Europe 1 with AFP / Photo credits: SAID KHATIB / AFP 3:02 p.m., February 21, 2024, modified at 3:11 p.m., February 21, 2024

On the 136th day of the conflict between Israel and Hamas, Israeli bombardments and fighting between the two forces continue unabated across the Palestinian territory, while the Gaza Strip is still plunged into a humanitarian catastrophe. Europe 1 takes stock.

The Gaza Strip, threatened with famine, is still plunged into a humanitarian catastrophe on Wednesday which particularly hits the overpopulated town of Rafah, in the south, but also the north, while new talks for a truce begin in Cairo. Israeli bombings and fighting between the army and Hamas continue unabated across the Palestinian territory, where 118 people have been killed in 24 hours, according to the terrorist movement.

The main information:

  • The humanitarian situation still catastrophic in Gaza

  • Hamas announces latest death toll of 29,313 Palestinians since the start of the conflict

  • New truce talks begin in Egypt

  • The United States, Israel's ally, vetoed a draft UN Security Council resolution that demanded an "immediate humanitarian" ceasefire.

The north of the Gaza Strip in the grip of “chaos and violence”

According to the UN, 2.2 million people, the vast majority of the population, are threatened with famine in the Gaza Strip, besieged by Israel since the start of the war on October 7. The situation is particularly alarming in the north, prey to "chaos and violence", according to the United Nations World Food Program (WFP), which suspended the distribution of its aid in this sector on Tuesday.

Humanitarian aid, still insufficient and subject to the green light from Israel, enters Gaza mainly through Rafah via Egypt, but its delivery to the north is made almost impossible by the destruction and fighting which isolate this region from the rest of the territory. The Palestinian Red Crescent called on Wednesday "UN agencies to intensify their aid, in particular for areas in the north of the Gaza Strip where 400,000 people are threatened with famine."

The Israeli army wants to “intensify” its operations in Khan Younes

According to witnesses, fighting took place on Wednesday in the south in Khan Younes, where soldiers tracked Hamas fighters in the middle of the ruins, but also in Zaytoun and Shujaiya, two sectors of Gaza City, in the north. "We can't take it anymore. We don't have any flour. We don't even know where to go in this cold weather," said Ahmad, a resident of Gaza City, where the bombings have left a chaotic landscape. "We demand a ceasefire. We want to live."


- Israel-Hamas: Prince William comes out of his reserve to demand a rapid end to the fighting

The army claimed to have killed “dozens of terrorists” in Zaytoun on Tuesday and destroyed “dozens of targets”. It said it was “intensifying” its operations in Khan Younes. Doctors Without Borders announced during the night that a shelter housing members of the NGO and their families had been hit by an Israeli strike in Al-Mawasi, west of Khan Younes, which left at least two people dead and eight injured according to the Palestinian Red Crescent. In Rafah, images shot by AFP showed Palestinians inspecting the ruins of a house after a strike.

The prospect of a large-scale operation in Rafah worries the international community

Nearly a million and a half people, according to the UN, are massed in this city located on the closed border with Egypt. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced an upcoming ground offensive on Rafah, in order to defeat Hamas in its "last bastion" and free the hostages held in Gaza. This prospect worries the international community, while Egypt hosts new discussions with a view to a truce.

The head of the Hamas political bureau, Ismaïl Haniyeh, based in Qatar, is due to discuss Wednesday in Cairo with the head of the Egyptian intelligence services, Abbas Kamel, in particular the "first phase" of a plan drawn up in January by the mediating countries , Qatar, United States and Egypt, a Hamas source told AFP in Gaza. This first phase provided for a six-week truce, associated with an exchange of hostages for Palestinian prisoners held by Israel and the entry into Gaza of a large quantity of humanitarian aid.


- Brazilian President Lula da Silva accuses Israel of committing “genocide” in Gaza

American veto of an “immediate ceasefire”

American President Joe Biden's adviser for the Middle East, Brett McGurk, is traveling to Egypt on Wednesday and to Israel on Thursday. Hamas is demanding a ceasefire, an Israeli withdrawal from Gaza, an end to the Israeli blockade and safe shelter for the hundreds of thousands of civilians displaced by the war. Israel, for its part, affirms that its offensive will continue as long as Hamas has not been eliminated and the hostages freed.

In short

The war was sparked by an unprecedented attack launched on October 7 by Hamas commandos infiltrated into southern Israel. More than 1,160 people were killed, the majority civilians, according to an AFP count based on official Israeli data. In retaliation, Israel vowed to annihilate the Islamist movement, in power in Gaza since 2007, which it considers a terrorist organization along with the United States and the European Union.

The Israeli army launched an offensive which left 29,313 dead in Gaza, the vast majority civilians, according to the Hamas Ministry of Health. According to Israel, 130 hostages are still being held in Gaza, 30 of whom are believed to have died, out of around 250 people kidnapped on October 7.

On Tuesday, the United States, Israel's ally, vetoed a draft UN Security Council resolution that demanded an "immediate humanitarian" ceasefire, saying the resolution would have endangered the delicate negotiations underway on a truce. Hamas denounced a “green light” given to Israel to carry out more “massacres”.

In the occupied West Bank, where the war in Gaza has caused an outbreak of violence, Israeli forces announced Wednesday that they had killed three suspected Palestinian fighters during a nighttime raid in the Jenin sector. Exchanges of fire have become daily on both sides of the Israeli-Lebanese border, between the Israeli army and Hezbollah, an ally of Hamas. On Wednesday, an Israeli strike left two people dead in southern Lebanon, according to Lebanese media.