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  Middle East conflict

  63 Debates

The negotiations between Israel and the radical Islamic organisation Hamas are apparently making progress. According to the British Foreign Office, Israel has made an offer of a 40-day ceasefire in return for the release of Israeli hostages. Commentators discuss whether the impending offensive in Rafah can still be prevented.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan received the head of the Hamas politburo, Ismail Haniyeh, in Istanbul on Saturday and spoke to him about humanitarian aid and a potential ceasefire. Was this show of closeness a blatant faux pas or clever politics?

In the wake of the Iranian drone and missile attack on Israel the situation in the Middle East remains tense. US President Joe Biden had urged Israel to show restraint. On Friday, there were explosions at an airbase in the Iranian region of Isfahan. Israel has not commented on speculation that this was an attack. Europe's press weighs up the situation.

In March, against the backdrop of the current war, Spain, Ireland and Slovenia declared their intention to recognise a Palestinian state. Now they are taking concrete steps: Spain's Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez has said he aims to achieve recognition by the end of June and is campaigning for further support for the initiative. Ireland's Foreign Minister Micheál Martin is set to present his government with a proposal for recognition. Opinions are divided.

Iran launched its first direct attack on Israel on Sunday. Tehran fired more than 300 drones and missiles but with the help of Israel's allies 99 percent of the projectiles were neutralised, according to the Israeli armed forces. Iran had promised to retaliate after seven Revolutionary Guards were killed in Damascus on 1 April. Europe's press takes very different views of the scope and consequences of the attack.

Around two hours after it kicked off, the Berlin police broke up an event on Friday that had been registered as a "Palestine Congress". The authorities justified the move by stating that one of the online speakers was banned from political activity in Germany for hate speech against Israel and Jews. According to media reports, people who were planning to attend were banned from entering the country in the run-up to the event.

Six months have passed since the attack on Israel by the radical Islamic organisation Hamas. The militias killed over 1,200 people and took more than 250 hostages. Israel's attempt to defeat the terrorist organisation for good with an offensive in Gaza has so far failed: there are still around 130 hostages and Hamas is still fighting. Meanwhile, criticism of the high number of civilian deaths and the humanitarian disaster in the area is growing ever louder. The Israeli army has now partially withdrawn from the south of the Gaza Strip.

Following massive international criticism over the deaths of seven aid workers from the World Central Kitchen in the Gaza Strip, Israel's government has admitted mistakes were made and has now announced the opening of checkpoints to facilitate humanitarian aid deliveries. The pressure on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is also growing within Israel.

The UN Security Council has adopted an appeal for an "immediate ceasefire" in the Gaza Strip, with 14 votes in favour and the US abstaining. The resolution calls for both a ceasefire until the end of Ramadan and the release of the hostages taken by the radical Islamic Hamas organisation. Israel has reacted with outrage, while Hamas has thanked the Security Council but demanded that the hostages be exchanged for Palestinian prisoners.

As a result of Israel's war on the radical Islamic Hamas organisation in the Gaza Strip, the situation for the civilian population has deteriorated to such an extent that, according to the US, the entire population is at risk of starving to death. EU foreign affairs representative Josep Borrell has accused Israel of using hunger as a weapon of war because aid supplies have been stuck at checkpoints for far too long. Netanyahu refuted the accusation, saying that Israel has made every effort to facilitate aid deliveries.

In September 2023, relations between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan were still friendly, but have cooled since Turkey clearly sided with the Islamist terrorist organisation Hamas after the attack on Israel on 7 October which triggered the current war. According to Turkish media, however, Erdoğan's position is not as clear it would appear to be.

According to the Hamas-run Gaza health ministry, at least 100 Palestinians were killed as they tried to access food from aid trucks in the north of the Gaza Strip. The true circumstances of the incident remain unclear: Israel has confirmed the tragedy, but rejects accusations that Israeli forces fired into the crowd. Commentators see the incident as symbolic of the current situation in Gaza.

Israel has stepped up its military operation in the south of the Gaza Strip. Meanwhile, fears are growing that there will be a major ground offensive in Rafah, the city bordering with Egypt where over a million internally displaced people are trapped. The US has said it plans to submit a proposal to the UN Security Council for a temporary ceasefire as soon as possible. Commentators call on the political actors to be reasonable.

Israel's announced offensive in Rafah has triggered a wave of international concern. South Africa has once again filed an urgent request with the highest UN court to block the move. At the same time negotiations are underway in Cairo regarding a ceasefire and an exchange of hostages held by Hamas. Commentators discuss whether these measures can guarantee the security of the more than 1.3 million displaced persons in Rafah.

The US military says it has attacked more than 85 targets in Iraq and Syria that are linked to the Iranian Revolutionary Guards and Iranian-backed militias. According to Iraqi sources, at least 16 people were killed. The strikes were Washington's response to the death of three US soldiers in a drone attack in Jordan. Europe's press sees an extremely dangerous situation developing.

Several countries including the US, Germany, France and the UK have suspended funding for the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), and the EU is considering following suit. The decisions came after Israel presented data according to which twelve employees of the aid agency were involved in the 7 October attack by the Islamist Hamas organisation. The Wall Street Journal has also cited intelligence reports according to which one in ten UNRWA employees has links to terrorist organisations.

In the run-up to a meeting of foreign ministers yesterday, the EU once again spoke out in favour of the two-state solution in the Middle East. US President Joe Biden had made it clear to Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu shortly before that the US remains committed to the two-state solution as the path to peace between Israel and the Palestinians. Commentators debate how realistic this goal is, now and in the future.

Israel has defended itself before the International Court of Justice in The Hague against charges brought by South Africa that it is committing genocide against the Palestinians in its war against the radical Islamist Hamas organisation in the Gaza Strip. Israel's defence stated that the military action in the Gaza Strip constitutes self-defence against the terrorist Hamas, and that the suffering of civilians was part of the latter's strategy.

The Lebanese Hezbollah militia has blamed Israel for the killing of Hamas leader Saleh al-Arouri in a drone attack on a Beirut suburb. Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah declared that the attack would not go unanswered. There has been no confirmation of Israel's responsibility from the Israeli side. Commentators ask whether a new conflagration is looming in the region.

Against the backdrop of the war in the Gaza Strip, the number of attacks by Yemeni Houthi rebels against tankers and freighters headed to and from Israel via the Red Sea has markedly increased. As a result, several shipping companies have announced that they will now avoid this key trade route. The US government has called for an international military alliance against the Iranian-backed militias. Europe's press examines the complex situation.

Israel has, as announced, continued its operations against the radical Islamic Hamas in the Gaza Strip despite the latest UN resolution. But now a terrible mistake has been made: three of the hostages kidnapped by Hamas were accidentally shot dead by Israeli soldiers. Commentators discuss whether this is a sign that Israel should change its strategy.

The UN General Assembly has spoken out in favour of an immediate humanitarian ceasefire in the Gaza Strip so that basic necessities can be provided to the thousands of displaced persons in the area who are freezing and starving. Israel has once again stressed that the radical Islamic Hamas organisation is using people as shields and that the fighting will continue until it is defeated. Commentators bemoan the lack of plans for what comes after.

Israel resumed the fight against radical Islamic Hamas on Friday. There have been air strikes across the Gaza Strip and Israeli ground troops have apparently also advanced into southern Gaza. Meanwhile, Washington has upped the pressure on Israel to minimise the impact on the civilian population. Europe's press examines different aspects of the war.

The ceasefire between Israel and the terrorist organisation Hamas has been extended until Thursday. According to Egyptian sources, ten of the hostages held in the Gaza Strip are now being exchanged for thirty Palestinian prisoners every day and aid supplies are being delivered to Gaza. In total, 81 of the presumed 240 hostages have been released so far. Commentators take different views of the deal.

The ceasefire agreed between Israel and the radical Islamic Hamas group to allow an exchange of hostages and prisoners came into force on Friday morning. It is expected to last for at least four days and, according to mediator Qatar, could be extended to as many as ten. An initial 50 of the presumed 240 hostages held by Hamas are now to be released in exchange for Israel releasing 150 Palestinian prisoners.

The high number of civilian casualties in the Gaza Strip, where Israel is fighting radical Islamic Hamas, is drawing growing criticism from the international community. According to the Hamas-controlled health authority more than 13,000 people have already been killed. Israel has stressed that it wants to avoid civilian casualties, but that the tunnels where Hamas is hiding hostages as well as weapons and supplies run under civilian facilities. Europe's press reflects the widespread controversy.

Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg and the global climate protection movement Fridays for Future are facing growing criticism for their pro-Palestinian stance. Most recently, one of the speakers at a climate rally on Sunday in Amsterdam gave the microphone to an activist who used the phrase, "From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free". Environmentalism must not be hijacked by other causes, commentators warn.

Before the brutal 7 October attack on Israel by radical-Islamic Hamas there were mass demonstrations against Benjamin Netanyahu and his ultranationalist religious goverment. These have now disappeared in the face of the threat to the country, but criticism is still being voiced, such as when Netanyahu blamed the intelligence network for not warning about the terror attacks. In the eyes of media commentators, Netanyahu is simply incompetent.

Israel continues to attack suspected positions of the radical Islamic militia Hamas in Gaza. According to the Israeli army, weapons, military technology and a Hamas command centre were found when al-Shifa hospital was stormed. Meanwhile, international pressure on Israel to prioritise the protection of civilians in its operations is growing. Commentators also voice other concerns.

The Israeli government continues to insist that there will be no ceasefire in the Gaza Strip without the release of all hostages by radical Islamic organisation Hamas. However, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has declared that he is prepared to make "tactical little pauses" to facilitate the release of hostages and the delivery of humanitarian supplies, which aid organisations say are urgently needed. Europe's press takes stock.

First he presented himself as a potential mediator between Israel and Hamas, then Turkey's President Erdoğan described Israel as a "war criminal" and Hamas as a "group of liberators". Commentators debate what consequences this stance could and should have.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has drawn heavy criticism with a speech on the Middle East conflict. Guterres condemned the attack by the radical Islamic Hamas on Israel as "appalling", but at the same time denounced the "suffocating occupation" of the Palestinian territories. The attacks did not take place in a vacuum, he said. Commentaries reflect both outrage and understanding for his position.

Following the radical Islamic Hamas organisation's attack on Israel, the EU is struggling to find a united stance. At a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Luxembourg it became clear that the demand for a humanitarian ceasefire for Gaza is particularly controversial. Countries like Spain and Ireland are in favour, while Germany and Austria have voiced doubts. The commentaries reflect the divided views in the decision-making process.

After the attack by the radical Islamic Hamas on Israel and the Israeli military's response in the Gaza Strip, tensions are also running high in Europe. There have been numerous expressions of sympathy with Hamas and antisemitic slogans at pro-Palestinian demonstrations, and in Berlin a synagogue was attacked. Europe's press voices concern.

During its terrorist attack on Israel, radical Islamic Hamas took more than 200 hostages. Just over two weeks after the kidnappings, first two US citizens - a mother and her daughter - then two Israeli senior citizens have been released. It appears that Egypt and Qatar were involved as mediators. Europe's press discusses this unaccustomed role for Qatar in particular.

The authoritarian Iranian regime has been supporting armed groups such as the radical Islamic Hamas and the Lebanese Hezbollah with money and weapons for years. Since the terrorist attack by Hamas on 7 October, Tehran has repeatedly threatened military involvement should Israel or the US "cross red lines". Commentators shed light on Iran's role in the Middle East and assess the threat of Iranian intervention.

Following Hamas's brutal terrorist attack, most press voices in Europe agree that as long as the radical Islamic group controls the Gaza Strip, peace between Israelis and Palestinians is impossible. However, defeating Hamas will be a difficult process and incur heavy civilian casualties. Commentators look at long-term scenarios.

The world is in shock after a missile hit the al-Ahli Arab Hospital in Gaza. Hundreds of people were reportedly killed in the blast. Hamas has blamed Israel, but the Israeli military has denied the accusation saying that the destruction wreaked by the explosion does not match its weapons and that intercepted communications and radar images indicate that the damage was caused by the misfiring of a rocket launched by the Islamic Jihad group. The press examines the uproar in the media.

US President Joe Biden arrived in Israel today, Wednesday. The US has repeatedly stressed its solidarity with Israel since the terrorist attack by the radical Islamic Hamas, but it has also insisted that Gaza's civilian population must be protected. Commentators pin their hopes on Biden as a mediator, but a planned meeting with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas has been postponed after missiles hit a hospital in Gaza.

After the brutal attack by Hamas, Israel has vowed to respond forcefully against the Islamist terrorist organisation. The Gaza Strip has been sealed off and is being shelled, and there is also talk of a ground offensive. Water and electricity have been cut off, a move which has been condemned by the UN. The US has told Israel to adhere to the "rules of war". Europe's press debates what a proportionate response might be.

In several European countries there have been pro-Palestinian demonstrations in reaction to Hamas' attacks on Israel, with participants not only expressing solidarity with the people in Gaza but also glorifying Hamas' terrorist acts, antisemitic incidents and violence. Commentators discuss the limits and meaning of freedom of expression.

Israel is at war after the radical Islamic Hamas organisation launched a brutal attack against the country on Saturday. Negotiations are underway to secure the release of Israeli hostages taken into Gaza by Hamas fighters. The number of dead on the Israeli side now exceeds 1,200, and according to Israeli sources at least 1,000 armed Palestinians have been killed. Commentators discuss how the war might develop from here.

In the early hours of Saturday the radical Islamic Hamas organisation fired thousands of rockets at Israel and armed Palestinian militants broke through the barriers surrounding the Gaza Strip and entered Israel, shooting and killing hundreds of Israelis in several communities on the border and abducting more than 100 people. According to Israeli sources, Hamas continues to fire missiles, while Israel is now bombing targets in Gaza. Europe's press discusses what should be done and looks at who benefits from the escalation.

Israel has announced the completion of a two-day large-scale military offensive in the West Bank. Prime Minister Netanyahu explained, however, that this was "not a one-off operation". After several air strikes, ground troops were sent in to carry out raids in the city of Jenin, which is considered a militant Islamist stronghold. According to the Palestinians at least 13 people were killed. Commentators voice concern.

Israeli settlers set fire to dozens of houses and cars in the Palestinian town of Huwara, leaving hundreds injured. The attack occurred after two Israelis were shot dead there by suspected Palestinian assailants. The far-right and Zionist Israel finance minister, Bezalul Smotrich, and other representatives of Israel's ruling coalition praised the settlers' reaction. Commentators are alarmed about this government.

Nine Palestinians killed in a police raid in Jenin; seven Israelis killed after shots were fired outside a synagogue; dozens of people injured on both sides: this is the tragic tally of a recent eruption of violence in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Israel's new government has passed new anti-terror laws in reaction to the incidents and plans to facilitate access to arms for Israeli civilians. Commentators are concerned.

Israel's new ultra-nationalist and far-right Minister of National Security, Itamar Ben-Gvir, has provoked criticism with a visit to Jerusalem's Temple Mount. The Mount, with the Al-Aqsa Mosque at the top and the Wailing Wall at the bottom, is the main holy site in Jerusalem for both Jews and Muslims and a highly sensitive issue in the Israel-Palestine conflict. Visits are strictly regulated and this is the first time an Israeli minister has been to the site in five years.

The Israeli government and representatives of Islamic Jihad have agreed on a ceasefire with Egyptian mediation. At least for the first few hours on Monday, both sides have adhered to the truce. A look at Europe's commentaries shows how unstable the situation in and around the Gaza Strip remains.

Swedish Foreign Minister Ann Linde visited Israel this week - the first official visit to the country by a Swedish top diplomat in over ten years. In 2014, Sweden was one of the first European countries to recognise Palestine as a state, after which Israel withdrew its ambassador. The press welcomes the thaw in relations.

The US ice cream company Ben and Jerry's plans to stop selling its products in the West Bank and East Jerusalem from 2022. The text announcing the move on its website says it is inconsistent with the company's values "for Ben and Jerry's ice cream to be sold in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT)". Ultimately it's all about marketing, commentators say.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken travelled to Jerusalem and Ramallah on Tuesday to meet with Israeli and Palestinian representatives. The US government wants to help the reconstruction effort in Gaza, at the same time making sure that the funds for this purpose bypass Hamas. The ceasefire negotiated between Israel and Hamas is holding for the time being, but commentators doubt that a lasting solution can be found.

The Israel-Palestine conflict has taken on new levels of violence in recent days, and yet much of what is happening appears to follow a familiar pattern. The radical Hamas fires rockets at Israeli cities, and Israel's army responds with counterattacks on Gaza, invoking the right to self-defence. Europe's press discusses ways out of the deadlock.

While the UN Security Council was still unable to agree on a joint statement in its fourth emergency session on the conflict over Gaza, individual international players have taken action. The US has called on Israel to de-escalate, China has invited both parties to negotiations, and Turkey's President Erdoğan has raked Israel and the West over the coals. Europe's press comments.

Israel's army has intensified its attacks on the Gaza Strip. Air and ground troops have been deployed, but so far no soldiers have entered the area. The move came after Hamas carried out further rocket attacks on Israel on Thursday. Europe's media examine the interests driving the escalation.

The Israeli government is currently considering controversial plans to annex areas in the occupied West Bank. US President Donald Trump gave the green light for the move at the beginning of the year with his peace plan. Soon after, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced the annexation would begin in the summer. His government's coalition agreement sets July 1 as the date.

In the effort to provide balanced commentary on the Middle East crisis, the Swiss daily Le Temps is publishing four very different points of view starting today - coinciding with missile attacks from Gaza against Israel. We publish excerpts from the first two texts.

Europe's journalists are preoccupied with the escalation of violence on the border between Gaza and Israel, where at least 60 Palestinians have died in an Israeli military operation against Palestinian demonstrators and Hamas targets. Among the most recent press voices is an article on Palestine's "victim myth" and criticism of Hamas for exploiting Palestinian civil society.

In May 1948 David Ben-Gurion proclaimed the founding of the State of Israel with the Declaration of Independence. The 70th anniversary has been overshadowed by the conflict with the Palestinians and domestic problems. Is this the state its founders dreamed of seven decades ago?

For the Palestinians 15 May 1948 marked the beginning of the Nakba - the Arabic word for "catastrophe". On this day they traditionally commemorate the flight and expulsion of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians driven from their homeland as a result of the war waged by Arab states against the newly founded Israel. Journalists take the opportunity to look back on the past.

Soldiers shot at Palestinians during protests near the Gaza-Israel border and killed at least 17 people. In the run-up to the anniversary of the founding of the State of Israel and the inauguration of the US embassy in Jerusalem European commentators fear the violence will escalate and call for moderation.