LAST UPDATE: 08:55
Once again, the Israeli prime minister on Monday rejected any possibility of declaring a cease-fire in the Gaza Strip, the Palestinian enclave that has been turned into a “children’s cemetery” according to the UN, while declaring that the authorities of his country will undertake the “overall responsibility for security” after ending the war with the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas, now entering its second month.
“There will be no ceasefire, no general ceasefire in Gaza, without the release of the hostages,” Benjamin Netanyahu said during an interview with the US television network ABC News last night, while also implying that his country would take over the “overall responsibility for security” in the Gaza Strip indefinitely after the war it declared on the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas ends.
As “when we are not in charge of security, we see an explosion of Hamas terrorism,” he added.
Earlier yesterday, Osama Hamdan, a senior official of the Palestinian Islamist movement, said from Lebanon that Hamas would remain in the Gaza Strip and would not accept a “Vichy government” being formed, referring to the domineering French regime during the Nazi era. occupation during World War II.
Mr Netanyahu’s remarks came hours after UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres renewed his call for a “humanitarian ceasefire”, which he described as “more urgent with each passing hour”, to end “the humanitarian nightmare in Gaza”, which has been turned into a “children’s cemetery”.
“The nightmare in Gaza is more than a humanitarian crisis, it is a crisis for humanity,” said Mr. Guterres.
The head of the Palestinian Red Crescent, Younis al-Khatib, emphasized yesterday that “every day we witness crimes against humanity. Thousands upon thousands of civilians are killed (…) Our members are killed. Our volunteers are killed.”
Relentless Israeli bombardment of the tiny Palestinian territory, among the most populous on the planet, launched in retaliation for Hamas’s bloody attack on Israel on October 7, has killed 10,022 people, mostly civilians, including more than 4,000 children. , according to the latest casualty tally released by the Hamas Health Ministry on Monday.
In Israel, over 1,400 people, also mostly civilians, were killed, mostly on the day of the unprecedented attack launched by the Palestinian Islamist movement, the deadliest since the State of Israel’s 1948 attack. Hamas also took over 240 hostages and the moved to Gaza.
According to a press release from the White House yesterday, US President Joe Biden mentioned in his conversation with the Israeli Prime Minister the “possibility of regular pauses” in Israeli operations in order to “give civilians opportunities to safely leave combat zones, to to ensure that aid reaches civilians in need and to allow for the potential release of hostages.”
As of Sunday night, the Israeli military announced it was escalating its bombing campaign, which is expected to last “days” as ground forces have been operating in the Gaza Strip since October 27.
“It was as if a million earthquakes happened together (…). We had no warning, nothing, and suddenly we were surprised by missiles falling on our heads non-stop,” said Saad Abu Shariah after strikes in Rafah (south).
“Yes, I’m afraid”
The heaviest fighting is taking place in the northern part of the Palestinian enclave, home to Gaza City, which the Israeli military says is now surrounded. According to the same source, the “center” of Hamas is located there. Chahal, the Israeli army, also assured that it has “cut in two” the enclave.
Near the border with Gaza, Israeli soldiers expressed their “pride” to serve their country, but some did not hide their concern.
“Yes, I’m a little afraid to go. We don’t know if we’ll come back alive,” said a 20-year-old soldier, whose name was withheld by military censors.
“We’ll do what we’re told to do, but it’s a terrible place to go,” he added.
Officially, according to the Israeli military, 30 soldiers have been killed since October 27.
At the Western Wall, Judaism’s holiest place of worship in Jerusalem, 1,400 candles were lit yesterday during a ceremony attended by family members of the victims of the Hamas attack.
“We have no other way to pay tribute to them than by praying, lighting candles, and keeping them in our hearts,” said Yossi Rivlin, 26, who lost two siblings at a rave party.
While in New York, hundreds of progressive American Jewish activists peacefully occupied the Statue of Liberty in New York on Monday to demand that Israel declare a ceasefire and end the “genocidal bombing of Palestinian civilians in Gaza.”
“As long as the people of Gaza scream, we must scream louder, no matter how hard they try to silence us,” noted American photographer Nancy Goldin.
The Israeli shelling is a severe ordeal for the 2.4 million Palestinians who have been trapped in the 362 square kilometer enclave, without water, food or electricity since October 9.
There are now 1.5 million people forcibly displaced in the Gaza Strip, in other words more than half of its population, according to UN figures.
Mr Guterres criticized yesterday that humanitarian aid arriving via Rafah – where there is a border crossing linking the enclave with Egypt – is woefully inadequate. 569 trucks have arrived since October 21, he explained, speaking of “drops” of aid that fail to cover the “ocean of needs”.
The Gaza Strip, from which Israel announced it was “withdrawing” in 2005 after 38 years of occupation, has been blockaded for more than 16 years after Hamas came to power, a movement that Israel, the US and the EU describe as ” terrorist organisation.
On Monday, wounded Palestinians and people with dual citizenship were allowed to cross into Egyptian territory through Rafah, an official said, following a two-day suspension of such removals that began last week.
As the international community continues to worry about the risk of war spreading, the US Department of Defense has announced that it is deploying a submarine in the Middle East region, for reasons of deterrence, according to it.
Tensions remain high, especially in the West Bank, territory under Israeli occupation since 1967, where more than 150 Palestinians have been killed by gunfire from soldiers or Jewish settlers since Oct. 7, according to Palestinian Authority figures.
In East Jerusalem, in the Palestinian part of the holy city that Israel has annexed and calls its “eternal capital”, an Israeli policewoman died after being attacked by a 16-year-old Palestinian, who was killed.
Another source of tension: on the Israel/Lebanon border, exchanges of fire remain daily between Hezbollah and its allies, including Hamas, on the one hand, and the Israeli army on the other.
Since October 7, 83 people have been killed on the Lebanese side, including 11 civilians, according to an AFP count, while on the Israeli side, six soldiers and two civilians have been killed.