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Israeli bombing continues in Gaza, threatened with famine

Photo: Fatima Shbair Associated Press Palestinians search through rubble after an Israeli strike in Rafah, Gaza Strip, on Wednesday

Adel Zaanoun – Agence France-Presse and Emmanuel Duparcq – Agence France-Presse respectively in the Gaza Strip and Jerusalem

2:31 p.m.

  • Middle East

The Gaza Strip, threatened with famine, is still plunged into a humanitarian catastrophe on Wednesday which particularly hits the overpopulated town of Rafah, in the south, but also the north, while new talks with a view to a truce begins in Cairo.

Israeli bombings and fighting between the army and Hamas continue unabated across the Palestinian territory, where 118 people have been killed in 24 hours, according to the Islamist movement's Health Ministry.

According to the UN, 2.2 million people, the vast majority of the population, are threatened with famine in the Gaza Strip, besieged by Israel since the start of the war on October 7 .

The situation is particularly alarming in the north, prey to “chaos and violence”, according to the United Nations World Food Program (WFP), which suspended the distribution of its aid in this sector on Tuesday.

The director general of the World Health Organization said Wednesday that the situation was “inhumane.” “Gaza has become a death zone,” said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

Humanitarian aid, still insufficient and subject to the green light from Israel, enters Gaza mainly through Rafah via Egypt, but its delivery to the north is made almost impossible by the destruction and fighting which isolate this region from the rest of the territory.

The Israeli authorities announced on Wednesday the entry the day before of 98 trucks with humanitarian aid into Gaza, while a group of international NGOs (AIDA) deplored the slowness of the inspection process and the blocking of dozens of trucks for several days at the border.

The Palestinian Red Crescent on Wednesday called on “UN agencies to step up their aid, particularly for areas in the northern Gaza Strip where 400,000 people are threatened with famine.”

Talks in Cairo

According to witnesses, fighting took place on Wednesday in the south in Khan Younes, where soldiers tracked Hamas fighters in the middle of the ruins, but also in Zaytoun and Shujaiya, two sectors of Gaza City , in the north.

“We can’t take it anymore. We don't have any flour. We don’t even know where to go in this cold weather,” testified Ahmad, a resident of Gaza City, where the bombings have left a chaotic landscape. “We demand a ceasefire. We want to live.”

The army claimed to have killed “dozens of terrorists” in Zaytoun on Tuesday and destroyed “dozens of targets”. It indicated “intensifying” its operations in Khan Younes.

In Rafah, AFP footage showed Palestinians inspecting the ruins of a house after a strike.

Nearly one and a half million people, according to the UN, are massed in this city located on the closed border with Egypt.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced an upcoming ground offensive on Rafah, in order to defeat Hamas in its “last stronghold” and free hostages held in Gaza.

This prospect worries the international community, as Egypt hosts new discussions towards a truce.

The head of the Hamas political bureau, Ismaïl Haniyeh, based in Qatar, is due to discuss Wednesday in Cairo with the head of the Egyptian intelligence services, Abbas Kamel, notably the “first phase” of a plan drawn up in January by the mediating countries, Qatar, the United States and Egypt, a Hamas source told AFP in Gaza.

This first phase provided for a six-week truce, associated with an exchange of hostages for Palestinian prisoners held by Israel and the entry into Gaza of a large quantity of humanitarian aid.

US President Joe Biden's Middle East adviser, Brett McGurk, is visiting Egypt on Wednesday and Israel on Thursday.

Hamas demands a ceasefire, an Israeli withdrawal from Gaza, an end to the Israeli blockade and safe shelter for the hundreds of thousands of civilians displaced by the war.

Israel for its part affirms that its offensive will continue until Hamas has been eliminated and the hostages released.

“Green light” to Israel

The war was sparked by an unprecedented attack launched on October 7 by Hamas commandos infiltrated into southern Israel. More than 1,160 people were killed, the majority civilians, according to an AFP count based on official Israeli data.

In retaliation, Israel vowed to annihilate the Islamist movement, in power in Gaza since 2007, which it considers a terrorist organization along with the United States and the European Union.

The Israeli army launched an offensive that left 29,313 dead in Gaza, the vast majority civilians, according to the Hamas Ministry of Health.

According to Israel, 130 hostages are still being held in Gaza, 30 of whom are believed to be dead, out of approximately 250 people kidnapped on October 7.

On Tuesday, the United States, Israel's ally, vetoed a draft UN Security Council resolution that demanded an “immediate humanitarian” ceasefire, saying that this resolution would have endangered the delicate negotiations underway on a truce.

Hamas denounced a “green light” given to Israel to carry out more “massacres”.

In the occupied West Bank, where the war in Gaza has caused an outbreak of violence, Israeli forces announced on Wednesday that they had killed three suspected Palestinian fighters during a nighttime raid in the Jenin sector.

Exchanges of fire have become daily on both sides of the Israeli-Lebanese border, between the Israeli army and Hezbollah, an ally of Hamas. On Wednesday, an Israeli strike left two people dead in southern Lebanon, according to Lebanese media.

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