Correspondent in Jerusalem
Already sixty days since the start of the war triggered on October 7 by the Hamas terrorist attack. Inflexible and methodical, the Israeli army is tightening its grip on the Gaza Strip. Troops have cut the narrow strip of land into three large zones, North, Center and South, between which travel is prohibited. Only sections of the two main roads, Salah ad-Dine and the coastal road, are authorized. In addition to aerial bombardments and artillery barrages, naval gunfire was added. Intense fighting is taking place in three areas of Palestinian territory, presented as strongholds of Palestinian militias. In the north, Israeli Defense Forces are concentrating their attacks on the town of Jabaliya and the Chajaya neighborhood in Gaza City. To the south, the fire is mainly focused on the town of Khan Younes.
This phase of the battle is presented by some observers as “decisive”. The goals of the war are still the same: destroy Hamas and free the civilians kidnapped in the October 7 attack. About 1,200 Israelis died that day, some 240 were kidnapped. After seven days of truce, approximately 137 people remain in the hands of Hamas and other Palestinian factions in the Gaza Strip. On the Palestinian side, losses amounted to at least 15,000 people. By striking Khan Younes, the Israeli army intends to strike at the top of the Hamas organization. She believes that her leader in the Gaza Strip, Yahya Sinwar, is hidden there with his staff. But it will have to act quickly in view of the humanitarian catastrophe triggered by this new phase of the war.
According to the United Nations, 1.8 million people have been displaced within the Gaza Strip since October 7. The majority of them fled the north of the territory, on orders from the Israeli army, to take refuge in the South, where the two large cities, Khan Younes and Rafah, are completely saturated. By bringing the war to the south of the Gaza Strip, Israel is adding an additional dose of chaos. On Tuesday, videos shared on social networks showed Dantesque scenes, which echoed those observed a few weeks ago in the North: hospital courtyards overwhelmed with refugees, wounded arriving in waves. On foot, dragging a suitcase on wheels, in a car, with a few possessions piled in a trunk or on the roof, civilians flee the combat zones to take refuge in areas designated as safe by the Israeli army.
Despite everything, humanitarian aid continues to arrive. According to the United Nations, 100 trucks and 69,000 liters of fuel were able to pass through the Rafah terminal on Monday: this is almost half as much as during the truce. After a visit to the Gaza Strip, Red Cross President Mirjana Spoljaric issued a rare statement. “The level of human suffering is intolerable. It is unacceptable that civilians have no safe place in Gaza,” she denounces. She also asks that the Red Cross be able to have access to the hostages.