As Israel's army continues its massive bombardment in the Gaza Strip and the civilian death toll rises sharply, the prospects of a new ceasefire have dimmed.
Early in the morning, sirens wailed again in southern Israel, the army said. Despite increasingly urgent warnings from the US government to Israel to protect civilians in Gaza, Israel bombed a number of targets in the particularly densely populated south of the sealed off area. There, hundreds of thousands of Palestinians who have fled the north are trying to avoid the shelling in an extremely small space.
Israel's army continues bombardment in the Gaza Strip
The Israeli army continued its bombardment of targets in the Gaza Strip. The Israeli military said warplanes and helicopters attacked "terrorist targets" during the night, including tunnel shafts, command centers and weapons depots.
In addition, a combat drone controlled by ground troops targeted and eliminated five terrorists from the Islamist Hamas. The day before, Israel's naval units also attacked Hamas "terror targets" and flanked the deployment of ground troops, it was said. These targets included terrorist infrastructure, Hamas navy ships and weapons.
Netanyahu: Fight until “total victory”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu confirmed that the war against the Islamist Hamas would continue "until the end" and until "total victory" over the terrorist organization, as the Times of Israel reported. He made it clear on Saturday evening that a ground operation was the only way to destroy Hamas. While ground troops are already deployed in the north, the army carried out massive air strikes in the south on Saturday. More than 50 targets were bombed in the area of Khan Yunis city alone.
According to aid workers, 100 trucks carrying urgently needed aid arrived in the Gaza Strip on the same day. According to the Hamas-controlled health authority, around 200 people had been killed in attacks since the end of the ceasefire through Saturday. There have been more than 15,000 deaths since the war began on October 7th. The numbers could not initially be independently verified.
USA warns Israel
US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin urged Israel to protect civilians. This is not only a moral responsibility, but also a strategic imperative, Austin said at a meeting in the state of California. US Vice President Kamala Harris became even clearer on the sidelines of the climate conference in Dubai: "Too many innocent Palestinians have been killed. Frankly, the extent of the civilian suffering and the images and videos from the Gaza Strip are devastating," she said.
But the prospect of a new ceasefire appears bleak. According to its own statements, Hamas does not want to continue negotiations about the release of further hostages until the end of the Gaza war. Saleh al-Aruri, a Hamas leader, said Saturday that the remaining hostages included only men who had served in the army and soldiers. Israeli Defense Minister Joav Galant, however, said there were still 15 women and two children among the hostages held by Hamas. Israel assumes that a total of 137 hostages are still being held in the coastal strip.
Negotiations on a ceasefire reach an impasse
According to Israel, the negotiations in Qatar regarding a new ceasefire are at a dead end. The head of the Israeli foreign secret service Mossad, David Barnea, has therefore asked his negotiating team to return to Israel, Netanyahu's office said on Saturday.
In the evening, Great Britain announced that it would support Israel in the search for the hostages. "We will carry out unarmed surveillance flights over the eastern Mediterranean and also operate in the airspace over Israel and Gaza," the British government said.
Missile alarm again in Tel Aviv
Meanwhile, there was another rocket alarm in the Israeli coastal metropolis of Tel Aviv. Several dull explosions were heard in the center of the city. Hamas claimed responsibility for the attacks.
French President Emmanuel Macron also questioned Israel's goal of completely destroying Hamas. "The complete annihilation of Hamas, what is that? Does anyone believe that is possible? If so, the war will last ten years," Macron said in Dubai. He also criticized the continuation of the bombardment in the Gaza Strip: "The right fight against terrorism is not systematic and permanent bombing." He again called for an immediate ceasefire.
Israel wants a buffer zone on the border with Gaza
After the Gaza war, Israel wants to set up a buffer zone in the border area with the Gaza Strip. "Israel will need a security envelope," Israeli government security adviser Mark Regev said in Tel Aviv on Saturday.
"There will no longer be a situation in which Hamas people are at the border, where they can cross and kill our civilians." He did not give any details about the planned security zone. However, it is assumed that this will come at the expense of the Gaza Strip.
The latest Gaza war was triggered by the worst massacre in Israel's history, which terrorists from the Gaza Strip committed in Israel near the border on October 7th. More than 1,200 people were killed and around 240 hostages were taken to Gaza. Israel responded with massive air strikes, a blockade of the coastal area and began a ground offensive in late October.