, to support the agricultural training activities. Furthermore, additional funds will be allocated to support the implementation of agricultural training for youth and women in the area, expected to start in April 2024.
"UNDP is dedicated to enhancing livelihoods in Lebanon by supporting local authorities. By rehabilitating Nawfal Palace and digitizing its library, we offer the youth of Tripoli and the North access to invaluable resources and training opportunities. Similarly, the refurbished Al-Beddawi Castle and adjacent agricultural lands will facilitate vocational and business training for Al-Beddawi's youth, boosting their employability. We emphasize the importance of municipalities' ongoing maintenance and support for these projects to guarantee their sustainability," said UNDP Lebanon Acting Resident Representative Mohammed Salih. “Preserving historical places in cities is key to maintaining their social fabric and identity for future generations. I am happy to see these spaces transformed so that they are multipurpose and can be used by the public as a place to come together, learn and exchange experiences. Not only are these spaces now accessible, but they can also provide a wealth of opportunities for people – especially youth – to gain knowledge and skills that can facilitate their access to wider livelihood opportunities and income-generating activities,” said Taina Christiansen, Head of UN-Habitat Lebanon.

Lebanese Army Chief broaches general situation with MP Abou El-Hessen, discusses retired military personnel affairs with Armed Forces Retirees Association...
NNA/March 05, 2024
Army Commander, General Joseph Aoun, on Tuesday received at his Yarzeh office, MP Hadi Abou El-Hessen, with whom he discussed the country’s general situation. The Army Chief also received a delegation from the Armed Forces Retirees Association, headed by retired Major General Nicolas Mezher.
Discussions reportedly touched on affairs related to the retired military personnel.

Fuel prices in Lebanon: Gasoline up, diesel down in recent adjustments
NNA/March 05, 2024
The price of 95 and 98 octane gasoline increased by 6,000 LBP, while the price of diesel decreased by 15,000 LBP and the gas cylinder by 2,000 LBP. The new prices are as follows:
- 95 octane gasoline: LBP 1,663,000
- 98 octane gasoline: LBP 1,701,000
- Diesel: LBP 1,594,000
- Gas cylinder: LBP 946,000

The American envoy punishes Bou Habib... by meeting with Maronite representatives
Ghada Halawi/Nedal Al Watan/March 06, 2024
During his previous visit to Lebanon, a difference in views emerged between US Presidential Envoy Amos Hockstein and Foreign Minister Abdullah Bou Habib against the backdrop of the implementation of Resolution 1701, as Bou Habib demanded that Israel implement the international resolution in full while withdrawing from the Shebaa Farms and the Kfar Shuba Hills. Hockstein urgently asked him to stop discussing the issue. The issue of withdrawal is because it is not subject to discussion by Israel. On that day, Bou Habib considered that skipping the withdrawal meant that there was no solution for the southern front, criticizing Netanyahu’s threats of war, destruction, and killing. The meeting was not comfortable for Hockstein, who excluded Bou Habib from his tour, and caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati did not ask him to join the meeting with the guest in the government palace, contrary to custom. Was it intentional to exclude the State Department politically? There are two American justifications for Hochstein’s position: the excuse of lack of time, and that he is the envoy of the White House and not the State Department, knowing that the two reasons do not negate the passage of any discussion of the border issue and the return of calm, outside the walls of the State Department. Contrary to his custom, Hockstein did not include the visit on his program schedule. During his first visit, Mikati requested that Bou Habib attend his meeting with Hockstein. When he arrived at the Grand Serail, he found that the meeting had begun in his absence, so he objected. A situation that was repeated in the previous visit, where Mikati requested the presence of the Foreign Minister to meet with Hockstein at the Grand Serail, pledging not to repeat what happened the last time, but again the meeting was held before his arrival, and Bou Habib decided to leave in protest had it not been for the intervention of the mediators. During the meeting, Mikati asked the Foreign Minister to explain Lebanon’s position. He spoke about the need for Israel to commit to implementing Resolution 1701, including its withdrawal from the Shebaa Farms and the Kfar Shuba Hills. Hockstein interrupted him, asking not to raise the issue of withdrawal again, because Israel has no intention of implementing this clause. The meeting was not friendly and witnessed tension between them due to the withdrawal from the farms. Hockstein's visit was different from previous ones. He did not include on his list of appointments to go to the State Department, and the American ambassador to Lebanon, Lisa Johnson, justified the matter by lack of time, then she added that Hochstein was visiting Lebanon as a presidential envoy from the White House and not from the State Department. This confirms the difference between the State Department and the White House regarding the approach to the Lebanese file, which has become directly at the core of the White House’s concerns. It implied that the Foreign Ministry had nothing to do with his visit and no prior coordination with it.
Someone came to draw the ambassador's attention to the fact that Hochstein's visit itinerary would be devoid of meeting with any Christian figure, and that he excluded the only Maorite position in power. He later announced a meeting with Maronite figures in the House of Representatives, which was not included in the program of his meetings, which was limited to a visit to the heads of the House of Representatives and the government, the army commander, and former MP Walid Jumblatt. What strengthens the possibility is that Hockstein replaced the meeting with Bou Habib, a Christian, with his meeting with the Maronite representatives, excluding the representatives of the “Free Patriotic Movement” and “Marada” from these meetings. If excluding “the Movement” and “Marada” has political connotations due to their closeness to “Hezbollah,” and some of their figures have been included on the US sanctions list, then it is unjustified, according to diplomatic sources, to exclude the Foreign Ministry from a visit whose goal is to research a file in which it is primarily concerned, i.e. Implementing International Resolution 1701, which was the subject of disagreement between the minister and Hochstein in previous visits. Did the presidential envoy decide to punish him for his position, knowing that this is the position that Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri emphasizes in his meetings with Hochstein and is considered Lebanon’s official position? A position that did not stop the government, and its president did not request Bouhabib’s presence, as is his custom, and did not justify the reason for his absence, and he agreed to exclude the Foreign Ministry from the discussions, knowing that Bouhabib did not take the Lebanese proposal out of his own hands, but rather repeated Lebanon’s official position, which Hockstein had previously objected to, adhering to a partial solution based on Hezbollah withdrew kilometers from the border to secure the return of settlers to the northern border.

Hochstein, with his advice and warnings: “The reassuring and the frightening”
Munir Al-Rabie/Al-Modon/March 06, 2024
A new dress worn by the American envoy, Amos Hockstein, on his recent visit to Lebanon. The man is keen to always appear within a broader framework than limiting his tasks to the energy file and oil and gas exploration. Therefore, he gave three dimensions to his visit. The first dimension, which constitutes a priority, is calming the situation in the south and reaching an understanding through which Lebanon will avoid war. The second dimension is to maintain his interest in the energy, gas and oil file. This was reflected in his meeting with the Minister of Energy and Water. The third dimension combines the military situation, the border issue, and political entitlements. It is true that Hockstein called Speaker of Parliament Nabih Berri “The Boss,” but he actually wants this title to apply to him. The man visits Lebanon armed with a personal achievement that he previously worked on in maritime demarcation. He wants to repeat the experience on land.
High Commissioner?
The American envoy spoke with one meaning. At times, he used one language, and at times he varied in his choice of expressions, between ensuring calm and maintaining calm, and between warning and expressing fear, or talking about the necessity of reaching a comprehensive solution, a permanent ceasefire, or establishing peace and stability. All of these expressions were present in his meetings, in addition to motivating the Lebanese to adopt a single language that would put pressure on Hezbollah, about the necessity of stopping the war and not adopting it, and pressing for the deployment of the army on the border, and for it to be the only party concerned with protecting it. All of this pushes the Lebanese to read the man’s personality and tasks from a different perspective. Some considered him a High Commissioner, while others found in him that he was seeking to encircle all other endeavors, whether French, British, or others, and confine them to his person and his country, even though they extended from establishing the truce to the Presidency of the Republic, which was touched upon in passing, but with the potential for many indications.
Divisions game
Hockstein's visit came at a time when the level of Israeli divisions was rising, especially in light of the visit of Israeli government member Benny Gantz to the United States of America, despite the will of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who tried to disrupt the visit. This also represents a major tension in the relationship between Netanyahu and the US administration. It is as if someone wants to show a vertical Lebanese political division on the other hand, by focusing on showing the positions of political forces opposed to Hezbollah and all of its orientations. Of course, this is understandable, and falls within the framework of conflicting political trends. But what goes beyond that is that some liken Hockstein's visit to Beirut to the visit of Condoleezza Rice in 2006, which was considered at the time to be an attempt to form political forces that objected to Hezbollah's choice in the war and its continuation.
Clear warning
It is clear that Hockstein did not raise the issue of implementing Resolution 1701 in its entirety, immediately and quickly, and he knows that its implementation requires stages, and each stage requires time. But the basis for him is to reach a ceasefire and return the displaced residents on both sides of the border. After that, we can move on to discuss the application of all the provisions of the international resolution. The Lebanese read the contents of his positions with clear contradictions. Some of them expressed satisfaction with the American path, and that negotiations are still on track to avoid escalation. On the other hand, there are those who express serious fear about the possibility of deteriorating conditions, especially when Hockstein said that the Gaza truce does not necessarily extend to Lebanon. This must be linked to changing the military and security reality in the south and on the Blue Line. In one way or another, he means the issue of Hezbollah's withdrawal or withdrawal of its weapons. But what the Lebanese agree on is that Hockstein’s message includes a clear warning, which may amount to a threat, but in a clear language.
"Times have changed"
In some meetings, the proposed details of the solution formula were discussed, including stopping Hezbollah’s military activities south of the Litani River, dismantling heavy weapons and withdrawing them abroad. When asked how to be sure of this, he replied that the Israelis know and are able to know. However, this content contradicts Hezbollah’s basic demand regarding Israel’s implementation of Resolution 1701, stopping violations of Lebanese airspace, and halting the operation of drones or warplanes in the skies of Lebanon. Politically, there was a keenness among the opposition forces to pass a position rejecting any attempt to bargain between settling the situation in the south and the political settlement at home. Therefore, opposition representatives stressed the issue of rejecting any gifts or that Lebanon pay a political price to Hezbollah for any arrangement of the southern situation. Here, the sources say that the opponents heard from Hockstein that times have changed and such stages have passed.

Latest English LCCC Miscellaneous Reports And News published on March 05-06/2024
Diplomatic push for Israel-Hamas ceasefire intensifies

Agence France Presse/March 05, 2024
International mediators were with Hamas negotiators in Cairo Tuesday for talks on a truce to pause nearly five months of fighting in Gaza before the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which begins early next week. Envoys from the Palestinian militant group and the United States were expected to meet with Qatari and Egyptian mediators for a third day of negotiations on a six-week truce, the exchange of dozens of remaining hostages for hundreds of Palestinian prisoners and increased aid to Gaza. Israeli negotiators have so far stayed away from the talks, despite growing diplomatic pressure for a truce to take effect before Ramadan. Israeli media reported that the country's negotiating team boycotted the talks after Hamas did not provide a list of living hostages. Senior Hamas leader Bassem Naim told AFP that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was to blame for obstructing the talks and said it was for the United States to stop the war before Ramadan, saying the "ball is in their court". Israel has said it believes 130 of the 250 captives taken by Hamas in the October attack that triggered the war remain in Gaza, but that 31 have been killed. As conditions in the besieged Palestinian territory deteriorate and the spectre of famine looms, Israel has faced increasingly sharp rebukes from its top ally the United States. Vice President Kamala Harris expressed "deep concern about the humanitarian conditions in Gaza" during talks in Washington on Monday with Israeli war cabinet member Benny Gantz. The same day, the World Health Organization said an aid mission to two hospitals in northern Gaza had found children dying of starvation, amid dire shortages of food, fuel and medicines. "The lack of food resulted in the deaths of 10 children," said WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus after the UN agency visited the Al-Awda and Kamal Adwan hospitals over the weekend. Fighting in Gaza continued, with authorities reporting dozens of Israeli air strikes near the European Hospital in Hamad, near Gaza's main southern city of Khan Yunis. The Israeli army said it was conducting targeted raids in Hamad and had captured dozens of Hamas and Islamic Jihad fighters who were hiding among civilians. Its jets had struck 50 Hamas targets across the Gaza Strip in the past day, the army said. The health ministry in the Hamas-run territory said 97 people had been killed overnight, mostly women and children. Khan Yunis residents described finding decomposing bodies lying in streets lined with destroyed homes and shops. "We want to eat and live. Take a look at our homes. How am I to blame, a single, unarmed person without any income in this impoverished country?" asked Nader Abu Shanab, pointing to the rubble with blackened hands.
- UN tensions -
The Hamas attack on southern Israel on October 7 resulted in about 1,160 deaths, most of them civilians, according to an AFP tally based on Israeli official figures. Israel's retaliatory offensive has killed 30,631 people, mostly women and children, according to the health ministry. Tensions between Israel and the United Nations erupted on Monday, with Israel recalling its ambassador over the handling of allegations of sexual assault by Hamas militants during the October attack. Israel accused the United Nations of taking too long to respond to the claims, as the world body published a report on Monday that said there were "reasonable grounds to believe" rapes were committed in the Hamas attack and that hostages taken to Gaza had also been raped. "In most of these incidents, victims first subjected to rape were then killed, and at least two incidents relate to the rape of women's corpses," the report said. Shortly before the report's release, Israel said it was recalling its ambassador Gilad Erdan over what it said was an attempt by the UN to "silence" reports of sexual violence by Hamas. UN chief Antonio Guterres's spokesman denied trying to suppress the report. Israel previously accused 12 of the 13,000 Gaza staff of the UN agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA) of involvement in the October 7 Hamas attack that began the war. UNRWA is at the centre of efforts to provide humanitarian relief in Gaza, where aid groups warn of looming famine. The agency said Monday that members of its staff had reported "torture, severe ill-treatment, abuse and sexual exploitation" in Israeli custody, while the Israeli army accused it of employing more than 450 "terrorists". Phillipe Lazzarini, the head of UNRWA, has said that Israel provided no evidence against his former employees.
Lebanon strikes -
The war has sparked violence across the region, including near-daily exchanges of fire between Israeli forces and Lebanon's Hezbollah movement. "A diplomatic solution is the only way to end the current hostilities," U.S. envoy Amos Hochstein told reporters in Beirut on Monday, adding that "a temporary ceasefire is not enough". "A limited war is not containable," he said after meeting with parliament speaker Nabih Berri, a Hezbollah ally. On Monday, a foreign worker in northern Israel was killed and seven Indian workers were wounded in a missile strike near the Lebanese border, Israeli medics said. The Israeli army said it had carried out strikes on Hezbollah targets in southern Lebanon in response. Hezbollah said three paramedics affiliated with the group had been killed in an Israeli strike.

Gaza Strip: Ceasefire talks between Hamas and mediators broke up on Tuesday in Cairo with no breakthrough

REUTERS/March 05, 2024
CAIRO/RAFAH, Gaza Strip: Ceasefire talks between Hamas and mediators broke up on Tuesday in Cairo with no breakthrough, with just days left to halt fighting in time for the start of Ramadan. Senior Hamas official Bassem Naim told Reuters the militant group had presented its proposal for a ceasefire agreement to the mediators during two days of talks, and was now waiting for a response from the Israelis, who stayed away from this round. “(Prime Minister Benjamin) Netanyahu doesn’t want to reach an agreement and the ball now is in the Americans’ court” to press him for a deal, Naim said.
Israel has declined to comment publicly on the talks in Cairo. A source told Reuters earlier that Israel was staying away because Hamas had rejected its demand to furnish a list of all hostages who are still alive. Naim said this was impossible without a ceasefire first as hostages were scattered across the war zone and held by separate groups. The Cairo talks had been billed as a final hurdle to reach the war’s first extended ceasefire — a 40-day truce during which dozens of hostages would be freed and aid would be pumped into Gaza to stave off a manmade famine, ahead of Ramadan, which is due to begin at the start of next week. Egyptian security sources said on Monday they were still in touch with the Israelis to allow the negotiations to continue without an Israeli delegation present. Washington, which is both Israel’s closest ally and a sponsor of the ceasefire talks, has said an Israeli-approved deal is already on the table and it is up to Hamas to accept it. Hamas disputes this account as an attempt to deflect blame from Israel if the talks collapse with no deal. The United States has also called on Israel to do more to alleviate the humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza, where more than 30,000 people have been killed by Israel’s assault, launched after Hamas attacks that killed 1,200 people in October.
Hunger stalks Gaza
Famine is now gripping the besieged Gaza Strip as aid supplies, already sharply curtailed since the start of the war, have dwindled to barely a trickle over the past month. Whole swathes of the territory are completely cut off from food. Gaza’s few functioning hospitals, already overwhelmed by the wounded, are now filling with children starving to death. Ahmed Cannan, a toddler with sunken eyes and an emaciated face, lay on a bed at Al-Awda clinic in Rafah, wrapped in a yellow cardigan. He had lost half his weight since the start of the war and now weighs just 6 kg (13 pounds). “His situation worsens each day. God protect us from what is coming,” his aunt, Israa Kalakh, told Reuters. Nurse Diaa Al-Shaer said such emaciated children were now pouring into the clinic in unprecedented numbers: “We will face a large number of patients who suffer from this, which is malnutrition,” she said.The situation is worst in the north of  Gaza, beyond the reach of aid agencies or news cameras. Gaza health authorities say 15 children have died of malnutrition or dehydration at one hospital. Israel says it is willing to allow in more aid to Gaza through the two checkpoints on the southern edge of the territory it has permitted to open, and blames UN and other aid agencies for failing to distribute it more widely. The aid agencies say this has become impossible with a breakdown of law and order, and it is up to Israel, whose troops have stormed Gaza’s towns and patrol them, to provide access and security for food distribution. “The sense of helplessness and despair among parents and doctors in realizing that lifesaving aid, just a few kilometers away, is being kept out of reach, must be unbearable,” said Adele Khodr, UNICEF regional director for the Middle East and North Africa.

At least 17 killed in an Israeli airstrike in southern Gaza
Associated Press/March 06, 2024
An Israeli airstrike killed at least 17 people in the southern Gaza city of Khan Younis on Tuesday, Palestinian officials said, adding that a total of 97 people had died in the last 24 hours. First responders with the Civil Defense circulated footage of rescuers pulling dead and wounded people from the rubble of a house, including a child with blood on his face who was not moving. The nearby European Hospital said Tuesday that it had received 17 bodies overnight.The Israeli military said in a statement on Tuesday that it was carrying out targeted raids on militant infrastructure in Khan Younis while trying to evacuate civilians from the area. The latest fatalities brought the overall Palestinian toll from the nearly five-month war to 30,631, according to Gaza’s Health Ministry. It does not differentiate between civilians and combatants in its figures but says women and children make up around two-thirds of the total casualties. It says over 72,000 people have been wounded.

Famine looms in Gaza — how will the world know it has arrived?
REUTERS/March 06, 2024
Israel captured the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem in a 1967 war
The United Nations said in February that more than a quarter of Gaza’s 2.3 million people were “estimated to be facing catastrophic levels of deprivation and starvation” Israel has killed more than 30,000 Palestinians, most of them women and children, according to the Hamas government's Ministry of Health UNITED NATIONS: The United Nations has warned that widespread famine in the Gaza Strip is “almost inevitable” without action. A formal conclusion that famine has arrived in the coastal enclave of 2.3 million people could come next week.
A famine is assessed by the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC). It is an initiative made up of more than a dozen UN agencies, regional bodies and aid groups. For famine to be declared, at least 20 percent of the population must be suffering extreme food shortages, with one in three children acutely malnourished and two people out of every 10,000 dying daily from starvation or from malnutrition and disease. Famine has been declared twice in the past 13 years: in Somalia in 2011 and in parts of South Sudan in 2017.
In late December, the IPC said the situation in Gaza had already been exceeded the 20 percent threshold.It said the remaining two thresholds — the number of children acutely malnourished and the number of people dying daily from starvation or from malnutrition and disease — “may also be breached at some point” in the coming months. “There is a risk of famine in the projection period through May 2024 if the current situation persists or worsens,” it said. The United Nations said in February that more than a quarter of Gaza’s 2.3 million people were “estimated to be facing catastrophic levels of deprivation and starvation.” It said without action widespread famine could be “almost inevitable.”The IPC is due to release a new analysis of the situation in Gaza by mid-March.
While a declaration of famine does not trigger any formal response, it can help focus global attention on how to help. But as UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs has said: “Once a famine is declared, it is too late for too many people.”
The United Nations views Israel as the occupying power in Gaza and says the Israeli military has a responsibility to facilitate humanitarian operations within the enclave. Under the 1949 Geneva Conventions on the laws of war: “To the fullest extent of the means available to it, the occupying power has the duty of ensuring the food and medical supplies of the population.”
Israel captured the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem in a 1967 war. These are areas of historic Palestine which the Palestinians want for a state. Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005 and Hamas won elections in 2006. But Israel, along with neighboring Egypt, still controls the borders of the enclave.
Israeli leaders have long argued that Gaza and the West Bank are not formally occupied on the basis that they were captured from Jordan and Egypt during the 1967 war rather than from a sovereign Palestine. Israel also stresses the Jewish people’s historical and Biblical ties to the land.
The war in Gaza began when Hamas fighters attacked Israel on Oct. 7, killing around 1,200 people and seizing 253 hostages, according to Israeli tallies. Israel retaliated by initially imposing a “total siege” on Gaza and launching an air and ground assault has since killed around 30,000 Palestinians, health authorities in the Hamas-run enclave say. Aid can currently be delivered into southern Gaza via the Rafah crossing from Egypt and Kerem Shalom crossing from Israel. The UN Palestinian refugee agency UNRWA has said that during February an average of nearly 97 trucks were able to enter Gaza each day, compared with about 150 trucks a day in January — well below a target of 500 trucks a day. The United Nations has described aid access as “unpredictable and insufficient,” blaming military operations, insecurity and extensive restrictions to delivery of essential supplies. Specifically the UN cites: border crossing closures, serious movement restrictions, access denials, onerous vetting procedures, security risks, incidents by desperate civilians, a breakdown of law and order, and restrictions on communications and protective equipment. Israel has said it is committed to improving the humanitarian situation in Gaza and there is no limit on the aid for civilians. It has blamed the United Nations for any delivery issues, saying limitations on the quantity and pace of aid are dependent on the capacity of the UN and other agencies.

Sullivan, Qatar PM discussed potential ceasefire for hostage release
REUTERS/March 06, 2024
WASHINGTON: White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan and Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim Al Thani met Tuesday and discussed a potential ceasefire in exchange for the release of hostages held in Gaza, the US said in a statement. Sullivan and Al Thani agreed to stay in regular contact, according to the statement from the White House.

Saudi FM warns Israel against offensive in Rafah during OIC meeting
ARAB NEWS/March 06, 2024
JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan on Tuesday said any potential Israeli military actions in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip would have dangerous repercussions, a foreign ministry statement said. Speaking during an extraordinary session of the Organization of Islamic Countries (OIC) held in Jeddah, Prince Faisal also reiterated the Kingdom’s opposition to the displacement of Palestinians from the territory. The extraordinary session was held to discuss the ongoing war in Gaza between Hamas and Israel which began in October. More than 30,000 Palestinians have been killed by Israel’s assault, launched after Hamas-led attacks that killed 1,200 people on Oct. 7. Citing growing global outcry, the foreign minister said an increasing number of countries were now pushing for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza, and support for an independent Palestinian state was growing. “We have noticed a positive development in the positions of some countries and an understanding of the magnitude of the disaster. We have also seen an increase in the number of countries calling for an immediate ceasefire. Additionally, we have heard from several countries about their willingness in principle to recognize the State of Palestine,” the minister said. The establishment of a Palestinian state has been the long held position of many Arab and Muslim-majority states in line with the Arab Peace Initiative. This state would be on the 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital. Prince Faisal said the creation of a state for Palestinians would enable them to secure their rights, live in safety and determine their destiny. The Saudi diplomat also stressed support for the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, known as UNRWA, and warned against attempts to dissolve the agency, adding that doing so would further exacerbate the suffering of civilians in Gaza. “The Kingdom will continue its support for ... UNRWA and urges all supporters to fulfill their supportive role in humanitarian missions towards Palestinian refugees inside the besieged Gaza Strip,” the minister said. He urged countries that had suspended funding to the agency to u-turn on their decision. A number of countries pulled financial support for UNRWA after Israel alleged that its employees had links to Hamas and had been involved in the Oct. 7 attacks on Israel.

Netanyahu leaned on Gantz to help unify Israel, now Gantz is more popular
Associated Press/March 05, 2024
The top political rival of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is meeting with U.S. leaders in Washington this week to discuss the war in Gaza. Benny Gantz is a key member of Israel's War Cabinet whose popularity is on the rise — and who has a pivotal role to play in the country's future. Gantz, 64, is a centrist politician who joined Netanyahu's ultranationalist and religious government soon after Hamas' Oct. 7 attack on Israel. The goal was to bring a sense of national unity to the country as it wages war against Hamas in Gaza. The former military chief of staff has seen his public support soar. Polls show he would earn enough support to become prime minister if elections were held today. In contrast, Netanyahu's backing has collapsed. Many Israelis blame the prime minister for failing to prevent the Hamas attack, which killed 1,200 Israelis, most of them civilians. Amid the rivalry, Gantz' trip to Washington earned him a rebuke from Netanyahu, a sign of the growing rift in the government.Gantz is widely expected to leave the government once the heavy fighting subsides, signaling the period of national unity has ended. The Israeli public will likely see that as a cue to resume the mass anti-government demonstrations that took place before Hamas' attack. While the government wouldn't collapse if Gantz leaves, large demonstrations could ramp up the pressure on Netanyahu's deeply unpopular coalition to hold early elections. Gantz has been a top political rival of Netanyahu's for half a decade. He joined Netanyahu's coalition in the disorienting days after Hamas' attack and at a time when Israel was at its most divided after months of protests over planned changes to Israel's legal system. He has served on the influential War Cabinet and has acted as a moderating force in the far-right government. He has sought to promote the cause of the roughly 250 hostages taken into Gaza, while others in the Cabinet opposed dealing for their release because of the cost it could exact from Israel. He has also sought to foster Israel's alliance with the U.S., which has provided key diplomatic and military support during the war. Gantz heads the National Unity faction in parliament. After a nearly four decade military career, Gantz entered politics in late 2018. That was the start of a period of political instability that sent Israelis to the polls five times in less than four years, each one a referendum on Netanyahu's fitness to serve while facing corruption charges. After refusing to sit in a government under Netanyahu, Gantz agreed to join a short-lived Netanyahu-led coalition in a bid to stem the political turmoil as the COVID pandemic was taking root. After being ousted in one of the elections, Netanyahu returned to power in late 2022, forming a government of West Bank settlement supporters and opponents of Palestinian statehood. Gantz has served as defense minister, overseeing brief operations in Gaza. In 2021, he outlawed six prominent Palestinian rights groups, citing alleged militant links, a step widely criticized by the Palestinians. He has been vague on his views on Palestinian statehood but he has taken steps to show he is open to the idea, including holding meetings with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas while serving as defense minister.

Israel to let same numbers into Al-Aqsa during first week of Ramadan as in previous years, statement by Netanyahu's office says
Reuters/March 05, 2024
Israel will allow a similar number of worshippers into Jerusalem's Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in the first week of Ramadan as in previous years, a statement by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office said on Tuesday. The decision was agreed with top Israeli security officials during a meeting on preparations ahead of the Muslim fasting month, without providing a specific number. "During the first week of Ramadan a similar number of worshippers will be allowed on the Temple Mount as in previous years," the statement said, using the Jewish name for the site. "Every week a security assessment will be conducted and a decision will be made accordingly."

Erdogan says Israeli settlers major obstacle to peace

AFP/March 05, 2024
ANKARA: Turkiye President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Tuesday that Israeli settlers were one of the main obstacles to resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. “One of the biggest obstacles to a solution are the actions of the usurpers, called settlers, who have invaded and stolen land that belonged to Palestinians,” Erdogan said during a press conference with visiting Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas. Erdogan, a vocal advocate of the Palestinian cause, also called for unrestrained access to the Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem during the Islamic fasting month of Ramadan, due to start this year on March 10 or 11. “The demands of radical Israeli politicians to restrict the entry of Muslims... are totally absurd,” he said. “The consequences of such a move would undoubtedly be serious.”“We’re about to start the month of Ramadan,” Abbas said. “It is well known that extremist settlers go to Al-Aqsa and carry out attacks there.”Israel said Tuesday that it would allow as many Muslim worshippers to access the Al-Aqsa mosque during the first week of Ramadan as in previous years, and would assess the situation every week. Every year, tens of thousands of Muslim worshippers perform Ramadan prayers at the Al-Aqsa mosque compound. The site, known as Temple Mount to Jews, is holy to both Jews and Muslims. Ramadan comes this year as Israel wages a relentless military campaign in the Gaza Strip in response to a deadly attack by Hamas in Israel on October 7. Israel’s far-right National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir had recently said that Palestinian residents of the West Bank “should not be allowed” entry to Jerusalem to pray during Ramadan. Ben Gvir leads a hard-right party advocating Jewish control of the compound.Days later, the United States called on Israel to allow Muslims to worship at Al-Aqsa. Abbas is in Turkiye for talks about the Gaza war and reconciliation efforts between Palestinian factions.

Turkey detains 7 more people for selling information to Mossad
Associated Press/March 05, 2024
Turkish police on Tuesday detained seven more people suspected of selling information to the Israeli spy agency Mossad, authorities said, the latest in a wave of such arrests in Turkey.The suspects were taken into custody during simultaneous raids in Istanbul, Interior Minister Ali Yerlikaya said on the social media platform X, formerly Twitter. The raids were a joint operation with Turkey's National Intelligence Organization. The detained are suspected of collecting data on individuals and companies in Turkey and selling it to the Israeli intelligence agency, Yerlikaya said. "We will never allow espionage activities to be carried out within the borders of our country." It was not immediately known if any charges have been raised and authorities provided no additional information. Last month, seven other people, including private detectives, were arrested on similar suspicions. And in early January, 34 people were also detained by Turkish police on suspicion of spying for Israel. The suspects arrested in January have been accused of planning to carry out activities that included reconnaissance and "pursuing, assaulting and kidnapping" foreign nationals living in Turkey. At the time, Justice Minister Yilmaz Tunc said most of the suspects were charged with committing "political or military espionage" on behalf of Israeli intelligence. The state-run Anadolu Agency, citing unnamed security officials, said those detained Tuesday included a former civil servant currently working as a private detective who was allegedly trained by Mossad in Belgrade, Serbia. He collected information on Middle Eastern companies and individuals, and even placed tracking devices in vehicles of people targeted by Israeli intelligence, Anadolu said. Turkey and Israel had normalized ties in 2022 by reappointing ambassadors following years of tensions. But those ties quickly deteriorated after the Israel-Hamas war, with Ankara becoming one of the strongest critics of Israel's military actions in Gaza. In December, the head of Israel's Shin Bet security agency said that his organization was prepared to target the militant Hamas group anywhere, including in Lebanon, Turkey and Qatar. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned Israel of "serious consequences" if Israel pressed ahead with its threat to attack Hamas officials on Turkish soil.

3 Red Sea data cables cut as Houthis launch more attacks in vital waterway
Associated Press/March 06, 2024
Three cables under the Red Sea that provide global internet and telecommunications have been cut as the waterway remains a target of Yemen's Houthi rebels, officials said Monday. Meanwhile, a Houthi missile attack set a ship ablaze in the Gulf of Aden, but caused no injuries. What cut the lines remains unclear. There has been concern about the cables being targeted in the Houthi campaign, which the rebels describe as an effort to pressure Israel to end its war on Hamas in the Gaza Strip. The Houthis have denied attacking the lines, however. While global shipping has already been disrupted through the Red Sea, a crucial route for cargo and energy shipments from Asia and the Middle East to Europe, the sabotage of telecommunication lines could further escalate the monthslong crisis.
The cut lines include Asia-Africa-Europe 1, the Europe India Gateway, Seacom and TGN-Gulf, Hong Kong-based HGC Global Communications said. It described the cuts as affecting 25% of the traffic flowing through the Red Sea. It described the Red Sea route as crucial for data moving from Asia to Europe and said it had begun rerouting traffic. HGC Global Communications described the Seacom-TGN-Gulf line as being two separate cables when it is actually one at the area of the cut, according to Tim Stronge, a subsea cable expert with TeleGeography, a Washington-based telecommunications market research company. Responding to questions from The Associated Press, Seacom said that "initial testing indicates the affected segment lies within Yemeni maritime jurisdictions in the Southern Red Sea." It said it was rerouting the traffic that it was able to change, though some services were down. Tata Communications, part of the Indian conglomerate and behind the Seacom-TGN-Gulf line, told AP that it "initiated immediate and appropriate remedial actions" after the line was cut. "We invest in various cable consortiums to increase our diversity and hence in such situations of a cable cut or snag, we are able to automatically reroute our services," Tata said. Other firms behind those lines, which provide data to Africa, Asia and the Middle East, didn't respond to AP's queries. In early February, Yemen's internationally recognized government in exile alleged that the Houthis planned to attack the cables. The lines appeared to have been cut on Feb. 24, with the organization NetBlocks noticing internet access in the East African nation of Djibouti suffering from interruptions two days later. Seacom serves Djibouti. But for their part, the Houthis have denied targeting the cables. The rebels blamed the disruptions on British and U.S. military operations, but didn't offer evidence to support the allegation and have made false claims in the past.
Since November, the rebels have repeatedly targeted ships in the Red Sea and surrounding waters over the Israel-Hamas war. Those vessels have included at least one with cargo bound for Iran, the Houthis' main benefactor, and an aid ship later bound for Houthi-controlled territory.
Despite more than a month and a half of U.S.-led airstrikes, Houthi rebels have remained capable of launching significant attacks. They include the attack last month on a cargo ship carrying fertilizer, the Rubymar, which sank on Saturday after drifting for several days, and the downing of an American drone worth tens of millions of dollars. The Houthis insist their attacks will continue until Israel stops its combat operations in the Gaza Strip, which have enraged the wider Arab world and seen the Houthis gain international recognition. Meanwhile, the British military's United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations center on Monday separately warned of a new attack in the Gulf of Aden. The private security firm Ambrey described the vessel targeted as a Liberia-flagged, Israel-affiliated container ship that sustained damage and issued a distress call. "The container ship reportedly encountered two explosions of which the first occurred at a 'distance' off its port quarter, while the second damaged the vessel's accommodation block and a container leading," Ambrey said. "The explosion further led to a fire onboard and the crew's firefighting efforts were underway." Ambrey and the UKMTO said no crew member on the ship had been injured in the blaze, which was extinguished several hours later.
Brig. Gen. Yahya Saree, a Houthi military spokesman, claimed the attack in a prerecorded statement. He identified the ship as the MSC Sky II, sailing for the Switzerland-based firm Mediterranean Shipping Co, but sought to link the vessel to Israel. The ship's details and last-known location corresponded to details about the attack. The Houthis "will continue to prevent Israeli navigation or those heading to the ports of occupied Palestine until the aggression is stopped and the siege on the Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip is lifted," Saree said. The U.S. military's Central Command acknowledged the attack on the MSC Sky II and said the vessel "did not request assistance and continued on its way." The U.S. military separately conducted airstrikes on two anti-ship cruise missiles in Yemen.
MSC didn't respond to questions about the attack.
It remains unclear how the Houthis could attack subsea cables themselves. The rebels aren't known to have the diving or salvage capability to target the lines, which sit hundreds of meters below the surface of the waterway. However, subsea cables can be cut by anchors, including those dropped from some of the ships that have been disabled in attacks. A drifting ship with its anchor scraping the sea could be the culprit. "Our team thinks it is plausible that it could have been affected by anchor dragging, due to the amount of marine traffic the region deals with and the low seabed in many parts of the Red Sea," Seacom said. "This can only be confirmed once the repair ship is on site."There are 14 cables now running through the Red Sea, with another six planned, said Stronge, the subsea cable expert. "We estimate that over 90% of communications between Europe and Asia traverse submarine cables in the Red Sea," he said. "Fortunately, telecom operators have built a high degree of redundancy into the system — there are many cables traversing the Red Sea." The Houthis later warned any cable-laying ship entering Yemeni waters needed a permit from the rebels "out of concern for its safety."

US forces down drones, missile fired from Yemen at warship
AFP/March 06, 2024
WASHINGTON: American forces shot down three drones and a missile fired toward a destroyer in the Red Sea on Tuesday, the US military said, after Yemen’s Houthis announced they had targeted two of Washington’s warships. The Iran-backed Houthis have been attacking shipping in the Red Sea for months, and repeated American and British strikes have so far failed to prevent them from threatening the vital trade route. “US Central Command (CENTCOM) forces shot down one anti-ship ballistic missile and three one-way attack unmanned aerial systems launched from Iranian-backed Houthi controlled areas of Yemen toward USS Carney (DDG 64) in the Red Sea,” the military command said in a statement. “There are no injuries or damage to the ship,” CENTCOM said, adding that American forces later destroyed three anti-ship missiles and three naval drones in Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen. Houthi military spokesman Yahya Saree said earlier in the day that their forces had targeted two US destroyers in the Red Sea “with a number of naval missiles and drones.”The Houthis “will not stop until the aggression stops and the siege imposed on the Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip is lifted,” Saree said on social media. They began attacking Red Sea shipping in November, saying they were hitting Israel-linked vessels in support of Palestinians in Gaza, which has been ravaged by the Israel-Hamas war. US and UK forces responded with strikes against the Houthis, who have since declared American and British interests to be legitimate targets as well. Anger over Israel’s devastating campaign in Gaza — which began after an unprecedented Hamas attack on October 7 — has grown across the Middle East, stoking violence involving Iran-backed groups in Lebanon, Iraq, Syria and Yemen.

Pro-Palestinian group sues Canada over military exports to Israel
REUTERS/March 06, 2024
OTTAWA: Pro-Palestinian and human rights advocates in Canada on Tuesday filed a lawsuit against the federal government to stop it from allowing companies to export military goods and technology to Israel. The lawsuit, filed in a federal court, argues that Canadian laws prevent military exports to Israel because there is “substantial risk” they could be used to violate international law and commit serious acts of violence against women and children, according to a statement from the applicants. Israel launched a ground and air assault on the Gaza strip nearly five months ago in response to a Hamas attack on Oct. 7 that killed 1,200 people. More than 30,000 people have been killed by Israel’s assault. Since then Ottawa has authorized at least C$28.5 million ($21.0 million) worth of new permits for military exports to Israel, more than the value of such permits allowed in the previous year, the applicants said. The applicants include the Canadian Lawyers for International Human Rights group, the Palestinian organization Al-Haq and four individuals. Canada’s foreign ministry did not have an immediate comment. Israel says it respects international law and that it has a right to defend itself after the Hamas attack.
NATO allies the United States and the Netherlands also face lawsuits over the Gaza war. Last month, a Dutch court ordered the government to block all exports of F-35 fighter jet parts to Israel over concerns they were being used to violate international law. Israel’s military campaign has prompted regular pro-Palestinian protests in major Canadian cities. Last week, demonstrators gathered at gun maker Colt Canada’s facility in Kitchener, Ontario. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has consistently said Israel has the right to defend itself after the Hamas assault in October. Senior officials though have called for an immediate and sustained ceasefire in the conflict.

Israel and UN trade allegations of 'terrorism,' torture
Associated Press/March 06, 2024
Israel has ramped up its criticism of the embattled U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees Monday, saying 450 of its employees were members of militant groups in the Gaza Strip, though it provided no evidence to back up its accusation. Major international funders have withheld hundreds of millions of dollars from the agency, known as UNRWA, since Israel accused 12 of its employees of participating in the Oct. 7 Hamas attacks on Israel that killed 1,200 people and left about 250 others held hostage in Gaza, according to Israeli authorities. Philippe Lazzarini, the head of the agency known as UNRWA, told a press conference late Monday that he "has never been informed" or received any evidence of Israel's claims, and this is not the first. Every year, he said, UNRWA provides Israel and the Palestinian Authority with a list of its staff "and I never have received the slightest concern about the staff that we have been employing."The only allegation communicated to him verbally was about 12 UNRWA staffers alleged to have participated in the Oct. 7 attacks, he said, and they appeared so serious that they were fired, and two U.N.-ordered investigations are underway. The U.N. envoy focusing on sexual violence in conflict, Pramila Patten, said Monday there were "reasonable grounds" to believe Hamas committed rape, "sexualized torture," and other cruel and inhuman treatment of women during the attack. The attack sparked an Israeli invasion of the enclave of 2.3 million people that Gaza's Health Ministry says has killed more than 30,000 Palestinians. Aid groups say the fighting has displaced most of the territory's population and sparked a humanitarian catastrophe.
UNRWA, which employs roughly 13,000 people in Gaza, is the biggest aid provider in the enclave. The allegations Monday were a significant escalation in the accusations against the agency. Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari, Israel's chief military spokesperson, did not provide names or other evidence to back up the vastly increased number of UNRWA employees it said were militants. "Over 450 UNRWA employees are military operatives in terror groups in Gaza — 450. This is no mere coincidence. This is systematic. There is no claiming, 'we did not know,'" Hagari said. UNRWA in a statement accused Israel of detaining several of its staffers and forcing them, using torture and ill treatment, into giving false confessions about the links between the agency, Hamas and the Oct. 7 attack on Israel. "These forced confessions as a result of torture are being used by the Israeli Authorities to further spread misinformation about the agency as part of attempts to dismantle UNRWA," the statement said. "This is putting our staff in Gaza at risk and has serious implications on our operations in Gaza and around the region.''
After Israel's initial accusation against UNRWA, the agency fired the accused employees and more than a dozen countries suspended funding worth about $450 million, almost half its budget for the year. Juliette Touma, director of communications for UNRWA, had no direct comment on the new Israeli allegations. "UNRWA encourages any entity that has any information on the very serious allegations against UNRWA staff to share it with the ongoing U.N. investigation," she said. Two U.N. investigations into Israel's allegations were already underway when the EU said Friday it will pay 50 million euros ($54 million) to UNRWA after the agency agreed to allow EU-appointed experts to audit the way it screens staff to identify extremists. Hagari also released a recording of a call he said was of an UNRWA teacher describing his role in the Oct. 7 attack. "We have female captives. I caught one," the male voice is heard saying in Arabic. A man on a second call, alleged to be an Islamic Jihad militant who Israel also claimed was an UNRWA teacher, is heard saying "I'm inside with the Jews."
The military named the men, though the man in the first call identified himself in the recording by a different name. The military said that name may have been a nickname. The military did not provide evidence as to their employment with UNRWA. The accusations came as Benny Gantz, a top member of Israel's wartime Cabinet, met with U.S. officials in Washington while talks were underway in Egypt to broker a cease-fire in Gaza before the Muslim holy month of Ramadan begins next week. Meanwhile, violence flared between Israel and Lebanon, amid inflamed tensions across the region. An anti-tank missile fired into northern Israel from Lebanon killed a foreign worker and wounded seven others Monday, Israel's Magen David Adom rescue service said. The Hezbollah militant group in Lebanon did not immediately claim responsibility for Monday's strike. Hours later an Israeli airstrike in southern Lebanon killed three paramedics from Hezbollah's health arm, Lebanon's state media said. U.S. envoy Amos Hochstein arrived in Beirut on Monday to meet with Lebanese officials in an attempt to tamp down tensions. The near-daily clashes between Hezbollah and Israeli forces have killed more than 200 Hezbollah fighters and at least 37 civilians in Lebanon. Around 20 people have been killed on the Israeli side, including civilians and soldiers.

Latest English LCCC  analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on March 05-06/2024
In conclusion... Gaza died and Sinwar lived!
Muhammad Al-Saed/Okaz/March 05, 2024

With the expected signing of the disengagement agreement between Israel and Hamas in the coming days, cafe activists will return to playing backgammon, drinking shisha, and exchanging advice on ways to immigrate to America and Britain, which they have been cursing during the past weeks. As for the bearers of Palestinian shawls that were used for five months and carried in stadiums and concerts. The silent ones - which were not announced - will return to the closet, waiting for another war, another bidding, and another imaginary victory.
The resonant slogans, false sentiments, enthusiastic songs, and mixed drumbeats will take a step back, and instead the songs of Mustafa Ashour, Dana Salah, Saif Sharrouf, Issam Al-Najjar, Fouad Gretli, Saif Al-Safadi, and the dance floors in the suburbs and some Arab capitals will come forward.
The journalists who filled the screens screaming, analyzing, and lamenting will return to their luxurious villas in the Arab diaspora capitals. They plan their next vacations to Beirut, London, Paris, and Canada, where their children and relatives are immigrants.
Hassan Nasrallah will disappear into his cozy basement with his four wives once again, and his dull speech in which he threatened Israel will melt away “behind and beyond Haifa.” All he did was send pictures of the coffins of his cadres one after another to Al-Manar and Al-Mayadeen TV to cover up the shame of the brokenness of the axis of resistance.
Khaled Mashal, Ismail Haniyeh, and Musa Abu Marzouk will emerge from their hotels in the region declaring divine victory. They will race against Sinwar, who they fear will steal their historical moment. As for Sinwar, he will emerge from his basement, carried on the shoulders of his relatives who will protect him from the wrath of the Gazans, who lost their loved ones, their homes, and their safe lives because of the whim of the Seventh. October, his supporters will carry him on their stocky shoulders, after the people of Gaza carried 30,000 bodies on their emaciated shoulders.
It is an illusory victory, but you must believe that defeat in the dictionary of the Brotherhood and the absolutes of the resistance axis is victory, and that disappointment is joy, and that the dismembered bodies on the roads of Gaza are a bridge to the cause, and that donations are a right for the cadres, and life is for them and death is for others.
Sinwar will return to the orange farm that he loves in the middle of Gaza, among his children and grandchildren, and at the end of the week he will sit in his seaside chalet, addressing the dead before the living, explaining to them how Gaza was victorious because he was not killed or captured. Of course, he will not say that Israel was keen on his life because - he knew. Or did he not know - he served her as the most loyal to her did not serve her.
In the eyes of Haniyeh and Sinwar, all of Palestine, with its men, women and children, living and dead, is not worth a toothpick, as their spiritual leader Al-Zahar said in a previous conversation.
After that, Ismail Haniyeh will take his private plane heading to Tehran, kissing the hand of the Supreme Leader, and visiting the grave of Qassem Soleimani, praising them and offering the duties of loyalty and obedience.
As for the rest of the Hamas leaders who hid behind civilians, they will race to operate their contracting companies for which they are famous. The market in Gaza is huge and reconstruction is about to begin, and billions of Arabs are standing at the gates and there is nothing better than to be won by “Abu Jamil, Abu Jihad, Abu Youssef, Abu Bilal... etc.” » From the leaders of “Internal Hamas” who are waiting for Israel to demolish homes so that they can build them again at the expense of donors in order to get richer than they are.
As for the rest of the broken and grieving Gazans, they will return, and each of them has a story of loss. Parts of it have been missing from their hearts, and those who remain will return to the rubble of their homes. They will get lost in the deserted streets of pain and alleys full of death, roads that have lost their landmarks, homes that no longer exist, and neighborhoods that have disappeared forever.
In conclusion... Gaza died; Sinwar lived weakly!

The Illusion of a Palestinian 'Demilitarized' State
Bassam Tawil/Gatestone Institute./March 05/2024

[A]ny commitment to a demilitarized state by the Palestinian leadership would be legally worthless.
"Any treaty is void if, at the time it was entered into, it conflicts with a 'peremptory' rule of general international law (jus cogens) – a rule accepted and recognized by the international community of states as one from which 'no derogation is permitted.' Because the right of sovereign States to maintain military forces essential to 'self-defense' is such a peremptory rule, Palestine, depending upon its particular form of authority, could be entirely within its right to abrogate any pre-independence agreement that had compelled its demilitarization." [Italics in original.] — Louis René Beres, professor emeritus at Purdue University, and an expert in international law and political science, jurist.org, December 23, 2023.
"Therein lies the jurisprudential core of the Palestinian demilitarization problem: International law would not necessarily require Palestinian compliance with any pre-state agreements concerning the use of armed force. From the standpoint of such authoritative law, enforcing demilitarization upon a sovereign state of Palestine would be sorely problematic." [Italics in original.] — Louis René Beres, jurist.org, December 23, 2023
"Unhidden, both the Arab world and Iran still have only a 'One-State Solution' for the 'Israel Problem.' It is a 'solution' that eliminates Israel altogether, a physical solution, a 'Final Solution.' Even today, official Arab maps of 'Palestine' (PNA and Hamas) show the prospective Arab State comprising all of the West Bank (Judea/Samaria), all of Gaza and all of Israel. They knowingly exclude any references to a Jewish population and list 'holy sites' of Christians and Muslims only." — Louis René Beres, jurist.org, December 23, 2023
No one can stop a future Palestinian state from becoming a lawless and militarized state. Such a state on Israel's doorstep would pose a direct and grave threat to Israel's existence and actually facilitate the mission of the Iranian regime and its terror proxies to murder more Jews.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is reported to have asked the State Department for a "review of what a demilitarized Palestinian state would look like based on other models around the world." Pictured: US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is welcomed by PLO Secretary General Hussein al-Sheikh, in Ramallah on February 7, 2024. (Photo by Mark Schiefelbein/Pool/AFP via Getty Images)
As part of its effort to promote the idea of a "two-state solution," the Biden administration has been talking about the need to establish a "demilitarized" Palestinian state next to Israel.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is reported to have asked the State Department for a "review of what a demilitarized Palestinian state would look like based on other models around the world."
The purpose of such a review is to look at options for how a "two-state solution" can be implemented in a way that assures security for Israel, a US official told the American media outlet Axios.
The Biden administration is homing in on a new doctrine involving an unprecedented push to immediately advance the creation of a "demilitarized" but viable Palestinian state, New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman reported in early February:
"[The plan] would involve some form of U.S. recognition of a demilitarized Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip that would come into being only once Palestinians had developed a set of defined, credible institutions and security capabilities to ensure that this state was viable and that it could never threaten Israel.
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Sisi has also voiced support for the establishment of a "demilitarized" Palestinian state.
"There must be a Palestinian state on the June 4 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital, side by side with Israel," the Egyptian president said in November 2023.
"We are ready for this state to be demilitarized, and for there to be guarantees of the presence of forces, whether from NATO, the United Nations, or Arab or American forces, so that we can achieve security for both states, the nascent Palestinian state and the Israeli state."
The talk about a "demilitarized" Palestinian state comes in the aftermath of Hamas's October 7, 2023 invasion of Israel and the murder, rape, torture, mutilation and burning alive of 1,200 Israelis, including women, children, and the elderly. Hamas also kidnapped more than 240 Israelis, more than half of whom are still being held hostage in the Gaza Strip.
The Hamas terrorists who attacked Israel used various types of weapons, including assault rifles, rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs), and motorized hang gliders. Thousands of terrorists infiltrated Israel from the Gaza Strip, which has been under the exclusive control of Hamas since 2007. The Iran-backed terror group Hamas soon launched a coup, overthrowing the Palestinian Authority (PA) and seizing control over the Gaza Strip.
The Hamas coup came two years after Israel withdrew from the entire Gaza Strip, after evacuating more than 9,000 Jews who were living there in more than 25 communities. Since 2005, there have been no Jewish civilians or soldiers in the Gaza Strip, which became a semi-independent Palestinian state.
After the Hamas takeover, Israel and Egypt tightened their respective border crossings and placed restrictions on shipping to prevent smuggling and the infiltration of terrorists and weapons. Since the Hamas takeover, Israel, a state the size of New Jersey, has been bombarded by tens of thousands of rockets and mortars -- more than 11,000 just since October 7: 9,000 from Gaza, 2,000 from Lebanon.
The Israeli and Egyptian arms blockade did not prevent Hamas and other terror groups from smuggling large amounts of weapons into the Gaza Strip, mostly through the border with Egypt. The blockade also did not prevent the Palestinian terror groups from manufacturing and developing their own weapons, including various types of rockets and missiles. The idea that the Gaza Strip would become a "demilitarized" entity thanks to the Israeli and Egyptian security restrictions proved to be a pipe-dream.
The October 7 massacre of Israelis demonstrated that Israel's enemies do not need tanks and warplanes to invade Israel and murder 1,200 people and wound more than 5,000 others. The Palestinians have proven over the past few decades that when it comes to murdering Jews, they will use anything they can get their hands on as a weapon, including knives, cars, swords, screwdrivers, clubs, daggers, stones, Molotov cocktails, and explosive belts.
Four months after the start of the Israel-Hamas war, it has become clear how the Palestinian terror groups were successful in transforming the Gaza Strip into one of the most dangerous and militarized areas in the Middle East. The Israeli army has discovered and destroyed dozens of Hamas tunnels, many of which were equipped with electricity, ventilation, sewage systems, communication networks and rails, as well as weapons and food. The Gaza Strip is so full of weapons that, four months into the war, the Palestinian terrorists are still using rocket-propelled grenades and explosive devices to attack Israeli troops.
The situation in the West Bank areas controlled by the Palestinian Authority is equally worrying. In the past few years, Iran and its terror proxies had accelerated efforts to smuggle weapons into the West Bank through Jordan.
"Iran wants to turn Jordan into a transit area for weapons going into Israel," said Amer Al-Sabaileh, founder of Security Languages, a counterterrorism think tank in the Jordanian capital of Amman. The bulk of Iranian weapons to Palestinians go into the West Bank, particularly to the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, according to a senior Jordanian security official.
In November 2023, Israeli authorities foiled an attempt to smuggle 137 guns into Israel from Jordan, in what they said was the largest-ever seizure of weapons on the Jordanian border.
Four months earlier, Israeli authorities thwarted an unusual weapons smuggling attempt into Israel from Jordan, the details of which have not been cleared for publication. The smuggling was described as "irregular," and not similar to previous, and frequent, smuggling attempts. Authorities investigating the incident believe the weapons were being spirited in for use by Palestinian terror groups in the West Bank.
In April 2023, a Jordanian parliament member was arrested by Israeli authorities for attempting to smuggle more than 200 firearms into the West Bank using his diplomatic passport.
The flow of weapons into the West Bank has facilitated the emergence of several armed groups responsible for countless terrorist attacks against Israelis. Most of these groups operate in areas controlled by the Palestinian Authority, which has several security forces consisting of tens of thousands of officers who are supposed to disarm the armed groups.
If the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip managed over the past few decades to accumulate so many weapons, one can only imagine what would happen if they were handed an independent and sovereign state with full control over the borders with Egypt and Jordan. The Palestinians would undoubtedly continue their efforts to obtain more weapons to be used in the Jihad (holy war) to kill Jews and eliminate Israel.
First, even if the Palestinians commit in advance to a "demilitarized" state, experience shown that their promises are worthless.
More importantly, according to Louis René Beres, professor emeritus at Purdue University and an expert in international law and political science, any commitment to a demilitarized state by the Palestinian leadership would be legally worthless:
"Any treaty is void if, at the time it was entered into, it conflicts with a 'peremptory' rule of general international law (jus cogens) – a rule accepted and recognized by the international community of states as one from which 'no derogation is permitted.' Because the right of sovereign States to maintain military forces essential to 'self-defense' is such a peremptory rule, Palestine, depending upon its particular form of authority, could be entirely within its right to abrogate any pre-independence agreement that had compelled its demilitarization." [Italics in original.]
The Palestinian Authority committed, under the terms of the peace agreements signed with Israel, to combat terrorism and enforce law and order in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. However, the PA essentially did nothing to confiscate illegal weapons or crack down on the countless armed groups operating under its nose.
Even today, the PA is virtually doing nothing to foil terrorist attacks against Israelis from areas under its control in the West Bank. It is hard to find one Palestinian family in the West Bank that does not possess an assault rifle, pistol, or some other weapon.
After Israel's withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, the Palestinians had a chance to turn the coastal enclave into the "Singapore of the Middle East." Instead, they turned it into one massive base for Jihad and terrorism. They also used the Gaza Strip as a launching pad to fire tens of thousands of rockets and mortars into Israel.
According to Beres:
"There are several substantive and foreseeable problems with Palestinian demilitarization. The first such problem has to do with conspicuously unchanging Palestinian commitments to an Arab state that would replace Israel. The second concerns certain critical expectations of international law-abiding expectations that could conceivably allow any Palestinian state to abrogate its pre-independence commitments to remain 'demilitarized'...
"Therein lies the jurisprudential core of the Palestinian demilitarization problem: International law would not necessarily require Palestinian compliance with any pre-state agreements concerning the use of armed force. From the standpoint of such authoritative law, enforcing demilitarization upon a sovereign state of Palestine would be sorely problematic." [Italics in original.]
Beres noted that both the Palestinian Authority and Hamas continue to agree on one central deal-breaking point: First, Israel's existence is intolerable on purely religious grounds and, second, Israel, in its entirety, is nothing more than "Occupied Palestine":
"Unhidden, both the Arab world and Iran still have only a 'One-State Solution' for the 'Israel Problem.' It is a 'solution' that eliminates Israel altogether, a physical solution, a 'Final Solution.' Even today, official Arab maps of 'Palestine' (PNA and Hamas) show the prospective Arab State comprising all of the West Bank (Judea/Samaria), all of Gaza and all of Israel. They knowingly exclude any references to a Jewish population and list 'holy sites' of Christians and Muslims only."
Beres warned Israel not draw comfort from a purportedly legal promise of Palestinian demilitarization:
"Should the government of a new state of Palestine choose to invite foreign armies and/or terrorists onto its territory, it could do so without practical difficulties and without violating international law."
As a fully sovereign state, Palestine might not be bound by pre-independence agreements, even if the compacts were to include United Nations and/or United States reassurances to the contrary.
Beres added:
"Because authentic treaties can be binding only upon states, any agreement between a non-State Palestinian National Authority (presumably in tangible concert with Hamas) and a sovereign state of Israel would garner little respect...
"Following the Gaza war, any plan for accepting Palestinian demilitarization would be built upon sand. Neither the United States nor Israel should ever base its geostrategic assessments of Palestinian statehood upon such an illusory foundation. Following any implemented form of post-Gaza war independence, neither the Palestinian Authority nor Hamas would accept the idea of a 'limited' form of Palestinian statehood. By any Arab world definition, such an idea would be considered unreasonable and humiliating."
No one can stop a future Palestinian state from becoming a lawless and militarized state. Such a state on Israel's doorstep would pose a direct and grave threat to Israel's existence and actually facilitate the mission of the Iranian regime and its terror proxies to murder more Jews.
*Bassam Tawil is a Muslim Arab based in the Middle East.
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Gazans need international protection, not just a ceasefire
Osama Al-Sharif/Arab News/March 05, 2024
Almost five months into Israel’s genocidal war on Gaza, the tide has turned. Israel has lost the public relations campaign completely, its “self-defense” operation to uproot Hamas has resulted in the worst humanitarian disaster in decades and it now faces serious charges of committing genocide, as well as war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity.
Benjamin Netanyahu’s capricious and miscalculated misadventure in Gaza has dragged his army more profoundly into a quagmire. There is no honor in what Israel has done in the past five months: the mass killings of women and children, the bombing of hospitals, the targeting of journalists, doctors, medics and academics, and the displacement of more than 2 million people. Now, Gazans face starvation and famine. In the process, Netanyahu’s dirty war has also dragged Israel’s closest allies into the mud. The Gaza debacle has triggered a global awakening of the hypocrisy of Western governments and their complicity in the longest colonial occupation of modern times. Now, the Biden administration is trying to salvage a hopeless situation and achieve two impossible goals: save Israel’s face in any way it can and fix a dire humanitarian crisis that is getting worse by the hour.
On Sunday, US Vice President Kamala Harris uttered what had for months been a taboo statement for the Biden administration. She called for “an immediate ceasefire” in Gaza. In the most forceful rebuke of Israel’s conduct by a US official yet, she said that too many innocent Palestinians have been killed in what has become “a humanitarian catastrophe.” She called on Israel to facilitate the flow of aid and take measures to protect civilians.
The US hopes that a ceasefire, even if it lasts for only a few weeks, would give it time to do several things
The proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back was last Thursday’s massacre, when Israeli soldiers opened fire on thousands of Gazans as they tried to reach UN aid trucks to receive sacks of flour. More than 100 people were killed and at least 700 wounded. UN and aid observers visiting the nearby hospital where most of the injured were taken confirmed that most of the casualties suffered from bullet wounds.
This was not an isolated incident of Israeli soldiers, tanks, fighter jets or naval ships firing at civilians in Gaza. But the number of those killed and injured was staggering, while Israel also provided contradictory and unconvincing accounts about what happened. But global denunciations of the bloody incident did little to change Israel’s attitude. Three days later, an Israeli strike hit an aid truck in Deir Al-Balah with civilians close by, killing at least nine people. Israel has also continued to blow up entire residential blocks and has done nothing to facilitate the flow of aid, especially to northern Gaza, where about 700,000 people face famine, according to the UN. By Monday, the number of Palestinian babies to have died from starvation rose to at least 15. The harrowing image of a starving child, Yazan Al-Kafarna, a 10-year-old with cerebral palsy, who died at Al-Najjar Hospital in Rafah after suffering from malnutrition, was posted all over social media platforms.
In a symbolic and desperate move to address the situation, the US, along with the Jordanian air force, dropped more than 35,000 meals on northern Gaza on Friday, in what President Joe Biden said would be one of many airdrops. The irony of the US dropping food on tens of thousands of hungry civilians caught in a war zone and denied access to aid by America’s ally, Israel, was not missed by many commentators. This is the same US that has supplied Israel with 2,000-pound bombs to drop on the most crowded enclave on the planet.
The US is now pushing for a six-week ceasefire to begin before the beginning of the holy month of Ramadan. This deal would see the release of Israeli captives by Hamas in exchange for letting some of the thousands of Palestinians in Israeli jails go free. But the US hopes that a ceasefire, even if it lasts for only a few weeks, would give it time to do several things.
First, it would work with Egypt and Qatar to facilitate the release of the remaining captives, thus putting pressure on Netanyahu to end his Gaza misadventure, which has harmed Israel and turned worldwide public opinion against it in an unprecedented manner. Second, it would give Washington time to influence internal Israeli politics and neutralize Netanyahu by encouraging calls for a snap election that would remove him. Harris on Monday met with Israeli war Cabinet member Benny Gantz, who traveled to Washington against Netanyahu’s advice. Gantz, described as a right-of-center soldier turned politician, is leading Netanyahu in the polls and would certainly defeat him if elections were held today. Washington believes Gantz would realize the damage that Netanyahu has inflicted on Israel’s ties with its Western partners and seek a way to restore them.
Third, the White House hopes that a ceasefire would alleviate the pressure coming from progressive Democratic voters, including Arab and Muslim Americans, after more than 100,000 Democrats voted “uncommitted” in last week’s Michigan primary as a protest against Biden’s Gaza position.
Fourth, the Biden administration hopes that a ceasefire deal would appease the US’ Arab allies, who have expressed their frustration over Biden’s Gaza policy and built up public pressure among their citizens.
We have to look at the glass as being half full and realize that there can no longer be a return to the day before Oct. 7
But a ceasefire, vital as it is, is not enough to end the war on Gaza. More than 2 million Palestinians in Gaza and about 3 million in the West Bank are in dire need of international protection. A ceasefire in Gaza could collapse at any moment over many excuses and from both sides. The humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza will take years to contain, but it must be tackled robustly and sustainably. Any interruption to the truce will compound an already complicated situation that has not been seen before in any part of the world.
While Israel and its allies will argue that no international peacekeeping force is needed in the West Bank, it will be difficult to oppose such an idea in Gaza. The US and the rest of the world have rejected any notion of Israel reoccupying the Strip. The Palestinian Authority is too weak and unpopular to take over the administration of a devastated Gaza. Only an international peacekeeping force can maintain the peace, facilitate the flow of humanitarian aid and help in the evacuation of thousands of injured and terminally ill people to foreign hospitals. A sustainable truce is needed to rebuild much-needed facilities like hospitals and schools.
UN and NATO peacekeeping forces have a checkered track record. They have been successful in some conflicts and done poorly in others. But we have to look at the glass as being half full and realize that there can no longer be a return to the day before Oct. 7 — for both sides.
So, the US must lead despite its dismal record in pushing for the two-state solution, which will take forever to materialize. While the Palestinians — and Israelis — wait for a just and lasting solution, the people of Gaza do not have that luxury. They need immediate help and they need protection. Tens of thousands of orphaned children need immediate care and, every day, some newborn babies will lack even the most basic medical care.
Gaza will need a massive and probably unprecedented aid bridge when a ceasefire occurs. And once such an aid bridge is launched, it cannot stop. A tentative truce is not the answer, but the permanent presence of a peacekeeping force is. The world, having abandoned the Palestinians for so long, owes this much to the children of Gaza.
*Osama Al-Sharif is a journalist and political commentator based in Amman. X: @plato010

Using smartphones in class smartly is better than a ban
Yossi Mekelberg/Arab News/March 05, 2024
A debate about the use of technology in schools — and, in particular, students’ use of smartphones — has been raging in the education system for years. The approaches range from the purists, who see them as the source of all evil in education and reject their use outright, to those who have fallen under their spell and see them as the be all and end all in providing all-embracing education around the clock. Then there is the third, most commonsensical group, which would like to mobilize the benefits and reduce the harmful byproducts that come with the overuse of digital technology, especially in an unregulated manner.
Tilting toward the view of the first school of thought, England’s Department for Education last month issued a new “mobile phones in schools guidance,” which encourages headteachers to prohibit the use of mobile phones throughout the school day, including at break times. This is, in my view, a draconian decision that relinquishes the responsibility of the education system to guide and educate children from a very young age in the best practices for using their mobile phone, from both the pedagogical and social behavioral aspects, instead of banishing them.
It is not only England that bans smartphones in schools, but other countries including France, Finland, the Netherlands and even China, which is the world’s largest mobile phone manufacturer. In Italy, for instance, teachers collect students’ smartphones at the beginning of the day to ensure that those itchy fingers deprived of screen time do not cave into temptation.
Completely separating activities inside school from those outside it creates an unnatural separation
Few would dispute that technology, and not only smartphones, has changed the dynamic in the classroom, such as how learners acquire their knowledge, the relationship between teachers and students and the seemingly inexorable shortening of attention spans.
As with all other technologies, there are disadvantages to smartphones that can affect children’s development and make it more difficult for them to become lifelong learners. Their social skills can also be hindered, especially when there is more interaction with technology than with humans, and there are also genuine concerns about the ugly phenomenon of cyberbullying.
However, to ban smartphones outright is to apply the wrong remedy to a genuine problem. The answer is to educate young people in how to use their phones effectively and with due consideration for others, because we do not expect smartphones to disappear from everyday life anytime soon.
For many years, education systems have either avoided social issues or barred them at the school gates, instead of developing programs that help young people from an early age to deal with these issues in a thoughtful and constructive way. This could be about politics, personal relationships, controversial social issues or more generally about growing up into a responsible adult who can make informed judgments without falling into the black hole of excess.
Last year, UNESCO called for a global ban on smartphones in classrooms, even though its own director-general, Audrey Azoulay, admitted that the potential of the digital revolution is immeasurable and the challenge is to regulate its use — and she is right on both accounts.
Do not get me wrong, in all my years of teaching, I have not found that the introduction of technology was the answer to improving the quality of education. At best, it is a partial one. Moreover, there is nothing more irritating in the modern classroom than students obviously using their smartphones and looking at apps or websites, including social media, unrelated to the topic being discussed in class. With time, I have become able to tell when this was the case according to students’ facial expressions and body language. Hence, it would be foolish to argue that smartphones and other online devices are not a distraction.
The answer is to educate young people in how to use their phones effectively and with due consideration for others
Yet there are ways to change the balance between the genuine concerns about their use in class and the opportunities to enhance students’ school experience by making them active and proactive learners while using technology. The days of what, in education theory, was known as “chalk and talk” or “mug and jug” learning, which saw the teacher as the jug standing in front of the class pouring knowledge into students (the mugs), have long gone. This idea of a one-way flow of knowledge and information from the teacher to the students is no longer relevant, especially in a world where learners are exposed to infinite sources of information, some of great value and others baseless and potentially harmful.
It makes the task of the educator complex and more challenging, but a major feature of the digital revolution is its ability to help students of all ages, and according to their developmental level, to harness this vast world of information in the palm of their hands in the best possible way and ensure they take ownership of this process. Completely separating activities inside school from those outside it creates an unnatural separation and distorts the relationship between home and school, teachers and parents and the school and the wider society.
The downside of young learners with their eyes constantly focused on their phones is indisputable. Attention spans shorten, they are easily distracted by notification pings and there is a real danger of them becoming accustomed to abridged explanations and argumentations. In my experience, this does not make them less critical thinkers but more disorganized in their critical thinking, as they find it difficult to separate the wheat from the chaff — and there is plenty of chaff in cyberspace — which is where good educational programs should come to the rescue.
Understandably, cyberbullying is also a key concern and should not be tolerated, but for that there are guidelines and policies, as with real-world bullying, and those who are caught engaging in such behavior should be disciplined and, in certain cases, prosecuted. As always, hard cases make a bad law and, in this case, banning smartphones altogether from the school day is a hard case.
More research is needed to establish the short- and long-term impacts of using smartphones in education. No educator would like to raise a generation that does not interact in person with their peers and teachers and, hence, becomes devoid of social skills and is increasingly solitary, instead of active and interactive members of their societies. But smartphones are here to stay and, instead of students waiting all day to see what they “missed” in their cyberspace life, it would become an educational moment if they were to have limited time with their smartphones and be guided in how to use them without becoming addicted to them or indulging in antisocial behavior.
Banning smartphones completely from school is just another case of the education system failing to fulfill its duty to deal with knotty issues in society instead of helping young people to develop into mature, constructive and considerate adults and citizens.
*Yossi Mekelberg is a professor of international relations and an associate fellow of the Middle East and North Africa Program at international affairs think tank Chatham House. X: @YMekelberg

What will the US election mean for its foreign policy?
Dalia Al-Aqidi/Arab News/March 05, 2024
Recent developments in the primary elections suggest a disquieting familiarity for American citizens as they contemplate the impending clash between incumbent Democratic President Joe Biden and former Republican President Donald Trump. The prevailing sentiment among observers is one of deja vu, reminiscent of the contentious showdown witnessed in the 2020 election. Notwithstanding any unforeseen developments, the prevailing trajectory suggests a repeat of the previous experience.
Discernible patterns have emerged throughout the primary elections, reinforcing the likelihood of a Biden-Trump rematch. This anticipated repetition prompts reflection on the electorate’s desire for novelty and fresh perspectives. Despite aspirations for change, the political landscape appears entrenched in familiar faces and established narratives.
An underlying sentiment among the populace is a craving for new, youthful leadership — a sentiment not readily fulfilled by the prevailing contenders. As citizens yearn for a departure from the status quo, the prospect of another electoral showdown between Biden and Trump underscores the endurance of entrenched political dynamics over aspirations for renewal.
While domestic concerns such as economic inflation, healthcare and immigration understandably dominate the discourse among American citizens, the international community eagerly awaits insights into the future direction of US foreign policy. Eyes worldwide are fixed on the candidates vying for their parties’ nominations, eagerly anticipating their positions on global issues as articulated in debates and campaign remarks.
Despite aspirations for change, the political landscape appears entrenched in familiar faces. The significance of America’s foreign policy cannot be overstated. Its decisions and actions reverberate across the globe, impacting economies, security and diplomatic relations. As such, the world scrutinizes the presidential contenders, seeking clues and assurances regarding the trajectory of US engagement with the international community. Understanding the nuances of US foreign policy is paramount for nations and leaders navigating an increasingly complex geopolitical landscape. The rhetoric and policies espoused by the presidential hopefuls have implications for diplomatic relations, strategic alliances and shared global objectives. As the presidential race unfolds, the international community remains attuned to the nuances of each candidate’s foreign policy platform. The stakes are high and the world watches with anticipation, knowing that the outcome of America’s presidential election will reverberate far beyond its borders.
The divergent approaches to foreign policy of Biden and Trump underscore significant disparities in how they address critical global issues. These differences reflect nuanced perspectives on international relations and strategic priorities, shaping the course of action taken by their administrations.
Each candidate’s attitude to the Ukraine conflict and Washington’s military aid to Kyiv reveals their differing foreign policy strategies. Biden prioritizes robust support to counter Russian influence.
On multiple occasions on the campaign trail, meanwhile, Trump has expressed his support for Russia intervening in NATO member states that fall short of their defense spending requirements. He has disregarded the alliance’s collective defense clause, suggesting that he would not automatically defend nations that fail to contribute financially. Trump also attributed improvements in NATO’s financial situation to his presidency.
If Trump secures victory, he is likely to escalate America’s involvement in the Middle East. Biden promptly responded to this narrative by expressing his concern over Trump’s assertion regarding Russia, characterizing it as alarming and dangerous. He said that Trump’s statements could empower Russian President Vladimir Putin to perpetuate further conflict and violence, mainly targeting Ukraine, while also extending the threat to Poland and the Baltic states. Biden denounced such prospects as deeply troubling.
At last month’s Conservative Political Action Conference gathering, Trump conveyed a stance unsympathetic to Palestinians in the context of Israel’s war on Gaza, given his recognition of the threat posed by radical Islamist groups such as Hamas. Consequently, he would not be anticipated to advocate for pressure on Israel to agree to a ceasefire.
Trump also underscored Israel’s perceived safety during his tenure in the White House, attributing this to his administration’s policies. He specifically highlighted Iran’s support of Hamas and asserted that his approach toward Tehran had diminished its ability to support such proxies. “Iran was broke, and they had no money for Hamas, and they had no money for Hezbollah. They had no money for anything,” Trump told CPAC attendees.
If Trump secures victory in November, he is likely to escalate America’s involvement in the Middle East significantly. His administration would likely engage with numerous Arab countries, alongside Israel, to combat extremism and counter Iranian influence in the region. Furthermore, Trump’s approach toward Iraq suggests a willingness to target senior leaders within the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, particularly in response to threats against American forces in the area. The possibility of a scenario akin to the targeted killing of Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani cannot be discounted.
In regard to China, tensions with Washington escalated during Trump’s first term, particularly concerning trade matters. His decision to impose tariffs on Chinese goods in 2018 and 2019 exacerbated these tensions.
While the Biden administration has not rescinded these tariffs, it has implemented additional restrictions. The former president has promised his supporters further tariffs on Beijing, potentially surpassing 60 percent. Regardless of the occupant of the White House, it appears improbable that the relationship between the world’s two largest commercial centers will undergo substantial change.
In the case of Biden, continuity is anticipated in his policy approach, with no substantial deviations expected. Although there may be some alterations to his Cabinet composition, these adjustments are projected to exert minimal influence on the overarching policy trajectory.
*Dalia Al-Aqidi is executive director at the American Center for Counter Extremism. X: @DaliaAlAqidi

What Democrats’ ‘uncommitted’ campaign means for US policy
Kerry Boyd Anderson/Arab News/March 05, 2024
Democratic voters in Michigan last week sent a message to President Joe Biden’s reelection campaign, expressing their deep disapproval of his approach to the war in Gaza. However, it remains unclear what impact their protest might have on US policy. Michigan is a key swing state in US presidential elections and one of the states that is crucial for Biden to win. The president is elected through the Electoral College system, which is based on votes in states rather than a nationwide popular vote, with electoral results often centered on the outcomes in a few battleground states, such as Michigan. In 2020, Biden won in Michigan, defeating then-President Donald Trump by about 154,000 votes. In 2016, Trump won the state, defeating Hillary Clinton by fewer than 11,000 votes.
Michigan also has a relatively large Arab American community, though they remain a small minority of the state’s population. The Arab American community played a major role in organizing an effort to send a message to Biden that he risks losing votes over his strong support for Israel in the face of the devastation in Gaza. Importantly, Arab Americans were not alone and partnered with Muslim Americans, young voters and others. Together, they launched a campaign to vote “uncommitted” in Michigan’s Democratic primary.
In the US system, the Republican and Democratic parties choose their presidential candidates through a series of state elections — primaries and caucuses. As the incumbent president, Biden is nearly certain to be the Democratic Party’s nominee, though he technically faces some opposition. In Michigan, Marianne Williamson and Dean Phillips were running against him. However, his major opponent was the “uncommitted” movement, which asked voters to demonstrate their commitment by showing up to vote but choosing this option rather than backing Biden or another candidate.
The campaign clearly demonstrated that Biden’s policy toward Israel is weakening his chances in Michigan
The movement was successful. Some leaders of the campaign had set an initial goal of 10,000 uncommitted votes, arguing that Clinton lost in Michigan by about only 10,000 votes. Therefore, they said, if Biden lost that many due to his Middle East policy, then he would risk losing the state — and thus, potentially, the entire election. Some analysts noted that a goal of 10,000 votes was very low because uncommitted vote totals in the past had sometimes been much larger. However, on election day last week, more than 100,000 voters selected “uncommitted” on the ballot, putting the campaign at 13 percent of the vote, far more than Williamson or Phillips received.
Biden still received more than 80 percent of the vote, but the uncommitted campaign received enough votes to send two delegates to the Democratic National Convention in August, giving it a very small voice but at least some representation.
More importantly, the campaign clearly demonstrated that Biden’s policy toward Israel is weakening his chances in Michigan. If 100,000 voters actually choose not to vote for Biden in the presidential election — even if they do not vote for his opponent — that alone would risk a defeat in Michigan for the president. Although it is likely that some of those voters would choose Biden when facing Trump as the only viable alternative, the uncommitted campaign sent a clear message that Biden risks losing badly needed votes.
However, it is unclear whether the Michigan primary outcome will have broader electoral impacts or will help to change US foreign policy. The uncommitted movement can place more pressure on Biden if it expands to other states, but there are multiple obstacles. Many states do not have an “uncommitted” option on the ballot, which could make similar campaigns difficult. Other states also lack the type of concentrated numbers of Arab Americans that exist in Michigan. While many other social justice groups and young voters increasingly share Arab Americans’ outrage over the war in Gaza, they do not all have the same capacity to organize around the war as a single issue in an election.
Without openly saying it, Biden’s campaign effectively suggested that he does not intend to change his policy
The Biden campaign is well aware of many Democrats’ growing concerns about Israel’s approach to the war and ongoing US support. But Biden’s personal support for Israel remains strong. His administration has taken only a few, small steps to try to demonstrate that it hears concerns, but sanctioning a few Israeli settlers and acknowledging that Palestinian lives matter look incredibly insufficient given the extreme suffering in Gaza.
Biden’s campaign officials have tried to express sympathy for the pain that those worried about Gaza feel but, without openly saying it, effectively suggested that Biden does not intend to change his policy. Rather, campaign representatives said that voters should remember that Trump is their only other choice and that Trump’s calls for a Muslim travel ban and positions on issues like climate change and healthcare should be priority concerns for voters.
However, on Friday, Biden authorized the US military to start airdrops of humanitarian aid into Gaza — the biggest policy change he has made since the current war started in October. He also expressed his strongest criticism of Israel so far, calling on it to allow more aid into the Strip.
It is unclear what role the uncommitted vote in Michigan played in pressuring Biden to more actively ensure that aid reaches Palestinians. Biden administration officials have clearly grown frustrated with the Israeli government, which might matter as much or more than domestic political pressures. Nonetheless, the uncommitted vote in Michigan is one factor battering against the long-standing wall of the country’s unconditional support for Israel, which is starting to show cracks.
*Kerry Boyd Anderson is a professional analyst of international security issues and Middle East political and business risk. X: @KBAresearch