Said Khatib Agence France-Presse Huge plumes of smoke rise to the horizon above the town of Khan Yunis, seen from the town of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on November 5, 2023, as fighting between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas continues.
Adel Zaanoun – Agence France-Presse and Léon Bruneau – Agence France-Presse In Amman
November 5, 2023
- Middle East
The head of American diplomacy Antony Blinken, visiting the West Bank, warned on Sunday against the “forced displacement” of Palestinian civilians in the Gaza Strip, where Israel is continuing its offensive launched almost a month ago in retaliation to the bloody Hamas attack.
Mr. Blinken stopped, for the first time since the start of the war on October 7, in Ramallah, in the occupied West Bank, where he met the President of the Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas, at a time when violence is increasing in this Palestinian territory .
Mahmoud Abbas denounced before the American Secretary of State “the war of genocide” led according to him by Israel in Gaza, where the death toll from Israeli bombings carried out in retaliation for the Hamas attack approaches 10,000 deaths, including nearly half of them children, according to the Palestinian Islamist movement.
The Palestinian Authority has no longer exercised any control over the Gaza Strip since Hamas took power there in 2007.
< p>Israel, which has sworn to “annihilate” Hamas, is relentlessly shelling the small besieged territory where 2.4 million inhabitants live in a catastrophic humanitarian situation. The army has been carrying out increasingly deep ground operations there in parallel since October 27, facing Hamas fighters entrenched in a network of tunnels.
The Secretary of State warned against “the forced displacement” of civilians in the Gaza Strip, while Israel has been calling on the population since mid-October to flee the north of the territory, where most of the fighting is concentrated, to take refuge in the south.
On Sunday, the Israeli army once again scattered messages to this effect in the skies of Gaza.
Mr. Blinken also called for an end to “extremist violence” in the West Bank, a Palestinian territory occupied by Israel since 1967. More than 150 Palestinians have been killed there by fire from Israeli soldiers or settlers since October 7, according to the Palestinian Authority.
Fierce fighting once again pitted Israeli soldiers against Hamas on Sunday in the Gaza Strip, where the army continued its advance despite multiple calls for a truce in the face of civilian despair.
Sunday, a flag Israeli blue and white floated on a destroyed building in the north of the territory, in the middle of a field of ruins, according to AFP images shot from the Israeli town of Sderot.
Photo: Yuri Cortez Agence France-Presse An Israeli flag flies in the border town of Sderot as smoke rises above buildings in the Gaza Strip during an Israeli military operation, November 4, 2023.
Images released by the Israeli army showed soldiers, accompanied by tanks and bulldozers, patrolling the rubble or along the Mediterranean coast of the Gaza Strip.
Arab countries allied with the United States United had demanded a ceasefire on Saturday, during a meeting in Amman with the American Secretary of State. But Washington favors “pauses” to deliver humanitarian aid, believing that a ceasefire would “only keep Hamas in place.”
France called on Sunday for a “truce immediate humanitarian response.”
But Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he was opposed to any pause in the war until the hostages held by Hamas had been released.
Antony Blinken was still expected in Turkey on Sunday , where President Recep Tayyip Erdogan declared breaking all contact with Benjamin Netanyahu to protest against the Israeli offensive in Gaza.
The Israeli army said on Sunday it had struck 2,500 targets since the start of ground operations in the Gaza Strip.
During the night, strikes targeted “a Hamas compound housing a command center and observation posts,” the army added, while Israeli soldiers “continue to eliminate terrorists in close combat.”
The army announced that it had “intensified” its operations after surrounding the northern city of Gaza on Thursday in order to destroy the “center” of Hamas, classified as a terrorist organization by the United States, the European Union and Israel.
In the night, the Hamas health ministry said a bombing had killed 45 people, mostly women and children, in the Maghazi refugee camp.
A journalist for the Turkish Anadolu agency, whose two children were killed, told AFP that his house had partially collapsed when an airstrike hit his neighbors' home in this area. camp, causing many victims.
At least 29 Israeli soldiers have been killed since the ground operation began, according to the army, and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant reported “difficult fighting”, vowing to “find” and “to eliminate” Yahya Sinouar, the leader of Hamas in the Gaza Strip.
“The bombs were falling”
Since October 7, 9,770 people, mainly civilians, were killed by Israeli bombings in the Gaza Strip, according to Hamas.
In Israel, where rocket warning sirens sound regularly, at least 1,400 people died according to the authorities, the majority of them civilians killed during the Hamas attack, of a violence and scale unprecedented since the creation of Israel in 1948.
Hamas also holds 241 hostages, according to the army.
On Saturday, another strike left 15 dead, according to Hamas, in a UN school where displaced people were sheltering, in the Jabaliya refugee camp. This camp, the largest in the Gaza Strip, has been hit several times in recent days, as have several other schools transformed into shelters.
“Bombs were falling on us, people were cut into pieces , they are all dead or injured, we want a truce, please, we are exhausted,” implored Sajda Maarouf, taking refuge in a school.
In four weeks, Israeli bombings have caused immense destruction in Gaza and led, according to the UN, to the displacement of 1.5 million people.
Since October 9, Israel has placed this impoverished territory , very densely populated, 362 square kilometers in a state of “complete siege”, cutting off water, electricity and food deliveries. The Gaza Strip had already been subject to an Israeli land, air and sea blockade since 2007.
According to a US official, 350,000 to 400,000 people are still in the north while hundreds of thousands more are massed in the south, near the border with Egypt.
This border has partially opened since October 21 to allow humanitarian convoys to pass through the Rafah crossing point. In total, 450 trucks crossed the border on Saturday, according to the UN, which is calling for more massive aid.
Several hundred injured people, foreigners and dual nationals have been able to leave Gaza for Egypt since on November 1 via Rafah, but the Hamas government decided to suspend these evacuations on Saturday due to Israel's refusal to let other wounded Palestinians leave.
Tensions are also very high in the north of Israel, on the border with southern Lebanon, where exchanges of fire are daily between the Israeli army and the pro-Iranian movement Hezbollah, ally of Hamas.
Since October 7, 76 people died on the Lebanese side, according to an AFP count, including 58 Hezbollah fighters. Six soldiers and a civilian were killed on the Israeli side.