Israel's army says it has now encircled the largest city in the south of the Gaza Strip and surrounded the house of the Gaza leader of the Islamist Hamas. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Jihia al-Sinwar could escape, "but it's only a matter of time before we find him."
As bitter urban warfare continues in Khan Yunis, which is considered a Hamas stronghold, UN Secretary-General António Guterres called on the UN Security Council in a rare step to avert a humanitarian catastrophe in the coastal area.
Guterres again calls for a ceasefire
"I repeat my call for a humanitarian ceasefire to be declared. This is urgent. The civilian population must be spared greater suffering," he wrote to the Security Council, citing Article 99 of the UN Charter. This allows the Secretary General to bring to the attention of the Security Council "any matter which, in his opinion, may jeopardize the guarantee of international peace and security" and, according to the UN, has not been used for decades.
Israel allows more fuel for Gaza
In view of the suffering of the civilian population, international criticism of the Israeli army's actions is growing. Israel is now allowing more fuel to be imported into the south of the Gaza Strip. The security cabinet agreed to a recommendation from the war cabinet, Netanyahu's office said. An increase in the minimum permitted amount is necessary "to prevent a humanitarian collapse and the outbreak of epidemics," it said. It was initially unclear by how much the amount of fuel that could be brought into the Gaza Strip each day would be increased.
Israel: Defenses around Khan Yunis breached
Meanwhile, in the evening, the Israeli army reported a breakthrough through the Hamas defenses in the city of Khan Yunis. The soldiers now launched attacks against central terrorist positions and advanced deeper into the city, where Sinwar's house is also located. Sinwar is not above ground, but underground, said Israeli army spokesman Daniel Hagari. From Israel's perspective, however, the conversion of his house shows that the army can reach any place in Gaza.
Experts suspect that the leadership of Hamas and thousands of its members may have entrenched themselves in an extensive network of tunnels. Many of the hostages still held are also believed to be there. Since the terrorist attack by Hamas and other groups on Israeli territory on October 7, in which around 1,200 people were killed, Sinwar has been at the top of Israel's hit list.
If the Israeli government can announce the deaths of Sinwar and other Hamas leaders, "it would be able to capitalize greatly and claim that its military objectives have been achieved," said Hugh Lovatt of the European Council on Foreign Relations think tank in Wall Street Journal". This could help “create the conditions for an end to the war.”
Israel once again sharply criticizes Guterres
Meanwhile, Israel's foreign minister once again criticized UN Secretary General Guterres. "His request to activate Article 99 and the call for a ceasefire in Gaza constitutes support for the terrorist organization Hamas," said Eli Cohen on X. "Anyone who supports world peace must support the liberation of Gaza from Hamas." Guterre's term in office endangers world peace.
Invoking the article has no direct consequences. However, it is expected that the Security Council will meet this week, said a spokesman. Guterres had repeatedly pointed out the more precarious situation of the Palestinian civilian population in the Gaza Strip. According to eyewitness reports, thousands of families have fled from Khan Yunis to Al-Mawasi. There, too, there was a lack of food, water and shelter. "There is no 'safe' zone. The entire Gaza Strip has become one of the most dangerous places in the world," said the United Nations Palestinian Relief Agency (UNRWA) on X.
The next phase of fighting in the Gaza Strip threatens to drive tens of thousands of civilians to Rafah near the Egyptian border, Wall Street reported on Wednesday evening (local time). Egypt has strengthened the security barriers on the border with the Gaza Strip. The port city of Al Arish, about an hour's drive west of Rafah, was also sealed off. This has become a collection point for humanitarian aid supplies for the Gaza Strip.
Emirates submit UN resolution calling for ceasefire
The United Arab Emirates has submitted a new draft resolution to the UN Security Council calling for a ceasefire. "The United Arab Emirates are calling for the urgent adoption of a resolution for a humanitarian ceasefire and have just submitted a draft to the UN Security Council," the Gulf state's permanent mission said on Thursday via short message service X.
The situation in the Gaza Strip is catastrophic and almost irreversible. "We cannot wait. The Council must act decisively to call for a humanitarian ceasefire," the statement continued. Similar initiatives have so far failed due to resistance from the USA.
Houthi rebels are also attacking Israel directly
Meanwhile, the Shiite Houthi rebels in Yemen also say they have attacked areas in Israel. "A load of ballistic missiles" was fired at various military targets in southern Israel, the Iranian-backed rebels said on Wednesday evening. The attacks "against the Israeli enemy" would continue "until the aggression against our brothers in Gaza ends," it said. Israeli ships would also be prevented from sailing the Red Sea for that long.
What is important today
House-to-house warfare continues in Khan Yunis. The humanitarian situation of the hundreds of thousands of civilians is becoming increasingly precarious. Representatives from Brussels and Beijing are now meeting in the Chinese capital for the EU-China summit. It should also be about the Gaza war.