Smoke over Khan Younes, southern Gaza Strip, which is under heavy Israeli bombardment, January 19, 2024 (AFP/-)
Hamas said dozens of Palestinians were killed by Israeli bombings in the Gaza Strip on Friday, in the fourth month of Israel's war against the Palestinian Hamas, which is testing its ties with the US ally.
For the first time since December 23, US President Joe Biden discussed the conflict on Friday with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who the day before had reiterated his rejection of a Palestinian state, contrary to the American position, according to his official reports.
Local witnesses early Friday reported heavy fire and air strikes in Khan Younes, the capital in southern Gaza, where Israel says many members of the Hamas leadership, which it classifies as a group, are hiding. Terrorists like the United States and the European Union.
According to the health ministry of Hamas – the movement that has ruled Gaza since 2007 – Israeli attacks had killed 77 people in the besieged area as of midday.
When Israeli troops entered Gaza on October 27, they advanced from north to south, where hundreds of thousands of Gazans fled in the first weeks of the conflict.
An Israeli tank faces destruction in the Gaza Strip, January 19, 2024 (AFP / JACK GUEZ)
The army, which announced a death toll of 194 in Gaza on Friday, still says it continues to face isolated militants in the north.
A Palestinian armed group allied with Hamas released a video of an injured Israeli hostage, claiming he was killed in an Israeli attack.
– “Hell” –
The war was triggered by an unprecedented Hamas attack on October 7 in southern Israel that killed 1,140 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP count based on official Israeli figures.
Shelling of the Gaza Strip by the Israeli army, January 19, 2024 (AFP / JACK GUEZ)
About 250 people were kidnapped and taken to Gaza, including about 100 who were released during a ceasefire in late November.
In retaliation, Israel vowed to “destroy” Hamas. According to the Hamas Ministry of Health, 24,762 people, the vast majority women, children and young people, were killed and 62,108 injured in Israeli operations.
The World Health Organization (WHO) complained about “inhumane living conditions” in the small coastal area, whose 2.4 million residents lack everything.
Displaced Palestinians try to get a signal using eSIM cards on a hill in Rafah to contact their relatives, January 19, 2024 in the southern Gaza Strip (AFP/-)
In the evening, Palestinian operator Paltel announced a “gradual return of telecommunications” after a week of almost complete outages.
In Gaza, almost 20,000 babies have been born “in hell” under “unimaginable conditions” since October 7th, UNICEF criticized.
The UN also pointed to Israel's arrest of thousands of men who were often subjected to ill-treatment that could amount to torture. The Israeli army reiterated to AFP that the prisoners would be treated “in accordance with international law.”
– “The whole area” –
Unyielding in his determination to continue the war to “complete victory,” Israel's prime minister insisted Thursday that Israel must have “security control over the entire area west of the Jordan” – including the occupied Gaza Strip in the West Bank – a condition “in Contradiction to the idea of (Palestinian) sovereignty”.
John Kirby, spokesman for the United States National Security Council, during a press conference at the White House on January 19, 2024 in Washington (AFP / Brendan SMIALOWSKI)
Joe Biden “still believes in the possibility” of a Palestinian state, “but recognizes that it will take a lot of work to get there,” White House spokesman John Kirby said on Friday the meeting between the two two leaders.
The White House also said it was “very concerned” by information from the Palestinian agency Wafa about the death in Israeli shooting of a 17-year-old Palestinian, who his father said was carrying an American passport, near Ramallah in the occupied west Bank, where violence has increased since October 7th.
For its part, Russian diplomacy called on Hamas to release its hostages during talks in Moscow on Friday, calling the humanitarian crisis in Gaza “catastrophic.”
Map of the Red Sea and Yemen, showing the area controlled by the Houthi rebels (AFP / Valentin RAKOVSKY)
The conflict worries the international community and heightens tensions between Israel and the “Axis of Resistance” established by Iran against Israel, which notably includes the Lebanese Hezbollah and the Yemeni Houthis alongside Hamas.
According to Lebanon's official agency ANI, the Israeli army said it attacked sites of the Islamist movement Hezbollah in southern Lebanon on Friday, destroying at least three houses. Hezbollah claimed three attacks on Israeli territory.
The White House says the Houthis, who say they are acting in “solidarity” with Gaza, have claimed responsibility for new shootings at an American oil tanker in the Gulf of Aden, provoking new American attacks against them on Friday.