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‘Operation Al-Aqsa Flood’ Day 251: Blinken, Hamas Exchange Accusations

Above photo: Palestinians walk past buildings destroyed in Israeli bombardment of Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip, June 12, 2024. Omar Ashtawy/APA Images.

The World Health Organization warned of mass starvation in Gaza.

Meanwhile, Israeli forces have killed 12 people in the West Bank in 48 hours.

Casualties

  • 37,202 + killed* and at least 84,932 wounded in the Gaza Strip.*
  • 544+ Palestinians killed in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem.**
  • Israel revised its estimated October 7 death toll down from 1,400 to 1,140.
  • 650 Israeli soldiers have been killed since October 7, and at least 3,664 have been wounded.***

*Gaza’s Ministry of Health confirmed this figure on its Telegram channel on June 6, 2024. Some rights groups estimate the death toll to be much higher when accounting for those presumed dead.

** The death toll in the West Bank and Jerusalem is not updated regularly. According to the PA’s Ministry of Health on June 5, this is the latest figure.

*** These figures are released by the Israeli military, showing the soldiers whose names “were allowed to be published.” The number of Israeli soldiers wounded, according to declarations by the head of the Israeli army’s wounded association to Israel’s Channel 12, exceeds 20,000, including at least 8,000 permanently handicapped as of June 1.

Key Developments

  • Israel kills 98 Palestinians, wounds 438 since Thursday, June 6, across Gaza, raising death toll since October 7 to 37,202 and number of wounded to 84,932, according to the Gaza health ministry.
  • Blinken and Hamas exchange accusations of obstructing the ceasefire proposal.
  • Israeli tanks advance on western Rafah amidst heavy bombing.
  • Gaza’s only oxygen generator on the brink of stopping, says health ministry.
  • UNRWA says that 330,000 tons of garbage have accumulated in the Gaza Strip, increasing sanitary risks.
  • Heavy fighting reported between Israeli forces and Palestinian resistance in the Zeitoun neighborhood in Gaza City.
  • Israeli universities suspend classes on Thursday to demand prisoners’ exchange deal with Hamas.
  • Israel’s ambassador to the UN Gilad Erdan says Israel will study deporting UN staff and re-evaluate membership in the UN.
  • WHO says 8,000 children in Gaza are diagnosed with severe malnutrition as starvation returns to the northern strip, indicating that 32 Palestinians have died of starvation in Gaza since October, including 28 children under the age of five.
  • Israeli army declares Jenin military zone following raid that destroyed Jenin refugee camp’s infrastructure.
  • Israeli forces kill 12 Palestinians in West Bank since Monday, June 10.
  • Israeli finance minister Bezalel Smotrich orders deduction from Palestinian customs money equivalent to social-aid salaries of Palestinian martyrs’ and detainees’ families, transfers it to families of slain Israelis.
  • Hezbollah launches over 200 rockets in addition to drones on Galilee and Golan heights, causing widespread fires, in response to Israel’s killing of senior Hezbollah commander Taleb Abdallah and three more operatives in a strike on the town of Juya in southern Lebanon.

Blinken And Hamas Accuse Each Other Of Obstructing Ceasefire Deal

On his eighth visit to the region since October, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken accused Hamas of being the main obstacle in reaching a ceasefire deal with Israel. The Palestinian group responded on Thursday that the main obstacle to a deal is the U.S. itself due to its “biased” position towards Israel.

Speaking from Cairo on Tuesday on the second day of his tour, Blinken said that “the only party who hasn’t agreed to the deal proposal yet was Hamas,” calling upon countries in the region to put pressure on Hamas to end the war.

Hamas had given its response to the proposed deal to Egyptian and Qatari mediators on Tuesday. Reports indicated that the Palestinian group introduced a number of amendments to the initial draft.

According to Israeli media reports, Hamas’s changes included advancing Israel’s withdrawal from the Gaza Strip and the beginning of the reconstruction works to the first phase of the ceasefire, not the third phase, as in the U.S. draft. Hamas also demanded adding Russia, China, and Turkey as guarantors to the deal, in addition to the U.S., which Israel considers unacceptable, according to reports.

During an interview with Al Jazeera on Tuesday, June 11, Blinken commented on Hamas’s changes, saying that some of them were impossible to meet, adding that the deal could have been reached 12 days earlier had Hamas accepted the proposal as it was presented by the U.S.

Hamas responded in a statement that “Blinken’s absolution of Israel and accusing us of obstruction is a continuation of his country’s policy of complicity in the genocide.”

The statement added that no Israeli official has publicly expressed Israel’s acceptance of the deal and that Israeli officials have continued to reject any permanent ceasefire, contrary to declarations by the U.S.

The proposed deal was presented by U.S. President Biden on May 30, saying that it was an Israeli proposal given to Washington.

On Monday, the UN Security Council voted for a ceasefire resolution based on the U.S. proposal, with a majority of 14 votes in favor and one abstention by Russia. The Russian representative said following the vote that his country abstained because there was no proof that Israel had accepted the deal.

At the UN Security Council session, the U.S. representative said that, following the vote, Israel had accepted the proposed deal. Minutes later, the representative of Israel said in an intervention at the same meeting that Israel was not interested in negotiations and that it would continue the war until achieving all its objectives by force, including releasing Israeli captives.

On Tuesday, Biden’s national security advisor Jake Sullivan said in remarks en route to Italy that Hamas’s changes to the deal were minor and that some were made in previous proposals.

WHO Says Half Of Gaza’s Population Will Be Starving By July

On Wednesday, the World Health Organization warned that the Gaza Strip population was facing “catastrophic hunger” conditions due to lack of food in the strip.

The WHO director General, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, told Al Jazeera that despite reports of an increase in aid delivery, there was no evidence that people in Gaza were receiving enough food.

Ghebreyesus also pointed out that at least 8,000 children in the Gaza Strip are facing a severe lack of nutrition, and that 32 cases of death due to starvation had been recorded already, including 28 children under the age of five.

According to the WHO chief, the lack of security in the strip has prevented the organization from operating the over two centers for treating cases of malnutrition and impeded the distribution of clean water.

Since the beginning of Israel’s assault on Gaza, its war minister declared a total blocking of food, water, electricity, and fuel off the strip. The little humanitarian aid that could enter Gaza stopped after Israel’s control and closure of the Rafah crossing points, in early May.

On Wednesday, the under-secretary-general of the UN for humanitarian affairs, Martin Griffiths, said that half of Gaza’s population will be facing starvation by next July, under the current conditions.

Israel Ramps Up Deadly Raids In The West Bank

Israeli forces killed 12 Palestinians in two separate raids near Jenin and Ramallah.

On Tuesday, Israeli forces raided the village of Kurf Dan, northwest of Jenin, and surrounded a house where a Palestinian who Israel accused of being a militant was presumably staying.

The raiding troops opened indiscriminate fire in the surrounding area’s street, according to residents’ testimonies to Palestinian media outlets. Video footage circulated by media outlets showed an unarmed young man lying on the ground, apparently wounded, screaming “ambulance,” while repeated gunfire could be heard, right before the young man’s voice stopped. The video has been attributed to the killing of Ahmad Samoudi, 24.

Israeli forces then fired ground missiles at the besieged house, causing further casualties. Altogether, six Palestinians aged between 21 and 32 were killed in Israel’s raid on Kufr Dan.

Earlier on Monday, Israeli forces raided the village of Kufr Ni’mah, west of Ramallah, after two Palestinians allegedly set fire to an Israeli settler trailer in the area. The Israeli army said that it surrounded a building where the Palestinians responsible for the fire had hidden and that they attempted to run away in a car, trying to run over the raiding soldiers before the soldiers opened fire at the car.

The  Palestinian Red Crescent Society said in a statement that Israeli forces prevented its medical teams from reaching three of the wounded for hours, until it was too late.

Also on Monday, Israeli forces killed a 15-year-old Palestinian in a raid on the Faraa refugee camp in Tubas in the northeastern West Bank and a 21-year-old Palestinian in another raid on Tulkarem.

Meanwhile, Israeli settlers attacked Palestinians on the main roads south of Nablus and in the town of Huwwara, throwing rocks at Palestinian vehicles in the presence of the Israeli army. Settlers also attacked Palestinian cars at the northern entrance of Ramallah and attacked farmland in Nahalin, south of Bethlehem, setting fire to dozens of crops.

Since October, Israeli forces or settlers have killed 544 Palestinians in the West Bank.

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