Situation in the Middle East: After a ceasefire, fierce fighting again in the Gaza Strip

After a week-long ceasefire, the war in the Gaza Strip is back with full force.

Situation in the Middle East: After a ceasefire, fierce fighting again in the Gaza Strip

After a week-long ceasefire, the war in the Gaza Strip is back with full force. Israel's army resumed fighting against the Islamist Hamas and within a few hours attacked more than 200 targets in the north and south of the sealed-off coastal strip.

Dozens of rockets were fired at Israel from the Gaza Strip. Efforts to extend the ceasefire and release further hostages had previously failed.

According to mediator Qatar, negotiations were at least continuing in order to suspend the fighting again. The United Nations and Federal Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock also urged this. A spokesman for US President Joe Biden's National Security Council said of the negotiations: "Hamas has not yet submitted a hostage list that would allow the pause to be extended further."

Regardless of the current war, the New York Times caused a stir with a report that Israel had indications of exactly such plans about a year before Hamas' bloody attack on October 7th. Accordingly, there was an exchange between Israeli authorities about a 40-page document codenamed “Jericho Wall,” which outlined a Hamas battle plan. He was ultimately dismissed by experts as too demanding for Hamas.

The Hamas attack on Israel with around 1,200 deaths and around 240 kidnapped hostages was the reason for the Israeli offensive in the Gaza Strip. Last week, Israel and Hamas agreed to a ceasefire for the first time through the mediation of Qatar, Egypt and the USA, which was briefly extended twice. During this time, Hamas released 105 hostages, including 14 Germans, and Israel released 240 Palestinian prisoners in return.

In addition, tons of relief supplies arrived in the Gaza Strip for the approximately two million Palestinian civilians. The Palestinian Red Crescent spoke of 1,000 trucks carrying relief supplies, 310 of which were for the north of the sealed off area.

Conflict parties blame each other

A further extension of the agreement was not possible that night. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office accused Hamas: "Today it failed to fulfill its obligation to release all female hostages and fired rockets at Israeli citizens."

For his part, Hamas official Khalil Al-Haja told the Arabic TV channel Al-Jazeera that Israel had rejected "several offers, initiatives and proposals" for an extension of the ceasefire. After the deadline expired at 6 a.m. CET in the morning, Israeli fighter jets attacked Hamas targets again, according to the army.

Hamas reports more than a hundred dead

Israel's army took stock in the afternoon: The ground, air and sea forces attacked 200 targets, including in the south of the Gaza Strip. For weeks, the military had previously urged residents of the northern coastal strip to flee to the south for their safety. It is now expected that Israel could expand the attacks in the southern part.

The army said booby-trapped areas were targeted, as well as tunnel shafts, launch pads and command centers. The information could not be independently verified. This also applies to statements from the Hamas-controlled Ministry of Health in the Gaza Strip in the afternoon that 109 people were said to have been killed in the attacks. Hundreds more were injured.

After the ceasefire expired, aid deliveries stopped arriving through the Rafah border crossing in the Gaza Strip. The Palestinian spokesman for the border crossing between the Gaza Strip and Egypt confirmed this to the German Press Agency. The UN emergency relief agency OCHA called for free access for further aid convoys. The UN children's fund Unicef ​​strongly condemned the new fighting and spoke of the risk of a bloodbath.

Baerbock said in Berlin: "In these minutes we must do everything we can to ensure that the humanitarian ceasefire continues." The suffering is unbearable for the people in Israel and for the people in Gaza.

US warnings to Israel

The day before, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken had clearly called on Israel's leadership to protect civilians in the Gaza Strip. The numerous deaths among the civilian population and the displacement on a scale seen in the northern Gaza Strip must not be repeated in the south.

Israeli government spokeswoman Tal Heinrich told CNN that plans for safe zones and more humanitarian corridors had been presented to Blinken. Israel's army released a map for civilians that divides the area into numbered zones "in preparation for the next phase of the war." This is intended to enable residents to “orientate themselves, understand the instructions and, if necessary, get to safety from certain locations.”

Israel: 137 hostages still in the Gaza Strip

Hamas blamed the international community, and particularly the United States, for "the continuation of the brutal war against civilians, children and women." The Palestinian people have "the right to defend themselves by all means," it said in a statement. The Israeli government, for its part, reiterated its goal of destroying Hamas.

Israel suspects that 137 hostages are still being held in the Gaza Strip, including 115 men, 20 women and two children.

Fighting again on the Israeli-Lebanese border

There were also clashes again on the border between Lebanon and Israel. The Iranian-backed Hezbollah militia in Lebanon said it had attacked a group of "enemy soldiers" in the border area in the afternoon. The Israeli military reported shelling from Lebanon and said it had attacked a terrorist cell in the neighboring country.

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