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Israel promises 'new hard blows' to Hamas as Passover begins

Israel, which celebrates the start of the Jewish Passover on Monday, is preparing to begin its holiday. increase military pressure in the Gaza Strip where his army says it is preparing "the next stages of the war" against Hamas.

“We will deal it new hard blows – and it will happen soon. In the coming days, we will increase military and political pressure on Hamas, because this is the only way to free our hostages and win our victory,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a video message broadcast Sunday evening.

For his part, the Israeli chief of staff, General Herzi Halevi, met on Sunday with the commanders of military operations in Gaza, and “approved the next stages of the war”, indicated during a briefing army spokesperson Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari.

More than six months after the start of the war, triggered by an unprecedented attack by Hamas against Israel on October 7, Mr. Netanyahu continues to proclaim his determination to launch a ground offensive in Rafah, in the south of the Gaza Strip, which he considers to be the last great bastion of the Palestinian Islamist movement.

But humanitarian organizations and a growing number of foreign chancelleries are opposed to this operation, fearing that it will cause numerous civilian casualties, as people pile up there 1.5 million Gazans, residents or displaced.

The Israeli army maintains that some of the hostages kidnapped on October 7 in Israel during the attack by Hamas commandos are detained in Rafah.

This attack left 1,170 dead, mainly civilians, according to an AFP report based on official Israeli data. More than 250 people have been kidnapped and 129 remain captive in Gaza, 34 of whom have died according to Israeli officials. Around a hundred were released during a truce at the end of November.

– Empty chair –

The families of the hostages called on Israelis to leave an empty chair during the ritual Seder meal Monday evening, which marks the start of the Jewish holiday of Passover, so as not to forget them.

Israel promises 'new hard blows' to Hamas as Passover begins

Members of the Gaza Civil Defense exhume bodies buried in the courtyard of the Nasser Medical Complex in Khan Yunis, April 21, 2024 © AFP – –

“At Passover, it will be 200 days of captivity for the hostages (…). We will fight until you return to us”, assured the army spokesperson.

In the Gaza Strip, the conflict has left 34,097 dead, according to a report published Sunday by the Hamas Ministry of Health.

Fighting and bombings continued in the Gaza Strip on Monday, according to an AFP journalist on site. Israeli aircraft and artillery attacked the Zaitoune neighborhood southeast of Gaza City, and drones struck a schoolyard in the al-Bureij refugee camp in the center of the territory. In the same camp, at least three people were injured in the bombing of a mosque, medical sources told AFP.

The Israeli air force also bombed Rafah and Khan Younes, in the south of the Gaza Strip, where Civil Defense announced on Sunday that it had exhumed at least 50 bodies of Palestinians buried in the courtyard of the Nasser Medical Complex, one of the largest hospitals in the besieged Palestinian territory.

Israel promises 'new hard blows' to Hamas as Passover begins

A Palestinian waits for news of his daughter, who disappeared under the rubble of a building destroyed by Israeli bombardment, on April 21, 2024 in Rafah, in the south of the Gaza Strip. © AFP – MOHAMMED ABED

These corpses “were stripped of their clothes, which certainly indicates that they were arrested, tortured and subjected to ill-treatment by the occupying army”, declared to the 'AFP Mahmoud Bassal, a spokesperson for Civil Defense.

AFP journalists saw members of the Civil Defense exhuming human remains in the hospital courtyard and Gazans gathered in the same place, looking for missing relatives.

– American aid –

Among them, Oum Mohammed al-Harazeen who is looking for her husband. “He has been missing for about a month. He only came out to bring us food and water. He disappeared when the Israeli army entered Khan Yunis,” she said.

Questioned by AFP, the Israeli army, which withdrew from Khan Younes on April 7, indicated that it verified these assertions.

Israel promises 'new hard blows' to Hamas as Passover begins

Palestinians inspect the ruins of a building destroyed by an Israeli strike, April 21, 2024 in Rafah, in the south of the Gaza Strip. © AFP – MOHAMMED ABED

This macabre discovery comes at a time when the United States approved military aid of 13 billion dollars for its Israeli ally. For Hamas, in power since 2007 in Gaza, Washington gave Israel the “green light” to continue to “aggress” the Palestinians.

During a conversation on Sunday with Benny Gantz, a member of the Israeli war cabinet, the head of American diplomacy Antony Blinken insisted on the need for “an immediate ceasefire that guarantees the release of the hostages”.

– Unsuccessful negotiations –

But the negotiations for this truce are at a standstill, Israel and Hamas accusing each other mutually to block them. Qatar, the main mediator, announced last week that it would “conduct a global reassessment” of its role after months of unsuccessful negotiations.

Israel promises 'new hard blows' to Hamas as Passover begins

A woman watches over the body of a man killed during an Israeli raid in the Nour Shams Palestinian refugee camp, in the occupied West Bank, April 21, 2024 © AFP – RONALDO SCHEMIDT

Violence is also increasing in the occupied West Bank where Israeli forces carry out almost daily raids, saying they want to fight against Palestinian armed groups.

Two Palestinian teenagers and a woman were shot and killed Sunday by Israeli soldiers in two separate incidents, according to the Palestinian Authority Health Ministry. The Israeli army claimed that all three had separately attacked soldiers.

At least 14 people have been killed in recent days during an Israeli raid on the Nour Shams camp near Tulkarem, in the northern West Bank, according to the Palestinian Red Crescent.

The Israeli army, for its part, claims to have killed ten Palestinian fighters during this operation which began on Thursday and ended on Saturday.

“Israeli soldiers have killed so many people here over the years that I have lost count,” said to AFP Ibrahim Ghanim, a 20-year-old law student attending the funeral.

All rights of reproduction and representation reserved. © (2024) Agence France-Presse

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116