Violent fighting in Gaza, warning of risk of anarchy

Violent fighting in Gaza, warning of risk of anarchy
Violent fighting in Gaza, warning of risk of anarchy
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May 13, 2024 – 2:20 p.m.

(Keystone-ATS) Violent fighting pitted the Israeli army against Hamas on Monday in the Gaza Strip, particularly in Rafah, despite warnings from the United States against a major offensive in this overpopulated city and the risk of “anarchy” in the Palestinian territory. .

AFP correspondents and witnesses report violent clashes between Israeli soldiers and Hamas fighters in different sectors of Gaza, as Israel prepares to celebrate the 76th anniversary of its creation, overshadowed by more than seven months of war in the Palestinian territory.

A little less than a week after the start of the Israeli army’s incursion into Rafah, a town on the Egyptian border in the south of the Gaza Strip where 1.4 million Palestinians are crowded together, the Secretary of State American leader Antony Blinken said a major offensive in the crowded city would not achieve the stated goal of eliminating Hamas.

AFP correspondents reported helicopter fire and bombings in eastern Rafah, a town where Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is threatening to launch a major ground offensive to attack the last battalions of Hamas who are sheltering there, according to him.

Risk of “chaos”

Fighting between Israeli forces and Palestinian militants has raged in recent days also in the northern Gaza Strip, where, a few months after declaring that the Hamas command structure had been dismantled, an army spokesperson Israeli government said Hamas was “trying to rebuild its military capabilities.”

Clashes also took place in Zeitoun and Jabalia, respectively in the center and north of the Gaza Strip, according to AFP correspondents and witnesses.

Last week, Israeli forces ordered the population to evacuate eastern Rafah and 300,000 Palestinians followed the calls, according to the army.

But in the eyes of Mr. Blinken, a vast operation on Rafah would risk creating “chaos”, “anarchy” and “enormous damage” for the civilian population “without solving the problem” of Hamas.

“We have seen Hamas return to the areas that Israel liberated in the north, even to Khan Younes,” a ruined town near Rafah, he said in an interview with NBC.

“No safe place in Gaza”

On foot, aboard vehicles or tricycles, Palestinians continue to flee Rafah to try to find refuge elsewhere in the Palestinian territory.

“We experienced hell for three days and the worst nights since the start of the war,” Mohammed Hamad, 24, who fled east of Rafah targeted by bombings after orders from evacuation of the army.

Hamas’ military wing claimed responsibility for shelling Israeli soldiers and vehicles near the Rafah crossing.

“Israeli authorities continue to issue forced displacement orders (…). This forces the residents of Rafah to flee anywhere,” wrote the head of the UN agency for Palestinian refugees (Unrwa), Philippe Lazzarini, on the social network

“Talk about safe zones is false and misleading. No place is safe in Gaza” for its approximately 2.4 million residents, he said.

By attacking Rafah, the Israeli Prime Minister wants to “derail” talks on a truce and the release of hostages held in Gaza, Hamas accused on Sunday.

The Islamist movement claimed to have accepted a proposal from mediators – Egypt, Qatar, United States – on a truce, but Israel responded that the accepted proposal was “far from (its) demands”.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres again called for a ceasefire and the release of hostages at a conference in Kuwait where donors pledged more than $2 billion over two years for humanitarian operations in Gaza.

On the verge of “collapse”

Hamas’ health ministry warned Monday that the Palestinian territory’s healthcare system was “hours away from collapse” due to lack of fuel to operate hospital generators, ambulances and staff transportation.

After sounding for the first time on Sunday evening in Israel, the sirens sounded again on Monday at 11:00 a.m. (10:00 a.m. Swiss), to mark the start of the annual commemorations for the soldiers who fell in the defense of the country and the victims of attacks, at the eve of the 76th anniversary of the creation of the State of Israel, darkened by the war in Gaza. It will be followed by a series of ceremonies in Israel’s military cemeteries.

On May 15, the Palestinians must commemorate the Nakba (the “catastrophe” in Arabic, editor’s note) which for them evokes the exodus of 760,000 people during the 1948 war after the creation of the State of ‘Israel.

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