Israel-Hamas war: the battle of Rafah will be “decisive” says Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

Violent fighting pitted the Israeli army against Hamas on Friday in the north of the Gaza Strip, the day after Israel announced an “intensification” of its operations in Rafah, in the south, despite international fears for the civilian population.

After days of blocking the arrival of humanitarian aid in the Palestinian territory threatened by famine, the American army announced that a first load had begun to be unloaded on Friday by the temporary American pier anchored on the coast of the Gaza Strip .

In the eighth month of the war between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas, the Israeli army fought against Palestinian forces in the Jabalia refugee camp in the north, also targeted by Israeli aerial bombardments and artillery fire, according to witnesses.

Six people were killed in their bombed home, according to the Palestinian Civil Defense, whose teams are trying to rescue other residents trapped in the rubble.

In the far south of the Palestinian territory, in Rafah, the armed wing of Hamas, the Ezzedine al-Qassam brigades, claimed to have targeted Israeli troops “stationed at the border post” with Egypt with shell fire.

The coast of this city, where hundreds of thousands of people displaced by the conflict are crowded, is under fire from the Israeli navy, according to witnesses, after nighttime strikes which caused injuries, according to the Kuwaiti hospital in the city.

“Decisive” battle

Additional troops will enter “Rafah and” (military) activity will intensify,” the Israeli Minister of Defense announced on Thursday, the stated objective being to annihilate the last Hamas battalions there. »

The Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, described the “battle of Rafah” as “decisive”, which according to him also targets the “loopholes and supply routes” of the Palestinian Islamist movement, doomed to destruction by Israel since its unprecedented attack on Israeli soil on October 7, which started the war.

According to an Israeli military spokesperson, Nadav Shoshani, “there are hostages in Rafah”, kidnapped on October 7. “We operate to create the conditions to bring them home. »

Since the army ordered civilians to leave eastern areas of Rafah on May 6 in anticipation of a major ground offensive, “600,000 people have fled,” according to the UN. Some 1.4 million people, residents and people displaced by the fighting, were previously in this city.

Palestinians continue to leave eastern Rafah as well as other areas of the city backed by the closed border with Egypt.

Mr. Netanyahu estimated that “the humanitarian catastrophe” in Rafah, feared by the international community, had been avoided by Israel, affirming that “nearly half a million people had evacuated the fighting zone”.

In The Hague, on the second day of hearing before the highest UN court seized by South Africa which affirms that Israel would have intensified a “genocidal” campaign with its military operation in Rafah, Israel denounced Friday accusations “totally disconnected” from reality.

Since the deployment of the Israeli army on May 7 on the Palestinian side of the crossing point with Egypt, no more humanitarian aid has passed through, with Egypt and Israel passing the responsibility for this closure to each other.

The Israeli army nevertheless claimed that 365 humanitarian aid trucks entered the Gaza Strip on Thursday via the Israeli-side crossings of Kerem Shalom and Erez.

Killed by “friendly fire”

The UN and NGOs regularly warn of a risk of famine in the Gaza Strip, where some 2.4 million inhabitants live, 70% of whom have been displaced since the start of the war on October 7.

That day, Hamas commandos infiltrated from Gaza in southern Israel carried out an attack which resulted in the death of more than 1,170 people, mainly civilians, according to an AFP report based on official data. Israelis. Of the 252 people taken as hostages on October 7, 128 are still detained in Gaza, of whom 38 are dead according to the Israeli army.

The vast offensive launched in response by Israel devastated the Gaza Strip, where 35,303 people were killed, mostly civilians, according to the report published Friday by the Hamas Ministry of Health.

The Israeli army announced the death of five soldiers killed Wednesday by “friendly fire” during fighting in Jabalia. A total of 279 Israeli soldiers have died since Israeli troops entered the Palestinian territory on October 27, where Hamas, considered a terrorist organization by Israel, the United States and the European Union, took power in 2007. .

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