The head of American diplomacy, Antony Blinken, is expected in Israel to try to obtain a de-escalation of the war in Gaza and prevent its contagion in Lebanon, where, according to a security source, an Israeli strike killed a military leader of the Hezbollah.
According to American officials, Mr. Blinken’s trip aims to press Israel – which Washington supports politically and militarily – to enter a new military phase less costly in Palestinian lives, and to initiate a dialogue in the region on the post-war period. war.
In the Gaza Strip, where the war has entered its fourth month, Israeli strikes which continue without respite have left 249 dead in the last 24 hours, according to the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas, in power since 2007 in the narrow strip. earthen.
Antony Blinken, touring the region for the fourth time since the start of the war on October 7, also hopes to prevent a rise in tension in the region, particularly on the Israeli-Lebanese border.
On Monday, a Hezbollah military official was killed about ten kilometers from the border with Israel. He “played a leading role in directing operations” in southern Lebanon, the scene of almost daily clashes between the pro-Iranian Lebanese movement and the Israeli army, according to a Lebanese security source.
According to Hezbollah, this is “Commander Wissam Hassan Tawil”, the highest military official of this formation killed since it opened a front with Israel to support Palestinian Hamas.
Arriving in Saudi Arabia on Monday afternoon, the head of American diplomacy met the Saudi crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, whose country had announced at the start of the war that it was suspending negotiations on possible normalization with Israel.
Israel has vowed to destroy Hamas, a movement classified as terrorist by the United States and the European Union, after its unprecedented attack on its territory on October 7, which killed around 1,140 people, mostly civilians, according to a count by the ‘AFP based on the Israeli assessment.
Around 250 people were kidnapped and taken to Gaza, including around 100 released in exchange for Palestinian prisoners during a truce in late November. In total, 132 are still held hostage by different Palestinian armed groups. On Monday, Islamic Jihad released a video of a living Israeli hostage.
Israeli strikes left 23,084 dead in Gaza, mostly women and minors, according to a latest report from Hamas on Monday.
The bombings razed entire neighborhoods there, displaced 85% of the population and caused a catastrophic humanitarian crisis according to the UN.
In recent hours, the Israeli army struck Khan Younes, the main town in southern Gaza and the new epicenter of the fighting, killing “ten terrorists preparing to fire rockets at Israel”.
In the morning, a strike in Rafah, at the southern tip of Gaza, destroyed a car from which rescuers and residents were extracting bodies, according to AFPTV.
“We were told that Rafah was safe, but where is the security, there is no safe place, we don’t know what to do,” laments a witness, Mohammad Hejazy. Hundreds of thousands of Gazans have flocked to the city fleeing fighting further north.
Two journalists, Moustafa Thuraya and Hamza Waël Dahdouh, working for Al Jazeera were killed there on Sunday by an Israeli strike on their vehicle, according to the Qatari channel. A third journalist on board, Hazem Rajab, was seriously injured.
On Monday, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights said it was “very concerned about the high death toll of journalists in Gaza, calling for “the killings of all journalists” to be the subject of a “thorough investigation”.
The Israeli army took responsibility for the shooting, telling AFP that it had “hit a terrorist who was piloting a flying device posing a threat to the troops”, and that it was “aware of information according to which, during the strike, two other suspects who were in the same vehicle were also hit.”
In the besieged Gaza Strip, international organizations continue to warn of the ongoing health disaster, with humanitarian aid arriving in dribs and drabs, despite a UN Security Council resolution requesting the delivery of ‘help.
Rik Peeperkorn, representative of the World Health Organization (WHO) in the Palestinian Territories, pleaded with AFP on Monday for a “humanitarian ceasefire, the only way to respond to the desperate needs” of Gazans.
The WHO announced on X the cancellation for the 4th time since the end of December of a delivery of urgent medical supplies to northern Gaza due to lack of security guarantees.
The Israeli human rights NGO B’Tselem, for its part, accused Israel of “starving Gaza”, calling for an opening of the floodgates of food aid, in a new report on Monday.
High voltage border
The conflict has also increased violence to a level not seen in nearly twenty years in the West Bank, territory occupied by Israel since 1967.
Nine Palestinians were killed there on Sunday, including seven in an Israeli raid in Jenin, a stronghold of Palestinian armed factions where the violence also caused the death of a policewoman and an Israeli civilian.
On Israel’s northern border, the army again fired shots towards southern Lebanon on Monday morning, according to AFPTV images. During the night, she claimed to have carried out air raids against two Hezbollah sites.
Clashes in this area intensified after the assassination attributed to Israel, Tuesday in Beirut, of Saleh al-Arouri, number two in Hamas.
Since the start of the war, cross-border hostilities have left more than 180 dead in Lebanon, including more than 135 Hezbollah fighters, according to an AFP count. On the Israeli side, nine soldiers and five civilians were killed, according to the authorities.