“I am of the opinion that the response in the Gaza Strip is excessive,” he said on Thursday evening (local time) in the White House. There are many innocent people who are starving, in need or even dying. “That has to stop.”
The day before, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken had struck a noticeably critical tone during a visit to Israel and urged the Israeli leadership to do more to protect civilians in the Gaza war. The dehumanization that Israel experienced in the Hamas massacre in October “cannot be a license” to dehumanize others, Blinken said. The daily sacrifices that the military operations demanded of the innocent civilian population were “still too high.”
On October 7th, terrorists on behalf of Hamas carried out a devastating massacre in Israel, especially against civilians. Since then, Israel has been waging war against Hamas in the Gaza Strip. The high number of civilian casualties in the Gaza war and the disastrous living conditions of the Palestinian civilian population have sparked sharp international criticism of Israel’s actions.
In light of reports of an allegedly impending Israeli military offensive in Rafah in the south of the Gaza Strip, UN Secretary-General António Guterres warned of a humanitarian catastrophe and consequences for the entire region. “Half of Gaza’s population is now crammed into Rafah with nowhere else to go,” Guterres wrote on X, formerly Twitter. “Such an action would further exacerbate the humanitarian nightmare and could have untold consequences for the entire region.”
The US government also warned of a large-scale offensive. “We believe that a military operation at this time would be a catastrophe for these people,” said National Security Council Communications Director John Kirby. “We wouldn’t support that.”
- Also read: Middle East: Israel’s army is said to be preparing for operations in Rafah
Meanwhile, in Israel, a number of people demonstrated for and against a possible hostage agreement with Hamas. According to media reports, thousands of people in Jerusalem protested against negotiations with Israel’s enemies and for a continuation of the Gaza war. At the same time, hundreds of people protested in Tel Aviv demanding a deal to secure the release of the hostages.
Israel’s war cabinet met on Thursday evening to discuss a possible deal with Hamas. Demonstrators accused Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of taking his political survival more seriously than the fate of the hostages. Netanyahu’s right-wing extremist coalition members are now threatening to collapse the coalition if the prime minister makes concessions to Hamas as part of a hostage deal.
The EU naval operation in the Middle East, which is about to begin, could also protect merchant ships from possible threats from Iran. According to information from the German Press Agency, the decision for Operation Aspides shows that European warships are to accompany not only the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden, but also the Strait of Hormuz, the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman Merchant ships can be used. All three of these sea areas lie off the coast of Iran. The primary aim of the EU operation is to protect merchant ships from attacks by the militant Islamist Houthis from Yemen.
The Israeli armed forces say they have attacked a high-ranking Hezbollah commander from the air in southern Lebanon. The army said this was a response to rocket launches from Lebanon towards Israel, in which, according to the military, Israel was said to have been involved. The Iranian-allied Hezbollah militia reported several injuries from the Israeli airstrike. One person is in “critical condition”. An Israeli drone directly hit a car in the town of Nabatieh, Lebanese security circles said. There were two people in the car.
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