U.S. and Israel Mulling International Peacekeeping Force For Gaza Strip

Gaza Palestine2

U.S. and Israeli officials are mulling an international peacekeeping force for the Gaza Strip should Israel successfully remove Hamas from power, Bloomberg reported, suggesting U.S. troops could take part in the deployment.

The two countries have been “exploring options” for Gaza’s future as Israel escalates its ground assault on the Palestinian enclave, including several different peacekeeping arrangements, officials familiar with the discussions told the outlet on Tuesday.

“One option would grant temporary oversight to Gaza to countries from the region, backed by troops from the U.S., UK, Germany and France. Ideally, it would also include representation from Arab nations such as Saudi Arabia or the United Arab Emirates,” Bloomberg reported.

While the officials stressed that the conversations are still in an early stage, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken hinted at the issue in recent comments to lawmakers, suggesting Washington is deeply involved in the planning.

“We cannot have a reversion to the status quo with Hamas running Gaza. We also cannot have – and the Israelis start with this proposition themselves – Israel running or controlling Gaza,” he said at a Tuesday Senate hearing. “Between those shoals are a variety of possible permutations that we are looking at very closely now, as are other countries.”

Though Blinken did not elaborate on those possibilities, officials told Bloomberg that they also include the creation of a peacekeeping force modeled on the 1979 peace treaty between Israel and Egypt, under which the Multinational Force and Observers (MFO) monitor areas of the Sinai Peninsula. The Israeli government believes that idea is “worthy of consideration,” one official said.

Under a third arrangement, the UN would be granted “temporary governance” of Gaza, although Israeli officials are reportedly less enthusiastic about the plan, viewing it as “impractical.”

In announcing Israel’s ongoing ground operation in the Palestinian enclave, Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said the country was seeking to “destroy Hamas” and create a new “security regime.” He emphasized that Israel must not be responsible for “day-to-day life in the Gaza Strip,” suggesting it would seek to hand off governance to a third party.

U.S. President Joe Biden is hesitant to place “even a small contingent of American troops in harm’s way,” and is still far from a final decision, according to Bloomberg. Though the White House has discussed the need to establish a sovereign Palestinian state after the current conflict, exactly how to achieve that goal “has barely featured in discussions” among U.S. officials.

The latest bout of violence in Gaza erupted following a deadly Hamas terrorist attack on October 7, which killed some 1,400 Israelis, most of them civilians. The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) have carried out heavy airstrikes on the territory in the weeks since, leaving more than 8,000 dead, and have gradually stepped up a major ground attack, which officials say could go on for months.

Yemen Confirms Joining Israel-Gaza Conflict

Media reports said:

The Houthi government in Sanaa said on Tuesday that it has launched drones and missiles against Israel in support of the Palestinian cause and will continue doing so. At least one missile flew over Saudi Arabia, putting the kingdom’s air defenses on alert.

“Our Armed Forces launched a large batch of ballistic and cruise missiles and a large number of drones at various targets of the Israeli enemy in the occupied territories,” said Brigadier General Yahya Saree, the spokesman for the Yemeni Armed Forces.

Tuesday’s launch was “the third operation in support of our oppressed brethren in Palestine,” Saree said, adding that the Houthi military “will continue to carry out more qualitative strikes with missiles and drones until the Israeli aggression stops.”

Yemen undertook the campaign “out of a sense of religious, moral, humanitarian and national responsibility, and in response to the demands of our Yemeni people and the demands of free peoples, and to provide relief to our oppressed people in Gaza,” according to the spokesman.

“The position of our Yemeni people towards the Palestinian issue is firm and principled, and that the Palestinian people have the full right to self-defense in pursuit of their full legitimate rights,” Saree added.

The Israeli military has recently deployed ground troops into Gaza, following weeks of artillery and air strikes, in pursuit of its war on Hamas – a Palestinian militant group responsible for the October 7 incursion into nearby Israeli settlements.

The effect of Tuesday’s missile and drone strike was unknown. At least one missile crashed in the deserts of Jordan, causing no damage or casualties.

For the first time, however, the missiles flew over Saudi Arabia, which caused the kingdom to activate its air defenses. The kingdom had been fighting the Houthis since 2015, accusing the Shia community of being Iranian proxies. The two sides seemed ready to make peace this spring, after a Chinese-mediated deal between Riyadh and Tehran.

Earlier this month, the US Navy claimed its ships had shot down several missiles or drones fired towards Israel over the Red Sea. The Pentagon did not directly attribute these to Yemen, however. 

Gaza, Now A ‘Graveyard’ For Children, Says UN Agency

UNICEF news said:

The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has reiterated its call for a humanitarian ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas war, saying the conflict is killing thousands of kids in Gaza and putting many more at risk from the violence and a water crisis. 

“Gaza has become a graveyard for thousands of children,” UNICEF spokesman James Elder told reporters on Tuesday in Geneva. “It is a living hell for everyone else.” He noted that more than 3,450 children in the Palestinian enclave have already been killed, and the death toll rises significantly every day.

Elder made his comments as Israel escalated its ground offensive in Gaza in response to the Hamas terrorist attacks that killed an estimated 1,400 people on October 7. Gaza’s water system also has been crippled by the conflict, contributing to an overall death toll of more than 8,000 in the territory.

“The threats to children go beyond bombs and mortars,” Elder said. He added that Gaza’s water production capacity has been cut to 5% of its normal level, putting more than 1 million children at risk of dying from dehydration. Many children have been sickened by drinking salty water out of desperation. 

Elder noted that even before the latest war between Israel and Hamas, more than three-fourths of Gaza’s children were identified as needing mental health support because of the trauma they had faced. “When the fighting stops, the cost to children and their communities will be borne out for generations to come,” he said. 

With Gaza’s children “living through a nightmare,” the UNICEF spokesman said, Israel must end its siege of the territory. He called for all access crossings into Gaza to be open, allowing for the safe passage of food, water, fuel, medical supplies, and other humanitarian aid. “And if there is no ceasefire – no water, no medicine, and no release of abducted children – then we hurtle toward even greater horrors afflicting innocent children.” 

Israel’s government has blasted the UN, arguing that the body has not sufficiently condemned the atrocities committed by Hamas on October 7. West Jerusalem’s ambassador to the UN, Gilad Erdan, announced on Monday that members of his delegation would respond by donning yellow stars, alluding to the labels that Jews were forced to wear during the Holocaust. “From this day on, each time you look at me, you will remember what staying silent in the face of evil means,” he said in a speech to the UN Security Council.

Gaza Horror Cannot Be Justified, Says Putin

A media report said:

Russian President Vladimir Putin has condemned the ongoing bombing campaign waged by Israel against the Palestinian enclave of Gaza, stating it cannot be justified by anything. 

The Russian president made the remarks on Monday as he delivered a speech ahead of a closed-doors meeting with members of the Russian Security Council and heads of law enforcement agencies.

“The horrible events currently unfolding in the Gaza Strip, when hundreds of thousands of innocent people are getting indiscriminately annihilated, have nowhere to run, nowhere to hide from bombardment, cannot be justified by anything,” Putin stated.

Israel’s actions in the Palestinian enclave only invoke rage, Putin argued, adding, however, that one should not be led by “emotions” in properly addressing the situation in the Middle East. 

“When you are watching bloodied children, dead children, suffering of the elderly, death of medics – fists are clenching and tears are welling up. Yet we should not, we cannot allow ourselves to be led by emotions,” the president said.

The ongoing crisis in the Middle East started with a “terrorist attack” on Israeli civilians, Putin noted. However, instead of “punishing” those behind it, Israel “unfortunately” opted for “vengeance” and assigned “collective responsibility” for it, Putin added.

Top UN Official Resigns Over Body’s Failure To Stop ‘Genocide’ Of Palestinians

The director of the UN’s human rights office (OHCHR) in New York, Craig Mokhiber, has resigned from his post, citing the body’s failure to properly address the Israel-Palestine crisis. Instead of doing its job, the UN has “surrendered to the power of the U.S.” and given in to the “Israeli lobby,” while the “European, ethno-nationalist, settler colonial project in Palestine has entered its final phase,” the senior official argued.

“Once again, we are seeing a genocide unfolding before our eyes, and the Organization that we serve appears powerless to stop it,” Mokhiber said in a letter to UN High Commissioner on Human Rights Volker Turk, published on Tuesday.

The official squarely described the ongoing Israeli action in the Gaza Strip as “genocide,” acknowledging that this word “has often been subject to political abuse.”

“But the current wholesale slaughter of the Palestinian people, rooted in an ethno-nationalist settler colonial ideology … leaves no room for doubt or debate,” Mokhiber argued.

The UN official wrote: This is a text-book case of genocide. The European, ethno-nationalist, settler colonial project in Palestine has entered its final phase, toward the expedited destruction of the last remnants of indigenous Palestinian life in Palestine.

The governments of the U.S., the UK, and “much of Europe are wholly complicit in the horrific assault,” not only through a mere failure to fulfill their international obligations but by “actively arming the assault, providing economic and intelligence support, and giving political and diplomatic cover for Israel’s atrocities,” Mokhiber stated. The “cover” is further reinforced by “Western corporate media, increasingly captured and state-adjacent,” which has been “continuously dehumanizing Palestinians to facilitate the genocide, and broadcasting propaganda for war and advocacy of national, racial, or religious hatred,” he stressed.

Mokhiber believes the UN used to have “principles” and “authority” rooted in the body’s “integrity,” such as during apartheid in South Africa, but it has lost all of the above over the years. The UN has repeatedly failed to stop genocides, Mokhiber noted, listing events in Rwanda and Bosnia, the genocide of the Yazidis by the Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS), and the Rohingya in Myanmar as examples.

“In recent decades, key parts of the UN have surrendered to the power of the US and to the fear of the Israel Lobby, to abandon these principles, and to retreat from international law itself. We have lost a lot in this abandonment, not least our own global credibility. But the Palestinian people have sustained the biggest losses as a result of our failures,” he stated.

To fix the situation, the UN should “learn from the principled stance taken in cities around the world in recent days as masses of people stand up against the genocide, even at risk of beatings and arrest,” he suggested. Apart from that, he called upon the body to drop the “illusory two-state solution,” advocating the creation of a “single, democratic, secular state in all of historic Palestine,” which would ensure the “dismantling” of Israel, described by the official as a “deeply racist, settler-colonial project.”

EU May Become Complicit In ‘Genocide’, Says Spanish Official

Media reports said:

Spanish Social Rights Minister Ione Belarra has urged European leaders to take immediate action against Israel, including severing diplomatic ties and imposing economic sanctions, amid the intensified bombing and expanded ground operations against Hamas militants in the besieged Palestinian enclave.

She also called for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to be prosecuted for the alleged war crimes committed against civilians in Gaza. 

“After this hellish night in Gaza, I have a very simple but very important message for European leaders. Do not make us complicit in genocide. Act. Not in our name,” Belarra said in a passionate video message on X (formerly Twitter) on Saturday.

Addressing the severity of the current situation in Gaza and Israel’s disproportionate retaliation, the minister highlighted the termination of internet and telephone services in the strip, claiming that the move “has a very clear objective” of guaranteeing that “Israel commits crimes against humanity without consequences.” 

“Our inaction is turning us into accomplices,” the minister stressed, arguing that “Israel believes that its international alliances guarantee its impunity.”

“We have to act now, tomorrow will be too late,” she continued, voicing her message to the EU leaders: “Cut diplomatic relations with the State of Israel. Carry out exemplary economic sanctions against those responsible for this genocide. And without a doubt, let’s take Netanyahu before the International Criminal Court, so that he can be tried for what he is, a war criminal.” 

She also appealed to EU citizens to take to the streets and raise their voice so that “this genocide” comes to an end.

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