Western leaders call for a slowdown
Leaders from the US, Canada, France, Italy, Germany and the UK have joined together to urge Israel to protect civilian lives as airstrikes ramp up on Gaza’s north. The ‘Quint’ group met virtually yesterday and said while they support Israel’s right to defend itself, they’ve encouraged the country’s military to adhere to international humanitarian laws. At the same time, the US has asked Israel to delay its plans for a ground invasion of the Palestinian territory because it needs more time to negotiate the release of 212 hostages taken by Hamas.
What’s the update on the hostages?
Hamas says it would release another 2 hostages, but Israel has refused to accept them – something Israeli authorities say is “mendacious propaganda”. Regardless, analysts say the pressure’s on Israel to negotiate with the terror group, with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken saying he’s “hopeful” that more people could be released despite questioning the offer’s credibility. The other thing the Quint wants more action on is humanitarian support for Gazans. To give you a sense of scale, the United Nations says the 20 trucks carrying food, water and medical supplies that made up the first aid shipment represent less than 5% of what was entering Gaza daily before the war broke out.
Anything else to note?
Yep – the White House is still trying to keep tensions between Israel and Lebanon’s militant group Hezbollah under control. Note: Israeli authorities have evacuated another 14 towns along their northern border after threats from the group. Concerns the situation between Israel and its Arab neighbours could flare into something big are keeping many diplomatic types awake at night ATM… The US is concerned about what it means for its interests in the region – Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said, “what we’re seeing … is a prospect of a significant escalation of attacks on our troops and our people”. It has Quint leaders vowing to continue their diplomatic push to “prevent the conflict from spreading, preserve stability in the Middle East, and work toward a political solution and durable peace”.
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