Saïd Khatib Agence France-Presse The father of Muhammad Saleh Farhat, a two-year-old boy, places his body among those of other victims of Israeli bombings on Thursday outside al-Najjar hospital in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip.
Adel Zaanoun – Agence France-Presse and Claire Gounon – Agence France-Presse respectively in the Gaza Strip and Jerusalem
- Middle East
The Fighting raged again on Thursday in and around the largest cities in the Gaza Strip, two months after the start of the war between Israel and Hamas, triggered on October 7 by the bloody attack of the Palestinian Islamist movement on Israeli soil .
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned Wednesday of a “total collapse of law and order soon” in Gaza, which could have “irreversible consequences for the Palestinians as a whole and for peace and security in the region”, angering Israel.
The death toll in the small Palestinian territory, besieged and devastated by Israeli bombings, rose further on Thursday to reach 17,177 deaths, 70% of them women and those under 18, according to the Hamas Ministry of Health.
In Israel, the unprecedented attack carried out by Hamas on October 7 left 1,200 dead, mainly civilians, and 138 hostages are still being held in Gaza, out of around 240 kidnapped on the day of the attack, according to the Israeli authorities.
Supported by airstrikes, tanks and bulldozers, Israeli soldiers clashed with Hamas fighters on Thursday in Khan Yunis, the largest city in the south of the territory, as well as in the north, in Gaza City and the neighboring area. of Jabalia.
In the south, hundreds of thousands of civilians have massed since the start of the war near the closed border with Egypt, fleeing the fighting in the north and facing a catastrophic humanitarian situation.
Some of them have been forced in recent days by the Israeli army to move again, cornered in an increasingly cramped perimeter, fleeing towards the border town of Rafah, as the fighting spread.
In response to the October 7 attack, Israel promised to annihilate Hamas, in power in the Gaza Strip since 2007, classified as a terrorist organization by the United States, the European Union and Israel, and launched an intense campaign of air strikes on Palestinian territory, coupled since October 27 with a ground offensive.
Since the resumption of fighting on December 1 after a seven-day truce, the army has extended its ground offensive, carried out in the north during the first phase of the war, to the southern part of the territory, and has tightened its grip around from the main urban centers of Gaza.
In total, 87 Israeli soldiers have been killed since the start of the ground offensive in Gaza, according to the army.
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Pray and cry
In the north, dozens of Israeli tanks and armored vehicles entered the old city of Gaza . In Khan Yunis, the army announced Thursday that it had “killed Hamas terrorists and struck dozens of terrorist targets.”
At Al-Aqsa Hospital in Gaza City, 115 bodies are arrived within 24 hours, according to Doctors Without Borders.
In Rafah, in the morgue of al-Najjar hospital, around twenty corpses wrapped in white plastic, including the very small ones of many children, were lying on the ground, surrounded by their loved ones who were praying and crying. /p>
The Israeli human rights NGO B'Tselem denounced a humanitarian crisis directly “wanted” by Israel, as a “means of putting pressure on Hamas.”
In Rafah , thousands of displaced people have set up makeshift camps, trying to survive in extreme destitution.
Abdullah Abou Daqqa, from Khan Younes, and now in Rafah, is at the end of his rope: “For two months, we have been moving from one place to another, it was the hardest two months. We have lost a lot […], money, children and we have lost ourselves.”
He implores: “It is in no one's interest to prolong this war , and we are very tired, we sleep in the street.”
Also arriving in Rafah, Ahmad Hajjaj, from the Chati camp in the north, describes a situation which continues to worsen: “We have no basic necessities, the situation is getting worse day by day, and there is no political solution on the horizon.”
Health system “on its knees”
The Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO), Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, spoke on X (formerly Twitter) of a health system “on its knees” in the Gaza Strip, where most hospitals in the north are not functioning more while those in the south, overwhelmed by the influx of thousands of wounded, are on the verge of collapse.
The Gaza Strip was placed under total siege by Israel on October 9, which has caused serious shortages of water, food, medicine, electricity.
There is a shortage of fuel, necessary for the operation of generators in hospitals and water desalination equipment. too.
The Israeli government, whose green light is necessary for the entry of aid from Egypt, has however authorized the delivery of a “minimal supplement” of fuel to Gaza to avoid a “humanitarian collapse” and epidemics, two days after a call to this effect from the United States, its main ally.
According to the UN, 1.9 million people, or around 85% of the population, have been displaced by the war in the Gaza Strip where more than half of the homes are destroyed or damaged.
The town of Rafah is the only place where humanitarian aid is still distributed, in limited quantities, according to the UN.
On Wednesday, 80 trucks carrying food and fuel reached there, compared to 170 per day on average during the truce and 500 before October 7, according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).
“We are trying to increase humanitarian aid,” assured COGAT, an agency of the Israeli Ministry of Defense overseeing civilian activities in the Palestinian Territories.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Wednesday that Israeli forces were “surrounding the house” in Khan Younes of Yahya Sinouar, the Hamas leader in the Gaza Strip believed to be the architect of the October 7 attack.
“Sinwar is hiding underground,” said army spokesman Daniel Hagari, referring to Hamas tunnels in Gaza.
There “where my daughter died”
Two months after the October 7 attack, a temporary exhibition opened to the public in Tel Aviv on Thursday dedicated to the memory of the 364 people killed by Hamas fighters while participating in the Tribe of Nova music festival in the south of Israel.
Wednesday evening, relatives of victims strolled in silence in this identical reproduction of the festival site.
Among the bereaved parents, Amit Zender , 63, wearing a t-shirt displaying the photo of his daughter Noa and the dates “2000-2023”.
“I came to see what this festival where my daughter died looks like” , he confided, calling for a “permanent museum”.
The war has also reignited tensions on the border between Israel and Lebanon, where exchanges of fire are daily between the Israeli army and the Lebanese Shiite Hezbollah, an ally of Hamas. The Israeli army and emergency services announced Thursday the death of an Israeli civilian, killed in northern Israel by an anti-tank missile attack claimed by Hezbollah.