Israel-Hamas war: what to remember from January 7

Without any sign of respite, the war between Israel and Palestinian Hamas entered its fourth month on Sunday, January 7

Israel-Hamas war: what to remember from January 7

Without any sign of respite, the war between Israel and Palestinian Hamas entered its fourth month on Sunday, January 7. Israel vowed to destroy Hamas when it attacked its territory on October 7, killing 1,140 people, mostly civilians, according to an Agence France-Presse (AFP) tally based on a Israeli assessment. Around 250 people were kidnapped, and around 100 were released during a truce at the end of November.

The Israeli offensive has left 22,835 dead in the besieged Gaza Strip, mostly civilians, according to the Hamas health ministry. This assessment could not be independently verified. The bombings destroyed entire neighborhoods, forced 85% of the population to flee and caused a catastrophic humanitarian crisis according to the UN.

The Hamas health ministry in the Gaza Strip said Sunday that an Israeli airstrike killed two Palestinian journalists in Rafah. Moustafa Thuraya, a freelance videographer working with AFP since 2019, and Hamza Waël Dahdouh, journalist for the Al-Jazeera channel, were killed while driving. The latter had already lost his wife and two children in another Israeli strike during the first weeks of the war. In a statement, the Qatari channel condemned “the targeting and assassination” of journalists in Gaza.

Witnesses also reported Israeli airstrikes in Khan Younes, the main city in the south of the Gaza Strip and the new epicenter of the fighting between soldiers and Hamas, with the official Palestinian agency WAFA counting numerous deaths and injuries.

In the West Bank, Palestinian territory occupied by Israel since 1967, a raid by Israeli forces cost the lives of eight Palestinians in Jenin, according to the Palestinian Authority, while two Israelis, a policewoman and a civilian, also lost their lives.

On Saturday, the army, which launched its ground offensive on October 27 in the Palestinian territory, announced that it had “completed the dismantling of the Hamas military structure in the north.” “We are now focusing on the center and the south,” said army spokesperson Daniel Hagari, specifying however that Hamas elements were still operating in the north “without structure and without a commander”.

Classified as a “terrorist group” by the United States and the European Union, Hamas took power in Gaza in 2007, two years after Israel’s unilateral withdrawal from this territory after a thirty-eight-year occupation. Israel then imposed an air, sea and land blockade on the territory from 2007, before a total siege since October 9.

Despite international pressure and calls for a ceasefire, Israel remains inflexible. “I have a clear message for our enemies: what happened on October 7 will never happen again,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday. “This is the commitment of my government and this is why our soldiers on the ground are giving their lives. We must continue until total victory,” he continued. On Saturday evening, Israeli protesters gathered in Tel Aviv called for early elections and the resignation of the government.

In this context, Antony Blinken, who began a new tour in Arab countries and Israel in Amman, called for avoiding at all costs a flare-up of the conflict and preventing “an endless cycle of violence”.

Blinken, whose country is Israel's biggest political and military supporter, is due to hold talks with Jordan's King Abdullah II and visit a World Food Program center, following visits to Turkey and Crete. “We need to make sure that the conflict does not spread,” he said Saturday evening in Crete. One of the real concerns is the border between Israel and Lebanon (…). »

Lebanese Hezbollah, an ally of Hamas, fired dozens of rockets on Saturday at a military base in northern Israel, an attack presented as its first response to the elimination, attributed to Israel, of the number two in the political office of Hamas, Saleh Al-Arouri, killed Tuesday in a drone strike in the southern suburbs of Beirut, a Hezbollah stronghold. Since October 7, there have been almost daily exchanges of fire between Hezbollah and Israeli forces on the Israeli-Lebanese border. In Syria and Iraq, attacks on US military bases have also increased since October 7, while Houthi rebels in Yemen − supported by Iran like Hamas and Hezbollah − are disrupting global maritime traffic in the Red Sea by attacking ships “supporting” the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.

Mr. Blinken also insisted on the “imperative” nature of increasing humanitarian aid to the Palestinian population of Gaza, “reducing the number of civilian casualties, working towards lasting regional peace and moving towards the establishment of a Palestinian state.”

On Sunday, the NGO Doctors Without Borders (MSF) announced that it had evacuated its staff from a hospital in central Gaza. “The situation became so dangerous that some of our team members living in the neighborhood were not even able to leave their homes due to constant threats from drones and snipers,” said Carolina Lopez, a member of MSF.

The Israeli offensive has displaced 1.9 million of the approximately 2.4 million Palestinians, according to the United Nations (UN), who live in terrible conditions, lacking water, food, of medicines and care, with hospitals mostly out of service. To the point that Gaza has “simply become uninhabitable”, “a place of death and despair”, lamented the UN humanitarian affairs coordinator, Martin Griffiths.