Ohad Zwigenberg Associated Press Israeli troops were heading towards the border of the Gaza Strip, Sunday October 15, 2023.
Adel Zaanoun – Agence France-Presse and Claire Gounon – Agence France-Presse Respectively in the Gaza Strip and Jerusalem
October 15, 2023
- Middle East
More than a million people were displaced in one week in the Gaza Strip after destructive Israeli raids, as the army prepares for a likely ground offensive against Palestinian Hamas, responsible for the deadliest attack in Israel's history.
More than 1,400 people, mostly civilians, including children, were killed in Israel in this attack launched at dawn on October 7 by Hamas commandos, in power in Gaza, according to a latest Israeli report provided on Sunday. p>
Hamas authorities also announced a rising death toll, reporting at least 2,450 people, including hundreds of children, killed in Israeli retaliatory strikes which devastated neighborhoods in Gaza.< /p>
Some 126 people were kidnapped by Hamas, according to the latest figures provided by Israel, which announced that it had found “corpses” of hostages during incursions into the Gaza Strip. Hamas reported 22 hostages killed in Israeli strikes.
The Israeli army, which has massed its troops along its border with the Gaza Strip, confirmed that it was preparing to a “next step” in its retaliatory operation, saying it is awaiting a “political decision.”
The Arab League and African Union have warned that a ground offensive against the Gaza Strip “could lead to genocide.” And Iran, a Hamas ally, has warned that “no one can guarantee control of the situation and the prospect of a widening of the conflict” if Israel invades Gaza.
As of Friday, Israel ceases to urge Gaza residents living in the north of the territory to flee to the south as quickly as possible.
Despite Hamas's opposition to this evacuation, a million residents of this Palestinian territory, which counts 2.4, have been displaced since the start of the conflict and the Israeli strikes, announced the UN.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has equated the ongoing “displacement” with the exodus of some 760,000 Palestinians to the 1948 creation of the State of Israel, with Egypt and Jordan opposing each other. their part in any further dispersal of Palestinians from their lands.
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Israel says it is targeting the northern city of Gaza to destroy the operations center of the Hamas movement, classified as a “terrorist” organization by the United States and the European Union. The army announced on Sunday the death in strikes of a third Hamas military leader, responsible according to it for the October 7 attack.
But also in the South, where displaced people are flocking by the tens of thousands, lacking everything, the strikes continue, according to residents. In Rafah, at dawn, a doctor's house “was targeted, the whole family was wiped out,” says a neighbor, Khamis Abu Hilal.
On the other side of the fence Israeli fence off the Palestinian territory, the inhabitants of Sderot are also evacuated by bus to Eilat, further south, or Jerusalem, to the north, while new rocket fire coming from Gaza is intercepted.
“C “It's hard […] the fear at every alert, you have to leave, it's better for the children,” says Helen Afteker, 50.
The exodus of Gazans to the south and the expected ground offensive in an overpopulated territory, placed under strict siege by Israel, are generating criticism and concern within the international community.
The Secretary of State American, Antony Blinken, is due to return to Israel on Monday for a second visit in a week, after a tour of several Arab countries.
In Cairo, Mr. Blinken assured that the United States' Arab allies did not want the conflict to spill over and also expressed confidence in the passage of humanitarian aid to Gaza. Egypt proposed holding a regional and international summit on “the future of the Palestinian cause.”
Pope Francis called for the “urgent” opening of humanitarian corridors for the inhabitants of Gaza, subject to an Israeli blockade for more than 15 years and now deprived of water, electricity and food supplies.
Israel said it had resumed water distribution in the south of the Gaza Strip after seven days of interruption.
Au Rafah border crossing, between Egypt and Gaza, humanitarian aid flows from several capitals, but does not pass.
This is the only crossing between Gaza and the outside world which is not under Israeli control remains closed, bombed several times by Israeli fighters.
And foreigners or people with dual nationality who flock there cannot leave, like Ibrahim al-Qarnaoui, a 77-year-old Swiss-Palestinian, surprised by the conflict while on vacation with his family. If he remains stranded, he will return to “live or die” in the family home, he says.
The risk of the conflict spreading to neighboring Lebanon, the south of which is de facto controlled by the Pro-Iranian Hezbollah raises fears.
Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said his country did not want a war on its border with Lebanon, but “if Hezbollah chooses the path of war, it will pay a very heavy price.”
One person was killed and others were injured on Sunday in northern Israel by gunfire from Lebanon, the army said, adding that it struck southern Lebanon in reprisals.
The army said on Saturday that it had killed “several terrorists” trying to infiltrate at this border. Hamas confirmed the death of three infiltrators.
Israel struck Syria with artillery on Saturday after air alerts in the part of the Golan Heights annexed by Israel in 1967.
At dawn on October 7, in the middle of Shabbat, the weekly Jewish rest, hundreds of Hamas fighters infiltrated Israel by land and air from Gaza.
They killed more than of a thousand civilians, sowing terror under a deluge of rockets. About 270 people, authorities say, were shot or burned in their cars at a music festival.