Heavy shelling in southern Gaza Strip, where medicine for hostages expected

Immersed in humanitarian situation described as 'catastrophic', Gaza Strip faces 'danger of starvation'

Screenshot 1 10 BOMBING, GAZA

Israel increased yesterday Tuesday and continues today the intensive aerial bombardment of the southern part of the Gaza Strip, where medicine for the hostages in the hands of Hamas and humanitarian aid for the Palestinian population are expected, as part of an agreement concluded with the mediation of Qatar and France .

After midnight, witnesses reported Israeli strikes near Nasser Hospital in Khan Younis, the largest city in the southern Gaza Strip, an area where the Israeli military says leaders of the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas are hiding.

According to eyewitnesses, the shelling caused panic and the fleeing of those displaced by the fighting, who had taken refuge in the huge courtyard of the health facility in recent weeks. Hamas' health ministry said there had been a "large number" of casualties, at least 81 dead, in the overnight shelling in Khan Younis and other areas of the enclave.

Immersed in a humanitarian situation described as "catastrophic", the Gaza Strip is facing a "danger of famine" and a public health crisis, in the middle of winter and a cold wave, the UN does not stop warning.

"My daughter can't sleep, she keeps telling me she's cold, you see we're sleeping downstairs, I have nothing to cover, I can't describe how cold it is here. We will die of the cold outside, how about we sleep here?", Hanin Antoine, displaced in Rafah, at the southern end of the Palestinian enclave, on the border with Egypt, said - she was almost monologuing.

At the same time the Gaza Strip is experiencing the "longest" telecommunications blackout on record "since the outbreak of war" with "the majority of residents unable to contact the outside world since January 12". , recorded NetBlocks, an online activity monitoring service.

Although efforts to declare a "ceasefire", or even a second humanitarian truce like the one at the end of November, fail, mediation by France and Qatar is expected to allow the delivery in the next hours of humanitarian aid intended for Palestinian civilians and medicine for hostages.

About 250 people were abducted and taken to the Gaza Strip when members of Hamas' military wing launched an unprecedented attack on southern areas of the Israeli territory on October 7, killing about 1.140 people, mostly civilians, according to AFP account based on official announcements.

In retaliation, Israel has vowed to "wipe out" the Palestinian Islamist movement in power in the Gaza Strip since 2007, and its military operations since then have killed at least 24.285 people—1 percent of the population—mostly women and children. Hamas Health Ministry reports.

Medicines and help

The truce agreed in late November allowed for a week-long cessation of hostilities and the release of more than 132 hostages, bringing to 27 the number of Israelis believed to be still in the Palestinian enclave, according to Israeli authorities — but at least XNUMX of them are dead.

About a third of these people have chronic illnesses and need treatment, according to a report released Nov. 9 by the hostage relatives collective Bring them home now.

Yesterday, Tuesday, Qatar announced that an agreement had been reached between Israel and Hamas, after mediation by the emirate and Paris, regarding the "entry of medicines (...) for the hostages and in exchange for a shipment of humanitarian aid for civilians in the Gaza Strip." .

"Medicines and aid will be sent tomorrow (today) to the city of Al Ares" in Egypt "by two planes of the Qatari armed forces, in view of their transfer to the Gaza Strip," explained the head of the emirate's diplomacy. .

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, for his part, expressed "gratitude" to the mediators and insisted that the drugs must reach those for whom they are intended, according to his office in Jerusalem.

In Tel Aviv, Israeli anti-war protesters clashed with police last night during a rally against Mr Netanyahu's government and the war on the Gaza Strip.

Speaking of a "vicious cycle of violence without end that leads nowhere", protester Michal Sapri insisted that "only a political solution will bring peace, equality and justice to the region".

"If the occupation continues (…) the children growing up today in Gaza are the ones we will be fighting in a few years," argued Sava Lerman, another protester.

"Volume" variable

Earlier this week, Israel's Defense Minister Yoav Gallad announced that the most "intensive" phase of military operations in the southern Gaza Strip, after those he said were almost complete in the north, would "end soon."

This war escalates the tensions in the region between, on the one hand, Israel and its allies, mainly the USA, and on the other hand, the "axis of resistance" that is close to Iran and includes, in addition to Hamas, the Lebanese Hezbollah movement and the Yemeni Houthi rebels.

On the Israel/Lebanon border, where exchanges of fire between Hezbollah's military arm and Israeli forces are a daily occurrence, Chahal yesterday announced new strikes against Shiite militant positions in southern sectors of Lebanese territory.

While the US military carried out new bombings in Yemen yesterday, this time against a facility from where the Houthis, who threaten the movement of commercial ships in the Red Sea as a sign of "solidarity" with the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, were preparing to launch four missiles.

France has "decided not to participate" in the US-British strikes in Yemen in order to "avoid any escalation", President Emmanuel Macron said in an interview on Tuesday, speaking at the same time of a "permanent danger" for Israel, as the latter continues its military operations, which for the French head of state are not sufficiently targeted, in the Gaza Strip.

The European Union yesterday added to its blacklist of "terrorists" the name of Yahya Sinwar, the leader of Hamas in the Palestinian enclave, who is considered the architect of the October 7 attacks.

While, according to US media reports and a Joe Biden administration official, the US will today again add the Houthis to the list of "terrorist" organizations; it already included Hamas. The latter is also designated a "terrorist organization" by the EU and Israel.

Source: protothema.gr