Israel-Hamas War, Day 136: Israel threatens to continue offensive in Gaza during Ramadan

The fighting continued on Monday February 19 in the Gaza Strip, where Israel is threatening to continue its offensive against Hamas during Ramadan if the hostages are not released by then

Israel-Hamas War, Day 136: Israel threatens to continue offensive in Gaza during Ramadan

The fighting continued on Monday February 19 in the Gaza Strip, where Israel is threatening to continue its offensive against Hamas during Ramadan if the hostages are not released by then. Including in the Rafah region, in the South, where nearly a million and a half Palestinian civilians are massed.

The human toll continues to rise in the besieged Palestinian territory, where 29,092 people have been killed since the start of the war, according to the Hamas health ministry, which counted 107 dead in twenty-four hours in dozens of strikes, notably on Rafah and the neighboring town of Khan Younes.

“The world needs to know and Hamas leaders need to know. If by Ramadan our hostages are not at home, the fighting will continue everywhere, including in the Rafah region,” Benny Gantz, a member of Benjamin Netanyahu’s war cabinet, warned on Sunday.

“Hamas has a choice. They can surrender, free the hostages, and the civilians of Gaza will be able to celebrate Ramadan. » According to him, a ground offensive in Rafah would be carried out within the framework of a dialogue with “American and Egyptian partners”, “by facilitating the evacuation of civilians” to “minimize (…) as much as possible” the number of victims civil. Israel has not said where or how these civilians would be evacuated. But Egypt has expressed its rejection of any “forced displacement” of Palestinians into its territory.

Twenty-six of the twenty-seven states that make up the European Union have called for “an immediate humanitarian pause likely to lead to a lasting ceasefire” in Gaza, the head of diplomacy of the community bloc announced on Monday, February 19 , Josep Borrell.

This pause that they are calling for should allow the hostages held in Gaza to be released, and humanitarian aid to be delivered there, added Mr. Borrell. Although he did not specify which government did not sign this appeal, diplomatic circles point out that Hungary refused, a few days ago, to join a similar approach.

At least two Israeli strikes targeted a town near the main city in southern Lebanon, Saida, on Monday February 19, injuring fourteen people, a security source told Agence France-Presse (AFP). The Israeli army claims to have targeted “Hezbollah arms depots”. An AFP photographer heard at least two explosions a few seconds apart in Gazieh, located about fifty kilometers from the border with Israel. According to him, one of the raids targeted a warehouse located near the coastal highway and above which a thick cloud of smoke was escaping. Ambulances attended the scene.

According to the National News Agency, the strikes targeted a warehouse where tires and electric generators were manufactured, as well as the surroundings of a factory, leaving “14 injured, mostly Syrian and Palestinian workers.” Two firefighters were injured while trying to control the fire which broke out, according to the same source. In a statement, the Israeli army declared that its air force had struck “two Hezbollah weapons warehouses adjacent to Saida”, in response to “the launch of a drone towards (…) northern Israel”.

According to the Israeli army, the drone was probably launched by Hezbollah, which announces daily attacks against Israeli military positions. The military responds with aerial and artillery bombardments that it says target the party’s “infrastructure” and fighters’ movements near the border.

The Shiite party, which says it acts in support of Hamas, after the war launched by Israel against the latter in the Gaza Strip, has so far not claimed responsibility for the drone attack.

UN human rights experts on Monday, February 19, called for an independent investigation into “credible allegations of gross human rights violations” targeting Palestinian women in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. They cite reports that women and girls were “arbitrarily executed in Gaza, often with family members, including their children.”

“We are shocked by reports of Palestinian women and children being deliberately targeted and extrajudicially executed” while they were “seeking shelter or fleeing,” they said.

Many of those detained were allegedly subjected to “inhumane and degrading treatment,” including severe beatings, and denied sanitary napkins, food and medicine. Experts express particular concern over reports of 'multiple forms of sexual assault', including rape of at least two female detainees, while others were 'stripped and searched by male Israeli army officers ".

The independent experts, who are appointed by the UN Human Rights Council but do not represent the UN, also point to the "arbitrary detention of hundreds of Palestinian women and girls", including women human rights defenders. human rights, journalists and humanitarians, since the unprecedented attack on October 7, 2023, by Hamas on Israeli soil. Their statement sparked a strong reaction from Israel, which called their claims “despicable and baseless.”

“The Palestinians suffer both colonialism and apartheid” and “some are indignant at these words but they should be indignant at the reality that is ours,” declared Monday the head of Palestinian diplomacy, Riad Al- Maliki, before the International Court of Justice (ICJ), the highest court of the UN.

The court, which sits in The Hague, is holding hearings this week on the legal consequences of Israel's occupation of Palestinian territories since 1967, with an unprecedented number of 52 countries called to testify. Israel is not participating in the hearings, but called on the Court to reject the request for an opinion in a written submission dated July 24, 2023.

Riad Al-Maliki called on the Court to declare the occupation illegal and order it to end “immediately, completely and unconditionally.”

“Justice delayed is justice denied, and the Palestinian people have been deprived of justice for far too long,” he told the magistrates. “It is time to end the double standards that the Palestinian people have suffered for too long.” According to Mr. Al-Maliki, “the ongoing genocide in Gaza is the result of decades of impunity and inaction. Ending Israel’s impunity is a moral, political and legal imperative.”