Israeli strike kills Hamas leader’s 3 sons, 4 grandchildren

This morning's top world news, in a nutshell - Thursday, 11th April 2024.

Three sons and four grandchildren of Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh were killed in an Israeli airstrike, Israel’s military said on Wednesday, confirming earlier media reports. The Israeli military said the men conducted militant activity in central Gaza, without elaborating. Haniyeh had announced the deaths of his sons Hazem, Amir, and Mohammad in an interview with Qatari broadcaster Al Jazeera. He added that the deaths of three of his 13 children would not affect Hamas’ ceasefire demands, as sensitive negotiations continue. “The enemy believes that by targeting the families of the leaders, it will push them to give up the demands of our people,” Haniyeh told Al Jazeera. He added it was “delusional” to think that such attacks would get Hamas to “change its position”.

Photo distributed on Palestinian Telegram channels

Hamas-affiliated media said the strike targeted the Shati refugee camp, just northwest of Gaza City. The brothers were travelling with family members in a single vehicle, Hamas’ Al-Aqsa TV said. Haniyeh, referring to Israel as a “criminal enemy driven by the spirit of revenge” also claimed that at least 60 members of his family have been killed since the start of the war, which was started after Hamas launched a terror attack on Israel, killing over 1,200 people. Haniyeh, who now lives in Qatar, has regularly stated his refusal to recognise the state of Israel. In 2018, he was designated an international terrorist by the US. Hamas is designated as a terrorist organisation by the US, Germany, Israel and several other governments.

Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh. Photo: Abid Katib/Getty Images

Recognising Palestinian state in Europe’s interests – Sanchez

Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez on Wednesday called Israel’s response in the Gaza war against Hamas “disproportionate,” and said it could end up “destabilising the Middle East, and as a consequence, the entire world”. Speaking in parliament, Sanchez, one of the most critical voices against Israel in Europe, said the recognition of a Palestinian state is “in Europe’s geopolitical interests”. During his Middle East tour last week, he had indicated that Madrid will be ready to recognise Palestinian statehood by the end of June. “I expect and demand that the Israeli government clarify as soon as possible the circumstances of this brutal attack that has taken the lives of seven aid workers who were doing nothing but helping,” Sanchez said during a visit to a Palestinian refugee camp in Jordan.

EU must suspend ties with Israel to prevent genocide in Gaza

The European Union should suspend its trade and institutional ties with Israel to deter war crimes that amount to genocide in the Gaza Strip, the UN’s special rapporteur on Palestine has said. Francesca Albanese – who recently concluded that the threshold of the crime of genocide has been met in Gaza – told Euronews on Wednesday that the EU has “an obligation” to suspend its Association Agreement with Israel given that its offensive violates that agreement’s provisions on human rights. “Israel has the political, financial, economic means to continue operating business as usual. It has no incentive whatsoever to change conduct,” Albanese explained. “Europe is the main trading partner – which accounts I think for 30 per cent of Israel’s trade – so it has a huge power and it should use that power. In the end, this is not an option, it’s an obligation because Article 2 of that association agreement foresees the suspension in case of violations of human rights,” she added. A recent initiative by the leaders of Ireland and Spain calling on the European Commission to suspend the EU-Israel agreement was met with resistance by other member states eager to uphold the bloc’s stance of solidarity with Israel. Albanese said the EU’s reluctance to use the measures in its power to hold Israel to account perpetuates Israel’s impunity and reveals a “disconnect” between Europe’s political class and the large portion of European society that has persistently called for a ceasefire in the besieged Gaza Strip.

Gazans mark ‘saddest’ Eid with little to celebrate or eat

The people ofGazs did their best to celebrate the end of Ramadan in the driving rain Wednesday, as the war raged on with 14 killed, including children, in a strike on their home, the Hamas-run territory’s health ministry said. The Israeli military said it struck several targets on the first day of the Eid al-Adha holiday, with a jet hitting a rocket launch site and troops killing a “terrorist cell” in close quarters. Family members clutched the bodies of dead children at the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital in nearby Deir el-Balah. There was no immediate comment from the Israeli army.

Israel said 468 aid trucks – a record since the war began – were allowed into Gaza on the eve of the holiday which marks the end of the Muslim fasting month and is traditionally celebrated with family gatherings. But with the United Nations warning the besieged territory is on the verge of famine, there was little to feast on for the 2.4 million residents of Gaza, up to 1.5 million of whom are crammed into camps around the far-southern city of Rafah. The faithful gathered at dawn outside the city’s flattened Al-Farooq Mosque, where worshippers complained that Israel’s relentless bombardment had even “deprived Palestinians from praying inside their mosques”. Gazans admitted there has never been “such an Eid – all sadness, fear, destruction and a grinding war”.

Meanwhile, in Jerusalem, tens of thousands of worshippers poured into the Al-Aqsa mosque compound, Islam’s third holiest site, for morning prayers. “It’s the saddest Eid ever,” said nurse Rawan Abd, 32, from Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem. “At the mosque you could see the sadness on people’s faces.” In the occupied West Bank, the atmosphere was even more sombre, with many Palestinians in the flashpoint northern city of Jenin visiting its cemetery to pray for those who have been killed since the Gaza war began.

3 injured, 5 arrested in Philadelphia end of Ramadan event shooting

Three people were shot Wednesday, including a teenage boy wounded by police, and five were arrested when a hail of gunfire erupted near the end of a packed end of Ramadan event in Philadelphia, authorities said. Shots rang out in an area where about 1,000 people were gathered, Philadelphia Police Commissioner Kevin Bethel told reporters at the scene. Officers were writing tickets at a nearby gas station when they heard 30 shots fired, Bethel said. The officers saw two groups shooting at each other. One officer approached a 15-year-old boy, who was armed and opened fire, police said. The officer returned fire and shot the teen in the shoulder and leg. The officer put the teen in her patrol car and rushed him to the hospital, Bethel said. The teen shooter was listed in stable condition and arrested, police said. Two other people were also shot during the gunfire exchange between the two groups, police said. A 22-year-old man was shot in the stomach and a 15-year-old boy was shot in the right finger, authorities said. Both were listed in stable condition. The injured teen who was shot by police, as well as three men and a woman were arrested. Five weapons were also recovered, Bethel said. The officer who opened fire has been placed on administrative duty pending the outcome of an investigation into the shooting. During the large police response to the scene, a police patrol vehicle hit a 15-year-old girl, who sustained a fractured leg, Bethel said.

US said to believe Iranian attack on Israel is imminent

The United States believes a major Iranian attack on Israel is imminent and could happen in the coming days, according to a report Wednesday, as Iran reiterated its vow to retaliate for an alleged Israeli strike in Syria that killed two generals among several Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps officers. Citing people familiar with US and Israeli intelligence assessments, Bloomberg reported Iran could launch strikes involving high-precision missiles and drones targeting military and government sites in Israel. One of the people quoted in the report said it was a matter of when – not if – Tehran will attack Israel. Separately, the Axios news site reported that Gen. Michael Kurilla, head of the US Central Command, was expected to visit Israel on Thursday for consultations with Defence Minister Yoav Gallant and other officials to discuss the threat of an Iranian attack. The reports came as President Biden reiterated America’s commitment to Israeli security in the face of threats from Iran.

Lufthansa suspends flights to and from Tehran

German flag carrier Lufthansa has announced the suspension of flights to and from Tehran. The suspension was decided “due to the current situation in the Middle East,” the company said in a statement, adding, “We are constantly monitoring the situation in the Middle East and are in close contact with the authorities.”

Biden considering dropping Julian Assange’s prosecution

President Joe Biden said Wednesday he was considering a request from Australia to drop the decade-long US push to prosecute Wikileaks founder Julian Assange for publishing a trove of American classified documents. For years, Australia has called on the US to drop its prosecution against Assange, an Australian citizen who has fought US extradition efforts from prison in the UK. Asked about the request on Wednesday, as he hosted Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida for an official visit, Biden said, “We’re considering it.” Assange has been indicted on 17 espionage charges and one charge of computer misuse over his website’s publication of a trove of classified US documents almost 15 years ago. American prosecutors allege that Assange, 52, encouraged and helped US Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning steal diplomatic cables and military files that WikiLeaks published, putting lives at risk.

Australia argues there is a disconnect between the US treatment of Assange and Manning. Then-US President Barack Obama commuted Manning’s 35-year sentence to seven years, which allowed her release in 2017. Assange’s supporters say he is a journalist protected by the First Amendment who exposed US military wrongdoing in Iraq and Afghanistan that was in the public interest. Assange’s wife, Stella Assange, has said his health continues to deteriorate in prison and she fears he’ll die behind bars. Assange went beyond journalism and should face espionage charges in the US, government lawyers say. A British court ruled last month that Assange can’t be extradited to the United States on espionage charges unless US authorities guarantee he won’t get the death penalty.

South Korea Opposition leader is election’s big winner

The big winner in South Korea’s parliamentary election is the country’s most controversial politician – Opposition leader Lee Jae-myung. His Democratic Party (DP) has notched a landslide win, making the scandal-plagued liberal a real danger to beleaguered President Yoon Suk-yeol. With his party and its satellite set to boost their National Assembly majority, according to near-total vote results reported by South Korean news agency Yonhap, Lee is set to dominate the country’s politics, analysts say. He’s also well-positioned to run again and take Yoon’s job when the president’s single five-year term ends in 2027. The DP and its satellites are forecast to win between 184 and 197 seats, up from 156 in the last parliament. Yoon’s People Power Party (PPP) and its satellite party were expected to have secured 85 to 99 seats, down from 114, the exit polls conducted by three major broadcasters indicated. All opposition parties combined may even have secured a super-majority of 200 in the 300-seat parliament, which could in theory allow them to attempt to impeach Yoon.

European Parliament endorses EU migration reform

The European Parliament on Wednesday endorsed – by 322 votes in favour 266 against and 31 abstentions – the EU migration reform moving it closer to the finish line. Parliament endorsed it, albeit by a margin smaller than initially expected owing to the brewing dissent. The move was preceded by uncertainty due to a growing chorus of dissent from the right and the left, which, despite gaining traction, failed to derail the momentous vote on Wednesday afternoon. “We have listened, we have acted and we have delivered on one of the main concerns of people across Europe,” said Roberta Metsola, the Parliament’s president. “This is a historic day,” she declared.

The President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen told the European Parliament after the vote that no country would be left alone. Responding to a question on whether the Pact could concretely help countries such as Italy, Spain, Greece and Malta, she said, “That is why we have introduced a mandatory solidarity mechanism: the best Europe is the Europe that moves together.”

Meanwhile, Hungarina Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said the Pact was another nail in the EU’s coffin. “Unity is dead, safe borders are no longer there,” he said, adding, “Hungary will never give in to the mass immigration frenzy! We need a change in Brussels to stop migration”.

9 dead and 15 missing in latest Med shipwreck

There are nine victims in the latest shipwreck which occurred in Maltese SAR waters, according to the Italian news agency Ansa. Earlier the agency reported the shipwreck happened in Libyan SAR waters. Another migrant, among the 23 survivors collected by the Italian Coast Guard, died in the Lampedusa clinic on arrival. Eight other bodies, including that of a little girl, had been landed shortly before. There are still 15 missing from the roll call. Six shipwrecked survivors are currently hospitalised in the outpatient clinic in critical conditions; 16 others were already accompanied to the hospital in the Imbriacola district. From the first testimonies that the police managed to gather, 46 migrants, originally from Guinea, Burkina Faso, Mali, and Ivory Coast, who left Sunday evening from Sfax in Tunisia, were travelling on the small boat, which sank in the stormy sea.

Russian drone crashes into a hospital under construction

A Russian drone crashed into a hospital under construction in the village of Dobroye, Lipetsk region, central Russia. This was reported to Tass by governor Igor Artamonov, specifying that there were no victims. “The police are working on site,” he wrote on Telegram, adding, the drone alert remains in effect.

Switzerland announces June Ukraine peace conference

The Swiss government on Wednesday announced that it would host a high-level peace conference for Ukraine in mid-June, but said Russia would not attend. The conference will take place at the luxury Burgenstock resort near the central city of Luzern on June 15-16 and would be hosted by Swiss President Viola Amherd. “This is a first step in a process towards a lasting peace,” she told reporters in Bern. Russia quickly slammed the planned conference and Amherd acknowledged that “we will not sign a peace plan at this conference”, but said she hoped “there will be a second conference. We hope to start the process.” Russia condemned the event as being part of a scheme by US President Joe Biden’s Democratic Party ahead of this year’s presidential election.

Trump’s third attempt to postpone ‘porn star case’ rejected

For the third time in three days, a New York appeals judge has rejected an attempt by former US President Donald Trump to postpone the trial in porn star Stormy Daniels’ case, which begins next Monday. The tycoon had requested an emergency measure to stop the hearing, so that he could appeal a lower court’s ruling on presidential immunity and have the judge recuse himself. His request was rejected within minutes.

Main photo: AFP

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