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Sabtu, 15 Mei 2021

Biden makes first call to Abbas amid Israel-Gaza fighting as protests erupt worldwide - ABC News

US President Joe Biden has had his first phone call with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas since taking office, amid heavy fighting between Israel and Palestinian militant groups in the Gaza Strip.

Mr Biden has dispatched an envoy to try to quell the violence that has killed over 150 people, but US, regional and international efforts have yet to show any signs of progress.

Mr Biden "stressed the need for Hamas to cease firing rockets into Israel", and the two men "expressed their shared concern that innocent civilians, including children, have tragically lost their lives amidst the ongoing violence", a summary of the call released by the White House said.

The Health Ministry in Gaza said 41 children were among at least 145 people killed in the Gaza Strip, while Israeli authorities reported 10 dead, including two children.

Palestinians gather around the shell of a car destroyed by an air strike.
Palestinians gather around a car after it was hit by an Israeli air strike in Gaza City.(

AP: Mohammed Ali

)

The White House said Mr Biden conveyed "US commitment to strengthening the US-Palestinian partnership" and highlighted his administration's recent decision to restore aid to the Israeli-occupied West Bank and Gaza that had been cut under former president Donald Trump.

In a call summary released by the official Palestinian news agency WAFA, Mr Biden is quoted as saying he opposed the eviction of Palestinians from East Jerusalem's Sheikh Jarrah, though the White House account of the conversation did not mention the case.

A long-running legal case over the evictions helped ignite tension in the holy city and spark fighting between Israel and Gaza militants.

Mr Abbas's Palestinian Authority (PA) has limited self-rule in the occupied West Bank, part of territory Israel captured, along with Gaza and East Jerusalem, in the 1967 Middle East war.

But the PA exerts little influence over Gaza and its Islamist rulers Hamas, which seized control of the Palestinian enclave in 2007 after a bloody falling out with Mr Abbas's Fatah party.

The United States considers Hamas a terrorist organisation, and does not talk to the group.

Some analysts say Hamas appeared to see the escalation with Israel as an opportunity to marginalise Mr Abbas and present itself as the guardian of Palestinians in Jerusalem, whose eastern sector they seek for a future state.

Protests erupt across the globe

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Play Video. Duration: 2 minutes 33 seconds
Rallies have been held across the world in support of Palestinian people. (Image: AP)

Protests have erupted in countries across the world calling for an end to Israeli air strikes over the Gaza Strip.

The largest have been in support of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.

Thousands marched through the streets of Melbourne and Sydney on Saturday waving Palestinian flags with some holding signs that said "Free Gaza" and "Palestinian Lives Matter".

Police in Paris made more than 40 arrests during unauthorised pro-Palestinian demonstrations.

Officers used water cannon and tear gas to stop protestors as right-wing politicians lashed out at the demonstrators, calling them anti-Semitic and Islamists.

A court had banned the protest to try to avert a repeat of the attacks on Jewish targets in France in 2014, when there was an upsurge in the conflict in Gaza.

A man holds a smoke flares as he shouts slogans while standing on top of a building with other people.
Thousands of people marched in Brussels and other cities across Europe.(

AP: Francisco Seco

)

Thousands of people marched peacefully elsewhere in Europe — including in London, Rome, Brussels and Madrid — to highlight the plight of the Palestinians.

In the United States, hundreds of protesters shut down traffic in Los Angeles as they took to the streets with many shouting "long live intifada", or the uprising.

Also on Saturday, hundreds of protesters gathered in Boston's Copley Square and walked a short distance through the streets to the location of the Israeli Consulate.

Other smaller protests in support of Palestinians took place in Hartford and Pittsburgh, where footage shows one speaker at the protest called on lawmakers to put restrictions on how Israel can spend aid from the United States.

No end in sight

Israeli soldiers take cover under a tank, laying on the ground while holding up their guns.
Israeli soldiers took cover as sirens warned of incoming rockets fired from Gaza.(

AP: Tsafrir Abayov

)

But both Israel and Hamas insisted they would pursue their campaigns, leaving no end to the hostilities in sight despite a UN Security Council meeting scheduled for Sunday to discuss the worst outbreak of Israel-Palestinian violence in years.

On Saturday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu blamed Hamas for starting the near-week-long hostilities and said the "operation will continue as long as necessary".

"The party that bears the guilt for this confrontation is not us, it's those attacking us," Mr Netanyahu said in a televised speech.

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Play Video. Duration: 22 seconds
Benjamin Netanyahu says 'special care' was taken to avoid civilian casualties in an air strike on a media tower.

Top Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh said militant groups in the Gaza Strip would not retreat and warned that their fighters still had not used all the force at their disposal.

Speaking during a rally attended by hundreds in Qatar on Saturday night, Mr Haniyeh said "resistance is the shortest road to Jerusalem" and that Palestinians will not accept anything less than a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital.

He accused Israel of carrying out "massacres"  thinking that this will make militant groups retreat, but said instead, as Israeli attacks escalate, "the resistance will increase [its force] to a higher level".

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Play Video. Duration: 53 seconds
Israel has targeted a building housing international media in Gaza City.

As Israel pounded Gaza with air strikes into the early hours of Sunday. A tower block that housed news media organisations was destroyed.

The strike was condemned by Al Jazeera and the AP, which both had offices in the building.

"AP's bureau has been in this building for 15 years. We have had no indication Hamas was in the building or active in the building," the news organisation said.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the US told Israel "that ensuring the safety and security of journalists and independent media is a paramount responsibility".

ABC/wires

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2021-05-15 23:13:03Z
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