Netanyahu: Israel “unable to reduce civilian casualties”

This morning's top world news, in a nutshell - Friday, 17th November 2023

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has blamed Hamas for “fruitless” efforts to minimise civilian deaths in Gaza. In an interview with CBS, Netanyahu said that Israel was doing everything it could to keep civilians out of harm’s way as it fights Hamas in the Strip, including throwing leaflets warning them to flee, but that its attempts to minimise victims “were not successful”. The Israeli prime minister reiterated that the goal of his military campaign was to destroy Hamas: “We will try to finish the job with minimal civilian casualties. That’s what we’re trying to do: minimise civilian casualties. But unfortunately we did not succeed.” Netanyahu added that there could be no return to “failed strategies” in dealing with Hamas in Gaza and reiterated that Israel was not trying to occupy Gaza but wants there to be overall military responsibility to “prevent the re-emergence of terrorism: we must demilitarise and deradicalise” the Strip. “We need a cultural change”, continued the prime minister, adding that there must be a “different future for both Israelis and Palestinians”.

Hamas tunnel found at Al Shifa Hospital’ – Israel

The Israeli army has announced its soldiers had found a tunnel shaft used by Hamas militants at Gaza’s biggest hospital, Al Shifa. It released a video it said showed a tunnel entrance in an outdoor area of the hospital. The video showed a deep hole in the ground, littered with and surrounded by concrete and wood, rubble and sand. The army said its troops also found a vehicle in the hospital containing numerous weapons. Military equipment including Kalashnikov rifles and rocket-propelled grenades were also found in the building, it said. Hamas said in a statement that claims by the US State and Defence departments that the group uses Al Shifa for military purposes “is a repetition of a blatantly false narrative, demonstrated by the weak and ridiculous performances of the occupation army spokesman”. Human Rights Watch said hospitals have special protection under international humanitarian law.

Credit: IDF

US will not share intelligence on Hamas and Al Shifa hospital

The US will not share any Israeli intelligence or elaborate on its own intelligence assessment that Hamas used Gaza’s Al Shifa hospital as a command centre and, possibly, as a storage facility, White House spokesman John Kirby said on Thursday. The Washington Times quotes Kirby saying the US was confident in an assessment from its own intelligence agencies on Hamas activities in the Gaza facility. He has refused to elaborate or provide details over the past several days. Israeli troops entered Al Shifa hospital on Wednesday after an aerial bombardment and ground operation targeting Hamas militants whom Israeli officials say killed 1,200 people in a cross-border attack from Gaza on 7th October . About 11,500 people have been killed in Israel’s retaliatory bombardments, according to health officials in Hamas-controlled Gaza.

Credit: IDF

Body of soldier kidnapped by Hamas recovered

The Israeli army has recovered the body of Noa Marciano, the 19-year-old Israeli soldier taken hostage by Hamas at the Nahal Oz base on 7th October. The body of the kidnapped soldier was found in a structure adjacent to the Shifa hospital in Gaza City, the military spokesperson said. Of Marciano, Hamas last Monday released a video – taken four days after her kidnapping – which said who she was and whose daughter she was. At a certain point, the video stopped and her body appeared. Yesterday, the body of Israeli Yehudit Weiss, another female hostage kidnapped by Hamas, was recovered, again near the Shifa hospital. Israeli military spokesman Daniel Hagari said she “was killed by terrorists”. Next to her body were the weapons of her guardians. The woman’s funeral will take place in Israel.

Israel strikes house of Hamas political chief in Gaza

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said its fighter jets had struck the residence of Hamas Political Bureau chief Ismail Haniyeh. “The residence was used as terrorist infrastructure and a meeting point for Hamas’ senior leaders to direct terrorist attacks against Israel,” the IDF said in a post on social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter. The post was accompanied by a video of footage showing a strike taking place. Meanwhile, Al Jazeera online quotes Haniyeh saying, “If the enemy wants the battle to be long, our capacity is even longer.”

South Africa refers Israel to the ICC over Gaza offensive

South Africa has filed a referral to the International Criminal Court for an investigation into alleged war crimes committed by Israel in Gaza, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has said. “We have put through a referral because we believe that war crimes are being committed there. And of course we do not condone the actions that were taken by Hamas earlier, but similarly we condemn the actions that are currently underway and believe that they warrant an investigation by the ICC,” Ramaphosa said during a state visit to Qatar.

Spain’s Sanchez secures new term

Spain’s Socialist prime minister, Pedro Sanchez, won the backing of Spain’s parliament for another term as prime minister on Thursday, despite divisions in the country over his decision to grant Catalan separatists amnesty in exchange for their crucial support in a vote of confidence. Sanchez’s Socialist Party (PSOE) finished second in an inconclusive general election in July, but he has reached deals with six smaller parties to ensure the support of 179 lawmakers – three more than the required absolute majority. Among the smaller parties who are set to lend their support to Sanchez are two key Catalan separatist parties. In return, Sanchez has agreed to grant amnesty to hundreds of people facing legal action for their role in Catalonia’s separatist movement over the past decade. Sanchez defended the amnesty at the start of the two-day parliamentary debate, arguing it was needed to “heal the wounds” opened by the region’s independence push. “We will guarantee the unity of Spain through dialogue and forgiveness,” the 51-year-old insisted.

Photo credit: Manu Fernandez/AP

For the first time, US prisoners graduate from top university

Northwestern University’s Prison Education Programme has welcomed its inaugural graduating class of incarcerated students, marking the first time a top-ranked US university has awarded degrees to students in prison. “Coming from where I came from and the things that I’ve been through, to be here is indescribable,” said graduate Michael Broadway after the ceremony. Around 100 students are enrolled in the Northwestern programme across Stateville and the Logan Correctional Center, a women’s prison. He hopes that this first class of incarcerated students is just the beginning.

Plane forced to return to airport after horse escapes

An Air Atlanta Icelandic Boeing 747 cargo jet was forced to turn around, after a horse escaped from its stall and caused chaos as the plane cruised at 30,000ft, the BBC reports. The plane was headed to Belgium from New York but did a U-turn roughly 90 minutes after its departure when the animal got loose. Air traffic control audio recorded the pilot saying: “We cannot get the horse back secured”. The pilot told air traffic control the plane was fine but that the horse on the loose was the concern. He then requested a veterinarian meet the aircraft once it landed back at John F Kennedy International Airport. The flight took off later in the same day and successfully arrived at Liege Airport this morning, according to FlightRadar24. This latest incident was not the first time an animal escaped its cargo stall while onboard an airplane. In August, a bear freed itself from its crate on an Iraqi Airways flight headed from Dubai to Baghdad, the Associated Press reported.

Main photo credit: AP

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