Israel to open new crossing, ‘flood Gaza with aid’; war of words with Iran heats up | USA TODAY

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Israel to open new crossing, ‘flood Gaza with aid’; war of words with Iran heats up | Avi Melamed’s insights quoted in this article by John Bacon Jorge L. Ortiz, Originally published in USA Today.

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Less than a week after President Joe Biden said conditions in Gaza are unacceptable and demanded they improve, Israel said it will open a new land crossing to allow more humanitarian aid to enter the embattled territory.

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant told reporters Wednesday the new border crossing, between the southern Israeli community of Zikim and the coastal northern Gaza town of As-Siafa, would make it easier to bring in supplies from overseas and from Jordan to the east.

“These breakthroughs have a direct impact on the flow of aid – we plan to flood Gaza with aid,” Gallant said. “It will also streamline security checks and strengthen our work with international partners.”

Providing a direct access to northern Gaza, where an estimated 300,000 Palestinians still live despite the widespread destruction from Israeli bombardment, would also facilitate the influx of assistance to the area. The vast majority of aid has been trucked in through southern crossings more than 20 miles away, a long distance to cover amid the dangers of war.

The U.S., other nations and humanitarian organizations have been clamoring for Israel to let more food, medicines and other necessities into Gaza, where the U.N. says half the population is facing “catastrophic” hunger. On Thursday, Biden told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu the U.S. policy regarding Gaza would be determined by how Israel addresses humanitarian concerns, according to a White House readout of their call.

‘The ball is in Hamas’ court’:US urges militants to accept latest cease-fire plan

Developments:

∎ French Foreign Minister Stephane Sejourne said his nation has no immediate plan to impose sanctions on Israel to force it to allow more humanitarian aid to Palestinians in Gaza. France has been among the most vocal critics of Israel’s war in Gaza.

∎ The commander of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard’s navy warned that Tehran could close the Strait of Hormuz if “the enemy comes to disrupt us.” About a fifth of the volume of the world’s total oil consumption passes through the strait.

∎ The 468 trucks carrying aid that entered Gaza on Tuesday were the highest total since the war began in October, the Israeli military said.

150,000 Palestinians could return home under deal proposal

Israel would allow 150,000 displaced Palestinians to return to northern Gaza without security checks under terms of a cease-fire and hostage-release agreement the U.S. has proposed, but Israeli leaders don’t believe Hamas is ready to cut a deal yet, Reuters reported Wednesday.

Israel’s compromise on Palestinians returning home would remove a major stumbling block in negotiations being held in Cairo, but Hamas continues to insist on a permanent cease-fire and the withdrawal of all troops from Gaza, which Israel opposes. In exchange for its concession, Israel wants a list of the female, elderly and sick hostages Hamas still holds alive.

That list may not include the 40 hostages Israel is seeking in the first phase of a truce because Hamas has told negotiators it can’t locate that many captives fitting that description, CNN reported.

Hamas leaders have said the latest Israeli offer does not meet their demands but they’re willing to study it.

Iran’s Khamenei says Israel’s ‘evil regime made a mistake’

Israel has to be punished for the April 1 attack on the Iranian consulate compound in Damascus, Iran’s supreme leader said Wednesday.

“When they attack the consulate, it is as if they have attacked our soil,” Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Wednesday in a speech marking the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. “The evil regime made a mistake and must be punished and it shall be.”

Israel has not claimed responsibility for the attack, in which suspected Israeli warplanes bombed Iran’s consulate in the Syrian capital on April 1 in a strike that Iran said killed seven military advisers.

“If Iran attacks from its territory, Israel will respond and attack in Iran,” Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz wrote in a social media post.

Avi Melamed, a former Israeli intelligence official and now a regional analyst, said Iran will probably try to calibrate its response to avoid direct retaliation from Israel while continuing to exert influence in the Middle East through proxies.

“While the world sits on edge waiting for the inevitable Iranian response,” Melamed said, “it’s important to note that the regime has thus far acted strategically, that it will respond in order to send a message of strength and restore its deterrence capacity, but that it will do so at the time it calculates will best achieve its successful return of deterrence.”

Biden calls Netanyahu’s strategy in Gaza a ‘mistake’

Netanyahu’s approach to the war in Gaza is a “mistake” and Israel should declare a cease-fire to allow more desperately needed humanitarian aid into the embattled enclave, Biden said in a newly released interview.

Biden, in a Univision interview conducted last week, said Israel should allow “total access” to all food and medicine flowing into Gaza for six to eight weeks. The White House later clarified that the pause in fighting should be part of a hostage deal.

“I’ve spoken with everyone from the Saudis to the Jordanians to the Egyptians,” Biden said. “They’re prepared to move this food in. And I think there’s no excuse to not provide for the medical and the food needs of those people. It should be done now.”

Biden also lashed out at what he called the “outrageous” April 1 attack on the World Central Kitchen food convoy that killed seven aid workers. The trucks were clearly marked and the Israeli military had been provided details on the trip. The Israel military said days later that a series of mistakes led to the accidental attack. Two officers were removed from command positions days after the drone strikes.

Aid delivery to Gaza by sea to resume

Aid deliveries to Gaza from ships in Cyprus will resume soon, Cypriot President Nikos Christodoulides said Wednesday. The program has been on hold since the Israeli strike on a truck convoy April 1 that killed seven World Central Kitchen aid workers. Cyprus has about 1,000 tons of aid destined for Gaza.

Sea deliveries have been challenging because of the lack of a proper dock, and shipments were delivered on a temporary jetty made of rubble assembled by the WCK. The U.S. is building a dock on Gaza’s Mediterranean coast that will allow more streamlined delivery of aid, which will be pre-screened in Cyprus with Israeli oversight. The dock is scheduled for completion by May 1 at a cost of $180 million to over $200 million, ABC News reported.

Sons of Hamas leader killed in Israeli airstrike

Hamas political leader Ismail Haniyeh said Wednesday that three of his sons and other family members were among those killed in an Israeli air raid on a vehicle in a refugee camp near Gaza City. Haniyeh said family members had been gathering for Eid al-Fitr − which marks the end of Ramadan − at the Shati Camp when they were targeted. Haniyeh lives in exile in Qatar but said his family has remained in Gaza.

“I thank God for this honor,” he said in a statement. “With this pain and blood, we make hopes, future and freedom for our people, our cause and our nation.”

Al Jazeera reported a car carrying the three sons − Hazem, Amir and Mohammad − was hit by a drone-fired missile. Haniyeh, speaking to Al Jazeera, said he has lost about 60 family members since the war began with a Hamas-led attack on Israeli border communities Oct. 7. Israel falsely believes it can break the resolve of the Palestinian people by targeting the families of its leaders, Haniyeh said.

“Anyone who believes that targeting my sons will push Hamas to change its position is delusional,” he said.

The Israeli military confirmed carrying out the attack, describing the three sons as operatives in the Hamas armed wing.


Israel to open new crossing, ‘flood Gaza with aid’; war of words with Iran heats up | Avi Melamed’s insights quoted in this article by John Bacon Jorge L. Ortiz, Originally published in USA Today.

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Avi Melamed
Avi Melamedhttps://insidethemiddle-east.com
Avi Melamed is an expert on current affairs in the Arab & Muslim World and their impact on Israel & the Middle East. A former Israeli Intelligence Official & Senior Official on Arab Affairs, Fluent in Arabic, English, and Hebrew, he has held high-risk Government, Senior Advisory, Intelligence & Counter-Terrorist intelligence positions in Arab cities & communities - often in very sensitive times - on behalf of Israeli Government agencies. He is the Founder & CEO of Inside the Middle East | Intelligence Perspectives - an apolitical non-partisan curriculum using intelligence methodology to examine the Middle East. As an Author, Educator, Expert, and Strategic Intelligence Analyst, Avi provides Intelligence Analysis, Briefings, and Geopolitical Tours to diplomats, Israeli and foreign policymakers, global media outlets, and a wide variety of international businesses, organizations, and private clients on a range of Israel and Middle East Affairs.

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