Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he would make a last-ditch effort on Sunday to avoid the collapse of a coalition government weakened by the resignation of his defence minister.
With political pundits predicting an early election in March, Netanyahu, head of the right-wing Likud party, was to meet later in the day with his finance minister, who is leading a charge within the coalition towards a snap poll.
The minister, Moshe Kahlon of the centre-right Kulanu party, will urge Netanyahu to set an election date promptly, Kulanu officials said.
Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman's resignation, announced on Wednesday over what he described as the government's lenient policy towards an upsurge of cross-border violence with Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip, left the government with a majority of only one seat in parliament.
Palestine's Abbas condemns Israeli aggression on Gaza
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Thursday called on Hamas to help achieving inter-Palestinian reconciliation. “The road is clear for reconciliation and the elimination of the causes of Palestinian division through the implementation of the Cairo Agreement in a comprehensive manner,” Abbas said at a meeting of the Palestinian leadership in Ramallah. “If Hamas agrees to implement the reconciliation agreement, we are ready," Abbas added. The Palestinian president also condemned recent Israeli aggression against Gaza. Arab League convenes urgent meeting on GazaAbbas also thanked all countries and parties that had contributed to a recent Hamas-Israel ceasefire. "Our goal is to spare our people more massacres and war crimes," he said. Since Sunday, at least 14 Palestinians have been martyred -- by Israeli airstrikes and artillery -- across the blockaded territory. On Sunday night, an Israeli officer was killed -- and another injured -- in a botched ground operation in Gaza. Tensions appeared to ease slightly late Tuesday after Israel and Gaza-based resistance factions agreed to an Egypt-brokered ceasefire.Malaysia: Aussie embassy's transfer to Jerusalem of no usePalestine’s Erekat appeals to international communityIsrael’s Lieberman tenders resignation to PM NetanyahuIsrael’s US-funded Iron Dome fails to down Hamas rocketsIsrael’s Gaza war part of bin Salman plot to distract world from Khashoggi killing
Arab League convenes urgent meeting on Gaza
The Arab League convened an urgent meeting on Thursday to discuss recent Israeli aggression in the blockaded Gaza Strip.Held at the league’s Cairo headquarters and attended by its permanent representatives, the meeting comes at the request of the Palestinian leadership.In its opening session, league representatives observed a minute of silence for Palestinians in Gaza recently martyred by Israeli airstrikes and artillery barrages.Saeed Abu Ali, league deputy secretary-general for Palestine affairs, called for an immediate halt to Israeli aggression and for international protection for the Palestinian people."The UN Security Council appears unable to shoulder its responsibilities regarding the Israeli aggression on Gaza," he said."The U.S. also continues to show its bias towards Israel and to thwart all attempts to condemn the [Israeli] occupation," Abu Ali added.Since Sunday, at least 14 Palestinians have been martyred -- by Israeli airstrikes and artillery -- across the blockaded territory.On Sunday night, an Israeli officer was killed -- and another injured -- in a botched ground operation in Gaza.Tensions appeared to ease slightly late Tuesday after Israel and Gaza-based resistance factions agreed to an Egypt-brokered cease-fire.Israel’s US-funded Iron Dome fails to down Hamas rockets
Israel’s Lieberman tenders resignation to PM Netanyahu
Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman on Thursday submitted his resignation to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu one day after announcing his intention to step down from the post, according to the Israeli Broadcasting Authority (IBA).On Wednesday, Lieberman announced his decision to resign in protest against a ceasefire deal hammered out one day earlier between Israel and Palestinian resistance factions.The hardline defense minister announced his intention to step down at a meeting of members of his Yisrael Beiteinu party, during which he reportedly described the Hamas-Israel ceasefire as “a surrender to terror”.Following Lieberman’s resignation, Education Minister Naftali Bennett threatened to withdraw his right-wing Jewish Home party from Netanyahu’s Likud-led coalition government unless he was given the defense portfolio following Lieberman’s exit.Netanyahu is now reportedly holding intensive consultations with several party leaders in hopes of heading off the crisis now facing his shaky coalition government.Sources close to Netanyahu reportedly told the IBA that the prime minister was considering making Bennett defense minister in hopes of keeping the latter’s party in his governing coalition.
Israel’s US-funded Iron Dome fails to down Hamas rockets
The Israeli military is on high alert over its U.S.-funded “Iron Dome” air defense system, which shot to international fame, after it seems to have been overwhelmed by the intensity of Palestinian missiles.The anti-rocket system intercepted only 100 out of 460 missiles fired from the Gaza Strip into Israel by the Palestinian resistance group Hamas in last three days, according to reports.Over the course of the last three days, at least 14 Palestinians in have been martyred in Gaza -- by Israeli airstrikes and artillery -- across the blockaded Palestinian territory. On Sunday night, an Israeli officer was killed -- and another injured -- in a botched ground operation in Gaza. Tensions appeared to ease slightly late Tuesday after Israel and Gaza-based resistance factions agreed to an Egypt-brokered cease-fire.Israel’s Lieberman resigns as defense ministerPalestinians renew their missile systemLieutenant-Colonel Jonathan Conricus, an Israel Defense Forces spokesperson, told reporters Palestinians upgraded their rocket system and that Israel assumes Hamas used Russian-made anti-tank guided missiles during their last airstrike.Yeni Şafak daily’s Hamas sources have also confirmed that the missiles were upgraded but refused to divulge the details about the new system.Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman on Wednesday abruptly resigned from his post one day after a ceasefire was reached between Palestinian resistance factions and Israel.Scores of Israelis demonstrated outside the Knesset (Israel’s parliament) on Wednesday to demand Netanyahu’s resignation, accusing him of “betraying” the people of southern Israel.Israel’s Gaza war part of bin Salman plot to distract world from Khashoggi killing
That put the fate of Netanyahu's coalition at the mercy of any of its partners, who have seen the four-term prime minister's popularity take a rare hit in an opinion poll that showed Israelis were unhappy with him over Gaza.
Netanyahu described his planned meeting with Kahlon as "a last attempt to prevent the collapse of the government".
Addressing his cabinet on Sunday, Netanyahu said it would be "unnecessary and wrong to go to an election during this sensitive period for our security".
Rockets, Air Raids
Kahlon said on Hadashot TV news on Saturday that it was impossible to run a coalition with control of just 61 of parliament's 120 seats.
Kahlon's call was echoed by members of the nationalist Jewish Home whose head, Naftali Bennett, asked to succeed Lieberman as defence chief but was turned down by Netanyahu on Friday.
On Sunday, Israeli media reports said Netanyahu was now prepared to offer Bennett the post in a bid to keep Jewish Home in the coalition.
Such a move, the unconfirmed reports said, would also be aimed at forcing Kahlon to consider the risks to his own party, which also courts nationalist voters, in being portrayed as the main factor behind the collapse of a rightist government.
A poll published on Wednesday by Hadashot showed Likud falling from 30 to 29 parliamentary seats after months of polls that have shown it gaining power.
Only 17 percent of respondents were happy with Netanyahu's policy toward Gaza, where he agreed to a ceasefire - dubbed by Lieberman as "surrender" - after militants from its ruling Hamas group launched almost 500 rockets into Israel on Monday and Tuesday and Israel carried out dozens of air raids.
Netanyahu's re-election chances could also be affected by a series of corruption cases against him in which Israel's attorney-general is weighing his indictment.
An election would complicate promised moves by the United States towards reviving Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts that collapsed in 2014. The Trump administration has said it would unveil a peace plan soon.
Hamas 'has footage of Israeli commander being killed,' says Gaza chief
The Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, “has footage of the Israeli commander being killed,” Hamas’s leader of the Gaza Strip Yahya Sinwar said while addressing a crowd during a ceremony honoring the seven martyrs of the brigades killed during a firefight on Sunday with Israeli forces.Sinwar said Hamas was determined to break the Israeli blockade imposed on Gaza and provide the Palestinian people with a prosperous life.“We will not allow the siege to continue. The enemy has realized that our calm following the attacks targeting Gaza they have conducted since 2014 is not in vain,” Sinwar said. “Our missiles are more precise, have a greater range and carry more explosives than in the past,” he added.During the ceremony, Sinwar pulled out a handgun with a silencer, and claimed it belonged to one of the Israeli Special Forces troops that entered Gaza in a botched operation on Sunday.Sinwar warned that if Israeli troops entered the Gaza Strip again, then would only be set free for a prisoner exchange of “thousands of prisoners.” Israeli media reports early elections likely in IsraelSeven Palestinians were martyred, including Hamas military commander Nour Baraka, when an Israeli force staged a raid in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip on Sunday. An Israeli soldier was killed and another injured in the raid.Since Sunday, at least 14 Palestinians have been martyred by Israeli airstrikes and artillery across the blockaded territory. Tensions appeared to ease slightly late Tuesday after Israel and Gaza-based resistance factions agreed to an Egypt-brokered ceasefire.Israel’s 12-year blockade of the Gaza Strip has gutted the coastal enclave’s economy and deprived its two million inhabitants of many basic commodities.Israel’s US-funded Iron Dome fails to down Hamas rockets
Israel’s Lieberman voices fear of empowered Hamas
Israel’s outgoing defense minister has warned that Hamas is only growing in strength in the blockaded Gaza Strip.“We are feeding the monster,” Avigdor Lieberman, speaking on Facebook, said in reference to the Palestinian resistance faction.“If we don't stop it from getting stronger, we will have Hezbollah's twin within a year,” he added. Lieberman made the remarks on Friday -- two days after resigning his post in protest against a Tuesday cease-fire between Israel and Hamas-led resistance factions. Gazans gather along Israel buffer zone for 34th Friday“It is unacceptable that after 500 rockets are fired at southern Israel [earlier this week], the Israeli government is providing immunity to Hamas leaders,” Lieberman said in reference to this week’s truce. “Under [the Israeli government’s] current policy, not only [Hamas chief Ismail] Haniyeh, but all Hamas leaders, remain safe and sound,” he added. “For two and a half years, I… tried to change government policy [vis-à-vis Gaza] from within,” Lieberman went on to assert.“But the last two decisions -- the transfer of $90 million to Hamas and the cease-fire deal -- have been too much for me to bear,” he added.Israeli media reports early elections likely in IsraelIsraelis demand Netanyahu resign for Gaza truce
Gazans gather along Israel buffer zone for 34th Friday
For the 34th consecutive Friday, thousands of Palestinian demonstrators converged on the Gaza-Israel buffer zone to take part in ongoing rallies against Israel’s decades-long occupation.In a statement, Gaza’s National Authority for Breaking the Siege renewed its call to the people of Gaza to take part in the ongoing demonstrations.In a separate statement, Hazem Qasim, a spokesman for resistance faction Hamas (which has governed the strip since 2007), said the Palestinian people "will continue their struggle -- with the utmost will and determination -- until the Israeli blockade on Gaza is lifted”.Israeli media reports early elections likely in IsraelProtesters demand the right to return to their homes and villages in historical Palestine, from which they were driven in 1948 to make way for the new state of Israel.They also demand an end to Israel’s 12-year blockade of the Gaza Strip, which has gutted the coastal enclave’s economy and deprived its two million inhabitants of many basic commodities.Since the rallies began on March 30, more than 210 Palestinians have been martyred -- and thousands more injured -- by Israeli troops deployed along the other side of the buffer zone.Kuwait expels Israeli known for controversial ‘selfies’Israelis demand Netanyahu resign for Gaza truce
Israeli media reports early elections likely in Israel
Failure by Israel's coalition leaders to reach agreement on cabinet positions has increased the likelihood of early elections, Israeli media reported on Friday.The reports came after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with coalition partner Naftali Bennett, who is seeking to fill the soon-to-be vacant defense ministry post. But he is thought to be facing opposition from other partners in the right-wing government, the reports said.
Israelis demand Netanyahu resign for Gaza truce
Hundreds of Israelis demonstrated in Tel Aviv on Thursday to demand the resignation of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for a cease-fire deal with Gaza-based Palestinian factions.Around 400 protesters from Jewish settlements around Gaza set off a demonstration against Netanyahu by blocking traffic on one of the main roads in Tel Aviv’s city center.Protestors denounced Netanyahu’s decision to approve the cease-fire deal and accused him of falling in leading the country."The south will not be silent anymore," said banners carried by demonstrators.Protesters said the Netanyahu government was insufficient in providing security in the Jewish settlements in the south of Israel; with slogans that included, "Bibi we don't need you, go back home."Video: Israelis call on Netanyahu to step down over Gaza truce"We're paying the government to solve the problems. We want these people to do their job," said protester Adele Raemer.On Wednesday, scores of Israelis demonstrated outside the Knesset in Jerusalem to call for the Netanyahu’s resignation.Since Sunday, at least 14 Palestinians have been martyred by Israeli airstrikes and artillery across the blockaded territory.On Sunday night, an Israeli officer was killed -- and another injured -- in a botched ground operation in Gaza.Tensions appeared to ease slightly Tuesday after Israel and Gaza-based resistance factions agreed to an Egypt-brokered cease-fire.Since 2006, Israel has been keeping the Gaza Strip a land, sea and air blockade.
Israeli attacks leave several parts of Gaza in ruins
Anadolu Agency has visited a number of sites in the blockaded Gaza Strip, including a kindergarten, that were recently destroyed by Israeli airstrikes.During the most recent escalations on Monday, Israeli forces targeted residential buildings, a kindergarten, a television channel and sites associated with resistance faction Hamas.Israel has claimed that it only struck military installations, but destroyed children’s toys, singed pieces of furniture, burnt notebooks and shattered broadcast equipment -- all of which were pulled from the rubble -- strongly suggest otherwise.Anadolu Agency began its tour at the Shahd kindergarten, which was completely destroyed by Israeli attacks in Gaza City’s western Rimal district.In the debris of the kindergarten, which is run by Palestinian teacher Ebtisam al-Yazji, broken seats, burnt books, and ruined toys can be seen scattered all over the ground.Video: Rubble of ‘al-Aqsa TV’ building following Israeli bombing"Hours before the bombing, there were 200 children playing, taking their lessons, drawing and making clay sculptures," al-Yazji told Anadolu Agency while collecting furniture and toys that remained unaffected by the bombing."The children will not be able to come to kindergarten again. Israeli raids have destroyed almost everything and the building may be in danger of collapsing," she added.Adjacent to the kindergarten, there is a seven-story destroyed residential building called Al-Yazji. The building contains 14 apartments and a number of stores. It was struck by more than 10 rockets.Palestinian child Yazan al-Yazji, 12, showed an Anadolu Agency correspondent his damaged flat. The Israeli bombing divided the building into two halves, one of which was totally destroyed."Most of the people in this building are doctors; I do not know why Israel bombed them. There are no military facilities here," the young boy said.He added: "I do not know how I will go to school tomorrow. My books, my bag and my school clothes have been burned. We fled the house after being hit with the first shot with only our clothes."In Rafah city, a home that accommodated 10 members of the Dahir family, was struck by four Israeli rockets.After the first rocket destroyed a room in the house, the mother rushed to protect some of her children and let the rest run outside. They ran for their lives some 350 meters from the house to a nearby alley.In four minutes, three rockets struck a vacant lot in the middle of five houses, leaving several homes completely destroyed."The bombardment destroyed our house and our lives," Kamel Daher, a member of the family, told an Anadolu Agency correspondent."Our fodder company, which is adjacent to the house, was also completely destroyed. The Israeli rockets destroyed everything," he added.Al-Berim in Khan Younis city lived the same tragedy -- their home was destroyed the same night by three rockets."Look at this deep hole: as if a volcano had exploded at the bottom of the house,” Nasrullah al-Berim told Anadolu Agency.“I do not know why Israel uses all this force against us. We are civilians; we do not pose any danger to them," he said.Fighting to hold back his tears, he looked at the scattered stones of his house. Along with his children and grandchildren, he gathered up pieces of unbroken furniture and some books.The Israeli airstrikes also destroyed the Al-Amal Hotel and the Hamas-run Al-Aqsa television channel.At least 14 Palestinians have been martyred by Israeli attacks in Gaza since Sunday.Tensions appeared to ease slightly late Tuesday after Israel and Gaza-based resistance factions agreed to an Egypt-brokered cease-fire.Since March 30, more than 200 Palestinians have been martyred by Israeli army gunfire -- and thousands more injured -- while taking part in ongoing rallies along the Gaza-Israel buffer zone.