Middle East live blog: ++ Israeli soldiers storm Nasser Hospital ++

live blog

As of: February 15, 2024 12:12 p.m

Israeli soldiers stormed the main hospital in southern Gaza. According to UN emergency coordinator Griffiths, the planned offensive on Rafah could lead to “carnage”. All developments in the live blog.

Israeli soldiers stormed the main hospital in the southern Gaza Strip. According to the Hamas-run Ministry of Health, one patient was killed and six other patients were injured during Israeli shelling of the facility, medical staff reported.

The Israeli military said they had evidence that hostages were being housed in the hospital. Dead hostages could still be there. Nasser Hospital in the city of Khan Yunis has been affected by fighting for weeks. The Israeli military has attempted to evacuate thousands of Palestinians who have sought refuge there.

Italy’s Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani accuses Israel of killing too many civilians in the Gaza Strip in the fighting against the radical Islamic Hamas. One cannot speak of a genocide, but in some cases the military operations are beyond all proportionality.

French President Emmanuel Macron will host Jordan’s King Abdullah in Paris tomorrow to discuss support for resolving the Gaza conflict. The meeting will focus on an urgently needed ceasefire to ensure the protection of civilians and humanitarian aid, the French presidential office said. In addition, options for lasting peace in the Middle East should be discussed. Macron and Abdullah had already discussed a solution to the conflict in Jordan in December.

The civilian death toll in two Israeli attacks on Lebanon has risen to ten, according to state media reports. The attacks came on Wednesday after bullets killed an Israeli soldier in the northern Israeli city of Safed.

Part of a building was destroyed in the Lebanese town of Nabatije, the Lebanese state news agency NNA reported. Seven members of a family were killed, including a child. A boy who was initially reported missing is said to have been found alive under the rubble. There had previously been talk of four deaths.

Israel has criticized South Africa for its renewed urgent request to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague. “South Africa’s legally and factually unfounded statement proves once again that it is the legal arm of the terrorist organization Hamas,” wrote Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Lior Haiat in a post on the X platform on Wednesday evening.

South Africa represents the interests of the terrorist Hamas organization and is trying to deny Israel the basic right to self-defense, said Haiat. While Hamas continues to hide behind the Palestinian civilian population and hold hostages, Israel is committed to complying with international law. South Africa submitted an urgent application to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on Monday to examine whether Israel’s announced expansion of its military operations in Rafah required intervention.

The world is watching Rafah. Is the planned attack the final blow against Hamas, as Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu says – or is it the moment when much more will be decided? ARD Middle East correspondent Sophie von der Tann tells in the current episode of the 11KM podcast what the planned offensive on Rafah can mean:

Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock continued her talks in Israel. The Green politician first met Israeli President Izchak Herzog in Jerusalem this morning, a spokesman confirmed. A meeting with Benny Gantz, minister in the Israeli war cabinet, was also planned. The talks are also likely to focus on Israel’s planned military offensive against Hamas in Rafah and the humanitarian situation of the Palestinian civilian population there. Baerbock also wants to meet relatives of the hostages still held in the Gaza Strip.

The head of the UN Palestinian relief agency UNRWA sees no possibility of evacuating people from the city of Rafah in the south of the Gaza Strip as Israel has requested. “Evacuation to where? There is no safe place in Gaza,” Philippe Lazzarini told the Neue Zürcher Zeitung. The north is littered with unexploded explosive devices. You can’t bring the population there. There is acute malnutrition there and there is a threat of famine. “There is nowhere to evacuate to.”

Israel’s government had previously called on UN agencies operating in the region to help evacuate civilians from Rafah. The armed forces see Rafah as the last bastion of the Islamist Hamas, which they want to destroy in the course of the Gaza war.

Gray areas: Built-up areas in the Gaza Strip, hatching: Israeli army

The head of the US Federal Police FBI, Christopher Wray, made a surprise trip to Israel. The FBI said he met representatives of the Israeli security forces and secret services there on Wednesday. It was about the “current and future” threats that the USA and Israel are exposed to. In Israel, Wray also met FBI officials deployed in Tel Aviv.

According to the statement, the agency chief emphasized “the importance of FBI personnel working alongside their Israeli partners to combat the threats posed by Hamas, Hezbollah, Iran and others.” It said the FBI would continue to respond to “requests from the Government of Israel for assistance in its ongoing efforts to protect its citizens from threats and acts of terrorism.”

Israel’s planned military offensive on Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip could lead to carnage, according to UN emergency coordinator Martin Griffiths. “I fear a massacre of people in Gaza,” the UN press service quoted him as saying on Platform X.

In an unusually strongly worded statement, Griffiths had previously made it clear that more than half of Gaza’s population was “crammed” into Rafah and facing “death.” The well over a million people there have “little to eat, little access to medical care, nowhere to sleep and nowhere safe to go,” said Griffiths. “You, like the entire population of the Gaza Strip, are victims of an attack that is unprecedented in its intensity, brutality and scope.” The international community has warned of the dangerous consequences of a ground invasion of Rafah, Griffith said, adding: “The Israeli government can no longer ignore these calls.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered the military last week to submit to his government plans for an offensive on Rafah and for the evacuation of the population there. The aim is to destroy the last fighting units of the Islamist Hamas there, said Netanyahu.

Kathrin Hondl, ARD Geneva, tagesschau, February 15, 2024 5:25 a.m

Canada, Australia and New Zealand have called for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire in the Gaza Strip. The countries’ joint statement was released in response to reports of a planned Israeli offensive in Rafah.

Because of the war in the Gaza Strip, US President Joe Biden has ordered an 18-month ban on deportations for Palestinians. Biden issued the order “in light of the ongoing conflict and the humanitarian situation on the ground,” said his national security adviser Jake Sullivan in Washington. “While I continue to focus on improving the humanitarian situation, many civilians remain at risk,” Biden said, referring to the catastrophic humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip. According to the New York Times, around 6,000 Palestinians living in the USA will benefit from his order.

The number of anti-Semitic incidents in Britain rose to an all-time high in 2023, according to a Jewish charity – largely because of the war in Gaza. The Community Security Trust (CST) spoke of an “explosion of hatred” against the Jewish community, which was an “absolute disgrace”. Accordingly, 4,103 anti-Semitic incidents were reported, significantly more than in 2021 with the previous high of 2,261 incidents.

Around two thirds of the crimes occurred on or after October 7th, the day the Islamist Hamas attacked Israel. In the week following the terrorist attack alone, 416 anti-Semitic incidents were reported to the organization. “The speed with which anti-Semites in the UK mobilized on and immediately after October 7th suggests that this rise in anti-Jewish hatred was, at least initially, a celebration of the Hamas attack on Israel, rather than anger at Israel’s military response Gaza,” emphasized CST.

The majority of the incidents involved “abusive behavior”, the term includes, among other things, intimidation, accusations and humiliation. Hundreds of cases also involved bodily harm, threats, damage or desecration.

Foreign Minister Baerbock called for a new ceasefire during her visit to Israel. French President Macron once again spoke out clearly against an offensive on the city of Rafah. Wednesday’s developments to read.

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