War in the Middle East: Israel under increasing pressure after Rafah attack

War in the Middle East: Israel under increasing pressure after Rafah attack

Israel’s army is still advancing further into southern Gaza. But the pressure on the country’s government is increasing. Will the UN Security Council now intervene? The news at a glance.

Israel’s tanks are continuing to advance into Rafah in the south of the Gaza Strip, despite growing international pressure on the country’s government. While the UN Security Council could vote on a resolution on Israel’s military operation at short notice following the devastating air strike at the weekend that left several people dead in a refugee camp, the USA, as Israel’s most important ally, is still holding back on making an assessment.

“I have no policy change to report,” said John Kirby, communications director of the National Security Council. Israel’s army denied reports that it had attacked a humanitarian zone on Sunday. Rather, it was a nearby Hamas facility that was attacked. An investigation is underway to determine whether weapons were stored there that exploded in the air strike and thus triggered the deadly fire in the tent camp. According to the Hamas-controlled health authority, at least 45 people were killed.

Draft resolution calls for end to offensive

Following the devastating air strike, a new draft resolution in the UN Security Council calls for an immediate end to the Israeli military offensive. In addition, there must be an immediate ceasefire in the Gaza Strip that is respected by all sides, according to the draft resolution prepared by Algeria, which is available to the dpa.

The Islamist Hamas is also being called upon to release all hostages. Several diplomats told the dpa after a closed-door meeting of the most powerful UN body that some council members were aiming for a vote today. It was speculated that the USA could veto a vote. France’s UN ambassador called for the UN Security Council to take action.

The situation in Rafah is “appalling,” French President Emmanuel Macron had previously said in a joint press conference with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) in Meseberg. “Israeli operations in Rafah must be stopped,” Macron demanded. Scholz also demanded: “Israel must respect international law in its actions.”

Israel’s troops continue to advance in Rafah

Meanwhile, according to eyewitness reports from Rafah, Israeli ground troops have advanced deeper into the city bordering Egypt. Troops were also spotted in the city center. Palestinians in the city told the Wall Street Journal that tanks drove past the Al-Awda Mosque, a central landmark of Rafah.

There was initially no confirmation of these reports from the Israeli army. According to army radio, the military has added another brigade to the five fighting in the city, the US newspaper reported. According to a military spokesman, Israel’s troops are also involved in close combat with Hamas.

Kirby said at a press conference in the White House that the US government continues to believe that a large-scale ground offensive in Rafah is wrong. This cannot be said at this point in time given the Israeli military’s actions in the city, but developments are being monitored very closely. Kirby was asked whether Israel had crossed a “red line” mentioned by US President Joe Biden with the deadly air strike at the weekend.

Biden has made it clear that if it comes to that, he may have to make a different decision regarding support for Israel, Kirby said. However, the attack only just happened. The Israelis are investigating the incident. They will see what they find out. “And then we will see how it goes.”

Aid deliveries via temporary US port suspended

Meanwhile, US aid deliveries to the people in the Gaza Strip via the makeshift pier set up by the US military have been temporarily suspended. The pier, which is anchored on the coast, was badly damaged in rough seas, said deputy Pentagon spokeswoman Sabrina Singh in Washington.

The facility will be removed from its anchorage in the next 48 hours and towed to Ashdod, where the US military will carry out repairs. The Israeli city is a good 30 kilometers from Gaza. The repairs will take at least a week, Singh said. After that, the pier will have to be anchored back on the coast. The US government intends to resume aid deliveries by sea to the people of the Gaza Strip.

Reports on new proposal for hostage agreement

Meanwhile, the prospects for a ceasefire and the release of the hostages held in Gaza for almost eight months are uncertain. Israel has submitted an updated proposal for a possible agreement to the Qatari, Egyptian and US negotiators mediating in the war, the Israeli newspaper “Haaretz” and the US news portal “Axios” reported, citing sources familiar with the negotiations.

The written proposal includes “a willingness to be flexible” regarding the number of living hostages that Hamas would have to release in the first phase of an agreement, according to Axios. Israel is also prepared to discuss Hamas’s demand for “permanent calm” in the Gaza Strip. Hamas is demanding a withdrawal of Israeli troops, which Israel rejects.

Because of the deadly air strike in Rafah, Hamas has suspended its participation in the ceasefire negotiations for the time being. This was announced by its representatives to the dpa. The indirect negotiations between Israel and the Islamist organization have recently reached a dead end. There has been no progress so far, reported the newspaper “Haaretz” citing Israeli officials.

The Gaza war was triggered by the worst massacre in Israel’s history, with more than 1,200 deaths, which was carried out by terrorists from Hamas and other extremist groups on October 7 last year. More than 250 hostages were taken from Israel to Gaza. According to the Hamas-controlled health authority, more than 36,000 people have been killed and more than 81,000 injured in the subsequent Israeli offensive in the sealed-off coastal strip. The figures, which cannot be independently verified, do not distinguish between fighters and civilians.

Source: Stern

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