Sunday, June 20

No respite in Gaza, Israel and the West Bank

Israeli bombardments and bursts of Palestinian Hamas rockets left more dead on Tuesday, and violence rekindled in the West Bank, as the international community intensifies efforts to try to stop the deadly escalation.

Palestinians in the West Bank staged a day of general strike and “anger” in solidarity with Gaza on Tuesday, which was widely followed. On the sidelines of these rallies, which degenerated into clashes with the army, two Palestinians were killed and Israeli soldiers shot and wounded.

Since the start of the new round of armed violence between the Jewish state and groups in Gaza on May 10, at least 230 people, the vast majority Palestinians, have been killed.

Israeli raids continued on the Palestinian enclave of the Gaza Strip, leaving more and more buildings gutted, AFP journalists noted. “There is no more electricity or water, no more roof, the windows and the doors are broken”, testified Kamal Harzallah, whose house was destroyed in a bombardment.

Already 40,000 displaced

Barely open a few hours, the Kerem Shalom crossing point was closed on Tuesday by Israel after Palestinian shellfire, causing international aid trucks loaded with food, medicine and gasoline to turn around.

France on Tuesday asked Israel to “guarantee rapid and unhindered access of aid to Gaza” after the closure of this crucial crossing point, Prime Minister Jean Castex told the National Assembly.

In addition to the security crisis, there is the risk of a humanitarian crisis, with nearly 40,000 Palestinians displaced and 2,500 people having lost their homes in the bombings, and a risk of food and health shortages, according to international humanitarian agencies.

Deadly rockets

On the Israeli side, two Thai workers were killed in the afternoon by missile fire from Gaza towards the south of the country, police said. In nine days, 3,500 rockets were fired of which around 90% were intercepted by the Israeli air defense system, according to the military.

Since the start of armed hostilities, 213 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza, including at least 61 children, and more than 1,440 injured, according to a Palestinian record. In Israel, twelve people were killed, including a child, and 294 injured by rocket fire.

The UN Security Council is due to meet for a fourth time urgently on Tuesday, while the United States still refuses the adoption of a declaration calling for “an end to the violence”.

US President Joe Biden expressed his support for a “ceasefire” for the first time in a new telephone interview Monday with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. “We will continue for as long as it takes to restore peace to the citizens of Israel,” however hammered the latter.

Hamas, in power in Gaza since 2007, threatened to fire more rockets at Tel Aviv if the Israeli air force “did not stop targeting civilians”, while its missiles targeted dozens of southern Israel.

The IDF said it had targeted what it calls “the metro” – tunnels that Israel claims allow the Islamist movement to circulate its ammunition – as well as the homes of Hamas commanders, claiming that some are used to “store weapons. weapons ”.

“Discreet” but “intensive” diplomacy

On the diplomatic front, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas pleaded with the American envoy Hady Amr visiting the West Bank for an “intervention” from Washington.

White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki defended Washington’s “low-key” but “intensive” diplomatic approach.

Several mediation channels have been opened. French and Egyptian presidents Emmanuel Macron and Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who are working on mediation, spoke again on Tuesday with King Abdullah II of Jordan, according to the French presidency. A second mediation is also underway, via the UN, assisted by Qatar and Egypt.

Brussels intends to look into the conflict in its turn, during an emergency videoconference of European foreign ministers scheduled for Tuesday.

The conflict erupted after a Hamas rocket barrage was fired at Israel in solidarity with the hundreds of Palestinian protesters injured in clashes with Israeli police on the Mosque Plaza in East Jerusalem. At the origin of the violence, the threat of expulsion of Palestinian families for the benefit of Israeli settlers in this Palestinian sector occupied by Israel for more than 50 years.

The last major confrontation between Israel and Hamas was in the summer of 2014. The 51-day conflict had ravaged the Gaza Strip and left at least 2,251 dead on the Palestinian side, mostly civilians, and 74 on the Israeli side, almost all soldiers.

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