Israel and Hamas at war, day 259 | Bombings on Gaza and shooting on the Israeli-Lebanese border

The Israeli army bombarded the Gaza Strip on Friday as exchanges of fire with Hezbollah on Israel’s northern border with Lebanon and threats brandished by both camps raised fears of an extension of the war.


Posted at 6:29 a.m.

Israeli bombings targeted the besieged Palestinian territory early Friday, where the war between Israel and Hamas was triggered on October 7 by a bloody attack by the Islamist movement on Israeli soil.

This conflict, which left tens of thousands dead in the Gaza Strip, caused an outbreak of violence on the Israeli-Lebanese border, where exchanges of fire between the army and the Lebanese Hezbollah, an Islamist movement allied with Hamas, have intensified recently.

During the night, the army said it had intercepted an “aerial target” launched from Lebanon and media reports reported Israeli strikes on southern Lebanon.

A war for the “existence” of Israel

At a time when relations are straining between the White House and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the head of American diplomacy Antony Blinken spoke in Washington with Israeli officials. He “reiterated the United States’ unwavering commitment to Israel’s security,” according to his spokesperson Matthew Miller.

Mr. Blinken also underlined “the importance of avoiding a new escalation in Lebanon” through a “diplomatic solution allowing Israeli and Lebanese families”, displaced by the exchanges of fire, “to return home”. added Mr. Miller.

Mr. Netanyahu said Thursday that Israel was waging “a war for its existence” and needed weapons from the United States, its historic ally, after deploring delays in American military aid on Tuesday.

“No other country is doing more to help Israel defend itself against the threat of Hamas,” responded National Security Council spokesman John Kirby.

In an incendiary speech on Wednesday, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah warned that “no place” in Israel would be spared by his movement’s missiles in the event of an Israeli attack on Lebanon.

PHOTO AL-MANAR, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah

The day before, the Israeli army had announced that “operational plans for an offensive in Lebanon” had been “validated”. The head of diplomacy, Israel Katz, had threatened a “total war” in which Hezbollah would be “destroyed”.

Mr. Nasrallah also threatened Cyprus, the European Union country closest to the coast of the Middle East, if it made “airports and bases” available to Israel in the event of an attack.

” We are tired ”

As in Israel, these threats have caused concern in Lebanon, where Hezbollah, armed and financed by Iran, exercises a preponderant influence.

“Lebanon does not want a war. We are tired, there is the economic situation, and on top of that a war. We cannot continue like this,” said Sofinar, a Beirut resident.

“We don’t know if this story will end in a war or an agreement,” said Shimon Kamari, a resident of Kiryat Shmona, in northern Israel.

“It is crucial that all parties stop shooting,” said the UN special coordinator for Lebanon, Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert.

The war in Gaza broke out on October 7, when Hamas commandos carried out an attack in southern Israel that resulted in the deaths of 1,194 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP count based on official Israeli data.

Of 251 people kidnapped that day, 116 are still being held in Gaza, 41 of whom are dead, according to the army.

“Minimal” humanitarian aid

In response, Israel promised to destroy Hamas, in power in Gaza since 2007 and which it considers a terrorist organization, as do the United States and the European Union. His army launched an offensive that has so far killed 37,431 people, mostly civilians, according to data from the Health Ministry of the Hamas-led Gaza government.

The Israeli army announced on Friday the death of two soldiers in combat, bringing to more than 310 the number of soldiers killed since the start of ground operations on October 27.

The war has caused a humanitarian disaster in the Palestinian territory, where international aid remains very insufficient in the face of the immense needs of the population.

PHOTO EYAD BABA, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Children walk among the rubble of a building destroyed following an Israeli bombardment in Khan Yunis on June 21.

The World Health Organization said Friday that the daily break announced by the army on a southern route, and presented as a way to facilitate the entry of aid through the Israeli crossing point of Kerem Shalom, n had “no impact”.

The entry of humanitarian aid “has been minimal,” said Jens Laerke, spokesperson for the UN Office for the Coordination of Emergency Situations.

On Friday, shelling and tank and artillery fire targeted the southern city of Rafah, as well as several areas in the north and center of the territory, including the Nousseirat camp and the surroundings of Deir el-Balah.

Civil Defense spokesman Mahmoud Basal said “five bodies of municipal workers were found under the rubble” of a bombed municipal building in the center of northern Gaza City.

The army said ground fighting continued in the Rafah sector.

A launch site installed in an area housing displaced people near Khan Younes “was targeted by an airstrike” on Thursday evening, the army added, stressing that “several measures had been taken to limit the damage caused to civilians”.

“We will not leave Gaza before the hostages have all returned and before eliminating the military capabilities of Hamas,” reaffirmed Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday, widely criticized in his country for not having obtained the release of all the hostages.

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