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Discovery of the “largest tunnel” in Gaza | Middle East, the eternal conflict

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An Israeli army soldier stands at the opening of a tunnel near the border with Israel on December 15, 2023, in the northern Gaza Strip.

Agence France-Presse

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The Israeli military announced on Sunday that it had discovered Hamas' “largest tunnel” beneath the besieged Gaza Strip, where Israel continues its deadly strikes despite pressing calls for a ceasefire. /p>

This massive network of tunnels, which divides into several branches, extends for more than four kilometers and only arrives at 27 ;400 meters from the Erez crossing point, between Israel and the northern Gaza Strip, the Israeli armed forces said.

This tunnel was unveiled to the press on the 72nd day of the war which was triggered on October 7 by a bloody attack by the Palestinian Islamist movement on Israeli soil from the Gaza Strip, which left some 1,140 dead, mostly civilians.

Follow our live coverage of the Israel-Hamas war for the latest news.

In retaliation, the Israeli army vowed to annihilate Hamas, relentlessly bombing the narrow strip of land since then, subject to an Israeli blockade for more than fifteen years and a total siege since the October 9.

Middle East, the eternal conflict

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Israeli strikes have left more than 18,800 dead in the Gaza Strip, the majority of them women, children and adolescents, according to the latest report from the Hamas Health Ministry.

The army also launched a ground operation on October 27, first confined to the north of the small territory before expanding to the south, where troops massed hundreds of thousands of civilians displaced by the war.

The tunnel unearthed by the army is equipped with a system of pipes, electricity, ventilation, electricity, and electricity. sewers, communication networks and rails, noted an AFP journalist authorized to go there.

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An Israeli soldier emerges from a tunnel near the border with Israel, December 15, 2023, in the northern Gaza Strip. The Israeli army claims that this is the largest tunnel discovered in this region.

The Israeli army claims to have discovered a large number of weapons there ready to be used in the event of an attack by Hamas, classified as a terrorist organization by the United States, the European Union and by Israel.

The neutralization of the tunnels is one of the priorities of the Israeli operation since the Gaza Strip would be dug with 1,300 galleries over 500 kilometers, according to estimates from the Institute of Modern Warfare at the United States Military Academy at West Point.

Visiting Israel on Sunday, the head of French diplomacy, Catherine Colonna, expressed Paris' concerns over the scale of the number of civilian victims and called for an immediate and lasting truce.

Too many civilians are being killed, she declared after a meeting with his counterpart Eli Cohen, who said he believes that any call for a ceasefire is a gift for Hamas.

For their part, the head of British diplomacy David Cameron and his German counterpart Annalena Baerbock called for a lasting ceasefire as quickly as possible in a forum common published by the Sunday Times. However, they oppose a general and immediate ceasefire, believing that Hamas must lay down its arms.

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The strategic network of tunnels is four kilometers long and 50 meters deep.

Israel's main ally, the United States will be represented in the coming days by US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, who is scheduled to meet with leaders not only in Israel but also in Bahrain and Qatar.

He should in particular discuss the tensions caused by the attacks in the Red Sea by Yemen's Houthi rebels, presented as responses to the war between Israel and Hamas. Several global shipping giants have announced that they have stopped the passage of their ships through this strategic maritime route for international trade.

The Hamas Health Ministry deplored on Sunday the death of 24 Palestinians killed in the Jabaliya camp (north) during an Israeli bombardment.

Other strikes killed at least twelve people in the central town of Deir al-Balah on Sunday, according to the Hamas government.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the emergency department of Al-Shifa Hospital, the largest in Gaza City, has become a bloodbath with hundreds of injured patients arriving every minute.

The bombings left much of the territory in ruins and the UN estimates that 1.9 million of Gazans' 2.4 million people have been displaced by the war.

I wouldn't be surprised if people started dying from starvation or a combination of hunger, illness and low immunity .

A quote from Philippe Lazzarini, head of the UN agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA)

To ease shortages of food, water, medicine and fuel, Israel began letting in humanitarian aid from the Kerem Shalom crossing on the border with Egypt to following an agreement with the United States.

The objective: to relieve the Rafah terminal, the only one through which #x27;humanitarian aid was trickling in.

A source from the Egyptian Red Crescent, the equivalent of the Red Cross, told AFP that 79 trucks passed through this terminal on Sunday.

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Trucks carrying humanitarian aid wait at the Rafah border crossing with Egypt, in the southern Gaza Strip, on December 10, 2023.

In addition, telecommunications, which had been cut on Thursday, were being restored at the end of the day on Sunday.

Outside Gaza, the Palestinian Authority deplored the deaths on Sunday of five new Palestinians in the occupied West Bank, where violence has flared since the start of the war.

In addition, Israel regularly exchanges fire across its northern border with Lebanon, mainly with the powerful Lebanese movement Hezbollah, an ally of Hamas and supported by Iran.

Catherine Colonna is due to go to Lebanon on Monday to call on all parties to de-escalate on this front against the backdrop of the fear of a regional conflagration.

In Israel, pressure on the government has increased since Friday's announcement of the death of three hostages killed by soldiers who mistakenly took them for Palestinian fighters.

< p class="StyledBodyHtmlParagraph-sc-48221190-4 hnvfyV">Sunday, during the funeral of Alon Shamriz, one of the three Israeli hostages killed by mistake by the Israeli army, his relatives attacked the army, accusing it of #x27;having abandoned and murdered the 26-year-old young man.

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Pressure on the Prime Minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, has increased since the announcement on Friday of the death of three hostages killed by soldiers who mistook them for Palestinian fighters.

The Israeli army published photos on Sunday evening that it said it had taken at the scene of the tragedy. We see messages in Hebrew traced on pieces of white fabric where we can read: S.O.S., Help or 3 hostages.

All three were among around 250 people captured in the October 7 attack, 129 of whom remain in the hands of Hamas and other armed groups.

After a first one-week truce at the end of November, Mr. Netanyahu judged that military pressure remains necessary to bring back the hostages and to destroy Hamas.

Qatar, a key mediator who worked to free hostages in exchange for Palestinian prisoners in late November, confirmed ongoing diplomatic efforts on Saturday.

Hamas, however, declared itself against any negotiations on the exchange of prisoners until the aggression against our people ceases completely .

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