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Israel outlines its plans for Gaza after war

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Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant has outlined proposals for the future governance of Gaza once the war between Israel and Hamas is over.

There would, Gallant said, be limited Palestinian rule in the territory.

Hamas would no longer control Gaza and Israel would retain overall security control, he added.

Fighting in Gaza continued alongside the plan’s publication, with dozens of people killed in the past 24 hours, the Hamas-run health ministry said.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is due back in the region this week. He is expected to hold talks with Palestinian officials in the occupied West Bank and Israeli leaders.

His visit comes amid heightened tensions in the region following the assassination of top Hamas leader Saleh al-Arouri on Tuesday in Lebanon’s capital Beirut. His killing has widely been blamed on Israel. Israel has neither confirmed nor denied involvement.

Under Gallant’s now “four corner” plan, Israel would retain overall security control of Gaza.

A multi-national force would take charge of rebuilding the territory after the widespread destruction caused by Israeli bombing.

Neighbouring Egypt would also have an unspecified role to play under the plan.

But the document adds that Palestinians would be responsible for running the territory.

“Gaza residents are Palestinian, therefore Palestinian bodies will be in charge, with the condition that there will be no hostile actions or threats against the State of Israel,” Gallant said.

A handout picture released by the Israeli army on January 4, 2024 shows members of Unit 669 of the Israeli Air Force carrying an injured Israeli soldier to a waiting helicopter for evacuation in the Gaza Strip amid continuing battles between Israel and the Palestinian militant group Hamas.A handout picture released by the Israeli army on January 4, 2024 shows members of Unit 669 of the Israeli Air Force carrying an injured Israeli soldier to a waiting helicopter for evacuation in the Gaza Strip. Photo: Israeli Army / AFP
Talk of the “day after” in Gaza has led to deep disagreement in Israel.

Some far right-wing members of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government have said that Palestinian citizens should be encouraged to leave Gaza for exile, with the reestablishment of Jewish settlements in the territory – controversial proposals that have been rejected as “extremist” and “unworkable” by other countries in the region and by some of Israel’s allies.

While Gallant’s proposals may be regarded as more practical than those suggested by some of his cabinet colleagues, they are likely to be rejected by Palestinian leaders who say that Gazans themselves must be allowed to take full control of running the territory once this devastating war is over.

Netanyahu has not publicly talked in any detail about how he thinks Gaza should be governed.

He has suggested that the war in Gaza may yet last several months, with the avowed goal being to completely crush Hamas.

Gallant’s plan also outlined how the Israeli military aims to proceed in the next phase of the war in Gaza.

He said the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) would take a more targeted approach in the north of the Gaza Strip, where operations will include raids, demolishing tunnels and air and ground strikes.

In the south, the Israeli military would continue to try to track down Hamas leaders and rescue Israeli hostages, he said.

A woman (R) mourns her husband, killed when the tent where the Salah and Abu Hatab families were sheltering was hit by Israeli bombardment, at the morgue of the Nasser medical centre in Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip, on January 4, 2024, as battles between Israel and Palestinian Hamas militants continue.A woman (right) mourns her husband, killed when the tent where the Salah and Abu Hatab families were sheltering was hit by Israeli bombardment, at the morgue of the Nasser medical centre in Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip, on 4 January, 2024. Photo: AFP
On Thursday, the IDF said it had hit areas in Gaza’s north and south, including Gaza City and Khan Younis.

It said it had conducted strikes on “terrorist infrastructure” and had killed people who it described as militants, who it said had tried to detonate an explosive next to soldiers.

It also announced that it had killed a senior Palestinian Islamic Jihad operative, Mamdouh Lolo, in an air strike.

The Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza said 125 people had been killed in the past 24 hours across the Strip.

A health ministry official said 14 people – including nine children – were killed by Israeli air strikes in al-Mawasi, to the west of Khan Younis.

The small town has been designated a “safe space” by Israeli forces for displaced Palestinians. The IDF has not commented on the claims made by Hamas.

“We were sleeping at midnight when a strike hit the camp on the tents, 4×2 tents where people were sleeping, most of them children,” eyewitness Jamal Hamad Salah told Reuters news agency. “We found one body there that flew 40 metres away.”

“There is nowhere safe in Gaza,” aid agency Save the Children’s country director for the occupied Palestinian territory, Jason Lee, said. “Camps, shelters, schools, hospitals, homes and so-called ‘safe zones’ should not be battlegrounds.”

The total number of people killed in Gaza since the start of Israel’s retaliatory campaign had reached more than 22,400 by Thursday – comprising almost 1 percent of the enclave’s 2.3 million population, the Hamas-run health ministry said.

Israel’s offensive started after Hamas gunmen launched a surprise attack on southern Israel on 7 October, killing 1200 people, most of them civilians, and taking about 240 people hostage.

– This story was first published by the BBC.

VIA RNZ

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Woman charged with murder after man found dead in Hamilton

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A 45-year-old woman has been charged with murder after a man died at a house in Hamilton early on Wednesday morning.

Police were called to an address on Cranmer Close, Rototuna at 2am, Detective Senior Sergeant Scott Neilson said.

There they found the man in a critical condition. Attempts by police and ambulance staff to resuscitate him were unsuccessful.

Police earlier said they would have a “significant” presence in the area while inquiries were made.

Neilson said the man and woman knew each other.

“Police are speaking with those involved and are offering support to the victim’s family.”

VIA RNZ

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Malaysia’s 6th humanitarian aid to Palestine to depart Cairo tomorrow

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Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said the shipment will consist of 1,358 tonnes of essential aid, including medical supplies, hygiene kits, food provisions and essential items for infants.

“This special mission involves the delivery of 100 containers from Malaysia to Gaza, coordinated through the Malaysian Consultative Council of Islamic Organisations (Mapim) warehouse in Cairo, Egypt.

“I urge Malaysians to continue their unwavering support for the Palestinians, especially in light of the ongoing developments in Gaza. Our commitment to this cause should be steadfast, driven by principles rather than solely religious affiliations,” he told reporters at a press conference today.

This mission will include 20 delegation members who will spend 10 days in Cairo, making preparations and overseeing the delivery process to the Rafah border. The delegation was expected to return three days before Hari Raya Aidilfitri.

Zahid, who is the patron of this mission, said Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim will engage with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi to facilitate the delegation’s passage through the Sinai Peninsula and the Rafah border.

Anwar, who was expected to attend an event in Pahang today, made an unexpected appearance at the flag-off event to demonstrate his solidarity with the mission.

Present were Mara chairman Datuk Dr Asyraf Wajdi Dusuki, National Disaster Management Agency director-general Datuk Khairul Shahril Idrus and the mission’s chief commissioner Sany Araby Datuk Abdul Alim Araby.

Zahid also announced that Umno will donate RM1 million to the mission.

This humanitarian aid was made possible through collaborative funding from six non-governmental organisations, spearheaded by the Mapim, alongside Cinta Gaza Malaysia, Iman Care Malaysia and Pertubuhan Glokal Ihsan Malaysia, as well as international organisations Federation of Islamic Associations New Zealand and the Al-Khair Foundation from the United Kingdom.

VIA NST

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Chocolate prices expected to rise

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By Maytaal Angel and Maxwell Akalaare Adombila, Reuters

Major African cocoa plants in Ivory Coast and Ghana have stopped or cut processing because they cannot afford to buy beans, four trading sources said, meaning chocolate prices around the world are likely to soar.

Chocolate-makers have already increased prices to consumers, after three years of poor cocoa harvests, with a fourth expected, in the two countries that produce nearly 60 percent of the world’s cocoa.

Cocoa prices have more than doubled over the last year, scaling numerous all-time highs.

“We need massive demand destruction to catch up with the supply destruction,” Tropical Research Services’ Steve Wateridge, a world expert on cocoa, said.

Chocolate-makers cannot produce chocolate using raw cocoa and rely on processors to turn beans into butter and liquor that can be made into chocolate.

But the processors say they cannot afford to buy the beans.

A cacao is harvested for the beans inside which are fermented to make chocolate.

Photo: RNZ/Supplied

State-controlled Ivorian bean processor Transcao, one of the country’s nine major plants, said it had stopped buying beans because of their price.

It said it was still processing from stock, but did not say what capacity it was running at. Two industry sources said the plant was almost idle.

They asked not to be named because they were not authorised to speak publicly on the issue.

One of the two sources said more major state run plants could shut soon in top grower Ivory Coast, which produces nearly half the world’s cocoa.

The same two sources said even global trader Cargill struggled to source beans for its major processing plant in Ivory Coast, halting operations for about a week last month. Cargill did not respond to a request for comment.

In No. 2 cocoa grower Ghana, most of its eight plants, including state-owned Cocoa Processing Company (CPC), have repeatedly suspended work for weeks since the season started in October, two separate industry sources said.

CPC said it is operating at about 20 percent of capacity because of the shortage of beans.

Disruption at the farm gate

The price rally has derailed a long-established mechanism for global cocoa trade, through which farmers sell beans to local dealers who sell them on to processing plants or global traders.

Those traders then sell beans or cocoa products – butter, powder and cocoa liquor – to global chocolate giants such as Nestle, Hershey, and Mondelez.

In normal times, the market is heavily regulated – traders and processors purchase beans from local dealers up to a year in advance at pre-agreed prices. Local regulators then set lower farmgate prices that farmers can charge for beans.

However, in times of shortage like this year, the system breaks down – local dealers often pay farmers a premium to the farmgate price to secure beans.

The dealers then sell the beans on the spot market at higher prices instead of delivering them at pre-agreed prices.

As global traders rush to purchase those beans at any price to meet their obligations with the chocolate firms, local processors are often left short of beans.

Ivorian and Ghanian authorities normally try to protect local plants by issuing them with cheap loans or by limiting volumes of beans that global traders can purchase.

This year, however, plants are not getting the cocoa they pre-ordered and cannot afford to buy at higher spot prices.

Already, chocolate-makers have raised prices. US retail stores charged 11.6 percent more for chocolate products last year compared with 2022, data from market research firm Circana shows.

The International Cocoa Organisation (ICCO) expects global cocoa production will fall by 10.9percent to 4.45 million metric tons this season.

Grindings – a measure of demand – will fall by 4.8 percent to 4.78 million as processors struggle to buy beans, and supply less butter at a higher price to chocolate-makers, which in turn raise prices.

The supply-demand mismatch will leave the market with a deficit of 374,000 tons this season, up from 74,000 tons last season, according to the ICCO.

This means processors and chocolate firms will have to draw on cocoa stocks to fully cover their needs. The ICCO expects global cocoa stocks to fall to their lowest in 45 years by the season end.

Wateridge of Tropical Research said the cocoa market could post another deficit next season based on the severity of bean disease in West Africa.

The market has not seen four successive years of deficit since the late 1960s, ICCO data shows.

– This story was first published by Reuters
VIA RNZ

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