The war between Israel and Hamas has left 35,386 dead in the Gaza Strip, mostly civilians, according to a report released on Saturday May 18 by the Palestinian Islamist movement’s health ministry. On the Israeli side, more than 1,170 people died – most of them also civilians – during the Hamas attack on October 7, 2023, according to a count from Agence France-Presse (AFP) established in from official Israeli sources. Additionally, according to the Israeli army, 624 of its soldiers were killed in fighting in the Gaza Strip.

According to AFP journalists, artillery fire and airstrikes continue in the east and northeast of Rafah. A strike left two people dead in a displaced persons camp, the city’s Kuwaiti hospital reported. The Al-Quds Brigades, the armed wing of Palestinian Islamic Jihad, also reported heavy fighting in the east of the city with Israeli troops who entered this area on May 7. UNRWA, the United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees, estimated that 800,000 people had fled fighting in Rafah since May 6 and the start of Israeli ground operations in this town on the southern edge of the Gaza Strip.

In the north of the Gaza Strip, AFP correspondents, witnesses and doctors reported intense clashes during the night from Friday to Saturday in the Jabaliya refugee camp, north of Gaza City. At the beginning of January, Israel announced that it had dismantled the Hamas command structure in the north of the Palestinian enclave, but the Jewish state’s army communicated on Friday that the Palestinian movement “totally” controlled Jabaliya upon its arrival “there a few days.”

“Dozens of people were martyred and hundreds of others were injured” in the Jabaliya camp, Hamas said on Saturday, accusing the Israeli army of “destroying residential buildings (…) and targeting schools and shelters.”

The main rival of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Benny Gantz, gave the head of government of the Hebrew state three weeks to adopt a strategic “action plan”, particularly on the post-war in the Gaza Strip, due to from which he will resign.

Leader of the National Union Party (center-right) and former defense minister, Mr. Gantz joined the National Union war cabinet after the attack on October 7, 2023. The cabinet has five members, including three main ones are Mr. Netanyahu, Mr. Gantz and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant.

One of the plan’s “goals” must be “the establishment of a US-European-Arab-Palestinian administration that will manage civil affairs” in Gaza “and lay the foundations for a future alternative that is neither Hamas ni [Mahmoud] Abbas,” president of the Palestinian Authority, expelled from the Gaza Strip in 2007 by Hamas, Gantz said.

He also called for normalization with Saudi Arabia “within the broader framework that will enable an alliance between the ‘free world’ and the Arab world against Iran and its allies.” “The conditions set by Benny Gantz are rehashed remarks whose meaning is clear: the end of the war and the defeat of Israel,” reacted the head of the Israeli government, accusing his rival of “looking for an excuse to overthrow the government » and wanting “the creation of a Palestinian state”.

The body of Ron Benjamin, 53, was found with those of three hostages whose bodies had been repatriated on Friday, Israeli army spokesman Daniel Hagari announced. The 50-year-old man was taken by Hamas on October 7, 2023 after being killed in the attack carried out by the Palestinian movement in southern Israel.

The day before, the Israeli army said it had found the bodies of three Israeli hostages in Gaza, including that of Shani Louk, a 23-year-old German-Israeli woman present at the Nova electronic music festival on October 7, 2023. Israeli authorities said also identified the other two bodies found as those of a 28-year-old woman, Amit Buskila, and a 56-year-old man, Itzhak Gelerenter. According to Mr. Hagari, they were also present at the music festival. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sent his condolences to the families on Telegram. “This terrible loss is heartbreaking”, we “cry with the families”, he assured, promising to bring back “all the hostages, the living and the dead”.

“At approximately 1 a.m. [local time, midnight in France], the Iranian-backed Houthis launched an anti-ship ballistic missile into the Red Sea, which hit the Wind, a Panama-flagged oil tanker owned and operated by a Greek company,” the US Middle East Military Command (Centcom) reported Saturday on X. According to Centcom, the ship had recently docked in Russia and was heading to China.

The attack caused flooding, resulting in “a loss of propulsion and steering,” and a ship from the coalition set up by the United States to secure the Red Sea “immediately responded to Wind’s distress call “. But “no assistance was necessary”, as the crew was able to regain control of the ship, and it continued on its way, according to Centcom, which clarified that no casualties had been reported.

The Houthis have carried out dozens of drone and missile strikes against ships in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden since November, disrupting global maritime trade in this strategic area. Allies of Iran, they say they act in solidarity with the Gazans.

“More than 300 pallets of humanitarian aid” were unloaded, the first to enter using the temporary American floating jetty docked on the coast of the Gaza Strip, the Israeli army said. For its part, Hamas insisted on Saturday, in a press release, “that no aid delivery route, including the floating jetty, constitutes a solution to replace the roads under Palestinian supervision.”

After days of blocking the arrival of humanitarian aid in the besieged Palestinian territory 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 maritime corridor. Cypriot, while France declared that a naval vessel from Cyprus, with 60 tons of aid on board, was being unloaded on the American pontoon. The land route nevertheless remains “the most viable and effective”, reaffirmed the humanitarian agency of the United Nations (OCHA).

They left the Palestinian enclave, in which they had been stuck since the capture by the Israeli army of the Rafah crossing on the border with Egypt, through the Kerem Shalom crossing, between the besieged Palestinian territory and Israel, said an American official close to the matter to AFP, on condition of anonymity.

“We have been in close contact with the organizations to which these American doctors belong,” a State Department spokesperson said, as well as with their families, he said. A source close to the matter told AFP that three other American doctors who were part of a volunteer medical mission had chosen to stay despite uncertainty around future possibilities of leaving Gaza.

The White House announced Friday that its national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, will travel to Saudi Arabia this Saturday, and to Israel on Sunday. As the President of the United States, Joe Biden, strives to achieve a normalization of relations between these two countries, Jake Sullivan was scheduled to meet the Saudi Crown Prince, Mohammed Bin Salman, as well as the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu , said John Kirby, spokesperson for the National Security Council.

The conversation in Saudi Arabia with the kingdom’s leader was to focus on “bilateral and regional issues, including the war in Gaza,” as well as “ongoing efforts to achieve lasting peace and security in the region.” the spokesperson declared.

With Benjamin Netanyahu and other senior Israeli officials, Joe Biden’s envoy must also discuss the conflict between the Jewish state and Hamas, “including the negotiations to obtain the release of all the hostages [detained in Gaza] and to respond to the humanitarian crisis.” The exchange will also focus on the shared desire of the United States and Israel to “sustainably defeat Hamas both through military pressure and through a political project,” explained John Kirby.