The war between Israel and Hamas, triggered by a bloody attack by the latter on the former on the morning of October 7, entered its 65th day on Sunday.
According to Israel, 1,200 people, mostly civilians, were killed in this attack during which around 240 people were abducted and taken to the small Palestinian territory. Currently, 137 people are still captive.
In retaliation for the October 7 attack, Israel vowed to “annihilate” Hamas. The health ministry in Gaza reported on Sunday that 17,997 people have been killed in Israeli bombings, mostly women and young people under the age of 18.
Here are the latest developments:
‘Intense Battles’ in Gaza
The Israeli army engaged in intense battles with the Palestinian Hamas in the Gaza Strip on Sunday, bombarding the besieged territory. The Islamist movement claims that the hostages it holds will not come out “alive” without “negotiation.”
In Gaza, the civilian population is cornered in an increasingly confined area, and the health system is at risk of “collapsing,” according to the World Health Organization (WHO), while the death toll continues to rise.
The Israeli air force conducted “very violent raids” near Khan Yunis (south) and on the road to Rafah (south), bordering Egypt, according to Hamas. On the ground, fighting is taking place in Khan Yunis, Jabaliya (north) and Gaza City (north), according to the belligerents.
Palestinian fighters continue to fire rockets towards Israel. The Israeli army claims that most of them are intercepted by its anti-missile system.
The Israeli army shows no intention of slowing down. The war will continue “as long as it takes to ensure that Hamas can never harm our people again,” said Israeli government spokesperson Eylon Levy, following similar statements from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Regarding the border with Lebanon, the Chief of Staff of the Israeli army, Herzl Halevi, said on Sunday that “the situation here must end with a clear change.”
“Israel never said that war was the first solution to try,” Halevi said, but he added that “a terrible thing happened that shows us that there are situations where this tool is just, with all its force.”
Mediation and Hostages
Mediation efforts for a ceasefire “continue,” said Qatari Prime Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani. But incessant Israeli bombings “reduce the possibilities,” he added.
Hamas warned that none of the hostages still held in the Gaza Strip would come out “alive” without negotiation and without “meeting the demands” of the Palestinian Islamist movement.
During a one-week ceasefire in late November, 105 hostages, including 80 Israelis, were released in exchange for 240 Palestinian prisoners.
The 34 member countries of the WHO Executive Council unanimously adopted a resolution on Sunday calling for the “immediate, sustainable and unimpeded passage of humanitarian aid” into the Gaza Strip.
WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus warned on Sunday that the health system is “on its knees” in Gaza.
In the southernmost part of the small coastal territory, the city of Rafah has been turned into a makeshift camp where tents have been hastily set up with pieces of wood, plastic sheets and sheets.
In recent days, the WHO and other NGOs have warned of the spread of diseases due to overcrowding combined with a lack of food, water, adequate shelter and sanitation.
UNRWA Chief Accuses Israel
The head of the UN Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA), Philippe Lazzarini, accused Israel of preparing the ground for the mass expulsion of Palestinians from Gaza to Egypt.
“If we continue down this path (…) Gaza will no longer be a land for the Palestinians,” he said in the LA Times.
Undressing of Palestinians
On Saturday, “Israeli forces detained dozens of Palestinian men and boys, aged 15 and older, in a school in Beit Lahia (north), where they had taken refuge,” said the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).
“The detainees were undressed, tied and transferred to an unknown location (…) Some were released and claimed to have been mistreated,” it added.
The Israeli army cited security reasons to justify these actions, presenting these Palestinians as Hamas fighters, which the movement denies.
Foiled Iranian Attack in Cyprus
Israel and Cyprus thwarted an Iranian plot to attack “Israeli and Jewish targets” on the Mediterranean island, the office of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday.
Cypriot police had earlier told AFP that they had arrested two people for “national security reasons.” “We are investigating a case related to terrorism,” a spokesperson said, without providing further details.
French Frigate Intercepts Houthi Drones
A French frigate patrolling the Red Sea shot down two drones from northern Yemen during the night, a territory controlled by the Houthi rebels who threaten to disrupt traffic on this strategic maritime route in the context of the conflict between Israel and Hamas.
The multi-mission frigate (FREMM) Languedoc, deployed in the Red Sea for a national maritime security mission, fired Aster 15 anti-aircraft missiles to shoot down these drones heading straight for it, an anonymous military source informed AFP. Such a self-defense surface-to-air missile launch is a first for the French Navy.
Malo Pinatel, with AFP