Israel’s army has again attacked targets in Lebanon. According to Lebanese sources, at least nine people were killed in two air strikes in the evening. Israel’s army said fighter jets had struck a terrorist cell at a military facility run by the Lebanese Shiite militia Hezbollah in Tajir Harfa. Another cell was shot at near Nakura.

Meanwhile, according to the US government, efforts are underway to find a new date for a visit by an Israeli delegation to Washington. “We are working to set a date,” said White House spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office agreed to reschedule the meeting. When asked, Netanyahu’s office said the head of government had not approved the delegation’s departure. However, it was not denied that discussions were being held.

With a resolution that is binding under international law, the UN Security Council called for an “immediate ceasefire” in the Gaza Strip on Monday for the first time since the start of the war. The UN body also demanded the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages held by Hamas.

The USA waived its right to veto in the vote, thereby helping the resolution, which increases international pressure on Israel, to succeed. Netanyahu then immediately canceled the planned visit of an Israeli delegation to Washington. The Israeli leader’s move was widely seen as an angry response to Americans’ voting behavior.

Netanyahu: Rejection was a signal to Hamas

Netanyahu’s official reason for canceling the visit was that he wanted to send a message to Hamas. According to his office, the Islamist organization is convinced that international pressure will prevent Israel from freeing the hostages and destroying Hamas in the Gaza Strip following the latest Security Council resolution, Netanyahu said. With this step he wanted to show the Islamists that they should not rely on this pressure. This won’t work. “I hope they got the message,” he said.

During the planned visit by a high-ranking Israeli delegation, US government representatives wanted to present the Israelis with alternatives to a ground offensive in the city of Rafah in southern Gaza that was rejected by Washington. As soon as there is a new visit date, it will be announced publicly, said Jean-Pierre.

Church leaders call for a ceasefire at Easter

Meanwhile, church leaders in Jerusalem called for an immediate and lasting ceasefire in the Gaza war in their Easter message. The message spoke of the “intense suffering that surrounds us here in the Holy Land.” We condemn “all violent acts in the current devastating war, especially those that are directed against innocent civilians.” Church leaders called for the rapid distribution of humanitarian aid in Gaza, the “release of all prisoners” and full access for medical teams to the sick and injured.

They also called for negotiations to begin with international assistance to “end and overcome the current cycle of violence.” Only in this way can “a comprehensive solution for a just and lasting peace be advanced here in the land where our Lord sacrificed his life.” On Good Friday, Christians in Jerusalem traditionally carry wooden crosses in a procession on the Via Dolorosa (German: Way of Suffering) as they walk to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, where, according to many Christians, Jesus was crucified, buried and rose from the dead. This year, Easter coincides with the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.

Hamas military wing calls for march on Jerusalem

Meanwhile, Hamas’s military wing released a message calling on Muslims around the world to “liberate” the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem. The voice of the leader Mohammed Deif can be heard on it. Neither the authenticity nor the exact date of the recording, which was published on the Al-Aqsa Brigades Telegram channel, could initially be clarified.

It called on Muslims in various Arab countries to “march toward Palestine now, not tomorrow.” They should not let borders, state structures and restrictions prevent them from “participating in the liberation of Al-Aqsa,” it said in the 35-second recording.

Deif, along with the Hamas chief in the Gaza Strip, Jihia al-Sinwar, is considered to be the planner of the unprecedented massacre in Israel on October 7th. In a rare message that day, Deif announced a “military operation” against Israel.

The Al-Aqsa Mosque stands on the Temple Mount (Al-Haram al-Sharif) in Jerusalem, the third holiest site in Islam. The complex is also sacred to Jews because two Jewish temples used to stand there. Tens of thousands of Muslims pray there during the fasting month of Ramadan. There were fears that the war in Gaza could lead to new violence. Hamas had called for protests. So far the prayers have been largely peaceful.