The population of Gaza “is dying of hunger”. This was reported by the director of the health emergencies program of theWorld Health Organization, Michael Ryan, after major donor countries announced the suspension of their aid to the United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA). «This is a population that is dying of hunger. This is a population that is pushed to the brink,” Ryan said during a press conference in Geneva.
Diplomacy at work to try to reach an agreement on the ceasefire and the release of hostages in Gaza. A delegation of senior Hamas figures, including the organization’s head, Ismail Haniyeh, was invited to Cairo to meet with the head of Egyptian intelligence, Abbas Kamel, to discuss the possible agreement. Yesterday the Islamist group confirmed that it had received the proposal and that it wanted to examine it: the proposal, mediated by Qatar and presented to Hamas after the Paris talks involving the intelligence chiefs of Israel, the United States and Egypt, would provide for a truce in three phases with the release by Hamas first of the civilian hostages, then of the soldiers and finally of the bodies of the killed hostages, in exchange for a certain number of Palestinian prisoners in prison in Israel.
Tel Aviv’s position still remains cautious: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, pressured on the one hand by the White House, who reiterates the need to ease the Israeli attacks on Gaza and start thinking about the post-war period, and on the other by relatives of the hostages who continue to demonstrate for the release of their families, holds the point. Also for reasons of political stability of his government, given the resistance of the far-right parties in the cabinet, who threaten mass resignations if Netanyahu does not continue the war until the complete destruction of Hamas.
The Israeli prime minister reiterated yesterday that the troops from Gaza will not be withdrawn until “total victory”. And in fact field operations do not stop: the Israeli army continues to operate in the central and northern Gaza Strip, and claims that its forces are “conducting targeted raids on terrorist infrastructure and eliminating dozens of terrorists”.
Tension in the area remains very high, particularly on the US-Iran front, after the drone attack on a US outpost in Jordan last Sunday which killed three American soldiers and injured more than 40 others, carried out, according to Washington, by pro-Iranian groups. The commander in chief of Tehran’s Revolutionary Guards, Hossein Salami, spoke of “threats” from the United States and added that “no threat will go unanswered. We are not looking for war, but we are not afraid of it,” he added.
In reality, Washington has not yet expressed a clear position and yesterday the head of the White House, Joe Biden, declared that there will be a US response but without adding any details. On the Red Sea front, during the night the American central command reported that the Houthis launched an anti-ship cruise missile which was shot down by the USS Gravely. Meanwhile, the decision on which member state will lead the upcoming EU mission to protect ships in the area is awaited in Brussels: the head of EU diplomacy, Josep Borrell, said a decision could be taken as early as today and added that the operation could be launched before mid-February.