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Hamas-Israel war: two hostages died in bombings

Benjamin Netanyahu persists on Sunday in his desire to launch a military offensive against Rafah, in the far south of the Gas Strip, where Hamas fears “tens of thousands of deaths” among the civilian population.

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Hamas-Israel war: two hostages died in bombings

Benjamin Netanyahu persists on Sunday in his desire to launch a military offensive against Rafah, in the far south of the Gas Strip, where Hamas fears “tens of thousands of deaths” among the civilian population. While the Israeli Prime Minister promised civilians a “safe” evacuation, the Palestinian Islamist movement claims that an Israeli operation would “threaten” negotiations on the hostages. On Sunday, the armed wing of Hamas announced the death of two hostages following bombings. Le Figaro takes stock of the situation.

Hamas' armed wing, the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, said Sunday that two hostages had died and eight others were seriously injured in bombings over the past four days.

The Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas said on Sunday that any operation by Israeli forces on Rafah, at the southern tip of the Gaza Strip, would “threaten” negotiations for the release of hostages in exchange for Palestinian prisoners.

“Any attack by the (Israeli) occupying army on the town of Rafah would threaten the negotiations” on the hostages still held in the Gaza Strip, Hamas said in a statement, after having already warned Saturday “against a catastrophe and a massacre which could result in tens of thousands of martyrs and injured”.

Around 250 people were kidnapped in Israel on October 7 and taken to Gaza. A week-long truce in November allowed the release of 105 hostages and 240 Palestinian prisoners held by Israel. According to Israel, 132 hostages are still being held, of whom 29 are believed to be dead.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says the Israeli army will provide "safe passage" before the planned assault on Rafah, during an interview with an American channel to be broadcast on Sunday.

“Victory is within reach. We are going to do it. We are going to take the last terrorist battalions of Hamas and Rafah, which is the last bastion, proclaimed the Prime Minister in the program “This Week with George Stephanopoulos”, on the ABC News channel which will be broadcast on Sunday and of which extracts were published Saturday evening. We will do this while ensuring safe passage for the civilian population so that they can leave the premises. We are developing a detailed system to achieve this. We don’t approach this casually.”

The fighting seemed particularly intense on Sunday a few kilometers to the north, in Khan Younes, one of the strongholds of Hamas command where the Israeli army has been tracking its fighters for several weeks. AFP correspondents heard regular explosions, planes flying overhead and saw several plumes of black smoke escaping from the city and its surroundings. The Israeli army “continues to eliminate terrorists and conduct targeted operations in the west” of the city, she said.

On their social networks, Hamas officials denounced on Sunday the dramatic humanitarian situation in the territory. “Some families only receive half a meal every two days,” says the Islamist movement, accusing Israeli forces of “preventing the arrival of aid” in Gaza, particularly in the north where fighting continues. and where “the humanitarian situation has passed the stage of catastrophe”.

Also read: Israel-Hamas: the daily struggle of Gazans to feed themselves, while famine threatens the enclave

In its daily update, the Hamas Ministry of Health announced on Sunday a toll of 28,176 people killed, mostly women, children and adolescents, in the Gaza Strip since the start of the war between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist movement.

It also reported a total of 112 deaths in the last 24 hours, and 67,784 people injured since the start of the war on October 7.

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi has called for Israel's exclusion from the UN, marking the 45th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution. Support for the Palestinian cause, coupled with criticism against Western countries, led by the United States, was this year the main slogan of the traditional ceremonies marking the anniversary of the 1979 revolution. "We propose to exclude the Zionist entity of the United Nations,” declared the president, referring to Israel, a country that Iran does not recognize. He also accused the Jewish state of having “violated 400 declarations, resolutions and agreements” concluded within “international organizations”. “What is happening in Gaza today is a crime against humanity, and the supporters of this criminal regime are the United States and certain Western countries.”

War has ravaged the Palestinian economy in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip, the head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) said on Sunday, adding that only "lasting peace" would improve the outlook.

“The dire outlook for the Palestinian economy is worsening as the conflict continues,” Kristalina Georgieva said at the world summit of governments in Dubai. Only lasting peace and a political solution will fundamentally change the situation. Economically, the impact of the conflict has been devastating.” Economic activity fell by 80% from October to December 2023 compared to the same period in 2022, according to the international institution.

Thousands of Moroccans marched again on Sunday in Rabat in support of the Palestinian people, calling for an end to normalization between Morocco and Israel and denouncing a “genocide” in the Gaza Strip.

“Normalization is a betrayal”, “Stop the massacre”, could we read on banners brandished in front of Parliament in the center of the Moroccan capital. More than 10,000 people marched on the main streets of the city center, some of whom carried a huge Palestinian flag, according to AFP journalists.

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