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Ground offensive ‘one stage in a long-term process’ — Benny Gantz

Former general and member of Israel’s war cabinet, Benny Gantz, said a planned ground offensive on Gaza would be only one part of a much longer process that could continue for years.

“The maneuver is only one stage in a long-term process that includes security, political and social aspects that will last for years,” Gantz said in a speech delivered on Thursday.

“The campaign will soon ramp up with greater force,” he added.

Gantz, who has been a long-time political rival of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, said that Israel was “facing a challenge it has not experienced since its establishment.”

He said the emergency government’s establishment of a war cabinet was “the right step.”

Israel has vowed to destroy the Islamist militant group Hamas following its large-scale terror attacks on October 7.

‘We are unable to fulfill our mandate’ — Humanitarian group CARE’s director for Gaza
Hiba Tibi, country director of the humanitarian organization CARE, told DW the situation in Gaza was growing increasingly difficult, with the supply of food and water limited.

“Only today, they had to go for bread queues that are now taking six hours on average to find a loaf of bread. … For instance, my colleague had to leave at 4 a.m. just to reserve a spot in the queue,” Tibi said.

The UN refugee agency for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA, warned on Wednesday that humanitarian operations may grind to a halt due to a lack of fuel.

Tibi said she honestly didn’t know what the situation would be if the UN, “as they announced, are going to stop providing services — if the hospitals are going to stop their services.”

Gaza had been under a blockade up until the weekend, when convoys of humanitarian aid were allowed to enter the territory from the Rafah crossing with Egypt. However, only 62 trucks had entered Gaza as of Wednesday, according to the UN. Before the conflict, some 500 trucks were allowed into Gaza a day.

Israel’s military has also banned deliveries of fuel, arguing that the Islamist Hamas militant group which governs the territory, is hoarding fuel supplies within Gaza.

The CARE regional director said that the organization had been aiding those impacted by war for decades but was now battling to operate.

“CARE has been providing the humanitarian services for war victims since 1945, since the Second World War. However, now, in 2023, we are unable to fulfill our mandate.”

Israel’s air force strikes hundreds of targets inside Gaza
The Israeli Air Force (IAF) said it attacked “over 250 targets” belonging to the Hamas Islamist militant group in the Gaza strip over the past day.

In a post on social media platform X, formerly Twitter, the IAF said its fighter aircraft struck what it called “terrorist infrastructure,” tunnel shafts and rocket launchers, which it said was situated in “a civilian environment.”

Israel has been bombarding the Palestinian territory, with the military saying it is targeting Hamas.

The action taken against Hamas has been in response to the large-scale terror attack the group launched on southern Israel on October 7.

The following satellite images from US space tech firm Maxar Technologies show neighborhoods in Gaza before and after the start of the Israel-Hamas war.

EU leaders to discuss calls for a ‘ humanitarian pause’
European Union leaders are gathering in Brussels for a two-day summit with conflicts, including the Israel-Hamas war, high on the agenda.

EU states have been struggling to find a common position on the conflict. Some members, such as Ireland and Spain, have issued pro-Palestinian statements while others, including Germany and Austria, have come out in staunch support of Israel.

EU members, however, have strongly condemned the terror attacks by Hamas in Israel on October 7, in which militants killed at least 1,400 people and took more than 200 hostages.

But there is less agreement on calling for a cessation of Israel’s retaliatory airstrikes on Gaza.
EU countries were wrangling over whether to call for a “humanitarian pause.

The French news agency AFP reported a draft statement for the summit calls “for continued, rapid, safe and unhindered humanitarian access and aid to reach those in need through all necessary measures including a humanitarian pause.”

AFP reports Germany has suggested “humanitarian windows” or “pauses” in the plural instead of definitive halt to avoid limiting Israel’s ability to defend itself.

IDF briefly deploys into Northern Gaza
The Israel Defense Forces said it made an incursion into the Gaza Strip overnight to attack Hamas positions.

“In preparation for the next stages of combat, the IDF operated in northern Gaza,” it said on X, formerly Twitter.

“IDF tanks and infantry struck numerous terrorist cells, infrastructure and anti-tank missile launch posts,” the IDF added.

The Reuters news agency cited Israel’s Army Radio as describing the raid as the largest in the current war against Hamas, now in its third week.

According to the IDF, the soldiers have left the territory and were back in Israel.

Late Wednesday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that along with the heavy bombing campaign of Hamas-controlled Gaza, “we are preparing for a ground offensive”.

New US Speaker passes pro-Israel motion as first act
Newly elected US House Speaker Mike Johnson used his first action in the role to call up a resolution supporting Israel.

“The first bill I’m going to bring to this floor in a little while will be in support of our dear friend Israel, and we are overdue in getting that done,” Johnson said as he accepted the speakership.

The motion also called on Islamist group Hamas to immediately cease attacks and release every hostage. Hamas is considered to be a terrorist organization by the US, the EU, Germany and others.

The House passed the motion with an overwhelming majority.

Johnson is a religious conservative from Louisiana who has the backing of former President Donald Trump.

Biden has ‘no confidence’ in claimed Gaza death toll
US President Joe Biden said on Wednesday he has “no confidence in the number that the Palestinians are using” for the death toll in the Gaza Strip.

The Hamas-run health ministry in the territory claimed that more than 6,500 people have been killed in Israeli attacks. Hamas is considered a terror group by the United States, the European Union, Germany and others.

At a White House press conference, Biden was asked whether the claimed death toll in the Gaza Strip meant that Israel’s army was ignoring appeals to minimize civilian deaths.

“What they say to me is I have no notion that the Palestinians are telling the truth about how many people are killed,” Biden responded.

“I’m sure innocents have been killed, and it’s the price of waging a war.”

“[The] Israelis should be incredibly careful to be sure that they’re focusing on going after the folks that [are] propagating this war against Israel. And it’s against their interest when that doesn’t happen.”

Biden did not explain why he is skeptical of the figures. Palestinians reject the notion that the death toll is inflated.
Source: Deutsche Welle

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