Israel-Hamas War, Day 163: “We cannot stand by and do nothing,” says Olaf Scholz from Jerusalem on the situation in the Gaza Strip

While Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu assured, Sunday March 17, that the 1

Israel-Hamas War, Day 163: “We cannot stand by and do nothing,” says Olaf Scholz from Jerusalem on the situation in the Gaza Strip

While Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu assured, Sunday March 17, that the 1.5 million Palestinians crowded into Rafah would be evacuated before any military operation against this city in the south of the besieged Gaza Strip, the German Chancellor called for Jerusalem to a “hostage deal and lasting ceasefire.”

In the last 24 hours, more than 90 Palestinians, including twelve members of the same family, were killed in Israeli air raids which hit several areas of the Gaza Strip including Rafah, according to the health ministry of the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned on Sunday that "international pressure" would not prevent Israel from launching an offensive in Rafah, a town in the south of the Gaza Strip where nearly 1.5 million Palestinians are massed, according to the UN. “We will act in Rafah, it will take a few weeks but it will happen,” he added, regretting that “within the international community, some are trying to stop the war now, before all the objectives have been achieved”.

Furthermore, Mr. Netanyahu assured German Chancellor Olaf Scholz in Jerusalem on Sunday that Israel would not launch a military operation in Rafah as long as the population was “locked in place.” He also made it clear that he will not accept a peace that makes Israel "weak" against its Middle East neighbors, while a possible truce in the Gaza Strip is currently being negotiated after more than five months of war.

“We cannot have peace with Hamas, it must be eliminated,” insisted Mr. Netanyahu, calling the Palestinian Islamist movement a “genocidal organization”.

For his part, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz called on Sunday in Jerusalem for an “agreement on the hostages and a lasting ceasefire” in the Gaza Strip, saying he understood the families of the hostages who, after more than 5 months of war, “say the time has come for a deal.” This call comes as Israel is due to soon send a delegation to Doha, Qatar, to negotiate with international mediators and Hamas an agreement on a truce and an exchange of Israeli hostages for Palestinian prisoners, after weeks of discussions without results.

While reiterating Germany's “firm support” for Israel and Israel's “right to defend itself,” Scholz said he had “expressed his concerns” to Netanyahu over the “extremely high” number of casualties. civilians and the course of the war. “We cannot stand by and watch the Palestinians risk starvation,” Mr. Scholz said, calling for an “urgent and massive” increase in the entry of humanitarian aid into Gaza. He also reiterated Germany's support for a two-state solution in the post-war perspective.

On Friday, after the announcement of Mr. Netanyahu's approval of the army's "action plans" for an offensive in Rafah, the German Foreign Ministry declared that such an offensive "[ could] be justified.” “More than a million people have taken refuge there and have nowhere to go. We need a ceasefire now,” added German diplomacy.

According to Hamas, more than 60 Palestinians died in Israeli strikes carried out in the Gaza Strip overnight from Saturday to Sunday. Among them, twelve members of the Thabet family whose home was hit at dawn by bombs in the Bichara neighborhood of Deir Al-Balah, in the center. In the hours that followed, the health ministry in the Hamas-administered Gaza Strip published a new toll: 31,553 deaths since October 7. On Saturday, 36 members of the same family were killed in the Nuseirat refugee camp in the center, again according to the same source.

The raids were intense in Deir Al-Balah, Gaza City, in the north, and in the towns of Khan Yunis and Rafah, in the south, according to witnesses. Fierce fighting pitted Israeli soldiers and Palestinian fighters in Khan Younes and Gaza.

The Israeli government decided on Sunday to establish a national day of remembrance to mark each year "the catastrophe" of the attack committed on October 7 by Hamas in the south of the country, the Prime Minister's office said in a statement. minister. A ceremony will be held “each year at 11 a.m. for the soldiers who fell in the war and another at 1 p.m. in memory of the murdered civilians” on October 7, the press release said.

On October 7, commandos from the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas infiltrated from Gaza carried out an unprecedented attack in southern Israel, during which at least 1,160 people were killed, the majority civilians, according to a count by the Agency. France-Presse from official sources.