France Media Agency Palestinian Red Crescent workers inspect an ambulance hit by a strike in Deir el-Balah in the Gaza Strip. Six people who were in the ambulance were killed, including four Red Crescent rescue workers.
Adel Zaanoun – Agence France-Presse and Léon Bruneau – Agence France-Presse respectively in the Gaza Strip and Tel Aviv
- Middle East
The Israeli air force shelled the south of the Gaza Strip on Thursday, on the last day of the diplomatic marathon in the region by the head of American diplomacy, Antony Blinken, aimed at stemming the spread of the conflict opposing Israel to Palestinian Hamas.
In a historic hearing before the International Court of Justice (ICJ), Israel was simultaneously accused of “genocidal acts” in Gaza by Pretoria. Israel “is accused of genocide at a time when it is fighting genocide,” said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
In Cairo, where he met Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sissi, at the conclusion of his tour, Mr. Blinken linked “Israel's security and [regional] integration (…) to the fact of opening a path to a Palestinian state.”
He also judged that a rapprochement between Israel and the Arab countries, the majority of which do not recognize it, would be “the best way to isolate Iran and its proxies”, while Hamas and Lebanese Hezbollah are among the movements supported by Tehran in the region.
Mr. Blinken, however, noted that he did not think that “the conflict is intensifying”, in particular despite the violence on the Israeli-Lebanese border.
Before the UN's highest court, South Africa, a long-time supporter of the Palestinian cause, in a historic hearing accused Israel of violating the UN Genocide Convention, saying that even the Hamas attack on October 7 could not justify the events in Gaza.
South Africa behaves like “the legal arm of the terrorist organization Hamas”, the Israeli Foreign Ministry retorted on Thursday. Israel will speak before the ICJ on Friday, ahead of a decision by the Court, which could come within a few weeks. Its judgments are final and legally binding, but it has no power to enforce them.
- Accused of genocide, Israel defends itself before the International Court of Justice
- Blinken meets Abbas after urging Israel to spare civilians in Gaza
- Hostages for 100 days in Gaza: the anguished wait of families in Israel
Humanitarian aid in dribs and drabs
The war was triggered by the unprecedented attack on October 7 by Hamas on Israeli soil which left around 1,140 dead, mostly civilians, according to an AFP count based on the Israeli toll.
In retaliation, Israel has vowed to annihilate the Islamist movement in power in Gaza since 2007, which it classifies as a terrorist group like the United States and the European Union.
Its military operations in the small, besieged and overpopulated Palestinian territory have left at least 23,469 dead, the majority of them women, adolescents and children, according to the latest report Thursday from the Hamas Ministry of Health.
On the front, early in the morning, Israeli aircraft increased strikes in the area of Khan Younes, the main town in the south of the territory, which had become the epicenter of the fighting, according to witnesses.
The army claimed to have discovered a vast network of tunnels there, including one through which “Israeli hostages passed”.
Relatives of hostages gathered in Nirim, in the south of Israel bordering Gaza, to announce via loudspeakers the names of those held, AFPTV noted.
“I'm sure they are in a bad condition, they are disappearing from life,” worries Efrat Machikawa, whose uncle was kidnapped.
On the other side of the separation barrier, the intensity of hostilities further aggravates the ongoing health disaster for the 2.4 million Gazans, 85% of whom have been displaced
From January 1 to 10, only 14 percent of the humanitarian aid scheduled to be delivered was delivered, the United Nations agency responsible for humanitarian coordination said Thursday, adding that in the center and the south, three hospitals are threatened with closing due to the proximity of the fighting.
“Israel considers itself above the law,” castigates Hisham al-Kullah, carrying the body of a deceased infant to Al-Najjar hospital in Rafah, in the far south of the Gaza Strip. “We want international judges to judge Israel.”
Warning to the Houthis
Despite diplomatic efforts, there is no prospect of ending the conflict, which has entered its fourth month and is causing a series of tensions in the region.
On the Israeli-Lebanese border, hostilities intensified after the strike attributed to Israel on January 2 which killed Hamas number two, Saleh al-Arouri, near Beirut.
Two rescuers from an organization reporting to Hezbollah were killed Thursday in an Israeli strike in southern Lebanon, the movement said, saying it had carried out bombings in northern Israel in retaliation.
In Beirut, an American envoy, Amos Hochstein, called for a “diplomatic solution” between the two countries to restore calm to their border.
In the Red Sea, Yemeni rebels, supported by Iran, are increasing attacks on merchant ships, disrupting global maritime traffic, in the name of their “solidarity” with the Palestinians of Gaza. The UN Security Council demanded an “immediate” end to these actions, in a resolution adopted overnight.
In the Gulf of Oman elsewhere, Iran seized an oil tanker on Thursday in retaliation for the “theft” by the United States of a cargo of Iranian oil transported by the same ship last year latest, according to Iranian state media. Washington urged Iran to “immediately” release the ship.
The Palestinian Authority in Gaza ?
To try to outline a post-war outlook, Mr. Blinken also met in Ramallah with the President of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas.
They, according to the head of American diplomacy, “spoke about the importance of reform” of this body – which exercises only limited power in the occupied West Bank and is accused by its detractors of corruption and negligence – “so that it can effectively take responsibility for Gaza.” Hamas supplanted it there in 2007.
Mr. Blinken also reaffirmed Washington's support for the creation of a Palestinian state, which is opposed by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The latter clarified that Israel “does not intend to permanently occupy Gaza or displace its civilian population.”
Elsewhere in the Gulf of Oman, Iran seized an oil tanker on Thursday in retaliation for the “theft” by the United States of a large cargo of Iranian oil transported by the same ship last year, according to state media. 'Iranian State.
Israel denies being behind attack on ambulance
The Israeli army denied on Thursday that it was behind a strike on an ambulance the day before in the Gaza Strip, killing six people including four rescuers from the Palestinian Red Crescent who had blamed it on it. the responsibility.
“No strike was carried out in the designated sector”, reacted the army to the AFP, indicating that it had “conducted an examination (of the facts) based on the details” which it were given.
In this strike in Deir el-Balah, six people who were in the ambulance were killed, including four Red Crescent rescuers.
The Red Crescent announced these deaths in “a strike on an ambulance (carried out) by the Israeli army in Deir el-Balah”, on the social network X.
The funeral of the four rescuers was held Thursday in the presence of their colleagues in Deir el-Balah, noted an AFP journalist.
More than 120 ambulances have been destroyed and 326 healthcare workers killed since the start of the war, according to the Hamas Ministry of Health.