The Israeli army announced on Saturday that it wanted to intensify its strikes on the Gaza Strip, carried out for two weeks in response to the Hamas attack against Israel, a few hours after the entry of a first humanitarian aid convoy, coming from Egypt, in the Palestinian territory.
The Rafah border post, the only exit from the Gaza Strip not to be controlled by Israel, closed, according to witnesses, after the passage of this convoy of 20 trucks, very insufficient according to the UN, for which At least 100 trucks per day would be needed to meet the needs of the territory’s 2.4 million inhabitants.
Israel, which has promised to “annihilate” Hamas, is meanwhile preparing for a ground offensive in Gaza against the Islamist movement. The army wants to “increase strikes” on the territory, a spokesperson said.
“This is a test for our civilization and we will win,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared Saturday evening during a meeting with his Italian counterpart, Giorgia Meloni, in Tel Aviv.
For UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, “a massive delivery of aid is necessary”. During an international summit held in Cairo, he called for a “humanitarian ceasefire” to “end the nightmare” of the population.
On Saturday, Israeli bombardments continued on Gaza, while rocket attacks from Palestinian groups continued to target Israel.
Several army officials visited the troops, emphasizing the preparedness of the armed forces.
“I speak to the Israelis”
“We are going to enter Gaza, we are going to do it for an operational purpose, to destroy the infrastructure and the Hamas terrorists, and we are going to do it in a professional manner,” declared the head of state during a troop review. major, Herzi Halevi.
“Gaza is complex, Gaza is densely populated, the enemy is preparing a lot of things there, but we are also preparing for him,” warned the senior officer. “And we will keep in mind the photographs and images, as well as the deaths of two weeks ago. »
US President Joe Biden on Saturday urged all parties to the conflict to continue allowing humanitarian aid, “a crucial necessity”, into the Gaza Strip. Asked by a reporter whether he encouraged Israel to delay an invasion of the Gaza Strip, Mr. Biden simply replied: “I’m talking to the Israelis. »
The American Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, called on “all parties” to leave the Rafah crossing point open, “so that essential aid can be continuously delivered” to Gazans.
In the Gaza Strip, where a million Palestinians, according to the UN, have fled bombings in the north to mass in the south, near the border with Egypt, the situation is “catastrophic”, said Saturday five United Nations agencies.
“Time is running out before mortality rates skyrocket due to the outbreak of disease and lack of health care capacity,” these agencies warned.
Subject to an Israeli land, air and sea blockade since Hamas took power there in 2007, the Gaza Strip, a poor and cramped territory of 362 square kilometers, has been placed under “complete siege” since October 9. by Israel, which cut off water, electricity and food supplies there.
More than 1,400 people have been killed in Israel by Hamas men since October 7, the majority of them civilians who were shot, burned alive or died of mutilation on the day of the attack carried out from the Gaza Strip, according to Israeli authorities. .
The Israeli army announced that it had found the bodies of 1,500 Hamas fighters in the localities over which it regained control after this attack, the deadliest since the creation of Israel in 1948.
In the Gaza Strip, 4,385 people, mostly civilians, were killed in incessant bombings carried out in retaliation by the Israeli army, according to the Hamas Ministry of Health.
Hamas, classified as a terrorist organization by the United States, the European Union and Israel, also holds 210 Israeli, foreign and binational hostages, according to the army.
On Friday, the Islamist movement released the first two hostages, Americans, a mother and her daughter, Judith and Natalie Raanan, via mediation from Qatar, where the Hamas political office is based.
Qatar considers possible a release “very soon” of the hostages thanks to ongoing discussions, declared the spokesperson for the Qatari Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in an interview with the German newspaper World am SonntagSATURDAY.
The UN, for its part, reiterated its call for the “immediate and unconditional release” of all those kidnapped by Hamas.
On Saturday, according to AFP journalists present on site, a first convoy of 20 trucks from the Egyptian Red Crescent, responsible for delivering aid sent by several UN agencies, was able to enter the Gaza Strip .
Visiting Israel on Wednesday, Joe Biden indicated that this country had given the green light for the entry of humanitarian aid into Gaza, thus responding to the request of the international community.
“Israel will not prevent humanitarian aid from Egypt as long as it involves food, water and medicine for the civilian population in the south of the Gaza Strip,” the Israeli office later confirmed. Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu.
Israel, however, affirmed that it would not allow the entry of basic necessities or humanitarian aid into the Gaza Strip through its territory until Hamas had freed the hostages.
“44,000 bottles of water”
The convoy that entered on Saturday, carrying water, canned goods and medical supplies, “is far below the needs of the Gaza Strip,” assured a spokesperson for the Hamas government, Salameh Maarouf, specifying that in Normally some 500 trucks passed through the Palestinian territory every day.
More than 44,000 bottles of drinking water, “just enough for 22,000 people for a day”, were sent to Gaza, the UN said.
The arrival of massive aid is “an emergency”, in the face of “truly catastrophic” conditions in Gaza, according to the World Food Program.
The UN particularly insisted on the need to deliver fuel, vital for the Palestinian territory.
“Very dangerous message”
On Saturday, the Palestinian, Jordanian and Egyptian leaders meeting in Egypt alongside, in particular, European leaders Charles Michel and Josep Borrell, pleaded for a “ceasefire” and a “solution” to 75 years of Israeli-Palestinian conflict .
“The world is silent”, protested King Abdullah II of Jordan, seeing in it a “very dangerous message” that “the Arab world hears clearly”, on the value of Palestinian lives compared to that of Israeli lives.
On Friday, tens of thousands of people demonstrated in Arab and Muslim countries in solidarity with the Palestinians.
“We will not leave” Palestinian lands, affirmed the president of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, while Cairo and Amman are up in arms against the evacuation of Gazans to the south of Gaza demanded by Israel.
They see it as a first step towards “a forced displacement” towards the Egyptian Sinai which would, according to Mr. Abbas, amount to “a second Nakba” – catastrophe, in Arabic -, in reference to the 760,000 Palestinians pushed into exile after the creation of Israel in 1948.
Another source of tension, the northern region of Israel bordering Lebanon is emptying of its inhabitants, while skirmishes and exchanges of fire are increasing between the Israeli army and pro-Iranian Hezbollah, an ally of Hamas.
The United States has deployed two aircraft carriers to the Eastern Mediterranean to deter Iran or Hezbollah from becoming involved in the conflict.
In the West Bank, clashes left one person dead overnight, bringing to 84 the number of Palestinian deaths since October 7 in this Palestinian territory occupied by Israel, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health.