Photo: Mohammed Abed Agence France-Presse Palestinians mourn the loss of a loved one killed in an Israeli bombing on Wednesday outside a hospital in Rafah.
Adel Zaanoun – Agence France-Presse and Béatrice Le Bohec – Agence France-Presse respectively in the Gaza Strip and Jerusalem
- Middle East
Efforts are intensifying for a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip, where fighting and deadly Israeli raids continued Thursday despite a dire humanitarian situation.
Witnesses reported Israeli strikes near the Nasser hospital in Khan Younès, the large city in the south of the territory, partly destroyed, where according to Israel local leaders of the Palestinian Islamist movement are hiding .
Hamas leader Ismaïl Haniyeh, who lives in exile in Qatar, is expected in Egypt on Thursday or Friday to discuss a new cessation of fighting, almost four months after the start of the unleashed war by the bloody attack by the Palestinian Islamist movement against Israel on October 7.
These discussions are expected to focus on a proposal made during a recent meeting in Paris between CIA Director William Burns and Egyptian, Israeli and Qatari officials.
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A six-week truce
According to a Hamas source, the Islamist movement is examining a proposal in three phases, the first of which provides for a six-week truce during which Israel will have to release between 200 and 300 Palestinian prisoners in exchange for 35 to 40 hostages held in Gaza, and 200 to 300 aid trucks will be able to enter the Palestinian territory every day.
Some 250 people were kidnapped and taken to the Gaza Strip on the day of the Hamas attack, around a hundred of whom were released at the end of November following a first truce, in exchange for prisoners Palestinians detained by Israel. According to Israeli authorities, 132 hostages remain held in Gaza, of whom 29 are believed to have died.
To support efforts for a second truce, the head of American diplomacy Antony Blinken will return “in the coming days” to the Middle East, an American official indicated.
For the moment, Hamas, considered a terrorist organization by Israel, the United States and the European Union, is demanding a total ceasefire as a prerequisite for any agreement, particularly on the release of hostages.
The Israeli government, for its part, is talking about a possible truce but continues to affirm that it will only end its offensive in Gaza once Hamas has been eliminated, the hostages released and after having received guarantees on Israel's future security.
“We are working to obtain another agreement for the release of our hostages, but not at any price,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Tuesday evening, under pressure from both the families hostages for release and members of his government, hostile to an agreement which they believe would be too generous for the Palestinians.
The war broke out on October 7 when Hamas commandos infiltrated from Gaza carried out an unprecedented attack on Israeli soil, which left around 1,140 people dead, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally based on official figures. Israelis.
In response, Israel vowed to “annihilate” Hamas, in power in Gaza since 2007, and launched a military offensive which left 27,019 dead, the vast majority civilians, according to the Ministry of Defense. the Health of the Palestinian movement which counted 119 deaths in 24 hours on Thursday.
“On the brink of the abyss”
The army, for its part, announced that it had “eliminated dozens of terrorists » Wednesday in the Gaza Strip and destroyed “a long-range missile launcher” in Khan Younes.
In the devastated Palestinian territory, completely besieged by Israel and become “uninhabitable”, according to the UN, the population is “dying of starvation” and “being pushed to the brink”, denounced a World Health Organization official (WHO), Michael Ryan.
The UN agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA) said on Thursday that it was under threat of having to cease its activities “by the end of February”. A dozen donor countries suspended their contributions to the agency after Israel accused 12 of its employees of involvement in the October 7 attack.
In Khan Younes, a WHO mission tried this week to deliver food to the Nasser hospital, the city's largest, caught in a combat zone, but “the food was taken from trucks by a desperate crowd,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Gebreyesus recounted on Wednesday.
In this hospital which lacks all basic equipment, where unsanitary conditions favor the spread of diseases, overwhelmed doctors try to cope with the influx of injured people.
“There are no more than five or six doctors in the emergency room. Each of us has to take care of ten cases at the same time. The injured who arrive die before we can take care of them,” a doctor, Mahmoud Raja Abou Chamala, testified to AFP.
The war has forced 1.7 million Gaza residents, according to the UN, out of a total of 2.4 million, to flee their homes.
Most headed south as the fighting spread. More than 1.3 million displaced people, according to the UN, are now crowded into Rafah, trapped against the closed border with Egypt.
Outside of Gaza, the conflict still risks igniting other regions of the Middle East. Yemen's Houthi rebels, who since mid-November have been targeting international shipping in “solidarity” with Gaza, claimed responsibility for an overnight attack on an American ship in the Gulf of Aden.
Shortly afterwards, Washington announced that it had destroyed ten attack drones and a Houthi command post in Yemen. An explosion also occurred near a ship off the coast of Yemen, according to a British shipping agency.