Tel Aviv / Gaza / Ramallah (dpa) – Many countries are pushing for a ceasefire in the Middle East, but an end to the conflict between Israel and militant Palestinians still doesn’t seem in sight.
UN human rights experts on both sides see signs of war crimes, which should be investigated by the International Criminal Court in The Hague. They accuse Israel of firing rockets and grenades into densely populated areas of the Gaza Strip, while Palestinian armed groups similarly “deliberately or ruthlessly” fire rockets into Israeli urban areas.
According to the army, militant Palestinians fired rockets at Israel for the ninth night in a row on Wednesday evening. Police said two Thai workers were murdered there on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sees Hamas Islamists in the Gaza Strip clearly weakened by the Israeli attacks on their military infrastructure. The Palestinian Organization was “thrown back years,” Netanyahu said.
Since the conflict’s new escalation began nine days ago, the Israeli military has reportedly destroyed tunnels in the Gaza Strip, estimated to be 100 kilometers long. Over the years, according to Israeli records, Hamas had built the tunnel system known as the “metro.” It is hundreds of kilometers long and is used, among other things, to transport hunters, ammunition and food within the Gaza Strip, sometimes by vehicles.
Israeli forces also killed numerous commanders of Hamas and its affiliated Palestinian organization, Islamic Jihad, during the military operations. The Air Force reduced the homes of numerous commanders to rubble and ash, which, according to the military, were used as command centers, communications facilities and weapon depots.
According to the Palestinian Ministry of Health, 217 people were murdered in the Gaza Strip within a week. The Israeli military claims to try to avoid civilian targets, but Hamas and other militants store fighters and weapons in or near residential buildings. To date, 12 people in Israel have been killed in rocket fire from the Palestinian coastal area.
There are also regular clashes in the occupied West Bank. On Tuesday, police said protesters at an Israeli checkpoint had been gunned down from a crowd. The army fired back. According to the Ministry of Health, three Palestinians were killed and several dozen injured. Two soldiers were also injured, according to the Israeli army.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas had repeatedly spoken out against armed attacks on Israeli targets in the past. Observers believe he fears he will be overthrown by Hamas, which also operates in the West Bank. There are also frequent clashes between security forces and Arab protesters in Jerusalem.
There are still tensions on the border with Lebanon. Protesters climbed the border wall on Tuesday and threw stones, Lebanese state news agency NNA reported. Israeli forces fired tear gas and smoke grenades. At least five protesters were injured, according to the NNA.
Several countries, meanwhile, are trying to de-escalate. French President Emmanuel Macron discussed the crisis in the Middle East with his Egyptian colleague Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and Jordanian King Abdullah II in a video conference. The three countries agree that the time has come for a ceasefire, circles from the French presidential office in Paris reported. That is why it was also decided, in cooperation with the United Nations, to start a humanitarian initiative for the civilian population in Gaza. US President Joe Biden had also expressed support for a ceasefire. The US is Israel’s main ally.