After several days of blockage, “more than three hundred pallets of humanitarian aid” were unloaded for the first time on the temporary floating jetty deployed by the United States on the coast of the Gaza Strip, the army said Israeli, Saturday May 18.

For its part, Hamas made a point of noting on Saturday, in a statement, that “no aid delivery route, including the floating jetty, constitutes an alternative to the routes under Palestinian supervision.” After days of blocking the arrival of humanitarian aid in the besieged Palestinian territory and threatened with famine, the American army announced on Friday the arrival of “around 500 tons [of aid] in the coming days”.

London announced, for its part, that a shipment of British aid had been “successfully transported to the coast of Gaza (…) at the same time as aid from the United States and the United Arab Emirates” via the Cypriot maritime corridor, as France said a navy vessel from Cyprus, with 60 tons of aid on board, was being unloaded onto the U.S. pontoon.

The Israeli army carried out new strikes in Rafah which left two people dead in the Berbera camp in central Rafah, according to the health ministry in the Hamas-administered Gaza Strip.

The bodies of three hostages repatriated

The army announced on Friday that it had discovered in the Gaza Strip the bodies of three Israeli hostages kidnapped during the unprecedented attack carried out by Hamas on October 7 in Israel and had repatriated them. Shani Louk, Amit Buskila and Itzhak Gelerenter were “taken hostage” and “brutally murdered” by Hamas while trying to flee the Nova music festival in southern Israel, its spokesman Daniel Hagari said.

At the same time, the army announced on Friday that it had led in Jabaliya “perhaps the fiercest” fighting in this area of ​​the Gaza Strip since the start of its ground offensive on the Palestinian territory at the end of October. Six people were killed in their bombed home in this area, according to Palestinian civil defense.

In addition, a local leader of the armed wing of Islamic Jihad in Jenin, in the northern West Bank, was killed in an Israeli strike, Hamas announced on Saturday, confirming information from the Israeli army and the Palestinian government.

Offensive in Rafah

In the Gaza Strip, Israel announced its intention to “intensify” its ground offensive in Rafah, where the stated objective is to annihilate the last Hamas battalions, despite the fears of the international community over the fate of the hundreds thousands of displaced people massed in this city.

Thirteen countries – Japan, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, Australia, South Korea and seven member states of the European Union including France – sent a joint appeal to him not to launch a large-scale offensive on Rafah, described as “decisive” by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. In their joint appeal, the thirteen countries also call for “additional efforts” to improve the entry flows of international aid “through all the crossing points concerned, including that of Rafah”.

Since Israel ordered civilians to leave eastern areas of Rafah on May 6 in anticipation of a major ground offensive, “640,000 people” have fled the city, “including 40,000 on May 16,” according to the United Nations Office of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). Of the 2.4 million inhabitants of the Gaza Strip, some 1.4 million people, residents and people displaced by the fighting, were previously in Rafah, backed by the closed border with Egypt.

“People are terrified and trying to flee” to the north and the coast, “it’s very difficult, because there is no safe route out of Rafah and there is certainly no safe destination in Gaza,” described Jens Laerke, OCHA spokesperson.