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World

Israel bombards Gaza as Putin warns conflict could spread beyond Middle East

  • As the death toll mounts in Gaza, Palestinians are burying the unidentified dead in mass graves, with a number instead of a name, residents say
Published October 26, 2023
Photo: REUTERS
Photo: REUTERS

GAZA/JERUSALEM/THE HAGUE: Israel bombarded the Gaza Strip as it prepared for a ground invasion it says is aimed at annihilating the Palestinian Hamas group as Russia warned the conflict could spread beyond the Middle East.

In besieged Gaza humanitarian supplies were critically low, as world powers failed to agree on a lull to the fighting to deliver aid, and residents buried the dead in mass graves as the civilian toll mounted.

US President Joe Biden, in remarks looking beyond the war, said on Wednesday that the future should include Israeli and Palestinian states side by side.

“Israelis and Palestinians equally deserve to live side by side in safety, dignity and in peace,” Biden said at a joint press conference in Washington with visiting Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese.

Biden said he believed one reason Iranian-backed Hamas attacked southern Israel on Oct. 7, killing at least 1,400 people and taking scores of hostages, was to prevent normalising relations between Israel and Saudi Arabia.

Russian President Vladimir Putin warned the conflict could spread beyond the Middle East and said it was wrong that innocent women, children and old people in Gaza were being punished for other people’s crimes.

“Our task today, our main task, is to stop the bloodshed and violence,” said Putin in a meeting with Russian religious leaders of different faiths, according to a Kremlin transcript.

“Otherwise, further escalation of the crisis is fraught with grave and extremely dangerous and destructive consequences. And not only for the Middle East region. It could spill over far beyond the borders of the Middle East.”

Reflecting concerns the Gaza war may spread, the Wall Street Journal reported that Israel had agreed to delay invading Gaza until US air defence systems can be placed in the region, as early as this week, to protect American forces.

Hamas says at least 140 killed in Israel night strikes on Gaza

Asked about the report, US officials told Reuters that Washington has raised its concerns with Israel that Iran and Iranian-backed Hamas groups could escalate the conflict by attacking US troops in the Middle East.

An Israeli incursion into Gaza could be a trigger for Iranian proxies, they said.

Gaza’s war has already sparked conflict beyond the Palestinian territories.

Israeli warplanes struck Syrian army infrastructure on Wednesday in response to rockets fired from Syria, an ally of Iran.

Israel has also targeted Syria’s Aleppo airport and Iranian-backed Hezbollah in Lebanon.

Iran, Israel’s arch-enemy, has sought regional ascendancy for decades and backs armed groups in Syria, Lebanon and elsewhere as well as Hamas.

It has warned Israel to stop its onslaught on Gaza.

Aid proposals fail in UN security council votes

At the United Nations, Russia and China vetoed a US-drafted Security Council resolution calling for pauses in hostilities to allow food, water and medicine to be delivered to Palestinian civilians.

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) also voted no, while 10 members voted in favour and two abstained.

Russia made a rival proposal that advocated a wider ceasefire, but failed to win the minimum number of votes.

Israel has resisted both, arguing that Hamas would only take advantage and create new threats to Gaza civilians.

As the death toll mounts in Gaza, Palestinians are burying the unidentified dead in mass graves, with a number instead of a name, residents say.

Gaza hospitals in crisis as Israel-Hamas conflict rages on

Some families are using bracelets in the hope of finding their loved ones should they be killed. Israeli retaliatory strikes have killed over 6,500 people, the health ministry in the Hamas-run strip said on Wednesday.

Reuters has been unable to independently verify the casualty figures of either side. Biden said on Wednesday he had “no confidence in the number that the Palestinians are using” for the death toll, but he did not say why he was skeptical.

In the US, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) said it was “deeply disturbed” by Biden’s comments on the Gaza figures, and called on the president to apologise.

Invasion preparations

Israel has vowed to wipe out Hamas. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a televised statement that Israel was “preparing for a ground invasion.

“I will not elaborate on when, how or how many.” Israeli tanks and troops are massed on the border with Gaza awaiting orders. Israel has called up 360,000 reservists.

UN warns Gaza fuel shortage will stop aid work by end of day

International pressure is growing to delay any invasion of Gaza, not least because of hostages.

More than half the estimated 220 hostages held by Hamas have foreign passports from 25 different countries, the Israeli government said.

Many were believed to have had dual Israeli nationality.

Israel is waging a ‘war of revenge’

Meanwhile, Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki said on Thursday that Israel is waging a “war of revenge” on Gaza aimed at its total destruction.

“So many wars have taken place (in Gaza), this is different. This time it’s a war of revenge,” al-Maliki told reporters in The Hague.

“This war has no real objective, rather than the total destruction of every livable place in Gaza. This war is not directed by military plans, there are no norms respected. All international rules of war are violated.”

Al-Maliki urged international leaders to press Israel for a full ceasefire to make sure urgently needed humanitarian aid can be brought into Gaza.

At a summit in Brussels, EU leaders on Thursday are expected to limit their plea to “pauses” in bombardments, but al-Maliki said this was unacceptable, as it would not ensure aid could come in and water and electricity supplies be reinstated.

During his visit to The Hague, al-Maliki visited the International Criminal Court (ICC), which is investigating alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity on Palestinian territory from 2014 onwards.

Two weeks ago, prosecutor Khan told Reuters the court has jurisdiction over potential war crimes carried out by Hamas in Israel and Israelis in the Gaza Strip, even though Israel is not a member state.

“Israel, by cutting electricity, water and fuel, by forcing people to starvation, by forcibly transferring people, is committing war crimes,” al-Maliki said.

“What we are seeking is accountability.”

Comments

Comments are closed.

MJ Oct 26, 2023 10:54am
When hilter killed jews he used methods that caused instantaneous death...there was no suffering...Now jews are killing innocent Palestinians using state of art barbaric technology that causes never ending physical, emotional and physiological suffering! What a shame! Those who claim to be victims of holocaust are inflicting a very barbaric holocaust on others!
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Haris Safi Oct 26, 2023 01:53pm
I am afghani refugee i am here in pakistan islamabad intend to rravel to uk. Can i get chance to travel.
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Saad Ali Oct 26, 2023 02:02pm
@Haris Safi, Maybe , or Maybe not.
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Zak Oct 26, 2023 02:40pm
The least what we can do as Muslims is to pray for the Palestinians and curse the Isrealis/Americans in our prayers. God is watching and they'll all be accountable on the day of judgement. Ameen!
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Az_Iz Oct 26, 2023 04:47pm
Israeli bloodlust in full display, with it’s apologists offering it a shield. So sad.
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Tulukan Mairandi Oct 26, 2023 10:12pm
Terrorists ought to be bombarded
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TidBit Oct 27, 2023 02:12am
@MJ, Why cant Hamas release hostages and call for a truce. If our neighbour took 220 people and held them hostage, what would we be doing.
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PT Oct 27, 2023 04:21am
@Haris Safi, Why did not you travel to Uk from Kabul?
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