Israel has stepped up its efforts its offensive against the Gaza Strip and warned that its war against Hamas would be “long and difficult”, despite calls to a de-escalation in the face of "intolerable suffering" Palestinian civilian populations according to the Red Cross.
Since Friday evening, the Israeli army has been operating on the ground with soldiers and armored vehicles, while continuing to intensify its bombings against the 362 km2 territory, in retaliation for the bloody attack by the Palestinian Islamist movement on its soil on October 7 .
Since this date, 1,400 people have died on the Israeli side, mainly civilians, according to local authorities.
Hamas, in power in Gaza since 2007, claims that more than 8,000 Palestinians, half of them children, have been killed in Israeli bombings since the start of the conflict just over three weeks ago.
A “large number” still died overnight from Saturday to Sunday during airstrikes on two refugee camps in northern Gaza, he added.
Earlier, the Israeli command had warned residents of the cities of Ashdod and Ashkelon, in southern Israel, against missile and rocket attacks. The emergency services reported no casualties, but three people were injured during the day after other shots from Gaza.
– “Catastrophic failure” –
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres deplored on Saturday the “unprecedented escalation of bombings” which “compromise humanitarian objectives”, once again calling for an immediate ceasefire.
Residents of Tel Aviv, in northern Israel, take shelter during a rocket attack, October 27, 2023 © AFP – GIL COHEN-MAGEN
The president of the International Committee of the Cross- Red (ICRC) Mirjana Spoljaric said on Saturday she was “shocked by the intolerable level of human suffering”.
“It is unacceptable that civilians have no safe place to go in Gaza amid massive bombardment, and with the military siege in place, no adequate humanitarian response is currently possible,” she added. said, denouncing “a catastrophic failure that the world must not tolerate.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu estimated that “the war in the Gaza Strip will be long and difficult and we are ready for it” Saturday during a press conference, adding that his army “will destroy the enemy on land and underground.”
© AFP – Aris MESSINIS
A reference to the network of hundreds of kilometers of underground tunnels, from where Hamas directs its operations, according to Israel.
Now begins “the second stage of the war, the objective of which is clear: destroy the military capabilities and leadership of Hamas; bring the hostages home”, affirmed Mr. Netanyahu after meeting the families of Hamas captives , whose number Israel estimates at 230.
– “Families want answers” -
Their loved ones are increasingly unhappy with the “absolute uncertainty” they face. are faced with their fate, particularly during the intensive bombings, said Haim Rubinstein, their spokesperson. “Families are not sleeping, they want answers, they deserve answers.”
A young girl holds a bloody sheet during a pro-Palestinian demonstration in New York on October 28, 2023 © AFP – Adam GRAY
Only four women have been released to date. Hamas, which had threatened to execute hostages, estimates the number of them killed in the bombings to be “nearly 50”.
The leader of Hamas in Gaza, Yahya Sinouar, who spoke on Saturday evening for the first time since October 7, declared that he was ready “to immediately conclude an exchange to release all the prisoners in the prisons of the Zionist enemy against all the hostages.”
The Israeli army on Saturday repeated its call for residents of the northern city of Gaza to “immediately leave” towards the south, saying it now considers this city and its region a “battlefield”, while the The UN lists 1.4 million displaced people.
In the Shati refugee camp, on the outskirts of Gaza City, the bombings caused significant damage.
” What happened in Chati is worse than an earthquake,” resident Alaa Mahdi, 54, told AFP. “It was bombing everywhere, the navy, the artillery and the planes. Who are they hitting, the resistance? No, the poor people.”
The Israeli army reported “several Hamas terrorists killed” including a leader “having taken part in the organization of the October 7 massacre.”
Israel wants to “annihilate” the Islamist movement, in reprisals for the attack of October 7. That day, in the middle of Shabbat, the weekly Jewish rest, hundreds of Hamas fighters infiltrated from Gaza onto Israeli soil, where they carried out the deadliest attack in Israeli history.
– Recall of diplomats –
The intensification of bombings on Gaza coincided with a communications and internet outage, further complicating the task of humanitarian workers.
The network is being restored on Sunday morning, network monitoring organization Netblocks announced. . An AFP collaborator in Gaza City confirmed that he could access the internet and the mobile network, and had managed to contact people in the south of the territory.
Since October 9, Israel has imposed a “total siege” on Gaza, cutting off supplies of water, electricity and food, while the territory where 2.4 million inhabitants are crowded was already subject to an Israeli land blockade. , air and sea since 2007.
Medication is also lacking and certain surgical operations are carried out without completely putting patients to sleep, including amputations, due to the shortage of anesthetic products, Doctors Without Borders warned on Saturday ( MSF).
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Saturday called Israel a “war criminal” and accused the West of being “the main culprit of the massacres in Gaza.” Israel reacted by recalling its diplomats.
Saudi Arabia denounced an “unjustified” violation of international law and Oman accused Israel of “war crimes.”
Tens of thousands people demonstrated in support of the Palestinians in London on Saturday, and thousands in Paris, Zurich and the United States.
The north of the Gaza Strip © AFP – Simon MALFATTO
The international community fears a regional conflagration, while Iran, support of Hamas and Lebanese Hezbollah, has issued warnings in the United States, a close ally of Israel.
Tension is also very high in the West Bank occupied since 1967, where more than 100 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli soldiers or settlers since October 7.
On Israel's border with Lebanon, where exchanges of fire are almost daily between the Israeli army and Hezbollah, the headquarters of the UN peacekeepers in southern Lebanon was hit Saturday by a shell, without causing any casualties. On the other hand, a peacekeeper was slightly injured near Hula by bombings, UNIFIL announced during the night.
All rights of reproduction and representation reserved. © (2023) Agence France-Presse