Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas Wants Israel's 'War Crimes' Punished by International Courts

Amid fighting between Israel Defense Forces and Gaza-based Palestinian factions, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said in a televised address Wednesday that Israel is committing "organized state terrorism and war crimes" and accused it of "brutal attacks on civilians and deliberate bombardment of homes," the Associated Press reported.

Abbas said the Palestinians "will not hesitate to pursue those who commit such crimes in front of international courts."

Israel said it has avoided civilians and given warnings ahead of some airstrikes, and that it is attacking only militant groups.

Abbas is the head of the internationally backed Palestinian Authority, which was forced out of Gaza by the militant Hamas group in 2007. The Palestinian Authority now holds limited autonomy in parts of the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

The International Criminal Court launched an investigation earlier this year into possible war crimes committed by Israel against Palestinian civilians during the last Gaza war in 2014.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

Palestinian Mourners Gather
Mourners gather over the body of Yousef Abu Hussein, an Al-Aqsa radio reporter, during his funeral at the main mosque in Gaza on May 19, 2021. Abu Hussein was killed during an Israeli airstrike on his house. Adel Hana/AP Photo

Rockets fired from Lebanon

BEIRUT — Lebanese security officials said several rockets were fired Wednesday from south Lebanon toward Israel, the third such barrage in the past week.

The Israeli military said it identified four rockets fired from Lebanon into northern Israel. One landed in an open area, two landed in the sea, and one was intercepted by aerial defenses. Residents of the city of Shfaram, east of Haifa, said one rocket landed near the town.

The Lebanese officials said the latest rockets were launched from the outskirts of the southern Lebanese village of Qlayleh, adding that four fell inside Lebanese territory. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity in line with regulations.

No side has claimed responsibility for the rockets launched from Lebanon Wednesday, or earlier in the week.

Maas plans peace talks

BERLIN — German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas says he hopes to fly to Israel for talks Thursday with Israelis and Palestinians on the conflict in Gaza.

Asked to confirm Israeli media reports about such a trip, Maas told journalists in Berlin that "I can't tell you 100%, because of course we coordinate such a trip with those to whom we're travelling."

He said that coordination hadn't been completed yet.

"But yes, my plan is to fly to Israel tonight and hold talks in Jerusalem and Ramallah," said Maas.

Earlier, Germany's top diplomat had ruled out talking to the Palestinian militant group Hamas that controls Gaza.

"After the events of recent days there is no reason to talk directly with Hamas," he said. "Those are terrorist attacks that are being carried out by Hamas in Israel and which in my view completely rule out talking without intermediaries, directly to Hamas."

Resolution to end hostilities

PARIS — A French government spokesman says "very intense discussions" are underway with the United States about a United Nations Security Council resolution that has been proposed by France in coordination with Egypt and Jordan.

The proposed resolution aims at ending hostilities between Israel and Hamas militants who control Gaza.

The United States has blocked the U.N.'s most powerful body from issuing a press statement calling for a halt to the violence, insisting that it would not help diplomatic efforts to end the conflict.

French President Emmanuel Macron and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi held talks in Paris earlier this week on the issue and they had a meeting on Tuesday with Jordan's King Abdullah II via video conference.

In a joint statement, France, Egypt and Jordan said they "called on the parties to immediately agree on a ceasefire."

They also said they will work with the U.N. and other partners to ensure humanitarian help for the population of Gaza.

Arab League condemns strikes

CAIRO — The Arab League Parliament has convened an extraordinary meeting in Cairo to express solidarity with the Palestinians and condemn Israeli strikes on the Gaza Strip.

Those in attendance at the meeting Wednesday wore traditional Palestinian black-and-white scarves in a sign of support.

The Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul Gheit said: "The truth is becoming crystal clear now with all its ugliness and hideousness: we are before a colonizing people that lives under an apartheid state and an occupation government that systematically practices ethnic cleansing."

Others also criticized Israel, with Arab Parliament Speaker Adel Al-Asoumi accusing Israel of "war crimes and of full-fledged crimes against humanity."

In his televised speech, Abbas addressed Arab delegates, calling Jerusalem "the essence of the Palestinian national identity."

He said: "Without it, there will be no peace, no security, no stability and no agreement.

Rockets launched into Israel

RAMALLAH, West Bank — Hamas and other militant groups have launched hundreds of rockets into Israel. The indiscriminate fire is widely seen as violating international law.

Pakistan minister denounces airstrikes

ISLAMABAD — Pakistan's foreign minister has denounced Israel's continued airstrikes against the Gaza Strip in a meeting with his Palestinian counterpart.

Shah Mahmood Qureshi made his comment during a meeting with Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki during a visit to Turkey. Qureshi will travel next to New York to address the U.N. General Assembly to demand an immediate halt to Israel's attacks on Palestinians.

According to a foreign ministry statement, Qureshi denounced Israel's attacks on Palestinians. The statement also quotes al-Maliki praising Pakistan's efforts aimed at mobilizing international support for the Palestinians.

Israel: Palestinian rocket killed Palestinians

TEL AVIV, Israel — Israeli military officials say a mysterious explosion that killed eight members of a Palestinian family on the first day of the current round of fighting in the Gaza Strip was caused by a misfired Palestinian rocket, not an Israeli airstrike.

Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus, a military spokesman, said the rocket was launched in Gaza and fell inside Gaza and killed "almost an entire family." Conricus added that "this wasn't an Israeli attack."

A senior military officer on Wednesday said the incident was investigated, and Israel did not strike the Beit Hanoun area where the family members were killed that night.

The officer said a total of 700 rockets—roughly one-fifth of the total launched by Palestinian militants—failed to reach Israel and landed inside Gaza. He provided no further estimates on how many Palestinians had been harmed by errant rocket fire. The officer spoke on condition of anonymity under military briefing guidelines.

At least 219 Palestinians have been killed in airstrikes, including 63 children and 36 women, with 1,530 people wounded, according to the Gaza Health Ministry. It does not break down how many militants are among the dead or whether people have died from misfired rockets.

Israel says Hamas is responsible for civilian deaths because the militant group uses residential areas for cover to fire rockets and carry out other military operations. Twelve people in Israel have also been killed, 10 by rocket fire aimed at Israeli towns and cities. Two people died in accidents while rushing for shelter.

Israel pursuing 'forceful deterrence'

TEL AVIV, Israel — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says Israel is pursuing "forceful deterrence" against Gaza's Hamas rulers and does not rule out a further escalation.

Meeting with foreign ambassadors on Wednesday, he said "you can either conquer them, and that's always an open possibility, or you can deter them."

"We are engaged right now in forceful deterrence, but I have to say, we don't rule out anything."

Israel has carried out hundreds of airstrikes against what it says are militant targets in Gaza since the fourth war between the two sides broke out earlier this month. Hamas and other militants have fired more than 3,700 rockets at Israel.

Netanyahu said Israel hopes to restore quiet "quickly" and is doing everything it can to avoid civilian casualties.

Airstrikes kill at least 6

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — Israeli airstrikes have killed at least six people overnight across the Gaza Strip and destroyed the home of an extended family.

Despite growing international pressure for a cease-fire, the military said Wednesday it widened its strikes on militant targets in the Palestinian territory's south to blunt continuing rocket fire from Hamas.

Residents surveyed the piles of bricks, concrete and other debris that had once been the home of 40 members of al-Astal family. They said everyone escaped after a warning missile hit the house.

The Israeli military says it struck militant targets around the towns of Khan Younis and Rafah.

Gaza health officials say at least 219 Palestinians have been killed in airstrikes. Twelve people in Israel have been killed in rocket attacks.

Palestinian Israel Conflict Protest
A Yemeni protester holds up a sign that reads "We are all Gaza" during a demonstration to denounce Israeli airstrikes on the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip in the Yemeni city of Taez on May 19, 2021. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that Israel's aerial bombing campaign on the Gaza Strip was aimed at deterring Hamas. Ahmad Al-Basha/AFP via Getty Images