Photo: Agence France-Presse The Khan Younes sector in the south, now the epicenter of military operations, was the scene of intense artillery fire and airstrikes on Saturday.
Mai Yaghi – Agence France-Presse and Anne-Sophie Labadie – Agence France-Presse respectively in the Palestinian territories and Jerusalem
January 20, 2024
- Middle East
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reaffirmed his opposition to “Palestinian sovereignty” in Gaza, saying that Israel must maintain “security control” of the territory where fierce fighting continues on Saturday on the 106th day of war against Hamas.
Israel must “ensure that Gaza no longer poses a threat” and this requirement “contradicts the demand for Palestinian sovereignty”, explained Mr. Netanyahu during a telephone interview Friday with the American president, Joe Biden, according to the Prime Minister's Office.
On Thursday, Mr. Netanyahu had already asserted that Israel must control the security of “the entire territory west of the Jordan River,” including the occupied West Bank and Gaza.
The conflict, sparked by an unprecedented Hamas attack in southern Israel on October 7, is testing Israel's relations with its main American ally and supporter, particularly on the question, central for the post-war period, of a “two-state” solution.
Joe Biden “still believes in the prospect and possibility” of a Palestinian state, but “recognizes that it will take a lot of work to get there,” the White House said after the 'telephone exchange.
“The illusion that Biden preaches in favor of a State of Palestine […] does not fool our people,” Hamas, classified as a terrorist organization by Israel, the United States and the European Union, responded on Saturday.< /p>
The bloody attack orchestrated on October 7 by the Islamist movement resulted in the death of 1,140 people, the majority civilians, according to an AFP count based on official Israeli figures. Some 250 people were kidnapped and taken to Gaza, including around 100 released at the end of November.
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, for his part, affirmed that “the right of the Palestinian people” to a state must be “recognized by all” and that any “denial” was “unacceptable »
The bloody attack by the Islamist movement led to the death of 1,140 people, the majority civilians, according to an AFP count based on official Israeli figures. Some 250 people were kidnapped and taken to Gaza, including around 100 released at the end of November.
Israel, which has sworn to “annihilate” Hamas, in retaliation shells the small territory where 24,927 people, the vast majority women, children and adolescents, were killed by bombings and operations military, according to a report Saturday from the Hamas Ministry of Health.
At least 1.7 million people have been displaced by the war, according to revised figures from the UN Palestinian Refugee Agency (UNRWA).
Mr. Netanyahu has remained deaf to calls from the UN and the international community for a humanitarian ceasefire, while Washington has called on Israel to limit the number of civilian casualties in Gaza.
An AFP correspondent reported intense artillery fire and airstrikes on Saturday, particularly in Khan Younes, in the south, now the epicenter of military operations.
Israeli forces said they destroyed “terrorist infrastructure” in the territory and struck rocket launchers in Khan Yunis.
Hamas, in power in Gaza since 2007, also reported fierce fighting in the north and announced in the evening the death of “five people including a woman” during a “strike against a civilian car” in Rafah, a town bordering Egypt.
The army dropped leaflets on Saturday showing photos of the hostages and calling on residents of the city, where tens of thousands of displaced people are crowded, to share any information about them.
According to Israel, 132 hostages are still in the territory. At least 27 were killed, according to an AFP count based on Israeli figures.
In Tel Aviv, thousands of Israelis gathered in Tel Aviv on Saturday to demand the return of hostages held since October 7 in the Gaza Strip and to demand the departure of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, accused in particular of continuing the war to stay in power.
Raid on Damascus
Entering its fourth month, the conflict is exacerbating tensions between Israel and the “axis of resistance”, bringing together anti-Israeli groups such as Hamas, Lebanese Hezbollah, the Yemeni Houthis and Iraqi groups, raising fears of a regional conflagration.
Iranian President Ebrahim Raïssi threatened Israel with reprisals after the death of at least five Iranian soldiers on Saturday in Damascus in a strike attributed to Israel by the Revolutionary Guards, Tehran's ideological army. According to Iranian media, the attack notably targeted the head of intelligence in Syria for the Quds Force, the elite unit responsible for external operations.
When contacted by AFP, the Israeli army declined to comment.
On the Israeli-Lebanese border where exchanges of fire are daily, a civilian and a member of Hezbollah were killed in an Israeli strike on their car, according to the official ANI agency and the Islamist movement.
In western Iraq, 15 rockets targeted a base housing American soldiers and the international anti-jihadist coalition, seriously injuring one person, according to Iraqi and American officials. The attack was claimed by the “Islamic Resistance in Iraq”, a group of fighters from pro-Iran armed groups.
The Pentagon also announced on Saturday that it had “destroyed” a Houthi anti-ship missile, in new strikes described as “self-defense” against these Yemeni rebels who are carrying out repeated attacks against merchant ships in the Red Sea and in the Gulf of Aden.