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US seeks truce as Israel bombs southern Gaza

Photo: Eyad Baba Agence France-Presse Displaced Palestinians gather at a damaged building used as a temporary shelter in the al-Bureij refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip on Wednesday, June 12, as the Israeli army continues its bombardment in the south the city of Rafah.

France Media Agency to Rafah

Posted at 7:31 a.m.

  • Middle East

The Israeli army shelled the town of Rafah, in the south of the Gaza Strip, on Thursday, after a tour of the Middle East by the head of American diplomacy, Antony Blinken, who seeks to secure a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas.

After more than eight months of war, the United States is working to reach an agreement based on a plan announced by President Joe Biden, on which the Palestinian Islamist movement transmitted an initial response to the mediating countries, while Israel has not officially made its position known.

Heavy artillery fire and airstrikes targeted several areas of Palestinian territory early Thursday, including the town of Rafah, on the border with Egypt, according to AFP correspondents.

Hamas' military wing claimed to be engaged in street fighting against Israeli soldiers in western Rafah, where witnesses reported fire from Apache helicopters.

In the center of the territory, according to Civil Defense, three bodies were found in a bombed house in the Nousseirat camp.

« We are exhausted”

The Israeli army launched a ground offensive on Rafah on May 7, forcing a million Palestinians to flee, according to the UN, for the most displaced several times by the war.

Israel had presented this offensive as essential to eliminate Hamas, but fighting has resumed in recent weeks in several other regions, notably in the center.

“Hamas does not see that we are tired ? We are dead, destroyed. The war must end at any cost,” Abu Shaker, a resident of Gaza City in the north of the besieged territory, told AFP.

“Enough! We are exhausted! Every day we are forced to move. Our children are deprived of food and water,” said another Palestinian, Ezzedine al-Belbissi, in the Bureij camp in the central Gaza Strip.

In northern Israel, rocket warning sirens sounded again on Thursday, according to the army.

On Wednesday, the Lebanese Islamist movement Hezbollah , Hamas ally, launched a hail of rockets on northern Israel and promised to intensify its attacks to avenge the death of a top commander killed in a targeted Israeli strike in southern Lebanon.

“Pressure” on Israel

On Wednesday in Doha, Mr. Blinken said that the United States would work with other mediating countries towards a ceasefire.

“More [ “the war] lasts, the more people will suffer, and it is time to stop the bargaining,” he said.

Hamas announced on Tuesday that it had handed over Qatar and Egypt its response to the three-stage plan announced on May 31 by Joe Biden.

This plan provides, in a first phase, for a cease-fire six-week fire accompanied by an Israeli withdrawal from densely populated areas of Gaza, the release of some hostages held in Gaza and the release of Palestinians imprisoned by Israel.

The content of Hamas' response was not revealed, but Blinken said “some changes” demanded by the Islamist movement were “feasible, others not.” “I think that gap can be bridged,” he added.

The Secretary of State also said that the United States would present “in the coming weeks the key elements” for the post-war in Gaza, including “how to manage governance, security and reconstruction”.

The Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has not officially responded to the plan announced by Joe Biden and affirms that he will continue the war until the defeat of Hamas, in power in Gaza since 2007 and considered a terrorist organization by Israel, the United States and the European Union.

Hamas, for its part, is demanding a definitive ceasefire and the withdrawal of the Israeli army from Gaza.

Antony Blinken “continues to talk about Israel agreeing to the latest proposal, but we have not heard from any Israeli officials to speak on it,” Hamas said Wednesday, calling on “Mr. Blinken and the government Biden to put direct pressure” on Israel.

According to a source close to the discussions, the Islamist movement's response contains “amendments” to the initial plan, “including a timetable for a permanent ceasefire and the total withdrawal of Israeli troops from Gaza.”

The Families Forum, the main association of hostage relatives, urged the government to act quickly because “any delay could seriously endanger the hostages. »

“Acute malnutrition”

The war was sparked on October 7 by an attack carried out by Hamas from the Gaza Strip in southern Israel, which resulted in the deaths of 1,194 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally compiled in based on official Israeli data.

Of 251 people kidnapped, 116 are still held hostage in Gaza, of whom 41 are dead, according to the army.

In response, the Israeli army launched an offensive which resulted in an unprecedented death toll of 37,202 in the territory, the majority of them civilians, according to data from the Ministry of Health of the government in Gaza, led by Hamas.

A UN commission of inquiry found on Wednesday that Israel was responsible for “crimes against humanity”, notably for “extermination”, in the Palestinian territory. She also accused the Israeli authorities and seven Palestinian armed groups, including the armed wing of Hamas, of war crimes.

Israel on Thursday accused the commission of making “false accusations and slander” against its army.

The war has caused a humanitarian disaster in the Strip. Gaza, where the UN is concerned about the risk of famine.

More than 8,000 children under the age of five have been treated in Gaza for acute malnutrition, “including 1,600 children suffering from severe acute malnutrition” and 28 died, the World Health Organization revealed.

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