Israel and Hamas at war, day 167 | US calls for ‘immediate’ ceasefire in Gaza

The United States has for the first time presented a draft resolution to the UN calling for an “immediate ceasefire linked to the release of hostages” in the Gaza Strip, besieged and on the verge of famine after five months and a half of war between Israel and Hamas.

This change in position of the United States, historic allies of Israel, was announced Wednesday by Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Saudi Arabia, the first stop of a regional tour which took him to Egypt on Thursday before a visit on Friday in Israel.

Mr. Blinken stressed, however, that this ceasefire should be linked to the release of hostages kidnapped during the attack carried out by Hamas against Israel on October 7, which sparked the war.


Secretary of State Antony Blinken

We have submitted a resolution which is now before the Security Council which calls for an immediate ceasefire linked to the release of the hostages and we very much hope that countries will support it.

Antony Blinken, to Saudi media Al Hadath

On Thursday, the Hamas Health Ministry announced the deaths of at least 65 people in Israeli strikes in 24 hours.

Witnesses reported raids in the center of the territory and fighting around al-Chifa hospital in Gaza City in the north.

Landscape of ruins

More than 140 Palestinian fighters have been killed since the start of the major operation launched Monday against this hospital complex, according to the Israeli army.

Hundreds of civilians continued to flee the hospital and its surroundings on Thursday and reached the coast to escape the bombings.

AFP images showed thick clouds of smoke above Khan Younes (south). In the neighboring town of Rafah, residents inspected the rubble of houses, in a landscape of ruins.

On October 7, Hamas commandos infiltrated from Gaza carried out an unprecedented attack in southern Israel, which resulted in the deaths of at least 1,160 people, most of them civilians, according to an AFP tally. based on official Israeli data.

According to Israel, around 250 people have been kidnapped and 130 of them are still hostages in Gaza, of whom 33 are believed to have died.

In retaliation, Israel vowed to destroy Hamas, in power in Gaza since 2007, which it considers a terrorist organization along with the United States and the European Union.

His army launched an offensive that left 31,988 dead in Gaza, according to the Islamist movement’s health ministry.

On his sixth tour of the Middle East since the start of the war, Blinken met President Abdel Fattah al-Sissi in Cairo on Thursday to discuss ways to achieve a ceasefire, before a meeting with the heads of diplomacy of five Arab countries-Egypt, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, United Arab Emirates.

CIA-Mossad meeting

These ministers jointly called for “a complete and immediate ceasefire” and “the opening of all crossing points between Israel and the Gaza Strip” in order to allow humanitarian aid to pass through.

At the same time, discussions on a truce continue in Doha between representatives of the United States, Qatar and Egypt.

The head of Mossad, the Israeli intelligence services, David Barnea, and that of the CIA, William Burns, are to meet Friday in Doha.

Mr. Barnea must also meet the Qatari Prime Minister Mohammed bin Abdelrahman Al-Thani, and the head of the Egyptian intelligence services, Abbas Kamel, “with a view to moving towards the release of the hostages” held in Gaza, as part of a truce between Israel and Hamas, indicated the office of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

“I think the gap is closing and an agreement is entirely possible,” Mr. Blinken said on Wednesday.

But a Hamas official said Israel’s response to its truce proposal, transmitted by mediators to Qatar, was “overall negative” and could “lead the negotiations to an impasse.”

Hamas seemed in mid-March to open the door to a truce associated with a release of hostages, after having long demanded a definitive ceasefire prior to any agreement.

Since the start of the war, the United States has vetoed several UN Security Council resolutions calling for a ceasefire in Gaza, believing it would have benefited Hamas.

Washington, which calls on Israel to make the protection of the population a “priority”, is now increasing pressure on its ally so that it does not launch the ground offensive announced on Rafah, fearing heavy civilian losses.

This city, backed by the closed border with Egypt, is home, according to the UN, to nearly a million and a half people, mainly displaced people.

A major Israeli operation in Rafah would be “a mistake,” Antony Blinken said Thursday. Benjamin Netanyahu continues to repeat that such an offensive is necessary to defeat Hamas.

“Children are starving”

In order to provide some relief to the population, several countries are organizing daily airdrops of food and have opened a maritime corridor from Cyprus to Gaza, but all emphasize that these supply routes cannot replace land routes.

“Children are starving. They are deprived of food,” the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child expressed alarm on Thursday, renewing its call for a ceasefire.

“Even crumbs are hard to find,” he says.

Israel has imposed a complete siege on the Gaza Strip since the start of the war and strictly controls humanitarian aid which arrives mainly from Egypt via Rafah.

This aid remains very insufficient given the immense needs of the 2.4 million inhabitants of Gaza and reaches only with great difficulty in the north, where more than 300,000 people live according to the UN.

UN agencies have warned that famine will rage in this part of the territory by May unless “urgent” measures are taken.

“The siege, hunger and disease will soon become the main causes of death in Gaza,” warned the commissioner general of the UN agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA), Philippe Lazzarini.


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