Israeli operation in southern Lebanon, bombing in Gaza – 04/25/2024 00:49

Palestinians walk past destroyed buildings on Khan Yunus Street, south of the Gaza Strip, on April 23, 2024. (AFP/-)

Israel said on Wednesday it had launched an “offensive operation” into southern Lebanon, defying warnings from the international community and advancing in Gaza with preparations for a ground operation on Rafah in its war against Hamas.

The Palestinian Islamic Movement, for its part, released a video showing one of the hostages taken during Hamas' unprecedented October 7 attack on Israeli soil that sparked the war in the Gaza Strip.

In Israel's north, the Israeli military said on Wednesday its “offensive operation” involved the “entire south” of Lebanon and noted that its air force and artillery had hit 40 targets of Hamas's ally Lebanese Hezbollah. Chap.

“Troops are stationed in large numbers at the border (…) Half of the Hezbollah commanders in southern Lebanon have been eliminated, while the other half remain in hiding, leaving the field open for Israeli military operations,” the Israeli Defense Minister pointed out. Yoav Gallant in a statement.

– “Two regiments mobilized” –

Hezbollah did not immediately react, indicating that the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) had not crossed the border.

At the same time, the Israeli army launched new deadly attacks on Wednesday in the Gaza Strip, particularly in the Rafah sector.

This April 24, 2024 photo shows Israeli soldiers from the border between Israel and the Gaza Strip, against the backdrop of a battle with the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas (AFP / JACK GUEZ).

“We are not terrorists,” Robi El Houd, a resident of Deir el Bala (center) whose house was destroyed in the Israeli attack, told AFP.

Many foreign capitals, including Washington, are particularly concerned about preparations for a ground assault on the city of Rafah.

For weeks, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has vowed that the city of one and a half million people, on the southern tip of the Palestinian territories, is the last bastion of Hamas.

Israeli government spokesman David Menser said on Wednesday that Israel was advancing its operation targeting Hamas in Rafah.

He added that “two brigade reserves have been mobilized for action” in Gaza, noting that “four (Hamas) battalions” targeted by the military are still in Rafah.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, US Senate approves military aid, in Washington, April 23, 2024 (Getty/Kevin Deitch)

According to Egyptian officials cited by the Wall Street Journal, Israel is preparing to relocate citizens from Rafah to the nearby town of Khan Yunis, specifically planning to set up shelters and food distribution centers.

– “crime” –

The evacuation of Gazan citizens will last two to three weeks and will be carried out in coordination with other Arab countries such as the United States, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates, these officials said.

Declaring to AFP that such a move would be “a crime,” Ismail al-Tawabda, director of the government news office in Gaza, assured that Gaza's center and Khan Younes city “will absolutely not be able to accommodate” those displaced from Rafah.

Satellite images shared by Maxar Technologies and published by AFP show recently erected tents in the south of the territory.

The war was sparked by an unprecedented attack on Israel from Gaza by Hamas commandos on October 7, which resulted in the deaths of 1,170 people, mainly civilians, according to an AFP report based on Israelis.

Young Palestinian women inside a building damaged by an Israeli strike in Rafah, south of the Gaza Strip, on April 24, 2024 (AFP / MOHAMMED ABED)

More than 250 people have been abducted and 129 are held captive in Gaza, 34 of whom have died according to Israeli officials. In response, Israel pledged to destroy Hamas, which has been in power in Gaza since 2007 and is specifically classified as a terrorist organization by Israel, the United States and the European Union.

According to Hamas, 34,262 people, mostly civilians, were killed in its wide-ranging military operation in the Gaza Strip.

On Tuesday, the UN called for an international inquiry into the mass graves discovered at two of the cities' main hospitals, Al-Sifa in Gaza and Nasser in Khan Younis, stressing the need to end the current “climate of impunity”.

The White House demanded an “answer” and a “full and transparent investigation” from the Israeli government, President Joe Biden's national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, said Wednesday.

The bodies of 340 people killed and buried by Israeli forces inside Nasser Hospital have been exhumed since Saturday, Gaza Civil Defense said.

Israelis hold a placard with a photo of one of the hostages in the Gaza Strip as they gather in front of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's residence on April 24, 2024, where Israel is waging a war against the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas. )

The Israeli military called the allegations “baseless,” saying the bodies of the hostages were dug up and then buried.

– Hostage Video –

One of the Israeli prime minister's stated objectives in the war in Gaza is to rescue the hostages, whose families and loved ones continue to rally and try to pressure their government to secure their release.

Hamas posted a video on its Telegram channel Wednesday of a hostage identifying himself as Hersh Goldberg-Bolin, 23, who was kidnapped during the Noah music festival.

He accused Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and members of the Israeli government of “abandoning” the hostages.

In Jerusalem on Wednesday evening, dozens of protesters marched against Mr. “Bring them home” signs gathered outside Netanyahu's residence. Demonstrators also attacked National Defense Minister Itamar Ben Gvir as he tried to escape from the crowd.

On the diplomatic front, Israel thanked its US allies for a military aid package. The $13 billion aid is meant to bolster its “Iron Dome” anti-missile defenses deployed along its borders.

Gaza Civil Defense personnel exhume bodies found in mass graves at Khan Younes Hospital, south of the Gaza Strip, on April 24, 2024 (AFP / -)

As the people of Gaza face the risk of famine according to the United Nations, Joe Biden on Wednesday announced legislation including humanitarian aid for Gaza, calling on Israel to “ensure that all this aid reaches the Palestinians without delay.”

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