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Hezbollah offers Israel a draw, but will Netanyahu accept?

HezbollahEverything about Hezbollah’s attack on an Israeli border patrol on Wednesday seemed precisely calibrated to send a message of “deterrence” while signaling a desire to avoid a full-blown war. In fact, Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon said Thursday that Israel had received a message from the Lebanese Shia group, via the United Nations, making clear that Hezbollah seeks no further escalation.

It remains unclear how Israel plans to respond to an attack for which Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday blamed Iran — as does the strategy behind the Israeli helicopter strike 10 days ago that provoked Hezbollah’s retaliation.

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Raúl Castro demands that US return Guantánamo base to Cuba

Raul CastroCuba’s President Raúl Castro has demanded that the United States return the US base at Guantánamo Bay, lift the half-century trade embargo on Cuba and compensate his country for damages before the two nations re-establish normal relations.

Castro told a summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States that Cuba and the US are working toward full diplomatic relations but “if these problems aren’t resolved, this diplomatic rapprochement wouldn’t make any sense”.

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Hezbollah strikes Israeli soldiers amid escalating tensions

Hezbolla missiles strike Israeli troopsIsrael's northern border region had braced over the past ten days for a Hezbollah response to the Israeli missile strike that killed some of its senior personnel on January 18. The Lebanese Shia movement's retaliation came Wednesday, as its fighters fired an anti-tank missile at an Israeli military vehicle near the Lebanon border, setting off a protracted exchange of fire.

Two Israeli soldiers were killed and seven wounded in the clashes, and a Spanish soldier serving with a U.N. peacekeeping mission was reportedly killed by Israeli fire.

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Criticism of Netanyahu’s planned U.S. speech mounts in Israel

NetanyahuPrime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is facing growing criticism in Israel for a planned speech to the U.S. Congress about Iran, accused by his political rivals of damaging ties with Washington to promote his election campaign.

Netanyahu accepted an invitation from House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, to address a joint session of Congress on March 3, two weeks before the Israeli elections.

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Iran sends warning to Israel via US officials

AyotollaIran's official IRNA news agency is reporting the country has sent a warning to Israel through the United States over the recent killing of an Iranian general in an alleged Israeli airstrike.

The Tuesday report quotes Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian as saying, "We told the Americans that the leaders of the Zionist regime should await the consequences of their act."

He added, "The Zionist regime has crossed our red lines."

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Greek fighter jet crashes in Spain killing 10 people

greek nato plane crashesEight French people were among 10 killed when a Greek fighter jet crashed during take-off at a base in Spain.

The F-16 jet "lost power", crashing at Los Llanos air base in Albacete, Spain's defence ministry said. At least five other planes were damaged.  One of the two Greek pilots had performed a wrong manoeuvre, local media said. Both pilots were killed.

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Egypt court convicts doctor of female genital mutilation

genital mutilation An Egyptian appeals court on Monday convicted a doctor of manslaughter and performing female genital mutilation that led to the death of a 13-year-old girl, sentencing him to two years and three months in prison in the country's first case that came to trial over the widespread practice, defense lawyers said.

The doctor, Raslan Fadl, was initially acquitted of the 2013 death of Sohair el-Batea in a village in the Nile Delta province of Dakahliya. He was not present in court Monday and his whereabouts were unknown.

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