Israel Taking 'significant Military Steps' In Response To Hamas Attack - Eastern Mirror
Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Israel taking ‘significant military steps’ in response to Hamas attack

By EMN Updated: Oct 09, 2023 9:54 pm
Israel steps up airstrikes on Gaza
Source: IANS.

JERUSALEM — Israel’s defence minister has ordered a “complete siege” on the Gaza Strip following an unprecedented incursion into Israel by Hamas fighters.

Israel formally declared war on Sunday and gave the green light for “significant military steps” to retaliate against Hamas for Saturday’s surprise attack. More than 1,100 people have been killed and thousands wounded on both sides.

The defence minister’s announcement on Monday came as Israel’s military scoured the country’s south for Hamas fighters and guarded breaches in its border fence with tanks while pounding Gaza from the air.

A spokesperson said the Israeli military regained control of border communities taken by Hamas fighters during the attack. But Palestinian militants continued firing barrages of rockets, setting off air raid sirens in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.

Nine American citizens killed in Hamas attack

The US State Department said Monday that at least nine American citizens have been killed in the weekend Hamas attacks on Israel, raising the toll from four.

The State Department says an undetermined number of American citizens remain missing and unaccounted for. It is not clear whether the missing had been taken hostage, were killed or are in hiding.

The State Department is in touch with families “and providing all appropriate consular assistance,” spokesman Matthew Miller said.

Israeli troops shot and killed several gunmen who crossed into the country from Lebanon, the Israel Defense Forces said without specifying the number of people killed nor their alleged affiliation.

Local media quoted Hezbollah officials on Monday as denying their involvement in the border incident. Iran-backed Hezbollah has praised key ally Hamas for its unprecedented weekend incursion into Israel but has not said if it would attempt to join forces.

According to Lebanon’s state-run National News Agency, four gunmen crossed Lebanon’s southern border into Israeli territory from the border town of Dahaira before coming across an IDF position.

Israeli and Lebanese troops deployed in large numbers over the weekend along the UN-demarcated Blue Line border that separates the two countries.

Hezbollah fired rockets Sunday at Israeli positions in disputed territory in southern Lebanon. Senior Hezbollah official Hashim Safieddine later said the volley was intended to “send a message.”

In response, Israel shelled the positions where the rockets came from.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul Gheit met Monday in Moscow but did not announce any immediate steps in response to the violence in Israel and Gaza.

“As for mediation efforts, first of all the parties themselves must stop hostilities. Everything else can be decided later in a normal, non-military situation,” Lavrov said following the meeting.

Before speaking with Russia’s top diplomat, Aboul Gheit said: “We completely reject violence from both sides. … We demand the creation of political perspectives and fair solution for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”

Airlines suspend flights to Israel

Major US airlines have suspended flights to Israel after the nation declared war following a massive attack by Hamas.

American Airlines, United Airlines and Delta Air Lines suspended service as the US State Department issued travel advisories for the region, citing the potential for terrorism and civil unrest.

American suspended service to Tel Aviv through Friday. United said it allowed two scheduled flights out of Tel Aviv late Saturday and early Sunday and accommodated its customers, crews and employee travellers who were at the airport.

Delta said its Tel Aviv flights have been cancelled for this week.

An open-air electronic music festival will go down in Israeli history as the site of the country’s worst civilian massacre after paramedics recovered at least 260 bodies from a field near the border with Gaza.

The Tribe of Nova festival brought together thousands of young people to dance and revel in the swirl of bass-heavy beats. Dozens of Hamas militants who had blown through Israel’s heavily fortified separation fence and crossed into the country from Gaza opened fire on the Israelis.

“We were hiding and running, hiding and running, in an open field, the worst place you could possibly be in that situation,” said Arik Nani from Tel Aviv, who had gone to the party to celebrate his 26th birthday. “For a country where everyone in these circles knows everyone, this is a trauma like I could never imagine.”

Egypt to mediate prisoner exchange

Egypt has engaged in negotiations with Israel and Palestinian militant groups to release Palestinian women in Israel’s prisons in exchange for Israeli women captured by Hamas militants, the state-owned Egyptian newspaper Al-Ahram reported Monday.

The daily paper quoted an unnamed source as saying that the negotiations were aimed at finalising an agreement on the trade.

“The Egyptian government is presently awaiting responses from both parties regarding the proposed prisoners exchange and a temporary cease-fire,” Al-Ahram said.

Palestinian militant groups have claimed to be holding over 130 people who were captured in Israel in the past two days. Hamas spokesman Abdel-Latif al-Qanoua told The Associated Press by phone that the group’s fighters had captured more Israelis as recently as Monday morning.

He said the group aims to free all Palestinian prisoners held by Israel.

Lebanese caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati said Monday that the tiny country’s priority is to maintain stability along its southern border with Israel following an exchange of attacks between Israeli troops and Hezbollah militants over the weekend.

Hezbollah claimed responsibility for firing rockets at three Israeli positions Sunday in disputed territory along the border of the Israeli-occupied Syrian Golan Heights, before Israel returned fire.

Mikati called on the international community to “take responsibility” in pressuring Israel to return to peace talks under the Arab Peace Initiative. “Anything other than that is a further spiralling of violence that will not benefit anyone,” he said.

Governments and airlines in Europe are conducting emergency and regular flights from Israel to bring back European citizens who were in the country when Hamas fighters attacked.

Europeans leave Israel en masse

Romania’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs says nearly 600 Romanian citizens, including two groups of pilgrims, were repatriated from Israel on commercial flights over the weekend.

Bulgarian media say a total of 179 Bulgarians and one Croatian citizen were evacuated on the government-organised flights between Sunday night and early Monday. National carrier Bulgaria Air cancelled its flights to Tel Aviv.

A spokesman for Greece’s government, Pavlos Marinakis, says 81 of the 149 Greeks registered as having been in Israel over the weekend returned to Athens on Sunday night.

Two Hungarian Air Force planes carrying 215 people from Israel arrived in Budapest early Monday, according to posts by Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto on Facebook.

Spain’s Foreign Ministry has urged people not to travel to Israel. Foreign Minister Jos Manuel Albares said he expected all Spaniards wishing to leave Israel will have been brought back by later Monday.

The Kremlin is “extremely concerned” by the “spiral of violence” in Israel, spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Monday.

“We believe that this situation needs to be put onto a peaceful track as soon as possible. And the continuation of such a spiral of violence, of course, is fraught with further escalation and expansion of this conflict. This is a great danger for the region, so we are extremely concerned,” Peskov said.

The Kremlin spokesman added that Russian authorities were not aware of any Russian nationals injured in the conflict.

EU to assess Hamas attack on Israel

The European Union is convening an emergency meeting of its foreign ministers to assess the developing violence in Israel while stressing that the nation had every right to defend itself against the unprecedented incursion by Hamas fighters.

The ministers will organise the Tuesday meeting in Oman, where EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell and some EU delegations are attending an EU-Gulf Cooperation Council joint meeting. Others will join by video conference.

“The priority right now is for the aggression by Hamas to stop. The hostages need to be released and we need to see the overall de-escalation of the situation,” EU spokesman Peter Stano said.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has drawn a parallel between Russia’s invasion of his country and the Hamas militant group’s incursion into Israel, saying only “rules (and) international law” can ensure peace around the world.

“The same evil, and the only difference is that there is a terrorist organization that attacked Israel, and here is a terrorist state that attacked Ukraine,” Zelenskyy said in a video address Monday to a NATO parliamentary assembly in Copenhagen.

“Our unity must and can stop the evil,” Zelenskyy said. “Let everyone who sponsors terror feel the power of our wrath. And let everyone who needs help defending themselves against terror feel the power of our solidarity.”

The top US envoy to the Human Rights Council has led a moment of silence to honour the victims of Hamas’ attacks against Israeli civilians and the people killed in an earthquake in Afghanistan over the weekend.

Ambassador Michele Taylor spoke Monday with a “heavy heart,” she said, following the “horrific attacks carried out by Hamas terrorists on Israeli civilians” starting on Saturday.

“The United States unequivocally condemns these heinous acts of terrorism. We extend our deepest condolences to the families affected and express our solidarity with the people and government of Israel in these trying times,” she told the council, the UN’s top human rights body.

Hundreds of pro-Palestinian protesters have gathered at the Sydney Opera House and police are advising the Jewish community to stay away.

Around 1,000 protesters on Monday marched 3 kilometres (2 miles) from Sydney Town Hall to the harborside landmark chanting: “Free, free Palestine!” They were surrounded by a heavy police presence. One protester at the town hall rally briefly waved an Israeli flag before fleeing.

The opera house is among several public buildings in Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra that were to be illuminated in blue and white the colours of Israel’s flag on Monday night in solidarity with the Israelis.

Israel to cut electricity, food and fuel to Gaza

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said authorities would cut electricity to Gaza and block the entry of food and fuel there as part of a “complete siege” he ordered.

The announcement on Monday came as Israel’s military scoured the country’s south for Hamas fighters and guarded breaches in its border fence with tanks, while it pounded the Gaza Strip from the air.

Israel and Egypt have imposed various levels of blockade on Gaza since Hamas seized power from rival Palestinian forces in 2007.

Austria and Germany suspend development aid

Austria’s foreign minister says his country will freeze development aid for the Palestinian areas following the attack by Hamas on Israel. Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg told Oe1 radio on Monday that all development aid payments will be “put on ice for now” and that the affected funds are worth around 19 million euros (USD 20 million).

Schallenberg also said he will summon Iran’s ambassador to the Austrian Foreign Ministry on Monday to complain about the country’s “abhorrent reactions” to the Hamas attack.

On Sunday, Germany’s development minister said her country would review its financial aid for the Palestinian areas. Her ministry put the amount currently pledged at 250 million euros (USD 265 million) and said no payments are currently being made.

Egypt and UAE discuss Hamas-Israel situation

The leaders of Egypt and the United Arab Emirates on Monday discussed the conflict between Israel and Palestinian militants.

Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi and Emirati President Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan agreed on “the importance of advancing diplomatic efforts that aim to de-escalate violence, protect civilians, spare blood,” a statement from the Egyptian president’s office said. Such efforts should include establishing “a comprehensive, just and permanent peace,” it added.

Egypt was the first Arab country to establish diplomatic ties with Israel in the 1970s, and shares borders with both Gaza and Israel. The UAE normalised ties with Tel Aviv as part of the U.S.-brokered Abraham Accords in 2020. The Arab Gulf nation has frayed ties with Hamas.

EgyptAir, Egypt’s national carrier, suspended its flights to Israel on Monday amid fighting between Israel and Palestinian militants in Gaza, Cairo airport officials said.

The flights between Cairo and Tel Aviv are suspended until further notice, said two officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief the media. EgyptAir normally operates a daily flight between Cairo International Airport and Ben Gurion International Airport, just outside Tel Aviv.

Many carriers suspended flights to and from Israel following the unprecedented attack by the Hamas militant group, which rules Gaza, Israeli media reported.

Asian countries evacuate citizens from Israel

Two Sri Lankans have gone missing while another has been wounded in the violence in the Gaza Strip, the island nation’s Foreign Ministry said on Monday. The two missing persons were identified as caregivers. About 8,000 Sri Lankans are employed in Israel and the majority of them work as caregivers.

Twenty-two Filipinos have been rescued in Israel and seven others are still missing following the Hamas militant group’s attack, the Philippine Embassy in Tel Aviv said Monday. Two of the rescued Filipinos were treated in hospitals for injuries.

The embassy said it is working “non-stop” with Israeli authorities and community contacts to get more details on the missing citizens.

Twelve Thai nationals have died in Israel following Hamas’ attack, Thai Foreign Ministry spokesperson Kanchana Patarachoke said Monday. Eleven others were taken hostage and eight were injured. The numbers, based on reports from workers and employers in the area, were still awaiting confirmation from Israeli authorities, Kanchana said.

Around 5,000 Thai workers are in the areas around the Gaza Strip, and some have been evacuated to safer areas, the spokesperson said, adding that Thailand’s air force is preparing planes for an evacuation whenever the situation allows. Many Thais work on farms in Israel.

Israel’s Central Bank to sell $30 billion of forex

Israel’s central bank says it will sell up to USD 30 billion in foreign exchange to prop up the country’s shekel currency following market uncertainty in the wake of Hamas’ incursion from the Gaza Strip.

The central bank issued a statement Monday morning announcing the plan, saying it “will operate in the market during the coming period in order to moderate volatility in the shekel exchange rate and to provide the necessary liquidity for the continued proper functioning of the markets.”

It added it would provide additional liquidity of up to USD 15 billion in the market as well.

The shekel has fallen to a near eight-year low against the US dollar in early trading Monday.

Bukele calls Hamas ‘criminals’

El Salvador President Nayib Bukele, who has Palestinian ancestry, decried Hamas on Sunday after its attack on Israel.

“The best thing that could happen to the Palestinian people is for Hamas to completely disappear. Those savage beasts do not represent the Palestinians,” Bukele said on the social network X, previously known as Twitter. “Anyone who supports the Palestinian cause would make a great mistake siding with those criminals.”

He also compared Hamas to the MS-13 gang, which has terrorised El Salvador for years.

Ten Nepali nationals have been killed in fighting in Israel and at least one more is missing, Nepal’s Foreign Ministry said. An unknown number of others were wounded in the violence, it added. Efforts were being made to return the bodies to Nepal and embassy officials were also trying to help citizens who want to leave the country.

One of Israel’s goals as it battles Hamas fighters is to remove the militant group from power in the Gaza Strip, a military spokesperson said Monday.

Jonathan Conricus made the statement in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter. His words appeared to go further than those of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Netanyahu said Sunday that his security cabinet had made the decision to destroy Hamas’ ability to govern in a way that posed a threat to Israeli civilians.

A thousand Hamas militants took part in the initial, unprecedented attack on Israel on Saturday, Conricus said.

“It is by far the worst day in Israeli history,” Conricus said.

By EMN Updated: Oct 09, 2023 9:54:28 pm
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