Published: 10:34, January 11, 2024 | Updated: 13:02, January 11, 2024
Netanyahu says Israel won't continue occupying Gaza
By Xinhua

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during the weekly cabinet meeting at the Defence Ministry in Tel Aviv, Israel, Jan 7, 2024. (PHOTO / VIA AP)

JERUSALEM/RAMALLAH/AMMAN/GAZA/BEIRUT - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Wednesday that Israel "has no intention" of maintaining the occupation of Gaza or displacing civilians.

Netanyahu made the remarks a day before the opening of hearings at the International Court of Justice in The Hague regarding the alleged genocide of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.

"I want to make a few points absolutely clear -- Israel has no intention of permanently occupying Gaza or displacing its civilian population," Netanyahu said.

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He said Israel's bombardments in Gaza are aimed at Hamas militants, "not the Palestinian population, and we are doing so in full compliance with international law."

The Israeli army is "doing its utmost to minimize civilian casualties, while Hamas is doing its utmost to maximize them by using Palestinian civilians as human shields," said Netanyahu.

"Our goal is to rid Gaza of Hamas terrorists and free our hostages," he said.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken (left) meets with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, Jan 10, 2024. (PHOTO / POOL VIA AP)

In Ramallah, the West Bank, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Wednesday stressed that Gaza was an integral part of the Palestinian state, and Israel's plans to separate it or cut off any part of it would not be accepted, the official Palestinian news agency WAFA reported.

Abbas made the remarks when meeting with the visiting US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, warning of the danger of Israeli measures to displace the Palestinians from their land, as revealed by statements from Israeli ministers and officials.

He also told Blinken that Israel must stop its "war of annihilation" against the Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, which was a prerequisite for a political solution based on international law.

READ MORE: WHO warns of humanitarian, health catastrophe in Gaza

Abbas and Blinken talked about the need to speed up humanitarian aid to Gaza and to enable shelter centers and hospitals to operate to alleviate the suffering of the locals, WAFA said.

During a trilateral summit, King Abdullah II of Jordan, Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi, and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas also called for international condemnation of and actions against such plans

He also called for the immediate release of Palestinian tax funds withheld by Israel, saying their detention violated agreements and international law.

Meanwhile, dozens of Palestinians protested in central Ramallah against Blinken's visit, accusing Washington of siding with Israel and supporting its "crimes" against the Palestinians.

When meeting with Netanyahu in Tel Aviv Tuesday, Blinken reaffirmed Washington's support for Israel's right to defend itself and prevent the attacks of Oct 7 from being repeated, but added that fighting an enemy that hid behind civilian areas, schools and hospitals had a high cost for many.

READ MORE: Blinken urges Israel to protect civilians in Gaza

Blinken has so far visited Türkiye, Greece, Jordan, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Israel, the West Bank and Bahrain, and is expected to conclude his trip with a stop in Cairo on Thursday.  

A handout picture released by the Jordanian Royal Palace shows Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas (right), Jordan's King Abdullah II (center) and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, meeting in Aqaba, Jordan, on Jan 10, 2024. (PHOTO / JORDANIAN ROYAL HASHEMITE COURT (RHC) VIA AFP)

Jordan, Palestine, Egypt reject Israel’s plans

Also on Wednesday, Jordan, Egypt and Palestine held a trilateral summit in Jordan's Aqaba. The three sides stressed their rejection of any Israeli plans to displace Palestinians in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

During the summit, King Abdullah II of Jordan, Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi, and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas also called for international condemnation of and actions against such plans.

ALSO READ: Arab world waiting to act against atrocities in Gaza

They stressed the need for continuing pressure on Israel to stop its aggression on Gaza and protect the innocent civilians in the strip, according to a statement by Jordan's Royal Hashemite Court.

Meanwhile, the Egyptian president called for "a decisive stance" from the international community to push for a ceasefire in the besieged enclave and explained the efforts made by Egypt to open dialogue with all concerned parties to reach a truce agreement in Gaza.

The leaders also expressed complete rejection of any attempts to liquidate the Palestine issue and to separate Gaza and the West Bank, both of which are integral parts of the Palestinian state, the statement added.

ALSO READ: Israel intensifies operations against Hamas, Hezbollah

At the summit, the three leaders reiterated the importance of ensuring sufficient delivery of humanitarian aid to Gaza to alleviate the dire humanitarian situation in the enclave.

King Abdullah II, Sisi and Abbas also voiced "complete rejection of any attempts to reoccupy parts of Gaza," stressing the necessity of "enabling the people of the Gaza Strip to return to their homes."

Palestinians remove people killed on the Al-Aqsa Hospital grounds after an Israeli strike hit a building next to it, in Deir el-Balah, Gaza Strip, on Jan 10, 2023. (PHOTO / AP)

Hamas said in a statement that a journalist named Ahmed Badir was killed in the attack, calling on the international community to stop the "war waged by the Israeli army against civilians, including children and women"

Noting Israel's hostilities in the West Bank, as well as its violations of Islamic and Christian sanctities in Jerusalem, the leaders warned that such actions could escalate tensions in the region.

The three heads of state agreed to continue working together in coordination with Arab and influential countries to find a political horizon for resolving the Palestine issue to achieve a just and comprehensive peace based on a two-state solution, which entails restoring the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people and ensuring the establishment of their independent and sovereign state on the 1967 border and with East Jerusalem as its capital.

READ MORE: Saudi crown prince, Blinken talk on Gaza conflict, bilateral ties

Before the summit, the Jordanian king held separate meetings with the Egyptian and Palestinian presidents to discuss efforts toward an immediate ceasefire in Gaza.

Israel bombs house near hospital

At least 40 people were killed or wounded on Wednesday in an Israeli bombing that targeted a house adjacent to Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital in Deir el-Balah, central Gaza, the media office of Hamas said in a statement.

The statement added that a journalist named Ahmed Badir was killed in the attack, calling on the international community to stop the "war waged by the Israeli army against civilians, including children and women."

Meanwhile, at least four members of the Palestine Red Crescent Society (PRCS) ambulance crews were killed after Israeli attacks targeted an ambulance vehicle at the entrance of Deir el-Balah, the PRCS said in a statement.

Palestinians run on the Al-Aqsa Hospital grounds moments after an Israeli strike hit a building next to it, in Deir el-Balah, Gaza Strip, on Jan 10, 2023. (PHOTO / AP)

In Lebanon, a Hezbollah official was killed on Wednesday at dawn in the country's southeastern village of Kfarchouba, Lebanese military sources told Xinhua

At least 147 Palestinians were killed in the Israeli attacks across the Gaza Strip in the past 24 hours, raising the death toll in the enclave to 23,357 since the onset of the ongoing conflict on Oct 7, 2023, the Gaza-based Health Ministry said Wednesday.

ALSO READ: Israel says it started 'less intensive phase' in Gaza operation

Israel has been launching a large-scale military offensive in the Palestinian enclave in retaliation for an unprecedented attack by the Hamas movement on southern Israel over three months ago, which claimed the lives of around 1,200 Israelis, according to the Israeli authorities. 

Hezbollah official killed

In Lebanon, a Hezbollah official was killed on Wednesday at dawn in the country's southeastern village of Kfarchouba, Lebanese military sources told Xinhua.

READ MORE: Israel intensifies operations against Hamas, Hezbollah

The sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that an Israeli drone fired two missiles toward a house in the center of Kfarchouba, killing 50-year-old Hezbollah official Nabegh al-Qadri, and wounding another.

According to the sources, al-Qadri survived an assassination attempt two months ago when his house was targeted with several artillery shells fired from the Israeli Ruwaisat al-Alam site, partially destroying his house and forcing him to move to a rented house in the village.

The Lebanon-Israel border witnessed increased tension since Oct 8 after Hezbollah fired dozens of rockets toward Israel in support of the Hamas attacks on Israel the previous day, prompting Israel to respond by firing heavy artillery toward southeastern Lebanon.

ALSO READ: 3 Hezbollah members killed in Israeli drone strike in Lebanon

The confrontations between Hezbollah and Israel have killed 213 on the Lebanese side, including 158 Hezbollah members and 35 civilians, according to Lebanese security sources.