Israel will defend itself amid calls for restraint: Netanyahu


Israel will make its own decisions about how to defend itself, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Wednesday as international communities called for restraint in responding to the attacks from Iran.
“I want to make it clear – we will make our own decisions, and the State of Israel will do everything necessary to defend itself,” Netanyahu said on Wednesday after talking with German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock and UK Foreign Secretary David Cameron, who visited Israel with the aim of preventing confrontation between Israel and Iran from escalating.
Israel’s war cabinet is scheduled to convene on Thursday to discuss a wide range of options that Israel could take against Iran, a government source told Xinhua News Agency, adding that a majority of the ministers support a counterattack but have yet to decide on the “scale and timing.”
More than six months into the Gaza conflict between Israel and Hamas that has seen flare-ups across the Middle East, international communities are searching for ways to avert a direct battle between Israel and Iran, facilitating truce talks and urging more humanitarian aid to devastated Gaza.
The United States, European Union and G7 group of industrialized nations all announced plans to consider tighter sanctions on Iran.
The UN Security Council is scheduled to vote on Friday on a Palestinian request for full UN membership.
Qatar, which has served as mediator during the latest Israel-Hamas truce talk, said negotiations were at a delicate phase. Israel says it will discuss a pause to free hostages but will not stop fighting until Hamas is wiped out, while Hamas says it will not release hostages without a truce leading to an end to the fierce fighting.
Qatari Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani said at a news conference on Wednesday that Qatar is reassessing its role as a mediator between Israel and Hamas.
The mediation has been exploited by some politicians concerned only with narrow political interests, causing harm to Qatar, said the Qatari prime minister.
“This means that the state of Qatar has called for a comprehensive evaluation of this role. We are now at this stage to evaluate mediation and also evaluate how the parties engage in this mediation.”
The Qatari prime minister also called on the international community to take responsibility for halting the conflict in Gaza and highlighted the importance of refraining from using humanitarian aid as a tool for political leverage.
With the prospect of famine looming, the United States and Israel say access for aid has improved this month. But aid agencies say supplies of food and medicine are still too paltry to stave off disaster.
“Across Gaza, a man-made famine is tightening its grip,” Philippe Lazzarini, head of the United Nations Palestinian refugee agency UNRWA, told the 15-member UN Security Council on Wednesday.
“In the north, infants and young children have begun to die of malnutrition and dehydration. Across the border, food and clean water wait.”