War in the Middle East, truce in the balance. Tension rises in Jenin: raids and deaths

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By John

The truce between Israel and Hamas, respected by both sides for six days, is about to expire. And after the release of a new group of hostages, mediation efforts are focused on extending the pause in fighting, at least for a few more days. We are working on a razor’s edge, because tension remains high in all territories. In the Strip itself, where four Palestinians were killed, up to the West Bank. As demonstrated by new Israeli raids in Jenin: among the victims, two military leaders, but also two minors. The last day, on paper, without hostilities in the Strip, opened with a new list of 10 hostages delivered by Hamas to Israel. In the evening, the movement that controls the Strip handed over 12 people to the Red Cross. Among them also two women with dual Russian and Israeli nationality, Elena Trupanov (50 years old) and her mother Irena Tatti (73 years old). As in the case of Ron Kriboy, released “as a tribute” to Vladimir Putin, who condemned Israel’s military escalation in the Strip. In parallel, mediation efforts for an extension of the truce continued. Qatar, directly involved in talks with Hamas, said it was optimistic, going even further: after the women and children, “we are moving towards the release of the civilian men”, said a spokesperson for the Foreign Ministry. “Releasing more hostages and receiving more humanitarian assistance” is also the priority of the United States, as Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on the eve of a new trip to Israel. But the White House has a more ambitious goal in mind, a lasting truce. Joe Biden made this clear, stating in a message on peace.” Never before had the American president gone so far, at least publicly. Israel, faced with this pressure, for now does not seem willing to change its line. “As long as we have the lists of our kidnapped people, we will proceed for a maximum of 10 days” in total, an Israeli political source pointed out. Based on the information that Hamas has women and children hostage for another “two, maybe three days”. While Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reiterated that “after this phase of return of the our hostages, Israel will return to war.”

With the aim of eradicating Hamas from the Strip. The conflict between Israel and the most extremist wing of the Palestinians, moreover, has never stopped completely, not even in these days of truce in the Strip. Fighting continued in the West Bank with the epicenter in Jenin. In the so-called Little Gaza, the Israeli army claimed to have killed the head of the Jenin Brigades, Mohammad Zabeidi, along with another military leader, in a raid on the city’s refugee camp. The Palestinian authorities instead reported the killing of a nine-year-old boy and a fifteen-year-old. And in Gaza too, four Palestinians were killed, one while trying to return to his home in the north, the other three because, according to the army, “they were threatening the Israeli forces”. The conflict that is inflaming the Strip also continued on a diplomatic level, during a meeting of the UN Security Council chaired by China. “This carnage must stop”, was the appeal launched by Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad Al-Maliki. “Anyone who supports a ceasefire is actually supporting the continuation of Hamas’ reign of terror,” the response of Israeli ambassador to the UN Gilad Erdan. In this contrast, Beijing’s request to work towards a “total and lasting ceasefire with the utmost urgency” to arrive at a two-state solution appeared extremely unrealistic for the moment.