US President Joe Biden will travel to Israel on Wednesday, a “solidarity” visit. face to face the Hamas attack which also aims to unblock the delivery of aid to the Gaza Strip, besieged for more than a week by the Israeli army, and where ; a humanitarian catastrophe is looming according to the WHO.
The visit was announced by the head of American diplomacy Antony Blinken, after a night of marathon talks in Tel Aviv with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. And this while Iran has threatened possible “preventive action” against Israel if the country maintains its plan for a ground offensive against the Islamist organization in the Gaza Strip.
“The president will reaffirm America's solidarity with Israel and our unwavering commitment to its security,” Blinken said.
Mr. Biden will also meet with the Egyptian president, the king of Jordan and the head of the Palestinian Authority in Amman, announced US National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby.
Intense international diplomatic activity continues to try to prevent the conflict, triggered by the bloody attack by Hamas on Israeli soil on October 7, from igniting the region.
“The possibility of preventive action by the axis of resistance is expected in the coming hours,” warned Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian on Monday evening, using an informal name for states and organizations enemies of Israel and the West. .
– “Auspicious moment” –
The head of American diplomacy Antony Blinken during a press conference in Tel Aviv, October 17, 2023 © POOL – Jacquelyn Martin
Earlier in the day, the Iranian minister had affirmed that the “axis of resistance” would not allow the Jewish state “to do what it wants in Gaza”.
Israeli army spokesman Jonathan Conricus said he did not know whether Mr. Biden's visit could call into question the timing of the ground offensive against Hamas, which has ruled the enclave since 2007.< /p>
“I don't think this visit is aimed at preventing it”, but rather “to ensure that Israel has everything it needs to defend itself”, he added.
Israeli forces © AFP – Sylvie HUSSON, Valentina BRESCHI
During the night, the Israeli army continued its bombings on Gaza, destroying a Hamas headquarters, according to a message posted on X.
The north of the Palestinian enclave, on the outskirts of which the Israeli army has massed troops, is riddled with tunnels where Hamas, classified as a terrorist organization by the United States, the European Union and Israel, hides its fighters and its weapons. sometimes up to 30 or 40 meters underground.
According to the Wall Street Journal on Monday, the American army has selected approximately 2,000 members of its personnel for possible deployment in support of Israel, for missions of medical advice and assistance.
More than 1,400 people have been killed in Israel since the Hamas attack. Most are civilians who died on the day of the attack, the deadliest since the creation of the State of Israel.
Israeli retaliatory strikes killed at least 2,750 people, mostly Palestinian civilians, including hundreds of children, according to local authorities. Eleven Palestinian journalists were also killed, the Palestinian journalists' union said on Monday.
The Israeli army also announced that it had recovered the bodies of 1,500 Hamas fighters on Israeli soil.
< p>Hamas kidnapped 199 people in the attack, according to Israel. The organization mentions “200 to 250” hostages in Gaza and reports 22 hostages killed in Israeli raids. On Monday evening, it released a video of “one of the prisoners in Gaza”, identified by the Israeli army as Mia.
– Aid delivery –
After his meeting with Mr. Netanyhau, Mr. Blinken also announced that the United States had obtained guarantees from Israel regarding the delivery of foreign humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip.
“At our request, the United States and Israel agreed to develop a plan that will allow humanitarian aid from donor countries and multilateral organizations to reach civilians in Gaza,” he explained.
The World Health Organization (WHO) warned on Monday of an impending humanitarian “catastrophe.”
Smoke after an Israeli strike on the south of the Gaza Strip on October 16, 2023 © AFP – SAID KHATIB
“There are 24 hours of water, electricity and fuel left” in Gaza and if the If aid does not enter, doctors will only have to “prepare death certificates”, Ahmed Al-Mandhari, WHO director for the Eastern Mediterranean based in Cairo, told AFP.
On Monday evening, the UN Security Council rejected a resolution proposed by Russia for a “humanitarian ceasefire”. Approved by five Council member states – including Russia and China – it was rejected by four others (United States, United Kingdom, France and Japan) and six abstained, including Brazil.
The 15 member states of the Council are expected to vote on a second resolution presented by Brazil on Tuesday at 10:00 p.m. GMT.
Subjected to an Israeli land, air and sea blockade for more than 15 years, the Gaza Strip, where 2.4 million people are crowded together over 362 km2, has been placed in a state of “complete siege” since October 9 by Israel , which cut off water, electricity and food supplies.
“No electricity, no water, no internet, no cell network, no diapers for babies , no milk”, Fatma Hamouda recounts what is missing in Rafah, in the south of the Gaza Strip, where she sought refuge.
The Rafah border post © AFP – Paz PIZARRO, Sylvie HUSSON
On Monday, hundreds of people were massed at the border with Egypt, in the hope of an opening of the Rafah crossing point, controlled by Egypt.
“We have been sleeping at the border for eight days, without any help,” said Osama Abou Samhadana, an Egyptian seeking to return home to his family.
A million people, according to the UN, fled in one week from the north of the Gaza Strip to the south of the territory.
Martin Griffiths, responsible for emergency humanitarian situations at the UN, announced that he would travel to the Middle East on Tuesday.
On the Israeli side, nearly 500,000 Israelis have also been displaced, according to Army spokesman Jonathan Conricus.
“We evacuated the entire south of Israel, all the localities near the Gaza Strip, following the government's directives,” he said, adding: “We did the same in the north where twenty localities near of the border were evacuated” after the increase in exchanges of fire on the Israeli-Lebanese border between the pro-Iranian Lebanese Hezbollah, an ally of Hamas, and the Israeli army.
The army and Israeli intelligence services also announced the “elimination” of Osama al-Mazini, a senior Hamas official in the Gaza Strip.
The body of a victim of the Hamas attack waits to be identified at the Forensic Institute in Tel Aviv, Israel, October 16, 2023 © AFP – AHMAD GHARABLI
Russian President Vladimir Putin also spoke with Mr. Netanyahu on Monday about “steps taken by Russia to promote the normalization of the situation, prevent a further escalation of violence and prevent a humanitarian catastrophe in the Gaza Strip.” /p>
The head of Turkish diplomacy, Hakan Fidan, for his part spoke by telephone with the leader of Hamas Ismaïl Haniyeh on the “possibility” of releasing hostages he has held since October 7.
That day, at dawn, in the middle of Shabbat, the weekly Jewish rest, hundreds of Hamas fighters infiltrated Israel by land and air, killing more than a thousand civilians and sowing terror under a barrage of rockets. About 270 people, according to authorities, were shot dead at a music festival.
“I saw babies, women and children beheaded,” said Rabbi Israel Weiss, the one of those responsible for identifying the bodies at the Tel Aviv Forensic Institute. “Never in my life have I seen such horrors.”
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