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ISRAEL’S war aim is not its own security but “the destruction of the Palestinian people,” Palestinian ambassador to the UN Riad Mansour told the world in New York today.
Mr Mansour addressed the UN general assembly as a two-day extension to the four-day truce between Israel and Hamas was under way, with further exchanges of Hamas hostages and Palestinian prisoners held by Israel scheduled for today and Wednesday.
Twenty more hostages are due for release by Hamas during the extension, with 60 Palestinian prisoners due for release by Israel in return.
Hamas and other Gazan military groups are believed to hold another 160 hostages, but all those released so far are civilian captives, and they are expected to demand a higher price for the release of any captured soldiers.
Meanwhile Israel continues to arrest Palestinians as fast as it releases them and has an estimated 8,000 behind bars.
The directors of the United States’ CIA, Israel’s Mossad and Egypt’s intelligence service were all in Qatar for talks on whether the ceasefire could be extended, sources in the Gulf kingdom, which negotiated the initial truce, said.
But contrary voices were raised in Israel, with far-right National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir demanding an immediate resumption of hostilities and for the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) to “crush Hamas with force” following the army’s announcement that several improvised explosive devices had detonated in northern Gaza.
Mr Mansour urged the UN to be serious about the establishment of a Palestinian state, saying “we are a proud people and determined to live in our homeland ... we have to become a full member of the United Nations to begin the process of realising a two-state solution.”
A special session of the UN security council on the war is planned tomorrow, with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi on his way to New York to chair it. China was the first country to recognise the state of Palestine, in 1988.
The World Health Organisation warned today that the destruction of Gaza’s health infrastructure, with Israel having bombed and invaded hospitals, could lead to more Palestinians dying from disease than the war itself — though that has already claimed over 15,000 Palestinian lives, compared with 1,200 Israelis killed in the Hamas attack of October 7.
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