Although diplomatic moves for a ceasefire gained momentum following Joe Biden’s demand for an immediate easing of the conflict between Israel and Hamas, the bombings continued on Thursday. (20), the 11th day of the region’s worst crisis in years.
The rocket attacks were halted for about eight hours, but at dawn, Israel began a new round of airstrikes in Gaza, targeting what the military said was a weapons storage unit at the home of ‘a Hamas officer and military structures in the homes of other commanders of the Islamic group.
On the Israeli side, residents started their working days without the usual sounding of warning sirens, but they started again in the south of the country, although no damage or casualties were reported by authorities.
Moussa Abu Marzouk, a member of Hamas’s political wing, said he believed efforts to end the conflict would be successful. “I hope that a ceasefire will be reached in a day or two, and it will be based on mutual agreement,” he said.
In a radio interview, Israeli intelligence minister Eli Cohen was asked if the country intended to declare a truce on Friday (21). “No. Certainly, we are seeing very significant international pressure,” he said. “We will complete the operation when we decide we have achieved our goals.”
Palestinian medical officials said 230 people, including 65 children and 39 women, died during the 11 days of airstrikes that destroyed roads, entire buildings and other structures in the Gaza Strip, resulting in worsened the shortage of food, clean water and medicine, increased the risk of spreading Covid-19 and other diseases, and forced more than 52,000 Palestinians to leave their homes.
On the Israeli side, the authorities killed 12 people, including two children, and injured 336. The country has an advanced defense system against enemy missiles and rockets which, according to official figures, have intercepted nearly 90% of the nearly 4,000 projectiles fired by Gaza and minimized the damage caused by the conflict.
Civilians on both sides are exhausted with fear and sadness. “The people of Gaza and Israel are in desperate need of a break from continued hostilities,” said Fabrizio Carboni, regional director for the Middle East at the International Committee of the Red Cross.
US President Joe Biden, accused by his own party of being unstable with Israel, spoke by telephone with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Wednesday for the fourth time since the current crisis began and “told the Prime Minister minister that he expected a slowdown today towards a ceasefire. “
Netanyahu, for his part, said he appreciated Biden’s support for Israel’s right to defense, but that he “will continue this operation until its goal is achieved: to restore peace and security to citizens. of Israel “.
The United Nations General Assembly is due to meet on Thursday to discuss the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but expectations for concrete action are low. Indeed, despite Biden’s statement, the United States has opposed UN Security Council resolutions that call for an end to violence, as it deems them inappropriate and ineffective in calming the crisis. According to the White House, the American strategy rests on “silent and intense discussions behind the scenes”.
On Thursday, the UN Human Rights Council announced that it would hold a special session next Thursday (27) to address “the grave human rights situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including Jerusalem -Is”. The meeting, according to the organ, was convened jointly by Pakistan, as coordinator of the Organization for Islamic Cooperation (OIC), and the State of Palestine. “
If it can end the phase of hostilities between Israel and Gaza, a ceasefire is unlikely to address the fundamental issues of the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians.
Hamas began firing rockets at Israel on March 10 in retaliation for what it called violations of Israeli rights against Palestinians in Jerusalem during the month of Ramadan, which is sacred to Muslims.
The rocket attacks follow a series of clashes between Israeli security forces and Palestinian groups at the al-Aqsa mosque and a trial court ruling that could expel Palestinian families from a disputed neighborhood of East Jerusalem since Israel’s annexation in 1967.
The streak of violence between Hamas and Israel is the most serious since 2014. The last major clash lasted 51 days and devastated the Gaza Strip, killing at least 2,251 Palestinians, mostly civilians, and 74 Israelis, almost all soldiers.
The current conflict has also served as fuel to escalate internal hostilities in Israeli cities that were previously seen as symbols of coexistence between Arabs and Jews. There have been hundreds of arrests and local authorities have declared states of emergency and curfews.