Omar El-Qattaa Agence France-Presse Since October 7, Israel has relentlessly shelled the Gaza Strip where Hamas claims that more than 7,000 people have died, the majority civilians including around 3,000 children.
Hamas estimated Thursday at “nearly 50” the number of hostages killed in the strikes carried out over the past 20 days by the Israeli army on the Gaza Strip, in response to the bloody attack perpetrated by the Palestinian Islamist movement in the southern Israel.
Since October 7, Israel has relentlessly shelled the Gaza Strip where Hamas says more than 7,000 people have died, the majority civilians, including around 3,000 children.
During the night from Wednesday to Thursday, the Israeli army carried out a “targeted raid” with tanks in the north of the Gaza Strip, as a prelude to a ground offensive announced several times and confirmed Wednesday evening by the Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who vowed to “annihilate” Hamas.
The army released black-and-white footage of the raid, showing armored vehicles and bulldozers passing through a wire fence. protection, similar to that separating Israel from the Gaza Strip.
Videos shot by AFPTV from Sderot, in southern Israel, show a huge cloud of smoke rising above northern Gaza.
On October 7, hundreds of fighters from Islamist movement infiltrated Israeli soil from the Gaza Strip, during an attack of unprecedented violence and scale since the creation of Israel in 1948. Around 1,400 people, according to Israeli authorities, were been killed since the start of the war, including a thousand civilians who died on the day of the attack.
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According to the Israeli army, 224 hostages, Israelis, binationals or foreigners, were kidnapped during this attack by Hamas, which has released four women to date.
Hamas' military wing, the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, estimates “that the number of Zionist hostages who were killed in the Gaza Strip due to Zionist bombings and massacres has reached nearly fifty,” it said on Thursday. the Islamist group on Telegram.
Israeli authorities have not confirmed this figure, which AFP was unable to independently verify.
Concerns for civilians
During the night raid, the soldiers “hit numerous terrorists, their infrastructure and anti-tank rocket launch positions,” before “leaving the area,” the army announced.
A possible operation Israeli land attack provokes concern among the international community over the fate of Palestinian civilians in the Gaza Strip, where 2.4 million inhabitants are crowded together in disastrous humanitarian conditions.
This poor territory of 362 square kilometers, subject to an Israeli land, air and sea blockade since Hamas took power there in 2007, has been placed since October 9 under a state of “complete siege” by Israel, which has cut off water, electricity and food supplies.
Satellite images released on Thursday show the extent of the destruction in the Palestinian territory, where entire neighborhoods have been razed by bombing.< /p>
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. At least 1.4 million Palestinians have fled their homes since the start of the war, according to the UN.
However, strikes also continue to hit the south, near the Egyptian border, where massed several hundred thousand civilians.
“No place is safe in Gaza”
“No place is safe in Gaza,” said the UN humanitarian affairs coordinator for the Palestinian territories, Lynn Hastings, on Thursday.
“Wherever we go, we will die,” cowardly Rahma Saqallah, who is preparing to leave the Khan Younès region. This woman had left Gaza City, bombed by the Israeli army, towards the south, with her husband and four children.
She returned there on Thursday with only her daughter, the others having perished in a strike against a house in which they thought they were safe.
French President Emmanuel Macron ruled on Wednesday in Cairo that an Israeli ground offensive, if it were to be “massive”, would be a “mistake”. His Egyptian counterpart, Abdel Fattah al-Sissi, called for avoiding a “land invasion of Gaza”.
In the United States, President Joe Biden affirmed on Wednesday that Israel had “the right » and “the responsibility” to defend itself, but that it must do everything possible “to protect innocent civilians”.
< p>UN Secretary-General António Guterres called on Tuesday for an “immediate humanitarian ceasefire” and condemned “clear violations of humanitarian law” in the Palestinian territory, angering Israel.
For the United States, a ceasefire “at this stage would only benefit Hamas.” The White House instead suggested “pauses” to facilitate the delivery of humanitarian aid.
The leaders of the 27 countries of the European Union, meeting at a summit in Brussels, are debating possible humanitarian “pauses”.
Only a few dozen trucks of humanitarian aid have arrived in Gaza since October 21 via Egypt, while at least a hundred trucks per day would be needed, estimates the UN, which is urgently demanding the delivery of fuel to run generators in hospitals, pump and purify water.
Which Israel excludes, saying it would benefit Hamas and its military operations.