Indirect talks between Israel and Hamas have so far failed to agree on a permanent ceasefire. / Photo: Reuters Archive

Thursday, June 20, 2024

12:04 GMT — Hamas chief Ismail Haniya has held talks with Iran's acting Foreign Minister Ali Bagheri in Qatar to discuss ways of ending Israel's war on Gaza, the Palestinian group said.

The talks held between the two sides Wednesday evening took up Palestinian developments and efforts to halt the Israeli onslaught on Gaza, Hamas added in a statement.

Bagheri reviewed Iranian efforts to support the Palestinians in international arenas, including the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, the BRICS bloc of emerging economics, and the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, the statement said.

Indirect talks between Israel and Hamas mediated by the US, Qatar and Egypt have so far failed to agree on a permanent ceasefire that allows a prisoner swap between the two sides.

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12:41 GMT — Another Hezbollah militant killed in Israeli strike in southern Lebanon

Another Hezbollah militant was killed in an Israeli attack in southern Lebanon, the Lebanese group said.

The group identified the slain member as Abbas Ibrahim Hamada, without specifying the circumstances of his death.

The Israeli army, for its part, confirmed that Hamada was killed in a drone strike in the town of Deir Kifa. A military statement said that Hamada was allegedly the operations officer of Hezbollah's Jouaiyya regional unit.

At least 347 Hezbollah militants have been killed in clashes with Israeli forces since October 8, 2023, according to an Anadolu news agency tally.

11:30 GMT — Israel arrests 20 more Palestinians in West Bank raids

The Israeli army detained 20 more Palestinians in military raids in the occupied West Bank, according to prisoners' affairs groups.

The speaker of the now-disbanded Palestinian Legislative Council, Aziz Dweik, was among the detainees, the Commission of Detainees' Affairs and the Palestinian Prisoner Society said in a joint statement.

Dweik was released by the Israeli army earlier this week.

Thursday's arrests brought to 9,300 Palestinians detained by the Israeli army in the occupied West Bank since last October, according to Palestinian figures.

10:29 GMT — Over 70% of public facilities in Rafah destroyed by Israeli army: mayor

Israeli attacks have destroyed more than 70 percent of public facilities in Rafah in southern Gaza, the city's mayor said.

"Over 70% of public facilities and infrastructure have been destroyed in the Israeli onslaught," Ahmed al Soufi told Anadolu news agency. He said the Israeli army on Tuesday blew up dozens of homes in the Saudi neighbourhood of western Rafah.

"Israel seeks to turn Gaza into an uninhabitable area by destroying the Rafah crossing and preventing the entry of humanitarian and relief aid," the mayor said, warning of a possible famine in the Palestinian enclave.

Displaced Palestinians, who fled their houses due to Israeli strikes, shelter at a tent camp, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas, in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip

10:30 GMT — Palestinian death toll from Israel's war on Gaza continues to mount

The Palestinian death toll from relentless Israeli attacks on Gaza since last October reached 37,431, the Palestinian Health Ministry in the besieged enclave said.

At least 85,653 people have also been injured in the onslaught, the ministry added in a statement.

"Israeli forces killed 35 people and injured 130 others in four 'massacres' against families in the last 24 hours," the ministry said. "Many people are still trapped under rubble and on the roads as rescuers are unable to reach them," it added.

10:00 GMT — Families of Israeli hostages demonstrate in Tel Aviv to demand prisoner swap with Hamas

Families of Israeli hostages held by Hamas have blocked a main highway in Tel Aviv to demand a prisoner swap with the Palestinian group.

Protesters blocked Ayalon Highway, the main artery of the Tel Aviv area, to pile pressure on the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to agree to a deal with Hamas to free hostages in its captivity, the Israeli public broadcaster KAN reported.

Israel estimates that around 120 Israelis are held in Gaza following its cross-border attack on October 7, 2023.

10:17 GMT — Israel prepares for possible 'mass burials' in case of war with Lebanon: Minister

Israel is preparing for possible "mass burials" in case of a large-scale war with Lebanon, the country's religious affairs minister has said.

"Not everything can be said in the studios, but we are holding meetings in the office to prepare for bigger things in the north," Michael Malchieli told Israeli Channel 14.

When asked about the possibility of carrying out mass burials in case of a military conflict with Lebanon, he said "yes" without elaborating.

09:00 GMT — Israeli army releases 33 Palestinian detainees from Gaza

The Israeli army has released 33 Palestinian detainees from Gaza, according to medical sources.

"The freed detainees were admitted to the al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital with thin bodies and signs of torture," the sources said.

According to an Anadolu news agency reporter, the detainees were set free east of Deir al Balah in central Gaza.

The Israeli army is believed to have detained thousands of Palestinians from Gaza, including women, children and medics, amid its deadly offensive on the enclave.

Israeli army releases 33 Palestinian detainees from Gaza. Photo / Reuters

08:15 GMT — Hamas condemns Israeli rearrest of former Palestinian Legislative Council speaker

Palestinian group Hamas has condemned the arrest of Aziz Dweik, speaker of the now-disbanded Palestinian Legislative Council, by the Israeli army just days after his release from prison.

In a statement, Hamas said the decision to rearrest Dweik was carried out in "a brutal and retaliatory manner," holding Israel fully responsible for his life and safety.

Hamas said Israel would fail to break the will of Palestinian detainees, urging parliaments and rights groups worldwide to urgently exert pressure on Israel for his and all detainees' release from Israeli jails.

07:35 GMT — Israeli forces raid occupied West Bank city amid clashes

Israeli army forces have raided the West Bank city of Jenin amid clashes with Palestinian resistance, according to witnesses.

Israeli forces searched several houses and shops in the city, witnesses said.

Armed clashes were reported between Israeli forces and Palestinians in the al-Faraa refugee camp near Tubas City in the northern West Bank.

07:10 GMT — US floating pier in Gaza 'reattached to beach' after being dismantled

The US-built floating humanitarian pier in Gaza was reattached to the coast several days after it was dismantled due to unfavourable weather conditions, CNN reported.

It quoted two US officials who confirmed the pier was re-anchored to the Gaza coast, marking the second time it was reattached to the beach since its construction in mid-May.

On Tuesday, Pentagon spokesperson Pat Ryder said the pier would "go operational this week."

The pier was removed from its anchored position in Gaza last week and towed to Israel's port city of Ashdod due to expectations of high seas, according to a US Central Command (CENTCOM) statement.

07:02 GMT — Deadly Israeli strikes hit across Gaza's north and south

Israeli air strikes across Gaza have resulted in several Palestinian casualties, mostly women and children, as the deadly aggression in the besieged enclave continues.

According to the official Palestinian news agency Wafa, two women were killed and 12 others injured in an Israeli air strike on a home in western Nuseirat refugee camp in central Gaza.

Israeli artillery shelled the southern areas of the Zeitoun neighbourhood in southeastern Gaza City, as well as the eastern areas of the central Maghazi and Bureij refugee camps.

Shelling was also reported in most areas of Rafah, the enclave's southernmost city, as well as heavy Israeli machine gun fire.

Flouting a UN Security Council resolution demanding an immediate ceasefire, Israel has faced international condemnation amid its continued brutal offensive on Gaza since last October.

Houthis accused MV Tutor of "turning off its Automatic Identification System while passing through the Red Sea." / Photo/ Reuters

02:23 GMT — Yemen's Houthis say used 'new weapons' to sink Red Sea ship

Yemen's Houthi group has said that it employed "new weapons" to target and sink the cargo ship MV Tutor in the Red Sea.

The announcement was made by the group's naval forces and published by the Houthi-run Al-Masirah TV channel.

The statement said that "several naval weapons were used to target and sink the Tutor, including some that were used for the first time," without elaborating.

The Houthi statement said, "The targeting of the ship occurred after the vessel, belonging to a Greek-owned company, violated the group's ban on entering the occupied Haifa port."

The statement also accused the ship of "turning off its Automatic Identification System while passing through the Red Sea."

01:44 GMT — Israel says preparing for various scenarios on border with Lebanon

Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant has said that the situation on the northern border with Lebanon will change either through a political settlement or a wide-scale war.

Gallant's remarks followed an assessment at the Northern Command headquarters in Safed in Upper Galilee near the Lebanese border with Israeli Army Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi, the commander of the Northern Command, Ori Gordin, and the commander of the Air Force, Tomer Bar.

"IDF (army) forces are preparing and continue to prepare against every threat that comes our way, both in defence and attack," Gallant wrote on X.

"The situation in the north will change with a settlement or with a wide-scale military operation; we have an obligation to return the citizens safely to their homes," he added.

"We are completing the ground and air readiness, strengthening the intelligence systems and preparing for any possibility," The Times of Israel daily cited Gallant as saying in a statement.

23:30 GMT — Israel is fundamental cause of catastrophe in Gaza: Türkiye

Israel is the fundamental cause of the catastrophe seen in besieged Gaza, Türkiye's permanent representative to the UN Office in Geneva has said.

"The fundamental cause of the catastrophe we face in Gaza today is the Israeli occupation. As long as this occupation persists, resistance against the occupation by Palestinians will also continue," said Burak Akcapar.

Akcapar's remarks came after former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay, Chair commissioner of the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including occupied East Jerusalem and Israel — which is investigating crimes committed in occupied Palestinian territories — presented the commission's report during an interactive dialogue session held within the framework of the 56th Session of the UN Human Rights Council.

Akcapar said the report exposes some of the war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by Israeli occupation forces against civilians in Gaza.

He further said they support the report's call for an immediate and sustainable ceasefire, the lifting of the Gaza blockade and the uninterrupted, adequate and continuous delivery of humanitarian aid, as well as the mutual release of detainees and prisoners and an end to the targeting of civilians and civilian infrastructure.

20:08 GMT — Hamas slams Israeli destruction of Rafah crossing as 'terrorism'

Hamas denounced the Israeli military's destruction of the Palestinian side of the Rafah border crossing as "criminal behaviour" that "will not change the crossing's reality."

The statement was in response to footage released by the Israeli army that showed the devastation caused at the Rafah border crossing between besieged Gaza and Egypt.

"It is an act of terrorism by the occupying Israeli army to destroy the Rafah crossing with all its buildings and facilities, an escalation of crimes and violations against our people," said the Palestinian resistance group.

It accused the army of attempting "to isolate Gaza from the world and perpetuating the destruction of life-sustaining infrastructure," as it described it as "fascist."

Despite the sabotage by Israel, Hamas said the crossing would remain a Palestinian-Egyptian crossing. "This is a criminal behaviour, but it will not change the crossing's reality."

Hamas noted that the crossing will "be rehabilitated under a Palestinian initiative once the occupation is ousted and aggression against Gaza ceases."

22:43 GMT — US says it struck targets in Yemen

The US military has claimed to have destroyed one ground control station and one command and control node in a Houthi-controlled area of Yemen.

In a statement, the US military's Central Command added its forces also destroyed two Houthi drone boats in the Red Sea.

Houthis first launched drone and missile strikes in the key waterway in November in what they say is solidarity with Palestinians in Gaza. In over 70 attacks, they have sunk two vessels, seized another and killed at least three seafarers.

20:00 GMT — Israel abducts five Palestinians in Ramallah-area village

Israeli forces have stormed the village of Al-Mughayir, northeast of Ramallah, abducting five Palestinians and abused them before releasing them, WAFA news agency said, citing security and local sources.

The report said that Israeli occupation forces fired stun grenades and toxic tear gas in the confrontation, but wounds were reported.

19:00 GMT — Israeli tanks push deeper into Rafah, forcing people to flee again

Israeli tanks backed by warplanes and drones have advanced deeper into the western part of the Gaza city of Rafah, killing eight people, according to residents and Palestinian medics.

Residents said the tanks moved into five neighbourhoods after midnight. Heavy shelling and gunfire hit the tents of displaced families in the Al-Mawasi area, further to the west of the coastal enclave, they said.

Twelve Palestinians were also killed in an Israeli strike that hit a group of citizens and merchants in the south of Gaza; medical sources told the Reuters news agency.

The people were hit as they waited for convoys of aid trucks carrying goods through the Karem Abu Salem crossing in Salahuddin Road northeast of Rafah, the sources added.

"Another night of horror in Rafah. They opened fire from planes, drones and tanks on the western areas to cover for their invasion," said one Rafah resident, who asked not to be named.

"Bullets and shells landed in the Mawasi area near where people slept, killing and wounding many," he told Reuters via a chat app.

For our live updates from Wednesday, June 19, 2024, click here

TRT Afrika and agencies