Israel-Hamas: what to remember on the 135th day of the conflict


Deadly Israeli strikes targeted the Gaza Strip on Tuesday, plunged into a catastrophic humanitarian situation, at a time when the United States vetoed a draft resolution at the UN demanding an “immediate” ceasefire. Nearly a million and a half people, according to the UN, are massed in the city of Rafah, located in the south of the Palestinian territory against the closed border with Egypt, whose population has increased sixfold since the beginning of the war, on October 7, between Israel and Hamas.

The main information to remember:

  • During the night from Monday to Tuesday, Israeli bombardments focused on the east of the Gaza Strip and the town of Khan Younes
  • Israeli response left 29,092 dead in Gaza, the vast majority civilians, according to Hamas
  • The United States vetoed a draft UN Security Council resolution demanding an “immediate” ceasefire in Gaza
  • Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh arrived in Cairo on Tuesday to discuss a new truce in Gaza

The United States vetoes an immediate ceasefire plan

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced an upcoming offensive on the overpopulated city, targeted daily by Israeli strikes, in order to defeat the terrorist movement in its “last bastion” and free the hostages held in Gaza. This prospect worries the international community, while hopes of an end to the fighting are increasingly slim. The head of the Hamas political bureau, Ismaïl Haniyeh, based in Qatar, however, arrived in Cairo on Tuesday for new discussions on a truce with Egyptian officials.

At the same time, the United States vetoed a draft UN Security Council resolution that demanded an “immediate humanitarian” ceasefire. Israel’s primary supporter, the United States believes that this resolution would have endangered the delicate diplomatic negotiations on the ground to obtain a truce including a new release of hostages.

On Tuesday, Hamas announced that bombings on Gaza had left 103 dead in 24 hours. Strikes notably targeted Khan Younes, a few kilometers north of Rafah, according to an AFP journalist, where Israeli soldiers are tracking down Hamas fighters in the middle of the ruins. The World Health Organization (WHO) announced on Tuesday that it had transferred 32 patients out of the besieged Nasser hospital in Khan Younes to other establishments in the territory. The WHO says it is concerned about other patients and staff still at this hospital.

WFP food aid distribution suspended in northern Gaza

“We don’t know where to go,” said Abdullah Al-Qadi, a 67-year-old man who lives in Zaytoun, a neighborhood in Gaza City in the north, also bombed: “We will die in our house and that is better than the humiliation that our relatives who have been displaced tell us about. People are humiliated and destroyed.”

Reports from humanitarian organizations are increasingly alarming on the situation in the Gaza Strip, devastated and besieged by Israel, where 2.2 million people are threatened with famine, according to the UN. Food and drinking water have become “extremely scarce” in Gaza, according to UN agencies which are concerned about an imminent “explosion” in the number of child deaths.

The World Food Program (WFP) on Tuesday once again suspended the distribution of its aid in the north of the territory, prey to “chaos and violence”. Humanitarian aid, still insufficient, enters the Gaza Strip mainly through Rafah via Egypt, but its delivery to the north is made almost impossible by the fighting and destruction. “People in the north are dying of hunger and we here are dying because of the bombings,” said Ayman Abou Shammali, injured in a strike in Zawayda, in the center of the territory.

In short

The war was sparked by an unprecedented attack launched on October 7 by Hamas commandos infiltrated into southern Israel. More than 1,160 people were killed, the majority civilians, according to an AFP count based on official Israeli data. In retaliation, Israel vowed to annihilate the Islamist movement, in power in Gaza since 2007, which it considers a terrorist organization along with the United States and the European Union.

The Israeli army launched an offensive which left 29,195 dead in Gaza, the vast majority civilians, according to Hamas. According to Israel, 130 hostages are still being held in Gaza, 30 of whom are believed to have died, out of around 250 people kidnapped on October 7.

The United States for a ceasefire, but not immediately

“The world must prevent the invasion of Rafah. Rafah has become an explosive reservoir and its invasion would mean thousands of deaths,” Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh said on Tuesday. In New York, the text which Washington vetoed opposed the “forced displacement of the Palestinian civilian population”, while Israel spoke of an evacuation of civilians before an offensive in Rafah.

The United States presented an alternative project. While they had until now systematically opposed the use of the term “ceasefire”, vetoing two texts in October and December, their version supports a ceasefire but not immediate , and under conditions. This project also warns that “a large-scale ground offensive” on Rafah “should not take place under current conditions.” According to a diplomatic source, this text has no chance of being adopted as is, in particular because of the risk of a Russian veto.

In Israel, families of hostages continue to pressure the government to secure the release of their loved ones. “We desperately call on decision-makers in Israel and around the world to get involved in negotiations and bring them home immediately,” said Tuesday Ofri Bibas, whose brother Yarden was kidnapped on October 7 with his wife and her two children, one of whom was then less than nine months old.

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