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GAZA: Palestinians transport a wounded man in Nuseirat in the central Gaza Strip on May 18, 2024. - AFP
GAZA: Palestinians transport a wounded man in Nuseirat in the central Gaza Strip on May 18, 2024. - AFP

Deadly Zionist strikes hit Gaza

GAZA: A Zionist strike killed 31 people in central Gaza Sunday, the Palestinian territory’s civil defense agency said, as US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan visited for talks on the conflict. Zionist troops have moved in on the Gaza Strip’s far-southern city of Rafah, which the army describes as the last Hamas stronghold and where the United States says 800,000 civilians have been newly displaced by the fighting.

Hamas’ armed wing, the Ezzedine Al-Qassam Brigades, said it was targeting Zionist forces stationed at Rafah crossing — a vital conduit for humanitarian aid that is now closed — with mortar shells. The Zionist entity has also fought and bombed resurgent Hamas forces in northern and central areas of the coastal territory previously considered to be under army control, sparking US warnings that it could become mired in a lengthy counterinsurgency campaign.

In the latest aerial bombardment overnight, Gaza’s civil defense agency said a Zionist strike killed 31 people and wounded 20 in a home in the central Nuseirat refugee camp. Witness Yasser Abu Oula told AFP an entire residential complex “was destroyed” and “there are still bodies under the rubble”.

Zionist Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has vowed to keep fighting Hamas in Gaza until the Iran-backed Islamist group is defeated and all remaining captives are released. But he has faced intense opposition and calls to announce a plan for Gaza’s post-war governance — from top ally Washington and from mass street protests, and now also from members of his war cabinet.

Centrist politician Benny Gantz threatened Saturday to quit the governing hard-right coalition unless Netanyahu approves a post-war “action plan” by June 8. Amid the political turmoil, Sullivan was to meet his Zionist counterpart Tzachi Hanegbi and Netanyahu for talks on the brutal Gaza conflict and post-war scenarios, after earlier meeting Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in the kingdom.

Gantz demanded steps to defeat Hamas, to bring home the hostages, and towards the formation of an “American, European, Arab and Palestinian administration that will manage civilian affairs in the Gaza Strip”. Netanyahu dismissed Gantz’s comments as “washed-up words”, saying they would lead to “a defeat for (the Zionist entity)” and “the establishment of a Palestinian state”, which he fiercely opposes.

Washington has pushed for a post-war plan for Gaza involving Palestinians and supported by regional powers, as well as for a broader diplomatic deal under which the Zionist entity and regional powerhouse Saudi Arabia would normalize relations. US President Joe Biden called Sunday for an immediate Gaza ceasefire and said he was pushing for a regional peace deal “to get a two-state solution, the only solution”.

The Zionist entity’s offensive has killed at least 35,456 people in Gaza, mostly women and children. The Zionist entity has imposed a siege on the long-blockaded Gaza Strip, depriving its 2.4 million people of normal access to clean water, food, medicines and fuel, the suffering eased only by sporadic aid shipments by land, air and sea.

“We are living through a humanitarian catastrophe in every sense of the word,” said Rafah resident Rinad Joudeh, 41, decrying “destruction, fear and terror” nearly two weeks into the Zionist incursion into the city. The head of the UN agency helping Palestinians said that “despite all the calls by the international community not to launch an offensive in Rafah, in reality an offensive started on May 6”.

Since then, “we have again about half of the population of Gaza being on the road forced to flee” for safety once more, though “we keep saying there is absolutely nowhere to go,” UNRWA chief Philippe Lazzarini told reporters in Amman. “There is absolutely no safe place in the Gaza Strip,” he added. Joudeh said people heading for a declared “humanitarian zone” in Al-Mawasi were “walking into hell”. “There is nothing there but suffering, problems and hardship.”

Lazzarini said that because of the fighting, “almost nothing in terms of aid is crossing” into Gaza, raising fears that recent gains made “to prevent a looming famine ... might quickly be reversed”. Truck arrivals have slowed with the Rafah crossing with Egypt closed since the Zionist entity launched its operation in the city.

Aid has begun entering via a temporary US-built floating pier, where shipments sent from Cyprus are offloaded for distribution. The United Arab Emirates said Sunday a shipment of “252 tons of humanitarian relief supplies for the people of Gaza was successfully unloaded” after sailing from the Cypriot port of Larnaca.

The UN’s humanitarian chief Martin Griffiths warned that if dire fuel shortages are not alleviated, the “famine which we have talked about for so long, and which is looming, will not be looming anymore. It will be present”. “Our worry ... is that the consequence is going to be really, really hard,” he told AFP in Qatar. “Hard, difficult, and apocalyptic”. – AFP

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