BLOG Netanyahu: Israel will be close to complete victory with the operation in Rafah

The war between Israel and Hamas - 142st day

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Detail from Rafa, after the Israeli attack, Photo: Reuters
Detail from Rafa, after the Israeli attack, Photo: Reuters
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Ažurirano: 25.02.2024. 22:40h
Finished
22: 36h

A possible truce in the fighting with Hamas in the Gaza Strip will not undermine Israel's "goal" to push the Lebanese Hezbollah from its northern border, Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Galant said tonight.

Since the start of the October 7 war in the Gaza Strip, there has been an exchange of fire almost on the Lebanese-Israeli border between the Israeli army and Hezbollah, an Islamist movement backed by Iran and allied to the Palestinian Hamas.

However, at a time when Gaza ceasefire talks are intensifying, Israel continues to "increase" its military capabilities on the border with Lebanon, Galan said during a visit to the military command in Safed, northern Israel, where a soldier was killed in February by rocket fire from Lebanon.

"The goal is simple. Hezbollah needs to retreat to where it needs to be, either by agreement or by force," the Israeli minister said.

Since October 7, 10 Israeli soldiers and six civilians have been killed in the exchange of fire in the north of Israel. On the Lebanese side, at least 276 people were killed, most of them members of Hezbollah, as well as 44 civilians.

France recently presented a proposal to avoid open conflict between Israel and Hezbollah, including, according to diplomatic sources, an end to violence on both sides of the border and the withdrawal of Hezbollah fighters from 10 to 12 kilometers north of it.

An Israeli delegation led by the head of the Mossad visited Paris over the weekend to discuss a possible ceasefire deal in Gaza, including the release of 130 hostages still held by Hamas.

The Israeli authorities did not say whether the French proposal for the withdrawal of Hezbollah fighters was also mentioned.

(BETA)

21: 43h

Famine can still be "prevented" in Gaza if Israel allows humanitarian agencies to bring more aid, the head of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) Philip Lazarini said today.

According to the United Nations, 2,2 million people, the vast majority of the population, are at risk of starvation in the Gaza Strip due to Israeli attacks.

Severe shortages could lead to higher infant mortality rates in the north of the territory, where one in six children under the age of two is a victim of acute malnutrition.

"It's a man-made disaster... The world was committed to never allowing hunger again," Lazarini said.

According to him, hunger can still be "avoided by genuine political will to provide access and protection of aid".

Palestinians in Gaza have told AFP in recent days that they are forced to eat leaves, fodder, and even kill beasts of burden for food.

Before the war, about 500 trucks a day entered the Gaza Strip with various goods. But as of Oct. 7, that number has rarely exceeded 200, despite enormous needs that are even more urgent now that the economy and agricultural production have been devastated by war, according to the United Nations.

(BETA)

20: 50h

Jordan's King Abdullah II warned today of the possibility of a regional war spreading if Israel continues its military campaign in the Gaza Strip during Ramadan, the Muslim holy month that is due to begin on March 10 and 11.

During a meeting in Amman with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, the King of Jordan assessed that "the continuation of the war against Gaza during the holy month of Ramadan would increase the threat of the conflict spreading," Jordan's Petra agency reported.

The war in the Gaza Strip was launched on October 7 after a Hamas attack on Israeli soil that resulted in the deaths of at least 1.160 people, according to AFP based on official Israeli figures.

During the attack, around 250 people were also kidnapped and taken to Gaza.

According to Israel, 130 hostages, of whom 31 are believed to have died, are still there after about 100 were released during a ceasefire in late November in exchange for Palestinian prisoners.

In retaliation, Israel has been conducting military operations aimed at destroying the Palestinian Islamist movement in power in the small territory since 2007, killing more than 29.600 people.

Israel has warned that if Hamas does not release all the hostages before the start of Ramadan, it will continue fighting during the holy month, particularly in Rafah, along the Egyptian border, home to about 1,5 million civilians, most displaced by the war.

(BETA)

20: 49h

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said today that the offensive in Rafah, even if it is delayed by the ceasefire, will allow Israel to be within reach of a complete victory.

"Complete victory is within our reach, not in a few months, but in a few weeks, when we start the operation," Netanyahu said in an interview with the American television channel CBS.

Rafah is the "last stronghold" of the Palestinian movement Hamas in the eyes of Israel's prime minister, who is determined to launch a ground offensive there to defeat Hamas and free hostages held in the Gaza Strip, despite warnings from the international community.

According to the United Nations, about 1,5 million people are in Rafah, a city located on the border with Egypt. That border crossing is now closed.

"If we reach an agreement (on a cease-fire), it (the offensive) will be delayed in a way, but it will happen," the Israeli prime minister added.

Earlier today, it was announced that "common ground was found" during recent talks in Paris aimed at achieving a ceasefire in the Gaza Strip.

(BETA)

17: 23h

An Israeli missile attack targeting a truck in Syria killed two members of the Iranian-backed Lebanese militant group Hezbollah, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

The organization added that the attack hit a location not far from the Syrian-Lebanese border.

"This is Israel's 16th attack on Syria this year," the UK-based Observatory said.

Hezbollah announced that two of its members were killed, without specifying when and where it happened, reports Radio Free Europe.

The Israeli army did not comment on the attack.

Israel has bombed targets in Syria in the past, aiming to hit Iranian forces based there.

(MINE)

14: 26h

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) confirmed today that they had completed what they called a "precise and limited" operation at Nasser Hospital in the southern Gaza Strip and detained around 200 suspected "terrorists".

During the operation, sealed boxes with medicines and the names of Israeli hostages on them and several weapons belonging to Hamas operatives were found in that hospital in Khan Yunis, Israeli media reported.

Many of those detained are members of extremist organizations that were involved in the October 7 attacks in southern Israel and have ties to the hostages held by Hamas, the IDF said.

Israeli hostages were previously held in that hospital, judging by the testimony of freed Israelis who were abducted that day and taken to Gaza, after which the war began.

The military operation was carried out to ensure "minimum disruption to ongoing hospital activities and that patients and medical staff are not harmed".

The army claims that it supplied a generator to replace the hospital's which had stopped working and that all the hospital's vital systems continued to work, and that the power supply was not interrupted.

In addition, food, water and medicine and baby food were delivered to the hospital in cooperation with the army, and several patients in critical condition were transferred to other medical centers at the request of the hospital staff and in cooperation with the international community.

The statement announced the continuation of operations in accordance with international law against Hamas, which Israel considers a terrorist organization and which it says operates from hospitals and civilian infrastructure.

A few days ago, one of the few doctors who remained at Naser Hospital described the situation there as desperate and catastrophic one week after the siege and invasion by Israeli forces.

In a telephone conversation with the American TV network, he said that there is no electricity, oxygen, heating, and barely any food and water in the hospital.

Nasser was one of the largest hospitals in operation in the enclave before Israeli forces entered it after intense bombardment.

(BETA)

14: 05h

At least 86 Palestinians were killed and 131 were wounded in the past 24 hours, in the continuation of Israeli attacks on the besieged Gaza Strip, the Ministry of Health announced today.

Since the beginning of the war between Israel and the Palestinian Hamas, which rules Gaza, 29.692 Palestinians, mostly women and children, have been killed, and 69.879 have been wounded.

The ministry's announcement states that many people are under the rubble and on the roads, and rescuers cannot reach them, the agencies reported.

Israel's attacks on Gaza have not stopped since the cross-border incursion of Palestinian extremists led by Hamas into southern Israel, in which nearly 1.200 people were killed, according to Israel.

The war with Israel has forced 85 percent of Gaza's 2,3 million residents to be displaced and there is an acute shortage of food, clean water and medicine, and about 60 percent of infrastructure has been damaged or destroyed, according to UN data.

(BETA)

12: 50h

Hundreds of Palestinians are fleeing from the north of the Gaza Strip to its south due to hunger, at a time when the Israeli War Cabinet approved the continuation of discussions on a truce with the Palestinian Hamas, local media reported today.

The humanitarian situation is worsening in the Palestinian territory, where the vast majority of residents are at risk of starvation, according to UN data.

Aid, which arrives sporadically through the Rafah border crossing in Gaza's far south, depends on Israeli approval, and delivery is almost impossible in the north due to destruction and fighting.

Clashes continued during the night in Khan Yunis in the south, but also in Beit Lahia and Zeytun in the north, the correspondent of France Press reported.

Samir Abdrabo arrived on foot this morning in Nuseirat in the central part of Gaza with his one and a half year old daughter, because there is no milk for her in the north.

He has tried to feed her bread he makes from animal feed, but she cannot digest it.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Turk on Friday condemned Israel's blockade and siege of Gaza, which he said could constitute the use of starvation as a method of war, which is a war crime.

In Jabalia in the north, dozens of residents rushed and shouted in the chaos, carrying empty containers in the hope of getting food. Dozens of people also protested that there was no food in that part of Gaza.

Meanwhile, concerns are growing in Rafah, on the closed border with Egypt, where some 1,4 million people, most of them displaced, have fled the conflict in other areas.

As the journalist of France Press said, at least six airstrikes were carried out last night on the city of Rafah.

The Israeli army announced today that it is continuing targeted attacks in the Gaza Strip, where, as it stated, it "killed several terrorists" on Saturday, in the central part of the territory.

Operations in Khan Younis remain in focus and the army claims to have arrested terrorists who tried to escape hiding among civilians.

In Israel, thousands of people gathered again Saturday night in Hostage Square to demand the release of 130 Israelis detained in Gaza.

"We think about them all the time and we want them to come back to us alive, as soon as possible," Orna Tal, whose friend was detained, told AFP.

(BETA)

10: 45h

Mediators are making progress in efforts to reach an agreement on a multi-week ceasefire between Israel and Hamas and the release of dozens of hostages held in Gaza and Palestinian prisoners from Israeli prisons, Israeli media reported today.

Israel's war cabinet met late last night to discuss the proposal, but no official decision has been made.

Several Israeli media, citing unnamed officials, announced that the agreement had been tacitly approved, and that Israel would send a delegation to Qatar to continue the talks.

Hamas said it was not yet involved in the latest proposal from the US, Egypt and Qatar, but the framework of the reported deal largely fits with the Palestinian Islamist group's earlier demands for a first phase of a truce. The leader of Hamas' political wing, Ismail Haniyeh, was in Cairo last Sunday.

Israel, meanwhile, plans to expand its offensive to the southernmost town of Rafah, on the Egypt-Gaza border, where more than half of Gaza's 2,3 million residents have fled the conflict elsewhere and live in tents, overcrowded apartments and shelters.

Aid organizations have warned of a catastrophe and the US and Israel's other allies have said that harming civilians must be avoided.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced that he will convene a Cabinet meeting this Sunday to "approve the operational plan of action in Rafah", including the evacuation of civilians.

A senior official from Egypt, which mediates with Qatar between Israel and Hamas, said on Saturday that the draft ceasefire agreement included the release of 40 female and elderly male hostages in exchange for about 300 Palestinian prisoners, mostly women, minors and the elderly.

An anonymous Egyptian official said the proposed six-week pause in the conflict would allow hundreds of trucks each day to bring desperately needed aid to Gaza, including the northern part of the besieged territory.

He said the two sides had agreed to continue negotiations during the break on further demarcation and a permanent ceasefire.

The Israeli Prime Minister's Office did not respond to a request to comment on the discussions held in the War Cabinet, nor on Israeli media reports.

Mediators face an unofficial deadline of the start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan around March 10, when tensions between Israel and the Palestinians are often heightened.

Hamas has previously said it will not release the remaining hostages until Israel ends its offensive, withdraws forces from Palestinian territory and has also demanded the release of hundreds of Palestinian prisoners, including extremists, which Netanyahu has refused.

However, in an earlier proposal, Hamas envisioned an initial phase similar to the draft agreement now being reported, hinting that the two sides could agree to a temporary ceasefire in the war that began on October 7 with "Hamas" attacks on southern Israel.

About 1.200 people, mostly civilians, were killed in them and about 250 hostages were taken, of which about 130 are still in captivity. More than 29.000 people were killed in Gaza in the retaliatory Israeli offensive.

(BETA)

Change: 10:50 p.m

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