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Israel's Netanyahu dissolves war cabinet 


FILE - From left, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant and Cabinet Minister Benny Gantz speak during a news conference in the Kirya military base in Tel Aviv, Oct. 28, 2023.
FILE - From left, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant and Cabinet Minister Benny Gantz speak during a news conference in the Kirya military base in Tel Aviv, Oct. 28, 2023.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu disbanded his war cabinet on Monday, an Israeli official said, a decision that was expected after former General Benny Gantz, a centrist, left the group last week.

Gantz joined Netanyahu’s unity government in October at the start of the war and demanded the formation of the war cabinet. Without Gantz, Netanyahu dissolved the group.

The White House said Monday that the dissolution was an “internal” and “domestic” measure by Israel’s government, and the United States will continue to interact with Netanyahu.

At the State Department, spokesperson Matthew Miller told reporters during a briefing that it is not for the U.S. to decide who should be in the government of Israel.

However, Miller added that Washington will publicly express disagreements on policies “that we think are unproductive, not only to the plight of the Palestinian people but also to Israel's security,” when asked if the U.S. is concerned about far-right voices in Israel’s decision making.

The U.S. had said it was worthwhile to have the war cabinet in place.

On Sunday, Israel’s military announced that it would begin a daytime, 11-hour “tactical pause” in its bombardment of Hamas militants in southern Gaza to permit the increased delivery of humanitarian aid to reach famished Palestinians.

Israel pauses daytime fighting allowing passage of aid to Gaza
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On Monday, that pause seemed to be holding, despite some sporadic fighting, according to Agence France-Presse.

The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, or OCHA, said it welcomed Israel’s announcement and hoped the tactical pause will lead to “further concrete measures by Israel to address longstanding issues preventing a meaningful humanitarian response in Gaza.”

Israel said the pause in its offensive in southern Gaza would continue for the immediate future and allow aid trucks to reach the Israeli-controlled Kerem Shalom crossing, the main entry point for incoming aid. The trucks could then safely travel to a nearby highway to deliver food and medical supplies to other parts of Gaza.

The "tactical pause" announced by the military applies to about 12 kilometers of road in the Rafah area but falls far short of a complete cease-fire in Gaza that the international community, including Israel's top ally, the United States, is pushing for Israel and Hamas to adopt. The proposed broader cease-fire would halt fighting throughout Gaza for six weeks and calls for the release of more hostages held by Hamas in exchange for Palestinians jailed by Israel.

But there was no sign of a breakthrough in the stalled cease-fire talks.

In another sign the fighting would continue, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government announced Sunday it was extending until August 15, the period it would fund hotels and guest houses for residents evacuated from southern Israeli border towns near Gaza.

The limited halt in fighting, if it holds, could help address some of the overwhelming needs of Palestinians that have surged even more in recent weeks with Israel's incursion into Rafah.

Israel said the route out of southern Gaza would increase the flow of aid to other parts of Gaza, including Khan Younis, the Muwasi makeshift tent camp, and central Gaza. Hard-hit northern Gaza, which was an early target in the war, now in its ninth month, is being served by goods entering from a crossing in the north.

The military said the pause Sunday, which begins as Muslims in Gaza and elsewhere start marking the major Eid Al-Adha holiday, came after discussions with the United Nations and international aid agencies.

The flow of aid in southern Gaza declined just as the humanitarian need grew. More than 1 million Palestinians, many of whom had already been displaced, fled Rafah after the invasion, crowding into other parts of southern and central Gaza. Most now languish in ramshackle tent camps, using trenches as latrines, with open sewage in the streets.

The need for more aid in Gaza is critical, United Nations aid officials say. From May 6 until June 6, the U.N. received an average of 68 trucks of aid a day, according to figures from the U.N. humanitarian office. That was down from 168 a day in April and far below the 500 trucks a day that aid groups say are needed.

The new arrangement aims to reduce the need for coordinating deliveries by providing an uninterrupted 11-hour window each day for trucks to move in and out of the crossing.

But it was not immediately clear whether the army would provide security to protect the aid trucks as they moved along the highway.

The U.N. welcomed the limited Israeli pause in fighting and said it hopes “this leads to further concrete measures by Israel to address longstanding issues preventing a meaningful humanitarian response in Gaza."

But the limited cessation in fighting was attacked by ultranationalists in Netanyahu's government, who oppose a halt in the war. The military said fighting is not being paused in the rest of southern Gaza.

On Sunday, Israel announced the names of 11 soldiers killed in recent attacks in Gaza, including one who died from wounds sustained in an assault last week. That puts the number of soldiers killed since Israel began its ground invasion of Gaza last year at 308.

Hamas killed 1,200 people during its October 7 terror attack on Israel and took 250 hostage, Israeli authorities say. Health officials in Hamas-run Gaza say more than 37,000 Palestinians have been killed in the war, a death toll that includes both civilians and combatants.

State Department bureau chief Nike Ching and U.N. correspondent Margaret Besheer contributed to this report. Some material in this report came from Reuters, Agence France-Presse and The Associated Press.

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