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Israel Reduces Troops in South Gaza, Egypt to Host New Talks

Israeli soldiers prepare to enter Gaza, April 7, 2024. Photo: REUTERS/Amir Cohen

Israel said on Sunday it had withdrawn more soldiers from southern Gaza, leaving just one brigade, as it and Hamas sent teams to Egypt for fresh talks over a potential ceasefire in the six-month conflict.

Israel has been reducing numbers in Gaza since the start of the year to relieve reservists and is under growing pressure from its ally Washington to improve the humanitarian situation.

The military spokesperson did not give details on reasons for withdrawing soldiers or numbers involved.

Both Israel and Hamas, the Islamist terrorist group that controls Gaza, confirmed they were sending delegations to Egypt.

But Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned that Israel would not bend to foreign pressure and give in to “extreme demands.”

A Hamas leader, Basem Naim, blamed him.

“Netanyahu is still stalling to save himself from failure and the responsibility for the day after the battle. It seems that the U.S. pressure is not enough to compel him to go for a complete and comprehensive ceasefire,” said Naim.

Hamas says an agreement must secure a complete and comprehensive ceasefire, full withdrawal of forces from areas occupied after Oct. 7, and freedom of movement of residents across the Gaza Strip.

More than 250 hostages were seized and some 1,200 people killed during Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack on Israel. The Jewish state responded to the massacre with a military offensive aimed at freeing those kidnapped and destroying the terrorist group’s ability to pose a threat to the Israeli people from Gaza.

It was unclear whether the troop reduction in south Gaza would delay a long-threatened incursion into the city of Rafah, which Netanyahu says is needed to eliminate Hamas but anxious foreign powers have said could wreak an unacceptable toll on civilians.

White House national security spokesperson John Kirby said the troop reduction appeared to be a “rest and refit” and not necessarily indicative of any new operations.

Palestinian residents of the southern Gaza city of Khan Younis, which has come under Israeli bombardment in recent months, said they had seen Israeli forces leaving the center of the city and retreating to the eastern districts.

Six months of combat have strained the Israeli military and economy. Many Israeli security experts say they now see a greater threat from Iran-backed Hezbollah in Lebanon.

Israel is also on alert for a possible retaliatory attack from Iran in reaction to the killing of Iranian generals on April 1.

Israel is under increased pressure from the United States, where President Joe Biden has demanded that it improve humanitarian conditions in Gaza and work towards a ceasefire, saying that U.S. support could depend on that.

That was the first time Biden, a staunch supporter of Israel, has sought to leverage U.S. aid as a way to influence Israeli military behavior. The U.S. is a major supplier of arms to Israel’s military.

Biden has also urged the leaders of Egypt and Qatar to pressure Hamas to agree to a ceasefire and hostage deal ahead of a fresh round of talks in Cairo.

Netanyahu, at the start of his weekly cabinet meeting, said any deal must include the release of hostages still being held in Gaza, and that Hamas’ unreasonable demands were the obstacle.

“Giving in to Hamas’ demands will allow it to repeat the crimes of Oct. 7 again and again, as it has promised to do,” he said.

More than 130 hostages are still in captivity in Gaza, and Israel says it will not stop its offensive until they are all returned.

The post Israel Reduces Troops in South Gaza, Egypt to Host New Talks first appeared on Algemeiner.com.

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University of Toronto seeks injunction to end protest encampment over ‘harmful, discriminatory’ speech outlined in court filing

The University of Toronto is now seeking a court injunction to put and end to the encampment in King’s College Circle after the 8 a.m. deadline passed Monday morning—while unionized workers joined students, faculty and other protesters at a rainy morning rally. Shortly after the ultimatum hour, the university announced in a statement from UofT […]

The post University of Toronto seeks injunction to end protest encampment over ‘harmful, discriminatory’ speech outlined in court filing appeared first on The Canadian Jewish News.

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Monday morning saw the Toronto community and politicians showing support for the Chabad girls’ school struck by weekend gunfire

Mayor Olivia Chow was among those who addressed the crowd.

The post Monday morning saw the Toronto community and politicians showing support for the Chabad girls’ school struck by weekend gunfire appeared first on The Canadian Jewish News.

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‘A Call for Genocide’: South African Jews Blast Country’s President for Chanting ‘From the River to the Sea’

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa in Chatsworth, South Africa, May 18, 2024. Photo: REUTERS/Rogan Ward

South African Jewish leaders castigated their country’s president, Cyril Ramaphosa, for what they described as him calling for a “genocide” against Jews in Israel over the weekend.

Ramaphosa was speaking at an election rally in Johannesburg on Saturday when he deviated from his prepared speech to lead the crowd in in a chant of “From the River to the Sea, Palestine shall be free” — a popular slogan among anti-Israel activists that has been widely interpreted as a call for the destruction of the Jewish state, which is located between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea.

The address took place at FNB Stadium, where South Africa’s ruling African National Congress (ANC) held its final rally before South African elections on Wednesday. According to Politicsweb, a news website focused on South Africa, a call for the release of the “hostages held in Gaza” who Hamas terrorists kidnapped from southern Israel on Oct. 7 appeared in Ramaphosa’s prepared remarks but not in his final speech.

The South African Jewish community lambasted Ramaphosa for his remarks in a statement shared with The Algemeiner, expressing “its revulsion at the introduction of a call to exterminate Jews from their homeland” by the president.

“The president of the ruling ANC party and the head of state of a democratic country has called for the elimination of the only Jewish state in the culmination of the ANC president’s election speech made to thousands of ANC members and on national television,” said Wendy Kahn, national director of the South African Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD). “He uses the populist slogan ‘From the river to the sea, Palestine will be Free,’ which is widely regarded as a call to genocide of the Jewish people. The call to remove all Jews from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea equates to removing all Jews from Israel.”

Kahn compared the slogan with Hamas’ goal to “see Israel as ‘Judenfrei,’ or Jew free,” before noting that such an endpoint contradicts the South African government’s stated policy of supporting a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“The chanting of this slogan by a head of state of a government that recurrently tries to express their commitment to a ‘two-state Solution’ as their policy on Israel and Palestine is hypocritical to the full,” the SAJBD said. “How does a sitting president reject his own government and own party’s international relations policy? This reconfirms our understanding that President Ramaphosa and his government are not looking for a peaceful solution to the tragic conflict, but rather to cause discord among fellow South Africans against its Jewish community.”

Kahn added, “The president’s contempt for South African Jewry is evident in this unscripted outburst at the rally which amounts to nothing more than Jew hatred. The SAJBD is reviewing its options for holding the president accountable for these hateful words.”

South Africa’s ANC government has been one of the harshest critics of Israel since Oct. 7, when Hamas terrorists launched the ongoing war in Gaza with their invasion of and massacre across southern Israeli communities.

South Africa temporarily withdrew its diplomats from Israel and shuttered its embassy in Tel Aviv shortly after the Oct. 7 Hamas pogrom, saying that the Pretoria government was “extremely concerned at the continued killing of children and innocent civilians” in Gaza.

In December, South Africa hosted two Hamas officials who attended a government-sponsored conference in solidarity with the Palestinians. One of the officials had been sanctioned by the US government for his role with the terrorist organization.

Earlier this month, members of South Africa’s Jewish community protested Foreign Minister Naledi Pandor’s recent call for students and university leaders to intensify the anti-Israel demonstrations that have engulfed college campuses across the US.

In January, the South African government failed in its bid to argue before the International Court of Justice (ICJ) that Israel’s defensive war in Gaza constituted a “genocide.” However, the top UN court last week ordered Israel to halt its military operations against the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas in the southern Gaza city of Rafah. The emergency ruling was part of South Africa’s ongoing case at the ICJ.

The post ‘A Call for Genocide’: South African Jews Blast Country’s President for Chanting ‘From the River to the Sea’ first appeared on Algemeiner.com.

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