Israel-Hamas war: update on the situation, for Friday February 2

The deadly fighting between the Israeli army and Hamas continued to rage on Friday February 2 in the Gaza Strip, after the “initial” approval given, according to Qatar, by Hamas to a truce agreement providing for an exchange of hostages and prisoners

Israel-Hamas war: update on the situation, for Friday February 2

The deadly fighting between the Israeli army and Hamas continued to rage on Friday February 2 in the Gaza Strip, after the “initial” approval given, according to Qatar, by Hamas to a truce agreement providing for an exchange of hostages and prisoners.

Israeli raids targeted the center and south of Gaza, notably the area of ​​Khan Younes, the second city in the territory transformed into a field of ruins. Thousands of residents continued to flee Friday in the rain, on foot or piled up on carts. The Hamas health ministry reported 112 deaths in twenty-four hours across Gaza.

While the war knows no respite, diplomacy is trying to impose a second truce, longer than the one week which allowed at the end of November the release of a hundred Israeli hostages in exchange for Palestinians imprisoned by Israel.

The leader of Hamas, Ismaïl Haniyeh, based in Qatar, is expected in Egypt to discuss a proposal drawn up during a recent meeting in Paris between the head of the CIA, William Burns, and Egyptian, Israeli and Qatari officials.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is under strong pressure both from the families of hostages, who are demanding an agreement that would allow the release of their loved ones, and from several ministers who are threatening to leave the government.

The American Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, is expected in the region in the coming days to discuss the project. His French counterpart, Stéphane Séjourné, will go there from Saturday to Tuesday.

More than 1.3 million of Gaza's approximately 2.4 million inhabitants are now refugees in Rafah, a few kilometers south of Khan Yunis, stuck against the closed border with Egypt, threatened in the middle of winter by famine and epidemics, according to the UN. “Most live in makeshift shelters, tents or in the open,” said a spokesperson for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), Jens Laerke, calling Rafah a “factory to despair.”

Unicef ​​also stressed that at least 17,000 children are “unaccompanied or separated” from their families in this overpopulated 362 square kilometer territory. It is "extremely difficult" to trace these children, explained a UNICEF spokesperson for the Palestinian territories, Jonathan Crickx, because sometimes "they cannot even say their name" when they arrive in the hospitals, injured or in shock.

Belgian Foreign Minister Hadja Lahbib summoned Israel's ambassador to Belgium on Friday morning after strikes "destroyed" the offices of Enabel, the Belgian development agency in the Gaza Strip, announced the ministry.

The meeting took place in the presence of the Minister of Development Cooperation, Caroline Gennez, and the two ministers “strongly condemned” these strikes, according to a ministry press release. “The destruction of civilian infrastructure is absolutely unacceptable and does not comply with international law. Since the first day of the conflict, Belgium has called on all parties to respect international law,” adds the text, which specifies that the offices were deserted at the time of the bombing.

Many civilian buildings where NGOs have their offices have been destroyed in recent months in Gaza. On Friday, the NGO Handicap International also said that its premises in Gaza City had been destroyed during a bombing on Wednesday. “No alert or warning was given (…) although the coordinates of the building were duly communicated to the notification system set up by the United Nations and Israeli forces to prevent humanitarian premises from being targeted by inadvertent,” the organization said in a statement.

The French maritime carrier CMA CGM has decided to suspend until further notice the transit of its ships through the Red Sea, where many boats have been targeted by attacks by Houthi rebels, Agence France-Presse has learned from a close source folder. The “decision was taken this [Friday] morning” and will be maintained “until further notice”, to “not take any risks”, announced this source, who specifies that monitoring is done “hour by hour ".

In the context of the war in Gaza, the Houthi rebels, close to Iran, who control a large part of Yemen, have increased attacks since November against ships that they consider to be linked to Israel. Like other shipowners, CMA CGM interrupted transit through the Red Sea on December 16, before resuming it on December 27.