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France Pushes Efforts in Lebanon to Prevent War Between Hezbollah and Israel

French Foreign Minister Stephane Sejourne checks ”Israeli attacks on Lebanon” map as he meets with Lebanese Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri in Beirut, Lebanon April 28, 2024. Photo: REUTERS/Mohamed Azakir

France’s foreign minister said on Sunday there had been progress in discussions with senior officials in Lebanon aimed at easing tensions between Hezbollah and Israel and preventing a war breaking out.

France has historical ties with Lebanon and earlier this year Foreign Minister Stephane Sejourne proposed Hezbollah’s elite unit pull back 10 km (6 miles) from the Israeli border, while Israel would halt strikes in southern Lebanon.

The written proposal also looked at long-term border issues and had been discussed with partners including the United States, which has its own efforts to ease tensions and exerts the most influence on Israel.

Israel and Hezbollah have traded tit for tat strikes in recent months, but the exchanges have increased since Iran launched missiles on Israel in response to a presumed Israeli airstrike on April 1 that destroyed part of Iran’s embassy compound in Damascus killing several Iranian officers.

More Israeli strikes hit southern Lebanon overnight close to the United Nations’ peacekeeping force UNIFIL, according to military officials, just hours before Sejourne visited its headquarters in Naqoura in southern Lebanon.

“If I look at the situation today if there were not a war in Gaza, we could be talking about a war in southern Lebanon given the number of strikes and the impact on the area,” Sejourne said after speaking to UNIFIL commanders.

Speaking after meeting the influential speaker of parliament Nabih Berri, an ally of Hezbollah, and the head of the Lebanese army Joseph Aoun, Sejourne said there had been “a lot of progress” over the French proposals. He did not elaborate.

The UNIFIL mission, as well as unarmed technical observers known as UNTSO, are stationed in southern Lebanon to monitor hostilities along the demarcation line between Lebanon and Israel, known as the Blue Line. France has 700 troops who are part of the 10,000-strong UNIFIL.

Hezbollah has said it will not enter any concrete discussion until there is a ceasefire in Gaza, where the war between Israel and Islamist militant group Hamas is in its seventh month.

Israel has flagged a potential military operation along its northern front, saying it wants to restore calm on the border with Lebanon so that thousands of displaced Israelis can return to the area without fear of rocket attacks.

In a letter addressed to the French embassy in Beirut in March, Lebanon’s foreign ministry said Beirut believed the French initiative would be a significant step towards peace and security in Lebanon and the broader region.

Lebanese media had reported the government had provided feedback to the French on the proposal but French officials say the responses so far have been general and lack consensus among the Lebanese.

Sejourne will discuss Lebanon with Arab and Western states in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on Monday before relaying the latest Lebanese positions in Israel later in the week.

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OCAD University student is seeking $1M in damages—alleging a lack of protection from threats and abuse

Samantha Kline, 22, presented photos of antisemitic graffiti she says targeted her.

The post OCAD University student is seeking $1M in damages—alleging a lack of protection from threats and abuse appeared first on The Canadian Jewish News.

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Palestinian Islamic Jihad Releases New Propaganda Video of Israeli Hostage

Israeli hostage Alexander (Sasha) Trufanov as seen in a propaganda video released by Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Photo: Screenshot

The Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorist group on Tuesday released a short propaganda video featuring Israeli hostage Alexander (Sasha) Trufanov, 28, who was kidnapped by Palestinian terrorists during Hamas’ Oct. 7 massacre across southern Israel.

The 30-second undated video shows Trufanov, an Amazon employee, identifying himself and saying that he will soon discuss what has happened to him and other hostages in Gaza.

Similar videos have been released by terrorists groups in Gaza. Israel has lambasted them as psychological warfare.

Trufanov’s mother said in a video released by the family that she was happy to see her son after all this time, but “it was heartbreaking” that he had been a hostage for so long.

Trufanov was an engineer at the Israeli microelectronics company Annapurna Labs, which Amazon owns.

Hamas-led Palestinian terrorists abducted over 250 people during their Oct. 7 onslaught. Trufanov was kidnapped alongside his mother, grandmother, and girlfriend.

All three were released as part of a temporary ceasefire agreement negotiated in November. His father, Vitaly Trufanov, was one of the 1,200 people killed during the Hamas massacre.

“The proof of life from Alexsander (Sasha) Trufanov is additional evidence that the Israeli government must give a significant mandate to the negotiating team,” the Hostages Families Forum, which represents the families of the hostages, said in a statement.

More than 120 hostages remain in Gaza, which is ruled by Hamas. Islamic Jihad is a separate but allied terrorist organization in the Palestinian enclave. Both are backed by Iran, which provides them with money, weapons, and training.

Negotiations brokered by Qatar, Egypt, and the US to reach a ceasefire agreement between Israel and Hamas in Gaza have been stalled for weeks.

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Gal Gadot’s Action Movie Nabs Second Place on Netflix List of Most Watched Films in Second Half of 2023

Gal Gadot as Rachel Stone in a scene from the trailer for “Heart of Stone.” Photo: YouTube screenshot

Netflix released its engagement report that details the films with the most views from July 1 to Dec. 31, 2023, and Israeli actress Gal Gadot’s action thriller Heart of Stone secured the number two spot with 109.6 million views.

The film — starring Gadot alongside Jamie Dornan and Bollywood actress Alia Bhatt in leading roles — was the runner-up to Leave the World Behind, the drama starring Julia Roberts, Mahershala Ali, and Ethan Hawke that garnered 121 million views on Netflix.

Heart of Stone, directed by Tom Harper, was released on the streaming giant on Aug. 11 of last year. The action film is about international intelligence operative Rachel Stone, played by Gadot, who goes on a mission to protect an artificial intelligence system, known as The Heart, from falling in the wrong hands. The film was produced by Pilot Wave, a company founded by Gadot and her husband Jaron Varsano.

Gadot also stars in Netflix’s most popular film of all time, Red Notice, alongside Dwayne Johnson and Ryan Reynolds.

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