War in the Middle East, heavy raids on Gaza. Iran threatens the Mediterranean

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By John

Israel continues to pound the Strip with intense air raids in the Gaza City area in the aftermath of the UN vote and expands land operations to other areas of the Palestinian enclave. While Iran threatens to close the Strait of Gibraltar, and therefore the Mediterranean, if the US and its allies continue to commit “crimes” in the Strip: “They should soon expect the closure of the Mediterranean Sea, the Strait of Gibraltar and other routes of water” by the “resistance” forces, warned Mohammad Reza Naqdi, commander of the Pasdaran, at the height of the tensions in the Red Sea fueled by the Houthi attacks. On the 78th day of the war, medical sources in Gaza reported that at least 20 people were killed in several attacks carried out in the Nuseirat camp and in Deir al-Balah, in the center of the Strip, where the most intense battles are currently concentrated. According to the Associated Press – which cites rescue sources – an Israeli air attack killed 76 members of the same family in Gaza City: one of the “bloodiest” raids of the conflict, reported Mahmoud Bassal, spokesperson for the local Civil Protection department, providing a partial list of names and underlining that Issam was also among the dead al-Mughrabi, an employee of the UN Development Programme, his wife and their five children. The Israeli army instead announced that it had killed Hassan Atrash, responsible for trading, manufacturing and smuggling weapons for Hamas. According to the same sources, the man was involved in smuggling from various countries to the Palestinian enclave and had also played a role in the supply of weapons to the West Bank. The IDF (144 soldiers killed so far) then made it known that it is continuing to operate across the board in the Palestinian enclave. During an operation in the Bakshi suburb of Gaza City – the military spokesman reported – “a cache of weapons hidden in toy boxes in a nursery school” was discovered. To the south of the city, however, in the suburb of Issa, Israeli planes and ground forces have “eliminated dozens of terrorists”. Operations also took place in the Shati refugee camp, in the north, where “three terrorists were killed”.

The IDF said that since the start of the ground operation, around 700 “Hamas operatives” had been arrested and taken to Israel for questioning. In the campaign of destabilization of Israel by Hamas regarding the fate of the hostages still in captivity in Gaza (around 130), the spokesperson for the military wing of the Abu Obeida faction has meanwhile reported that contact with a group of militiamen who had five Israelis in custody. “We believe – said Obeida – that the 5 Zionist prisoners died as a result of the abominable bombings by the Israeli air force.” Three of them, elderly, were shown in a video released by Hamas on December 18. The day after the UN Security Council resolution on aid to the Strip was approved, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres spoke again about the hostages, calling for their immediate release. Guterres stressed that “nothing can justify the terrible terrorist attacks launched by Hamas on 7 October or the brutal kidnapping of 250 people.” He then focused on the suffering in the Strip, denouncing that “4 out of 5 of the hungriest people in the world are in Gaza”. Finally, the Wall Street Journal’s version should be noted according to which on 11 October US President Joe Biden convinced Israel not to launch a preventive attack against Hezbollah forces in Lebanon, making him reflect on the consequences of that move in the region while the fighters with the Star of David were already in the air waiting for the green light to strike. The indiscretion, however, was denied by Netanyahu’s office: «Already on the first day of the war the prime minister – his office explained – decided that Israel would first have to work to achieve a decisive victory” in Gaza “and at the same time discourage an attack from the north. This was the policy chosen by the war cabinet.” Today the two leaders spoke again on the phone: Netanyahu thanked the head of the White House for Washington’s position at the UN, clarifying that “Israel will continue the war until all its objectives are achieved.”