GAZA CITY: The Israeli air force said it had carried out overnight air strikes against sites of the Islamist movement Hamas in the Gaza Strip after a rocket was fired from the Palestinian enclave towards Israeli territory.
The Israeli army reported on Saturday evening a rocket had been fired from the Gaza Strip towards Israel, the first in a month.
“In response to the rocket fired towards Israeli territory, IDF fighter jets targeted overnight (Sunday) a weapons manufacturing site belonging to the Hamas terrorist organisation,” the Israeli army said in a statement.Pause
The target was a site “where the majority of the organisation’s rockets in the Gaza Strip are being manufactured”, it said.
Israel Defence Forces also hit “a Hamas tunnel in the Southern Gaza Strip”, it said.
The army said a few hours later it had targeted a Hamas military post in response to fire from the Gaza Strip against Israeli warplanes.
The armed wing of Hamas said it used anti-aircraft missiles during Israeli air strikes on the Gaza Strip.
The strikes caused no injuries, according to Palestinian medical sources.
“The Zionist enemy is extending its aggression against our people by brutally bombarding the Gaza Strip, following its crime yesterday of executing the martyr Ammar Mufleh in Huwara,” Hamas spokesman Hazem Qassem said.
A surge in bloodshed in the occupied West Bank has sparked international criticism of the Israeli army for its use of lethal force against Palestinian civilians.
Criticism has focused on the killing of Ammar Hadi Mufleh, 22, in disputed circumstances in the West Bank town of Huwara, just south of Nablus, on Friday.
At least 145 Palestinians and 26 Israelis have been killed in violence in Israel and the West Bank, including annexed east Jerusalem, this year, the heaviest toll since 2015.
In August, at least 49 Palestinians, including combatants but also civilians, were killed in three days of fighting between Israel and Palestinian militants in Gaza, which has been under Israeli blockade since 2007.
The violence in West Bank is reshaping Israeli and Palestinian societies
December 03, 2022 12:10 am | Updated 11:08 am IST
The killing of five Palestinian men by Israeli security forces in separate incidents on Tuesday in Hebron and Ramallah is the latest flare-up of a continuing story of violence and retribution in the occupied West Bank. Organised armed resistance independent of the official Palestinian leadership has been growing in the West Bank ever since the clashes in Jerusalem in May 2021, which led to the 11-day war on the Gaza Strip, controlled by the Islamist Hamas. Among the new militant groups that have sprung up in the West Bank is the Lion’s Den, reportedly based in the Old City of Nablus, attacking Israeli troops and illegal Jewish settlers in Palestinian territories. This year has seen a marked jump in attacks by Palestinians — Jerusalem was hit by two blasts in November in which a teenager was killed and 18 injured — while the Israelis carry out raids in West Bank towns almost daily. The violence is cyclical. At least 140 Palestinians have been killed this year, including 26 children, which is a seven-year record. More than 30 Israelis have been killed by Palestinians.
If anything, the continuing violence despite Israel’s disproportionate crackdown underscores the argument that the status quo in the occupied and blockaded Palestinian territories is unbearable and unsustainable. Israel’s approach is that it can manage the security challenges from Palestinians with heavy force and no concessions. A weak and divided Palestinian leadership means that there is no organised, collective voice to negotiate with the Israelis. The Palestinian Authority, which runs parts of the West Bank, is led by Fatah, while the overpopulated Gaza Strip, on the Mediterranean coast, is ruled by its rival Hamas. Still, the situation is beyond Israel’s control. The absence of a peace process, a deepening of the occupation and pent-up frustration with their own leadership have led a new generation of Palestinians in the West Bank to embrace violence and militancy, recalling the days of the second Intifada. The return of Benjamin Netanyahu as Prime Minister could make the situation worse as some of his far-right and ultra-Orthodox allies want the Jewish settlements in the West Bank to be expanded and “disloyal” Arab citizens of Israel expelled. The slow death of the two-state formula and growing violence are bad news for the occupiers and the occupied. While it is making Palestinian lives extremely difficult, the unending conflict is reshaping Israeli society as well, which is becoming polarised with the clergy, far-right nationalists and extremists wielding an outsize influence on politics and governance.
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Italian lawyer Francesca Albanese, the United Nations’ special rapporteur for the Palestinians, spoke at a Hamas-organized conference in Gaza on Monday.
She plans to continue on to Israel, which is considering refusing her entry.
Senior members of the U.S.- and E.U.-designated terror groups Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) were among those in attendance, including Hamas’s Basem Naim, Ghazi Hamad, Isam al-Da’alis and Abdul Latif al-Qanu, and PIJ’s Ahmad al-Mudallal and Khadr Habib.
In her speech, translated in real-time to Arabic, Albanese told the crowd: “You have a right to resist this occupation.”
The UN official recently said, “If they [Israel] don’t let me in….I’ll be able to claim that I’ve been denied access.”
Albanese has a history of supporting violence against Israelis. In June, she said, “Israel says ‘resistance equals terrorism,’ but an occupation requires violence and generates violence.”
According to a report out of the United States, China will likely have a stockpile of 1,500 nuclear warheads by 2035 if it continues with its current nuclear buildup pace.
The figures released by the Pentagon on Tuesday underscore mounting concerns over China’s intentions for its expanding nuclear arsenal, with a US official stating that the Asian superpower has a rapid buildup too substantial to keep under wraps.
China is worried about the type of alliances that are currently forming in its backyard, Mr Ridzwan told CNA’s Asia Now.
This includes the AUKUS trilateral security pact between Australia, Britain and the US, which facilitates cooperation on security issues in the Indo-Pacific.
It will equip Australia with nuclear-powered submarines, which China views as a hostile move and has repeatedly criticised as an act of nuclear proliferation.
When its nuclear programme started more than 50 years ago, the preoccupation in China’s strategic calculations was the reunification with Taiwan and to ensure that its territorial sovereignty was not violated, he said.
“The nuclear weapon was viewed, at that point of time, as something that might guarantee its survival.”
However, the dynamics have since shifted, with observers calling China’s rapid military buildup as a strategic breakout from its minimum deterrence nuclear posture.
The Pentagon’s latest annual report on China’s military said the country currently has a nuclear stockpile of more than 400 warheads.
The estimate for 2035 was based on an unchanged pace of military buildup, a US official said after the report was released.
During the Communist Party Congress in October, Chinese President Xi Jinping noted that China would boost its strategic deterrent, a term typically used to describe nuclear weapons.
The Pentagon’s report reiterated concerns about mounting pressure by Beijing on Taiwan, but Washington does not see an invasion of the island as imminent.
Mr Ridzwan believes any reunification attempts with Taiwan will “probably be carried out by conventional forces rather than nuclear forces”.
“While the Taiwan Strait crisis itself is the catalyst for China’s nuclear programme, I don’t think it will be the tool that China will deploy in the event that it needs to reunify with Taiwan by force,” he added.
Meanwhile, South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol said earlier this week that China has what it takes to dissuade North Korea from pursuing its nuclear ambitions.
However, Mr Ridzwan does not believe there is any interest for Beijing to curtail Pyongyang’s nuclear programme.
He added that North Korea’s preparations for resuming the testing of nuclear weapons is going to complicate deterrence calculations for the US.
“And from China’s point of view, any complications to the Americans will be in Beijing’s favour, given how Beijing is very concerned about the security roadblocks that have formed around its territorial areas,” he added
Chinese military vehicles carrying DF-41 ballistic missiles roll past the Great Hall of the People during a parade to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the founding of Communist China in Beijing, October 1, 2019.Mark Schiefelbein/APCNN —
In 2020, the US estimated that China had nuclear warheads numbering in the low-200s and expected the stockpile to double within a decade. Just two years later, China has reached that mark and could have some 1,500 nuclear warheads by 2035 if they continue to expand their stockpile at the current pace, according to the 2022 China Military Power report released Tuesday.
“What we’ve seen really in the past couple of years is this accelerated expansion,” said a senior defense official.
The world’s most populous country is using its burgeoning military as one of its tools to create an international system that favors its world view, posing the “most consequential and systemic challenge to US national security,” according to the report, and the larger nuclear capability is a far cry from what China used to call a “lean and efficient” nuclear deterrent. Beijing’s investment in its nuclear triad – sea, land and air-based nuclear launch options – is cause for concern in Washington.
“We see, I think, a set of capabilities taking shape and new numbers in terms of what they’re looking to pursue that raise some questions about what their intent will be in the longer term,” the senior defense official said in a briefing to reporters about the latest report.
China also conducted 135 ballistic missile tests in 2021, the report said, which is more than the rest of the world combined. (The tally excludes ballistic missiles used in the war in Ukraine, the report noted.)
The official also offered new details about the Chinese test of a hypersonic missile in July 2021 that flew around the world before hitting its target, an accomplishment that drew attention to the lagging pace of US hypersonic weapons development. The official said the Chinese system flew 40,000 kilometers and demonstrated the longest flight of any Chinese land attack weapon to date.
The Chinese military, formally known as the People’s Liberation Army, is also developing space and counterspace weapons, the report said, viewing the advanced technology as a way to deter outside intervention in a regional military conflict.
China has a standing army of nearly 1 million soldiers, the largest navy in the world by number of ships, and the third largest air force in the world, according to the report.
The 2022 National Defense Strategy, released last month, identifies China as the pacing challenge for the United States, a point often reiterated by the Pentagon’s top leaders.
“China is the one country out there that geopolitically has the power potential to be a significant challenge to the United States,” said Joint Chiefs Chair Gen. Mark Milley at a news conference earlier this month. “Based on their population, their technology, their economy and nano and a bunch of other things, China is the greatest geopolitical challenge to the United States.”
Tensions between Beijing and Washington frequently revolve around Taiwan, a democratic, self-governing island. China sees the island as a fundamental part of its sovereign territory, including the South China Sea, and defense officials have previously said it intends to have the capability to use military force to take Taiwan by 2027.
In the latest report – officially called the Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China – the US does not anticipate an imminent invasion of Taiwan. Instead, the report said, the US has seen Beijing ramp up diplomatic, economic, political and military pressure on Taiwan.
Since the visit, China has crossed the center line of the Taiwan Strait more frequently, the defense official said, a move they would only use infrequently in the past. In addition, there is more naval activity around Taiwan and a large number of Chinese aircraft flying into Taiwan’s self-declared air defense identification zone.
“Even though we don’t see an imminent invasion, that’s sort of an elevated level of intimidating and coercive activity around Taiwan,” the official said.
Biden also focused on the need for maintaining open lines of communication between Beijing and Washington. China cut off several contacts and meetings with the US following Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, who met his Chinese counterpart in Cambodia last week, also emphasized the need for communication, according to a readout of the meeting.
The report also looked at the relationship between Russia and China. The two countries issued a joint statement on February 4, signaling a desire for ongoing partnership and cooperation. Beijing and Moscow have “complementary interests” in terms of their national security and a shared approach to international relations. But the Russian invasion of Ukraine just weeks later has complicated the relationship in ways that may not be fully clear yet.
“Of course it’s going to be an area of keen interest for us and other observers in Europe and elsewhere,” the official said. “We’ve seen the PRC kind of continue to support Russia diplomatically and to amplify a lot of their propaganda and disinformation. And so those are areas of particular concern.”
A view of al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem on September 23, 2022 [Mostafa Alkharouf/Anadolu Agency]November 28, 2022 at 9:51 am
The Palestinian Islamic Resistance Movement called on Sunday for Palestinians to get ready to face an “official Israeli attack” on Al-Aqsa Mosque. Hamas spokesman Abdul Latif Al-Qanou made the comment after a pledge by Israeli far-right extremist Itamar Ben-Gvir MK, the leader of Otzma Yehudit party, to change the status quo at the mosque.
Al Qanou insisted that the threats of the “criminal” Ben-Gvir will fail like all of the attempts by his predecessors, who also tried to make changes in occupied Jerusalem to hide the “real history and original religious identity” of Al-Aqsa Mosque.
Sunday, 27 November 2022 7:08 AM [ Last Update: Sunday, 27 November 2022 7:46 AM ]
In this file picture, members of the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of the Palestinian Hamas resistance movement, take part in a rally in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on May 28, 2021. (Photo by AFP)
The Palestinian Hamas resistance movement has responded to new Israeli threats against the besieged Gaza Strip, warning that the entire occupied territories will be turned into a battlefield in case Gaza comes under attack.
“Returning to the assassination policy will trigger the flame of a new massive wave of retaliatory operations, in addition to the explosion of the Gaza Strip in the face of the occupying regime,” Lebanese Arabic-language daily newspaper al-Akhbar cited Hamas as saying in a message passed to Israeli officials through an Egyptian mediator.
Israeli authorities announced that the regime was “to resume targeted assassinations if a link between the bombing and Hamas was revealed.”
Al-Akhbar noted that the Palestinian resistance movement had reinforced its forces to be ready for any possible Israeli act of aggression.
Meanwhile, the Israeli Hebrew-language newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth wrote that, “Currently, there is no information about Hamas’s connection to the bombing in Jerusalem (al-Quds), but [the regime’s so-called internal security service] Shin Bet had undermined plans for past bombings mostly run directly from the Gaza Strip.”
At the same time, Shin Bet warned that Israel would never allow exploitation of measures to ease the siege imposed on the coastal sliver by Palestinian factions.
On Wednesday’s twin blasts, which hit bus stops at the occupied West Bank city of al-Quds’s western exit, two Israelis were killed and 22 others were injured.
The explosions came hours after 16-year-old Palestinian teenager, Ahmad Amjad Shehadeh, was killed by Israeli forces in the occupied West Bank city of Nablus.
He was shot with a bullet in the heart during a raid by Israeli military forces in Nablus.
At least five other Palestinians were injured after being shot with live ammunition and stun grenades, the Palestinian Health Ministry said, including one in serious condition with a bullet to the stomach.
Israeli forces have recently been conducting overnight raids and killings in the northern occupied West Bank, mainly in the cities of Jenin and Nablus, where new groups of Palestinian resistance fighters have been formed.
Since the start of 2022, Israeli troops have killed more than 200 Palestinians, including more than 50 children, in the occupied West Bank and East al-Quds as well as the besieged Gaza Strip.
Lebanese Al-Akhbar newspaper reported Hamas’s message, passed to the Israeli occupation through the Egyptian mediator, warning: “Returning to the assassination policy will trigger the flame of a new massive wave of martyrdom operations, in addition to the explosion of the Gaza Strip in the face of the occupation.”
Hamas’s response was with reference to the Egyptian mediator’s message to Hamas that Israel: “Is to resume targeted assassinations if a link between the bombing and Hamas was revealed.”
Meanwhile, Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronothwrote: “Currently, there is no information about Hamas’s connection to the bombing in Jerusalem, but Shin Bet had undermined plans for past bombings mostly run directly from Gaza or indirectly from Turkiye.”
The Hamas terrorist movement welcomed the attack on Wednesday, stating that Israel bears “full responsibility for the repercussions of the crimes of its army and the terror of its settlers against our Palestinian people, their land and their sanctities.”
The Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorist movement called the attack a “natural response to the occupation.”
i24NEWSNovember 23, 2022 at 02:31 AMlatest revision November 23, 2022 at 05:37 AM
‘None of the policies of your criminal government will protect you from the strikes’
The Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) extremist group issued a statement on Wednesday praising two terrorist attacks that killed at least 1 and wounded nearly 20 in Jerusalem, shortly after Hamas also welcomed the explosions.
“The operation in the occupied city of Jerusalem is a natural response to the occupation, its terrorism, and its criminal practices against the defenseless Palestinian people and their holy sites,” PIJ said in a statement.
“The operation says to the leaders of the Occupation and the leaders of the settlers that none of the policies of your criminal government will protect you from the strikes of our people’s resistance,” it added.
Earlier on Wednesday the Hamas terror group issued a similar statement on the attacks, threatening more violence.
“The Zionist occupation is paying the price today for its crimes and aggression against our people and the Al-Aqsa Mosque, and we have warned about this repeatedly,” the spokesman for Hamas, Abd Latif al-Kanou, said.
“Our people will not remain silent in the face of this, and the outrage Al-Aqsa will explode and spread in all regions,” he added.
Both terrorist organizations are based in the Gaza Strip, while PIJ also operates in the West Bank. Israeli military forces have been conducting counterterrorism operations in recent months arresting a number of top members of the extremist organizations in response to a series of Palestinian attacks against Israelis carried out earlier this year.