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Israel and Hamas at war, day 254 | Israel declares daily holiday in southern Gaza

Israel and Hamas at war, day 254 |  Israel declares daily holiday in southern Gaza

The Israeli army announced on Sunday that it would suspend its operations in a part of southern Gaza until further notice to facilitate the delivery of humanitarian aid to the Palestinian territory, devastated by more than eight months of war and threatened by famine.

According to AFP correspondents, after eight months of incessant and intense bombardment of the Gaza Strip, the northern and central part of the Palestinian territories enjoyed a brief respite starting Sunday morning. But shots and strikes hit Rafa (South).

“It’s suddenly quiet since this morning, no gunfire, no explosions, it’s strange,” says Hayti al-Ghouta, 30, in Gaza (northern) city confidently – predicting a permanent fire.

But the military insisted that despite the “tactical pause”, “hostilities in southern Gaza are not clear and operations in Rafah will continue”.

The ceasefire was announced a day after a bomb blast in the Gaza Strip sparked an unprecedented attack by the Palestinian movement Hamas on October 7, killing 11 Israeli soldiers, including eight others.

It will be observed “daily from 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. (5:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. Eastern Time) and will be monitored until further notice in the area from Kerem Shalom in southern Israel to Salaheddin Road in Gaza. According to the military, the Palestinian Authority .

Kerem Shalom is located on the southern edge of Gaza. A map released by the military shows the declared humanitarian route from Kerem Shalom to the European hospital in Rafah, 10 km away.

Image courtesy of the Israeli Army

A map showing the humanitarian route Israel intends to follow

The suspension was decided to allow “an increase in the volume of humanitarian aid entering Gaza,” the military said.

“Terrible Losses”

UN The UN Office for Emergency Situations said it “welcomes” the move but said it would “lead to other concrete measures” to provide humanitarian assistance. Agency (OCHA) spokesperson Jens Lark said.

The international organization has consistently confirmed that it is extremely difficult to transport and distribute aid to people without water, food and medicine due to bombings, fighting and Israeli restrictions.

Photo by TSAFRIR ABAYOV, Associated Press

A truck entering Gaza through the Kerem Shalom crossing, May 30

“He who decided to pause when our soldiers fell in battle was evil and foolish. […] “, condemned far-right Israeli minister Itamar Ben Gvir.

On Saturday, the army announced the death of eight soldiers when an armored vehicle was hit by a “bomb explosion” in Rafah, two soldiers in northern Gaza and another who suffered injuries. one day.

Photo by Menahem Kahana, Agence France-Presse

During his funeral in Beit Jan on 16 June, members of the Israeli Defense Forces carried the coffin of Wasim Mahmoud, one of the eight soldiers killed the previous day in Rafah.

“Our hearts are broken by these terrible losses,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded. But “we must adhere to the objectives of the war: to destroy Hamas’ capabilities, to recover all our hostages, to ensure that Gaza is no longer a threat to Israel. »

His defense minister, Yves Gallant, is due to travel to Washington soon.

On October 7, Hamas commandos infiltrated southern Israel from Gaza and launched an attack that killed 1,194 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP count based on official Israeli data. Of the 251 abducted, 116 are still hostages in Gaza, and 41 of them have died, the military said.

In response, the Israeli military launched a large-scale offensive in Gaza that killed 37,296 people, mostly civilians, according to data from the Health Ministry of the Hamas-led Gaza government.

“A Totally Different Eid”

As Muslims around the world celebrate the first day of Eid al-Adha, Palestinians in Gaza are in no mood for celebration.

In Gaza City on Sunday, dozens of worshipers prayed in front of the Al-Omari Mosque, which was damaged by Israeli bombing. Other Palestinians gathered near the graves of loved ones killed in the war.

Photo by Omar Al-Khatta, Agence France-Presse

Worshipers pray in front of the Al-Omari Mosque, which was damaged by Israeli bombing on June 16 in Gaza, marking the start of Eid al-Adha.

“Eid is completely different this year,” Om Mohammed al-Qadri told AFP at the Jabaliya refugee camp near Gaza. “We’ve lost a lot of people, there’s a lot of destruction. I am grieving the loss of my son. »

The Gaza Strip, besieged by Israel, is in the grip of a major humanitarian crisis, where 75% of the approximately 2.4 million people have been displaced by the war and are threatened by famine.

Conflicting needs

Despite international mediation efforts, hopes for a ceasefire appear to be fading due to conflicting demands from Israel and Hamas.

US President Joe Biden announced a plan on May 31, the first phase of which would be a six-week ceasefire, Israel’s withdrawal from populated areas of Gaza, the release of some hostages in Gaza, and the release of Palestinians imprisoned by Israel. .

He presented the project as coming from Israel. But Hamas, which seized power in Gaza in 2007, reaffirmed its determination to continue the war until it was declared a terrorist organization by the United States and the European Union.

Mr. Hamas blocked this opportunity. Biden charged.

According to a source close to the discussions, Hamas demanded “amendments” to the plan, including “a timetable for a permanent ceasefire and a complete Israeli withdrawal from Gaza”. Terms Israel has always rejected.

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