Israeli jets have launched airstrikes against Islamic Jihad targets in the Gaza Strip and Syria, killing two militants, in retaliation for several barrages of rocket attacks fired by the group into Israel. The intense violence erupted after an Islamic Jihad militant was shot dead while attempting to plant a bomb at the fence that separates Gaza and Israel, according to the Israeli military.
Palestinian-backed plans for a UN security council vote on Tuesday designed to show international opposition to Donald Trump’s Middle East peace plan are expected to be shelved after the US and the UK raised separate objections to the draft text. In what was being seen as a key test of the diplomatic support for Trump’s “ultimate deal”, Tunisia, with Arab League and Palestinian support, had tabled a resolution saying it breached basic undertakings to the Palestinian people.
Leaders from around the world are reacting to US President Donald Trump’s long-awaited Middle East plan, with some denouncing it as “aggressive” and “one-sided” and others saying the proposal initiative “could prove a positive step forward”. Palestinian leaders, who cut off all ties with Washington in late 2017 after Trump controversially recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, immediately rejected the plan.
The United States on Monday effectively backed Israel’s right to build Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank by abandoning its four-decade-old position that they were “inconsistent with international law,” a stance that may make Israeli-Palestinian peace even more elusive. The announcement by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was a victory for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Israel and the militant group Islamic Jihad have begun a ceasefire after at least 34 Palestinians were killed in the heaviest fighting in months. Almost half of the dead were civilians, including eight children and three women, medical officials in Gaza said. Eight members of one Gaza family were killed by an Israeli missile strike shortly before the truce came into effect, officials and residents said.
Israel has killed a top commander from the Iranian-backed Palestinian militant group Islamic Jihad. The attack was carried out in targeted airstrikes in eastern Gaza on Tuesday. Militants responded to the killing of Baha Abu Al-Atta by firing rockets at Israeli cities, including Tel Aviv, in what is the most serious escalation of tensions in months.
The United States hopes to enlist allies over the next two weeks or so in a military coalition to safeguard strategic waters off Iran and Yemen, where Washington blames Iran and Iran-aligned fighters for attacks, the top U.S. general said on Tuesday. Under the plan, which has only been finalized in recent days, the United States would provide command ships and lead surveillance efforts for the military coalition.
The United States is preparing to send additional troops to the Middle East in response to mounting concerns over Iran, which Washington blames for attacks on oil tankers last week, two U.S. officials told Reuters on Monday, speaking on condition of anonymity. If confirmed, it would be in addition to the 1,500 troop increase announced last month in response to tanker attacks in May that it also blamed on Iran.
The United States has released a video that it claims shows Iran’s Revolutionary Guard (IRGC) removing an unexploded mine from one of the two tankers hit by explosions in the Gulf of Oman. Washington believes the images clearly show members of the Iranian elite force approaching the Japanese vessel and removing what the US claims is a limpet mine. Iran has vehemently denied involvement with the reported attacks and has described the US’s allegations as “baseless”.
Two oil tankers have been hit in suspected attacks in the Gulf of Oman and the crews evacuated, a month after a similar incident in which four tankers in the region were struck. Reports of the explosions originally came from the same Hezbollah-linked news agencies in Lebanon that correctly reported attacks on tankers docked off the coast of the UAE in May. The US blamed those attacks on Iran – an accusation Tehran has denied.