Hezbollah says ‘dozens’ of rockets fired at Israeli army HQ; Israelis protest at Netanyahu’s home

This was in response to Israeli attacks on “southern villages and civilian homes”, most recently in Srifa, Odaisseh and Rab Tlatin.

Lebanon’s official National News Agency (NNA) reported Israeli strikes on the three villages on Monday.

The Israeli military said “approximately 35 launches were identified crossing from Lebanon into the area of Ein Zeitim in northern Israel” and that no injuries were reported.

It said “troops struck the sources of the launches”.

Since October 7 at least 376 people have been killed in Lebanon, mostly Hezbollah fighters but also 70 civilians, according to an Agence France-Presse tally.

Israel says 10 soldiers and eight civilians have been killed on its side of the border.

Israeli military intelligence chief resigns over October 7 Hamas attack

Israeli protesters on Monday burnt a symbolic Passover table outside Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s house at the start of the Jewish holiday, accusing him of failing hostages in Gaza.

Hundreds of protesters gathered outside the gates leading to the house in the coastal town of Caesarea, calling for the release of hostages abducted by Palestinian militants on October 7 and criticising Netanyahu’s leadership.

Israeli officials say 129 captives remain in Gaza after the Hamas attack, including 34 whom the military says are dead.

Their plight has cast a pall over this year’s Passover, also known in Hebrew as the “holiday of freedom”.

Guy Ben Dror said he was protesting against “the worst prime minister in the history of Israel”.

“He doesn’t want the hostages back because he doesn’t want the war to end or he’ll go to prison,” said the 54-year-old investment firm worker.

Members of the Samaritan sect take part in the traditional Passover sacrifice ceremony on Mount Gerizim near Nablus, in the Israeli-occupied West Bank on Monday. Photo: Reuters

Passover commemorates the liberation of the Jewish people from slavery in Egypt. A ritual meal, known as a seder, takes place on the first evening, with participants sitting around a tray laden with symbolic food.

Outside Netanyahu’s house, demonstrators, some of whom were relatives of hostages, set fire to a symbolic seder table after laying out empty places on another table to mark the hostages’ continued captivity.

“We are here to share our feelings, our grief, our sorrow with the families of the kidnapped,” said protester Yael Ben Porat.

“I didn’t want to celebrate this holiday when we have so many of our people, our brothers and sisters kidnapped over there in Gaza,” the 62-year-old lawyer said.

“All of us believe he is responsible for the horrible disaster of October 7,” she said, accusing Netanyahu of failures in negotiating their release.

“This night is only bitter, no freedom,” she said.

Israel’s chief of staff approves continuation of the Gaza war

In a post on X on Monday, Netanyahu insisted “our resolve remains unyielding to see all hostages back with their families”.

“Tonight, we think of those who cannot join their families at the seder table. Their absence strengthens our resolve and reminds us of the urgency of our mission. We will not rest until each one is freed,” he said.

“The days ahead will see increased military and diplomatic efforts to secure the freedom of our hostages,” Netanyahu said.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Washington on Monday. Photo: EPA-EFE

Meanwhile, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Monday denied that Washington has a “double standard” when applying US law to allegations of abuses by the Israeli military in Gaza and said examinations of such charges are continuing.

“In general, as we’re looking at human rights and the condition of human rights around the world, we apply the same standard to everyone,” Blinken told a briefing at which he unveiled the State Department’s annual human rights report.

“That doesn’t change whether the country is an adversary, a competitor, a friend or an ally,” he continued.

The war between Israel and Hamas that has killed tens of thousands of Palestinians in Gaza has had “a significant negative impact” on the human rights situation in Israel, according to the report.

Israel’s Netanyahu says will fight any sanctions on army battalions

Significant human rights issues include credible reports of arbitrary or unlawful killings, enforced disappearance, torture and unjustified arrests of journalists among others, said the report covering 2023.

It added that the Israeli government had taken some credible steps to identify and punish the officials who may have been involved in those abuses.

US State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said on Monday that Hamas has “moved the goalpost” and changed its demands in the hostage negotiations with Israel mediated by Egypt and Qatar.

At a daily press briefing, Miller said the US would continue to push for an agreement that would see hostages released and a pause in fighting in Gaza.

Separately, Miller said the US had received a report by former French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna into the UN aid agency for Palestinians, UNRWA, and is reviewing it.

Displaced Palestinians at the site of an Israeli strike on a tent camp in Rafah, southern Gaza on Monday. Photo: Reuters

Israel’s military conduct has come under increasing scrutiny as its forces have killed 34,000 Palestinians in Gaza, according to the enclave’s health authorities, many of them civilians and children.

Gaza has been reduced to a wasteland, and extreme food shortages have prompted fears of famine.

Rights groups have flagged numerous incidents of civilian harm during the Israeli army’s offensive in Gaza, as well as raised alarm about rising violence in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, where Palestinian Health Ministry records show Israeli forces or settlers have killed at least 460 Palestinians since October 7.

But so far the Biden administration has said it has not found Israel in breach of international law.

Washington gives US$3.8 billion in annual military help to its long-time ally. Leftist Democrats and Arab American groups have criticised the Biden administration’s steadfast support for Israel, which they say provides it with a sense of impunity.

But this month, US President Joe Biden for the first time threatened to condition support for Israel, and insisted that it take concrete steps to protect humanitarian aid workers and civilians.

Additional reporting by Reuters


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