Netanyahu seeks open-ended control over security and civilian affairs in Gaza in new postwar plan

DEIR AL-BALAH, Gaza Strip (AP) — A long-awaited postwar plan from Israel’s prime minister shows his government’s commitment to open control over security and civil affairs in the Gaza Strip. That was quickly rejected by Palestinian leaders on Friday and goes against Washington’s view on it ravaged by war enclave.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu presented the two-page document to his security cabinet for approval late Thursday.

Deep disagreements over the future of Gaza have led to increasing conflict public friction between Israel and the United States, its closest ally. The Biden administration is seeking eventual Palestinian rule in Gaza and the Israeli-occupied West Bank as a precursor to Palestinian statehood, an outcome that Netanyahu and his right-wing government strongly oppose. Netanyahu’s plan envisions hand-picked Palestinians administering Gaza.

Separately, so did ceasefire efforts get a grip, with mediators to present a new proposal at an expected high-level meeting this weekend in Paris. The US, Egypt and Qatar have been struggling for weeks to find a formula that can stop Israel devastating offensive in Gazabut now face an unofficial deadline as a Muslim holy month of Ramadan approaches.

In Gaza, Israeli airstrikes in the center and south of the territory killed at least 92 Palestinians, including children and women, overnight through Friday, health officials and an Associated Press journalist said. Another 24 bodies remained trapped under the rubble.

After a strike razed his apartment building in the central city of Deir al-Balah, an online video showed Mahmoud Zueitar – a comedian known in Gaza for his appearances in TV commercials – storming into the hospital as he was holding his young sister, who was screaming and covered. in blood. At least 25 people were killed in the strike, including 16 women and children.

Throughout the war, Zueitar has posted upbeat and upbeat videos on social media, joking with people about the ways they endured bombings and displacement, praising Palestinian culture and assuring those around him that things will one day be better.

Another video from the hospital showed him cradling his injured sister in his lap. “I always say: ‘God, can’t they force us out of Gaza’, that’s how much I love the country and its people,” he says, crying. “But it seems they want us to leave Gaza.” Earlier at the hospital, relatives wept over bodies wrapped in grave cloths in the courtyard, and a man cradled a dead child.

The total Palestinian death toll since the war began has risen to more than 29,500, with nearly 70,000 people injured, Gaza health officials said. The death toll is almost 1.3% of Gaza’s 2.3 million residents.

NETANYAHU’S VISION FOR GAZA

Although Netanyahu’s plan does not contain specific details, it is the first time he has presented a formal post-war vision. It reiterates Israel’s determination to crush Hamas, the militant group that overran the Gaza Strip in 2007.

Opinion polls have indicated this that a majority of Palestinians do not support Hamas, but that the group has deep roots in Palestinian society. Critics, including some in Israel, say that the goal of eliminating Hamas is unattainable.

Netanyahu’s plan calls for freedom of action for the Israeli army in demilitarized Gaza after the war to thwart any security threat. It says that Israel is a buffer zone within Gazawhich is likely to raise American objections.

The plan also calls for Gaza to be governed by local officials who they say “would not be identified with countries or entities that support terrorism and receive no payment from them.”

It is not clear whether any Palestinians would agree to such a subcontractor role. Over the past decades, Israel has repeatedly tried and failed to establish carefully selected local Palestinian governing bodies.

The Palestinian Authority, which administers parts of the Israeli-occupied West Bank, denounced Netanyahu’s plan on Friday as “colonialist and racist,” saying it would amount to an Israeli reoccupation of Gaza. Israel withdrew its soldiers and settlers from Gaza in 2005, but retained control over access to the territory.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said he had not seen details of the plan. But he said any plan must be consistent with the basic principles the US has set out for Gaza’s future, “including that it should not be a platform for terrorism, that there should be no Israeli reoccupation of Gaza, that the extent of territory of Gaza should not be restricted.” reduced.”

The Biden administration wants a reformed Palestinian Authority to govern both Gaza and the West Bank as a step toward a Palestinian state. It has tried to undermine Netanyahu’s resistance by offering the prospect of normalizing ties between Israel and Arab superpower Saudi Arabia, which has set a condition for a Palestinian state.

THE WAR drags on

US, Israeli, Qatari and Egyptian officials are expected to meet in Paris this weekend to discuss ceasefire efforts. A senior Egyptian official said Egypt and Qatar would reach an agreement with Hamas leaders calling for a six-week ceasefire and the release of elderly and sick hostages in exchange for Palestinian prisoners in Israel. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to brief the press. The details would be worked out in the next phase during the ceasefire.

Hamas has demanded a complete halt to the Israeli offensive and a withdrawal of its troops from Gaza in exchange for the release of all its remaining hostages, as well as the release of Palestinians held by Israel, including top militants. Netanyahu has rejected these demands.

Israel declared war on Hamas on October 7, following the militants stormed into southern Israelkilling about 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and about 250 hostages. At the end of November, more than a hundred hostages were released during a week-long ceasefire.

Since the start of the war, Israel’s offensive has killed 29,514 Palestinians and injured nearly 70,000, the Health Ministry in Hamas-run Gaza said on Friday. Two-thirds of the dead were women and children, the ministry said, which makes no distinction between civilians and fighters. his count.

Israel says it has killed at least 10,000 Hamas fighters, without providing evidence to support its count. It holds Hamas responsible for civilian casualties because the group operates and fights from civilian areas.

The Israeli offensive has inflicted enormous suffering in Gaza. About 80% of the population has been displaced, infectious diseases are rampant and hundreds of thousands of people face hunger.

In the West Bank, two Palestinians killed in an Israeli drone attack on their car were buried Friday in the Jenin refugee camp. The two bodies were wrapped in flags of the militant group Islamic Jihad and carried on stretchers during the funeral procession.

Israel says one of those killed had previously been involved in shooting attacks on Israeli settlements and army posts, and was about to carry out another attack when he was killed in the drone strike late Thursday.

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Mroue reported from Beirut.

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