Israel-Hamas war: Benjamin Netanyahu responds to the accusation of genocide, defending a war “of unparalleled morality”

Air raids, artillery fire and ground fighting saw no respite in the Gaza Strip on Sunday, December 31

Israel-Hamas war: Benjamin Netanyahu responds to the accusation of genocide, defending a war “of unparalleled morality”

Air raids, artillery fire and ground fighting saw no respite in the Gaza Strip on Sunday, December 31. At least 40 Palestinians were killed in overnight air raids on Gaza City. In recent weeks, the Israeli army has deployed in the north of Gaza, then towards Khan Younes (south) and, more recently, in the camps in the center of this territory.

Some 1.9 million residents (85% of the population) have had to flee their homes due to the fighting. And this while the World Health Organization (WHO) has sounded the alarm about the growing threat of the spread of infectious diseases and humanitarian aid is trickling down.

Israeli military operations in the Gaza Strip have killed 21,822 people, mostly women, children and adolescents, since the war began on October 7, according to the Gaza Strip's health ministry, territory administered by Hamas.

Reprisals for the October 7 attack

Forced displacement of Palestinians and difficulties in delivering aid led South Africa to submit a petition to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) accusing Israel of engaging in “acts of genocide against the Palestinian people in Gaza.”

In response, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said: “We will continue our defensive war, the justice and morality of which are unparalleled. » The army “does everything to avoid harming civilians, while Hamas does everything to harm them and uses them as human shields,” added the prime minister, at the opening of a meeting of his government. According to him, the forces of the Jewish state are acting “in the most moral way possible” in the Gaza Strip. “No, South Africa, it’s not us who came to perpetrate genocide, it’s Hamas. He would kill us all if he could,” Mr. Netanyahu added.

The Israeli operations were launched in retaliation for the unprecedented October 7 attack by Hamas' military wing, which resulted in the deaths of around 1,140 people in Israel, mostly civilians. according to the latest official Israeli data, and the taking hostage of some 250 people.

Demonstration for the hostages

As part of a first agreement, several dozen of them were released in exchange for Palestinians imprisoned by Israel, and more than a hundred are still held in the Gaza Strip. On Saturday evening, more than a thousand people demonstrated in Tel Aviv in support of these hostages and their loved ones, chanting “bring them home! ".

According to the American Axios and Israeli Ynet sites, Qatar informed Israel that Hamas accepted the principle of a resumption of talks with a view to the release of more than forty hostages in exchange for a ceasefire that could last extend up to a month.

A delegation from Hamas, a movement classified as terrorist by the EU, the United States and Israel among others, arrived in Cairo on Friday to convey "the response of the Palestinian factions" to an Egyptian plan providing for the release of hostages and a pause in the confrontations.

This response will be given “in the coming days,” said Muhammad Al-Hindi, deputy secretary general of Palestinian Islamic Jihad, an armed group fighting alongside Hamas, in a statement.

Questioned on Saturday evening, Benjamin Netanyahu remained evasive about these behind-the-scenes negotiations. “Hamas issued a whole series of ultimatums which we rejected. (…) We see a change, [but] I do not want to create expectations,” he declared, assuring that “the war will continue for several months.”

Sébastien Lecornu at the Rafah crossing point

The French Minister of the Armed Forces, Sébastien Lecornu, will travel on Sunday for the New Year aboard the Dixmude, the French helicopter carrier anchored in the Egyptian port of El-Arich, where injured civilians from Gaza are being treated. The minister will be welcomed at 2:15 p.m. (1:15 p.m. in Paris) on the ship.

Arriving at the dock on November 27, the Dixmude received dozens of injured people the next day, the minister’s office said – between five and twenty per day, according to local health sources.

France is the “first Western power to place healthcare resources so close to the Gaza Strip”, according to the French ministry, which specifies that the people being treated are suffering from serious pathologies. The Dixmude is anchored around fifty kilometers from the Rafah crossing point between Egypt and the Gaza Strip, where humanitarian aid is trickling in.

The ship's hospital structure includes two operating theaters, forty beds, more than eighty caregivers, scanners and analysis laboratories, Mr. Lecornu said when the Dixmude arrived in Egypt.

It welcomes French doctors from the army health service, in high demand in recent years in medical support of military operations and by the Covid-19 crisis, but also Belgian, Danish and Jordanian health personnel.