Photo: Mahmud Hams Agence France-Presse According to the army, fighting raged on Tuesday “in the west” of Khan Younes, a now largely destroyed city that Israel considers a Hamas stronghold. Palestinians are seen fleeing the city on Tuesday, with smoke from bombings in the background.
Adel Zaanoun – Agence France-Presse and Chloé Rouveyrolles-Bazire – Agence France-Presse respectively in the Gaza Strip and Jerusalem
- Middle East
Bombings and fighting between the Israeli army and Hamas have left dozens dead in 24 hours in the Gaza Strip, where the Palestinian Islamist movement said on Tuesday it was examining a proposed truce agreement with Israel.< /p>
The Hamas Ministry of Health announced Tuesday the deaths of 128 people in the territory, including dozens in Khan Younes, the large city in southern Gaza that became the epicenter of the war that began on the 7th. October by the bloody attack of the Islamist movement against Israel.
The Israeli army admitted to flooding the tunnels dug by Hamas in the basement of Gaza in order to “neutralize” them, one of the tactical objectives of the war, ensuring that it did not compromise access to drinking water for the civilian population.
“Large volumes of water” are being sent into the tunnels, the military said.
Hamas, which took power in the territory in 2007, has dug this maze of galleries from which its fighters can emerge. Freed Israeli hostages also claimed to have been held there.
“Multiple reprisals” against Iran
According to the army, the fighting raged on Tuesday “in west” of Khan Younes, a now largely destroyed city that Israel considers a Hamas stronghold, where “terrorists were eliminated and large quantities of weapons found”.
“Important military operations” were taking place in particular in Khan Younes near the Nasser hospital, the largest in the south of the Gaza Strip, the Director General of the Organization declared on X World Health Organization (WHO), Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
The Palestinian Red Crescent claimed that Israeli tanks stationed in the courtyard of its hospital in Khan Younes, al-Amal Hospital, opened fire on Tuesday “on the displaced and staff”. An army spokesperson told AFP that he was not aware of such shootings.
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Faced with the risks of extension of the conflict, American President Joe Biden assured Tuesday that he was not “looking” for a “wider war in the Middle East”, after a drone strike, attributed to pro-fighters. Iran, which killed three American soldiers on Sunday in Jordan, near the Syrian border.
Joe Biden said he held Iran “responsible” for providing the weapons necessary for this strike, following which the United States is considering “multiple retaliations”, according to the White House.
Proposal for a truce without withdrawal of the army
After almost four months of war, the leader of Hamas, Qatar-based Ismaïl Haniyeh said Tuesday that his movement had received a proposal for a truce with Israel, the result of a meeting in Paris between CIA Director William Burns and Egyptian, Israeli and Qatari officials.
“Hamas is examining the proposal” and preparing its response, according to a statement in Gaza from the movement, considered a terrorist organization by the United States, Canada, the European Union and Israel.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, however, affirmed on Tuesday that Israel would not “withdraw the army from the Gaza Strip” and would not release “thousands of Palestinian terrorists”, in exchange for 'hostages.
The war was triggered on October 7 by an unprecedented attack by Hamas on Israeli soil, which left around 1,140 dead, mostly civilians, according to an AFP count based on figures Israeli officials.
Some 250 people were kidnapped and taken to the Gaza Strip, around a hundred of whom were released at the end of November under a truce in exchange for Palestinian prisoners. According to Israeli authorities, 132 hostages remain held in Gaza, 28 of whom are presumed dead.
In response, Israel vowed to “annihilate” Hamas and launched a vast military operation which left 26,751 dead, the vast majority civilians, according to the Palestinian movement's Ministry of Health.
Israel still accuses UNRWA
In the territory devastated and besieged by Israel, in the grip of a humanitarian crisis major, the bombings pushed 1.7 million Palestinians, according to the UN, out of a total of 2.4 million inhabitants, 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, a few kilometers south of Khan Younes, trapped against the closed border with Egypt.
Adding to the population's distress, the civilian aid operations of the UN agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA) are under threat after Israel accused 12 of its 30,000 regional employees of involvement in the attack of October 7.
The Israeli government on Tuesday accused UNRWA of letting Hamas “use its infrastructure” to carry out its military activities.
Thirteen countries have announced that they are suspending their aid to this agency, which has fired most of the employees concerned and promised an investigation.
No organization is “capable” of “replacing the enormous capacity, the fabric of UNRWA, and their knowledge of the population of Gaza”, declared Tuesday in New York the UN humanitarian coordinator for territory, Sigrid Kaag.
A meeting of major donors is scheduled for 5:00 p.m. in New York at the initiative of UN Secretary-General Antònio Guterres to try to maintain funding for the organization.< /p>
“Without this funding, the outlook for UNRWA and the millions of people it helps is very bleak,” said Guterres spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric.