Yasser Qudih Agence France-Presse Since Friday, thousands of residents of the Gaza Strip have been fleeing by all means to through the ruins.
Adel Zaanoun – Agence France-Presse and Benoît Finck – Agence France-Presse Respectively in the Gaza Strip and Jerusalem
October 14, 2023
- Middle East
Israel continues its preparations for an offensive in northern Gaza on Sunday, after granting residents additional time on Saturday to evacuate the area, a week after Hamas' unprecedented attack on its soil.
< p>Israel responded to this attack carried out on October 7 by the Palestinian Islamist movement, in power in the Gaza Strip, by massively bombarding this territory, from where rockets continue to be fired by Hamas towards Israeli territory.
While awaiting this offensive for which Israel said it was preparing, the army on Friday called on Gazan civilians in the north of the territory – 1.1 million people out of a total of 2.4 million inhabitants – to reach the South, and urged them on Saturday not to “delay”.
An army spokesperson, however, assured Saturday evening that the ground offensive would not start on Sunday, for humanitarian reasons.< /p>
More than 1,300 people were killed by Hamas commandos, mostly civilians, including children, and at least 120 people were taken hostage, according to Israeli officials. Hundreds of people remain missing, and bodies are still being identified.
The Israeli response has killed more than 2,200 people, including more than 700 children, in the Gaza Strip, a territory poor controlled by the Islamist organization. It left more than 8,700 injured, according to Hamas.
According to the Israeli army, the center of operations of the Palestinian Islamist movement, classified as a terrorist organization by the United States, the European Union and Israel, is in Gaza City, in the north of the enclave.
Several voices have been raised within the international community to express their concern about this evacuation in an overpopulated territory which has been placed under strict siege since the Hamas attacks.
< h4>Also read
- Our complete coverage of the war between Israel and Hamas
- Live | The latest news on the Israel-Hamas war
On Saturday evening, US President Joe Biden told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that the United States was working with the UN and countries in the Middle East “to ensure that innocent civilians have access to water, food and medical care.”
He also assured Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas of his “full support” in his efforts to provide humanitarian aid to the Palestinians, “especially in Gaza.”
Earlier, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called for “immediate” humanitarian access to this small strip of land, which has been under an Israeli blockade for more than 15 years.
Since Friday, By the thousands, residents are fleeing by all means, some belongings piled up hastily, on trailers, carts, on motorbikes, by car, through the ruins.
On Saturday night, the World Health Organization (WHO) warned that the forced evacuation of more than 2,000 patients to overwhelmed facilities in southern Gaza could be “the equivalent of a death sentence “.
“Health structures are already at maximum capacity and are incapable of absorbing a considerable increase in the number of patients,” argued the UN agency.
“It will continue”
The Israeli army announced on Saturday evening that it had found “corpses” of hostages kidnapped by Hamas during incursions into the Gaza Strip , without further details.
Hamas had earlier reported 22 hostages killed in Israeli bombings.
Benjamin Netanyahu visited Israeli troops near the Gaza Strip on Saturday. “Are you ready for what’s coming? This will continue,” he told several soldiers.
Faced with the risk of regional conflagration, the United States announced on Saturday the sending of a second aircraft carrier to the eastern Mediterranean “to deter hostile actions against Israel,” according to American Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin.
The Hamas attack and the war it sparked have stoked fears of an extension of the conflict and a humanitarian catastrophe for the population of Gaza, deprived of water, electricity or food supplies. , and where hundreds of thousands of people have already been displaced.
Hamas leader Ismaïl Haniyeh on Saturday accused Israel of “war crimes” in Gaza and said he refused the “displacement” of the Palestinians. The Palestinian movement is for its part regularly accused by Israel of using civilians as human shields.
Israel announced the death of two Hamas military leaders, responsible according to the army for the attack on 7 October.
Saudi Arabia announced on Saturday that it was suspending discussions on possible normalization with Israel and called for an “immediate ceasefire.”
In his phone call with Mr. Biden, Mr. Abbas stressed the need for “the opening of humanitarian corridors in the Gaza Strip,” according to the Palestinian news agency Wafa.
The president Brazilian Lula and his Egyptian counterpart Abdel Fattah al-Sisi agreed on the need to authorize the entry of emergency humanitarian aid into Gaza, according to a press release from the Brazilian presidency.
L Egypt controls the only opening into Gaza not under Israeli control, the currently closed Rafah crossing.
Tension is also high on Israel's northern border, where the Israeli army announced on Saturday that it had killed “several terrorists” who were trying to infiltrate.
« Errors »
A Reuters video journalist was killed and six other journalists from AFP, Reuters and Al-Jazeera were injured in bombings in southern Lebanon on Friday.
The Israeli army deplored this death on Saturday and said it was “investigating”, without explicitly recognizing responsibility. The Lebanese army accused it of being responsible for the shooting.
Israel also indicated that it had struck Syria with artillery on Saturday evening after air alerts in the part of the Golan Heights annexed by Israel in 1967. An NGO also announced that an “Israeli strike” had hit Aleppo airport, injuring five people.
By dawn on October 7, in the middle of Shabbat, the weekly Jewish rest, hundreds of Hamas fighters had infiltrated Israel in vehicles and by air from Gaza.
They killed more than a thousand civilians, sowing terror under a barrage of rockets during this attack on a scale unprecedented since the creation of Israel in 1948. Around 270 people, according to the authorities, were shot or burned in their cars in a music festival.
“We escaped by a miracle, but there are friends we love,” said a 24-year-old young woman, Lior Gelbaum, in a choked voice to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken who went to meet the survivors on Saturday .
The Israeli government's national security adviser on Saturday acknowledged “errors” by the intelligence services ahead of the attacks.
Families of the hostages launched an appeal on Saturday evening for help, demanding an agreement between Hamas and the Red Cross “by midnight” to urgently deliver the medicines their loved ones need.
Concern is increasingly acute for the inhabitants of the Gaza Strip, a territory of 362 square kilometers.
Near the Egyptian border, dozens of displaced Gazan families have taken over a school of United Nations, piling up laundry, mattresses and packages in classes and the playground, noted an AFP journalist.
Further north, it is in the courtyard of the Nasser hospital, in Khan Younes where thousands of displaced people are piling up. “It’s a disaster, there is nothing to eat, we don’t know where to sleep, we don’t know what to do and where to go,” laments Juma Nasser, a forty-year-old.
More 423,000 Palestinians have already left their homes, and 5,540 homes have been destroyed, according to the UN.
Palestinians trying to flee to the south of the territory through an area that the Israeli army had presented as secure were killed in Israeli strikes, witnesses and Hamas officials said Saturday.