Israel Continues Deadly Strikes on Gaza as Middle East Tense After Iranian Attack

Thu Apr 18 2024
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JERUSALEM: Israel launched more deadly strikes on the besieged Gaza Strip on Thursday as world powers watched nervously whether the country would retaliate against a weekend attack by Iran. The Israeli army bombed several areas in the Palestinian coastal territory of 2.4 million people, more than six months into the bloodiest-ever Gaza bombardment.

Since October 7, Israel’s relentless bombardment campaign has killed at least 33,970 Palestinians in Gaza, mostly women and children, according to the latest toll on Thursday from the health ministry in the territory.

Qatar’s prime minister has said that weeks of talks towards an Israel-Hamas truce and hostage release deal have stalled. He said that Qatar was now “reassessing our role as mediator” between Israel and Hamas.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has vowed to destroy Hamas, also stressed on Wednesday that Israel “reserves the right to protect itself” against Iran. Iran last weekend carried out its first-ever direct attack against Israel. Iran’s attack was retaliation for an April 1 Israeli air strike on the consular annex of its embassy in Damascus, Syria.

The global community has urged de-escalation since Iran’s attack on Israel which came after months of high tensions and violence involving Israel. “We are on the edge of a war in the Middle East which will be sending shock-waves to the rest of the world,” EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said ahead of a G7 meeting in Capri, Italy.

Iran has warned of a more severe response if Israel launches any further attacks after the attack on the embassy in Damascus. However, Tehran had also sought to calm tensions through indirect diplomatic channels with its other major adversary, the United States, which is Israel’s top ally and military supplier.

Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, in New York for a UN meeting, said Tehran had “tried to tell the United States clearly” that it is “not looking for the expansion of tension in the region”.

Amid speculations of retaliatory strikes against Iran, Israel reportedly aborted pre-arranged plans following diplomatic considerations. The range of potential responses included targeting Iranian interests or launching cyberattacks.

Meanwhile, Gaza continues to bear the brunt of the conflict, with Israeli airstrikes claiming numerous lives. Despite efforts towards a ceasefire, talks have stalled, exacerbating the humanitarian crisis in the region.

The UN Security Council is preparing to vote on a resolution for full United Nations membership for a Palestinian state, a move opposed by the United States.

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