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– The Rafah crossing was opened to allow a limited number of people to cross from the besieged Gaza Strip into Egypt.
Egyptian authorities are expected to allow passage for foreigners, dual passport holders and some of the most seriously injured, under a deal reportedly brokered by Qatar.
It was not immediately clear how many people managed to leave through Rafah on Gaza’s southern border with Egypt, but live footage from the scene showed crowds of people entering the Palestinian side of the terminal, according to AFP. According to her, about 400 foreigners and citizens with dual citizenship were expected to get through the crossing.
It would be the first time people would be allowed to leave Gaza since Israel launched its latest aerial bombardment on October 7, killing thousands of Palestinians. Israel launched the attacks after the massacre of Hamas inside Israel.
– Telecommunications service providers Paltel and Jawwal announced a “total disruption” of communications and internet services in Gaza, the second major outage in five days. Aid agencies have warned that such outages are seriously disrupting their work in an already desperate situation in Gaza.
AFP reports that its images show long queues of ambulances and several people in wheelchairs at the Rafah border crossing. Egypt said it would let in 81 of the most seriously injured.
Egypt also announced that the first foreigners could leave Gaza.
– Israel accused Bolivia of “alliance with the terrorist organization Hamas” after the South American country cut diplomatic ties with Israel yesterday.
The governments of Chile and Colombia also recalled their ambassadors from Israel.
– Israel’s military says it has deployed missile boats in the Red Sea. Yesterday it said it had intercepted a surface-to-surface missile and “hostile targets” in the Eilat area, later claimed by Yemen’s Houthis.
Eilat is Israel’s southernmost city near Israel’s borders with Egypt and Jordan. In recent days, it has also come under fire for an attempted long-range missile from the Gaza Strip.
– At least 330 Labor councilors have signed a letter calling on Keir Starmer to back a Gaza ceasefire, despite the Labor leader’s attempts to calm the party on the issue.
The councillors, two-thirds of whom are not Muslim according to the Guardian, criticized the party’s refusal to support the policy, which they say is “damaging communities across the UK”.
Starmer clarified his stance on the crisis on Tuesday after he came under fire from MPs for his stance on the plight of Palestinians.
Councilors, however, urged him to go further and “unequivocally condemn” all acts of violence against civilians.
– Saudi Arabia on Wednesday strongly condemned the deadly Israeli bombardment of the largest refugee camp in Gaza, which killed dozens of people.
Israel said it struck a Hamas tunnel complex under the densely populated Jabalia camp on Tuesday, killing local battalion commander Ibrahim Biari, who Israel says was involved in the militant group’s Oct. 7 attacks.
AFP witnessed at least 47 bodies being pulled from the scene.
Saudi Arabia condemned the strike “in the strongest possible terms” and condemned the “inhumane targeting” of the refugee camp “by Israeli occupation forces”.
The Saudi Foreign Ministry said the attack “caused the death and injury of a large number of innocent civilians”.
– Pakistan condemned Israeli attack on refugee camp
Pakistan’s interim Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar on Wednesday condemned the latest Israeli airstrikes on a refugee camp near Gaza City and called on the international community to play its role in ending such strikes.
“Yesterday’s airstrike on the Jabaliya camp, which killed hundreds of people, including women and children, was a stark reminder of Israel’s ongoing brutality and war crimes in Gaza,” Kakar said in a statement.
He added that “such reprehensible acts can never be excused or forgotten. The world must act immediately to end this bloodshed”.
– The Internet in Gaza is interrupted, informs Paltel
Jawwal also confirmed the communication outage in Gaza, AP reported.
In an email to the AP, the Internet access group NetBlocks.org confirmed that Gaza “is in the midst of a total or near-total telecommunications blackout consistent with” the weekend outage.
The connection was previously cut from late Friday to early Sunday, coinciding with the entry of large numbers of ground troops into Gaza, which Israel described at the time as a new phase of the war. Attempts to reach Gaza residents by phone early Wednesday morning were unsuccessful.
Aid agencies have warned that such outages are seriously disrupting their work in an already desperate situation in Gaza.
– The Israeli military reports that “ground activity in the Gaza Strip continues” and that it has hit 11,000 “targets” in Gaza in less than a month.
– Is the “axis of resistance” interested in total war?
All-out war would mean a complete turning point in strategy. Michael Knights of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy said the two sides have been playing a deadly game since around 2019, when Tehran provided Iraqi Shiite militias with drones if they did not kill too many Americans. “What the Iranians have done is the perfect way to provoke the Americans and demonstrate opposition to their regional presence without provoking heavy American military retaliation.” Total war would end this strategy.
Former Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said in an interview last week that Israel has in a sense already lost because the myth of the country’s invincibility has been destroyed. Now that Iran has aligned itself with the previously divided Arab world, it is in a stronger position than before, claiming that it is the US and Israel that have lost popular support.
Whether by design or byproduct, the planned normalization of relations between Saudi Arabia and Israel is on hold. Zarif believes that Israel’s number one priority now is trying to lure the US into a war against Iran, which the US does not want.
Hezbollah is often referred to as the crown jewel with its longtime spiritual leader, Hassan Nasrallah. Hezbollah is both a political party and a military force that has built a relationship with Iran based on trust and mutual interest over three decades. Its campaign of attacks, bombings, kidnappings, and direct military confrontations with Israel in the 1990s and 2000s served Tehran’s strategic goals in the Middle East without a direct military confrontation with Israel. Since October 7, rocket fire from southern Lebanon has intensified and Hezbollah fighters have been killed. However, Iran would be reluctant to engage in a second war like the one in 2006 that devastated Lebanon.
How Iran is using proxy forces across the region to attack Israel and the US
At little cost, Iran has been supplying weapons to the Shia Houthi rebel forces known as “Ansar Allah”, which have been tying up Saudi Arabia and, to a lesser extent, the United Arab Emirates for several years.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad owes his survival to Iran, as Tehran provided ground forces – up to 80,000 men, many of them from Hezbollah – which, in cooperation with the Russian air force, quelled the Syrian uprising. A study by the Joosor Center showed that Iran has 98 military facilities in eastern Syria.
The powerful Iranian-backed Shia paramilitary Nujab Movement has criticized Iraqi Prime Minister Muhammad Shi’a al-Sudan’s opposition to attacks on US military bases in the country – saying “there is sufficient legal and religious justification for resistance”. However, there is a strong constituency within Iraq – mainly the younger generation – that wants an end to Iranian influence.
– Iranian officials have warned that the world is closer to a regional war in the Middle East and that Israel throughdrew red lines, which, according to President Ebrahim Raisi, “can force everyone to take action”.
However, Iran is walking a tightrope, wanting to avoid a direct confrontation, so it is blurring its red lines to avoid being trapped. Instead, it relies on proxy militias across the region from its “axis of resistance” to carry out limited strikes targeting Israel and US military bases in Iraq and Syria.
The use of proxy forces, foremost among them Hezbollah in Lebanon, but also Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad in Gaza, is a hallmark of Iranian foreign policy. Iran says it supports these “resistance forces” but that they act independently.
– Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese spoke with Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu for the first time since the conflict in Gaza broke out.
Albanese told a news conference on Wednesday that the government remains concerned about humanitarian issues and the lives of civilians in Gaza, and that while Israel has the right to defend itself, “it depends on how it defends itself.”
– Electricity generators at the Al Shifa Medical Complex and the Indonesian Hospital in Gaza run out within hours, said Ashraf al-Kidra, spokesman for the Gaza Ministry of Health. He urged the owners of gas stations in the enclave to supply the two hospitals with fuel as soon as possible.
Juggling dwindling drug supplies, power outages and air or artillery strikes that shake hospital buildings, surgeons in Gaza work day and night to save a constant stream of patients.
“We are taking it hour by hour because we do not know when we will receive patients. Several times we had to set up operating rooms in the corridors and sometimes even in the waiting rooms of the hospital,” said Dr. Mohammed al-Run.
– Hamas told mediators that they will release some captured foreigners in the coming days, the spokesman for the group’s armed wing, the al-Qassam Brigades, Abu Ubaida, said in a video on the Telegram application on Tuesday. He gave no further details on the number of captives or their nationalities.
– Nine Israeli soldiers reportedly killed in Gaza
Nine soldiers were killed in the fighting in Gaza, AFP reports, citing the Israeli army.
– Biden’s top officials urge Congress to approve funding for Israel and Ukraine
The Biden administration went to the Capitol on Tuesday to ask for emergency military aid to Israel and Ukraine, defeating attempts by House Republicans to decimate the $106 billion package while cutting key parts of the White House’s domestic policies.
During a stormy session that was interrupted several times by protesters, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin told a Senate hearing that aid to the two countries was closely linked and should not be separated, as demanded by leading Republicans who would like to support Israel but they are against any further aid to Ukraine.
Blinken and Austin made the comments after Mike Johnson, the new right-wing speaker of the House of Representatives, introduced a bill that proposed capping aid to Israel at $14.3 billion and coupled with budget cuts for the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) , which the Biden administration strengthened as part of its inflation-reduction bill.
The legislation also would not include any provision for continued aid to Ukraine, which is trying to repel Russian forces.
– Blinken visits Israel, US seeks “urgent” steps to ease tensions in the region
A spokesman for top U.S. diplomat Antony Blinken announced Tuesday that he will begin a new trip to the Middle East this week as President Joe Biden seeks “urgent mechanisms” to reduce regional tensions over the war between Israel and Hamas.
“Secretary Blinken will travel to Israel on Friday for meetings with members of the Israeli government and will then make additional stops in the region,” State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said without elaborating.
The White House later said Biden spoke on Tuesday with the leader of key US partner Jordan, which Blinken has visited several times since October 7.
– Biden and King Abdullah II. “discussed urgent mechanisms to stop violence, calm rhetoric and reduce regional tensions”, according to a statement from the White House.
It added that the two leaders “agreed that it is critical to ensure that Palestinians are not forcibly displaced outside of Gaza” and that Biden “reaffirmed the unwavering support of the US for Jordan and His Majesty’s leadership”.
Biden also spoke with Israeli President Isaac Herzog on Tuesday to reiterate US support for Israel’s right to defend itself and to urge the state to “take feasible measures to minimize harm to the civilian population,” the State Department’s Miller said in a separate statement.
– Egypt condemned the strikes in Jabaliya amid reports that Rafah would open for the wounded