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China swipes at ‘hysterical’ US at global security gathering



China swipes at 'hysterical' US at global security gathering

China’s top diplomat on Saturday accused the United States of violating international norms with “hysterical” behaviour, as a running spat over a suspected Chinese spy balloon bubbled to the fore at a global security conference in Munich.

The comments by Wang Yi further clouded the prospects of a meeting between Wang and U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken at the sidelines of the gathering. Asked by Reuters whether he would meet Blinken, Wang later smiled and declined comment.

Wang was speaking on the second day of the annual Munich Security Conference, which this year had so far been dominated by the global response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine as the war grinds towards its second year.

U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris later shot back, saying she was troubled that China had deepened its relationship with Russia since the Feb. 24 invasion and that Chinese support to Russia would undermine the rules-based international order.

The spat over the balloon – which flew over the United States and Canada before being shot down on President Joe Biden’s orders, hit already strained relations and at a time when the West is closely watching Beijing’s response to the Ukraine war.

“To have dispatched an advanced fighter jet to shoot down a balloon with a missile, such behaviour is unbelievable, almost hysterical,” said Wang.

“There are so many balloons all over the world, and various countries have them, so is the United States going to shoot all of them down?,” he said.

“We ask the U.S. to show its sincerity and correct its mistakes, face up and resolve this incident, which has damaged Sino-U.S. relations.”

The balloon spat had prompted Blinken to postpone a planned visit to Beijing. That Feb. 5-6 trip would have been the first by a U.S. secretary of state to China in five years and was seen by both sides as an opportunity to stabilise ties.

On its part, Washington is hoping to put a “floor” under relations that hit a dangerous low in August with China’s reaction to a visit to Taiwan by then-U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.


The West has been wary of China’s response to the war in Ukraine, with some warning that a Russian victory would colour China’s actions towards Taiwan. China has refrained from condemning the war or calling it an “invasion”.

“If (Russian President Vladimir) Putin thinks he can wait us out, he is badly mistaken,” Harris said in a panel at the gathering of top politicians, military officers and defence industry chiefs and experts at the Munich conference.

“Time is not on his side.”

Wang reiterated a call for dialogue and suggested European countries “think calmly” about how to end the war.

Wang also said there were “some forces that seemingly don’t want negotiations to succeed, or for the war to end soon,” without specifying to whom he was referring.

Russia, which has cast its “special military operation” in Ukraine as an existential battle with an aggressive and arrogant West, on Friday accused the United States of inciting Ukraine to escalate the war by condoning attacks on Crimea.

The Munich conference began on Friday with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy urging Western allies to speed up sending modern weaponry in what he cast as a “David-vs-Goliath” war for freedom against Russia.

On Saturday, European Union chief Ursula von der Leyen outlined plans to speed up giving sorely needed munitions to Ukraine and replenish the bloc’s own stocks, while Poland signalled a willingness to send MiG fighter jets to Kyiv.

Germany’s Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock also met Wang at the conference. Berlin has been reviewing its own ties to Beijing since the invasion, wary of its economy’s heavy reliance on the Chinese market.

“We discussed intensively yesterday what a just peace would look like,” Baerbock said.

“Not that you reward the attacker, the aggressor, but that you stand up for international law and for those who were attacked. China is as a permanent member of the UN Security Council obligated to use its influence to secure world peace.”



UN court to give view on consequences of Israel occupation

UN court to give view on consequences of Israel occupation




UN court to give view on consequences of Israel occupation

 The UN’s top court will next week hand down its view on the legal consequences of Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territories since 1967, a case in which some 52 countries made submissions.

Any opinion delivered by the International Court of Justice would be non-binding, but it will come amid mounting international legal pressure on Israel over the war in Gaza sparked by the brutal Oct 7 Hamas attacks.

“A public sitting will take place at the Peace Palace in The Hague (on Jul 19) … during which Judge Nawaf Salam … will read out the Advisory Opinion,” the ICJ said on Friday (Jul 12).

The ICJ held a week-long session in February to hear submissions from countries following a request from the United Nations late last year.


The UN has asked the ICJ to hand down an “advisory opinion” on the “legal consequences arising from the policies and practices of Israel in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem”.

Most speakers during the hearings have demanded that Israel end its occupation, which came after a six-day Arab-Israeli war in 1967.

But the United States said Israel should not be legally obliged to withdraw without taking its “very real security needs” into account.

Speakers also warned a prolonged occupation posed an “extreme danger” to stability in the Middle East and beyond.

Israel did not take part in the oral hearings.


It submitted a written contribution, in which it described the questions the court had been asked as “prejudicial” and “tendentious”.

The case before the court is separate from one brought by South Africa against Israel for alleged genocide during its current offensive in Gaza.

South Africa has gone to the ICJ several times arguing that the dire humanitarian situation means the court should issue further fresh emergency measures.

In an initial ruling on January 26, the ICJ ordered Israel to do everything it could to prevent acts of genocide during its military operation in Gaza.

It also called for the unconditional release of hostages taken by Palestinian militant group Hamas during its Oct 7 assault that sparked the war.


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Residents say bodies lie in streets in once-vibrant Gaza neighbourhood

Residents say bodies lie in streets in once-vibrant Gaza neighbourhood




Residents say bodies lie in streets in once-vibrant Gaza neighbourhood

 Al-Rimal was once one of Gaza City’s most vibrant neighbourhoods, but the end of another Israeli assault left residents stumbling through the rubble on Friday looking for bodies and belongings.

Residents of Al-Rimal, which before the war was home to Palestinian government buildings and most of Gaza City’s remaining shops and restaurants, said bodies had been left lying in the streets.

The Hamas-run territory’s civil defence agency said scores of dead had also been found in nearby districts after Israeli troops ended a new operation against militants in parts of Gaza City.

Al-Rimal has been flattened by successive Israeli military operations since the Hamas attacks across the border started the Gaza war on October 7.


The neighbourhood had already suffered in previous showdowns with Israel since Hamas seized sole control of the territory in 2007. Several apartment blocks were hit by Israeli fighter jets in 2021.

Teacher Tariq Ghanem said this time Israeli troops had wreaked “massive destruction” on Al-Rimal.

“The houses are on fire and there are shells everywhere,” the 57-year-old said.

“There have been bodies on the roads for the past week and… there is no one to retrieve them. There are injured people everywhere and no one can reach them.”



The Israeli military ordered the evacuation of Al-Rimal, Tal al-Hawa and other districts of Gaza City on Monday and has since warned that the whole city is a “dangerous combat zone”.

One major target of the assault was the abandoned headquarters of the UN Palestinian refugee agency (UNRWA) in Al-Sinaa district that the army said had been taken over by Hamas.

A military statement said troops had found “parts for assembling an unmanned aerial vehicle, war rooms used for surveillance operations and large quantities of weapons, including tactical drones, rockets, machine guns, mortars, explosives and grenades.”

But residents said buildings across the city suffered heavy damage in the assault.

“There are many appeals for help, but we just cannot reach them,” said civil defence agency spokesman Mahmud Bassal.


He said dozens of bodies were “scattered in alleys and inside destroyed houses” but his agency did not have the staff to recover them.

AFP correspondents saw heavy destruction across the city with several blocks barely standing.

Residents used donkey carts to ferry the wounded to hospital or to recover what belongings they could from the rubble.

Bassal said about 60 bodies had been found in the Tal al-Hawa and Al-Sinaa districts on Friday. The agency and residents said Israeli troops had pulled out but this was not immediately confirmed by the military.

On Thursday, the civil defence agency said 60 bodies had been found in another neighbourhood of Gaza City, Shujaiya, after Israeli troops pulled out, ending a two-week assault.


The army said more than 150 “terrorists were eliminated” in its operation in Shujaiya, including Hamas commanders.

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Dozens of bodies reported as battles rock Gaza city

Dozens of bodies reported as battles rock Gaza city




Dozens of bodies reported as battles rock Gaza cityv

Hamas-run Gaza’s civil defence agency said it found around 60 bodies after Israeli troops withdrew from parts of Gaza City on Friday, as heavy fighting gripped the Palestinian territory.

The grisly discovery came as international mediators pushed on with efforts to halt the war now raging into its 10th month.

US President Joe Biden said at a NATO summit in Washington on Thursday that despite problems, US diplomats and other mediators were making “progress” towards a ceasefire and stressed that “it’s time to end this war”.

The bodies were found in the Tal al-Hawa and Al-Sinaa districts, the civil defence agency said. Israeli forces had moved into the neighbourhoods this week after ordering civilians to evacuate on Monday.


“There are still missing people under the rubble of destroyed homes, which is difficult for our crews to reach,” agency spokesman Mahmud Bassal said.

Residents and the agency said Israeli troops had pulled out after days of fighting with Hamas militants. This was not immediately confirmed by Israel.


Gaza’s health ministry had earlier reported 32 deaths in the territory, saying that the “martyrs, a majority of them children and women, were taken to hospitals overnight, because of continued massacres”.

Media linked to the territory’s Hamas rulers, whose October 7 attack sparked the war, said that Israeli forces had launched more than 70 new air strikes.


Israel’s military said it was also fighting in the Rafah area of the south, where its troops had “eliminated numerous terrorists in close-quarters combat and aerial strikes”.

But the main battleground in recent days has been Gaza City, where two weeks of fighting devastated the eastern district of Shujaiya.

The Israeli army dropped thousands of leaflets on Wednesday urging all Gaza City residents to flee what it called a “dangerous combat zone” — an area where the United Nations said up to 350,000 people were staying.

One of those newly displaced, Umm Ihab Arafat, sat with her children on a sand pile amid the rubble as the incessant hum of Israeli drones filled the sky.

“I have been displaced four times,” she said, pleading for a break for her and her children. “They are entitled to rest, their eyes are full of horror and fear.”


The International Committee of the Red Cross said “entire families are trapped and desperately seek security. The huge needs are beyond our capacity to respond”.

The ICRC said Gaza City residents had been instructed to move south “to areas that are overcrowded, lacking in essential services and are experiencing hostilities”.


Israel and Hamas have engaged in months of indirect talks via Qatari, US and Egyptian mediators to reach a still elusive truce and hostage release deal.

At the latest meeting in Doha on Wednesday, Israeli officials discussed the conditions for a ceasefire with US and Qatari mediators.


The head of Israel’s Shin Bet internal security agency Ronen Bar was headed for talks in Cairo, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said.

Netanyahu again insisted that any deal must allow Israel to meet all its war aims — destroying Hamas as well as bringing home all the hostages.

He also said Israel needs to maintain control of Gaza’s southern border with Egypt to prevent weapons being “smuggled to Hamas”.

Biden has laid out what he called an Israeli plan which would see a six-week truce in which hostages held in Gaza would be freed in exchange for Palestinians in Israeli prisons. A second phase would see talks on a full end to the war.

Biden acknowledged on Thursday that “difficult, complex issues” remain but insisted that “we’re making progress”.


“The trend is positive,” he said, “and I’m determined to get this deal done and bring an end to this war, which should end now.”

Biden also stood firm on his decision to hold up delivery of massive 2,000-pound (900kg) bombs over concerns they could be used in populated areas, even as his administration moved forward on sending Israel less powerful 500-pound munitions.

He again pressed Israel for a “day-after” plan for Gaza and spoke of his diplomacy to persuade Arab states to help with security.

Hamas has proposed an independent and non-partisan government for both post-war Gaza and the Israeli-occupied West Bank, said Hossam Badran, a member of the group’s political bureau.



The war started with Hamas’s October 7 attack on southern Israel which resulted in the deaths of 1,195 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally based on Israeli figures.

The militants also seized 251 hostages, 116 of whom remain in Gaza, including 42 the military says are dead.

Israel responded with a military offensive that has killed at least 38,345 people in Gaza, also mostly civilians, according to the health ministry in Hamas-ruled Gaza.

The World Health Organization said that only five trucks carrying medical supplies were allowed into Gaza last week, while over 70 more are waiting at the border.

Meanwhile, a problem-plagued US effort to get aid in by sea will soon end permanently, the US military said.


US troops built the $230-million pier but the temporary facility has been repeatedly put out of use by high seas.

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