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As Desperation In Gaza Grows, Israel Says It Won’t Allow Aid To Flow Until Hamas Releases Hostages

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APOSTALEM — On Thursday, while Israel’s military struck the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip with airstrikes and made preparations for a potential ground invasion, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken affirmed American support for Israel. With Palestinians attempting to replenish dwindling supplies of bread and groceries, Israel declared that no goods could be imported into Gaza until Hamas militants released the 150 hostages they had captured during their murderous incursion over the weekend.

After Israel obstructed the entry of supplies from Egypt and halted shipments of food, water, fuel, and electricity to Gaza’s 2.3 million inhabitants, international aid organizations warned of a worsening humanitarian crisis. Each party has lost a minimum of 2,700 lives in the conflict.

According to a statement made by Israeli Energy Minister Israel Katz on social media, until the Israeli hostages are returned home, not a single electricity switch, tap or fuel truck will be allowed to access the area.

Thursday, an Israeli military spokesman, Lt. Col. Richard Hecht, informed reporters that forces are “preparing for a ground maneuver” if political authorities so require. Due to the dense population concentration on a sliver of land measuring merely 40 kilometers (25 miles), a ground offensive in Gaza would probably inflict even greater casualties on both parties through vicious house-to-house combat.

Hamas militants have launched thousands of missiles into Israel as Israel bombards Gaza from the air. Amid concerns that the fighting could extend throughout the region, Syrian state media reported that international airports in Aleppo, the northern city of Damascus, and Damascus itself were rendered inoperable by Israeli airstrikes on Thursday.

One could have observed Palestinians fleeing airstrikes in Gaza, frantically traversing the streets while carrying their belongings and searching for a secure haven. As of Wednesday night, approximately 15% of Gaza’s population, or 340,000 individuals, had departed their residences. Most are housed in schools operated by the United Nations, whereas others stay with family members or acquaintances.

People formed lengthy lines at grocery stores and bakeries that ventured to open to stock up before the shelves ran out. Wednesday marked the decommissioning of Gaza’s sole power station due to petroleum scarcity, leaving the region with lights sourced from dispersed private generators.

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As Desperation In Gaza Grows, Israel Says It Won’t Allow Aid To Flow Until Hamas Releases Hostages.

Aid officials report that hospitals running low on supplies and are overrun with wounded patients have only a few days’ worth of petroleum before their power is cut off. The U.N. reports that the water cut-off has also resulted in severe water shortages for more than 650,000 individuals.

“Healthcare facilities run the risk of transforming into mortuaries in the absence of electricity,” said Fabrizio Carboni, regional director of the International Committee of the Red Cross. He stated that electricity powers newborn incubators, kidney dialysis machines, X-ray machines, and other devices.

There was no more space for ambulance crews transporting bodies from the rubble of destroyed structures to the mortuary at Shifa, the largest hospital in Gaza. There was a queue of dozens of corpses in body bags in the hospital’s parking lot. Strikes have damaged fourteen health facilities, health officials reported Thursday.

“The situation is extremely critical,” stated Mohammad Abu Selmia, the superintendent of the Shifa hospital. “Days in Gaza have never been such as they are at the moment.”

Due to Israel’s region closure, the sole means of accessing or departing is via the Rafah border crossing with Egypt. Per the Egyptian Foreign Ministry, Rafah has not been officially shut down; however, its operations have been impeded due to airstrikes. Egypt has been trying to persuade Israel and the United States to permit fuel and humanitarian deliveries to pass through Rafah.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel pledged to “crush” Hamas on Saturday when the militant organization stormed into the country’s southern region and slaughtered hundreds of people, including young people at a music festival and children in their homes. Netanyahu accused Hamas of atrocities such as raping women and beheading soldiers. An independent source did not corroborate his claims.

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As Desperation In Gaza Grows, Israel Says It Won’t Allow Aid To Flow Until Hamas Releases Hostages.

Amid national sorrow and retribution demands, the Israeli government is under intense pressure to depose Hamas rather than continue to attempt to contain the organization in Gaza.

Following the conclusion of four prior conflicts, the faction has maintained a firm grip on its governed region since 2007. Near Gaza, Israel has deployed 360,000 reservists, evacuated tens of thousands of inhabitants from neighboring communities, and amassed additional forces. The battle is currently being directed by a new war cabinet, which includes a longstanding opposition politician.

Saleh Al-Arouri, a senior Hamas official, issued the following threat on Thursday: “Any Israeli invasion of Gaza would be catastrophic for its army,” and the organization would be ready to retaliate.

Blinken’s visit emphasized the United States’ support for Israel’s response.

“You may be capable of defending yourselves, but as long as the United States of America exists, you will never have to,” Blinken said following a meeting with Netanyahu in Tel Aviv. “We shall perpetually stand by your side.”

On Friday, Blinken is scheduled to meet with Jordan’s King Abdullah II and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, whose authority is limited to portions of the occupied West Bank.

Palestine annexed the West Bank, Gaza, and eastern Jerusalem during a 1967 conflict. Palestine desires all three territories for its future state, but peace negotiations have been suspended for more than ten years.

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As Desperation In Gaza Grows, Israel Says It Won’t Allow Aid To Flow Until Hamas Releases Hostages.

Overnight strikes in Gaza, according to the Israeli military, targeted Hamas’ elite Nukhba forces, including command centers utilized by the fighters in Saturday’s assault and the residence of a senior Hamas naval operative, which the military claimed was used to store unidentified weaponry. Two commanders of two smaller militant organizations were slain in additional airstrikes, according to media outlets affiliated with those groups.

“At this time, our primary objective is to eliminate their senior leadership,” stated Hecht, the military spokesman regarding Hamas. “In addition to the military leadership, the governmental leadership as well, including Yehia Sinwar, the highest-ranking Hamas leader.”

Israel has adopted a novel strategy of demolishing entire neighborhoods instead of merely specific structures. According to Hecht, targeting decisions were determined by intelligence, and civilians were warned.

Palestinians claim that despite the warnings, some have been unable to escape or are stranded and that entire families have been engulfed in debris.

The Associated Press obtained drone footage that unveiled the destructive extent of the Shati refugee camp in the northern region of Gaza due to airstrikes that occurred overnight. Residents searched for survivors while clearing debris with their bare hands. A man collapsed into the embrace of a fellow resident upon learning that his family members who had gone missing had been identified as deceased.

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As Desperation In Gaza Grows, Israel Says It Won’t Allow Aid To Flow Until Hamas Releases Hostages.

Early Wednesday morning in the Bureij refugee camp, Jaber Weshah, a 73-year-old rights activist, stated that a strike that destroyed a multi-story building adjacent to his occurred without warning. Residents reported that at least twelve people were murdered, including a bookseller, his wife, two toddler daughters, and six members of another family.

“It resembled an inferno,” stated Weshah.

According to the Palestinian Ministry of Health, two Palestinians were killed in the West Bank on Thursday when Israeli settlers opened fire at a funeral for three individuals slain in a settler rampage the day before. Jewish settlers in automobiles were captured on film swerving into the funeral procession, cutting off the road, and then halting and opening fire.

Since Saturday, the Health Ministry reports that over twenty Palestinians have been killed in the West Bank and two in Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem; most of these fatalities were caused by police fire upon stone-throwing demonstrators.

According to the Palestinian Ministry of Health, the number of fatalities in Gaza surpassed 1,400.

More than 1,300 people, including 247 soldiers, have been slain in Israel, according to the Israeli military, a staggering number not seen since the weeks-long war with Egypt and Syria in 1973.

Both parties have suffered thousands of casualties.

According to Israel, approximately 1,500 Hamas militants were slain within its borders, with hundreds of those killed in Gaza being Hamas members.

SOURCE – (AP)

Kiara Grace is a staff writer at VORNews, a reputable online publication. Her writing focuses on technology trends, particularly in the realm of consumer electronics and software. With a keen eye for detail and a knack for breaking down complex topics, Kiara delivers insightful analyses that resonate with tech enthusiasts and casual readers alike. Her articles strike a balance between in-depth coverage and accessibility, making them a go-to resource for anyone seeking to stay informed about the latest innovations shaping our digital world.

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Ukraine Claims It Shot Down A Russian Strategic Bomber As Moscow’s Missiles Kill 8 Ukrainians

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Kiev, Ukraine — Ukraine’s air force claimed on Friday that it shot down a Russian strategic bomber, but Moscow officials said the plane landed in a sparsely populated area due to a malfunction following a combat mission.

Neither of the claims could be independently verified. Previous Ukrainian claims of shooting down Russian jets throughout the more than two-year conflict were met with silence or denials from Moscow.

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Ukraine Claims It Shot Down A Russian Strategic Bomber As Moscow’s Missiles Kill 8 Ukrainians

Meanwhile, Russian missiles attacked cities in Ukraine’s central Dnipro area, killing eight people, including a 14-year-old girl and an eight-year-old boy, and wounded 28, according to local officials.

Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy reiterated Kyiv authorities’ almost daily calls for more Western air defense systems, citing a similarity to how Israel countered a recent Iranian attack.

Missile and drone assaults can be prevented, he said on social media site X: “This has been demonstrated in the skies over the Middle East, and it should also work in Europe.”

Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba stated, “Children must not be killed in airstrikes in modern Europe.”

Russia’s air force is far more powerful than Ukraine’s, but sophisticated missile systems supplied by Kyiv’s Western allies pose a significant threat to Russian aviation as the Kremlin’s forces slowly advance along the approximately 1,000-kilometer (620-mile) front line in what has become a grinding war of attrition. Ukrainian officials say they expect a strong Russian onslaught this summer.

Ukraine says the air force and military intelligence worked together to shoot down the Tu-22M3 bomber using anti-aircraft missiles. Russia frequently utilizes the bomber to launch Kh-22 cruise missiles at Ukrainian targets from within its own airspace. The plane can also transport nuclear warheads.

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Ukraine Claims It Shot Down A Russian Strategic Bomber As Moscow’s Missiles Kill 8 Ukrainians

The Russian military ministry reported that the warplane crashed “in a deserted area” in the southern province of Stavropol, hundreds of kilometers (miles) from the Ukrainian border.

According to the ministry, three crew members were rescued after ejecting from the aircraft, while a fourth is still missing. However, Stavropol Governor Vladimir Vladimirov reported one of the rescued pilots died.

On Christmas Eve, Ukraine reported that it had shot down two Russian fighter jets. In January, the Ukrainian air force claimed to have shot down a Russian early warning and control plane as well as a crucial command center aircraft that feeds intelligence to ground troops, appearing to deal a serious blow to the Kremlin’s forces. The following month, Ukraine claimed it had shot down another early warning and control plane.

In January, Moscow accused Kyiv of shooting down a Russian military transport plane carrying Ukrainian POWs bound for a prisoner swap.

Russian forces launched a joint aerial attack overnight, using 22 different types of missiles and 14 Shahed drones, according to the Ukrainian air force. It stated that all of the drones and 15 missiles had been intercepted.

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Ukraine Claims It Shot Down A Russian Strategic Bomber As Moscow’s Missiles Kill 8 Ukrainians

Ukraine’s National Railway Operator reported that the attack targeted both metropolitan areas and train infrastructure in the Dnipro region. Employee Oksana Storozhenko, mother of two teenage sons, was among those slain in the strikes, according to reports.

SOURCE – (AP)

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Ukraine, Israel Aid Back On Track As House Pushes Toward Weekend Votes

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WASHINGTON – With rare bipartisan support, the House advanced Friday on a $95 billion foreign aid plan for Ukraine, Israel, Taiwan, and humanitarian aid, as a coalition of members helped it cross a procedural hurdle and reach final votes this weekend. Friday’s vote delivered an unusual outcome in the generally hyper-partisan House, with Democrats voting 316-94 in support of Republican Speaker Mike Johnson’s plan. The final House approval might come this weekend, when the package is delivered to the Senate.

It was a success for Speaker Mike Johnson’s strategy, which he put into action last week after agonizing over the legislation for two months. Nonetheless, Johnson has spent the past 24 hours making the rounds on conservative media, attempting to salvage support for wartime funding, particularly for Ukraine as it faces a critical moment in its battle with Russia, but also for his own job, as the restive right flank threatens to oust him over the effort.

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Ukraine, Israel Aid Back On Track As House Pushes Toward Weekend Votes

“There’s a lot of misinformation about what we’re doing here and why,” Johnson said to The Mark Levin Show’s conservative host.

“Ukrainians urgently require lethal aid right now. “We cannot allow Vladimir Putin to roll through another country and take it,” he stated of the Russian president’s invasion of Ukraine. “These are very serious matters with global implications.”

After months of delay, the House moved slowly but methodically this week after Johnson decided to move forward. President Joe Biden quickly endorsed the speaker’s plan, and Donald Trump, the Republican assumed presidential nominee who opposes most foreign aid to Ukraine, has not slowed the speaker’s progress.

“The world is watching what Congress does,” the White House stated. “Passing this legislation would send a powerful message about the strength of American leadership at a pivotal moment.”

In an extremely rare move, members of the House Rules Committee banded together late Thursday in a near-midnight vote, with four Democrats supporting a procedural step, to push the package past the Republican majority’s three hardline holdouts and send it to the House floor for debate, 9-3. It was a moment unlike any other in recent House history.

Johnson will need to rely on Democrats again on Friday to pass the next procedural vote and block Republican amendments that might kill the plan. One proposed by extreme Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene would cut Ukraine’s funding to zero.

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Ukraine, Israel Aid Back On Track As House Pushes Toward Weekend Votes

Greene has filed a “motion to vacate” the speaker from office, which has at least one Republican co-sponsor, Rep. Thomas Massie of Kentucky. It may initiate a bid to oust Johnson from the speaker’s office if she calls it up for a vote, similar to how Republicans removed Kevin McCarthy from the job last November.

With one of the most slender House majorities in modern history, Johnson can only afford to lose one or two Republican votes to pass any legislation. That dynamic has pushed him into the arms of Democrats as he seeks votes to enact the legislation.

Johnson cannot tailor the plan as the ultra-conservatives seek without risking losing Democratic support. It has prompted him to abandon severe security measures to control migrants at the US-Mexico border, among other goals.

At best, Johnson has been able to divide a Senate-passed version of the bill into different portions, as House Republicans prefer, and the final votes will be on various measures — for Ukraine, Israel, and Indo-Pacific partners.

The plan would also include a fourth clause, which incorporates several Republican demands that Democrats support or are ready to accept. Proposals include allowing the United States to seize frozen Russian central bank assets to rebuild Ukraine, imposing sanctions on Iran, Russia, China, and fentanyl trafficking criminal organizations, and potentially banning the video app TikTok if its Chinese owner does not sell its stake within a year.

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Ukraine, Israel Aid Back On Track As House Pushes Toward Weekend Votes

Passing each package, which is set to be voted on Saturday, would require Johnson to establish intricate bipartisan coalitions, with Democrats assuring Ukraine funding is authorized but some left-leaning progressives refusing to support military aid for Israel due to the destruction of Gaza.

The components would then be automatically stitched back together into a single package and delivered to the Senate, where hardliners are plotting procedural measures to postpone final passage.

SOURCE – (AP)

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Argentina Asks To Join NATO As President Milei Seeks A More Prominent Role For His Nation

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BUENOS AIRES, Argentina – Argentina formally sought on Thursday to join NATO as a worldwide partner, paving the stage for further political and security cooperation at a time when President Javier Milei’s right-wing government seeks to strengthen ties with Western powers and attract investment.

The request came as NATO Deputy General Secretary Mircea Geoana met with visiting Argentine Defense Minister Luis Petri in Brussels to discuss regional security problems.

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Argentina Asks To Join NATO As President Milei Seeks A More Prominent Role For His Nation

Geoana said he supported Argentina’s bid to become an accredited partner in the alliance, which is a valuable role short of “ally” for nations outside NATO’s geographical territory and not compelled to participate in joint military actions. NATO membership is currently confined to European countries, Turkey, Canada, and the United States.

The classification may provide Argentina with access to modern technology, security systems, and training that it did not previously have, according to the Argentine presidency.

“Argentina plays an important role in Latin America,” Geoana stated at NATO headquarters. “Closer political and practical cooperation could benefit us both.”

Milei has been promoting a radical libertarian agenda aimed at undoing years of protectionist trade policies, overspending, and debilitating international debt that have thrown the country’s economy into disarray.

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Argentina Asks To Join NATO As President Milei Seeks A More Prominent Role For His Nation

Over the last four months as president, he has reshaped Argentina’s foreign policy to one of almost unconditional support for the United States, as part of an effort to restore Argentina’s global economic prominence after previous administrations allowed relations with Washington and European allies to deteriorate.

Milei’s government is likewise looking for security gains from improved ties with Western countries. On Thursday, the US government revealed that it would provide Argentina with $40 million in foreign military financing for the first time in more than two decades, allowing critical US allies such as Israel to purchase American weapons.

The money, meant to assist Argentina equip and modernize its military, will help cover the cost of 24 American F-16 fighter aircraft purchased from Denmark earlier this week. Defense Minister Petri described the acquisition of the upgraded jets as “the most important military purchase since Argentina’s return to democracy” in 1983. Milei’s political opponents have criticized the $300 million price tag, which comes as he lowers government expenditure.

Formal partnership with NATO requires the agreement of all 32 NATO countries. Argentina’s relations with crucial NATO partner Britain have been strained since 1982, when the two went to war over the disputed Falkland Islands in the South Atlantic.

The Alliance’s other global partners include Afghanistan, Australia, Iraq, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Mongolia, New Zealand, and Pakistan. Colombia is now NATO’s lone partner in Latin America.

Giving a country the title of “global partner” does not guarantee that NATO allies will defend it in the case of an attack. That pledge, outlined in Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s founding treaty, is limited to full members of the alliance.

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Argentina Asks To Join NATO As President Milei Seeks A More Prominent Role For His Nation

NATO’s conversation with Argentina began in the early 1990s. Former President Bill Clinton labeled Argentina a “major non-NATO ally” in 1998, partly as a symbolic gesture to reward the pro-American government at the time for contributing soldiers on peacekeeping operations in Bosnia.

SOURCE – (AP)

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