White House cancels US-Israel meeting

Netanyahu claimed he had told Secretary of State Antony Blinken that it was “inconceivable that in the past few months, the administration has been withholding weapons and ammunition to Israel”…reports Asian Lite News

The White House canceled a meeting with Israel regarding Iran after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accused the US of withholding weapons on Tuesday, according to an Axios report.

In a video released on Tuesday, Netanyahu claimed he had told Secretary of State Antony Blinken that it was “inconceivable that in the past few months, the administration has been withholding weapons and ammunition to Israel.”

He implied the holdup was slowing Israel’s offensive in the southern Gaza city of Rafah. President Joe Biden’s top advisers, angered by Netanyahu’s public statement, made a public statement of their own by canceling the US-Israel meeting scheduled for Thursday, Axios reported.

“This decision makes it clear that there are consequences for pulling such stunts,” a US official told the news outlet. Another said the meeting had been postponed, not scrapped altogether.

Biden has delayed delivering certain heavy bombs to Israel since May over concerns about civilian deaths in Gaza.

However, Blinken said on Tuesday that the 2,000-pound bombs are the only ammunitions under review. He told reporters that “everything else is moving as it normally would.”

‘Hamas cannot be eliminated’

Israel Defense Forces (IDF) Spokesman Daniel Hagari has said that Hamas “cannot be eliminated” and suggested that only a swap deal could secure the release of all hostages still held in Gaza.

The remarks, made during an interview with Israeli Channel 13 TV news, mark the first time an Israeli official has said on Wednesday that the Palestinian group cannot be eliminated.

The statement diverges from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s set goals for the war: “eliminating” Hamas and releasing hostages held in Gaza.

“Hamas is an idea, Hamas is a party. It is rooted in the hearts of the people — whoever thinks we can eliminate Hamas is wrong,” said the IDF officer.

Hagari said that the way to weaken Hamas is to establish a new government in the Gaza Strip that would replace it and take care of food distribution and public services, adding that the only way to secure the release of all Israeli hostages is by reaching a swap deal.

In response, Netanyahu’s office released a statement saying that the security cabinet “has defined as one of the war goals the destruction of Hamas’s military and governance capabilities,” indicating a slight shift from the previously stated objective of eliminating Hamas.

Israeli forces have been fighting in Gaza for more than eight months, causing a humanitarian crisis and mass destruction and killing more than 37,300 people, mainly civilians. According to the Israeli army, much of Hamas’ militant infrastructure has been dismantled.

Israel launched the war to retaliate for a surprise Hamas attack on southern Israeli communities, killing about 1,200 people.

Israel eases security restrictions near Gaza

Israel’s Home Front Command has announced the lifting of security restrictions in numerous communities near the Gaza Strip, marking a significant easing of measures since Hamas’ attack on October 7, 2023.

The new guidelines, applicable to the “Gaza Envelope” area extending up to 7 km from the Gaza border, exclude 25 communities, such as Sderot and Kerem Shalom, situated closer to the border.

According to a statement from the military, the decision follows a comprehensive assessment by Defence Minister Yoav Gallant and Chief of the General Staff Herzi Halevi.

Under these revised directives, outdoor educational activities can resume without constraints, gatherings of up to 1,000 people are permitted, and workplaces and essential economic activities can proceed unrestricted.

The adjustments in the Home Front Command’s defensive protocols are aimed at easing restrictions on civilian life by the current operational assessment to help revitalise agriculture, economy, and education, said the military in a statement.

The move comes after an eight-and-a-half-month conflict between Israel and Hamas, during which Israeli operations resulted in extensive infrastructure damage and loss of life in Gaza, primarily among civilians.

Israeli authorities assert significant dismantling of Hamas’ militant infrastructure during the conflict. Israel initiated the military campaign in response to a surprise attack by Hamas on southern Israeli communities, resulting in casualties numbering around 1,200 individuals.

Netanyahu scolds his coalition members

Meanwhile, Netanyahu on Wednesday issued a statement made to his coalition partners, telling them to “get a hold of themselves.” The statement came after coalition partners complained about laws that were arranged to be passed in the coalition agreement were shelved.

“We are fighting on several fronts and face great challenges and difficult decisions,” said Netanyahu. “Therefore, I demand that all coalition partners get a hold of themselves and rise to the importance of the hour.”

“This is not the time for petty politics or for legislation that endangers the coalition, which is fighting for victory over our enemies,” he added. “We must all focus solely on the tasks at hand: Defeating Hamas, returning all of our hostages and returning our residents securely to their homes, both in the north and the south.”

Netanyahu went on to demand that all of his 64 coalition members (out of 120) in the Knesset “put aside every other consideration. Put aside all extraneous interests. Line up, as one, together, behind our fighters.”

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