International pressure intensified Tuesday for a truce agreement between Israel and Hamas including a new release of hostages, despite threats of an offensive on Rafah, the last refuge for more than a million Palestinians in the Gaza Strip .
⇒ Biden announces that a pause of “at least 6 weeks” in Gaza is under discussion
⇒ New attack in the Red Sea, on a Greek ship
⇒ Hezbollah official injured in Israeli strike
China calls on Israel to stop its military operation in Rafah “as soon as possible”
China on Tuesday called on Israel to stop its military operation in Rafah, in the south of the Gaza Strip, “as quickly as possible,” in order to “prevent an even more serious humanitarian catastrophe.” Beijing “opposes and condemns actions that harm civilians and violate international law,” a spokesperson for the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs also indicated in a statement.
Red Sea: a Greek ship attacked by the Houthis
Houthi rebels on Monday targeted a Greek ship off the coast of Yemen which continued its crossing in the Red Sea towards Iran, having suffered only minor damage, the US military confirmed.
“On February 12, from 03:30 to 03:45 Sanaa time (06:30 GMT to 06:45 GMT), Houthi fighters, supported by Iran, fired two missiles from the areas they control towards the strategic Strait of Bab el-Mandeb”, indicated the American military Command for the Middle East (Centcom), in a message posted on the social network Marshall MV Star Iris, which was traveling in the Red Sea, coming from Brazil,” Centcom said.
Biden announces pause of ‘at least 6 weeks’ in Gaza under discussion
King Abdullah II called on Monday for an “immediately lasting ceasefire” in Gaza in front of Joe Biden, who preferred to evoke a pause “of at least six weeks” as part of an agreement, which remains to be found, on the release of hostages still held in the enclave. The sovereign, during a joint speech at the White House, declared that “there must be a lasting ceasefire immediately” in Gaza. The American president still rejects this idea of an unconditional and indefinite cessation of hostilities.
“The United States is working on an agreement to release the hostages between Israel and Hamas, which would immediately bring a period of calm of at least six weeks in Gaza”, which could lead to “something more lasting”, said the 81-year-old Democrat. The two leaders also each discussed the situation in Rafah, a town in the south of the Gaza Strip which is Israel’s next stated military objective, in slightly different terms. “We cannot afford an Israeli attack on Rafah,” Abdullah II said. Joe Biden did not ask Israel to purely and simply renounce any attack, but insisted on the fact that “civilians must be protected.”
Hezbollah official injured in Israeli strike
A local leader of the Lebanese Islamist movement Hezbollah was seriously injured Monday in an Israeli strike which targeted his car in southern Lebanon, a Lebanese security source told AFP.
“An Israeli strike targeted, in the town of Bint Jbeil, a local Hezbollah official who was seriously injured,” said this source. According to the official National News Agency (ANI), “an enemy drone targeted a car near the hospital in Bint Jbeil”, a town located near the border with Israel. In the afternoon, a spokesperson for the Israeli army, Avichay Adraee, indicated in a statement that “one of the planes had targeted a car in the region of Maroun el-Ras in which there were members of the Hezbollah.”
In Gaza, Paris evacuated 42 people, including members of the French Institute
“At the request of France, 42 people were able to leave the Gaza Strip today, through the Rafah crossing point”, towards Egypt, indicates a press release from the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which brings to more than two hundred the number of people evacuated from Gaza “at the request of France”.
This announcement comes a few days after the death of a French teacher who had collaborated for twenty years with the French Institute in Gaza, who died of illness due to lack of treatment due to the “catastrophic health conditions” there, the AFP diplomatic sources. The ministry emphasizes that the evacuation announced Monday is “the result of steps taken by the French authorities, carried out at the highest level.”