World News

WASHINGTON: The New York Times disclosed on Friday that Israel’s military had prior knowledge of a plan by Hamas to launch a raid on Israeli soil more than a year before the Oct 7 operation.

The report raises questions about intelligence-sharing and the handling of pre-emptive measures in the run-up to the deadly incident.


The revelation adds a new layer to an already complex situation as the international community failed to extend a temporary pause and the fighting resumed on Friday.

The New York Times reported that Israeli officials were in possession of a 40-page battle plan, code-named “Jericho Wall”, which detailed a hypothetical Hamas raid on southern Israeli communities.

It was unclear how the document was obtained by Israel, but the article said that it had been translated — indicating it may have been in Arabic and directly intercepted from Hamas.

The report noted that this was the latest in a series of signs that top Israeli commanders either ignored or played down warnings that Hamas was plotting the raid.

The conflict in Gaza has long been a focal point of international concern, with humanitarian organisations expressing concern about the impact on civilians caught in the crossfire.

The recent influx of advanced weaponry from the United States to Israel is likely to intensify the debate on the role of external actors in the perpetuation of regional conflicts.

As the situation continues to unfold, the international community remains vigilant, calling for a peaceful resolution to the conflict and urging all parties to give diplomacy a chance over military actions.

The repercussions of these recent revelations are expected to reverberate globally, sparking a renewed debate on arms exports, regional stability, and the elusive quest for lasting peace in the Middle East.

Bunker buster

Meanwhile, a report in the Wall Street Journal said Washington had transferred 100 BLU-109 bombs to Israel that are meant to penetrate hardened structures before exploding.

The bomb carries a warhead weighing more than 900 kilograms and has previously been used by the US in conflicts, including in Afghanistan. The ‘bunker buster’, known for its ability to penetrate fortified structures, will further strengthen Israel’s ability to strike targets from a distance.

But it’s not the only type of ammunition the US has provided to Israel for the relentless strikes on the besieged Gaza Strip. Since Oct 7, Washington has sent more than 15,000 bombs and 57,000 155mm artillery shells to Israel, primarily carried on C-17 military cargo planes, the WSJ report added.

Washington has also sent more than 5,000 unguided Mk82 bombs, more than 5,400 Mk84 bombs, about 1,000 GBU-39 small-diameter bombs, and approximately 3,000 JDAMs, a guidance kit that turns unguided bombs into precision-guided munitions, the report added.

According to the WSJ, large US-made bombs have been used in some of the deadliest Israeli attacks on Gaza Strip, including a strike that levelled an apartment block in the Jabalia refugee camp, killing more than 100 people. Israel said the attack was justified as it killed a Hamas leader.

WASHINGTON: A US appeals court ruled on Friday that Donald Trump must face civil lawsuits over his role in the Jan 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol by his supporters, rejecting the former president’s claim that he is immune.

A panel of the US Court of Appeals for the district of Columbia found that Trump was acting “in his personal capacity as a presidential candidate” when he urged his supporters to march to the Capitol on the day of the riot. US presidents are immune from civil lawsuits only for official actions.

The ruling clears the way for Trump to face lawsuits from US Capitol police officers and Demo­cra­tic lawmakers seeking to hold Trump responsible for the violence by his supporters during the riot, which was an attempt to overturn his 2020 election defeat.

The case is one of several civil and criminal challen­ges facing the frontrunner for the Republican nomination to challenge Demo­cratic President Joe Biden in next year’s election.

The unanimous decision focused only on whether Trump could be sued, and said nothing about the merits of the cases themselves.
Trump argued that his speech exhorting his followers to “fight like hell” against certification of the election was related to a “matter of public concern” and fell within his official responsibilities.
A Trump spokesperson on Friday called the ruling “limited, narrow and procedural” and said Trump was “acting on behalf of the American people” on the day of the attack.
Trump has made a similar immunity argument in the federal criminal case accusing him of illegally conspiring to overturn the results of the 2020 election. A judge has not yet ruled on the issue in that case.
While the ruling on Friday explicitly stated it was not weighing in on Trump’s possible criminal immunity, both cases involve Trump’s conduct before and during the Capitol riot.

BRUSSELS: Government offices in the EU can ban employees wearing religious symbols such as Islamic headscarves, even when they do not have contact with the public, the Court of Justice of the EU ruled on Tuesday.

Such a rule can be imposed “in order to put in place an entirely neutral administrative environment,” the court said.
The judgement derived from a case lodged by a worker in a Belgian local government office who challenged a ban on her wearing an Islamic headscarf, feeling that it infringed on her freedom of religion and she was being discriminated against.

The Luxembourg-based court said a prohibition “of any sign revealing philosophical or religious beliefs… is not discriminatory if it is applied in a general and indiscriminate manner to all of that administration’s staff and is limited to what is strictly necessary”.

The ruling — valid for public sector offices across the EU — backs up previous EU court judgments that found such bans can be legal in private sector workplaces.
It said national courts should decide the applicability of such prohibitions, and that public offices could also have policies limiting such bans to public-facing workers, or decide to authorise the wearing of visible religious or philosophical signs of belief.

“Each Member State, and any infra-State body within the framework of its competences, has a margin of discretion in designing the neutrality of the public service which it intends to promote in the workplace, depending on its own context,” it said.

Cairo, Egypt: Believing in humanitarian duty and social responsibility, Khalaf Ahmad Al Habtoor, Founding Chairman of the Emirati Al Habtoor Group, donated a large number of fully equipped ambulances to provide health support to the brothers in the Gaza Strip and to confront the health repercussions resulting from the Israeli aggression.

The first batch of cars was purchased and equipped with the latest medical technologies in the Arab Republic of Egypt. Islam Kamal Ghoneim, representative and CEO of the Al Habtoor Group - Egypt, handed it over to the Palestinian Red Crescent through the Egyptian Rafah crossing, in cooperation with the Egyptian Tribal and Families Council, and under security supervision and coordination with the Egyptian Armed Forces.

Al Habtoor commented on the donation, saying: “Standing by our brothers in the Gaza Strip, especially in these circumstances, is an imperative duty for every Muslim and Arab and for everyone who takes human values as their calling, and we have been committed to that since the 1970s. The suffering of our Palestinian brothers is great, and we must all offer what God Almighty enables us to do to support their steadfastness.”

“This donation reflects the spirit of solidarity and humanitarian support to which Khalaf bin Ahmed Al Habtoor is committed,” Ghoneim said. “We hope that these cars will provide immediate support to improve the health conditions of our people in Gaza.”

Ghoneim added: “We thank and appreciate the efforts of the Egyptian Armed Forces, the Tribal Council, and the Egyptian families in enabling us to implement this humanitarian initiative, in light of the almost impossible conditions for delivering aid. Without them, we would not have been able to do so.”

It is worth noting that Khalaf bin Ahmed Al Habtoor was and remains committed to supporting the Palestinian cause and the Palestinian people, by contributing to improving their conditions. In 2012, he made a contribution to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) with the aim of supporting Palestinian refugees in Syria, employing 200 Palestinian workers in the West Bank, providing job opportunities for thousands of Palestinian refugee workers, and enhancing access to clean water and sustainable agriculture methods, at a cost estimated at one million dirhams.

As part of the “Help Them” campaign in 2010, which was launched by the United Arab Emirates to provide relief and support to the people of Gaza, Khalaf Al Habtoor donated 103 cars to the service sectors in Palestine. In the same year, Al Habtoor was keen to hold a sporting event called the “Palestine-Emirates Polo Cup,” the proceeds of which were entirely allocated to projects supported by the “Palestinian Cooperation Foundation” in marginalized areas and deprived humanitarian communities in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

He also supported the Palestine International Marathon 2014, which was organized by the Welfare Association for the Palestine Marathon under the slogan “The Right to Freedom of Movement,” with an amount of ten thousand US dollars.

In the same year, he launched the Pathways to Peace Initiative at the University of Illinois, which aims to settle the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. The essence of the initiative includes holding a symposium at the university through which students review examples from history of cultural, religious and ethnic conflicts and the steps taken to resolve these issues. At the conclusion of the symposium, a group of students and educational staff at the university traveled to the Middle East region to reach a solution to end the ongoing conflict that affects the entire Middle East region and the West as well.

He donated 3.7 million dirhams to the Carter Center - to support the program to bring peace to the Middle East, specifically to alleviate the suffering of the Palestinians.

• Hamas returns 13 Israeli, three Thai and one Russian prisoner, says it is willing to extend truce
• Palestinian farmer killed by Israeli forces in refugee camp; 8 dead in West Bank

JERUSALEM: Israel’s pri­son service said 39 Pales­tinian detainees were relea­sed on Sunday under the terms of a truce agreement, while Hamas hand over 17 prisoners on the third day of a truce with Israel.

The release of some of the prisoners includes, 13 Israeli prisoners, three Thais and one with Russian citizenship.
Meanwhile, holding a news conference, President Joe Biden said a 4-year-old US citizen was also released. Biden said he hoped the pause in Israeli aggression against Gazans can go on as long as prisoners are getting released. He said he hoped more Americans would be released by Hamas although he did not have firm news.

In addition, a source close to Hamas said the group was willing to extend the current truce with Israel in Gaza for two to four days beyond its initial expiry on Monday.

“Hamas informed the media­tors that the resistance movements were willing to extend the current truce by two to four days. The resistance believes it is possible to ensure the rel­ease of 20 to 40 Israeli prisoners,” the source told AFP.

The killing of a Palestinian farmer in the central Gaza Strip had earlier added to concerns over the fragility of the truce.
The farmer was killed when targeted by Israeli forces east of Gaza’s long-established Maghazi refugee camp, the Palestinian Red Crescent said.
Meanwhile, the Hamas also said on Sunday that four of its military commanders in the Gaza Strip had been killed, including the commander of the North Gaza brigade, Ahmad Al Ghandour. It did not say when they had been killed. Qatar, Egypt and the United States are pressing for the truce to be extended beyond Monday but it is not clear whether that will happen.

Israel had said the ceasefire could be extended if Hamas continued to release at least 10 prisoners a day. A Palestinian source had said up to 100 prisoners could go free.

West bank violence
Israeli troops killed eight Palestinians over a 24-hour period in the occupied West Bank, the Palestinian health ministry said.
Five people were killed by Israeli army fire in Jenin, the ministry said, during an incursion by a large number of armoured vehicles into the city, which was recently the scene of the deadliest Israeli raid in the West Bank in almost 20 years.
Medical sources told AFP 15 people were wounded, while witnesses reported that an Israeli drone had carried out an air strike on Jenin’s refugee camp.
Other witnesses said on Saturday that the Israeli army had surrounded Jenin’s public hospital and the Ibn Sina clinic, and that soldiers were searching ambulances.

The Israeli army said it had arrested the suspected perpetrator of an attack that killed two Israelis in August.
A 25-year-old doctor was killed on Saturday outside his home in Qabatiya, near Jenin, according to the Palestinian health ministry.
A Palestinian was also killed in El-Bireh, near the city of Ramallah, and another during an Israeli army raid on a village south of Nablus, it said.

WASHINGTON: In a significant shift of tone, US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan hinted on Sunday at the possibility of President Joe Biden attaching conditions to US aid to

Israel while his deputy Jon Finer added that US aid was never unconditional.
In interviews to various US television channels, Mr Sullivan stated that President Biden acknowledged the notion during a recent press conference. This development comes as health officials in Gaza report a staggering toll from weeks of Israeli attacks, with over 14,500 deaths and 1.7 million people displaced.

Pressed on whether President Biden would consider legislation attaching conditions to aid for Israel, Mr Sullivan did not rule out the possibility.
“He is going to continue to focus on what is going to generate results,” he said, pointing to the recent prisoner releases as a testament to the effectiveness of direct presidential diplomacy behind closed doors with both Israeli and Arab partners.

As pressure mounts from some Democrats expressing empathy towards Palestinians, President Biden’s openness to considering conditions on aid to Israel reflects a nuanced approach. During a recent press gathering, Mr Biden referred to the idea as a “worthwhile thought.”

Mr Sullivan emphasised the administration’s commitment to results-driven diplomacy, highlighting the ongoing efforts behind closed doors to address the crisis.

The international community continues to monitor the situation closely, with the United States navigating a delicate balance between supporting the Israeli military action and recognising the humanitarian impact of the unrest.

As the Biden administration grapples with the complexities of the region, the possibility of attaching conditions to aid adds a new dimension to US-Israel relations, potentially reshaping the dynamics of American involvement in the ongoing crisis.

In another interview, Deputy National Security Adviser Mr Finer emphasised the principle that “no assistance that the United States provides to any country is unconditional.”
He said that while Israel had the right to defend itself, “those rights come with obligations and that obligation includes conducting this conflict in a way that distinguishes civilians from non-combatants in a way that is proportional.”
Mr Finer accused Hamas of committing “flagrant violations of international laws” but said that “this does not diminish Israel’s obligations, it is a facet of this conflict that makes the challenge extremely daunting.”
Responding to another question, Mr Sullivan revealed that 10 American prisoners remain in Gaza, with three of them qualifying for release under the latest deal due to being women and children.
Twenty-four prisoners were released on Friday in the first wave and an additional 17 were released on Saturday, including a 9-year-old Israeli Irish girl who was believed to be dead.
Just hours before 4-year-old American prisoner Abigail Idan was released by Hamas in Gaza, Mr Sullivan said “we have reasons to believe she would be released soon.”
In a piece he wrote for New York Times last week, Senator Bernie Sanders, said that alth­ough the US has provided Israel a “substantial” amount of aid in its war with Hamas, the “blank cheque approach must end.”
“The United States must make clear that … there are conditions to that friendship and that we cannot be complicit in actions that violate international law and our own sense of decency,” he wrote.
“That includes an end to indiscriminate bombing; a significant pause (for humanitarian assistance to (reach Gaza). the right of displaced Gazans to return to their homes; no long-term Israeli occupation of Gaza; an end to settler violence in the West Bank and a freeze on settlement expansion; and a commitment to broad peace talks for a two-state solution in the wake of the war.”

WATCH: Cuban President leads pro-Palestine march
27 minutes ago Orphans, mums and kids: Israel braces for delicate task of receiving hostages An army of Israeli medics, child protection experts and trauma specialists were bracing to receive 13 women and children released from Gaza after weeks of Hamas captivity, AFP reports.
While their identities were not immediately made public, millions of Israelis eagerly awaited news of their return on the first day of a four-day truce and hostage swap.
Authorities were also gearing up for the complex task of helping those released to come to terms with a nearly seven-week hostage ordeal that may have left them deeply traumatised.
“Some don’t know that their significant others — their families, husbands, parents, siblings — have been murdered,” top child protection expert Sarit Sarfatti told reporters ahead of the release.
“Some don’t know that their entire community has been almost entirely annihilated. We will have to break the news to them very soon. This is something that cannot be delayed because we don’t want them to find out through rumours.”
34 minutes ago WATCH: Red Cross teams transport Israeli, Thai hostages out of Gaza
40 minutes ago Qatar says 13 Israelis, 10 Thais and one Filipino freed by Hamas A total of 24 hostages — 13 Israelis, 10 Thais and one Filipino — were handed to the Red Cross in Gaza by Hamas, Qatar’s foreign ministry spokesman said, AFP reports.
“Those released include 13 Israeli citizens, some of whom are dual citizens, in addition to 10 Thai citizens and a Filipino citizen,” Majed Al Ansari said.
He said that 39 women and children detained in Israeli jails had also been freed under a deal to exchange hostages seized by Hamas for Palestinian prisoner

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