Israel and Hamas at war | Lebanon could “fight without limits”

Fears that the conflict in the Gaza Strip would spread to other countries in the Middle East were high on Wednesday, the day after the assassination of the no 2 of Palestinian Hamas in Lebanon, and after an attack in Iran. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken will begin a new diplomatic tour of the region, including Israel, this Thursday.



Lebanon

On Wednesday evening, the leader of pro-Iranian Hezbollah warned Israel against starting a war in Lebanon. “For the moment, we are fighting on the front in a calculated manner (…), but if the enemy thinks of launching a war against Lebanon, we will fight without limits, without restrictions, without borders (…)”, assured Hassan Nasrallah in a speech broadcast live on television. “We do not fear war,” he insisted.

This speech comes the day after the first strike on the outskirts of Beirut, attributed to Israel, since the start of the war in Gaza. The no 2 of Hamas, Saleh al-Arouri, and six other officials and executives of the Palestinian formation allied to Hezbollah were killed in this strike.

In this context, Germany called on its nationals to quickly leave Lebanon on Wednesday.

Yemen

PHOTO MOHAMMED HUWAIS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE ARCHIVES

On December 29, Yemenis marched in the streets of Sanaa in support of the Palestinians.

Since the start of this conflict, tensions have increased on the border in Syria and Iraq, where American bases have been targeted. Tensions are also high in the Red Sea, where Yemen’s Houthi rebels are carrying out attacks to slow down maritime traffic. This strategic area sees 12% of global maritime trade.

Again on Wednesday, the Houthis claimed to have carried out an “operation” against a ship from the French carrier CMA CGM in the Red Sea.

A total of 18 shipping companies are now bypassing the African continent to avoid the Red Sea, the head of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) told the United Nations (UN). This detour causes transportation costs to skyrocket.

On Wednesday, a coalition led by the United States urged the Houthis to “immediately stop their illegal attacks” on merchant ships in the Red Sea, failing which these rebels, close to Iran, will face the “consequences”.

“Our message must be clear: we demand an immediate end to these illegal attacks and the release of illegally detained ships and crews,” said this coalition of 12 countries – including Canada – in a statement released by the White House. .

Genocide

PHOTO JACK GUEZ, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Plumes of smoke rise from buildings destroyed by Israeli strikes in the central Gaza Strip.

The UN’s highest court will hear arguments from South Africa and Israel next week, after Pretoria filed a petition against Israel for “genocide” in the Gaza Strip.

Indeed, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) will hold public hearings on January 11 and 12, it said in a press release.

South Africa wants the ICJ to urgently order the suspension of military operations in Gaza, considering that Israel “has engaged, is engaged in and risks continuing to engage in acts of genocide against the Palestinian people in Gaza.”

“Israel rejects with disgust the defamation (…) propagated by South Africa and its recourse to the International Court of Justice,” reacted on X the spokesperson for the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Lior Haiat.

“This request is unfounded, counterproductive and not based on any facts,” said White House National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby on Wednesday, criticizing the South African initiative.

Nearly three months of war

PHOTO LEO CORREA, ASSOCIATED PRESS ARCHIVES

Israeli assault tanks parked on the border with the Gaza Strip, in southern Israel, on 1er last January

In the Gaza Strip itself, the Israeli army continued its operations and bombings on Wednesday, notably in Khan Younes, where the Hamas Ministry of Health reported “numerous” deaths.

Hamas still has “significant capabilities” in Gaza, after almost three months of operations, John Kirby said on Wednesday. “We believe that reducing and defeating Hamas’s capabilities to carry out attacks inside Israel is an absolutely achievable goal for Israeli military forces,” he added.

The territory’s 2.4 million inhabitants face serious shortages of food, water, fuel and medicine. Despite a UN resolution, humanitarian aid is trickling in.

According to Hamas’ most recent toll, the war has cost the lives of 22,313 Gazans, mostly women, adolescents and children.

British Foreign Minister David Cameron said on Wednesday that “more needed to be done” to deliver aid to Gaza. He called on Israel to authorize a significant number of supplies to reduce the risk of famine. “The United Kingdom also wants the immediate release of the hostages and progress towards a lasting ceasefire,” added the minister.

Forced displacements

PHOTO AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Women talk in a makeshift camp housing displaced Palestinians in Rafah, southern Gaza.

Countries traditionally aligned with Israel have warned its right-wing government against moving residents out of the Gaza Strip. Canada would be seen by Israel as a place to move Gazans.

Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich said this week that his country should “encourage the migration” of Palestinians from Gaza and restore Israeli settlements there, echoing similar comments by National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir .

Last month, members of Likud, the party of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, also reportedly discussed which countries would be willing to accept Palestinians from Gaza as refugees.

US State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller condemned the “inflammatory and irresponsible” remarks by the two Israeli ministers. French President Emmanuel Macron called them “unacceptable.”

A spokeswoman for Canadian Immigration Minister Marc Miller said Canada would not tolerate the mass displacement of Palestinians.

“In response to the situation in Gaza, our priority is to reunite families in a way that does not hinder their ability to return to Gaza, when circumstances permit,” Mr. Miller, Bahoz Dara Aziz.

This comment responds to a daily article Israel Hayom citing anonymous sources who say a Knesset member brought up Canada, mentioning the new federal program that offers limited visas to relatives of Canadian citizens seeking to leave Gaza.

Diplomatic visit

PHOTO JULIA NIKHINSON, REUTERS ARCHIVES

Antony Blinken, US Secretary of State

American Secretary of State Antony Blinken will begin a new diplomatic shuttle in the Middle East on Thursday with a stop planned in Israel, an American official told AFP on condition of anonymity.

This will be Mr. Blinken’s fifth official visit to Israel since the start of the war on October 7.

National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan and Defense Minister Lloyd Austin also visited the region, as did President Joe Biden at the very beginning of the conflict which will enter its fourth month in the coming days.

With Agence France-Presse and La Presse Canadienne


reference: www.lapresse.ca

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