The Israeli army is continuing to press on Khan Yunis, a Hamas stronghold, not far from Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip. The military spokesman said this, according to which, while the air raids continue, “soldiers have killed numerous terrorists and located weapons”. The most intense fighting occurred in the western part of the city. The military activities – according to the same source – also involved the center and north of the Strip.
Several people died and others were injured after Israeli tanks and artillery shells targeted the upper floors of the Nasser medical complex in Khan Younis. Wafa also reports the news given by the Arab broadcaster, speaking of at least one dead and three injured in the attack. The victims were apparently caused by Israeli sniper fire who shot towards the gates of the health facility, according to Wafa.
Al Jazeera also states that the death toll from Israeli bombings carried out last night on the city of Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, has risen to at least 15. In addition to the 11 victims already reported by the Palestinian agency Wafa, the Arab broadcaster reports four more dead and several injured in an attack on a residential building in the eastern neighborhood of al-Geneina. The death toll in the Gaza Strip since October 7 stands at more than 27,840 dead and 67,300 injured, according to the Hamas-run Palestinian Ministry of Health.
Benyamin Netanyahu challenges the US and orders the evacuation of Rafah in view of the Israeli military offensive against Hamas in the southern city of the Strip where hundreds of thousands of displaced Palestinians are crammed. The Israeli prime minister therefore continues in the face of the obvious intolerance if not the open opposition of American President Joe Biden, who defined Israel's response to the October 7 attacks as “exaggerated”.
Netanyahu informed the political cabinet ministers of the upcoming “massive operation” in the last city of the Strip before Egypt, the starting point of which could be nearby Khan Yunis, where fighting continues. “It is not possible – explained the head of the Israeli government – to achieve the objective of eliminating Hamas and at the same time leave four of its battalions in Rafah”.
Then he added that it is “clear that a massive operation in Rafah forces the eviction of civilians from combat zones.” The prime minister spoke of a “double plan”: one for the elimination of the Hamas battalions, the other for the evacuation of the civilian population. For this reason he ordered the defense apparatus to prepare measures to evacuate the hundreds of thousands of civilians in Rafah, in whose governorate, according to Unicef, “there are 600 thousand children”.
Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant briefed his US counterpart Lloyd Austin last night. A choice dictated by the initial reactions of Washington, which had claimed to know nothing of the decision, however defining it as a harbinger of “a humanitarian disaster”. Gallant reiterated to Austin the desire to achieve “the objectives of the war, the destruction of Hamas, the release of the hostages” and illustrated “the developments of the war”.
The reaction of the head of the White House was harsh, branding Israel's military conduct as “an exaggerated response”. Biden explained that he pushed “to allow humanitarian aid to enter Gaza. I convinced Netanyahu, I put strong pressure” but “there are still many innocent people dying of hunger, innocent women and children who desperately need help “.
However, American pressure does not seem to have an effect on the Israeli government, as does the vehement condemnation of Abu Mazen's Palestinian National Authority of the intention to attack Rafah: “It is a dangerous prelude to the implementation of the Israeli policy aimed at displacing the Palestinian people from his land”, accused the Ramallah presidency. “The news of an Israeli military offensive on Rafah is alarming – EU high representative Josep Borrell also tweeted -. It would have catastrophic consequences, worsening the already disastrous humanitarian situation and the unbearable toll on civilians”.
Biden's reaction was instead welcomed with satisfaction by Egypt, which is on the other side of Rafah and which made it known that it had strengthened security measures at the crossing with the Strip. For some time now, however, Cairo – where talks for a new ceasefire proposal continue – has increased protection along the entire border with Israel with the aim of preventing the passage of Palestinian refugees fleeing the war into the Sinai.
On the 126th day of conflict, the army continued to pound Rafah from the sky: Al Jazeera reported “at least 8 people killed and 18 others injured in raids on two houses” in the city. Among the victims, according to the Palestinian agency Wafa, “at least three children”. While in the increasingly bitter clash between Israel and the UN, Knesset Speaker Ami Ohana announced that he had canceled a meeting in New York with Secretary General Antonio Guterres. “I wanted to try to persuade him but yesterday – Ohana said – he again appealed to Israel to stop the fighting and criticized it. There are lost causes and red lines”.
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