Special envoy to Jerusalem
Fighting intensifies in the Gaza Strip on day 25 of the war, as the Israeli army advances inside Palestinian territory. On Tuesday, the IDF struck the Jabaliya refugee camp, in the north of the enclave, killing at least fifty people according to the Hamas Ministry of Health, which indicates that at least twenty buildings were destroyed. Forty-seven bodies extracted from the rubble were counted by AFP in the courtyard of a nearby hospital. The Israeli army confirmed that it had bombed the camp, saying it had killed a Hamas commander.
In parallel with these bombings, the IDF continues its advance, and reports “fierce fighting” engaged “deep in the Gaza Strip”. In images from the Israeli army, we see tanks advancing, bulldozers clearing the rubble and columns of soldiers advancing among the ruins.
On Tuesday morning, Jonathan Conricus, an army spokesman, confirmed that Israeli forces were “in different parts of the northern Gaza Strip” and had struck some 300 military targets in the past 24 hours, targeting “wells, as well as military complexes inside underground tunnels belonging to the terrorist organization Hamas”. The tunnels represent one of the major difficulties of the military operation. They allow Hamas fighters to advance sheltered and secretly below the surface of the ground.
The IDF maneuvers along two axes of progression: one which extends from north to south, the other from east to west to cut the Gaza Strip in two and isolate enemy fighters in the north of the territory. On Monday, an Israeli Merkava tank was filmed on the Salah ad-Dine axis which crosses Gaza from north to south. The tank was positioned at the entrance to Gaza City, more than two kilometers inside the Gaza Strip. This is the first time that Israeli troops have been observed this far into Gazan territory since the start of the offensive.
Hamas, assuring that Gaza “will be a cemetery” for the Israeli army, reported fighting with Israeli forces on Tuesday morning. These reportedly took place on the north-south axis and in northwest Gaza, involving anti-tank weapon fire against Israeli vehicles, tanks and bulldozers. The IDF announced the death of two soldiers killed in fighting in the north of the territory.
At the same time, Israel faces a threat from the Red Sea. On Tuesday, for the first time, rockets were fired from Yemen by Houthi rebels, close to Iran. A surface-to-surface missile was intercepted by the Israeli “Iron Dome”, while several armed drones were detected near the city of Eilat, a seaside resort in the far south of the country. Hamas reports 8,525 deaths and more than 21,000 wounded since the start of the war.
According to Paris, two French children were killed in the enclave. During his speech, Jonathan Conricus, the army spokesperson, recognized a “difficult” humanitarian situation. “But it’s not our doing,” he insisted.
The Israeli offensive against the Gaza Strip directly hits the territory's 2.4 million residents, who suffer from a lack of access to water, food, medicine and electricity, despite humanitarian convoy of 117 trucks which has supplied Palestinians from Rafah, on the Egyptian border, since October 21. According to corroborating sources cited by AFP, Egypt agreed on Tuesday to welcome wounded Palestinians on its territory.
Despite calls from the international community, Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli Prime Minister, has ruled out any ceasefire with Hamas. A position supported by the Americans. In Washington, National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby said a ceasefire was not “the right response at this time,” instead advocating “humanitarian pauses.” Hamas, for its part, announced that it intended to release foreign hostages “in the coming days”.