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UN Security Council demands Houthis stop Red Sea attacks

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The U.N. Security Council on Wednesday demanded Yemen’s Houthis immediately end attacks on ships in the Red Sea and cautioned against escalating tensions while implicitly endorsing a U.S.-led task force that has been defending vessels, Reuters reported.

The demand came in a Security Council resolution that also called on the Houthis to release the Galaxy Leader, a Japanese-operated vehicle carrier linked to an Israeli businessman that the group commandeered on Nov. 19, and its 25-person crew.

Eleven members voted for the measure demanding the Houthis “immediately cease all attacks, which impede global commerce and navigational rights and freedoms as well as regional peace.”

Four members, including veto-wielding Russia and China, abstained. None voted against.

The key provision of the resolution, sponsored by the U.S. and Japan, noted the right of U.N. member states, in accordance with international law, “to defend their vessels from attack, including those that undermine navigational rights and freedoms.”

The provision amounted to an implicit endorsement of Operation Prosperity Guardian, a U.S.-led multinational naval task force that has been defending commercial ships in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden from Houthi missile and drone attacks.

“The threat to navigational rights and freedoms in the Red Sea is a global challenge that necessitates a global response,” U.S. Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield said in urging the council to approve the resolution.

The Houthis, an Iran-aligned group that seized much of Yemen in a civil war, have vowed to attack ships linked to Israel or bound for Israeli ports to show support for Hamas Islamists battling the Israeli offensive in Gaza. However, many of the targeted ships have had no links to Israel, reported.

The U.S. accuses Iran of providing critical support for the Houthi attacks, including advanced missiles and drones, in violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions. Tehran denies the allegation.

The Houthi spokesman in Yemen, Mohammed Abdul Salam, dismissed the UN resolution as a “political game” and said the U.S. was the one violating international law.

The council voted after rejecting amendments proposed by Russia that would have stripped out the implicit endorsement of the U.S.-led task force and included the war in Gaza among the “root causes” of the Houthi strikes.

Russian Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia questioned the legitimacy of the task force and said the resolution as drafted was “an open-ended blessing of it.”

The Houthi attacks have disrupted maritime commerce, prompting some shipping lines to divert vessels from the Red Sea to longer routes, threatening to increase energy and food prices.

In the latest strikes, Washington said U.S. and British warships on Tuesday shot down 21 drones and missiles fired by the Houthis at southern Red Sea shipping lanes in what London called the largest such attack in the area.

U.S. Central Command said there have been 26 Houthi strikes on shipping since the Houthis seized the Galaxy Leader, reported.

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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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