War in the Middle East: Israel continues fighting in Rafah

Israel does not want to be dissuaded from its war course in the Gaza Strip by increasing pressure from its closest ally, the USA.

War in the Middle East: Israel continues fighting in Rafah

Israel does not want to be dissuaded from its war course in the Gaza Strip by increasing pressure from its closest ally, the USA. "If we have to stand for ourselves, then we will stand for ourselves," said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a video message. His army spokesman Daniel Hagari said they had enough weapons and ammunition to continue the operation in the city of Rafah.

The US government had threatened to restrict arms deliveries in the event of a large-scale invasion of the city, which was overcrowded with refugees. She has now again appealed to Israel to refrain from a comprehensive ground offensive in the southern city of Gaza, which borders Egypt, and thus also to avert a restriction on American arms deliveries.

Palestinians want support for UN membership

Meanwhile, the United Nations General Assembly is due to vote today on strengthening the rights of Palestinians within the UN's largest body. The draft resolution grants the existing observer state of Palestine active participation in the sessions of the General Assembly, but does not give it regular voting rights. With the draft resolution, the Palestinians want to secure global support for full UN membership.

Against the backdrop of the Gaza war, the initiative in the UN General Assembly with its 193 member states in New York is also a reflection of the international mood on the Middle East conflict. Diplomats assume that the resolution will easily achieve the necessary majority of two-thirds of all votes cast - and that the result will also reflect international support for the Palestinians in view of the recent escalation in the Middle East conflict.

Israel's army carries out airstrikes in Lebanon after shelling

Meanwhile, after repeated drone attacks on northern Israel, the Israeli military says it has attacked positions of the pro-Iranian Hezbollah militia in southern Lebanon. As the Israeli army announced during the night, warplanes attacked military buildings and "terrorist infrastructure" there. The army's information could not be independently verified.

Since the beginning of the Gaza war, there have been daily military confrontations with Hezbollah and other groups in the border area. There were fatalities on both sides. Mutual shelling has caused severe destruction in towns on both sides of the border. Around 150,000 people were evacuated or left the combat zone.

UN: Around 110,000 people have already fled Rafah

According to the UN, around 110,000 people have fled the coastal town overcrowded with refugees since the Israeli army advanced on Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip. They are looking for safety, the UN relief agency for Palestinians UNRWA wrote on X this morning. The living conditions are cruel. The only hope was an immediate ceasefire, they said. The Rafah border crossing into Egypt remained closed to humanitarian aid deliveries, the Palestinian border authority announced.

The Israeli army said troops continued to operate in the east of the city of Rafah and in Al-Saitun in the central Gaza Strip. In Rafah, the army discovered several tunnel entrances. “Several terrorist cells were eliminated” in fighting on the Palestinian side of the Rafah crossing into Egypt. The Israeli Air Force also attacked several areas in the Rafah area from which rockets and mortar shells had been fired at Israel in recent days. The target was also the Kerem Shalom border crossing, which serves as an important crossing point for humanitarian aid supplies to the blocked coastal strip. In Al-Saitun, the army had "taken out several terrorists and destroyed terrorist infrastructure," it said. The air force attacked around 40 targets in the Gaza Strip within 24 hours.

Negotiations on a ceasefire should continue

Indirect negotiations underway in Cairo for a ceasefire and the release of hostages have been interrupted. The New York Times newspaper spoke of a setback after there had recently been signs of a possible imminent agreement. According to an official, there were angry reactions among participants in the talks to the Israeli army's move into Rafah.

Nevertheless, the negotiators assumed that neither the Islamist Hamas nor Israel would break off the negotiations ongoing through the mediators Egypt, Qatar and the USA. According to the US government, the talks are continuing. The head of the US foreign secret service CIA, William Burns, has left. However, that was planned. According to their own statements, the Hamas team also left Cairo for Qatar.

Temporary port off the Gaza coast almost finished

Meanwhile, the US military says it has almost completed construction of a temporary port to deliver aid off the coast of the Gaza Strip. A floating dock and another dam have been completed, said US Department of Defense spokesman Pat Ryder. Both parts would be put into position "in the near future" if the security situation and the weather permitted. A US freighter carrying hundreds of tons of relief supplies had previously left the port of Larnaca in Cyprus. According to Ryder, the cargo will be loaded onto another ship near the Israeli port city of Ashdod and taken to the floating pier once it is operational.

UN Palestinian Relief Agency closes headquarters in Jerusalem

Meanwhile, according to the UN, Israeli residents of East Jerusalem are said to have set fires twice on the grounds of the UN Palestinian Relief Agency (UNRWA). "In light of this second horrific incident in less than a week, I have decided to close our site until security is restored," wrote the head of the UN aid agency, Philippe Lazzarini, on Platform X.

No one was injured, but the fire caused significant damage to the outside area. It took a while for the Israeli fire brigade to arrive. Lazzarini called the incident an “outrageous development.” The information could not be independently verified.

The Israeli government has been sharply criticizing the UN Palestinian Relief Agency for some time and accuses it of being infiltrated by Hamas in the Gaza Strip. In January, UNRWA hit the headlines after Israel claimed that 12 staff members were involved in Hamas' devastating October 7 terror attacks. An investigative report by independent experts recently concluded that the aid organization had established a number of "robust" mechanisms to ensure that the principle of neutrality was maintained. However, there is room for improvement.

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