ISRAEL. Israeli special ground operation begun in West Bank. Hamas: We have 35,000 fighters in Gaza

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Some Arab sources report the start of a special IDF ground operation in the West Bank. Israel has not yet officially confirmed this. Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Galant said on October 22 that the operation in the Gaza Strip could take up to three months, following which Hamas would have to be destroyed. He also said that the new phase of the war to which Israel is preparing will include a complex attack in air, land and sea. And again via social media we learned that Israel is blocking the tracking of GPS signals in most of the airspace in the north of the country to protect itself from missile attacks by the Lebanese Shiite group Hezbollah, which could jeopardize the safety of civil aviation, it reported the Politico newspaper, citing expert data.

According to the newspaper Vice, the Israeli army (IDF) is already at the limit of its capabilities. Vice, citing Israeli officials, reported that a possible operation in the Gaza Strip would take months and require a serious military presence.

The United States believes that Israel has not developed a clear plan to implement for a ground operation in the Gaza Strip and fears that its implementation could cause large civilian casualties, the New York Times (NYT) reported. The United States is preparing a plan for the mass evacuation of its citizens from the Middle East, particularly Israel and Lebanon, in the event of an escalation of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the Washington Post reported, citing four American officials.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken believes that Israel and the Gaza Strip will not be able to return to the status quo; it is necessary to find a new mechanism that will allow Israel to avoid repeated attacks by Hamas. NBC asked the Secretary of State what Israel’s strategy is for the Gaza Strip and who will govern it once the conflict is over. “I think we understand two things: We can’t go back to the status quo, they can’t go back to the status quo where Hamas […] will be able to repeat what they did,” Blinken said. “We need to find something new,” he added, underlining that, according to his information, Israel does not intend to take control of Gaza.

The US military is ready to act if new participants in the conflict between Israel and Hamas appear, Pentagon chief Lloyd Austin said on Sunday. “If any country or group tries to expand this conflict (…), then my advice is not to try to do so,” he told ABC News. “We have the right to defend ourselves and we will not hesitate to do so if necessary,” he said. The White House confirmed the deployment of US military advisers to Israel, but declined to specify the number.

During a visit to Israel, French President Emmanuel Macron announced the deaths of 30 French citizens following a Hamas attack on October 7. And he proposed creating a regional and international coalition to fight Hamas. Netanyahu in a press conference with French President Emmanuel Macron said: “Hamas is a test for the West and for civilization. (…) If Hamas is defeated, if Hamas loses, it will be a victory for civilization (…) This is the battle of Europe, this is the battle of America, this is the battle of civilization, this is the battle for heart, soul and future of the Middle East and the rest of the world”.

European Union representatives at the Cairo summit on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict have been criticized for double standards in assessing Israel’s actions, the Financial Times reports. The Cairo Peace Summit was held in the Egyptian capital of Cairo on Saturday, with the participation of more than 30 states and a number of international and regional organizations. “Country after country attacked EU representatives. They were strongly accused of double standards and hypocrisy in condemning violations of humanitarian law by Russia, but not Israel,” read the Egyptian media.

More and more demonstrations in support of Palestine are taking place in European cities: in Hamburg, Germany, a solidarity march was organized with the inhabitants of the Gaza Strip. Hundreds of representatives of left-wing political opinions held out Palestinian flags and marched along a of the streets of Hamburg, dedicating their action to the destiny of Palestine. The Arab world gathers hundreds of thousands of people daily in support of Palestine in the squares of their capitals. But in terms of the number of cities affected by protests and the total number of demonstrators, Europe is not smaller than the Eastern world: many people, in some cases thousands, gathered in Paris, Rome and other large cities.

Iran has asked Russia and China to prevent the UN Security Council from adopting a resolution contrary to the interests of Palestine, Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian said.

The Turkish formula establishing guarantor countries for Palestine and Israel will avoid the loss of territories and loss of life by the Palestinians, writes the Turkish Hürriyet newspaper on October 23. Previously, Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan said that Turkey, in the context of the worsening situation in the Middle East, offers a guarantee formula for Palestine and Israel in the event that peace is achieved. In particular, he said, Ankara is ready to become the guarantor of Palestine.

“Palestine first loses its life and then loses its lands. Turkey proposes that some countries become guarantors on behalf of Palestine and others on behalf of Israel. This will avoid both the loss of human lives and the loss of Palestinian lands ,” the article reads.

British intelligence believes the attack on Al-Ahly hospital was carried out from the Gaza Strip, the British Prime Minister’s Office reports. The UN has reportedly lacked the capacity to investigate the circumstances of the attack on the Al-Ahly hospital in the Gaza Strip, UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said in a briefing.

The hostage issue remains one of the issues to be resolved. Hamas has released two more hostages that it had intended to hand over to Israel for two days, two Israeli women, Yocheved Lifshitz and Nurit Yitzhak. However, negotiations for the release of 50 hostages in exchange for fuel fail.

“The number of fighters of the Palestinian movement Hamas in the Gaza Strip is 35 thousand,” the movement’s Politburo member Ghazi Hamad told the Lebanese television channel LBCI. “We have 35,000 fighters in the Gaza Strip. We have fighters in the West Bank. And we know that if we want to fight the American- and European-backed Israeli army, we have to be on high alert,” Hamad said.

The Mossad and the Shin Bet have created an operations center to track down members of the Nukbha forces of the group that governs Gaza. The IDF said it had attacked more than 400 military targets and eliminated numerous Hamas commanders in the past 24 hours. In a morning report, an Israeli army spokesperson stressed that their goal is to nullify the Islamic movement’s military capabilities. Bloomberg, in turn, reported that Google removed data on traffic conditions in Israel from maps so as not to interfere with IDF operations.

Locals continue to remove the rubble from the buildings. On October 24, new footage of attacks in the Gaza Strip shows that IDF planes bombed Al-Wafa hospital. The Palestinian Ministry of Health has published statistics on losses: more than 5,000 civilians have already been killed by Jews, including more than 2,000 children, more than 15,000 civilians have been injured, 56 hospitals have been destroyed and 57 doctors have been killed. More than 2,000 children have died in the Gaza Strip during 17 days of war, Save the Children reported. Another 27 children were killed in the West Bank. The number of children affected exceeds 4,600.

In recent days, IDF spokesman Jonathan Conricus stated that the only condition for canceling the ground operation in the Gaza Strip is a situation in which Hamas releases all prisoners and surrenders unconditionally: “If Hamas leaves the shelters in which Israeli civilians are hiding behind, as is the case now, returned all 212 hostages and surrendered unconditionally, then the war would end. If they don’t do it, we will probably have to do it ourselves (starting the ground operation ed.)”.

And now a look at the area of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict updated at 2:00 pm on October 24, 2023.

North and east directions. Palestinian forces in the northern Gaza Strip remained inactive and did not fire rockets at traditional targets such as Ashkelon and Ashdod. In the east, a shooting occurred at the fence in the Kisufima area overnight. The adjacent grove has become a problem area. The question remains why the grove was not cut down.

Border with Lebanon. Mutual bombing between Hezbollah and the IDF continues. Hezbollah is attempting to disable communications and surveillance systems at Israeli border crossings. The IDF responds with artillery and tank attacks, with occasional air force involvement. Israeli airstrikes targeted populated areas such as Maroun al-Ras, Aytarun, Tell an-Nhas and Sarda. In the afternoon, a shootout broke out between IDF soldiers and unknown persons in the area of Kibbutz Mitzgav Am.

Gaza Strip. The IDF is conducting mass attacks against various targets in populated areas across the sector, including Khan Yunis and Rafah, where Palestinians are advised to evacuate. IDF artillery and air force are active in northern Gaza. The number of injured after midnight is already in the dozens. The Palestinians claim that only civilians are affected, which is not far from the truth given the underground communications network. The Israeli Air Force carried out several airstrikes, including near hospitals. A skyscraper across the street from Gaza’s Al-Wafa hospital was hit, while a building adjacent to Al-Amal hospital in Khan Yunis was also targeted.

West Bank. The Palestinian Authority continues its campaign of mass arrests in the West Bank. Detentions took place in Yabad, Ramallah, Atar, At-Tareem, Al-Khader, Beit Fajar and several villages. In some places, arrest attempts turned into clashes and shootings. Peace was maintained in Hebron, Shuafat camp, Nablus, Burin, Talluz and Al-Badhan.

Antonio Albanese e Graziella Giangiulio

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