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Global alarm grows over Israel’s planned assault in Rafah


Global alarm grows over Israel’s planned assault in Rafah

IDF says it found Hamas operatives inside Al-Amal Hospital in Khan Younis

NBC News

The Israel Defense Forces said it apprehended Hamas operatives who were hiding inside Al-Amal Hospital in Khan Younis.

The military said in a statement that the Hamas members were among 20 people who were found there and detained.

“The detainees were transferred for further investigation by security forces in Israel,” the IDF said.

NBC News could not independently verify the IDF’s claims.

The IDF said it conducted the operation in coordination with the hospital, and it “meticulously and selectively scanned the hospital without opening fire and without harming the patients or medical staff.”

The Palestine Red Crescent Society said Friday that Israeli forces entered Al-Amal Hospital after targeting it and the organization’s headquarters in Khan Younis for several days, killing at least 43 people.

The dead included three aid workers identified as Naeem Hasan Al-Jabali, Khalid Kulab and Hidaya Hamad, according to the aid organization.

Major progress on deal to free remaining hostages from Gaza within reach, U.S. official says

Monica Alba

WASHINGTON — U.S. officials believe major progress on a deal to free the remaining hostages in Gaza could come as early as this week, according to a senior administration official, who briefed reporters following Biden’s call with Netanyahu.

“It’s pretty much there,” the official said, while stressing that existing gaps remain significant and every detail in the deal must be finalized.

“Most of it is actually finished,” the person added, without predicting that it would definitely happen.

The official said Biden and Netanyahu spent two-thirds of their 45-minute call today discussing the hostage negotiations.

Biden also expressed, as indicated in the formal readout of the call, his concerns over a military operation in Rafah, given the high number of civilians who were directed there earlier in the war.

The two leaders had a “pretty detailed back and forth on that,” the official said, specifically referencing the density of the population in southern Gaza.

Hamas says Israel aims to force Palestinians from Gaza

NBC News

Hamas said in a statement that Israel aims to exterminate Palestinians and force them to migrate from Gaza.

“The discovery of nearly 100 martyrs after the criminal Zionist occupation forces withdrew from the neighborhoods of Al-Rimal and Tal Al-Hawa in Gaza City, most of whom were martyred by the bullets of the occupation’s murderous Nazi snipers, indicates the criminal approach followed by this entity with the aim of extermination and forcing our people to forcibly migrate from their land,” the group said.

Hamas called on the International Court of Justice to document Israel’s actions and hold the country accountable for them.

‘I don’t know what he meant by that,’ Netanyahu says of Biden’s ‘over the top’ remark

Summer Concepcion

In an interview on ABC’s “This Week” today, Netanyahu was asked to respond to Biden’s sharp criticism of Israel’s planned ground assault on Rafah, which he slammed as being “over the top.”

Netanyahu praised Biden’s “support for Israel since the beginning of the war” but said he was unsure about the president’s latest rebuke of Israel’s military response in Gaza.

“I don’t know exactly what he meant by that,” Netanyahu said, before going on to stress that Israel experienced an “unprovoked, murderous” attack on Oct. 7 by Hamas.

He then argued that Israel is working to provide “safe corridors and safe zones” for civilians in Rafah before the country’s planned ground assault.

“I think we’ve responded in a way that goes after the terrorists and tries to minimize the civilian population, in which the terrorists embed themselves and use them as human shields,” he said. “We drop thousands of flyers, we phone Palestinians in their homes, we ask them to leave, we give them safe corridors and safe zones. So I think we’re doing the right thing.”

Netanyahu also came to Biden’s defense when asked about a recent special counsel report that scrutinized Biden’s age and mental fitness.

“I have had more than a dozen phone conversations, extended phone conversations with President Biden. He also came on a visit to Israel during wartime, which is an historic first, and I found him very clear and very focused,” he said. “We managed to agree on the war aims and many things. Sometimes we have disagreements, but they weren’t born of a lack of understanding on his part or on my part.”

U.S. teen killed by Israeli forces in West Bank, organization says

NBC News

An American teenager was killed yesterday by Israeli forces in the West Bank, according to Defense for Children International Palestine, a children’s rights organization.

Mohammad Khdour, a 17-year-old Palestinian American, was in a car with a relative in an area west of Biddu when Israeli forces opened fire, striking him in the head twice, the organization said on X.

“Mohammad was a U.S. citizen and a senior in high school. Israeli forces shot and killed him in a wooded park where Palestinians pick mushrooms, sage, and other plants,” the organization wrote.

Seventeen Palestinian children have been killed by Israeli forces and settlers in the occupied West Bank so far this year, including two U.S. citizens, the organization said. A total of 98 Palestinian children have been killed in the West Bank since Oct. 7.

“Decades of systemic impunity has created a situation where Israeli forces shoot to kill without limit,” said Ayed Abu Eqtaish, accountability program director at Defense for Children International Palestine. “As Palestinian children are increasingly targets in the West Bank, Israeli forces’ rules of engagement seemingly allow direct targeting of Palestinian children where no threat exists to justify the use of intentional lethal force.”

Egypt warns of ‘grave consequences’ if Israel conducts military operation in Rafah

Mirna Alsharif

Egypt strongly rejected Israel’s plan to execute a military operation in Rafah, according to the country’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Ahmed Abu Zeid.

The country warned of the “grave consequences” of such a military operation “especially in light of the risks of worsening the humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza,” it said in a statement on X.

Egypt said targeting Rafah and obstructing humanitarian aid to the area amounts to a policy of “displacing the Palestinian people and dissolving their cause.”

The country reiterated its call for a cease-fire in Gaza and asked that global and regional interests unite to prevent the targeting of Rafah, which is home to about 1.4 million who were displaced there because it was “the last safe area in the strip.”

Over 12,000 children killed in Gaza since Oct. 7, Palestinian officials say

NBC News

More than 12,000 children have been killed in the Gaza Strip since Oct. 7, according to its government media office.

Around 7,000 people are missing in Gaza, 70% of whom are children and women, the media office said.

More than 28,000 people have been killed and 67,700 have been injured in Gaza since the war began, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry.

Activist groups stage protests at museums and galleries in London, New York

Leila Sackur

Protesters in London announced they had occupied the central plaza of the British Museum today, in protest of the museum’s sponsorship by oil companies with alleged links to Israel.

Energy Embargo for Palestine posted photos on its social media accounts of protesters staging a sit-in at the museum’s iconic glass-roofed Great Court in London, carrying signs that called on the museum to drop British Petroleum as a sponsor. The company was awarded a natural gas exploration contract in Israel’s economic waters off the coast of Gaza last year.

The targeting of one of Britain’s most famous cultural institutions comes as protesters in New York staged actions at the Museum of Modern Art and the Brooklyn Museum yesterday, demanding a cease-fire.

MoMA temporarily closed its public galleries as 500 protesters filled its central atriums, displaying banners from the upper floors reading “Long Live Gaza” and “From the River to the Sea.”

Israel launches Super Bowl ad campaign

Leila Sackur

Israel has launched a combined advertising campaign in the U.S. timed to coincide with the Super Bowl, raising awareness of the hostages still in Hamas captivity.

Videos of the commercials shared on the Israeli government’s official public diplomacy YouTube account focus on the 136 hostages, making the point that they are unable to attend or watch the Super Bowl due to being held captive in the Gaza Strip. “In a roaring stadium, their silence is deafening,” reads the tagline on one, while another says, “136 seats are still available for Sunday’s game,” referring to the number of hostages believed to still be in captivity in Gaza.

The ads were made and funded by Israel’s government advertising agency and its public diplomacy directory.

In a separate social media campaign, also timed for the Super Bowl, and released by the Hostage and Missing Families Forum, actor and comedian Michael Rapaport urges viewers to contact local representatives demanding the release of hostages.

Impact of war ‘devastating’ Gaza and West Bank economies, says IMF


Leila Sackur

The impact of war has been “devastating” for the Gaza and West Bank economies, IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva told the Arab Fiscal Forum in Dubai, adding that the conflict could have wider financial implications for the region.

“The Palestinian economy’s dire outlook is worsening as the conflict persists,” she said, adding that the only economic solution was “durable peace.”

Other Middle East economies were lagging below growth projections due to oil production cuts and the Israel-Gaza conflict, Georgieva said, though she added the world economy was resilient.

Economies neighboring Israel and the Palestinian territories were also seeing declines in tourist revenue, she said.

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