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Israelis dead, wounded as Hamas launches major attack; ‘We are at war,’ Netanyahu says

(JTA) — Hundreds of Israelis are wounded and dozens are dead after Hamas launched a surprise attack early Saturday, sending thousands of rockets into Israel and infiltrating border towns with ground fighters.

Israelis living in border towns shared reports of street fighting and Hamas published footage of Israeli soldiers and civilians it said its fighters had taken hostage, in a dramatic surge of violence while Israelis were celebrating the Simchat Torah holiday and Shabbat.

At least 40 Israelis have been killed, according to local reports. Officials declined to share an official toll but had cautioned that an earlier tally of 22 deaths was expected to rise.

“We are at war,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in response to the attack. Military reservists had been called up and the Israel Defense Forces began striking in Gaza, the Palestinian territory that Hamas controls.

“Hamas opened the gates of hell on the Gaza Strip, Hamas made the decision and Hamas will bear the responsibility and pay the price,” said Ghassan Alian, the IDF’s liaison to the Palestinians.

Palestinians at the Erez Crossing, also known as the Beit Hanoun Crossing, between Israel and the northern Gaza Strip, after Hamas launched a large attack on Israel, Oct. 7, 2023. (Atia Mohammed/Flash90)

The attack came on the 50th anniversary of the first day of the Yom Kippur War, when multiple Arab countries struck Israel in a coordinated attack. Thousands of Israeli soldiers were killed in that conflict, which resulted in a hard-fought Israeli victory and left the country deeply traumatized.

It also came as a political crisis within Israel left Netanyahu and his allies exposed to criticism that they were inadequately focused on potential threats against Israel. Israel’s leading opposition parties issued a statement urging unity in response to the attack.

The attack also comes as Israel is seeking to normalize relations with Saudi Arabia. Hezbollah, the militant group based in Lebanon that is a proxy for Iran, praised the attack and said it should be seen as a message to Arab countries considering ties with Israel, which four countries have struck in the last three years. Saudi officials reportedly were pressing for gains for the Palestinians in their negotiations.

Israelis leave their damaged houses after Hamas rocket strikes in Ramla, Israel, near Tel Aviv, Oct. 7, 2023. (Saeed Qaq/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

According to siren alerts, most rockets landed in the communities in Israel’s south near Gaza, but there were some sirens in the center of the country and as far east as Jerusalem. Photographs showed that rockets had landed in North Tel Aviv, Beersheba and near Jerusalem.

Lines formed at hospitals as Israelis were urged to donate blood to help a growing number of people who were being admitted with serious injuries. Schools across the country were closed.


The post Israelis dead, wounded as Hamas launches major attack; ‘We are at war,’ Netanyahu says appeared first on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

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Kyiv Rejects Putin’s ‘Absurd Ultimatum’ to End War

Russian President Vladimir Putin delivers a speech during a session of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum. Photo: Reuters/Maxim Shemetov

i24 NewsRussia’s strongman President Vladimir Putin said he would end the war in Ukraine only if Kyiv agreed to drop its NATO ambitions and hand over the entirety of four provinces claimed by Moscow. Kyiv swiftly rejected the demands as tantamount to surrender.

Putin demands that Ukraine transfers to Russia four regions, including a 300,000 city of Kherson and 700,000 Zaporizhzhya as a “precondition” to “peace talks”. This man is delusional, and those in the West who speak of “negotiations” or “cease fire” are enemies of the free world. pic.twitter.com/fqTGVqMdDu

— Sergej Sumlenny, LL.M (@sumlenny) June 14, 2024

“The conditions are very simple,” Putin said, listing them as the full withdrawal of Ukrainian troops from the entire territory of the Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions.

Putin’s maximalist conditions apparently reflect Moscow’s growing confidence that its forces have the upper hand in the war.

He restated his demand for Ukraine’s demilitarization and said an end to Western sanctions must also be part of a peace deal. He also repeated his call for Ukraine’s “denazification.”

“He is offering for Ukraine to admit defeat. He is offering for Ukraine to legally give up its territories to Russia. He is offering for Ukraine to sign away its geopolitical sovereignty,” said Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak, rejecting the demands as “absurd.”

The post Kyiv Rejects Putin’s ‘Absurd Ultimatum’ to End War first appeared on Algemeiner.com.

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Deadly Explosion Kills 8 IDF Soldiers in Rafah

Illustrative. Some rises after an Israeli strike as Israeli forces launch a ground and air operation in the eastern part of Rafah, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas, in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, May 7, 2024. Photo: REUTERS/Hatem Khaled

i24 NewsEarly this morning, tragedy struck in the southern Gaza city of Rafah as eight Israeli soldiers lost their lives in a devastating explosion, marking the deadliest incident for the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) in the region since January.

The IDF has confirmed the casualties, with one soldier identified as Captain Wassem Mahmoud, 23, a deputy company commander from Beit Jann in the Combat Engineering Corps’ 601st Battalion.

The names of the other seven soldiers will be released after their families have been notified.

According to initial reports from the IDF, the soldiers were traveling in a Namer armored combat engineering vehicle (CEV) as part of a convoy around 5 a.m., following a successful overnight operation targeting Hamas militants in the Tel Sultan neighborhood of Rafah. During the operation, troops under the 401st Armored Brigade reportedly neutralized approximately 50 gunmen.

The convoy was en route to buildings captured by the army for the soldiers to rest, when the Namer CEV, which was the fifth or sixth vehicle in the convoy, was struck by a powerful explosion. The nature of the explosion remains under investigation, with possibilities ranging from a pre-planted bomb to an improvised device placed on the vehicle by Hamas operatives.

Initial findings suggest that explosives stored on the exterior of the Namer CEV may have contributed to the severity of the blast. Normally, such explosives are designed to minimize harm to troops inside if detonated.

The IDF probe indicates there was no gunfire preceding the explosion, and the vehicle was not stationary at the time of the incident. The circumstances surrounding the tragedy have prompted intensified scrutiny into the safety protocols and operational procedures during military movements in hostile territories.

The deaths of these eight soldiers bring the total number of IDF casualties in recent ground operations against Hamas to 307. This figure includes a police officer killed during a recent hostage rescue operation and a civilian Defense Ministry contractor also slain in the conflict.

This is a developing story 

The post Deadly Explosion Kills 8 IDF Soldiers in Rafah first appeared on Algemeiner.com.

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U.S. Officials Fear Escalating Conflict Between Israel and Hezbollah

Israeli firefighters work following rocket attacks from Lebanon, amid ongoing cross-border hostilities between Hezbollah and Israeli forces, near the border on its Israeli side, June 13, 2024. Photo: REUTERS/Avi Ohayon

i24 NewsRecent actions by both Israel and Hezbollah have sparked growing concerns among U.S. officials, who fear that the situation could escalate into a full-scale war, according to reports from CBS News.

The tension has intensified following a series of Israeli airstrikes on Lebanese territory, which some American authorities believe are laying the groundwork for a larger military operation.

Sources within the US government have expressed worries that such a move could trigger a conflict that might strain Israel’s alliance with Washington.

Hezbollah, in response to recent events including the assassination of senior commander Taleb Sami Abdullah, has escalated its own actions. The group has begun launching daily rocket attacks targeting northern Israeli communities since October 8, citing solidarity with Hamas amidst the ongoing conflict in Gaza.

US officials cited by CBS News have highlighted concerns over the potential unintended consequences of Hezbollah’s increased attacks. They fear that these actions could provoke Israel into launching a significant military assault, further exacerbating the volatile situation in the region.

The developments come amid ongoing international efforts to de-escalate tensions and prevent a wider conflict. Diplomatic channels remain active, with calls for restraint and dialogue from various quarters.

The United States, a key ally of Israel, has historically played a crucial role in mediating and influencing regional conflicts. Officials are closely monitoring the situation, emphasizing the importance of avoiding actions that could escalate tensions further.

The post U.S. Officials Fear Escalating Conflict Between Israel and Hezbollah first appeared on Algemeiner.com.

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