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Head of UN inquiry into war crimes in Gaza conflict resigns

The head of a United Nations inquiry into the conflict in Gaza has announced his resignation after Israel accused him of bias.

UK-based academic William Schabas was appointed by the head of the UN Human Rights Council to lead an investigation into alleged war crimes committed during Israel's military operation in Gaza last year.

William Schabas was appointed to lead an investigation into alleged war crimes committed during Israel's military operation in Gaza last year Credit: Reuters

Israel had criticised his appointment, citing his record as a critic of the state and its leadership, and the Council had sought legal advice after it emerged he was paid $1,300 (£865) to provide a legal opinion for the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO) in 2012.

Reuters news agency reports that Schabas sent a letter to the commission stating he would step down immediately to prevent the issue from overshadowing the findings of the report, which is due to be released in March.

He also defended his work for the PLO.

My views on Israel and Palestine as well as on many other issues were well known and very public... This work in defence of human rights appears to have made me a huge target for malicious attacks.

I believe that it is difficult for the work to continue while a procedure is underway to consider hether the chair of the commission should be removed.

– William Schabas

Palestinian 'Santa Claus' tear-gassed by Israeli troops

A Palestinian protester dressed as Santa Claus was tear-gassed by Israeli troops and had to be carried to safety.

A protester dressed as Santa Claus has to be carried away by medics Credit: Reuters

The man was among hoards of people demonstrating against the Israeli settlements, demanding free movement for Palestinians during Christmas.

The protest, near a checkpoint in the West Bank city of Bethlehem, included many more wearing Santa-style hats and bearing banners reading: "We want Christmas without occupation".

The protesters were demanding free movement for Palestinians over Christmas Credit: Reuters


Israel launches airstrike against Hamas in Gaza

Israeli aircraft bombed a Hamas militant base in the Gaza Strip for the first time since the end of a war in the territory, in response to a rocket that militants launched earlier in the day, the army said.

The bombs struck in the Khan Younis area in the southern Gaza Strip. Local hospital officials said there were no casualties.

The militant rocket fired earlier landed in a field in southern Israel and no one was injured.

Remove Hamas from terrorist list, EU court rules

Palestinian members of Hamas's armed wing taking part in an anti-Israel rally in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip last month. Credit: Reuters

Palestinian Islamist group Hamas should be removed from a European Union list of terror groups, a court has ruled.

The General Court of the European Union said, however, that member states could maintain their freeze on the group's assets for three months to give time for further review or to appeal.

The court said the previous decision to name Hamas on the list had been based on media reports rather than considered analysis.

Hamas says it is a legitimate resistance movement and welcomed the verdict.

However, Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu quickly called on Europe to return Hamas to the list immediately, denouncing it as "a murderous terrorist organisation".

Israeli forces carry out PM Benjamin Netanyahu's threat

Israeli forces have carried out the threat of their Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to settle scores with the Palestinian terrorists who murdered five people in a Jerusalem synagogue yesterday.

The home of one of the killers' families was blown up.

Today, faithful to their religious routine, Jewish worshippers were back at the synagogue where the killings took place.

From there, ITV News Middle East Correspondent, Geraint Vincent, reports:


Defiant synagogue worshippers return to scene of killings

Worshippers have today returned to a Jerusalem synagogue where four rabbis and a policeman were killed by armed raiders yesterday, vowing they would not be intimidated.

The bloodstains have been washed away and four memorial candles lit, with officers now stationed outside the Kehillat Bnei Torah synagogue amid fears of growing violence.

Worshippers have returned to the synagogue in Jerusalem where the fatal attack took place yesterday Credit: Reuters

Among the dead was British-Israeli rabbi Avraham Shmuel Goldberg, originally from Liverpool. He and three American rabbis were killed during morning prayers by two Palestinian militants, while the policeman died later from his injuries.

One member of the synagogue, Avraham Burkei, said the congregation would not be cowed into changing their routine.

It's a little scary, but we're going to have to go on with our lives.

We're staying here, we're not moving anywhere. This terrorist attack is not going to change anything.

– Avraham Burkei, synagogue member

Pope Francis condemns rising violence in Jerusalem

Pope Francis has voiced concern over rising tensions and violence in Jerusalem, as he condemned a violent attack at a synagogue which left five people dead.

Two Palestinian men stormed into the Bnei Torah Kehilat Yaakov synagogue yesterday morning and killed four Rabbis, including a British-Israeli. A policeman later died of his injuries.

Pope Francis at the Vatican today, where he expressed concern over rising tensions in Jerusalem Credit: Reuters

The men, who were armed with a meat cleaver and a knife, were shot dead in a gunfight with police at the scene.

In his first appearance since yesterday’s attack, Pope Francis told St Peter’s Square:

I'm following with concern the alarming increase in tension in Jerusalem and other areas of the Holy Land, with unacceptable episodes of violence that do not spare even religious sites.

– Pope Francis

The attack was the latest in a string of violence in recent weeks in a dispute over Jerusalem’s holiest site, known to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary and to Jews as Temple Mount.

Israel blows up home of Palestinian tram stop killer

Israeli security forces have today blown up the house of a Palestinian man who ran over and killed three people, including a three-month-old baby girl, at a tram stop in Jerusalem last month.

It comes just a day after two militants killed four rabbis and a policeman in an attack at a synagogue in the city.

Read: British-Israeli Rabbi among dead in Jerusalem attack

A nearby car also suffered in the blast Credit: Reuters

The military said the home of 21-year-old Abdel-Rahman Shaloudi was destroyed shortly before dawn.

Shaloudi was shot dead by police as he tried to run after mowing down the commuters on October 22, which his family claim was nothing more than an accident.

The home of 21-year-old Abdel-Rahman Shaloudi was destroyed shortly before dawn Credit: Reuters

His house, in the Silwan area of Jerusalem, has been the scene of several confrontations since the incident.

The Israeli army has recently begun carrying out court-sanctioned demolitions of militants’ homes again, after giving up the practice in 2005.

Fifth person dies after Jerusalem synagogue attack

A fifth person has died following the attack on a synagogue in Jerusalem, a police spokesperson has confirmed to ITV News.

Mourners gather around the remains of Aryeh Kopinsky in Jerusalem earlier today. Credit: Reuters

The fifth victim was a police man, and one of the first to respond to the attack, local media sources said.

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