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Netanyahu disbands his inner war cabinet

The prime minister had faced demands from the nationalist-religious partners in his coalition, Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich and National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir, to be included in the war cabinet, a move which would have intensified strains with international partners including the United States.

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has dissolved the six-member war cabinet, an Israeli official said on Monday, in a widely expected move that came after the departure from government of the centrist former general Benny Gantz.

Netanyahu is now expected to hold consultations about the Gaza war with a small group of ministers, including Defence Minister Yoav Gallant and Strategic Affairs Minister Ron Dermer who had been in the war cabinet, Reuters reported.

The prime minister had faced demands from the nationalist-religious partners in his coalition, Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich and National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir, to be included in the war cabinet, a move which would have intensified strains with international partners including the United States.

The forum was formed after Gantz joined Netanyahu in a national unity government at the start of the war in October and also included Gantz’s partner Gadi Eisenkot and Aryeh Deri, head of the religious party Shas, as observers.

Gantz and Eisenkot both left the government last week, over what they said was Netanyahu’s failure to form a strategy for the Gaza war.

 

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Dozens of Palestinians killed or wounded in Israeli attack on Khan Younis, Hamas says

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Dozens of Palestinians were killed or wounded in an Israeli attack on Saturday that hit tents housing displaced people in Gaza’s Khan Younis, the Hamas-run media office said.

The Israeli military said it was looking into the report. There has been no statement yet from the Gaza health ministry on the official death toll.

“The Israeli occupation army conducted a big massacre by bombarding the tent camps of the displaced in Khan Younis. The horrifying massacre killed and wounded more than 100 people, including members of the Civil Emergency Service,” the statement issued by the Hamas-run Gaza government media office said, Reuters reported.

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Nigerian school building collapses killing 22 people

Thirty people are still in hospital, Nigeria’s National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) said in a Facebook post, adding that rescue efforts had ended and the site cleared.

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Twenty-two people were killed, after a two-storey school building collapsed in central Nigeria’s Plateau state, Sky news reported on Saturday.

A total of 154 people were trapped under the debris, and everyone apart from those who died was rescued and is being treated for injuries in various hospitals, Sky news said citing a police spokesperson, according to Reuters.

Thirty people are still in hospital, Nigeria’s National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) said in a Facebook post, adding that rescue efforts had ended and the site cleared.

The two-story building, belonging to Saint Academy in the Busa Buji community of Jos north district in the state, collapsed during school hours around 0730 GMT.

Building collapses are frequent in Africa’s most populous country due to lax safety regulations and often substandard construction materials.

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Biden says Israel-Gaza war should end now and Israel must not occupy Gaza

A dozen U.S. administration officials have quit, citing opposition to Biden’s Gaza policy. Rights advocates also note a rise in antisemitism and Islamophobia in the U.S. amid the war, Reuters reported.

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U.S. President Joe Biden said on Thursday the Israel-Gaza war must end now and Israel must not occupy the enclave after the war, telling reporters his ceasefire framework had been agreed on by both Israel and Hamas but there were still gaps to close, Reuters reported.

“That framework is now agreed on by both Israel and Hamas. So I sent my team to the region to hammer out the details,” Biden said in a news conference.

Biden in late May detailed a proposal of three phases aimed at achieving a ceasefire, the release of hostages in Gaza and Palestinian prisoners held by Israel, Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza and the rebuilding of the coastal enclave.

CIA Director Bill Burns and U.S. Middle East envoy Brett McGurk were in the Middle East this week meeting with regional counterparts to discuss the ceasefire deal.

“These are difficult, complex issues. There are still gaps to close. We’re making progress. The trend is positive. I’m determined to get this deal done and bring an end to this war, which should end now,” Biden said in the press conference.

Palestinian Islamist group Hamas has accepted a key part of a U.S. plan, dropping a demand that Israel first commit to a permanent ceasefire before signing the agreement, read the report.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has insisted the deal must not prevent Israel from resuming fighting until its war objectives are met. At the outset of the war, he pledged to annihilate Hamas.

Netanyahu’s office said on Wednesday he was committed to securing a Gaza ceasefire deal provided Israel’s red lines were respected.

Biden told reporters on Thursday that Israel must not occupy Gaza while also offering some criticism of Israel’s war cabinet, saying “Israel occasionally was less than cooperative”.

Biden also expressed disappointment at some of his steps not having succeeded in Gaza, citing the planned winding down of the U.S. military’s humanitarian pier off the coast of Gaza as an example. “I was hopeful that would be more successful,” he said.

The Biden administration has faced international criticism for its continuing support of Israel in the face of growing civilian casualties.

The United States, Israel’s important ally, has seen months of protests around the country in opposition to the war and to U.S. support for Israel.

A dozen U.S. administration officials have quit, citing opposition to Biden’s Gaza policy. Rights advocates also note a rise in antisemitism and Islamophobia in the U.S. amid the war, Reuters reported.

The latest bloodshed in the decades-old Israeli-Palestinian conflict was triggered on Oct. 7 when fighters led by Hamas, which controlled Gaza, attacked southern Israel. They killed 1,200 people and took around 250 hostages, according to Israeli figures.

The Gaza health ministry says that since then over 38,000 Palestinians have been killed in Israel’s assault on the coastal enclave, which has displaced nearly all its 2.3 million population, caused a hunger crisis and led to genocide allegations that Israel denies.

 

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