BLOG Netanyahu: Israel avoided a humanitarian disaster in Rafah

Conflict between Israel and Hamas - 222th day

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Palestinian refugees in a camp in Rafah, Photo: Reuters
Palestinian refugees in a camp in Rafah, Photo: Reuters
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Ažurirano: 15.05.2024. 21:56h
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17: 10h

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu assessed today that Israel avoided a humanitarian disaster in the million-strong Palestinian city of Rafah, which the international community feared.

In that city, which became the scene of an Israeli military operation last Sunday, 1,4 million residents have taken refuge, fleeing the conflict in other parts of Gaza.

"At this moment, almost half a million people have evacuated from the fighting zone in Rafah. The humanitarian disaster we talked about has not happened and will not happen," Netanyahu said, adding that Israeli forces are fighting across the Gaza Strip as they evacuate civilians and fill obligation to meet their humanitarian needs, France Press reported.

According to the latest statement from the UN Office for Humanitarian Affairs, about 20 percent of Gazans were displaced again last Sunday.

As stated, the lack of fuel threatens to threaten the continuation of health services, and that limited access to water, as well as poor sanitary conditions affect, among other things, the increase in infectious diseases.

It has also warned that recent evacuation orders and increased military activity in Rafah have contributed to an increase in the number of children suffering from acute malnutrition.

Earlier, the International Rescue Committee (IRC) said it was facing disruption to its humanitarian operations due to ground operations in Rafah, and that the closure of the border crossing of the same name to the entry of aid workers and aid, including fuel, had hampered the organization's ability to deliver basic helping those in dire need.

Today, Netanyahu assessed that there is no point in discussing "the day after" until Hamas is destroyed, after the US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken's call to adopt a concrete plan.

Blinken said today that Israel needs a clear and concrete plan for the future of Gaza, adding that there could be a vacuum that will likely be filled with chaos, Reuters reported.

He also said that at a time when Israel is taking important steps to improve humanitarian conditions in Gaza, Israel's limited operation in Rafah is having negative consequences and that restoring the operational capacity of the border crossing is an urgent issue.

"Contrary to what has been said, we have been trying for months in different ways to find a solution to this complex problem. Some attempts are hidden and that is good. It is part of the war goals we have defined and we are determined to achieve them," Netanyahu said, explaining that it is pointless to talk about the day after when Hamas is still intact.

"In any case, there is no substitute for military victory. The only substitute for victory is defeat. My government will not agree to that," said the Prime Minister of Israel.

(Beta)

16: 52h

The Ministry of Health in the Gaza Strip ruled by Hamas announced today that at least 24 people were killed in the past 60 hours and that the total number of victims since the beginning of the war between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist organization has reached 35.233.

In the press release, the ministry also announced that 79.141 Palestinians were wounded in more than seven months of war.

Beta

14: 30h

Israel needs a clear and concrete plan for the future of Gaza where it faces the potential for a power vacuum that could be filled with chaos, US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said, according to Reuters.

Israel's limited operation in Rafah had a "negative impact" just as steps were being taken to improve humanitarian conditions in Gaza, Blinken told a news conference in Kiev.

14: 21h

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has decided to present to a ministerial committee tomorrow a highly controversial bill seeking to recruit ultra-Orthodox Jews into the army.

His office said Netanyahu is trying to bridge social and political divisions and is calling on all parties that supported the proposed law in the previous parliament to support it once again.

The issue is particularly sensitive this year amid open war in Gaza and related fighting on other fronts that have claimed Israel's heaviest casualties in decades, mostly among secular teenage conscripts and reservists, according to Reuters.

Netanyahu's coalition includes two ultra-Orthodox parties that see the exemption as key to keeping their voters in religious seminaries and away from the military, which could test their conservative values, Reuters points out.

The issue has sparked protests from ultra-Orthodox Jews, who make up 13% of Israel's 10 million population - a figure expected to reach 19% by 2035. Their refusal to serve in wars they generally support is a long-standing rift in Israeli society.

Economists argue that scrapping conscription unnecessarily keeps part of the ultra-Orthodox community out of the workforce, posing a growing welfare burden for mostly secular middle-class taxpayers, Reuters reports.

Israel's Arab minority of 21% is also largely exempt from the draft, under which men and women are usually called up at age 18, with men serving 32 months and women 24 months.

14: 17h

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said his cabinet had decided to relax regulations and "significantly increase" the quota of foreign workers in Israel as the country faces a labor shortage amid the Gaza war, according to Reuters.

Among the steps Israel will take is to allow the entry of more than 300.000 foreign workers, or up to 3,3 percent of the population. The statement said it was meant to cover shortages in the economy, including construction, agriculture and care.

"This is an important decision for businesses, for our economy, but also for our security," Netanyahu said.

14: 05h

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said his government unanimously rejected a UN decision to promote the recognition of a Palestinian state, his office said.

"We will not allow them to establish a terrorist state from which they can attack us even more," Netanyahu said. "No one will prevent us, Israel, from exercising our fundamental right to defend ourselves - not the UN General Assembly, not any other entity." reports Reuters.

11: 53h

Today, the European Union (EU) called on Israel to "immediately end" the military operation in Rafah, in the south of the Gaza Strip, which risks "straining" relations with the Union.

"If Israel were to continue its military operation in Rafah, it would inevitably put a lot of pressure on the EU's relations with Israel," said the statement by the head of European diplomacy, Josep Borelli.

Israel has ordered the evacuation of residents from parts of the city, which the Israeli military labels as the last major stronghold of Hamas in Gaza.

(BETA)

09: 50h

After 76 years - the Nakba is still going on, announced the Embassy of the State of Palestine in Podgorica, saying that the international community has a legal and moral obligation to intervene with concrete actions to "stop Israeli crimes, protect the Palestinian people" and implement all United Nations resolutions regarding Palestine.

09: 07h

Palestinians today mark the anniversary of the "Nakba" or "catastrophe" of 1948, while under the threat of an Israeli ground offensive, thousands are fleeing the town of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip.

08: 27h

Representatives of US President Joseph Biden's administration have told key lawmakers that they will send a new package of more than $1 billion in arms and ammunition to Israel, two congressional aides said.

As the Voice of America (VOA) reports, it is the first arms shipment to Israel announced by the administration since it put the transfer of 3.500 bombs on hold earlier this month.

The administration said it paused that earlier transfer to prevent Israel from using the bombs in an offensive on the southern Gaza city of Rafah.

Aides in Congress agreed to confirm this information on the condition of remaining anonymous, because the decision on the transfer of weapons has not yet been announced, according to VOA.

The package being sent includes about $700 million for tank ammunition, $500 million for tactical vehicles and $60 million for mortar ammunition, the aides said.

There was no immediate indication of when the weapons would be sent, according to the Wall Street Journal, which first published information about the new plans of the Biden administration.

(BETA)

08: 16h

A Hezbollah commander and another person were killed in an Israeli drone attack in southern Lebanon, the Lebanese news agency ANI reported this morning, citing sources close to the pro-Iranian Islamist group.

It added that a Hezbollah commander was killed when a drone hit a car on the road between Tire and Al-Hush.

The Israeli military said earlier that one Israeli civilian was killed and five soldiers were injured when a rocket fired from Lebanon hit northern Israel.

Since the beginning of the war in the Gaza Strip between Israel and Hamas, the Israeli-Lebanese border has seen a daily exchange of fire between the Israeli army and the Lebanese Hezbollah, which supports the Palestinian Islamist movement.

(BETA)

08: 15h

Conflict between Israel and Hamas - 222th day.

The Israeli army announced that yesterday an Israeli civilian was killed and five soldiers were injured in the north of Israel by a rocket fired from Lebanon.

Since the start of the war in the Gaza Strip between Israel and Hamas on October 7, there has been a daily exchange of fire between the Israeli army and the Lebanese Shiite movement Hezbollah, which claims to support the Palestinian Islamist movement.

"On the northern border, one civilian was killed yesterday by an anti-tank missile fired at Admit, a town on the border with Lebanon," said army spokesman Daniel Hagari, adding that five soldiers were slightly injured.

"During the day, we attacked dozens of Hezbollah targets in southern Lebanon," the spokesman added.

(BETA)

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