U.S., Israel dispute Gaza future as UN describes humanitarian ‘hell’


aders of the United States and Israel expressed disagreement on the future of the Gaza Strip after the end of the war, as UN officials reported on ever more dire conditions in the Palestinian territory.

“Gaza will be neither Hamastan nor Fatahstan,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Tuesday, according to his office.

He added that he was hoping for an agreement between Israel and the U.S. for the “day after Hamas.”

The U.S. has strongly supported Israel’s military campaign.

But with the war against Hamas now in its third month President Joe Biden has increasingly signalled frustration with the long-time ally.

Washington wants the Palestinian Authority (PA), which governs parts of the West Bank and is dominated by the Palestinian organisation Fatah, to take back control of the Gaza Strip.

Israel opposes this. Hamas forcibly expelled the PA from the coastal strip in 2007.

Biden on Tuesday urged Netanyahu to change political course, suggesting the prime minister abandon his far-right allies.

“I think he has to change, and with this government, this government in Israel is making it very difficult for him to move,” Biden said at an election campaign event in Washington, according to press travelling with him.

“This is the most conservative government in Israel’s history,” Biden said, adding that the government “doesn’t want a two-state solution” to the Palestinian conflict.

Israel is beginning to lose support around the world, warned Biden.

The war erupted on Oct. 7 when hundreds of Hamas terrorists broke out of Gaza and attacked southern Israeli communities in the worst such atrocity in Israel’s history. Some 1,200 people were killed.

Israel has since then pounded the Gaza Strip with airstrikes and is in the middle of a ground operation to totally eliminate Hamas.

The number of Palestinians killed in the Gaza Strip has risen to 18,412 since the beginning of the war, according to the Hamas-controlled Health Ministry.

Over 50,000 others have been injured, the ministry said on Tuesday.

Only one per  cent  of those injured in Gaza – or around 400 people – have so far been able to leave the strip for medical treatment, according to the Health Ministry.

The figures cannot be verified, but the World Health Organisation (WHO) on Tuesday said it considers the death and injury figures given by the Palestinian authorities to be reliable.

In conflict situations, WHO always relies on the figures provided by the health authorities, Richard Peeperkorn, the WHO representative in the Palestinian Territories occupied by Israel, said on Tuesday.

After previous conflict situations, Palestinian information on casualties had been checked retrospectively and had proved to be largely accurate, he said.

Peeperkorn told reporters in Geneva via video link from Gaza that he been in Afghanistan and other humanitarian crisis situations over years, “but I have never seen this in my entire life.”

The WHO sharply criticised the Israeli military’s treatment of nurses and seriously ill patients in the Gaza Strip.

A WHO team and partners were held up for hours at a military checkpoint during the evacuation of patients, the organisation reported on Tuesday.

According to the report, an employee of the Palestinian Red Crescent was forced to his knees in front of WHO employees and threatened with a weapon.

He was then taken away, interrogated and, according to his own account, humiliated.

The convoy came under fire and, according to the Red Crescent, one patient died on the journey because his wounds could not be treated.

The Israeli army declined to comment on the incident.

“Obstructing ambulances and attacks on humanitarian and health workers are unconscionable,” the WHO said.

“Health care, including ambulances, are protected under international law,” it added.

Civilians in Gaza are pleading for safety, the head of the UN Palestinian relief agency UNRWA, Philippe Lazzarini, said on Tuesday.

People in Gaza want an end to “this hell on earth,” he wrote on X, adding: “People are everywhere, live in the street, need everything.”

According to the United Nations, half of the population in the Gaza Strip is now starving and more than 80 per cent of the 2.3 million population has been displaced within the coastal area.

Israel’s military said on Tuesday it has recovered the bodies of two more people abducted from Israel to the Gaza Strip.

Their bodies were brought back to Israel and identified there, the army said.

The bodies were those of a 27-year-old woman who was abducted during the Hamas massacre at the Supernova festival and a 36-year-old Israeli army officer, who was also abducted on Oct. 7.

The families of the two were informed on Tuesday. The army did not initially provide any information on the cause of death in either case.

According to the Israeli army, 135 people kidnapped from Israel are still being held by Hamas and other extremist groups in Gaza.

Six Palestinian militants have been killed in an Israeli military operation in the West Bank town of Jenin, Palestinian media reported on Tuesday.

Four militants were killed in a drone attack, the news agency WAFA reported, while two died of gunshots.

The Ministry of Health in Ramallah confirmed the deaths.

Those killed belonged to the al-Aqsa Brigades, the group said.

The al-Aqsa Brigades are seen as close to the Fatah party, which is the dominant Palestinian political force in the West Bank.

The Israeli army initially declined to comment on the operation or the deaths. (dpa/NAN)