heavy fighting in Rafah and Jabaliya; a fourth hostage body from Gaza repatriated by the Israeli army

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An Israeli army armored unit launches an attack in Jabaliya, in the northern Gaza Strip, on May 15, 2024. MOSTAFA ALKHAROUF / ANADOLU VIA AFP

The war between Israel and Hamas has left 35,386 dead in the Gaza Strip, mostly civilians, according to a report released on Saturday May 18 by the Palestinian Islamist movement’s health ministry. On the Israeli side, more than 1,170 people died – most of them also civilians – during the Hamas attack on October 7, 2023, according to a count from Agence France-Presse (AFP) established in from official Israeli sources. Additionally, according to the Israeli army, 624 of its soldiers were killed in fighting in the Gaza Strip.

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Fighting intensifies in Jabaliya and Rafah

According to AFP journalists, artillery fire and airstrikes continue in the east and northeast of Rafah. A strike left two people dead in a camp for displaced people, the city’s Kuwaiti hospital reported. The Al-Quds Brigades, the armed wing of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, also reported violent fighting in the east of the city with Israeli troops who entered this sector on May 7. UNRWA, the United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees, estimated that https://twitter.com/UNLazzarini/status/1791867434518860143?ref_src=twsrc%5Egoogle%7Ctwcamp%5Eserp%7Ctwgr%5Etweet%7Ctwtr%5Etrue since May 6 and the start of Israeli ground operations in this locality on the southern edge of the Gaza Strip.

In the north of the Gaza Strip, AFP correspondents, witnesses and doctors, reported intense clashes during the night from Friday to Saturday in the Jabaliya refugee camp, north of Gaza City. At the beginning of January, Israel announced that it had dismantled the Hamas command structure in the north of the Palestinian enclave, but the Jewish state’s army announced on Friday that the Palestinian movement controlled “totally” Jabaliya upon his arrival ” a few days ago “.

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“Dozens of people were martyred and hundreds more were injured” in the Jabaliya camp, Hamas said on Saturday, accusing the Israeli army of “destroy residential buildings (…) and targeting schools and shelters”.

Israeli army announces it has repatriated the body of a fourth hostage to Gaza

The body of Ron Benjamin, 53, was found with those of three hostages whose bodies had been repatriated on Friday, announced Israeli army spokesperson Daniel Hagari. The 50-year-old man was taken by Hamas on October 7, 2023 after being killed in the attack carried out by the Palestinian movement in southern Israel.

The day before, the Israeli army declared that it had found the bodies of three Israeli hostages in Gaza, including that of Shani Louk, a 23-year-old German-Israeli woman present at the Nova electronic music festival, on October 7, 2023. Israeli authorities also identified the other two bodies found as those of a 28-year-old woman, Amit Buskila, and a 56-year-old man, Itzhak Gelerenter. According to Mr. Hagari, they were also present at the music festival. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sent his condolences to the families on Telegram. “This terrible loss is heartbreaking”We “let’s cry with the families”he assured, promising to bring back “all the hostages, the living and the dead”.

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Oil tanker hit by missile launched by Houthis off Yemen

“At about one in the morning [heure locale, minuit en France]the Iranian-backed Houthis launched an anti-ship ballistic missile into the Red Sea, which hit the Winda Panamanian-flagged tanker, owned and operated by a Greek company”https://twitter.com/CENTCOM/status/1791851421152743816 According to Centcom, the ship had recently docked in Russia and was heading towards China.

The attack caused flooding, resulting in “a loss of propulsion and piloting”and a ship from the coalition set up by the United States to secure the Red Sea “immediately responded to the distress call from Wind ». But “no assistance was required”because the crew was able to regain control of the ship, and it continued on its way, according to Centcom, which specified that no casualties had been reported.

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The Houthis have carried out dozens of drone and missile strikes against ships in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden since November, disrupting global maritime trade in this strategic area. Allies of Iran, they say they act in solidarity with the Gazans.

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First unloading of humanitarian aid on the Gaza coast

“More than 300 pallets of humanitarian aid” were unloaded, the first to enter using the temporary American floating pier docked on the coast of the Gaza Strip, the Israeli army said. For its part, Hamas insisted on Saturday, in a press release, “that no aid delivery route, including the floating jetty, constitutes an alternative to roads under Palestinian supervision”.

After days of blocking the arrival of humanitarian aid in the besieged Palestinian territory and threatened with famine, the American army announced on Friday the arrival “around 500 tonnes [d’aide] in the coming days ».

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London announced for its part that a shipment of British aid had been “successfully transported to the Gaza coast (…) at the same time as aid from the United States and the United Arab Emirates » via the Cypriot maritime corridor, while France declared that a navy vessel from Cyprus, with 60 tonnes of aid on board, was being unloaded on the American pontoon. The land route nevertheless remains “the most viable and effective”reaffirmed the humanitarian agency of the United Nations (OCHA).

Washington evacuated seventeen American doctors from Gaza

They left the Palestinian enclave, in which they had been stuck since the capture by the Israeli army of the Rafah crossing on the border with Egypt, through the Kerem Shalom crossing, between the besieged Palestinian territory and Israel, said an American official close to the matter to AFP, on condition of anonymity.

“We have been in close contact with the organizations to which these American doctors belong,” said a State Department spokesperson, as well as with their families, he said. A Source close to the matter told AFP that three other American doctors who were part of a voluntary medical mission had chosen to stay despite uncertainty around future possibilities of leaving Gaza.

Joe Biden’s national security adviser expected in Saudi Arabia and Israel

The White House announced Friday that its national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, will travel to Saudi Arabia this Saturday, and to Israel on Sunday. While the President of the United States, Joe Biden, strives to achieve a normalization of relations between these two countries, Jake Sullivan was to meet the Saudi Crown Prince, Mohammed Ben Salman, as well as the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu , said John Kirby, spokesperson for the National Security Council.

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The conversation in Saudi Arabia with the kingdom’s leader was to focus on “bilateral and regional issues, including the war in Gaza”as well as on top “ongoing efforts to achieve lasting peace and security in the region”declared the spokesperson.

With Benjamin Netanyahu and other senior Israeli officials, Joe Biden’s envoy must also discuss the conflict between the Jewish state and Hamas, “including negotiations to obtain the release of all hostages [détenus à Gaza] and to respond to the humanitarian crisis ». The exchange will also focus on the shared desire of the United States and Israel to “sustainably defeat Hamas both through military pressure and through a political project”explained John Kirby.

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