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Israeli troops attack Gaza amid international push for ceasefire

Israeli troops attack northern and southern Gaza as international push for another ceasefire comes

As the international community pushes for a new temporary ceasefire in the Gaza Strip, the Israeli army launched air strikes in northern and southern Gaza on Wednesday (January 31).

Israel’s strikes include Gaza City, where the military said it also killed 15 Hamas militants in ground operations.

In Khan Younis, the main city in southern Gaza, witnesses said fierce fighting took place in addition to multiple airstrikes. The United Nations Palestinian Aid Agency said that as fighting rages in the region, 184,000 people have registered to seek humanitarian assistance in recent days and have fled to places closer to the Mediterranean coastline.

The health ministry in Hamas-controlled Gaza said the number of people killed in the Israeli counterattack has risen to 26,900, including civilians and militants.

Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh is expected to travel to Cairo to discuss ceasefire proposals that would include a halt to fighting in Gaza and the release of hostages held by Hamas.

Haniyeh said on Tuesday that Hamas was working on a ceasefire plan and stressed that they still demand a permanent ceasefire and an Israeli withdrawal from Gaza.

Haniyeh said, “The top priority is to end the unjust aggression against Gaza and completely withdraw the occupying forces.”

He also said that Hamas is seeking to rebuild Gaza. On October 7, Hamas launched an attack on Israel, killing 1,200 people, after which much of Gaza was razed to the ground in an Israeli counteroffensive. Hamas also wants Israel to lift its years-long blockade of Gaza and release Palestinian prisoners held in Israel.

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said there will be no full troop withdrawal from Gaza until Israel achieves all its goals. Netanyahu has vowed to eliminate Hamas to ensure it cannot launch attacks against Israel in the future.

“We will not withdraw our troops from the Gaza Strip, and we will not release thousands of terrorists,” Netanyahu said.

U.S., Israeli, Qatari, and Egyptian officials laid out the outlines of a possible new deal at talks in Paris.

“As Secretary of State (Antony) Blinken noted yesterday, the proposals on the table are strong,” U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield told reporters on Tuesday. Convincing.”

“The humanitarian pause is expected to be longer than November, which will provide an opportunity to free more hostages and provide an opportunity for life-saving humanitarian assistance: feeding hungry children, helping those in need, helping elderly women to provide medicine, and providing shelter to families who have been displaced multiple times,” she said.

During a week-long ceasefire in November, more than 100 hostages were released in exchange for the release of 240 Palestinians imprisoned by Israel. Hamas is believed to still be holding another 100 hostages.

West Bank attacks

The United Nations human rights office called on Israel to immediately stop the “illegal killings of Palestinians in the occupied West Bank” after Israeli forces killed three people at a hospital in Jenin who they identified as militants planning attacks.

A statement from the U.N. human rights office called Israel’s actions “what appear to be planned extrajudicial killings.”

The United Nations Human Rights Office noted that killings of Palestinians in the West Bank have increased since October 7. During this period, approximately 370 Palestinians were killed in the West Bank, mostly by Israeli forces.

Michael Provence, who teaches modern Middle Eastern history at the University of California, San Diego, told the media that the Israeli attack was “shameless, and certainly it was an escalatory move, but it’s not what it is for Israel.”

Provence said the attack also made ceasefire negotiations more difficult. Israel accuses Hamas of hiding weapons in tunnels beneath hospitals and health facilities and using civilians as cover.

Palestine aid

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres met with representatives of 36 donor countries on Tuesday to address their concerns after several major donors suspended financial aid to the U.N. aid agency for Palestinian refugees. Israel has accused more than a dozen UNRWA staff of possible involvement in the October terror attacks.

“I underline the importance of UNRWA continuing its important work to meet the urgent needs of civilians in Gaza and ensure that it remains safe for the occupied people,” Guterres told a UN committee meeting on the Palestinians on Wednesday.

“UNRWA is the backbone of all humanitarian responses in Gaza,” he added, calling on donors to guarantee the continuity of UNRWA’s work.

More than a dozen countries, including the United States, the largest donor, announced they were suspending financial support for UNRWA during the investigation. UNRWA said it had suspended financial support of up to $444 million.

U.S. State Department spokesman Matthew Miller told reporters on Tuesday that approximately $300,000 in UNRWA funds are currently frozen. Funding for future years will depend on the results of the investigation and the steps taken by UNRWA.

“Let me be clear: this is not a punitive measure but a wake-up call,” Thomas-Greenfield told a U.N. Security Council meeting on Gaza on Wednesday. “We need to see fundamental changes at UNRWA to prevent this from happening again.” UNRWA

employs 13,000 staff in Gaza, mainly Palestinians. It has been continuing efforts to provide some relief to nearly 2 million displaced Palestinians since October 7. More than 150 UNRWA staff have been killed in fighting between Israel and Hamas. But the United Nations says aid could soon be in jeopardy if funding is not restored.

The United Nations immediately fired nine of the dozen staff members Israel said were involved in the deadly attack, one of whom was confirmed dead, and officials were in the process of identifying two others. The United Nations immediately launched an internal investigation.

Israel has criticized UNRWA for years, claiming the agency runs schools that are used for terror activities by Hamas and promotes anti-Israel curricula. Since the Oct. 7 attack, Israeli officials have accused some agency staff of celebrating the attack on social media.

Hamas has been designated a terrorist organization by the United States, the United Kingdom, the European Union, and other countries.

UNRWA provides basic services, including health care and education, to Palestinian families who fled or were expelled from Israel during the 1948 war that founded the state of Israel. They now live in refugee camps in Gaza, the Israeli-occupied West Bank, Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria.

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