Concern about Iranian retaliatory attacks is growing. A UN Security Council committee was unable to reach an agreement on full membership for the State of Palestine.

Protesters burn an Israeli flag in a street.

Martial threats: anti-Israel rally loyal to the regime in Iran's capital Tehran on April 5 Photo: Majid Asgaripour/Wana via Reuters

Concern over Iranian retaliatory attacks

The threat of retaliatory Iranian attacks against Israel has further raised tensions in the Middle East. A top U.S. general has moved up a trip to Israel that was previously planned, the Pentagon said Thursday. The commander of the Central Command of the US regional command (Centcom), responsible for the Middle East, Michael Erik Kurilla, is in Israel to meet with leaders of the Israeli army, said US Department of Defense spokesman Pat Ryder. In addition, “the current threats to security in the region” should be discussed.

As the Pentagon also announced, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin spoke Thursday with his Israeli colleague Joav Gallant. Gallant reportedly told the Pentagon chief that a “direct Iranian attack would require an appropriate Israeli response against Iran.” According to American sources, Austin assured Gallant that Israel could count on the “full support” of the United States to defend Israel against Iranian attacks.

On Wednesday, US President Joe Biden assured his ally Israel of the United States' “unwavering” support. Iran threatens a “significant attack against Israel,” he said. “We will do everything we can to protect Israel's security.”

As a precautionary measure, the United States restricted the movement of its diplomatic personnel in Israel. US government employees and their family members are “prohibited from moving outside the Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Beersheva areas until further notice,” the embassy in Jerusalem said in a statement.

Iran's spiritual leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Wednesday threatened Israel with retaliation for an attack blamed on Israel on an Iranian consular building in the Syrian capital Damascus that killed 16 people in early April. Among the dead were two generals of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard and five other members of the elite force.

In a speech, Khamenei said Israel's “evil regime” “must be punished and will be punished.” Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz responded in a statement saying: “If Iran attacks from its territory, Israel will respond and attack Iran.” The United States called on China and other countries to deter Iran from attacking Israel.

Federal Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock (Greens) telephoned her Iranian counterpart, Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, on Thursday. “No one can really be interested in a forest fire with completely unforeseeable consequences,” she later stated. Amir-Abdollahian, who also spoke to other Western foreign ministers, said it was “necessary” for Tehran to respond following the attack on the consular building. However, he said Iran has no intention of expanding the war.

In light of rising tensions, Lufthansa canceled more flights to the Iranian capital, Tehran. “Due to the current situation, after careful evaluation, Lufthansa will suspend its flights to and from Tehran until Saturday, April 13,” the company said on Thursday upon request. The airline had previously suspended its flights until Thursday. (afp)

There is no agreement on full membership of Palestinians in the UN

A UN Security Council committee has failed to agree on a common response to a new request for full membership of the State of Palestine in the United Nations. Two-thirds of members supported the motion and five had objections, Malta's U.N. ambassador Vanessa Frazier, who currently chairs the committee, said after a meeting Thursday in New York. She said that she would disseminate a report on this to members of the Security Council as soon as possible. The committee is unlikely to then recommend a vote on the request. Of the 193 UN member states, 139 have so far recognized Palestine as an independent state. Germany is not one of them. (dpa)

USAID chief predicts famine in Gaza

The director of the US Agency for International Development (USAID) believes there is already famine in some parts of the Gaza Strip. At a hearing in the US Congressional Foreign Affairs Committee on Wednesday, Samantha Power was asked whether this assessment was especially true for the isolated northern coastal zone. She responded “yes.” According to US media, Power is the first US government representative to publicly confirm this assessment.

The official classification of famine means that at least 20 percent of the population suffers from an extreme lack of food. Furthermore, at least one in three children suffers from acute malnutrition. While declaring a famine does not trigger a formal international response, it is considered the biggest warning sign that tens of thousands of people are about to die.

Power had previously been asked at the hearing about media reports in early April that USAID had shared a corresponding warning with several US government agencies. Power explained that this warning was based on the so-called Integrated Food Safety Phase Classification (IPC). The IPC initiative has a multi-tiered system for assessing how many people are affected by hunger and to what extent and is used by the United Nations. (dpa)

Hamas: ceasefire necessary to find hostages

According to a senior member of the Islamist group Hamas, the fate of the hostages held in the Gaza Strip can only be clarified during a ceasefire. Part of the negotiations is to reach an agreement on a ceasefire “to have enough time and security to collect final and more accurate data on the captured Israelis,” Basem Naim, a member of Hamas's political bureau, said in a statement Thursday. . Evening statement distributed on Telegram.

The kidnapped people are in different places in the besieged Gaza Strip and in the hands of different groups. Some of them also lay “under the rubble” along with the murdered Palestinians, he said. “We are negotiating to obtain heavy equipment for this purpose,” the Hamas official said.

Naim was responding to questions from media representatives about whether Hamas had rejected the latest US compromise proposal because it could not free 40 hostages in the first phase of a three-stage deal. According to media reports, the first phase provided for the release of women, soldiers, men over 50 years of age, and men under 50 years of age with serious medical problems. However, in recent negotiations, Hamas claimed that it did not have 40 live hostages of these categories. This raised fears that many more hostages may have been killed than previously known. (dpa)

Apple error: Palestinian flag in “Jerusalem”

American tech giant Apple says it wants to change the fact that some users are prompted with a Palestinian flag emoji when they enter “Jerusalem.” The company on Thursday blamed a software error. The emoji suggestion on the iPhone keyboard is unintentional and will be fixed with the next update to its mobile operating system, Apple told the AFP news agency.

British television presenter Rachel Riley drew attention to the error. “When I type Israel's capital, Jerusalem, the Palestinian flag emoji is suggested to me,” Riley wrote on the online service X, formerly Twitter, prompting the American tech giant to provide an explanation.

The moderator noted that flag emojis would not be suggested when entering other capitals. Applying a double standard when it comes to Israel “is a form of anti-Semitism, which is itself a form of racism against the Jewish people,” Riley wrote, continuing that the Palestinian flag emoji associated with Jerusalem has been appearing for a lot of time recently. update.

The status of Jerusalem is a major point of contention in the Middle East conflict. Both Israel and the Palestinians claim Jerusalem as their capital: Israel the entire city, the Palestinians the eastern part of Jerusalem. Due to the city's unclear status, there has long been diplomatic consensus that foreign states should not locate their embassies in the city. (afp)