Israel-Hamas War, Day 186: “We will complete the elimination of Hamas, including in Rafah. No force in the world will stop us,” says Benjamin Netanyahu

The Israeli army announced Tuesday April 9 in a statement that it had destroyed “terrorist infrastructure” in several sectors of the Gaza Strip and that “a plane eliminated a terrorist in Khan Younes, who had participated in the October 7 massacre

Israel-Hamas War, Day 186: “We will complete the elimination of Hamas, including in Rafah. No force in the world will stop us,” says Benjamin Netanyahu

The Israeli army announced Tuesday April 9 in a statement that it had destroyed “terrorist infrastructure” in several sectors of the Gaza Strip and that “a plane eliminated a terrorist in Khan Younes, who had participated in the October 7 massacre.” . She reported fighting in the center of the territory and the “elimination of several terrorists”.

In Gaza City, a World Health Organization mission summed up the dramatic reality after a visit Monday to the Al-Shifa hospital, destroyed during an Israeli operation: "This place, which was a place where one gave life, only death is remembered,” said a doctor member of the delegation, Athanasios Gargavanis.

In the ruins of the immense hospital complex, the identification of corpses is a new ordeal for emergency services and families. “We lack the necessary equipment and time is not on our side, we have to finish before the bodies decompose,” the director of the emergency department, Amjad Aliwa, told an AFP correspondent.

In twenty-four hours, 153 additional deaths were recorded, according to a statement from the Hamas Ministry of Health, which noted that 33,360 people have been killed in the Gaza Strip since October 7, 2023. The war has led to the death of 1,170 people on the Israeli side, the majority civilians, according to a report established by AFP based on official Israeli figures.

Hamas was studying a proposed truce in Gaza on Tuesday accompanied by the release of hostages held in the Palestinian territory. In Cairo, the mediating countries – Qatar, Egypt, United States – put on the table a new proposal in three stages, the first of which provides for a six-week truce, a Hamas source said in a statement on Monday evening. Saying it “desires” an agreement, the movement clarified that Israel “has not responded to any” of its demands. “Despite this, the leadership of the movement is studying the proposal (…) and will inform the mediators of its response,” added Hamas, on the eve of Eid-el-Fitr, the holiday marking the end of the month of Ramadan, sacred to Muslims.

In addition to a six-week ceasefire, the proposal initially provides for the release of 42 hostages in exchange for 800 to 900 Palestinians imprisoned by Israel, the entry of 400 to 500 trucks of food aid per day and the return home of residents of the northern Gaza Strip, according to the source within Hamas.

Hamas demands a definitive ceasefire, the Israeli withdrawal from the entire Palestinian territory and a significant increase in aid, the delivery of which by land is strictly controlled by Israel, which has besieged the Gaza Strip since the 9 October 2023.

The Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, determined to launch a ground offensive in Rafah, the last bastion according to him of Hamas, affirmed on Sunday that "this will be done, there is a date", without however specifying the latter. “We will complete the elimination of Hamas battalions, including in Rafah. No force in the world will stop us,” he said again on Tuesday, visiting a military base.

In anticipation of this offensive, Israel wants to acquire a stock of tents with a capacity to shelter nearly 500,000 people. “I confirm that a call for tenders has been opened, intended for the Gaza Strip,” a government source who requested anonymity told AFP on Tuesday, without specifying where the tents will be installed.

Immediately after the announcement on Sunday of the Israeli withdrawal from Khan Younès, thousands of displaced people returned to this town about ten kilometers north of Rafah to discover an apocalyptic landscape. Israel spoke of a tactical withdrawal from Khan Younes which would allow soldiers to prepare "the continuation of their missions in the Rafah area", a town stuck to the closed Egyptian border, where nearly 1.5 million Palestinians are crowded together, mostly displaced people.

Washington reiterated its opposition to a “massive military invasion of Rafah” while Paris, Cairo and Amman sounded the alarm about the “dangerous consequences” of such an offensive, in an article published Monday evening in Le Monde.

Tuesday, during a press conference in Washington, the American Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, assured that Israel had not given the United States a date for a possible military operation in Rafah, in the south of the Gaza Strip. “No, we do not have a date for an operation, at least one that has been communicated to us by the Israelis,” Blinken said alongside his British counterpart, David Cameron.

Turkey on Tuesday restricted its exports to Israel, a response to the war in Gaza and growing anger among the Turkish population against maintaining trade relations with Israel. These restrictions concern 54 products, including many construction materials made of steel, iron or aluminum, but also aviation fuel.

“This decision will remain in effect until Israel declares an immediate ceasefire and allows continued access of humanitarian aid to Gaza,” Turkey’s Commerce Ministry said in a statement.

The Israeli Foreign Ministry subsequently affirmed that Israel would take “necessary measures” against Turkey, denouncing a “violation of bilateral trade agreements”.

“Food deliveries coordinated by the UN are far more likely to be obstructed or denied access (…) than any other humanitarian mission,” a spokesperson for the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said on Tuesday (OCHA), Jens Laerke, in Geneva. This means, he added, citing statistics from March, that “the food convoys expected to go particularly to the North, where 70% of the population faces famine-like conditions, are three times more likely to be turned away than other humanitarian convoys.”

Cogat, an agency of the Israeli Ministry of Defense responsible for Palestinian civil affairs, refuted these assertions on Tuesday and reported on X the inspection and entry of 741 aid trucks into the Gaza Strip “during the last two days.” “Only 267 aid trucks were distributed by UN aid agencies inside Gaza (of which 146 were carrying food),” he added.

“Meaningless” comparisons, according to Mr. Laerke, who mentioned a “requirement” from the Israelis on half-loading trucks before inspection or even accumulating delays, which mean that “the figures never correspond” with those of the UN.

Furthermore, “half of the convoys we tried to send to the North with food were refused” by the Israeli authorities, according to the OCHA spokesperson. “The obligation of the warring parties – particularly Israel as the occupying power in Gaza – to facilitate and ensure humanitarian access does not end at the border. This also concerns the movements in Gaza,” he insisted.

“What worries me deeply is that we have lost our moral compass regarding Gaza, as humanity, as an international community,” lamented Tuesday the Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations, Amina Mohammed, during 'a press conference.

“We must do something and quickly (…) Thousands of children continue to lose their lives, to live as amputees. And hundreds of people are waiting to return home, the hostages,” insisted Antonio Guterres’ deputy, who continues to call for an immediate ceasefire.

Refugee status was granted to a Gazans who fled the Gaza Strip in 2022 to escape the “persecutions” of Hamas, by the National Court of Asylum (CNDA) which, since February, has ruled that the area is experiencing “ blind violence of exceptional intensity”. According to a document published Tuesday, the CNDA grants this status but does not mention the motivations which led it to make this decision.

The Court distinguishes the needs for protection according to whether or not the indiscriminate violence observed in a given place and time reaches the level known as “exceptional intensity”. If “exceptional intensity” is retained by the Court, there is no need for justification other than proving that one lives in this area, Tania Racho, researcher in European law, explained to AFP.