Current situation in Israel: Tunnel strategy causes anger

Current situation in Israel: Tunnel strategy causes anger


Hostage relatives express sharp criticism of Netanyahu. Israel approves the construction of 1,700 new apartments in East Jerusalem.

View from southern Israel of the bombardment in the Gaza Strip on December 6th Photo: Ariel Schalit/dpa

BERLIN taz | Benjamin Netanyahu strives for images of strength: Israel has killed more than half of Hamas’s battalion commanders, the Israeli prime minister said in a press conference on Tuesday evening. Israel assumes that the terrorist organization has a total of 24 battalions.

Netanyahu also reiterated that Israel must retain control of security in the Gaza Strip long after the war ends. He rejected control by international forces. Israel will also do everything it can to bring back the hostages kidnapped by Hamas.

The released hostages report sexual violence

Just a few hours earlier, however, things had become loud at a war cabinet meeting with family members of Hamas hostages and hostages who have since been released. The families and those released expressed anger at the government and extreme concern for the Israelis still in the Gaza Strip. They called on the government to immediately do everything possible to bring back all the hostages.

According to media reports, at the meeting the released hostages also spoke about how the bombings had directly threatened hostages: “You claim there is intelligence information, but the fact is that we were bombed,” one of the released hostages is quoted as saying. Regarding Israel’s recently announced plans to flood the Hamas tunnels with sea water, one of the released women said, according to Israeli media, about her husband, who was still held captive in the Gaza Strip: “He was taken into the tunnels, and you are talking about them, the tunnels with sea water to flood. For you, politics is more important than the hostages.”

The released hostages also reported sexual violence during their captivity. A doctor treating the freedmen said independently of the meeting that at least 10 of the 120 freed hostages had been sexually abused.

A health ministry official also said that the hostages were given tranquilizers by Hamas before their release. It is believed this was to make people appear calm and happy after being held hostage for more than 50 days.

Meanwhile, the Israeli military continued to advance towards Khan Yunis in the south of the Gaza Strip on Wednesday and engaged in heavy fighting with Hamas fighters there. The area around the city is surrounded by Israeli units, said Israel’s Chief of General Staff Herzi Halevi. Thousands of residents fled the city’s shelling and the fighting, which was among the most intense since the start of the war. The army had asked them to flee to the western quarters of the city and to Rafah on the border with Egypt. According to media reports, tens of thousands of people were living in tents on the streets of the city of Khan Yunis and there was a lack of food, water and shelter.

Into this situation broke the news on Wednesday afternoon that Israel had approved 1,700 new housing units in a settlement in East Jerusalem. The Israeli organization Peace Now reported this and commented: “The Israeli government continues to undermine any viable two-state solution.”

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