War in the Middle East: Hamas health authority: dead in attacks in the Gaza Strip

According to Palestinian reports, at least 20 people were killed in an attack in the northern Gaza Strip on Thursday evening.

War in the Middle East: Hamas health authority: dead in attacks in the Gaza Strip

According to Palestinian reports, at least 20 people were killed in an attack in the northern Gaza Strip on Thursday evening. The Israeli army firmly rejected claims from the health authority controlled by the Islamist Hamas that Israeli troops had fired on people waiting at a roundabout. More than 150 other people were injured, the authority said.

The Israeli army said on Friday that it had enabled a convoy of 31 trucks carrying humanitarian aid to travel to the north of the Gaza Strip the previous day. "Approximately an hour before the convoy arrived at the humanitarian corridor, armed Palestinians opened fire while Gazan civilians waited for the aid convoy to arrive," the statement said.

"As trucks carrying aid arrived, the Palestinian gunmen continued to shoot as crowds of Gazans began looting the trucks." Some civilians were also run over by the trucks. A thorough initial investigation on Friday night showed that the Israeli army did not fire on the aid convoy.

Israel accused Hamas of a "smear campaign" aimed at using false information to sow violence in other areas during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

The army also firmly rejected previous reports that troops had fired on people waiting for humanitarian aid in the Nuseirat refugee camp. "Reports that the Israeli army attacked dozens of Gazans at a humanitarian aid distribution point are false," the army statement said. They are investigating the incident.

Hunger is widespread in the Gaza Strip after more than five months of war, according to the UN. There are always chaotic scenes during the distribution of relief supplies. There are repeated calls for Israel to allow more aid supplies into the coastal strip. The Israeli army, which is responsible for security checks on aid convoys, emphasizes that there are no restrictions on imports, but rather problems with the distribution of goods within the contested area on the Mediterranean.

Army spokesman: Bring the population to safety before the Rafah offensive

An Israeli army spokesman reiterated that in the event of a military operation in the city of Rafah in the south of the Gaza Strip, the population there would have to be brought to safety. It is believed that not only the leadership of Hamas is in the city on the border with Egypt, but the remaining battalions of the Islamist terrorist organization are also located there, said spokesman Arye Shalicar.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Thursday that Israel would advance on Rafah despite international pressure. From Israel's perspective, a victory over Hamas is not possible without deployment in the city on the border with Egypt.

In Rafah, it is estimated that 1.5 million Palestinians are currently seeking protection from the fighting in other areas of the Gaza Strip in a confined space and under miserable conditions. Aid organizations warn of many more civilian deaths.

Spokesman Shalicar emphasized that in the event of an operation in Rafah, they would ensure that civilians were evacuated to safer places such as the Al-Mawasi camp. "That's how we've done it in the last few months and that's exactly how we would operate with a view to Rafah," he said.

Struggle for hostage deal

According to its own statements, the Islamist organization Hamas has presented a comprehensive proposal in the negotiations for a ceasefire in the Gaza war and the release of further hostages. This includes, among other things, an end to the fighting in the Gaza Strip, aid deliveries to the population and the release of Palestinian prisoners from Israeli prisons in return for the release of hostages, Hamas said on Telegram.

However, it continues to insist on a withdrawal of Israeli troops from the coastal area, which Israel rejects. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, according to his office, that Hamas continues to adhere to "unrealistic demands." As tensions continue to rise in Israel and the Palestinian territories, Federal Chancellor Olaf Scholz is expected to visit Israel on Sunday, according to media reports.

The pressure that Qatar is putting on Hamas as an intermediary between Israel and the Palestinian side is beginning to take effect, Netanyahu said, according to his office. Accordingly, the Gulf Emirate is said to have threatened to expel members of the Islamist organization from Qatar and not give them any more money if they did not give in to the negotiations. The information could not initially be independently verified.

German “air drops” are imminent

Chancellor Scholz recently reiterated that Israel has every right to defend itself against Hamas' terror. But he also again called for a longer-lasting ceasefire in the Gaza Strip in order to release the hostages kidnapped from Israel and to enable humanitarian aid. The Chancellor's upcoming trip to Israel and Jordan was confirmed to the German Press Agency on Thursday from German government circles. It will be Scholz's second visit to Israel since the Gaza war began on October 7th.

According to the federal government, Germany is making a contribution to the planned aid corridor for Gaza by sea. The German Air Force has also deployed its first transport aircraft to drop relief supplies over the Gaza Strip to Jordan. The aid supplies are to be loaded into Jordan and the drops are to begin this week. The Bundeswehr is providing two C-130 Hercules transport aircraft, each of which can transport up to 18 tons of load.

US Senator criticizes Netanyahu

Meanwhile, criticism of Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu from the USA is becoming increasingly louder. The influential Democratic majority leader in the US Senate, Chuck Schumer, called for new elections in Israel. He believes that the head of government "has lost his way by putting his political survival above the best interests of Israel," said Schumer, who is himself Jewish and described himself as a staunch supporter of Israel. Netanyahu has entered into a coalition with right-wing extremists and as a result is "too willing to tolerate the civilian victims in the Gaza Strip." Global support for Israel has therefore fallen to an all-time low. But Israel cannot survive if it becomes a "pariah."

Netanyahu's conservative Likud party sharply criticized Schumer's comments. "Israel is not a banana republic, but an independent and proud democracy," the party said in a statement. The head of government has been elected and his “decisive policies” are supported by a large majority. However, according to current surveys, Netanyahu's right-wing religious coalition would have to expect massive losses in a new election.

Schumer described Netanyahu as an obstacle to peace - including through his rejection of a two-state solution. Netanyahu's Likud party responded that the Israeli people opposed an international order to establish a Palestinian state.

EU Parliament: Israel must allow aid supplies to be delivered to Gaza

Meanwhile, Egypt is insisting on more aid deliveries to the Gaza Strip by land. The US-planned construction of a temporary port is taking too long, said Egyptian Foreign Minister Samih Schukri on Thursday. Land corridors, however, are already available. According to Schukri, around 200 trucks are currently entering the Gaza Strip at the Rafah border crossing every day. But that is still not enough to provide for the needy population in the Gaza Strip. Israel, in turn, argues that more aid is currently coming to the coastal area than before the start of the war. Rather, there are problems with the distribution of goods locally.

The EU Parliament also called on Israel on Thursday to immediately allow the unrestricted delivery of aid to the Gaza Strip via all existing border crossings. MEPs are deeply concerned about the catastrophic humanitarian situation in the coastal area. A clear majority of MPs voted for a - legally non-binding - resolution that also called for the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages. It says that there can be no prospect of peace, security, stability and prosperity for the Gaza Strip as long as Hamas and other terrorist groups have decisive influence there.

The war was triggered by the worst massacre in Israel's history, carried out by terrorists from Hamas and other extremist Palestinian organizations on October 7th in Israel near the border with the Gaza Strip. They murdered more than 1,200 people and abducted 250 others to the coastal area. Israel responded with massive air strikes and a ground offensive in the Gaza Strip. According to the Hamas-controlled health authority there, more than 31,400 Palestinians have been killed since then. The number, which can hardly be independently verified, summarizes civilians and fighters killed.

Abbas appoints new prime minister

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas named a new prime minister on Thursday evening, according to the official Palestinian news agency Wafa. The economist and former World Bank employee Mohammed Mustafa was given the task of forming a new Palestinian government - presumably with additional cabinet members without party affiliation. His predecessor Mohammed Shtaje submitted his resignation at the end of February under pressure from Arab countries and the USA.

The US wants the Palestinian Authority (PA), which rules in the West Bank and is led by Abbas, to be restructured and then take back control in the Gaza Strip. Washington also wants to promote a two-state solution as a comprehensive approach to pacifying the Middle East. Hamas violently drove the PA out of the coastal strip in 2007.