Netanyahu assumes that he will be held accountable after the war for the failures that allowed the Hamas attack | International

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned this Wednesday, in a televised message to the nation, that Israel is preparing a ground invasion of Gaza, although without specifying when. Netanyahu has assured that the decision on when the Armed Forces enter the Strip will be made by the Government. “The calendar of the military operation will be decided by consensus by the war cabinet,” he stated. On the verge of 20 days of the state of war with the Hamas militia, the Israeli army maintains an impressive deployment ready for immediate action on the border of the Palestinian Strip, without yet launching the announced invasion to eradicate the Islamist movement that killed 1,400 Israelis and kidnapped another 220 on October 7, in the deadliest attack suffered by the Jewish State in its 75 years of existence. Netanyahu thus responds to reports of alleged pressure from the United States to delay the ground invasion of Gaza.

In his message, the Israeli head of government has also encouraged civilians in his country to carry weapons and has assumed that he will have to give answers about his political responsibility for the Hamas attack: “October 7 was a black day [...] Errors will be investigated until the end. Everyone will have to give answers, including me. But all that will happen only at the end of the war.”

The negotiations to release the hostages with the mediation of Qatar and the fear of the expansion of the conflict on a regional scale, following threats against United States bases in the Middle East, slow down the military advance. Netanyahu appears to have agreed to postpone an invasion that seemed imminent in the days after October 7. The objective would be for the United States to be able to protect its military installations in Iraq and Syria with a dozen anti-missile shields, according to what he reported this Wednesday. The Wall Street Journal, which quotes Israeli and American officials. The need to guarantee the entry of humanitarian aid to the coastal enclave, where 2.3 million remain under a complete blockade for more than two weeks, is also behind the decision to postpone the ground offensive.

“Our objectives are to eliminate the military and government capabilities of Hamas and bring back the hostages,” said the prime minister. “We are preparing for a ground invasion. I am not going to specify when, how or how much. Nor the different considerations that we make, which for the most part are not known to the public, and that is how it has to be, so that we can preserve the lives of soldiers,” he emphasized.

Despite this information about pressure from Washington, President Joe Biden has denied that he had asked Netanyahu to delay the offensive in Gaza. Instead, he claims, he had pointed out to the Israeli leader the need to do everything possible to achieve the release of the kidnapped hostages. “I've told him that if it's possible to get them out safely, that's what he should do,” he said. “It is his decision, but I did not demand it from him,” he added.

In a press conference in the Rose Garden of the White House with the Australian Prime Minister, Anthony Albanese, Biden defended this Wednesday the need for a solution to the conflict in the Middle East that includes the establishment of two States, the Israeli and the Palestinian. , in peaceful coexistence. In his most favorable statement to Palestinian positions since the beginning of the current crisis he has once again insisted that Israel “has the responsibility” to defend its citizens, but stressed that in doing so it must also protect innocent civilians in Gaza.

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“We are going to make sure Israel has what it needs to defend itself against terrorists. That's guaranteed. But we must also remember that Hamas does not represent the vast majority of the Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip or anywhere else,” Biden said.

“There is no going back to the situation as it was before October 7,” insisted the US president, who has stressed the need for world leaders to get involved in making this solution, enshrined in the Oslo agreements and official policy, a reality. American, which has never been able to be applied on the ground. Biden has also launched a call to stop attacks by “extremist” Israeli settlers on Palestinians in the West Bank.

The American president has stressed the need for Israel's integration in the region and the normalization of ties with Arab states. Before the outbreak of the crisis, the United States was mediating to try to normalize relations between Israel and Saudi Arabia, the economic leader of the Arab world and custodian of Muslim holy sites.

Qatar negotiations

Washington has also called on Israel to stop its ground operation plans in Gaza after Qatar, which is holding mediation to free fifty hostages, has warned that the Israeli invasion would ruin its negotiations. The Qatari Prime Minister, Abdulrahman al Zani, assured this Wednesday that he hopes to be able to announce “progress” soon. “There is progress. We have hope,” he added.

In his televised message, Netanyahu also stated that he is doing “everything possible to bring the hostages home.” He has also insisted that Gaza civilians must move south, as he has been saying by the army in recent days. The area, however, is not exempt from Israeli bombings, which are taking place throughout the entire Strip.

The concentration of infantry troops, tanks and artillery around the Mediterranean strip has been completed for days. The military commanders are only waiting for the order to advance. Meanwhile, the aircraft incessantly bombards targets of the Ezedín al Qasam militia in the densely populated territory. More than 6,500 Palestinians have been killed since the start of hostilities, according to the Health Ministry of the Hamas-controlled Gaza Government. Of them, more than 2,700 are children. In the war that Israel fought with Hamas in 2014, the deadliest so far, more than 2,200 Palestinians died, of which 538 were minors.

Some 400 children die or are injured every day in the Gaza Strip due to bombings launched by Israel since the start of the war, as reported by Unicef ​​this Wednesday. The authorities in fact in Gaza have accused Israel of concentrating the attacks in the south of the enclave, where they claim that 65% of the victims have been recorded this week, despite having ordered the evacuation of the north of the Strip on the 13th to avoid damage to the civilian population.

Humanitarian aid is barely reaching the 2.3 million Gazans, of whom 1.4 million are now internally displaced, according to United Nations estimates. Only one twentieth of daily needs enter through the Rafah crossing, on the border with Egypt. Given the lack of fuel, essential to power electricity generators, UNRWA, the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, has announced that it will have to stop its operations starting this Thursday. Six hospitals in the Strip have already had to suspend their activity due to lack of fuel.

The Israeli Armed Forces relentlessly continue with their invasion plans, meanwhile. “We are preparing the area for a significant increase in military activity,” said Lieutenant Colonel Jonathan Conricus, one of the international military spokespersons. “That will happen in the second phase, that is why we urge civilians to head south,” he added.

In an unexpected turn after almost three weeks of war, Hamas launched two long-range rockets from the Gaza Strip this Wednesday. One in the direction of Haifa, 140 kilometers to the north on the Mediterranean coast, and another towards Eilat, 300 kilometers to the south on the shores of the Red Sea. On the northern front, the Army said it had attacked five Hezbollah units that were preparing raids from Lebanon. And in the West Bank, four Palestinians were killed by Israeli drone fire in a Jenin refugee camp.

Washington increases its military deployment in the region

Since the outbreak of the crisis in the Middle East, the United States has rapidly reinforced its military deployment, with its sights set on Iran. Their reasons: to serve as a deterrent force so that Iran and the militias that this regime sponsors do not intervene in the conflict and aggravate it or spread it to other countries. And protect the troops it maintains in the area, who have already detected an escalation in attacks by pro-Rani guerrillas against their positions.

The Pentagon has recorded a dozen attacks in Syria and Iraq since the outbreak of the crisis and recognizes its concern about the possibility that these incidents will become increasingly serious and numerous.

“We have kept troops in the region since 9/11 to fight the Islamic State and others, (our presence) has nothing to do with Israel. My warning to the ayatollahs is that if they continue to harass our troops, we will respond and they will have to be prepared,” Biden declared in his speech to the press this Wednesday.

Washington is trying to quickly complete the deployment of elements of its advanced THAAD air defense system - similar to the one deployed in South Korea - and Patriot anti-missile systems. She has also sent an amphibious group led by the warship Bataan, a vessel specialized in communications detection, and two aircraft carriers to the area. The Gerald Ford, the largest of its kind in the world, is in the eastern Mediterranean, with the mission of dissuading the Lebanese Shiite militia Hezbollah from opening a second front against Israel. The Dwight Eisenhower is en route to the Persian Gulf.

In addition, the Department of Defense has placed more than 2,000 military personnel on alert for possible deployment to the Middle East, whose mission there would be to participate in support—not combat—operations for Israeli forces. It has also reinforced its deployment of fighter aircraft, including F-16 and F-35.

In a speech to the UN Security Council, Secretary of State Antony Blinken warned on Tuesday: “If Iran or its allies [en la región] They attack personnel from our country, we will defend our people. “We will defend our security quickly and vigorously.”

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