Israel, which has sworn to to put an end to Hamas after its bloody attack on October 7, sees warnings multiply about the consequences of its military operations for civilian populations nearby. Gaza.
Launching a “massive” land offensive in the Gaza Strip, already besieged and relentlessly shelled by the Israeli army, would be an “error”, French President Emmanuel Macron judged on Wednesday in Cairo.
And if American President Joe Biden is not in favor, as it stands, of a cease-fire, as demanded by the United Nations and many countries, he also warned his ally on Wednesday.
Israel must do “everything possible to spare civilians,” he said on Wednesday.
Many countries are calling for a humanitarian pause in the bombings carried out by Israel, which has vowed to “annihilate” Palestinian Hamas after the unprecedented attack perpetrated on October 7 on its soil, and is preparing its army for a ground offensive to achieve this.
“We are preparing a ground entry” into the Gaza Strip, confirmed the head of the Israeli government Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday.
“When, how, how much, and the considerations we take into account, I cannot go into detail,” he added.
– “An error” –
While affirming Israel's right to defend itself, Mr. Macron stressed, following a meeting with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sissi, that such an operation, if it were to be massive , would be “an error” because it would “endanger the lives of civilian populations” without “protecting Israel in the long term”.
French President Emmanuel Macron (l) and his Egyptian counterpart Abdel Fattah al-Sissi during a press conference, October 25, 2023 in Cairo © POOL – Christophe Ena
President Sissi called on Israel to avoid a “land invasion of Gaza” because it would cause “a large number of civilian victims”.
A ground offensive would be extremely dangerous in this very densely populated territory, riddled with tunnels where Hamas hides weapons and fighters, and in the presence of hostages.
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres had already called on Tuesday for an “immediate humanitarian ceasefire” and condemned the “clear violations of humanitarian law” in the Palestinian territory, provoking the anger of Israel.
– 700 dead in one day –
The Hamas attack and the retaliation by the Israeli army in the Gaza Strip left more than 1,400 dead in Israel, according to the authorities, and more than 6,500 in the Palestinian territory, according to the Islamist movement, mainly civilians from both sides.
Distribution of food in a camp for displaced people in Khan Younes, in the south of the Gaza Strip, on October 25, 2023 © AFP – MAHMUD HAMS
Hamas in power in Gaza since 2007 affirmed on Wednesday that at least 700 people were killed in a single day.
The Israeli army claimed to have carried out “large-scale strikes”, which hit “several Hamas terrorist infrastructures”, including tunnels.
Hamas has been holding more than 220 hostages hostage since October 7, four of whom have been released since Friday evening. The World Health Organization (WHO) on Wednesday called for the release of all of them for “health reasons”.
The dramatic humanitarian situation in Gaza also concerns the international community.
According to the WHO, six hospitals have already closed, due to lack of fuel, in the small territory of 362 km2 where 2.4 million Palestinians are crowded together in disastrous conditions.
– “Terrorist” organization –
Situation of hospitals and health centers in the Gaza Strip © AFP – Sylvie HUSSON, Laurence SAUBADU, Sabrina BLANCHARD
The UN is urgently calling for the delivery of fuel to running generators in hospitals, pumping and purifying water, and moving trucks.
But Israel refuses, saying it would benefit Hamas.
“We operated on several injured people without anesthesia,” Ahmad Abdul Hadi, an orthopedic surgeon at Nasser Hospital in Khan Younes, a town in the south of the Gaza Strip, told AFP.
< p>According to Mohammed Abu Selmeya, the director of Shifa Hospital in Gaza City, the largest in the territory, “ten hospitals are already out of service” and “more than 90% of medicines and products are exhausted.”< /p>
For Washington, a ceasefire “at this stage would only benefit Hamas.” The White House instead suggested “pauses” to facilitate the delivery of humanitarian aid, a position that the countries of the European Union, meeting Thursday and Friday at a summit, should rally, according to diplomatic sources.
The American House of Representatives, which elected a new president on Wednesday after three weeks of deadlock, immediately adopted a resolution in support of Israel which “defends itself against the barbaric war launched by Hamas and other terrorists”.
A school managed by the UN agency (UNRWA) transformed into a shelter for the displaced in Khan Younes, in the south of the Gaza Strip, October 25, 2023 © AFP – Mahmud HAMS
The Gaza Strip, a small, poor territory stretching 40 kilometers along the Mediterranean, has been subject to an Israeli land, air and sea blockade since 2007. On October 9, Israel placed it under a “complete siege” and cut off water, electricity and food supplies.
In total, a few dozen trucks loaded with humanitarian aid have arrived since October 21 while, according to the UN , at least one hundred trucks per day would be necessary.
– “Be accountable” –
Israeli soldiers positioned near Sderot, on the border with the Gaza Strip, October 25, 2023 © AFP – Menahem KAHANA
This siege is accompanied by relentless bombing by Israel, which has massed tens of thousands of soldiers on the outskirts of the Gaza Strip and intensified its strikes in recent days.
On October 7, in the middle of Shabbat, the weekly Jewish rest, hundreds of Hamas fighters infiltrated Israel from the Gaza Strip, spreading terror during this attack of unprecedented violence and scale since the creation of the State of Israel in 1948.
The Israeli Prime Minister recognized on Wednesday that he too should “be held accountable” after this attack which stunned the country.
Since October 15, the Israeli army has called on the population of the northern Gaza Strip, where the bombardments are most intense, to evacuate to the south, and at least 1.4 million Palestinians have fled their homes since the beginning. of war, according to the UN.
But the strikes also continue to affect this part of the territory, close to the Egyptian border, where several hundred thousand civilians are massed. On Wednesday, one of them hit a supermarket in Rafah in the south. Another strike killed the family of Al-Jazeera's main Gaza correspondent, Wael al-Dahdouh, the Qatari channel said on Wednesday.
Gaza: humanitarian aid insufficient © AFP – Olivia BUGAULT, Anibal MAIZ CACERES
While part of the international community fears a regional conflagration, the Israeli army announced strikes against Lebanon on Wednesday evening in response to a missile attack ground-air. Earlier, it had announced that it had struck military infrastructure in Syria in response to fire towards its territory.
Tension is also very high in the West Bank where more than a hundred Palestinians have been killed in violence since the October 7, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health.
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