Fierce battles rage across Gaza as US calls for post-war plan | International (2024)

Fierce battles rage across Gaza as US calls for post-war plan | International (1)

RAFAH, Palestinian Territories, May 14, 2024 (BSS/AFP) - Israeli troops
fought Hamas militants in multiple battles across the Gaza Strip, forcing new
waves of Palestinian mass displacement as Israel marked a sombre Independence
Day on Tuesday.

Clashes have rocked the densely crowded far-southern city of Rafah but also
flared again in northern and central Gaza, months after troops and tanks first
entered those areas.

The United States has urged Hamas to accept a Gaza truce plan and called on
Israel to devise "a strategic endgame" and post-war plan, said White House
National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan.

This would help Israel avoid "getting mired in a counterinsurgency campaign
that never ends and ultimately saps Israel's strength and vitality," Sullivan
said on Monday.

Israel last week defied a chorus of warnings -- including from top ally
Washington which paused a shipment of bombs -- and sent tanks and troops into
the east of Rafah to pursue militants.

At the same time, fighting has flared in north Gaza four months after the
army said Hamas's command structure there had been dismantled, and six months
after Defence Minister Yoav Gallant said Hamas had "lost control" of Gaza.

Recent battles and heavy Israeli bombardments have been reported around
Rafah as well as in Gaza City and Jabalia refugee camp in the north and
Nuseirat camp in the centre.

- One-quarter of Gazans flee -

More than seven months into the war, Israeli strikes and ground combat
claimed another 82 lives in Gaza over the past 24 hours, the health ministry in
the Hamas-run territory said.

That is the highest daily toll reported by the ministry in more than two

Nearly 450,000 Palestinians have been newly displaced from Rafah in recent
days, and around 100,000 from northern Gaza, UN agencies said.

That means around a quarter of Gaza's population of 2.4 million people have
been freshly displaced in the past week.

Palestinian mother Hadeel Radwan, 32, who is displaced in western Rafah,
told AFP the constant shelling left her terrified while enduring shortages
including of drinking water.

Many people had fled her Tal al-Sultan district, but she said joining them
would be hard because, "I had a C-section and moving quickly, under threat,
would be difficult for me".

The bloodiest ever Gaza war broke out after Hamas's October 7 attack on
Israel, which resulted in the deaths of more than 1,170 people, mostly
civilians, according to an AFP tally of Israeli official figures.

Militants also seized hostages, 128 of whom Israel estimates remain in
Gaza, including 36 the military says are dead.

Israel vowed to destroy Hamas and has conducted a retaliatory offensive
that has killed at least 35,173 people, mostly civilians, according to the Gaza
health ministry.

Israel's military says 272 of its soldiers have been killed in the Gaza
campaign since ground operations began on October 27.

- Aid trucks ransacked -

Talks toward a truce and hostage release deal have stalled after months of
efforts involving US, Egyptian and Qatari mediators.

Qatari Prime Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani said that
"unfortunately things didn't move in the right direction and right now we are
on a status of almost a stalemate".

"Of course, what happened with Rafah has set us backward," he added of
Israel's insistence on launching a ground attack in the city.

"There is no clarity how to stop the war from the Israeli side. I don't
think that they are considering this as an option... even when we are talking
about the deal and leading to a potential ceasefire," Sheikh Mohammed said.

Since Israeli troops moved into eastern Rafah, the aid crossing point from
Egypt remains closed and nearby Kerem Shalom crossing lacks "safe and
logistically viable access," a UN report said late on Monday.
It said fuel shortages threaten health services, and acute child
malnutrition is rising.

A convoy of trucks delivering humanitarian aid from Jordan was attacked and
vandalised by Israeli far-right activists on Monday, its cargo spilt onto a
road near a crossing with the occupied West Bank.

One of the activists, Hana Giat, said that with hostages still in Gaza, "no
humanitarian aid should go in before our hostages are out, safe in their homes".

The United Nations said an Indian member of its security services was
killed and another wounded when their UN vehicle was struck on the way to a
hospital in Rafah.

Israel's military said the strike was "under review" and that "an initial
inquiry conducted indicates that the vehicle was hit in an area declared an
active combat zone".

The UN said it had informed the Israeli authorities of the movements of the

Human Rights Watch said it had identified at least eight occasions since
the war began when Israel had targeted known aid worker locations in Gaza,
after their coordinates were shared to ensure their protection.

- 'Israel is still here' -

On Tuesday Israel marked Independence Day, commemorating the state's
creation in 1948.

Like many Israelis, Lishay Lavi Miran expressed mixed feelings.

"On one side we're still here, my daughters are still here, my family's
still here, and Israel is still here," she said from the Nir Oz kibbutz
community that Hamas attacked near Gaza.

"But it's not really independence because... Omri is over there," the
39-year-old added, referring to her husband who was kidnapped and taken to Gaza
on October 7.

Palestinians remember Israel's establishment as the "Nakba", or
catastrophe, the mass displacement of hundreds of thousands, an event they
commemorate on Wednesday.

The International Court of Justice in The Hague said it would hold hearings
Thursday and Friday over South Africa's request to impose emergency orders on
Israel to halt its Rafah offensive.

And a French Jewish organisation on Tuesday condemned a "hateful rallying
cry against Jews" after red hand graffiti was painted onto France's Holocaust

"The Wall of the Righteous at the Shoah (Holocaust) Memorial was vandalised
overnight," Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo said in a statement, calling it an
"unspeakable act".

Fierce battles rage across Gaza as US calls for post-war plan | International (2024)
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