Israel led Friday new strikes against Hamas in the Gaza Strip where he continues his land operations, upon arrival at the airport. Tel Aviv of the head of American diplomacy Antony Blinken, who must call for "concrete measures" to spare civilians.
The American Secretary of State began his second tour of the Middle East since the start of the war, triggered on October 7 by the bloody attack by the Palestinian Islamist movement against Israel and which arouses fears of a regional conflagration.
Israel, which promised to “annihilate” Hamas, in power in the Gaza Strip, announced Thursday evening, after almost a week of ground fighting, that it had managed to encircle the city of Gaza, where entire neighborhoods are transformed into fields of ruins, to destroy the “centers” of the Islamist movement.
In Lebanon, the powerful leader of Hezbollah, Hassan Nasrallah, is due to give a speech on Friday for the first time since the start of the war and indicate whether his formation, allied with Hamas and supported by Iran, will fully enter the conflict, which has already left thousands dead.
In Israel, “we will talk about concrete measures that can and must be taken to minimize the harm caused to the men, women and children of Gaza” , declared Mr. Blinken before leaving Washington.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken upon arrival at Tel Aviv Airport, Israel, November 3, 2023 © POOL – JONATHAN ERNST
For nearly four weeks, the 2.4 million inhabitants of the Gaza Strip, completely besieged, have been living under Israeli bombardments, in a catastrophic humanitarian situation.
According to Hamas, more than 9,000 people , including 3,760 children, were killed in Israeli strikes on the Gaza Strip.
In Israel, at least 1,400 people have been killed according to the authorities since the start of the war, the majority massacred civilians on the day of the Hamas attack, of violence and scale unprecedented since the creation of Israel in 1948. More than 240 people were taken hostage.
– “Painful losses” –
In the rubble of a bakery destroyed by Israeli bombardment, in the Palestinian refugee camp of Nuseirat, in the central Gaza Strip, November 2, 2023 © AFP – Mahmud HAMS
“We are at the heart of the (military) campaign, our successes are impressive,” said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday during a visit to a military base near Tel Aviv.
However, he acknowledged that the operation was “difficult” and that Israel was recording “painful losses.”
The army, which reported 332 soldiers killed since October 7 , has been carrying out fierce ground fighting, accompanied by bombings, for a week in the northern Gaza Strip in order to destroy Hamas infrastructure.
Several bombings hit the Palestinian territory early Friday, according to an AFP journalist.
Israeli bombing of the Gaza Strip, seen from the Israeli side of the border, November 2, 2023 © ; AFP – FADEL SENNA
According to the Hamas Ministry of Health, seven people were killed in a bombing on Jabaliya, a Palestinian refugee camp in the northern Gaza Strip already targeted by deadly strikes in previous days, and 15 others in the neighborhood of Zaytoun, in Gaza City.
Also in the north, the armed wing of Hamas announced Friday that it had attacked Israeli soldiers near Beit Lahia, during close combat.
The Israeli army said it fought during the night “a number of terrorist units” who used “anti-tank missiles” and improvised explosive devices.
The Prime Minister Israeli Benjamin Netanyahu gives a press conference in Tel Aviv on October 28, 2023 on the offensive of Israeli forces against Hamas © POOL – Abir SULTAN
Videos posted by Hamas show fighters from the Islamist group emerging from tunnels to attack Israeli tanks, whose progress is made difficult by the destruction.
Since mid-October, the Israeli army has called for population to flee the north of the Gaza Strip, in particular the very densely populated Gaza City, where most of the military operations are concentrated.
In this city, residents came to seek refuge near Al-Quds hospital. “It's not a life. We need a safe place for our children,” Hiyam Shamlakh, 50, told AFP. “Everyone is terrified. Children, women, the elderly.”
– Dismissal of Gazan workers –
Palestinian workers returned by Israel cross the border into the Gaza Strip near the town of Rafah, November 3, 2023 © AFP – SAID KHATIB
On Friday, Israel began sending thousands of Palestinian workers back to Gaza blocked on its soil since the Hamas attack.
Images broadcast live by AFP from the nearby town of Rafah show people crossing the Karem Abou Salem border crossing (called Kerem Shalom on the Israeli side), between Israel and the Gaza Strip, at the southeastern tip of the small Palestinian territory.
Thursday, according to the UN, 60 injured Palestinians as well as some 400 foreigners were able to leave Gaza towards Egypt via the Rafah border post, the only window on the world for the territory .
An Israeli artillery unit fires during military exercises in the Golan Heights annexed by Israel following the 1967 war, near the border with Lebanon, November 2, 2023 © AFP – Jalaa MAREY
Mr. Blinken's visit comes at a time when fears of a conflagration are at their highest. The Secretary of State must also go to Jordan, an Arab country that signed a peace treaty with Israel but whose relations with this country have been strained since October 7.
Antony Blinken is due to meet his counterpart Ayman Al-Safadi on Saturday to discuss ways to end the war in Gaza, where Israel has committed “war crimes”, according to the Jordanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
< p>US President Joe Biden said on Wednesday he was in favor of a “pause” in the war, even if Washington does not support calls for a ceasefire.
On the Israeli-Lebanese border, daily armed clashes have left 70 dead in southern Lebanon since October 7, according to an AFP count, including 52 Hezbollah fighters and at least seven civilians. Eight soldiers and a civilian were killed on the Israeli side, according to authorities.
The speech by Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah scheduled for 1:00 p.m. GMT during a ceremony to honor the movement's “martyrs” , is expected with apprehension in the region.
Rescuers inspect the house of a Palestinian journalist, Mohamed Abu Hatab, killed in an Israeli bombardment on the town of Khan Younes, in the south of the Gaza Strip, on November 2, 2023 © AFP – Mahmud HAMS
The war has also exacerbated tensions in the occupied West Bank, where more than 140 Palestinians have been killed since October 7 by fire from Israeli soldiers or settlers, according to the Palestinian Authority. New demonstrations are planned in this Palestinian territory on the sidelines of Friday prayers.
Six Palestinians were killed in a series of incursions by the Israeli army into the West Bank during the night from Thursday to Friday, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health.
– Hospitals in danger –
A street in the Palestinian refugee camp of Jenin, in the occupied West Bank, after an incursion by the Israeli army on November 3, 2023 © AFP – Jaafar ASHTIYEH
Since October 9, the “complete siege” imposed by Israel on the Gaza Strip has deprived the population of deliveries of water, food and electricity. The territory was already subject to an Israeli land, air and sea blockade since Hamas took power there in 2007.
More than 370 trucks of humanitarian aid have arrived since October 21 according to the UN, which is calling for more massive aid.
Ground operations of the Israeli army in the Gaza Strip © AFP – Simon MALFATTO, Maxence D'AVERSA, Olivia BUGAULT, Sabrina BLANCHARD
The World Health Organization (WHO) said Thursday that 14 hospitals out of a total of 36 and two specialized centers were no longer operational.
At Al-Shifa hospital , the largest in the territory, doctors have several times sounded the alarm over the lack of fuel to operate the generators and are forced to treat patients by the light of their cell phones.
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