Israeli army captures Rafah crossing as tanks roll in after heavy bombardment

News Network
May 7, 2024

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The Israeli military says it has taken full control of the Rafah crossing, which borders Egypt.

Israeli tanks took over the crossing after advancing during the night following heavy bombardment of residential areas.

The military said the crossing is now disconnected from the Salah a-Din road in eastern Rafah, which was seized before.

Tel Aviv said it would continue the operation in Rafah even after the Palestinian resistance movement Hamas said it had agreed to a proposal on ceasefire in Gaza put forward by Qatari and Egyptian mediators.

Earlier, Israeli military aircraft heavily bombed Rafah accompanied with ground advances shortly after Hamas said it had accepted the ceasefire proposal.

The official Palestinian news agency Wafa and Egyptian media said Israeli military vehicles advanced towards the Palestinian side of the Rafah crossing with Egypt, as well as the Karem Shalom crossing with the Israeli-occupied territories.

A Palestinian security official and an Egyptian authority have told the Associated Press news agency that Israeli tanks have entered Rafah, reaching as close as 200 meters from Rafah’s border crossing with neighboring Egypt.

The Israeli military has said it was conducting “targeted strikes” against Hamas in eastern Rafah.

Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office has also said "Israel is continuing the operation in Rafah to exert military pressure on Hamas" in order to advance the release of captives and what it called "the other objectives of the war."

In the meantime, it described the proposal on ceasefire as "far from Israel's essential demands," but added that it would send negotiators for talks "to exhaust the potential for arriving at an agreement."

The military strikes on Rafah came ahead of talks in Egypt on Tuesday aimed at sealing a truce proposal accepted by Hamas, which was put forward by Qatari and Egyptian mediators. 

According to a copy of the proposal, there will be three phases to ending Israel’s onslaught against Gaza.

The first phase calls for a complete withdrawal of Israeli troops from the Netzarim corridor and the return of displaced Palestinians to their homes. The second phase involves an announcement of a permanent cessation of military operations. In the last phase, there would be a complete end to the blockade of the Gaza Strip. 

In return, Israel would be required to release an unspecified number of Palestinian prisoners, withdraw its troops from certain regions of the Gaza Strip, and allow Palestinians to travel from the south of the coastal sliver to the north.

About 1.5 million Palestinians are sheltering in Rafah, once designated a “safe zone” by the Israeli military. Palestinians are now struggling to evacuate the city, after the Israeli military dropped leaflets ordering them to leave as a large-scale assault on the city is planned.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has said that a ground invasion of Rafah would be “intolerable” and called on Israel and Hamas “to go an extra mile” to reach a truce deal.

“This is an opportunity that cannot be missed, and a ground invasion in Rafah would be intolerable because of its devastating humanitarian consequences, and because of its destabilizing impact in the region,” Guterres told reporters on Monday ahead of a meeting with Italian President Sergio Mattarella in New York.

Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi has also warned that Israel is “jeopardizing the deal by bombing Rafah.”

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News Network
May 18,2024

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In a humanitarian move, Spain has refused entry to a ship carrying arms from India’s Chennai to Israel to dock at one of its ports, its Foreign Minister José Manuel Albares has said.

The Denmark-flagged cargo ship Marianne Danica sailed from Chennai on April 8 when people in Gaza were observing Ramadan fasting, and was headed to the port of Haifa in Israel, according to maritime tracking portals and Spanish media.

Spain has been extremely critical of the rising civilian casualties due to the Israeli offensive in Gaza and, along with Belgium, has suspended arms exports licenses to Tel Aviv. 

Spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs Randhir Jaiswal, at the weekly press conference, only said that they have seen the report of the ship and will revert with more information.

Meanwhile, a source said, “Investigation will reveal if the items on board were cleared for export and if the end user is the same as reported by The Guardian because there are items that are not banned for exports.”

Speaking to reporters in Brussels on Thursday on the issue, Mr. Albares had said, “This is the first time we have done this because it is the first time we have detected a ship carrying a shipment of arms to Israel that wants to call at a Spanish port.”

“This will be a consistent policy with any ship carrying arms to Israel that wants to call at Spanish ports. The Foreign Ministry will systematically reject such stopovers for one obvious reason: the Middle East does not need more weapons, it needs more peace,” he stated.

The ship was carrying 27 tonnes of explosives according to local reports. It was to make a port call at Cartegena in Spain.
In February, Mr. Albares said that they had suspended arms export licences to Israel since October 7, which he said made them “realise” the importance of a “fair and lasting solution” to the Palestinian cause.

The incident comes amid an ongoing row between Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez’s party and his coalition partners over another ship, Borkum, that was due to dock at Cartegena port on Friday over allegations that it was carrying arms meant for Israel. However, the Spanish government has said that the arms it is ferrying are meant for the Czech Republic.

Belgium had suspended two arms export licences to Israel.

“We welcome the decision of the Spanish government to deny the transit authorisation of the vessel Marianne Danica, in accordance with Tratado (treaty) on Arms Trade and Spanish law,” Amnesty International Spain said on social media platform ‘X’.

The timing also coincides with the Israeli ground offensive inside Rafah. According to the UN Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA) at least 6,30,000 Palestinians have been forced out of Rafah since the launch of the incursion on May 7.

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News Network
May 23,2024

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The Ministry of External Affairs has received a letter from the Karnataka government requesting the cancellation of the diplomatic passport of suspended Janata Dal Secular MP Prajwal Revanna, official sources said on Thursday. However, the diplomatic passport has not yet been canceled.

The Karnataka government's request to the Narendra Modi-led union government came after Prajwal Revanna, facing multiple charges of sexually abusing women, fled the country using his diplomatic passport last month.

"The MEA has received a letter from the Karnataka government for the cancellation of the diplomatic passport in respect of MP Prajwal Revanna. This is being processed," official sources said.

Prajwal, grandson of former Prime Minister HD Deve Gowda, is at the center of a political storm after hundreds of explicit videos allegedly featuring him leaked late last month. The 33-year-old MP faces multiple cases of rape, sexual harassment, voyeurism, and criminal intimidation.

Prajwal, the NDA nominee for the Hassan Lok Sabha seat, reportedly fled to Germany on April 27, hours before the first case was filed against him.

The Karnataka police's Special Investigation Team (SIT) is now probing the high-profile case, and a lookout notice and a Blue Corner notice have been issued to track Revanna down.

In the wake of the allegations, Prajwal Revanna said in a social media post on May 1, "As I am not in Bangalore to attend the enquiry, I have communicated to C.I.D Bangalore through my Advocate. The truth will prevail soon."

His father, HD Revanna, a JDS MLA and son of HD Deve Gowda, is also accused in cases of molestation and kidnapping. He was arrested earlier this month and is now out on bail.

The veteran leader faces a case in which a man has alleged that he was involved in kidnapping his mother, who worked as a house help at his home for six years. The complainant alleged that a video showing Prajwal Revanna sexually abusing his mother leaked recently, and his mother went missing soon after.

HD Revanna, however, has termed the case a "political conspiracy."

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News Network
May 18,2024

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Bengaluru: Karnataka Deputy Chief Minister D K Shivakumar and other state ministers on Saturday rubbished allegations about their role in the circulation of pen drives containing explicit videos involving Hassan MP Prajwal Revanna.

BJP leader and advocate G Devaraje Gowda, who is in custody after being arrested in a sexual abuse case and is also facing charges of video leak, on Friday alleged that Shivakumar and four other ministers are behind the circulation of the pen drives and was being fixed in false cases as he did not agree to be part of their plan.

He has even alleged that he was offered Rs 100 crore by Shivakumar to "bring a bad name" to the BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and to tarnish the image of JD(S) leader H D Kumaraswamy in Prajwal Revanna's obscene video case.

Speaking to reporters here, Shivakumar said, "Better, let him (Gowda) file a case before Lokayukta or any other agency. I think he has some problems mentally. I'm very sorry, the national and state media shouldn't have picked up such baseless allegations. A person who is in jail, how can he make such allegations? All these are baseless. I don't want to comment." 

Asked if he will be filing any defamation case against Gowda, he said, "I don't want to make any comment or speak on a person who is mentally sick. I appeal to his party people to get him a good treatment." Shivakumar also asserted that his government's commitment to get justice for women victims of the sexual abuse case, and expressed confidence about the Special Investigation Team's (SIT) ongoing probe.

While being taken from court in Hassan, Gowda on Friday spoke to media and alleged that Shivakumar is behind pen drive case, and a team of four Ministers -- N Chaluvarayaswamy, Krishna Byre Gowda, Priyank Kharge and another minister -- was formed to handle this, with an intention to bring bad name to BJP, PM Modi and Kumaraswamy.

He said Shivakumar had asked him to say that Kumaraswamy is behind the distribution of pen drives, but as he did not agree to it, he is being fixed in false cases.

Minister Priyank Kharge said Gowda has alleged that three responsible ministers in the state government were part of a team and that there was a conspiracy. "We will discuss whatever legal course, we will take it." 

"Devaraje Gowda might be doing this to defame Shivakumar and Siddaramaiah. If he had a Rs 100 crore offer, he should have told Amit Shah (Union Home Minister) and get it investigated. He could have got CBI, ED, or IT raids done. Why didn't he do it? Claims have been made that he (Gowda) was sent Rs 5 crore as advance at a club, let them get CCTV footage and see who were all there," Kharge said.

While speaking to reporters here, he further said Gowda is a lawyer. When he was deposed before the Judge he should have told about the documents he has and should have presented to the court.

Minister Chaluvarayaswamy said allegations about the role of Shivakumar and a team of ministers being formed to oversee the circulation of pen drives are 'baseless', and he questioned Gowda's morality to make such accusations.

"If Gowda proves that Chaluvarayaswamy, Priyank Kharge and Krishna Byre Gowda had held a meeting on this case and we as a team were given responsibility and we were involved in this case, I will apologise," he said and alleged that Gowda was being used to mislead and deviate from the main case of sexual abuse.

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