Israel’s war cabinet divided over Gaza conflict

This morning's top world news, in a nutshell - Tuesday, 31sh October 2023

A post on X, formerly known as Twitter, on Sunday night by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was enough for discord and disarray to emerge within the Israeli political establishment, writes Al Jazeera. Netanyahu wrote that he had never been informed about warnings of Hamas’s assault on Israel on October 7 and instead seemed to place the blame for the attack on his army and intelligence chiefs. They had assessed, prior to the attack, that Hamas “was deterred and ready for a settlement”. The statement caused an uproar as political leaders slammed Netanyahu for playing politics while the country was in the midst of a difficult military campaign inside Gaza. The outrage was such that the prime minister deleted the post, and in an unusually sober tone apologised for his words. “I was wrong,” he said. The Arab news channel quotes experts saying the episode confirmed a widening rift within the political and military establishment, one that questioned Netanyahu’s leadership and his capacity to navigate the country through war without prioritising his own interests over national security.

Scores of Palestinians killed as Israelis push deeper inside Gaza

On the battle front, the Israeli army radio Galei Zahal said Monday troops and armoured vehicles were pushing deeper inside Gaza as part of the “second phase of the war”. It comes after more than three weeks of relentless bombardments of the besieged enclave that have killed more than 8,000 Palestinians and triggered a humanitarian catastrophe. The Palestine Red Crescent Society says Israeli artillery and air attacks near the Al-Quds Hospital in Gaza City was causing “fear and panic” among displaced civilians and health workers. Israeli bombardments have been reported across the besieged territory. Scores of people, many of them children, were among those killed and injured after another night of relentless air strikes carried out by Israeli forces across Gaza, according to the Palestinian news agency, WAFA.

Photo credit: Ismael Mohamad / UPI

Urgent ceasefire in Gaza a ‘matter of life and death’

The head of the UN agency for Palestinian refugees told a UN emergency meeting “an immediate humanitarian ceasefire has become a matter of life and death for millions”, accusing Israel of “collective punishment” of Palestinians. The Irish Examiner says Philippe Lazzarini warned that a further breakdown of civil order following the looting of the agency’s warehouses by Palestinians searching for food and other aid “will make it extremely difficult, if not impossible, for the largest UN agency in Gaza to continue operating”. Briefings to the Security Council by Lazzarini, the head of the UN children’s agency Unicef, and a senior UN humanitarian official, painted a dire picture of the humanitarian situation in Gaza. According to the latest figures from Gaza’s Ministry of Health, more than 8,300 people have been killed – 66 per cent of them women and children – and tens of thousands injured, the UN humanitarian office said. Unicef executive director Catherine Russell said that toll includes over 3,400 children killed and more than 6,300 injured. “This means that more than 420 children are being killed or injured in Gaza each day – a number which should shake each of us to our core,” she said.

‘No cease-fire’, says Netanyahu in TV address

Times of Israel says Netanyahu has once again ruled out calls for a ceasefire in the Gaza Strip, saying “it was a time for war”. In a TV address, he dismissed calls for a truce, saying it would mean surrendering to Hamas and terrorism. The Israeli Prime Minister also blamed the militant group for civilian casualties in Gaza, saying it was using Palestinians as human shields.

Photo credit: GPO/Screenshot

European gas prices soar after Egypt reports zero imports

Africa News reports the benchmark price index for European natural gas prices – Dutch TTF gas future – jumped almost 7 per cent to €54 per megawatt-hour on Monday, the highest level since mid-February, following news of Egypt’s imports falling to zero, fuelling fears that the country cannot re-start its deliveries to the European market. On Sunday, the Egyptian cabinet announced that their natural gas imports fell to zero from 800 million cubic feet per day. Egypt imports gas from Israel, among others, and sends some of it to Europe in liquidated form (LNG). Last year, the European Commission, Israel and Egypt agreed to a supply of Israeli gas via Egypt’s LNG export infrastructure to the EU. But since the war with Hamas broke out, Israel has halted the production of its Tamar gas field, from where gas is sent to Egypt, reducing its capacity to meet domestic demand, let alone have any for export.

Football: Messi wins Ballon d’Or

Lionel Messi has been crowned the men’s winner of the 2023 Ballon d’Or in Paris. Messi, 36, was the standout name on the 30-man shortlist for the prized accolade after inspiring Argentina to 2022 World Cup glory in Qatar last December. The Inter Miami forward lifts the individual trophy for a record-extending eighth time, with Manchester City striker Erling Haaland second in the vote. Haaland was Messi’s closest rival this time around with France and Paris Saint-Germain talisman Kylian Mbappe voted third best player. Kevin De Bruyne was fourth with City team-mate Rodri fifth in the poll. Jude Bellingham was presented with the Kopa Trophy for the best player aged under 21. The Yashin Trophy for the world’s best goalkeeper went to Argentina and Aston Villa stopper Emiliano Martinez.

Photo credit: Sky Sports

… Bonmati wins women’s prize

For the women’s award, Spain and Barcelona midfielder Aitana Bonmati was lauded after clinching the World Cup for La Roja this summer. Bonmati, 25, pipped Australia and Chelsea striker Sam Kerr to first place in the voting with her teenage team-mate for club and country, Salma Paralluelo, finishing third. Spanish and European champions Barca were judged the best women’s team while Pep Guardiola’s Treble-winning City picked up the men’s prize.

Photo credit: Michel Euler/AP

FIFA bans former Spanish FA president for three years

France Football leads with FIFA’s ban of former Spanish Football Association president Luis Rubiales from all football-related activity for three years. Rubiales kissed midfielder Jenni Hermoso on the lips during the trophy presentation following Spain’s victory over England in the World Cup final on August 20, but Hermoso later said the kiss was not consensual. While Rubiales initially attempted to carry on in his role, he subsequently resigned last month and has now been punished for a breach of article 13 of the FIFA Disciplinary Code.

Main photo credit: GPO

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