Israel bombs Gaza as dispute with ally US simmers

Henry

Israel bombed the south of Gaza on Friday after this country was embroiled in an open dispute with the US, its close ally, over the possibility of an independent Palestinian state.

The USA considers the establishment of such a state as the only route to lasting peace.

Eyewitnesses reported that shots were fired in Khan Yunis – the capital in the south of the Gaza Strip – early Friday morning. Airstrikes were also reported. According to Israel, leaders of the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas are hiding in this area.

According to the Palestinian Red Crescent, a humanitarian organization, there was “intense shooting” near Al-Amal Hospital, where Gaza’s Hamas-run health department says 77 people were killed and scores injured overnight.

The Israeli army says the southern point where its Givati ​​brigade is now fighting is the furthest point where the troops have been involved in combat so far.

“The soldiers eliminated scores of terrorists in close-range combat, with tank and air support,” the army said.

Palestinian state

The US has so far been one of Israel’s biggest supporters in its war against Hamas, but the countries have different views on how to end the conflict.

The countries have publicly aired their differing opinions on the way forward this past week, despite the close ties that are otherwise maintained between the countries.

Antony Blinken, the US Secretary of State, used the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, to plead anew for the creation of a Palestinian state.

However, Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s prime minister, rejected this proposal again.

“Israel must have security control over the entire area west of the Jordan River,” Netanyahu said.

“It’s a necessary condition that contradicts the idea of ​​Palestinian sovereignty.”

Netanyahu further insisted that a “prime minister in Israel must be able to say no, even to our best friends”.

However, the US believes the establishment and recognition of a viable Palestinian state is necessary to achieve security for Israel.

“We obviously see things differently,” National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said when asked about Netanyahu’s comments.

In response to Netanyahu’s comments, the official spokesman for the Palestinian president, Mahmud Abbas, said that without an independent Palestinian state, there would be no security and stability in the region.

“The entire region is on the verge of a volcanic eruption due to the aggressive policy pursued by the Israeli occupation authorities against the Palestinian people and their legal rights,” Nabil Abu Rudeineh said, according to the official Wafa news agency.

Abbas’s Palestinian Authority exercises limited control in the occupied West Bank, where the Israeli army has also carried out overnight raids, particularly in Tulkarem.

The Palestinian Health Department has recorded at least six deaths in the city since Wednesday.

Humanitarian crisis getting bigger

According to the United Nations (UN), the war, which began after an unprovoked attack by Hamas on October 7, has already led to the displacement of 85% of Gaza’s population of 2.4 million people.

Many residents now live in cramped shelters where they struggle to obtain food, water, fuel and medical care. UN agencies say better access to emergency services is urgently needed as famine and disease outbreaks loom.

The World Health Organization (WHO) says 24 cases of hepatitis A were reported overnight, as well as thousands of cases of jaundice, which were probably caused by a widespread viral liver infection.