The toll of the war between Israel and Hamas continues to rise dizzyingly, with thousands of deaths recorded in total, on the fifth day of the surprise attack launched by the movement Palestinian Islamist from Gaza.
Israel announced on Tuesday that it had partially regained control of its border with the Gaza Strip, under siege and shelled by Israeli raids. And in the north, the Israeli army struck Syria and southern Lebanon in response to rocket fire.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu described the massive offensive launched by Hamas against Israel on Saturday as “savagery not seen since the Holocaust”, promising that his country would “win with force, enormous force”. p>
The offensive has sparked multiple international condemnations as well as concerns over the possibility of a ground assault on Gaza.
The Israeli state, which announced the evacuation of border areas, imposed a “total siege” on Gaza and suspended water, electricity and food supplies to the Palestinian enclave.
The death toll from attacks in Israel has risen to “more than 1,000” deaths, the Israeli army announced Tuesday evening. More than 2,800 people were injured and 50 people are officially listed as “hostages or missing”.
On the Palestinian side, 900 people died and more than 4,500 were injured, according to local authorities. Hamas announced that two of its senior officials had been killed by Israeli strikes.
The Israeli army also announced on Tuesday that it had recovered the bodies of 1,500 Hamas fighters in areas neighboring Gaza.
On Tuesday, salvos of rockets, claimed by Hamas, were fired again since southern Lebanon towards Israel, provoking a response from the Israeli state which says it has targeted positions of the pro-Iranian Hezbollah, an ally of the Palestinian movement.
Destruction in Ashkelon, southern Israel, after a Hamas rocket attack from the Gaza Strip, October 10, 2023 © AFP – JACK GUEZ
On another front, the Israeli army said having fired shells Tuesday evening at neighboring Syria from the Golan Heights in response to “firing” of projectiles on this territory occupied by Israel since 1967.
The Israeli Air Force also indicated on Wednesday that “dozens of combat aircraft recently attacked more than 200 targets in the Al Furkan neighborhood” in Gaza City.
Hamas, which has controlled the Gaza Strip since 2007, threatening to execute hostages kidnapped in Israel, including young people captured during a music festival.
– One hundred dead in a kibbutz –
The fighters who burst into this festival on Saturday massacred 250 people, and also killed “more than 100 people” in the Beeri kibbutz alone, according to the NGO Zaka, which participated in the collection of bodies. .
< /p> Israeli soldiers in position in Kfar Aza, on the border with Gaza, on October 10, 2023 in southern Israel © AFP – Thomas COEX
“They were shooting at everyone”, “they murdered children, babies, elderly people, everyone in cold blood,” testified Moti Bukjin, spokesperson for the NGO.
At dawn on Saturday, after crossing the border barrier that Israel considered impassable, hundreds of Hamas fighters rushed into localities in the south of the country, going from house to house, shooting down citizens or kidnapping them. /p>
During this land, air and sea offensive of an unprecedented scale since the birth of the State of Israel in 1948, carried out in the middle of Shabbat, the weekly Jewish rest, and on the last day of the Sukkot holidays, Hamas fired thousands of rockets.
At al-Shifa hospital in Gaza, October 10, 2023 © AFP – Mohammed ABED
The attack caused astonishment in Israel where it is compared to the attacks of September 11, 2001.
Since then, the Israeli army has been shelling Gaza, a poor and cramped strip of land, landlocked along the Mediterranean, where 2.3 million inhabitants are crowded together and where entire streets have now been transformed into fields of ruins. p>
Israel has mobilized 300,000 reservists and deployed tens of thousands of troops around Gaza, as well as on its border with Lebanon.
– A “terrifying scene” –
Israeli missile fire in an attempt to intercept a Hamas rocket, in Ashkelon, October 10, 2023 © AFP – JACK GUEZ
The Israeli army has “more or less regained control of the border fence ” with Gaza, “but infiltrations can still happen,” said its spokesperson, Lieutenant-Colonel Richard Hecht.
Tuesday evening, she also announced having killed “three Palestinian terrorists” during an exchange of fire with soldiers in Ashkelon, a town in southern Israel located about fifteen kilometers from Gaza.
Unreservedly taking on the role of Israel's primary supporter, American President Joe Biden hammered home Tuesday in a vigorous speech that he would help the Israeli state defend itself against “pure evil.”
Hamas denounced “inflammatory” remarks, judging that the American president was trying to “cover up Israel's crimes”.
American Secretary of State Antony Blinken is expected in Israel on Thursday.
< /p> A Palestinian carries the body of a child killed by an Israeli strike, during a funeral in Khan Yunis, in the south of the Gaza Strip, on October 10, 2023 © AFP – SAID KHATIB
In hospitals, the situation is catastrophic. Gaza's al-Chifa hospital is overflowing with wounded. “Some die long before” being able to be treated, says a doctor.
In Khan Younes, in the south of the Gaza Strip, a distraught man carried the white-draped body of a child, while remains were piled in the back of a pick-up truck.
The UN said the total siege of the Gaza Strip, where more than 263,000 people have already been displaced by war, was “prohibited” by international humanitarian law.
Faced with the offensive, in a country marked by deep fractures, Benjamin Netanyahu called on Monday “the opposition leaders to immediately form a government of national unity”.
– “Ghost town” –
In major Israeli cities, life seems to be at a standstill. Tables and chairs remain empty in several restaurants in a Tel Aviv market. Jerusalem “is a ghost town,” summarizes Mary Bahba, a Palestinian forty-year-old.
< /p> Attack against Israel: the means used by Hamas © AFP – Sophie RAMIS, Emmanuelle MICHEL
The Hamas offensive was launched 50 years and one day after the 1973 Arab-Israeli war which had took Israel by surprise and left 2,600 dead on the Israeli side in three weeks.
The Al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas, announced that they had launched this major offensive to “put an end to the crimes of the occupation “, in reference to the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories.
Israel withdrew its troops and evacuated settlers from the Gaza Strip in 2005 after having occupied this territory since 1967.
But it has maintained control of airspace and territorial waters and imposed a blockade since 2007, strictly controlling the passage of goods and people between Israel and the enclave.
All rights of reproduction and representation reserved. © (2023) Agence France-Presse