Israel and Hamas at war, day 97 | Gaza under the bombs, Blinken concludes his diplomatic marathon

Israeli aircraft heavily bomb the south of the Gaza Strip on Thursday while the head of American diplomacy Antony Blinken concluded in Egypt a diplomatic marathon in the region, aimed at stemming the spread of the conflict between Israel and Palestinian Hamas.




The US official met with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, before flying to the United States after a tour of nine countries, including Turkey and Saudi Arabia, as well as the occupied West Bank.

“Israel’s security and (regional) integration are linked to opening a path towards a Palestinian state,” he highlighted his departure.

He also judged that a rapprochement between Israel and the Arab countries, the majority of which do not recognize it, would be “the best way to isolate Iran and its proxies”, while Hamas and Lebanese Hezbollah are part of the Iranian-backed movements in the region.

PHOTO EVELYN HOCKSTEIN, ASSOCIATED PRESS

Antony Blinken met with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, before flying to the United States after a tour of nine countries, including Turkey and Saudi Arabia, as well as the occupied West Bank.

Mr. Blinken, however, judged in Cairo that he did not think that “the conflict is intensifying”, in particular despite the almost daily violence on the Israeli-Lebanese border.

In parallel with diplomacy and fighting, Israel faces accusations of “genocidal acts” for its offensive in Gaza on Thursday before the International Court of Justice (ICJ), formulated by South Africa, but already qualified as ” “absurd” by Israeli President Isaac Herzog.

The Hamas attack of October 7 cannot justify Israel’s “violation” of the Genocide Convention, South Africa told the UN’s highest court on Thursday.

South Africa behaves like “the legal arm of the terrorist organization Hamas”, the Israeli Foreign Ministry slammed in response on Thursday.

PHOTO MOHAMMED DAHMAN, ASSOCIATED PRESS

A young Palestinian injured in Khan Younes, January 11, 2024.

Very “prepared” enemy

The war was triggered by an unprecedented attack on October 7 by Hamas on Israeli soil which left around 1,140 dead, mainly civilians, according to an AFP count based on the Israeli toll.

In retaliation, Israel has vowed to wipe out the Islamist movement in power in Gaza, which it classifies as a terrorist group like the United States and the European Union.

Its military operations in the Gaza Strip have left at least 23,469 dead, the majority of them women, adolescents and children, or nearly 1% of the population of this territory, according to the latest report Thursday from the Hamas Ministry of Health.

On the front, early Thursday, Israeli aircraft increased strikes in the area of ​​Khan Younes, the main town in the south of the territory, which had become the epicenter of the fighting, according to witnesses.

Israeli army chief of staff Herzi Halevin, who visited central Gaza on Wednesday, stressed that the operations were taking place “in a very, very complex territory” and “in the face of an enemy who prepared his defense over a very long period and in a very organized manner.”

The intensity of the fighting is further aggravating the ongoing health disaster in Gaza, where 85% of the population has been displaced and where humanitarian aid is arriving in trickles, international organizations warn.

In Rafah, where hundreds of thousands of displaced people are crowded, Zaki Shaheen, a retired doctor, transformed his shop into a first aid room to treat the wounded Palestinians.

PHOTO AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Zaki Shaheen, a retired doctor, transformed his shop into a first aid room to treat injured Palestinians.

“At night, we sometimes stay until 11 p.m. or after midnight, when everything is closed and it’s impossible to get in a car or go to the hospital,” he explains.

“Israel considers itself above the law,” criticizes Hisham al-Kullah, as he arrives carrying the body of a deceased infant at the Al-Najjar hospital in Rafah, in the extreme southern Gaza Strip. “We want international judges to judge Israel,” he adds.

Warning to Yemeni rebels

Despite numerous diplomatic efforts, there is no immediate prospect of an end to this war, which entered its fourth month this week and which is fueling a series of tensions in the region.

On Israel’s northern border, hostilities intensified after the strike attributed to Israel on January 2 which killed Hamas number two, Saleh al-Arouri, near Beirut.

British and American forces also shot down 18 drones and three missiles fired by the Houthis in the Red Sea on Tuesday evening, according to the American military.

Yemeni rebels are increasing attacks on merchant ships on this strategic route, disrupting global maritime traffic, in the name of their “solidarity” with the Palestinians in Gaza.

Since mid-November, the Houthis have carried out 26 attacks in the Red Sea, according to the US military. Local container ship traffic there has fallen by about 70%, said Ami Daniel, founder and director of Windward, a shipping consulting and expertise firm.

The actions of the Houthis “will have consequences”, warned Mr. Blinken on Wednesday evening from Bahrain and after his meeting, earlier in the day, with the President of the Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas.

The Palestinian Authority in Gaza?

The Palestinian Authority lost control of the Gaza Strip to Hamas in 2007 and only exercises its limited power in the occupied West Bank.

During their meeting in Ramallah, MM. Abbas and Blinken “spoke about the importance of reforming the Palestinian Authority, its policies and its governance, so that it can effectively assume responsibility for Gaza” (…), said the head of diplomacy American, reaffirming Washington’s support for the creation of a Palestinian state.

“I would like to clarify a few points: Israel does not intend to occupy Gaza permanently or to displace its civilian population,” declared Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, thus going against far-right ministers in his government, but without committing to a Palestinian state.


reference: www.lapresse.ca

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