Monday, November 6, a month after the Hamas attack on Israel, the Prime Minister of the Jewish state Benjamin Netanyahu once again dismissed the possibility of a ceasefire in the Gaza Strip as long as the hostages are held by the terrorist group will not be released, despite calls to this effect from the UN, describing the Palestinian enclave as a “child’s cemetery”. The Israeli Prime Minister also affirmed that the Jewish state will take “for an indefinite period, general responsibility for security” in the enclave under blockade since 2007 once the war is over.
According to Israeli authorities, more than 1,400 people - mainly civilians, including 40 of French nationality - died in Israel in the Hamas attacks on October 7. This is the deadliest attack on the soil of the Jewish state since its creation in 1948. And 240 people are still held hostage in the Gaza Strip. In retaliation, Israel, which promises to “annihilate” the terrorist group, relentlessly shells the spit of land and launched a ground offensive there. This response left 10,328 dead, according to a report from the Hamas Ministry of Health published on Tuesday. Le Figaro looks back at what to remember, one month after the start of the fighting.
It is 6:29 a.m., Saturday October 7, when the first sirens ring out in southern and central Israel. Thousands of rockets are raining down on the Jewish state on this Shabbat day - where the use of television and telephone is prohibited - which marks the start of the Jewish festival of Simchat Torah. Fifty years to the day after the Yom Kippur War, Hamas attacked Israel and launched Operation “Al-Aqsa Flood”. Members of its armed wing, the Ezzedine Al-Qassam Brigades, aided by the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, demolished the border reputed to be one of the most inviolable on the planet and thwarted Israel's anti-aircraft defense system, the Iron Dome. . They descend through the sky - using motorized paragliders -, the sea and the land aboard pick-ups, motorbikes or on foot.
Just five kilometers from the Gaza Strip, 3,500 ravers are at the Tribe of Nova techno party in the Negev desert: 250 will be massacred. The attackers rushed into Jewish communities in the south of the country and stormed various kibbutzs. “More than 100 people” were killed in Beeri, according to the NGO Zakan. In that of Kfar Aza, the army speaks of a “massacre”. Some say that 40 babies were killed there and sometimes decapitated. But no official source confirms that such crimes were committed. In others, like Nir Am, the kibbutzniks defended themselves while waiting for the security forces.
Four hours after the attacks began, the Israeli government launched Operation Iron Sabre. Benjamin Netanyahu declares the country “at war” and warns that Hamas will pay “an unprecedented price”. Troops go to the south of the country and the army launches an unprecedented mobilization of 350,000 reservists. The air force pounded the territory and the bombings reached their peak on the evening of Friday October 27.
But the land assault is long overdue. The operation is complex: Hamas fighters are holed up in an underground network of tunnels called the "Gaza Metro", the risks of escalation of the conflict in the region are serious, as is the possibility of killing hostages while carrying out land operations.
On October 23, numerous Israeli tanks and armored vehicles were positioned on the border with the Palestinian territory, ready to invest it. On the night of Friday 27 to Saturday 28, Israel launched the second phase of its offensive, advancing slowly in the Gaza Strip. On Sunday, November 5, the Israeli army claimed to have cut the territory in two.
According to the Israeli army, 240 people - soldiers, civilians including women and children - "from all over the world" are still being held hostage in the Gaza Strip by Hamas. Eight French people are still missing and “it is now confirmed that some of them are hostages of Hamas”, indicates the Quai d'Orsay without specifying their number. Officially, Israel and other Western countries like France do not negotiate with terrorist groups.
It is at this point that third countries such as Qatar, which shelters Hamas leaders, intervene. Since the start of the conflict, five hostages have been freed. Two Americans and three Israelis. One of them, soldier Ori Megidish, was freed during an IDF raid, the army says.
Very quickly after launching its response, Israel urged Gazan civilians to evacuate the north of the territory and go south, to the Egyptian border. More than 1.5 million people - of the 2.2 million living in the Gaza Strip - have been displaced since October 7. At the same time, the Jewish state decreed a total blockade of the Palestinian enclave.
During the night of Tuesday October 17 to Wednesday October 18, a projectile fell in the parking lot of Al-Ahli Arabi hospital, in downtown Gaza. Hamas accuses Israel and announces around a hundred deaths. Israel points, with supporting videos, to the responsibility of Islamic Jihad. A source from the intelligence community speaks instead of around ten deaths. It is still impossible to prove with certainty the origin of the minting, although several open source documents provide insight into its origin. Hospitals are at the heart of the clashes: Israel says Hamas has set up underground command centers there and accuses the terrorist group of using them as shields.
On October 21, several United Nations agencies deplored a “catastrophic” humanitarian situation: hospitals were “overwhelmed” and children were “dying at an alarming rate.” The UN calls for a ceasefire.
In this territory where 80% of the population is dependent on humanitarian aid, the cessation of fuel supplies makes travel very difficult and prevents hospitals and water desalination plants from operating. Once stuck at the Egyptian border in Rafah, humanitarian aid trucks have been entering the Gaza Strip in dribs and drabs since October 21. A total of 569 trucks have since entered the enclave.
In the opposite direction, 600 foreigners and wounded people considered a priority left the Gaza Strip on November 3 to reach Egypt. The Rafah terminal reopened on Tuesday, November 7 so that several hundred foreign passport holders could exit. More than 100 French people were able to leave the territory under blockade.
As of October 9, American President Joe Biden, Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and President of the Italian Council Giorgia Meloni call on “other extremist groups or any state, in particular Iran” , not to “expand the conflict”. Likewise, Washington warns Hezbollah from opening a front from Lebanon. Friday, November 3, Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of the Shiite party allied with Iran, refrained from declaring war on Israel, specifying however that “all possibilities on the Lebanese front” are open.
Several Western leaders are traveling to Israel to assure Netanyahu of their support. But also in Arab countries to find a way out of the crisis. This is the case, on several occasions, of American Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, Joe Biden, Emmanuel Macron, Rishi Sunak, Olaf Scholz and even the President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen.
In Europe, after tough negotiations, heads of state and government decided in favor of humanitarian pauses following a summit in Brussels on October 27. But Israel doesn't want to hear about it. Just like the American ally, for whom such an option “would benefit Hamas”. Finally, the leaders of Western countries call on the Jewish state to respect the laws of war by protecting civilians.
Iran is the first country to show its support for Hamas. The country, a historic ally of the terrorist group, is suspected of having helped it prepare its offensive. Which he denies. Algeria supports Hamas while Tunisia expresses its “total and unconditional” support for the Palestinians.
Other countries prefer to call for a ceasefire, in some cases engaging in difficult balancing acts. This is the case of Egypt which refuses to welcome refugees from Gaza. But also the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain which normalized their relations with Israel in 2020 with the Abraham Accords. Morocco, a signatory to the text, condemns attacks against civilians “wherever they are”. Russia calls for an end to the fighting but does not condemn the Hamas attack.
While at the start of the conflict Turkey intended to play mediator and not damage its relations with Israel, its president Recep Tayyip Erdogan set himself up, as the bombings intensified on Gaza, as a defender of the Palestinians and the Islam and a critic of the West. Finally, Saudi Arabia suspended its negotiations “with a view to possible normalization” with the Jewish state.
The conflict is echoed in the streets around the world. From Paris to Kuala Lumpur via Casablanca and Warsaw, processions of demonstrators in the colors of Palestine invaded the capitals. The demands are intertwined, ranging from a simple ceasefire to anti-Zionist and even anti-Semitic remarks.
In other demonstrations, participants demand the release of the hostages and reaffirm their support for Israel.
In France, since the resurgence of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, there have been 1,040 anti-Semitic acts and 486 arrests in France since the start of the conflict, according to Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin this Sunday, November 5.
Also read: Israel: which countries support Hamas or adopt a half-hearted reaction?