War between Hamas and Israel
Israel will allow flour shipments to be delivered to the Gaza Strip through the Israeli port of Ashdod, the White House announced Friday.
Published on January 19, 2024 11:41 p.m. Updated on January 19, 2024 11:42 p.m
Reading time: 3 minutes
Israeli soldiers stand in front of destroyed buildings in the Gaza Strip, January 19, 2024. (JACK GUEZ / AFP)
According to Hamas, several dozen Palestinians were killed by Israeli bombings in the Gaza Strip on Friday, January 19. According to the health ministry of the movement that dominates the Palestinian enclave, 77 people had been killed in Israeli attacks as of midday.
Early Friday, witnesses reported heavy fire and airstrikes in Khan Younes, the southern Gaza capital where Israel believes many members of the Hamas leadership are hiding. Here's what you'll remember from this day.
A “gradual” return of telecommunications to Gaza
On Friday evening, Palestinian operator Paltel announced a “gradual return of telecommunications” in “several sectors of the Gaza Strip” after a week of almost complete shutdown. A resumption was subsequently confirmed by the Hamas telecommunications ministry.
Ahead of this resumption, network monitoring organization NetBlocks announced that this outage was “the longest” since the start of the war between Israel and Hamas, which was triggered by the October 7 terrorist attacks in Israel. These cuts “significantly limit the visibility of what is happening on the ground,” NetBlocks noted.
They prevent Gazans from “accessing vital information or calling for first aid, and hinder other forms of humanitarian assistance,” the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (Ocha) lamented.
Loads of flour are delivered to Gaza via an Israeli port
Israel will allow flour shipments to be delivered to the Gaza Strip through the port of Ashdod, near the besieged Palestinian territory, the White House announced Friday. Three United Nations agencies had asked Israel to allow access to its port of Ashdod to transport more humanitarian aid to the Palestinian territory. The war between Israel and Hamas has triggered a humanitarian catastrophe for the approximately 2.4 million residents of the Gaza Strip. They have difficulty accessing food, water, fuel and medical care.
For the World Food Program (WFP), UNICEF and the World Health Organization (WHO), access to the port of Ashdod would allow the transport of “much larger quantities of aid and shipment directly by truck to the most affected areas in northern Gaza, which few convoys reach could.
Joe Biden “still believes in the prospect” of a Palestinian state
The American president “still believes in the prospect and 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. According to him, Joe Biden discussed his position on Friday during a “30 to 40 minute” conversation with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
The Israeli leader on Thursday rejected a recurring demand from Joe Biden, namely the future coexistence of the State of Israel with a Palestinian state. “Israel must have security control over the entire area west of the Jordan. This is a necessary condition that contradicts the idea of (Palestinian) sovereignty,” he told the prime minister, specifying that he had said this directly to the Americans.
New attacks against the Houthis
On Friday, the US continued its attacks against the Houthis in Yemen, saying they were acting in “self-defense”. These attacks are in response to repeated attacks by these Yemeni rebels on merchant ships in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden. The Houthis have vowed to continue attacking ships in these areas in solidarity with the Palestinians.
Hezbollah threatens Israel with “a real slap in the face”
The Israeli army announced that it had attacked sites of the Islamist movement Hezbollah in southern Lebanon on Friday. According to the official Lebanese agency ANI, at least three houses were destroyed. Hezbollah, for its part, claimed three attacks on Israeli territory.
Hezbollah will give Israel a “real slap” if that country expands its “aggression” on the Israeli-Lebanese border, the number two of the powerful pro-Iranian movement threatened on Friday. “The enemy must therefore know that (…) we are preparing for endless aggression to happen, just as our will to repel aggression is infinite,” said Sheikh Naim Qassem.
In Israel, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said Israel was prepared to use force to ensure border security.