Fatima Shbair Associated Press In Khan Younes, in the south of the Gaza Strip, Palestinians search through the rubble of a building destroyed Friday by an Israeli strike.
Hamas reported Israeli ground incursions in two areas of the Gaza Strip on Friday evening. “Violent fighting” broke out, according to the Islamist movement. The Jewish state also announced it would carry out strikes of “unprecedented” intensity. The humanitarian crisis continues to worsen in the Palestinian territory, while its communication and Internet networks are cut.
“It’s unimaginable what’s happening in Gaza,” laments Nadja Pollaert, executive director of Médecins du Monde Canada. There is nothing left in the health system. Operations are carried out without anesthesia. Surgeons have to use their cell phones to light up because they have no electricity. People fall like a game of dominoes. »
The humanitarian crisis continues to worsen in the Palestinian territory, while its communications and Internet networks are cut
Like the Red Cross and several other NGOs, Médecins du monde calls for a ceasefire. “Without that, we can’t do anything,” explains Ms. Pollaert. Our teams can no longer travel to Gaza, it is no longer safe. Several of our Palestinian colleagues are also stuck in the West Bank. Not to mention that Gazans can no longer contact their own emergency services. »
Communications and the Internet were effectively cut in the Gaza Strip on Friday, according to the Hamas government. The Palestinian telecommunications company Jawwal confirmed the outage, and journalists from several media outlets explained that they could only communicate in areas where they receive the Israeli network.
The UN General Assembly called for an “immediate humanitarian truce”, in a resolution which received 120 votes for, 14 against and 45 abstentions, from a total of 193 members. Israel called the text “infamy,” and Hamas called for its “immediate implementation.”
Bombardings from both sides
< p>The Israeli strikes began around 7 p.m. local time and were continuing at the time of writing. The bombings “by air, sea and land” are “the most violent since the start of the war” on October 7, Hamas's press service said, accusing Israel of “preparing massacres.”
< p>A senior Islamist movement official said he was “ready” to retaliate if Israel moves forward with its ground offensive this weekend. Hamas also launched rocket salvos at the Jewish state on Friday.
The Israeli army, for its part, confirmed that it had intensified its strikes “very significantly” on the Gaza Strip. It announced it would “expand” its land operations there. “We will continue to strike in Gaza City and its surroundings,” army spokesman Daniel Hagari said in a televised statement.
In a statement, Hamas called on “Arab and Muslim countries and the international community to assume their responsibilities and act immediately to stop the crimes and massacres against [their] people.” p>
Fearing an escalation of violence, the United States declared itself in favor of a “humanitarian pause”, for the first time since the outbreak of the conflict, in order to allow aid into the Palestinian territory.
UN Secretary-General António Guterres, for his part, reiterated his call for a “humanitarian ceasefire”. “Without fundamental change, the population of Gaza will suffer an unprecedented avalanche of human suffering,” he said.
Gaza hospitals overwhelmed
Humanitarian aid, which has been trickling into the Gaza Strip since October 21, remains clearly insufficient to meet the needs of the population. A first Red Cross convoy since the start of the war entered the Palestinian territory on Friday.
“Only 2% of the real needs of Gazans are met by current aid, maintains Nadja Pollaert . Fuel is a major issue. Drinking water, which must be filtered by machines that run on fuel, is sorely lacking. Several thousand women who are due to give birth in the coming months are also affected. »
Agence France-Presse, which continues its activities on site despite cuts in communications networks, noted that hospitals were particularly overwhelmed. “The smell of death is everywhere, in every neighborhood, every street and every house,” lamented Raed Al-Astal, a Gazan pulmonologist.
Other strikes on hospitals are also to be feared, the Israeli army having accused Hamas of using “hospitals” as “command centers and hiding places” connected to its network of tunnels and of “using fuel [intended for] hospitals for its military infrastructure.”
Thousands of dead children
According to Hamas, 7,326 people, mostly civilians, including more than 3,000 children, have been killed by bombings on Gaza since the start of the conflict. Nearly 19,000 people were injured. According to figures released Thursday, 600 of the children killed were under the age of 4.
Washington has questioned the credibility of Hamas's records, but Philippe Lazzarini, the head of the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, said Friday that they had “never been challenged” in previous conflicts.
According to Israeli authorities, more than 1,400 people, mostly civilians, have been killed in Israel since the October 7 attack. Hamas fighters also kidnapped 229 Israeli, binational or foreign hostages. Four women have been released to date. Hamas' military wing “estimated” that “nearly 50” hostages were killed by Israeli strikes.
The international community still fears a conflagration in the region, especially since Iran, a powerful supporter of Hamas, has issued several warnings to the United States, Israel's ally. US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin announced that the United States carried out strikes on Thursday against two facilities in eastern Syria used by Iran's Revolutionary Guard and “affiliated groups.”
Tension is also high in the West Bank, Palestinian territory occupied by Israel since 1967, as well as on Israel's northern border, shared with Lebanon, where exchanges of fire between the Israeli army and Hezbollah , supported by Iran and ally of Hamas, are daily. More than 100 Palestinians have been killed in the West Bank since October 7.
With Agence France-Presse