Saïd Khatib Agence France-Presse A Palestinian evacuates an injured little girl after an Israeli bombardment in Rafah on November 17.
Mai Yaghi – Agence France-Presse and Delphine Matthieussent – Agence France-Presse respectively in the Gaza Strip and Jerusalem
- Middle East
Aid deliveries to the Gaza Strip have been interrupted due to lack of fuel in the Palestinian territory, the UN said on Friday, which fears an “immediate risk of famine” for the population trapped in the fighting between Israel and Hamas.
The situation is “catastrophic” in al-Chifa hospital, according to the head of the largest establishment in Gaza. The Israeli army told AFP that it was continuing its searches of the immense complex in search of suspected hideouts of fighters from the Islamist movement.
Tensions are also high in the occupied West Bank. The Israeli army announced Friday that it had killed “five terrorists” in Jenin, a stronghold of the Palestinian armed movements. An AFP team on site reported a major Israeli operation overnight. Hamas claimed responsibility for an attack on a security checkpoint near Jerusalem on Thursday, in which an Israeli soldier was killed and three others were injured.
In Hebron, two Palestinians were killed by “bullets of the Israeli army”, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health.
On the 42nd day of the war, the army announced that it had found the remains of Noa Marciano, a 19-year-old soldier held hostage by Hamas, while searching a building adjacent to al-Chifa hospital. The Islamist movement said Monday that she had been killed in the bombings that hit the complex in recent days.
Thursday evening, the body of Yehudit Weiss was also discovered near the hospital. The 65-year-old hostage was “assassinated by terrorists in the Gaza Strip,” according to the army, after being kidnapped by Hamas on October 7 from Kibbutz Beeri in southern Israel. /p>
The soldier was kidnapped the same day in the Nahal Oz base, during the massacres perpetrated by Hamas commandos on Israeli soil. These attacks, of unprecedented violence and scale since the creation of Israel in 1948, left 1,200 dead, the vast majority of them civilians, according to the Israeli authorities.
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“Immediate risk of famine”
Approximately 240 hostages, civilians and soldiers, were taken away the same day by the Hamas in Gaza, according to the army, which has also lost 51 soldiers during fighting in the territory since October 7.
After the deadly attack, Israel vowed to “annihilate” the Islamist movement classified as a terrorist organization by the United States, the European Union and Israel.
Retaliatory bombings in the Gaza Strip left 11,500 dead, mostly civilians, including 4,710 children, according to the Hamas Ministry of Health.
The small Palestinian territory, where Hamas took power in 2007, has been shelled since October 7. Subjected since October 9 to a “complete siege” by Israel, Gaza lacks water, electricity, food and medicine.
“With winter fast approaching, shelters precarious and overcrowded conditions, as well as a lack of drinking water, civilians face an immediate risk of starvation,” the United Nations World Food Program (WFP) warned on Thursday.
According to the UN, 1.65 of the country's 2.4 million people have been displaced by the war. Most fled south with the bare minimum and survived in the rain and bitter cold.
“We didn't take any clothes with us. Now that it's cold, I have to buy winter clothes,” Khouloud Jarboue, a resident of Gaza City who has taken refuge in Rafah and has to dress her three children, told AFP.
International aid to Gaza arrives in dribs and drabs by truck from Egypt but for the second day in a row, no aid was able to enter Gaza on Friday via the Rafah crossing, the UN said. Vehicles from the UN agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA) are immobilized due to lack of fuel and cannot handle or distribute cargo, according to the United Nations.
UNRWA also indicated on Friday that it could no longer coordinate the distribution of aid due to the communications cutoff, again due to the lack of fuel for operate the generators.
The Israeli war cabinet announced Friday that it had authorized the daily entry of two fuel trucks into Gaza “for the needs of the UN”, at the request of the United States.
The lack of gasoline also affects health centers in Gaza where 70% of residents in the southern Gaza Strip do not have access to clean water.
The Hamas Ministry of Health reported on Thursday that 24 of the 35 hospitals in the territory had stopped functioning and the other nine were partially functioning.
The situation at al-Chifa hospital is “catastrophic” for patients, displaced people and caregivers who are crowded there without electricity “neither water nor food”, its director Mohammed Abou told AFP Salmiya. According to the UN, 2,300 people are currently inside the hospital.
The Israeli army is now combing through certain buildings of the huge hospital complex, located in the west of Gaza City, where it launched a raid on Wednesday.
Israel says that the hospital houses strategic Hamas infrastructure, notably in tunnels dug under the complex, which the Islamist movement denies.
“We focus on what is underground, including in hospitals” , said spokesperson Daniel Hagari on Thursday evening. “Images relating to hostages” captured by Hamas were found on equipment seized during the raid, the army added.
“We had strong indications that they (the hostages) were being held at al-Chifa hospital, and that was one of the reasons we entered there. If the hostages were of course in place, they were transported elsewhere, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the American channel CBS.
On Thursday night, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke with Benny Gantz, an Israeli opposition leader who has joined Netanyahu's war cabinet, “about efforts to increase and accelerate the passage of essential humanitarian aid to Gaza”, according to Washington.
In Israel, pressure increases on Benjamin Netanyahu over the hostage issue, as talks are held via mediation of Qatar. A march of relatives of the hostages who left Tel Aviv on Tuesday to demand an agreement on their release, is due to arrive in Jerusalem on Friday.
For the Egyptian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sameh Choukri, who says he is “in contact with Hamas, with other international parties concerned and with Israel”, negotiations are “very delicate”.
Israel has so far refused any ceasefire without prior release of the hostages. But for the exiled Hamas leader, Ismaïl Haniyeh, Israel “has not achieved any of its objectives” and will only obtain “the release of its prisoners at the price that the resistance sets.”