Israel-Hamas war: update on the situation after Monday February 5

American Secretary of State Antony Blinken arrived in Saudi Arabia on Monday, February 5, the first stop on his tour of the Middle East to try to achieve a new truce between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip

Israel-Hamas war: update on the situation after Monday February 5

American Secretary of State Antony Blinken arrived in Saudi Arabia on Monday, February 5, the first stop on his tour of the Middle East to try to achieve a new truce between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip. Mr. Blinken is making his fifth trip to the region since the start of the war on October 7. After Riyadh, he must go to Qatar, Egypt, Israel and the occupied West Bank.

On the ground, the Israeli army claimed to have carried out “targeted raids” in the north and center of the Gaza Strip, and to have killed “dozens of terrorists” in Khan Younes (South). It has been shelling the city for weeks, claiming that Hamas officials are hiding there. In Rafah, on the border with Egypt, Hamas also reported Israeli strikes.

The Hamas health ministry announced on Monday a toll of 27,478 people killed and 66,835 injured in the Palestinian enclave since the start of the conflict. This assessment could not be independently verified.

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA) on Monday accused the Israeli army of carrying out a naval strike on a food aid convoy preparing to enter northern Gaza . Since the Jewish state accused twelve employees of the UN agency - since dismissed - of being involved in the Hamas attack on October 7, relations between Israel and UNRWA have been very deteriorated. A dozen countries, including major donors such as the United States, Germany, the United Kingdom and Sweden, have announced they are suspending their funding to the agency, which said it was threatened with having to cease its activities. activities “by the end of February.”

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres announced on Monday the creation of an independent committee to assess the “neutrality” of UNRWA and its functioning. Israel “will submit all evidence highlighting UNRWA’s links to terrorism,” responded Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz. “Congratulations to the United Nations for the formation of this investigative committee,” he added on X, deeming it “imperative to reveal the truth.”

At the same time, negotiations are continuing to reach a second truce, after that of a week at the end of November. Around a hundred hostages held in Gaza were then exchanged for Palestinians held by Israel. Some 250 people were kidnapped on October 7, and 132 hostages remain held in Gaza, according to Israel. Among them, 28 were declared dead by the services of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

During his tour, American Secretary of State Antony Blinken will support the draft agreement drawn up by the Qatari, American and Egyptian mediators. It first provides for a six-week truce and the release of Palestinians (between 200 and 300) detained in Israel in exchange for around forty hostages, according to a Hamas source. The Islamist movement demands a total ceasefire. For his part, Mr. Netanyahu affirmed Monday, during a meeting of his party's elected officials, that he "will not accept the demands" of Hamas regarding the hostages, adding that the terms of a possible agreement "must be similar to those of the previous agreement”.

Mr. Blinken will also try to increase the delivery of food, water and medicine to the Gaza Strip, where the humanitarian catastrophe continues. On January 26, the International Court of Justice (ICJ), the highest court of the UN, called on Israeli authorities to take “immediate measures” to enable the provision of aid, “which the Palestinians urgently need ".

The Israeli Prime Minister estimated that a “total victory” for the Israeli army in Gaza would deal a “fatal blow” to Hamas, but also to “Iran” and its allies, “Hezbollah” and “the Houthis ". “Absolute victory is essential, because it guarantees Israel’s security,” added Mr. Netanyahu, according to comments reported by his cabinet after a meeting with the military. If this is not the case, “the displaced [Israelis] will not return [home]. The next massacre would only be a matter of time, and Iran, Hezbollah and others will party here and destroy the Middle East.”

Israeli “settler violence” in the occupied West Bank must “stop,” declared French Foreign Minister Stéphane Séjourné after an interview in Jerusalem with Mr. Netanyahu. “There can be no forced displacement of Palestinians under any circumstances, neither outside Gaza nor outside the West Bank,” he added. The war in Gaza has caused renewed tensions in the West Bank, where the Palestinian Authority accuses extremist settlers of deadly violence against Palestinians. Mr. Séjourné also condemned “violent remarks which sow hatred [against the] Palestinians, or even call for the commission of war crimes. These comments are increasingly numerous in Israel and are relayed by political leaders (…). We find it serious.”

“The future of the Gaza Strip is inseparable from the future of the West Bank, we must prepare for this future by supporting the Palestinian Authority. This must be renewed and redeployed as soon as possible in the Gaza Strip,” said the French Minister of Foreign Affairs. “I repeat, Gaza is Palestinian land,” he insisted again. Since 2007, the Palestinians have lived under two rival governments, that of Hamas in Gaza and that of the Palestinian Authority of Mahmoud Abbas, which controls parts of the West Bank.

Mr. Séjourné called for “a comprehensive political settlement, with two states living in peace side by side.” “Without a political solution, there will be no just and lasting peace in the Middle East, this is our position and this is our analysis of the situation,” he summarized.