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Biden urges Netanyahu to reach Gaza ceasefire deal 'without delay'

Photo: Mohammed Abed Agence France-Presse Boys sat on the rubble of a building after an Israeli bombardment in Rafah, Gaza Strip, on Thursday.

Adel Zaanoun – Agence France-Presse and Benoît Finck – Agence France-Presse respectively in the Gaza Strip and Jerusalem

7:14 p.m.

  • Middle East

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is facing increased international pressure, notably from US President Joe Biden, who urged him on Thursday to conclude “without delay” an agreement for a ceasefire in the Gaza Strip, on the verge of famine.

The telephone conversation between the two leaders comes nearly six months after the start of the war between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas, which devastated the Gaza Strip, and a few days after the death of aid workers in Israeli strike on Palestinian territory.

Mr. Biden, who said he was “outraged” by the strike, raised for the first time the possibility of conditioning American aid to Israel on “tangible” measures on the part of the Israeli government to respond to the humanitarian catastrophe underway in the small besieged territory.

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“Deliberate destruction”

The NGO Doctors Without Borders (MSF) denounced Thursday the “systematic and deliberate destruction of the health system” in the Palestinian territory “by Israel” during a press conference.

“There are crush injuries to the abdomen, thorax, leg and arm amputations required, and on top of that, patients suffer from serious burns,” explained Amber Alayyan, deputy program manager at Geneva. NGO for the Middle East. No healthcare system in the world can cope with the volume and type of injuries and conditions we see every day,” she said.

The NGOs MSF, Oxfam, Médecins du monde and Save the Children International have also launched an alert regarding their virtual impossibility of working in the Palestinian territory. None of these NGOs are planning to leave at this stage, even if the question arises “every day”, indicated Isabelle Defourny, president of MSF France. “The conditions for providing humanitarian assistance are not met,” she added.

The death of seven aid workers from the US-based NGO World Central Kitchen (WCK) in an Israeli strike on Monday increased international discontent, with the Israeli army admitting a “serious mistake”.

Since the start of the war in the Gaza Strip, nearly 200 aid workers have been killed, according to Christopher Lockyear, secretary general of MSF.

“Dangerous Incompetence” ?

“This type of attack is either intentional or indicative of dangerous incompetence,” he lambasted Thursday during a press conference in Geneva.

The war between Israel and Hamas was sparked after the unprecedented attack by commandos of the Palestinian Islamist movement on October 7 in southern Israel. It led to the death of 1,170 people on the Israeli side, the majority of them civilians killed the same day, according to an AFP count based on official Israeli figures.

More than 250 people were kidnapped during the attack and taken as hostages to the Gaza Strip, where 130 remain detained, of whom, according to the Israeli army, 34 died.

No healthcare system in the world can cope with the volume and type of injuries and conditions we see every day.

— Geneva Amber Alayyan

In retaliation, Israel is carrying out military operations in the Palestinian territory, having vowed to annihilate Hamas, which took power there in 2007 and which is considered a terrorist organization by the United States, Israel and the Union European, in particular.

More than 33,000 people, mostly civilians, have been killed in the Gaza Strip since October 7, according to the Hamas Ministry of Health.

The Israeli army continued its operations on Thursday in the center of the Gaza Strip as well as in Khan Younes (south). In 24 hours, 62 additional deaths were recorded, according to a statement from the Hamas Ministry of Health.

These deaths come against a backdrop of concerns about a ground operation, desired by Mr. Netanyahu, in Rafah (south). Nearly 1.5 million Palestinians displaced by the fighting are crowded there, according to the UN, as the international community continues to urge Israel to protect civilians and aid workers in Gaza.

“Not acceptable”

In the United Kingdom, some 600 British lawyers called on Thursday for the suspension of arms sales to Israel in the name of a violation of international law and a “serious risk of genocide”.

In Canada, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stressed during a press briefing that the death of humanitarian workers “does not happen by chance” and that it is “not acceptable” .

After the Israeli strike, the NGO WCK, which provided daily meals to Gaza, announced that it was suspending its operations via a maritime corridor from Cyprus, increasing fears for the food situation of some 2 .4 million inhabitants.

The United States on Thursday demanded that Israel allow a “dramatic increase” in humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip, saying it wanted to see concrete measures taken “in the coming hours and days”, while several countries attempt to deliver more aid, particularly by airdrop.

But the delivery of food by air or sea cannot replace land routes, say the UN and many countries.

According to a study by the NGO Oxfam published Thursday, the population of the northern Gaza Strip survives on 245 calories per day, or “less than a can of beans”, which, according to the 'NGO, represents “less than 12% of average daily caloric needs.”

“Deliveries of flour are delayed […] There is also a shortage of vegetables, meat and other essential products,” a resident of Gaza City who was trying to collect food told AFP on Wednesday .

In Israel too, Benjamin Netanyahu is subject to increased pressure from public opinion and faces repeated demonstrations from opponents and angry families of hostages.

Despite Washington's “growing discontent” with its ally, US support for Israel remains “unwavering”, a White House spokesperson assured Thursday.< /p>

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116