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Netanyahu determined to launch ground offensive in Rafah despite pressure

Photo: Ariel Schalit Associated Press In the last 24 hours, more than 90 Palestinians, including twelve from the same family, were killed in incessant Israeli air raids which hit several areas of the Gaza Strip including Rafah, said the Ministry of Health of the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas. .

Adel Zaanoun – Agence France-Presse and Cécile Feuillatre – Agence France-Presse respectively in the Gaza Strip and Jerusalem

March 17, 2024

  • Middle East

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday reaffirmed his determination to launch a ground offensive in Rafah, despite the international community's concerns about the approximately 1.5 million people crammed into this southern city. besieged Gaza Strip.

In the last 24 hours, more than 90 Palestinians, including twelve from the same family, were killed in incessant Israeli air raids which hit several areas of the Gaza Strip including Rafah, said the Ministry of Health of the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas. .

More than five months after the start of the war between Israel and Hamas triggered by a bloody attack by this movement, the human toll continues to rise in the Palestinian territory with 31,645 dead since October 7 according to Hamas and the threat of widespread famine according to the UN.

Benjamin Netanyahu has vowed to destroy Hamas, which took power in Gaza in 2007 and which he considers a terrorist organization along with the United States and the European Union.

Ahead of a late-day meeting of his security cabinet focused on negotiations on a humanitarian truce, Mr. Netanyahu rejected pressure from the international community.

“No international pressure will prevent us from achieving all the objectives of our war […] We will act in Rafah, it will take a few weeks but it will take place,” he said according to his services .

On Friday, according to his office, he approved “the action plans” for this offensive, involving an “evacuation of the population”.

“In the name of humanity, we call on Israel not to move forward” with its operation against Rafah, said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the head of the World Health Organization.

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“What do they want from us ?”

Most of the 1.7 million displaced by the war according to the UN have found refuge in this city stuck on Egypt's closed border and bombarded daily by the Israeli air force .

Before dawn, raids were intense in Deir al-Balah in the center, Gaza City in the north and Khan Younes and Rafah in the south, according to witnesses. Fighting took place between Israeli soldiers and Palestinian fighters in several areas.

At least 92 Palestinians were killed, the majority civilians, the Hamas health ministry said. Among them, according to him, 12 members of the Thabet family whose home was destroyed at dawn by bombs in Deir al-Balah.

Leen Thabet says through tears that her cousin was killed in the strike. ” She is dead. All that’s left is her dress,” the little girl said, pointing to a white dress that came out of the rubble. “What do they want from us ? There are no more children in Gaza! »

The Israeli army claimed to have killed “18 terrorists” in central Gaza since Saturday.

On October 7, Hamas commandos infiltrated from Gaza carried out an unprecedented attack in southern Israel, during which at least 1,160 people were killed, most of them civilians, according to an AFP tally based on sources official.

According to Israel, around 250 people have been kidnapped and 130 of them are still being held in Gaza, of whom 32 are believed to have died.

In retaliation, Israel launched a massive air campaign against Gaza, followed 20 days later by a ground offensive that allowed its soldiers to advance from the north to the south of this territory of approximately 40 km long and 10 wide.

“Six weeks”

Faced with the devastating war, the mediators – the United States, Qatar, Egypt – are trying to achieve a new truce after that at the end of November. In vain.

The security cabinet is expected to determine on Sunday the “mandate” of the Israeli delegation to Doha for further discussions.

Hamas said it was ready, in a new proposal, for a six-week truce, during which 42 hostages — women, children, the elderly and sick — could be released in exchange for 20 to 50 Palestinian prisoners against each released hostage.

He also calls for “the withdrawal of the army from towns and populated areas”, the “return of the displaced” and the entry of 500 aid trucks per day into Gaza, according to one of his executives .

Israel controls the entry of land aid into Gaza, which remains very insufficient given the immense needs of the 2.4 million inhabitants, the vast majority of whom are threatened with famine according to the UN.

Leaving Cyprus, a boat from the Spanish NGO Open Arms carrying 200 tons of food from the organization World Central Kitchen unloaded its cargo in Gaza which must still be distributed.

A second aid boat is ready to leave, according to Cyprus.

In addition, several Arab and Western countries continue to airdrop food into Gaza.

But for the UN, aid by land remains vital.

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