The Israeli army's ongoing major offensive on Thursday prompted a mass evacuation from Nusirat, Buraj and Makassi districts in the heart of the heavily populated Palestinian Territory. “Small children, women with babies in their arms, people with disabilities and the elderly do not know where to go,” the UN said. Palestine Relief Agency (UNRWA) said on social networks.
Many who had earlier fled from the north to the heart of the Gaza Strip tried to seek safety in the already overflowing city of Deir al-Balah. UNRWA described Israel's evacuation orders as “forced migration”. The Israeli army has repeatedly called on people to leave the battle zones in view of the advancing tanks.
According to UNRWA, 40 percent of people in the Gaza Strip are at risk of starvation as a result of the fighting. “Every day is a struggle to survive, to find food and water,” Thomas White, UNRWA's Gaza director, said at X. It's about getting people more help, White said. “The only thing left is a humanitarian ceasefire.”
Hundreds of foreigners are also leaving the region
The exodus of foreigners and Palestinians with dual citizenship from the Gaza Strip continues. Hundreds left the sealed coastal zone for Egypt on Thursday, according to a Palestinian Border Authority listing at the Rafah border crossing.
Since the start of Israel's Gaza war against the militant Palestinian organization Hamas, hundreds of foreigners and many passport holders have traveled to Egypt through Rafah. Many of them are met at the border by representatives of their respective embassies, who then arrange their journey through Cairo airport.
According to the Egyptian Foreign Ministry in November, about 7,000 people from 60 countries were temporarily staying in the Gaza Strip and wanted to leave. It is not clear how many foreigners and Palestinians with second passports are still in Gaza.
Attempt for the Austrians
Tal Shoham, who holds dual Austrian-Israeli citizenship, is still in the Gaza Strip. However, he may have been held hostage by Hamas. Shoham's wife and children were freed through an agreement between Israel and Hamas that included a cease-fire and the release of hostages in exchange for the release of Palestinian prisoners.
As “Klein Zeitung” reported, Chancellor Karl Neuhammer's (ÖVP) special adviser on foreign policy, Peter Lansky-Dieffenthal, is trying to free the 38-year-old Shoham.
Diplomat Launsky-Tieffenthal, a former UN undersecretary and later spokeswoman for the turquoise-blue federal government under President Sebastian Kurz (ÖVP) and Foreign Office secretary-general, retired this fall but soon became a special adviser to Nehhammer. Again an office in the Federal Chancellery, wrote a newspaper. Last week, Launsky-Tieffenthal held talks about Shoham in Israel, Egypt and Qatar. These turned out to be tough.
Fierce fighting in the center and Khan Yunis
On Wednesday, French President Emmanuel Macron reiterated his call for a “permanent ceasefire” in a telephone conversation with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Macron expressed to Netanyahu his deep concern over the “huge number of victims” and the immense humanitarian plight of civilians in the Gaza Strip.
Despite several international calls for moderation, Israel increased its ground troop deployment just before Christmas, focusing on the heart of the current Gaza Strip. Heavy fighting was reported from Burej on Thursday. Neighboring residents and militants said Israeli tanks were advancing into the city from the north and east.
A further escalation is feared in the Middle East
It is said that Israeli soldiers have been alerted along the Lebanese border. This is because pro-Iranian Hezbollah fighters in Lebanon are increasing airstrikes on Israel.
50 Palestinians have been killed in an Israeli attack on the Gaza Strip, according to Palestinian reports. In addition to the center, San Yunis in the south was again the scene of heavy fighting. Many people from the north also fled to this city earlier. Ten people were killed and twelve wounded in an attack near Al-Amal Hospital in Khan Yunis on Thursday, the Red Crescent wrote on X (Twitter).
According to medics and the Hamas-controlled Ministry of Health, more than 20 people were killed in a blast at a residential building in the area on Wednesday. Information cannot be independently verified. An Israeli military spokesman said on Thursday that it was investigating the new reports. Israel suspects Hamas leader Khan Younis is hiding.
UN wounded in Lebanon
Since the outbreak of the new conflict, there have been repeated violent clashes along the border between Israel and Lebanon. Hezbollah militants operate there with the support of Iran, Israel's arch-enemy. Three people were killed in an Israeli attack on the border town of Bint Jabeil on Wednesday night, according to Lebanese news. Australian Foreign Minister Mark Dreyfus confirmed on X on Thursday that two Australians were among them.
On Thursday night, a soldier of the UN monitoring mission UNIFIL was injured by unknown assailants along the border with Israel in Lebanon. UNIFIL said the attack was carried out by a group of youths who were on a peacekeeping patrol. UNIFIL UN It condemned any attack on soldiers and called on Lebanese authorities to “launch a thorough and swift investigation and bring all perpetrators to justice.”
Israel's military has said it is on high alert in the country's north in view of increasing attacks from Lebanon. “Today we approved a series of plans for various contingencies, and we must be ready to strike if necessary,” Chief of Staff Herzey Halevi said on Wednesday.
Egypt: No answer to peace plans
Neither Israel nor Hamas has yet responded to Egypt's draft resolution to resolve the conflict. The Egyptian State Security Service (SIS) said on Thursday that none of the affected parties had yet responded.
Egypt had planned to end the Gaza war in several phases. According to SIS, it consists of three successive and interrelated phases. The ultimate goal is a ceasefire. After the response of the concerned parties, the matter will be examined in detail, he said.