Israel-Palestine live: Netanyahu rejects Hamas ceasefire proposal, vows ‘total victory’
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Israeli forces have killed at least 123 Palestinians over the past 24 hours in 16 "massacres", according to the Palestinian health ministry.
This brings the Palestinian death toll in four months to more than 27,708, with over 67,000 wounded and 7,000 missing, who are believed to be dead and buried under rubble.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that a total victory in Gaza was achievable, rejecting Hamas's latest ceasefire proposal aimed at securing the release of hostages still held in the besieged enclave.
In other developments:
- A Palestinian patient, 77, has died due to an oxygen shortage at Khan Younis' al-Amal Hospital, the Palestine Red Crescent Society (PRCS) said.
- An estimated 11,000 patients and wounded people are in urgent need of leaving the Gaza Strip to receive life-saving treatment abroad, the Palestinian health ministry said in a brief statement.
- Israeli forces wounded two Palestinians in the occupied West Bank on Wednesday, during a military raid on Tulkarm.
- Head of the Palestinian Red Crescent Society (PRCS), Dr Younis al-Khatib, and president of the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, Kate Forbes, visited Gaza for the first time since the current war began on 7 October.
- Abu Baqir al-Saadi, a high-ranking official in Kataib Hezbollah, the Iranian-supported militia in Iraq implicated by the Pentagon in the assault that resulted in the death of three US soldiers, was killed during a drone attack on a vehicle in eastern Baghdad on Wednesday evening.
- US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Wednesday that while Hamas's ceasefire proposal in Gaza contains definite "non-starters", it offers room for a potential agreement.
The US military confirmed that a commander of a pro-Iran militia involved in assaults on American forces was killed in Iraq by a US air strike on Wednesday.
The strike came “in response to the attacks on US service members” and killed “a Kataib Hezbollah commander responsible for directly planning and participating in attacks on US forces in the region”, the military’s Central Command said on social media.
“There are no indications of collateral damage or civilian casualties at this time,” it added.
Reuters reported that senior commander Abu Baqir al-Saadi was the commander who was killed.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Wednesday that while Hamas's ceasefire proposal in Gaza contains definite "non-starters", it offers room for a potential agreement.
He said that the US will keep its "focus on bringing hostages back"."While there are some clear non-starters in Hamas's response, we do think it creates space for agreement to be reached, and we will work at that relentlessly," Blinken told reporters in Tel Aviv hours after meeting Netanyahu.
Blinken said he told Israeli leaders that the daily death toll in Gaza "remains too high" and that he warned Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu against Israeli actions that "inflame tensions"."
Israel's dehumanisation on 7 October cannot be a license to dehumanise others," he added.
Blinken also said that the Palestinian Authority should "reform and revitalise" itself.
Abu Baqir al-Saadi, a high-ranking official in Kataib Hezbollah, the Iranian-supported militia in Iraq implicated by the Pentagon in the assault that resulted in the death of three US soldiers, was killed during a drone attack on a vehicle in eastern Baghdad on Wednesday evening, Reuters reported.
According to Reuters, three people were killed in the incident, and the vehicle that was struck belonged to Iraq's Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMF), a governmental security entity consisting of numerous armed factions, with several having strong ties to Iran.
US officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Wednesday's strike, Reuters reported.
The Georgia branch of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (Cair) submitted a Title VI civil rights complaint on Wednesday against a middle school, accusing the principal of discriminatory and unjust behaviour towards a Palestinian-American student.
On 15 November 2023, a counsellor at the school allegedly escorted a Palestinian-American student out of class, instructing him to take off his scarf that bore the Palestinian flag, labelling it as "offensive".
According to Cair, he expressed feeling victimised due to his Palestinian background, leading to feelings of embarrassment, anxiety and shame.
"We have seen a massive increase in reports of Islamophobic, anti-Arab, and anti-Palestinian incidents, with many reports coming from a wide range of public schools in the state," Keon Grant, Cair-Georgia staff attorney said.
At a press conference on Wednesday, senior Hamas official Osama Hamdan announced that a delegation led by high-ranking member Khalil al-Hayya will head to Cairo on Thursday to engage in ceasefire discussions with Egypt and Qatar.
The group submitted its feedback on the proposal, aiming for a lasting and complete ceasefire, the facilitation of food aid entry, and the removal of the blockade on Gaza.
This comes after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejected Hamas's ceasefire proposal, to which Hamdan responded that Hamas is prepared to deal with all options.
"Netanyahu's remarks on the ceasefire proposal show he intends to pursue the conflict in the region," Hamdan said.
He also said that Hamas calls on all resistance Palestinian factions to continue confrontations.
On Wednesday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that a total victory in Gaza was achievable, rejecting Hamas's latest ceasefire proposal aimed at securing the release of hostages still held in the besieged enclave.
Netanyahu added that there was no alternative for Israel but causing the collapse of Hamas.
"The day after is the day after Hamas. All of Hamas," he told a news conference.
He said that no part of the Gaza Strip would be immune and that "There is no other solution except total victory".
The city of Oxford on Wednesday witnessed various protests and activities organised by trade unions and students, in a day of action against the ongoing Israeli war on Gaza.
In addition to a mass march scheduled for 5pm, trades unions, including teachers, academics, healthcare workers and journalists from across Oxford, gathered outside the Radcliffe Camera at 1pm local time for a vigil to mourn the deaths in Gaza and call for an immediate ceasefire.
“We’re here today to remember the 116 journalists and media workers who’ve been killed so far in Gaza since this war started,” said Anna Wagstaff, secretary of the Oxford branch of the National Union of Journalists.
“We think Palestinian journalists in Gaza are the only ones who are bringing out the story now about the desperate death and destruction happening to that community,” she told Middle East Eye.
“We’re here to remember those journalists, but we’re also here to stand in solidarity with journalists who have gone through four months of utter hell but are still finding the energy to carry on reporting under conditions I don’t think any journalist over here can even imagine.”
Wednesday 7 February is the national workplace day of action to stand with Gaza, called for by the Stop the War coalition.
Dr Teige Matthews-Palmer, a research scientist at Oxford University and committee officer of the University and College Union's Oxford University branch, said his union recently passed a motion of solidarity with the Palestinian people.
“Education is a pillar of Palestinian culture with a high number of PhD educated citizens," he said.
"As academics and workers at the University of Oxford, we condemn the deliberate destruction of all of Gaza’s universities, including its brand new and only university hospital at Al-Israa - this is erasure of Palestinian culture and intellectual life."
"Our union is the democratic voice of the University of Oxford's scholars, research scientists and professional services staff, and we share this message with Oxford and the world: the UK must immediately halt arms export and reverse the defunding of Unrwa, and Israel must immediately comply with the ICJ's binding interim order to cease killing, punish incitement to genocide, and enable urgent humanitarian aid."
After the Biden administration abruptly suspended funding to the UN agency for Palestinian refugees (Unrwa), amid congressional calls for that aid to be permanently stopped, a group of appalled staffers on Capitol Hill have taken matters into their own hands.
Rather than following their bosses in Congress or agreeing to the administration's aid suspension, staffers are organising a fundraiser next week in DC to help raise money for humanitarian assistance in Gaza, as well as for organisations working to free the remaining Israeli hostages in Gaza.
The fundraiser will take place next Thursday. Organisers also plan to create a GoFundMe page and open up their fundraising efforts to the public.
"We feel like we have a responsibility to do more when you see our members and our president and the administration refusing to do so," an organiser with Congressional Staffers for Ceasefire said in a phone interview with MEE.
"While we're obviously not going to be able to raise the millions of dollars, or the billions of dollars, that Congress could appropriate for this aid, we can certainly do our part and make our splash."
France organised a national tribute for the French victims of 7 October with the sitting French President Emmanuel Macron presiding over the ceremony, alongside all members of the government.
The former French president, Francois Hollande, was asked by a journalist if there isn't a double standard and whether French victims in Gaza don't also deserve a similar tribute.
"It cannot be the same tribute," said Hollande. "A life is a life and one life is equivalent to another, but there are victims of terrorism and victims of war. Being a victim of terrorism means being attacked as a French person or as a defender of a way of life. A collateral victim, you are in a war [...], it's not of the same nature," he added.
Human Rights Watch said in a statement that it is “unconscionable” to close the UN agency “most able” to provide much-needed lifesaving humanitarian aid to Palestinians in Gaza who are “on the brink of famine".
The letter is addressed to Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Commission, and Josep Borrell, the EU’s foreign affairs chief, among others.
“We are also concerned about the longer-term implications shutting down UNRWA would have, especially on the right of Palestinian refugees to return, enshrined in UN General Assembly Resolution 194 and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights,” Human Rights Watch also wrote.
Israeli sources told journalist Barak Ravid that US Secretary of State Antony Blinken informed Prime Minister Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant of Washington's deep concern over the Israeli army's potential expansion of operations into Rafah.
After meeting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said more work should be done to bring aid into Gaza.
“We all have an obligation to do everything possible to get the necessary assistance to those who so desperately need it, and the steps that are being taken - additional steps that need to be taken - are the focus of my own meetings here,” he said.
Israeli forces wounded two Palestinians in the occupied West Bank on Wednesday, during a military raid on Tulkarm.
A woman and a 22-year-old man were wounded in the raid, the third to take place in the space of a week, Wafa news agency stated.
The Palestine Red Crescent said the Israeli forces were preventing its ambulances from evacuating the wounded as the raid continued.