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ConflictsMiddle East

Israel-Hamas war: Biden has 'hope' for imminent cease-fire

Published February 26, 2024last updated February 27, 2024

US President Joe Biden said his hope is "by next Monday we'll have a cease-fire" amid the ongoing conflict. Meanwhile, Israel says strikes against Hezbollah in Lebanon will continue. DW has the latest.

US President Joe Biden
Biden is hopeful that a halt to the fighting is on the horizonImage: Evan Vucci/AP Photo/picture alliance
Skip next section What you need to know

What you need to know

  • Biden has struck an optimistic tone about a possible pause in the hostilities
  • Israel has struck Hezbollah targets in east Lebanon for the first time
  • The Palestinian government in the West Bank has resigned
  • US Air Force member dies of injuries after setting himself on fire outside Israeli Embassy in Washington
  • The Israeli military has presented a plan to evacuate civilians in combat areas in Gaza, Benjamin Netanyahu's office says
Skip next section Biden says he hopes a cease-fire can take effect next week
February 27, 2024

Biden says he hopes a cease-fire can take effect next week

US President Joe Biden said he hopes a cease-fire can take effect between Israel and Hamas militants "by next Monday."

Talks regarding a possible deal have resumed in Qatar, which is one of the mediators.

Asked when he hoped such a deal could be finalized, Biden said: "My national security adviser tells me that they're close. They're not done yet. My hope is by next Monday we'll have a cease-fire."

Skip next section Arab states ask ICJ to declare Israeli occupation illegal
February 26, 2024

Arab states ask ICJ to declare Israeli occupation illegal

Arab states urged international judges to declare Israel's occupation of Palestinian territories illegal on the final day of hearings in a case examining its legal status. The case began long before the October 7 attacks and Israel's military retaliation in Gaza.

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) has been hearing arguments from more than 50 states following a request by the UN General Assembly in 2022 to issue a non-binding opinion on the legal consequences of the Israeli occupation.

Arab League Secretary General Ahmed Aboul Gheit called the occupation "an affront to international justice" in a statement read to the court by a representative.

Meanwhile, Turkey's Deputy Foreign Minister Ahmet Yildiz told the judges that the occupation was the root cause of conflict in the region.

The majority of states that spoke at the ICJ hearing urged the judges to declare the occupation illegal.

Israel, which is not participating in the hearings, has said the court's involvement could be detrimental to a negotiated settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, calling the questions posed to the court biased.

The ICJ hearings concluded on Monday and a date for a decision will be announced in due course, the court said. The 15-judge panel is expected to take about six months to issue its non-binding opinion on the occupation.

Hearings on Israel's Palestinian territory occupation begin

Skip next section West Bank: Abbas accepts Palestinian government's resignation
February 26, 2024

West Bank: Abbas accepts Palestinian government's resignation

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas accepted the resignation of Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh, a statement by the presidency said.

Abbas issued a decree accepting the resignation and assigned Shtayyeh's government to continue "temporarily until a new government is formed," the statement said.

Earlier on Monday, Shtayyeh said he was resigning in a bid to allow Palestinians to form a broad consensus about political arrangements amid Israel's war against Hamas, a Palestinian militant group, in Gaza.

The US has been pressuring Abbas to shake up the Palestinian Authority, which rules parts of the occupied West Bank. The Palestinian Authority lost control over the Gaza Strip following a struggle with Hamas in 2007. 

Hamas is considered a terrorist organization by the European Union, the United States, and Israel.

You can read the story in full here

Skip next section Scholz condemns 'one-sided position' on Israel at Berlinale
February 26, 2024

Scholz condemns 'one-sided position' on Israel at Berlinale

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has criticized what he described as a "one-sided position" on Israel expressed during Berlin's film festival over the weekend, where several filmmakers criticized Israel over its ongoing offensive in Gaza.

Scholz believed "that such a one-sided position cannot be allowed to stand," said deputy government spokeswoman Christiane Hoffmann in Berlin on Monday. 

Hoffmann stressed the importance of keeping in mind what triggered this renewed escalation of the conflict, pointing to the Palestinian, militant group Hamas, which carried out attacks on Israel on October 7 last year, that killed almost 1,200 people.

Minister of State for Culture Claudia Roth also condemned the statements made at the Berlinale as "frighteningly one-sided and characterized by a profound hatred of Israel." The Green politician announced an investigation into the incidents. 

Read the full story here

Skip next section US airman dies after self-immolating outside Israeli embassy
February 26, 2024

US airman dies after self-immolating outside Israeli embassy

An active-duty member of the US Air Force has died after he set himself on fire outside of Israel's Embassy in Washington, DC in an apparent protest against Israel's offensive in the Gaza Strip.

At one point, the man said that he would "no longer be complicit in genocide." He filmed himself and broadcast the act online on Sunday, though the video was soon removed.

The Metropolitan Police Department said early on Monday that he had died from his injuries.

In December, a person set themselves on fire outside the Israeli consulate in Atlanta, which fire authorities said they believed to be an act of "extreme political protest."

Skip next section Israel hits Hezbollah targets deep in Lebanon
February 26, 2024

Israel hits Hezbollah targets deep in Lebanon

Israeli fighter jets have struck Hezbollah targets in the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon's east, Israel's military says, in what is a new escalation of the Israel-Hezbollah conflict.

The strikes on sites used by Hezbollah for its aerial defense came in response to the downing of an Israeli drone by a missile earlier on Monday in southern Lebanon, the army said.

Hezbollah said the strikes hit an area near the ancient city of Baalbeck, more than 100 kilometers (62 miles) from the Israeli border.

Lebanese security sources said at least two people, both believed to be Hezbollah fighters, were killed in the Israeli strikes.

Hezbollah sources said the Israeli attacks targeted a vacant, three-story building, while security sources said they hit an arms depot for the group.

The Iran-backed Hezbollah has been carrying out frequent attacks in northern Israel, saying it is supporting the Islamist militant group Hamas in its fight against Israel by tying up Israeli troops away from Gaza. 

Skip next section Gaza death toll at least 29,782: Hamas-run ministry
February 26, 2024

Gaza death toll at least 29,782: Hamas-run ministry

The Health Ministry in the Hamas-run Gaza Strip said on  Monday that at least 29,782 people have been killed in the Palestinian territory since Israel launched an offensive on October 7.

Ninety of the deaths occurred in the past 24 hours, the ministry said in a statement.

It said some 70,043 people have also been injured in the conflict.  

The United Nations and multiple humanitarian organizations consider the death toll and casualty numbers to be broadly reliable.

Around half of Gaza's 2.3 million inhabitants are children, and the UN says the majority of civilians killed have been women and children. 

Skip next section HRW says Israel is ignoring UN court ruling on Gaza
February 26, 2024

HRW says Israel is ignoring UN court ruling on Gaza

New York-based rights group Human Rights Watch has accused Israel of failing to provide urgently needed aid to people in the Gaza Strip as ordered by the International Court of Justice (ICJ).

The ICJ, the judicial branch of the United Nations, said last month that Israel must take "immediate and effective measures to enable the provision of urgently needed basic services and humanitarian assistance to address the adverse conditions of life faced by Palestinians in the Gaza Strip."

"The Israeli government has simply ignored the court's ruling and, in some ways, even intensified its repression, including further blocking lifesaving aid," said Omar Shakir, Israel and Palestine director at Human Rights Watch.

Israel denies it is restricting the entry of aid. It has blamed aid organizations operating inside Gaza instead, saying hundreds of trucks are sitting idle on the Palestinian side of the main crossing.

The UN says reaching the trucks at the crossing is sometimes too dangerous.

The ICJ's order was a preliminary response to a South African petition accusing Israel of genocide. The court did not go as far as to order Israel to end its offensive, which the Israeli government says is a legitimate war fought in self-defense.

Hearings on Israel's Palestinian territory occupation begin

Skip next section West Bank government resigns
February 26, 2024

West Bank government resigns

Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh says he has handed his West Bank government's resignation to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

Shtayyeh added that he resigned last Tuesday but handed in the written resignation on Monday.

"I submit the government's resignation to Mr. President [Mahmoud Abbas]," Shtayyeh said. He added that it came in the wake of the "developments related to the aggression against the Gaza Strip and the escalation in the West Bank and Jerusalem."

Shtayyeh added that he was resigning to allow for Palestinians to form abroad consensus among Palestinians about political arrangements amid Israel's war against Hamas, a Palestinian militant group, in Gaza.

The US has been pressuring Abbas to shake up the Palestinian Authority, which rules parts of the occupied West Bank. This comes amid international efforts to stop the war and work toward a political structure to govern Gaza afterward.

Hamas is considered a terrorist organization by the European Union, the United States and Israel.

Skip next section Israeli troops kill Palestinian gunmen in Gaza City: IDF
February 26, 2024

Israeli troops kill Palestinian gunmen in Gaza City: IDF

Israeli forces have killed more than 30 Palestinian gunmen in Gaza City's Zeitoun district in the past 24 hours, the Israeli Defense Forces says.

The online newspaper Times of Israel cited the IDF as saying that in one incident, Israeli troops directed a fighter jet to strike a building where a Hamas sniper was operating.

More Palestinian fighters were killed in the central Gaza Strip and the southern city of Khan Younis, it said.  

Gaza City was one of the first locations to be targeted by Israeli forces when they began their Gaza offensive in response to the October 7 attack by Hamas in southern Israel, in which more than 1,160 Israelis died.

Since those first days of the war, Israeli troops have made several incursions into the city in their bid to hunt down Hamas militants.


Skip next section War over 'in weeks' with Rafah offensive: Netanyahu
February 26, 2024

War over 'in weeks' with Rafah offensive: Netanyahu

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said that a much-criticized planned offensive in the southern city of Rafah will bring a swift end to intense fighting against the militant Palestinian group Hamas.

"Hamas is a terrorist organization that, once we begin the Rafah operation, the intense phase of the fighting is weeks away from completion, not months, weeks away from completion," he told US broadcaster CBS.

"Total victory is important to achieve the war goal of destroying Hamas, releasing the hostages and ensuring that Gaza doesn't pose a threat," Netanyahu said.

The prime minister said that the offensive was vital, even if it delayed a cease-fire and hostage exchange deal.

"If we have a deal, it'll be delayed somewhat," Netanyahu said. "But it'll happen. If we don't have a deal, we'll do it anyway. It has to be done. Because total victory is our goal, and total victory is
within reach."

There has been much international criticism of the planned offensive, even from allies such as the US, as Rafah is now hosting some 1.5 million Palestinians who have fled fighting in other parts of the Gaza Strip.

Skip next section US oil tanker undamaged after attempted Houthi attack
February 26, 2024

US oil tanker undamaged after attempted Houthi attack

Houthi rebels in Yemen launched an anti-ship missile at the US-flagged, owned and operated MV Torm Thor, the US Central Command (CENTCOM) said on Monday.

However, CENTCOM added that the missile impacted the water and caused no damage to the ship.

The Houthis have vowed to ramp up attacks on cargo ships in the Red Sea in retaliation for Israel's military offensive in Gaza.

They confirmed they had targeted the MV Torm Thor on Sunday.

The US military also spotted three drones that "presented an imminent threat to merchant vessels and to the US Navy ships in the region."

It shot down two of the unmanned aerial vehicles and said a third one is believed to have crashed due to an inflight failure. 

Skip next section Israeli army presents plan to evacuate civilians in Gaza
February 26, 2024

Israeli army presents plan to evacuate civilians in Gaza

The Israeli army has presented a plan to evacuate civilians in the Gaza Strip, the office of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Monday.

"The [Israeli army] presented the War Cabinet with a plan for evacuating the population from the areas of fighting in the Gaza Strip, with the upcoming operational plan," it said in a statement.

The statement also said that the war cabinet approved a plan to deliver humanitarian aid safely into the besieged territory.

Further details were not provided, including where the evacuated civilians would go.

The announcement comes as highly criticized plans continue for a new military offensive in the Gaza Strip's southernmost city of Rafah, where around 1.4 million Palestinians have sought refuge from the fighting.

Skip next section Israel vows to continue fighting Hezbollah even if cease-fire reached with Hamas
February 26, 2024

Israel vows to continue fighting Hezbollah even if cease-fire reached with Hamas

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant has vowed to continue strikes against Hezbollah in Lebanon regardless of whether Israel agrees to a temporary cease-fire with Hamas militants in Gaza.

"If anyone thinks that when we reach a deal to release hostages in the south and the firing stops it will ease what is happening here they are wrong," Gallant said in a video posted to social media. 

"We will continue the fire, and we will do so independently from the south, until we achieve our goals," he added.

Gallant made the comments during a visit to the Israeli army's northern command post in Safed, which was hit by a rocket strike from Lebanon earlier this month.

Israel and Hezbollah have traded near-daily strikes since early October. Tens of thousands of civilians on both sides of the border have been displaced amid the conflict.

Hezbollah is an Iran-backed Shiite political party and militant group in Lebanon. It is designated as a terrorist organization by the US, Germany and several other governments.

zc/ab (AFP, Reuters, AP, dpa)