Said Khatib Agence France-Presse The Palestinians reported damage after an attack by Israel overnight from Saturday to Sunday, in preparation for a land invasion.
As Israel prepares its ground offensive, a new imminent step raising fears of a conflagration in the region, Iran, ally of Hamas, has warned the United States and Israel that the situation could become “uncontrollable” in the Middle -East. In the Gaza Strip, the first convoys of humanitarian aid have started to arrive, but remain insufficient to meet the crying needs of the population.
On Sunday, during a visit to his troops near the Lebanese border, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that Lebanese Hezbollah, an Islamist movement backed by Iran, “would make the mistake of its life” if it decided to go to war against Israel. This would, he added, “have devastating consequences for Lebanon.”
The Pentagon also announced the strengthening of its military presence in the sector, citing “recent escalations by Iran and its affiliated forces”, including Hezbollah. A few hours later, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin warned that the United States “would not hesitate to act” militarily against any “organization” or “country” that would be tempted to “expand” the conflict.
The United States and all of Israel's Western allies are therefore working more than ever to avoid an escalation of this war launched two weeks ago after the Hamas attack. Emmanuel Macron will visit Israel on Tuesday, and Joe Biden spoke at the weekend with the leaders of Canada, France, Germany, Italy and the United Kingdom.
Washington and Jerusalem also agreed on Sunday evening that the besieged Gaza Strip would benefit from a “continuous flow” of humanitarian aid, the White House said. Israel will continue to control the borders of the Palestinian territory and inspect aid convoys entering it.
Israeli strikes and tensions in Lebanon
During the night from Saturday to Sunday, the Jewish state intensified its bombings on the Gaza Strip. Israeli General Daniel Hagari said “dozens” of Hamas fighters were killed. According to the Islamist group, more than 80 people, including civilians, lost their lives in the strikes.
These attacks targeted, among other things, the town of Rafah, in the South, very close to the border with Egypt and the only crossing open to let humanitarian aid into the Gaza Strip. Food was nevertheless delivered this weekend, for the first time since the outbreak of the conflict. But the director of the UN World Food Program, Cindy McCain, believes that current aid remains clearly insufficient. She insists on the need to transport more fuel, necessary in particular for the operation of hospitals in this territory deprived of electricity.
Photo: Mohammed Abed Agence France-Presse On Sunday, 17 aid trucks entered the Gaza Strip. A first convoy of 20 trucks had arrived the day before.
An Israeli strike also hit a Palestinian mosque in the West Bank, territory partially occupied by Israeli settlements. It is rare for the Jewish state to attack on this side of its border. Its army said it hit an “underground terrorist route” at the mosque, where it said members of Hamas and Islamic Jihad were sheltering. The offensive, described by the Palestinian authorities as a “dangerous escalation”, left at least two dead.
In northern Israel, clashes with Hezbollah are increasing. Since October 7, 36 people have died in Lebanon, the majority combatants, but also civilians, including a Reuters journalist. The Israeli army, for its part, reported four deaths – three soldiers and one civilian. Residents evacuate the border area on both sides.
“A powder keg”
At least 4,651 Palestinians, mostly civilians, have been killed in incessant bombardments by the Israeli army since the start of the war, according to the Hamas Ministry of Health. More than 1,400 people have died in Israel, most of them civilians. And around 210 people are believed to be detained by Hamas, including nationals of foreign countries.
In addition, at least 1.4 million Palestinians have been displaced according to the UN, which describes the humanitarian situation as “Catastrophic” Gaza. On Sunday, 17 aid trucks entered the Gaza Strip. A first convoy of 20 trucks had arrived the day before. However, the UN Office of Humanitarian Affairs estimates that at least 100 trucks per day would be needed to meet the needs of the population.
“Today the region is like a powder keg,” Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said on Sunday. “I would like to warn the United States and the Israeli puppet regime that if they do not immediately put an end to crimes against humanity and genocide in Gaza, anything is possible at any time, and the region will spiral out of control,” he added.
With Agence France-Presse