The Hamas Commander Israel Couldn't Kill

Posted By: Jaydatt Chaudhary Posted On: Oct 10, 2023

A carefully coordinated land and air attack by Hamas on Israeli territory caught the country off guard and resulted in the deaths of 900 people in Israel. The devastating attack by the Palestinian armed group has put a spotlight on Mohammed Deif, a shadowy leader of Hamas' military wing, who was born and raised in a refugee camp in Gaza.

The fighting between Hamas and Israeli forces enters its fourth day on Tuesday as the Palestinian group which captured about 150 people in the surprise assault, threatened to execute the hostages if Israeli air strikes continue “targeting” Gaza residents.

Meanwhile, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that Israel planned to carry out a “massive” assault against Hamas with “unprecedented force”.

Mohammed Deif, a handicapped Palestinian fighter, has been the head of Hamas's military wing since 2002. According to a report in TRT, Deif has led the Qassam Brigades, the military offshoot of Hamas since 2002.

He was born Mohammed Diab Ibrahim al-Masri in the Khan Younis refugee camp in Palestine's Gaza during the 1960s. He got his education from the Islamic University of Gaza.

Gaza, during that point, was under Egyptian control (from 1948 to 1967). It came under the Israeli rule after the Six-Day War in June 1967, when Israel managed to capture Sinai Peninsula, Gaza Strip, West Bank, Old City of Jerusalem, and Golan Heights.

Deif's uncle or father had reportedly participated in the 1950s raids by armed Palestinians into the same area that Hamas fighters infiltrated during the weekend attack on Saturday.

Just like Hamas's handicapped spiritual leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, who was killed by an Israeli airstrike in 2004, Deif runs the Qassam brigades from a wheelchair in the last two decades. He is listed as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT) by the US Department of State.

Deif's mentor is said to be Yehya Ayyash, “the engineer” renowned for building Hamas bombs and other weaponry.

Deif?s Role in Hamas

Hamas, an Islamic Resistance Movement, was founded in 1987 during the First Intifada or Palestinian uprising following Israel's occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

According to a report in FT, Deif was in his 20s during the first intifada. He was also jailed by the Israelis, who held Deif responsible for the deaths of people during suicide bombings.

Deif's relationship with Hamas is considered to have begun at the Islamic University of Gaza, where many Palestinian leaders joined the nation's liberation movements during their university period. He is supposed to have joined the Qassam Brigades, shortly after the Oslo Accords, signed by Yasser Arafat, chairman of the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO) in 1993 to negotiate an end to the conflict based on a two-state solution.

Mohammed Deif has long advocated attacking Israel and is reportedly uninterested in the internal Palestinian leadership struggles.

After the latest attack on Israel last week, Mohammed Deif said “Operation Al-Aqsa Storm” was in response to the “16-year blockade of Gaza, the Israeli occupation and a series of recent incidents that have brought Israeli-Palestinian tensions to a fever pitch”.

Survived Israeli Assassination Attempts

The Hamas commander has been hunted by Israel for decades and has been on the country's “most wanted” list for more than 20 years. He was almost killed in an air strike 20 years ago that left him in a wheelchair after losing an eye, an arm and a leg.

Mohammed Deif had been at the top of Israel's “most wanted” list for years and survived at least seven Israeli assassination attempts ever since he started leading the Qassam Brigades in 2002, in which his wife and two kids were killed.

In the year he took over, an Israeli helicopter fired missiles at a car near Gaza City in which two Hamas members were killed and 40 others were injured.

Israel admitted to attempt assassinating Deif in a targeted strike on a house in 2014, during which his wife and children were killed.

Source: News18
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Gaza Is Falling Into ‘Absolute Chaos

Posted By: Anita Mamgai Posted On: Nov 28, 2023
Trucks carrying aid and fuel passed Palestinians heading south near Gaza City during a temporary truce between Israel and Hamas on Monday. IBRAHEEM ABU MUSTAFA/REUTERS

A shaky cease-fire between Israel and Hamas has allowed a surge of aid to reach Palestinians in Gaza, but humanitarian groups and civilians in the enclave say the convoys aren’t nearly enough to address the needs of the strip’s two million people.

Despite the pause in fighting, Palestinians in Gaza are burning door frames and piles of garbage to cook, sleeping crammed into school classrooms and strangers' homes, and scrambling onto trucks bringing aid from Egypt in a desperate grab for supplies, residents say.

The cease-fire has also allowed Gazans a chance to bury the dead and to take stock of entire neighborhoods that have been reduced to rubble during seven weeks of Israeli bombing.

The humanitarian crisis in Gaza is adding to international pressure on Israel and Hamas to extend the initial four-day cease-fire to allow more aid to flow in and to stabilize the situation for civilians in Gaza. Egyptian and Qatari mediators said Monday that it had been extended another two days to Wednesday, with Hamas later confirming the extension that will allow more hostages to be released.

Meanwhile, 1.7 million people are internally displaced, most of them crammed into the southern half of the Gaza Strip, after Israel demanded that civilians leave the north days after its military offensive began last month. Some say they are losing hope.

“I don't want humanitarian aid, I want to go back home to Gaza City," said Balsam Hisham, 35, a mother of six who fled the north and is living in a tent in the south. “I wish I was killed in Gaza and didn't have to live this life here."

Israel and Hamas began a cease-fire on Nov. 24 as a part of an agreement under which the militant group is slowly releasing hostages it took during the Oct. 7 attacks on Israel. In return, Israel has agreed to release about 150 Palestinian prisoners and allow an increase in deliveries of aid into Gaza.

More than 1,200 people were killed in the attacks, most of them civilians in towns neighboring Gaza. More than 14,800 Palestinians, most of them women and children, have been killed in the resulting Israeli offensive in Gaza, according to authorities in the Hamas-run enclave. The number doesn't distinguish between civilians and combatants.

Under the cease-fire agreement, humanitarian groups are allowed to dispatch 200 trucks a day to the Gaza Strip, more than at any point during the war. The convoys include deliveries of fuel to power generators at facilities, including hospitals. The Gaza Strip has had no regular supply of electricity since its sole power plant shut down on Oct. 11.

Israel, which declared what it called a “complete siege" of the Gaza Strip on Oct. 9, has said it is facilitating the flow of humanitarian aid into the Strip.

“We are currently focusing on humanitarian aid specifically for the wintertime, like tents, blankets and mattresses," Moshe Tetro, head of the Gaza Coordination and Liaison Administration for the Israeli military, said in a video tweeted on Sunday.

The number of trucks is still less than half the daily average that entered Gaza before the war. Among the problems compounding the crisis in Gaza is that the war has brought the economy grinding to a halt. Much of Gaza's food is brought in by truck from Israel and Egypt, with all shipments through crossings from Israel cut off by the Israeli government in retaliation for the Oct. 7 attacks.

The United Nations and other organizations say they are being forced to step in for the private sector, which has collapsed because of the war and blockade imposed by Israel. That has raised the challenge of sustaining the Gazan population during what is expected to be several more months of war.

“If there are no commercial goods in the stores, what we're doing effectively is actively turning an entire population into a population that exclusively relies on food aid, and that is so wrong in terms of managing Gaza," said Tamara Alrifai, a spokeswoman for the U.N. Relief and Works Agency, which runs the largest aid operation in Gaza.

Israel has said it plans to resume its military offensive in Gaza whenever the cease-fire ends. Israeli officials say that the military has largely routed the group in the north and that the next phase of the war will focus on uprooting Hamas from southern Gaza. Even during the initial four days of the cease-fire, Gazans say that the increase in deliveries of aid hasn't made a difference in their lives.

In Gaza City, which has been encircled by the Israeli military for weeks, Palestinians leapt onto aid trucks, pushing and shoving one another as a convoy arrived on Sunday, with residents scuffling over sacks of flour and blankets, witnesses said.

The situation in the northern Gaza Strip, including Gaza City, is especially desperate. Israel urged more than one million people living in northern Gaza to leave the area to give the Israeli military a freer hand to operate. Tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, are estimated to have stayed, aid groups say.

Many stayed behind with sick, wounded or elderly relatives who were unable to move. Others chose to stay out of fear that they wouldn't be allowed back into their homes. Israel has told Palestinians who fled to the south not to return to the north for now, with Israeli forces using gunfire to disperse people who tried to enter the north over the weekend. The Israeli military said it warned people not to approach the area for their own safety.

“We're dealing with a completely new reality in Gaza," said Bushra Khalidi, a policy lead at Oxfam, an antipoverty charity. “It's been a glimpse into the future of what Gaza will be like after the war, and it's absolute chaos. There's no rule of law. There's no police. People are fending for themselves."

In southern Gaza, food and other essentials are more readily available, but an increasing number of Palestinians there say they can't afford the soaring prices of essentials such as flour and vegetables. Palestinians in the area say they are waiting hours, sometimes staying in line overnight, to obtain essentials such as bread and water. A single line for cooking gas in the southern city of Khan Younis stretched for more than a mile, according to the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

“Everything is expensive and we don't have money. We have not gotten any humanitarian aid," said Suha Mahmoud, 45, who is staying in a university in the southern Gaza Strip city of Khan Younis after having fled when Israeli tanks approached her home near the seaport in Gaza City.

Like many other Palestinians, Mahmoud left her home carrying only a few possessions. She went to a local shop to buy a set of warm clothes for her 7-year-old daughter only to find that it would cost 50 Israeli shekels, or $13 dollars.

“We don't know what's going to happen after this pause, if we will ever go back home, if we will get any aid. We are heading into the unknown," she said.

Source: Live Mint
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Two-State Solution

Posted By: Jaydatt Chaudhary Posted On: Nov 28, 2023

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken will pay his third wartime visit to West Asia this week and meet Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Tel Aviv and with Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas in Ramallah.

The US officials gave only a few details about the agenda of the meetings but a report by AFP citing senior American officials said the US secretary of state will discuss the principles he laid out for “future of Gaza and the need to establish an independent Palestinian state”.

“The secretary will stress the need to sustain the increased flow of humanitarian assistance to Gaza, secure the release of all hostages and improve protection to civilians in Gaza. (He will discuss) the principles he laid out for the future of Gaza and the need to establish an independent Palestinian state,” the official told the news agency.

The US is also pressuring Israel to work with the Palestinian Authority and rein in settlers who have launched attacks against Palestinian villagers in the West Bank since October 7.

Netanyahu is a long-time critic of Abbas and does not prefer the two-state solution.

The US and Biden have backed Israel following the Hamas-led October 7 attacks which killed 1,200 people, mostly civilians, in Israel's deadliest-ever attack.

But they have also expressed concern regarding the Israeli retaliation's toll on civilians, which have galvanised public opinion in much of the world. The bombing and ground campaign has left almost 15,000 people dead, mostly Palestinian civilians, according to Gaza's Hamas government.

US President Joe Biden on Monday (local time) said he and his country will keep working towards the two-state solution and believes that it can bring lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians as Israel and Hamas extended their truce by 48 hours.

“A two-state solution is the only way to guarantee the long-term security of both the Israeli and the Palestinian people. To make sure Israelis and Palestinians alike live in equal measure of freedom and dignity, we will not give up on working towards that goal,” Biden said.

Both US President Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken earlier said that following the war Gaza should be unified with the Israeli-occupied West Bank under a “revitalised” Palestinian Authority (PA) led by Mahmoud Abbas. Abbas' PA, also known as Fatah, controls large parts of the West Bank in close coordination with Israel but Palestinians call them “collaborators”.

A report by the New York Times said that only a small section of people in the West Bank as well as Israel feel the authority is capable of governing a post-conflict Gaza. The West Bank Palestinians view Fatah as a subcontractor to the Israeli government which controls almost every aspect of life in the West Bank.

The report also pointed out that without the security provided by the Israeli Army the Fatah may struggle to even survive in the West Bank. It also said that Palestinians consider the Fatah authoritarian, corrupt and undemocratic administration.

The New York Times report said that if elections were held imminently, it is probable, based on what experts and polls suggest, that Hamas would win again.

Source: News18
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Israel-Hamas Conflict

Posted By: Pawan George Posted On: Nov 27, 2023

An estimated 50,000 demonstrators against antisemitism marched in London on Sunday to protest against a rise in hate crimes against Jews since the attack by Hamas militants on Israel in October and Israel's subsequent bombardment of Gaza.

Protestors carried placards bearing the messages “Shoulder to shoulder with British Jews” and “Zero tolerance for antisemites.” Others showed the faces of Israeli hostages held by Palestinian militant group Hamas. Some people sang in Hebrew while others chanted “Bring them home” in reference to the hostages. “I'm here to support my Jewish community and I think we must stand up for ourselves, otherwise if we won't stand for ourselves who will, you know?” Avraham El Hay, a student, said.

London's Metropolitan Police received reports of 554 antisemitic offences between Oct. 1 and Nov. 1, up from 44 a year earlier, a more than 10-fold increase. Reports of Islamophobic offences almost tripled to 220 in the same period. “I want this march to achieve for people to understand there is no place for racism in this country,” Kate Worth, a travel agent, said. “We are all equal. And it's absolutely unacceptable what is happening right now for Jewish people.”

Police arrested a far-right activist, Tommy Robinson, at the start of Sunday's march after he refused to leave the area at the request of police officers. Organisers of the demonstration had asked Robinson not to attend because of the distress his presence was likely to cause.

Police also arrested a man who they said was heard to make antisemitic comments. Sunday's march took place a day after a latest demonstration in the British capital by pro-Palestinian protestors calling for a permanent ceasefire in the Gaza Strip. Police estimated 45,000 people marched in the demonstration on Saturday while it said 50,000 took part in Sunday's protest.

The Campaign Against Antisemitism, which focuses on the concerns of Jewish people in Britain, said the gathering was the biggest of its kind since the so-called Battle of Cable Street in 1936 when British fascists clashed with opponents in an area of east London where many Jews lived at the time.

Source: News18
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We Continue Till Victory

Posted By: Jogendra Kumar Posted On: Nov 27, 2023

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday visited Gaza for the first time since the Israel-Hamas war began. He is the first prime minister of Israel in two decades to visit the Gaza Strip.

“We continue until the end — until victory,” footage posted online by his office showed him saying, on his first such trip since the war began October 7.

“Nothing will stop us, and we are convinced that we have the power, the strength, the will and the determination to achieve all the war's goals, and we will,” he further added.

Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005 to its internationally recognized border with the enclave. It destroyed its 21 settlements there and handed the control of the coastal enclave to the Palestinian Authority (PA) but in 2007 the PA's Fatah Party was ousted from the enclave in a bloody coup.

The Israeli Prime Minister's visit to Gaza comes amid a four-day pause in the Gaza war.

Hamas took about 240 captives from southern Israel in an unprecedented October 7 terrorist attack and killed around 1,200 people, most of them civilians, according to Israeli officials.

Israel has vowed to eliminate Hamas and embarked on an aerial bombing campaign and ground invasion of Gaza and killed over 15,000 people, as claimed by Hamas.

The ceasefire agreement which spans for four days and is set to expire Monday midnight saw the release of 42 hostages. Hamas is expected to free a total of 50 hostages in exchange for 150 Palestinian prisoners in Israel over the course of a four-day pause brokered by Qatar, Egypt and the United States.

Hamas on Sunday said that the commander of its northern brigade and four other senior leaders were killed during Israel's offensive against the terrorist group. The Ezzedine Al-Qassam Brigades said Ahmed al-Ghandour was a member of its military council and said that three others, including Ayman Siyyam, head of its rocket division, were killed. The West Bank branch of Hamas also confirmed that another of its leader died.

Source: News18
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Will Gaza Truce Be Extended

Posted By: Jaydatt Chaudhary Posted On: Nov 27, 2023

Hamas wants to extend the pause in the ongoing war between the terrorist group and Israel, news agency AFP reported citing people familiar with the developments.

“Hamas informed the mediators that the resistance movements were willing to extend the current truce by two to four days,” the person mentioned above told AFP.

The person also said that Hamas believes it is possible to ensure the release of at least 20 to 40 Israeli hostages if the ceasefire deal is extended. “The resistance believes it is possible to ensure the release of 20 to 40 Israeli prisoners”in that time,” the person further added.

Under the truce deal 50 hostages held by the terrorist are to be freed over four days in exchange for 150 Palestinian prisoners. There is a built-in mechanism in the deal that extends the ceasefire if Hamas releases at least 10 Israeli captives each day.

The Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, is yet to show any indication that the offensive will halt anytime soon. He visited Gaza for the first time since the war began on October 7 and also became the first Israeli Prime Minister to visit the blockaded coastal enclave since 2005.

“We continue until the end — until victory,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in Gaza on Sunday as he met Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) soldiers stationed there. Dressed in green military fatigues, he vowed to free all the hostages and “eliminate Hamas”.

At least 58 hostages have been released from Gaza in the three days of the ceasefire, including citizens from Thailand, the Philippines and Russia. Israeli authorities have released 117 Palestinian women and children who were languishing in Israeli prisons.

The US has backed the plan of extending the ceasefire. Biden expressed a similar hope “so that we can continue to see more hostages come out and surge more humanitarian relief into those in need in Gaza”.

At least 120 aid trucks have entered Gaza through the Rafah border on Sunday, the Egyptian government told news agency CNN. The delivery of aid to the blockaded coastal enclave is one the crucial factors in sustaining the ceasefire and hostage-for-prisoner exchange between Israel and Hamas.

On October 7, Hamas terrorists broke through Gaza's militarised border with Israel in the country's deadliest attack and killed about 1,200 Israelis and foreigners and took around 240 people hostage, according to Israeli authorities.

In response, Israel launched a military campaign to destroy Hamas, killing nearly 15,000 people, mostly civilians and including thousands of children, according to Gaza's Hamas government.

Source: News18
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Israel Reminds Ireland’s Indian-Origin PM of IDF's Role after Hamas Frees 9-Yr-Old Irish-Israeli Girl Updated 8 minutes ago

Posted By: Ramesh Sharma Posted On: Nov 26, 2023

When nine-year-old Irish-Israeli girl Emily Hand was released by Hamas terrorists on Saturday, Israeli government spokesperson Eylon Levy began a war of words on social media site X with the Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar.

Emily was among the latest group of hostages released by Hamas terrorists on Saturday. “This is a day of enormous joy and relief for Emily Hand and her family. An innocent child who was lost has now been found and returned, and we breathe a massive sigh of relief. Our prayers have been answered,” Varadkar said in a post on X (formerly Twitter).

Israel government spokesperson Eylon Levy reacted to the post by writing: “Emily Hand wasn't “lost”. She was brutally abducted by the death squads that massacred her neighbours. She wasn't “found”. Hamas knew where she was all along and cynically held her as a hostage. And Hamas didn't answer your prayers. It answered Israel's military pressure,” Levy said.

Levy and the Israeli government have been unhappy with Ireland regarding its response to the October 7 attacks.

Israel and Ireland relations have been frustrated because of Ireland's full support of Palestine and Palestinian non-violent political movements.

The Irish PM Varadkar also accused Ursula von der Leyen, the European Commission's president, of “lacking balance” and leaning towards Israel.

Ireland was the first EU state to endorse Palestinian statehood – in 1980. The Irish diplomat Niall Holohan who was based in Ramallah from 2002-2006 told the Guardian that Ireland has a history of siding with the ‘underdogs', referring to Palestinians.

“We feel we have been victimised over the centuries. It's part of our psyche – underneath it all we side with the underdog,” Holohan was quoted as saying.

Levy also referred to Irish support for the Palestinian cause in his post. “Without Israel's military pressure on Hamas, which Ireland shamefully called “something approaching revenge,” little Emily Hand would still be a hostage of Hamas. It's not that Hamas “was blind, but now it sees” (if the above statement is an allusion to Amazing Grace),” Levy said.

Amazing Grace is a hymn written in the late 1700s by John Newton.

Hamas on Saturday released a second group of Israeli and foreign civilians it had been holding hostage in the Gaza Strip in exchange for Palestinian prisoners.

Israeli authorities said 13 Israelis and four Thai citizens had returned to Israel.

Source: News18
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39 Palestinians

Posted By: Aditya Gogoi Posted On: Nov 26, 2023

Prison authorities in Israel announced early Sunday that they had released 39 Palestinian detainees, after Hamas freed 13 hostages under an agreement that came into force on Friday.

The freed Palestinian prisoners are all women and people under the age of 19, while the hostages released by Hamas are all women and children.

The agreement is supposed to last four days and allow the release of 50 Israelis and 150 Palestinians.

The exchange, which took place on Saturday, followed an initial swap on Friday when Hamas released 13 Israelis, all women and children, while Israel freed 39 Palestinian detainees, also all women and children.

Celebrations in East Jerusalem welcoming the released Palestinian prisoners were muted, amid heavy Israeli police presence.

The most prominent Palestinian released is Israa Jaabis, 37, who was convicted of detonating a gas cylinder in her car at a checkpoint in 2015, wounding a police officer. She was sentenced to 11 years in prison.

Armed Israeli security forces stood by her house as she returned.

Jaabis' photo, showing her withered fingers and partially burnt face, is regularly used in demonstrations to illustrate the suffering of Palestinian prisoners.

“I'm ashamed to talk about rejoicing when the whole of Palestine is wounded”, Jaabis told journalists in her living room, alongside her 13-year-old son.

“They must release everyone,” she said.

In the Israeli-occupied West Bank, crowds celebrated and chanted slogans praising Hamas for its role in the agreement.

The Islamist movement controls parts of the West Bank, rivalling Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas.

The Palestinian Prisoners' Club advocacy group reported that 17 Palestinians had been arrested the same day the 39 were released.

Source: News18
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Tearful Reunions on Both Sides as Freed Israeli Hostages

Posted By: Vanshika Pathak Posted On: Nov 26, 2023

Palestinian terrorist group Hamas released a second group of 13 Israeli hostages in exchange for Palestinian prisoners on Saturday. The Israeli authorities responded by freeing 39 prisoners who were held in Israeli custody for various offences.

There was a minor hiccup which led to fears that the hostage-for-prisoner exchange deal would fail after Hamas accused Israel of breaching its side of the agreement. The agreement has also established a four-day ceasefire which is already past its midpoint.

Hamas, in a first, freed one of the people snatched during their bloody assault on the Supernova Music Festival in southern Israel. The terrorist group freed 21-year-old Maya Regev, kidnapped by Hamas in their deadly October 7 assault on the desert rave. Hamas, however, continues to hold her brother, Itay, captive.

The delay in the hostage-for-prisoner exchange deal due to Hamas' displeasure was mediated after the intervention of Qatari and Egyptian mediators and reassurances from Israel.

Following a late-night operation, Red Cross minibuses ferried the hostages late at night through Gaza's Rafah border crossing with Egypt ahead of their transfer to Israel.

Hamas later said it had “responded positively” to Egyptian and Qatari mediators, after they relayed a promise by Israel to “uphold all the conditions of the accord”.

Israeli officials denied any breach of the terms of the pause.

Emotional reunions were reported by the hostage families forum when nine-year-old hostage Emily Hand and Otah met their parents in Tel Aviv.

“We can't find the words to describe our emotions after 50 challenging and complicated days,' Otah's family said in a statement. His mother and grandmother were also among those freed.

Meanwhile, in West Bank, muted celebrations amid heavy Israeli police presence and a few crackers greeted 39 Palestinian women and children who were released from Israeli prison.

Among those released were 38-year-old Israa Jaabis, sentenced to 11 years in jail for detonating a gas cylinder at a checkpoint in 2015. Jaabis' famous photo showing her withered fingers and partially burnt face, is regularly used in demonstrations to illustrate the suffering of Palestinian prisoners.

“I'm ashamed to talk about rejoicing when the whole of Palestine is wounded”, Jaabis told journalists in her living room, sitting beside her 13-year-old son.

“I was just waiting for the day I would be released from prison so I could hug my mother like this,” said Rawan Abu Matar, who served eight years for attempting to stab an Israeli soldier.

Source: News18
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As Migration to Europe Rises

Posted By: Preeti Dabar Posted On: Nov 25, 2023
Finnish border guards escort migrants at the international border crossing at Salla, northern Finland, this week. PHOTO: LEHTIKUVA/REUTERS

Rising migration across Europe, including the biggest surge in asylum seekers since a 2015-2016 migrant crisis, is fueling support for far-right and anti-immigration parties, potentially reshaping European politics for years.

Nationalist parties that champion a harder line against immigration are surging in polls and have entered governmentsin countries from Italy to Finland, as anxiety rises about sluggish economic growth and crises from Ukraine to the Middle East. The far right is polling strongly in the continent's two largest countries, Germany and France.

This week's victory in Dutch elections by far-right politician Geert Wilders, who has placed anti-migration policies at the heart of his political platform for the last 15 years, was a powerful sign of how voters are drifting to antiestablishment politicians, analysts said. He will still need to form a coalition in a fractured political landscape, which likely means softening some of his policy goals, but said Thursday that he wants to become prime minister.

Wilders has said he wants strict limits on immigration and no longer wants the Netherlands to accept any asylum seekers. During the election campaign, Wilders tied problems such as the high cost of living and lack of affordable housing to his migration theme, arguing that by slashing the numbers of people who come to the Netherlands, the government could have more money to address other problems.

“It all resonated with his key political message—that it's time to put the Dutch people first again," said Rem Korteweg, a senior fellow at the Clingendael Institute think tank in the Netherlands.

Europe is on track to receive more than a million asylum applications this year, the highest since 2015-2016 when a wave of migrants mostly from the Middle East and Africa sparked a crisis. In September alone there were 108,000 applications, similar to the levels of 2015, according to EU data.Migrants have reached the EU this year primarily by land through the Balkans and by sea across the Mediterranean to Italy.

The figures don't include roughly 4.2 million displaced Ukrainians who have received temporary protection status across Europe since Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Overall, migration has hit at least 15-year highs in a number of European countries including Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Ireland, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Spain, Switzerland and the U.K., according to data from theOrganization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

The Netherlands net migration figure rose to almost 223,000 in 2022, the highest in two decades in the country of 17.5 million. Last year, asylum applications in the Netherlands rose by a third to 46,400. The Dutch cabinet said in April that it was expecting more than 70,000 asylum claims in 2023, excluding Ukrainians, topping the roughly 59,000 people who arrived in 2015 at the peak of the migration crisis.

Voters can become anxious about immigration when they perceive it to be out of control, such as when people cross the English Channel or the Mediterranean in small boats or illegally breach the U.S. southern border, said Alan Manning, professor of economics at London School of Economics and former chair of the U.K. Migration Advisory Committee, which advises the U.K. government on immigration policy. Problems arise when “there's no ability to say enough—we don't want this."

In September, Slovakia's former Premier Robert Fico returned to power in part by highlighting a surge in illegal migration. That followed victories last year by Italy's right-wing Giorgia Meloni and a new coalition government in Finland earlier this year that included the far-right Finns Party, which made anti-immigration its central pitch.

Germany's far-right Alternative for Germany has moved into second place in the polls over the past year, increasing its share of support by around a third to rise above 20%.

While French elections won't be held until 2027, a recent IFOP poll for French newspaper Le Figaro gave Marine Le Pen's opposition National Rally party an eight-point lead over President Emmanuel Macron's Renaissance.

The surge in asylum seekers is driving many countries to try new policies. Italy struck a deal with Albania for asylum seekers to wait there while their cases are decided in Italy, and Germany recently said it was considering deals with other countries, including some in Africa, to house asylum seekers. An attempt by the U.K. to send migrants to Rwanda has so far been blocked in court. Other countries, such as Hungary, have erected border fences to block asylum seekers.

The rise in legal migration is unfolding as Europe faces severe labor shortages in places such as Germany and the Netherlands, which could worsen as the region's workforce ages and retires. But it also comes during a period of widespread voter disenchantment, partly caused by slow economic growth and high inflation postpandemic and the Ukraine war, which has driven down households' purchasing power.

In Sweden, the government has blamed a rise in violent crime in part on the failure to integrate migrant communities and recently proposed changes that would allow the country to expel migrants or asylum seekers who associate with criminal groups. In Germany, hundreds of thousands of refugees arriving in recent years from Afghanistan and Syria have struggled to enter the country's labor market, according to official data.

Even in countries where far-right parties haven't risen strongly in polls, there are signs of social strain. In Dublin, crowds rioted on Thursday, smashing buses and looting stores in what police described as the worst social unrest in the Irish capital in decades. It followed a stabbing at a school that far-right groups attributed to a foreign migrant. Police haven't identified an assailant.

“Migration is a difficult topic to talk about in politics at the moment," Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar told a news conference. “In the round, it has been a good thing for Ireland."

Once in power, parties have discovered that reducing migration is easier said than done. The European Union's setup makes a crackdown on migration and asylum seekers especially difficult. The bloc's border-free Schengen zone, the free movement of labor across the continent, and EU rules committing countries to take in asylum claimants fleeing from war or persecution complicate anti-migration plans.

Despite Italy having elected a right wing anti-migration government last year, the number of migrants arriving by sea in to the country so far this year is close to levels last seen during the migration crisis.

The U.K. formally left the EU in 2020 partly to have greater control over its borders by ending the right of Europeans to move to the U.K. without a visa. Last year, legal immigration to the U.K. hit a record 745,000 and remained high in the first half of this year, driven partly by an increase in workers to fill jobs in fields such as nursing, according to data published on Thursday by the national statistics office. The government is also struggling to reduce the numbers of asylum seekers arriving by sea.

Write to Laurence Norman at laurence.norman@wsj.com and Tom Fairless at tom.fairless@wsj.com

Source: Live Mint
Related Posts: MIGRATION TO EUROPE,EUROPE IMMIGRATION,MIGRATION,ASYLUM SEEKERS,EUROPE ASYLUM SEEKERS,UKRAINE WAR,ISRAEL HAMAS WAR,FAR RIGHT,EUROPEAN FAR RIGHT,FAR RIGHT POLITICS,GEERT WILDERS

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WHO Voices Concern as Israel Arrests Gaza Hospital Chief Mohammad Abu Salmiya Published 1 hour ago

Posted By: Pawan George Posted On: Nov 25, 2023

The World Health Organization on Friday voiced concern over the fate of the head of Gaza City's Al-Shifa hospital, whom Israeli forces detained over the facility's alleged use by Hamas.

In a statement the WHO said that the head of the biggest hospital in the besieged Palestinian territory had been arrested on Wednesday along with five other health workers, while they were taking part in a UN mission to evacuate patients.

“Three medical personnel from the Palestine Red Crescent Society and three from the Ministry of Health were detained,” the WHO said.

Since then two of the six have reportedly been released, but “we do not have information about the well-being of the four remaining health staff, including the director of Al-Shifa hospital,” the statement added.

The UN agency called for “their legal and human rights to be fully observed during their detention”.

Hospital director Mohammad Abu Salmiya has been frequently quoted by international media about the conditions inside Al-Shifa, a major focus of the Israeli ground offensive following attacks by Hamas militants on October 7.

The Israeli army, which raided the hospital last week, has alleged that Hamas fighters used a tunnel complex beneath the facility in Gaza City to stage attacks.

Hamas and hospital officials have repeatedly denied the claims.

On Thursday the Israeli army announced it had arrested the hospital chief, along with a department head.

According to the WHO statement, the organisation has carried out three missions to al-Shifa in the space of a week, on one occasion managing to evacuate 31 babies from the hospital.

During the third mission, on Wednesday, which was carried out in cooperation with the Palestinian Red Crescent, 151 people were evacuated, including patients, their relatives and healthcare workers, according to the WHO.

Source: News18
Related Posts: GAZA STRIP,ISRAEL-PALESTINE

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