Middle East live blog: ++ Israel wants to abolish tax breaks for UNRWA ++

live blog

As of: February 8, 2024 10:46 a.m

The UN refugee agency for Palestinians should no longer benefit from tax breaks in Israel. The German frigate “Hessen” set off for an EU military mission in the Red Sea. All developments in the live blog.

As a UN agency, the refugee agency for Palestinians UNRWA benefits from tax breaks in Israel. Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich wants to change that. “The State of Israel will not grant tax benefits to terrorist aides,” Smotrich wrote on Platform X.

UNRWA is currently exempt from customs duties and taxes on products intended for the operation of the aid organization. It also receives a significant tax reduction when purchasing fuel.

Israel accuses twelve UNRWA employees in Gaza of being involved in the Islamist Hamas attack on Israel on October 7th, and another 190 are said to have connections to Hamas.

The German frigate “Hessen” is scheduled to set off from the Wilhelmshaven naval base this Thursday (10 a.m.) for a planned EU military operation to secure merchant shipping in the Red Sea. There will be around 240 soldiers on board the warship, the Navy announced. By relocating the warship, the Bundeswehr wants to create the conditions for German participation in the EU mission. An EU resolution and a mandate from the Bundestag are still pending – but were most recently expected during February. The “Hessen” is scheduled to arrive in the operational area by the end of February.

It’s about repelling incoming missiles. It is also “a clear signal to the Houthi rebels,” said Marie-Agnes Strack Zimmermann (FDP). Europe will not stand idly by when freedom of navigation is attacked.

Plans for the EU military operation include sending several European warships and airborne early warning systems to the region to protect cargo ships. These are then intended to protect merchant ships there from attacks by the militant Islamist Houthis from Yemen

Israel’s President Izchak Herzog will take part in the Munich Security Conference (MSC) next week. Conference leader Christoph Heusgen confirmed this to the dpa news agency. He did not want to say whether members of Benjamin Netanyahu’s Israeli government would also take part. In any case, the Prime Minister himself will not come to Munich. “Netanyahu was already at the MSC and made a remarkable appearance there in 2018. Now we are looking forward to the president,” said Heusgen. During his speech in Munich in 2018, Netanyahu held up the wreckage of an Iranian drone that was shot down over Israel. He wanted to support his accusation of Iranian aggression against Israel.

The US has killed commander Abu Bakir al-Saadi of the Iranian-backed militia Kataib Hezbollah in Iraq in a retaliatory attack. The US military announced this. He was responsible for direct planning and participation in attacks on US forces in the region, it said. The US military said there is currently no evidence of collateral damage or civilian casualties. “We will not hesitate to hold accountable those who threaten the security of our armed forces.”

In January, three US soldiers died in a drone strike near the Jordanian-Syrian border. According to the US Department of Defense, there were indications that Kataib Hezbollah was involved in the attack. US President Joe Biden had announced that the deaths of US soldiers would not be without consequences. The US already attacked Iranian-backed groups in Iraq and Syria last weekend.

In January, a senior militia leader died in a US drone strike in central Baghdad. According to the US government, this was also related to attacks on US forces in the region. In Iraq and Syria, there have been almost daily battles between Iranian-backed militias and US troops since the beginning of the Gaza war.

Planning for the EU military operation to secure merchant shipping in the Red Sea is nearing completion. As several diplomats confirmed to the German Press Agency, a written decision-making process to set up Operation “Aspides” will begin on Friday. The subsequent necessary decision to start the operation would most likely be made at the next EU foreign ministers meeting on February 19th. According to the information, one of the final planning steps was to set up the operation’s operational headquarters in the Greek city of Larisa and appoint a Greek admiral as commander. The “Welt” first reported on this.

Four months after the terrorist attack on Israel by the radical Islamist Hamas, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken clearly called for moderation in Israel’s military deployment in the Gaza Strip. The dehumanization that Israel experienced in the Hamas massacre on October 7th cannot be “a license” to dehumanize others, he said after talks in Tel Aviv.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, on the other hand, reiterated his government’s hard line. It is necessary to continue to exert military pressure on Hamas to free the hostages kidnapped in the Gaza Strip, he said. There is no alternative to a military collapse of the militant Palestinian organization. The head of government was convinced that the Gaza war could be won in a few months.

Israeli demonstrators have set up blockades at the southernmost border crossing with the Gaza Strip. The Israeli army says it has discovered and destroyed a network of tunnels in southern Gaza. Wednesday’s developments to read.

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