Mohammed Abed Agence France-Presse Palestinians search the rubble of a building bombed by the Israeli army in the hope of finding survivors.
Long-awaited humanitarian aid for Palestinians stranded in the Gaza Strip is expected to begin flowing into the Gaza Strip on Friday, Egyptian media reported Thursday, the 13th day of a deadly war between Israel and Hamas that continues despite intense diplomatic activity.
The Israeli army continued to shell the Gaza Strip on Thursday, in response to the unprecedented attack carried out on October 7 on Israeli soil by the Palestinian movement Hamas which rules over this territory from where rockets were also fired at Israel, according to AFP journalists.
More than 1,400 people have since been killed on Israeli territory by Hamas men, the majority of them civilians who were shot, burned alive or died of mutilation on the first day of the attack, according to Israeli authorities. According to the Israeli army, around 1,500 Hamas fighters were killed in the counter-offensive which allowed Israel to regain control of the attacked areas. The number of Hamas hostages was revised upwards to 203 people on Thursday.
On the Palestinian side, more than 3,700 people, mostly civilians, were killed in the incessant bombings carried out in retaliation by the Israeli army, according to a latest report from local authorities.
The Egyptian channel AlQahera News affirms that the “Rafah” crossing point (between Egypt and the Gaza Strip, the only one not controlled by Israel, editor’s note), will open tomorrow” Friday, without giving more details on the aid that will pass through.
In Cairo, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Thursday pleaded for “rapid and unimpeded humanitarian access” of humanitarian aid to Gaza, calling for an “immediate humanitarian ceasefire.”
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The American President, Joe Biden, who was visiting Israel on Wednesday, claimed to have obtained from Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sissi to “let until 20 trucks cross”, a totally insufficient number according to the WHO.
Humanitarian aid convoys, which must go to this cramped strip of land where 2.4 million Palestinians live, have been blocked for days at the Rafah crossing point, the only one not controlled by Israel.
“It’s been hard for three nights, but last night was the hardest,” Gaza City resident Umm Mohamed Abu Ziada told AFP on Thursday.
< h2 class="h2-intertitre">“Up to 20 trucks”
Entire neighborhoods have been razed and left without water, food or electricity, and more than a million people have been displaced after Israel's October 9 siege on Gaza, already under a land, sea and air blockade since Hamas took power there in 2007.
At the Rafah crossing between Egypt and Gaza, Egyptians repaired damage from Israeli bombings on Thursday in preparation for the passage of aid trucks, according to witnesses. And dozens of people gathered in the hope of a reopening of the crossing point.
“We are ready with our bags,” assures Mohammed, 40, who works for an Italian institution and has been waiting for three days with his family to be able to leave.
“We want to get as many trucks through as possible. There are, I think around 150,” the American president said on Wednesday evening. But “if Hamas does not let them pass (…) then it will be over,” he warned.
On Wednesday, Mr. Biden exonerated Israel for the deadly strike against the Ahli Arab hospital in Gaza, for which the Israeli army and Hamas blame each other.
This strike caused at least 471 deaths among those displaced by the conflict who were sheltering within the hospital grounds, according to the Ministry of Health of the Palestinian territory. Probably much less, however, said a senior European intelligence official, interviewed by AFP, who estimated the number of deaths from this strike on Tuesday evening at “a few dozen”.
An Israeli army spokesperson also disputed the number put forward by Hamas: “Where are all the bodies? “, he said.
AFP photos and videos show dozens of bodies in sheets, black body bags or under blankets.
Joe Biden, who claims to have convincing evidence from the Pentagon, spoke of an “out of control rocket fired by a terrorist group in Gaza”, echoing the Israeli version.
Israel claimed to have “evidence” that Islamic Jihad, another Palestinian movement, was responsible for the hospital strike.
A spokesperson for Israeli army chief Jonathan Conricus reiterated that it was “not an Israeli bomb because there is no crater in the photos” during a press briefing overnight from Wednesday to Thursday.
According to Islamic Jihad, a group allied with Hamas, classified like it as a terrorist organization by the United States, the European Union and Israel, it was a bomb dropped by an Israeli army plane which caused the tragedy.< /p>
On the diplomatic level, several countries are working to avoid a regional conflagration. Visiting Israel, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak on Thursday expressed his support for the country but called for speeding up the entry of humanitarian aid into Gaza.
The Egyptian president and King Abdullah II of Jordan have called for an “immediate end” to the conflict in the Gaza Strip while accusing Israel of inflicting “collective punishment” on the territory aimed at “starving” Palestinians and “force displacement,” according to Amman.
These two countries, which have often played mediators between Israelis and Palestinians, have been warning for several days against a “forced displacement” of Palestinians on their soil.< /p>
German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock began a new tour of the Middle East on Thursday.
Tension also remains high on the border with Lebanon, where there are daily exchanges of fire between the Israeli army and Lebanese Hezbollah, an ally of Hamas. Washington and London on Thursday called on their nationals to leave Lebanon.
Thursday evening, President Biden must address the Americans from the White House to try to unite them behind Israel and Ukraine, countries at war against Russia which invaded its territory in early 2022.