Correspondent in Jerusalem
For the first time in twenty-six days of war, the Rafah crossing opened on Wednesday to residents of the Gaza Strip. In the morning, around forty ambulances carrying 76 injured people were able to cross the border with Egypt. They were picked up by Egyptian paramedics who took them to hospitals in al-Arish and Sheikh Zuweid, two towns in North Sinai. Following the injuries, 335 dual nationals, including 5 French, were able to leave Palestinian territory. According to the American channel CNN, their number could reach 5,000 people, including 5 French people. This agreement would have been made possible thanks to mediation, led by Qatar, between Egypt, Hamas and Israel.
The Gaza Strip has been under a strict blockade since the start of the war triggered on October 7 by the Hamas terrorist attack, which left 1,300 dead and during which around 240 Israelis were kidnapped. Despite this first good news, the humanitarian situation remains catastrophic in the Gaza Strip. Due to a lack of gasoline supplies, several hospitals stopped operating. According to the Hamas Ministry of Health in the Gaza Strip, 16 out of 35 hospitals are still capable of providing care to the thousands of wounded they receive as a result of Israeli bombardments.
While welcoming this first evacuation, the World Health Organization therefore wanted to reiterate the urgency of the situation. According to her, several thousand injured people, “including many children,” need care. To these victims of the war are added the sick who can no longer be properly cared for, recalls the WHO, which joined other international organizations in asking Israel to authorize the entry of fuel into the strip. of Gaza, essential for supplying electricity to hospitals, but also desalination plants, bakeries, etc. For the inhabitants of the Gaza Strip, it is becoming more and more difficult to obtain food.
Due to overpopulation in the southern part and the lack of water, humanitarian organizations are also concerned about the risk of an epidemic. A latest report from the Hamas Ministry of Health in the Gaza Strip brings the number of deaths since the start of the war to 8,796. The leader of Hamas, Ismaël Haniyeh, denounced on Wednesday the “massacres” committed by Israel to cover “its resounding defeat”. From Qatar, where he is a refugee, he also declared that the hostages held in the Gaza Strip were also suffering “death and destruction” carried out by the Israeli army. He reportedly informed the Qatari mediators that the release of the hostages would only be possible with a ceasefire during which an exchange of prisoners could take place. Around 6,000 Palestinians are detained by Israel; Hamas demands their release.
In the north of the Gaza Strip, the Israeli army continues its advance. Ground troops would advance south from the towns of Beit Hanoun and al-Atatra. South of Gaza City, tanks are now positioned along the Salah ad-Dine road, one of the two main north-south axes along with the coastal road. They prohibit passage. From this point, Israeli troops would continue their advance westward. In Haaretz, journalist Amos Harel questions the risks of a faster-than-expected movement for Israeli troops. “Apparently, hundreds of Hamas fighters are dead,” he said, “but Israel is paying a price.”
On Wednesday, the death of two soldiers brought to 15 the number of Israeli soldiers killed since the start of the ground operation four days earlier. According to Amos Harel, Hamas is adopting a potentially deadly guerrilla strategy. “At some point,” he continues, “the troops will have to stop deploying and concentrate on other missions: destroying tunnels, searching for armed militants, munitions and, in the best case, hostages. But the more Israel tightens the knot, the more it faces the risk of being too static and, therefore, exposed to danger. Despite Israeli pressure, Hamas continues to fire rockets into Israel.
Its communications service broadcast the video of a torpedo fire on Wednesday: the Israeli navy is positioned off the coast of the Gaza Strip. Israel has also intercepted missiles and drones fired from Yemen by the Houthis, an Iranian-backed militia. The situation remains very tense in the West Bank, where 125 Palestinians have died since October 7, according to the Palestinian Authority Health Ministry. Demonstrations in support of Hamas are organized every evening in the cities of Jenin and Nablus, two hotbeds of “resistance to the Zionist occupation”.