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Benjamin Netanyahu said Saturday he opposes the return of the Palestinian Authority to Gaza, highlighting the growing divergence between his government and the United States over what the enclave’s post-war governance should be.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said this week that once fighting between Israel and Hamas ends, Gaza should be unified with the occupied West Bank under the administration of the Palestinian Authority. He insisted that Israel should not reoccupy Gaza, home to 2.3 million Palestinians.
But at a news conference Saturday, Israel’s prime minister took a different stance from his country’s closest ally, saying Israel would maintain “security control” in Gaza “as long as necessary.” ” and that “there must be something else there.” “, rather than the Palestinian Authority.
“I insist on that,” he said. “There may be pressure on this issue. I have no intention of giving in.
Netanyahu also rejected calls for a ceasefire, despite growing international pressure to end the fighting that has fueled a humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza and pushed its health system to the breaking point.
French President Emmanuel Macron on Friday became the first leader of a major Western country to call for a ceasefire and urged Israel to stop killing babies and women in Gaza.
“De facto – today civilians are being bombed – de facto,” he said in a BBC interview. “These babies, these ladies, these elderly people are being bombed and killed. There is therefore no reason and no legitimacy for this. We therefore urge Israel to stop. »
Macron’s comments followed a warning from Blinken that “far too many Palestinians” had been killed in the fighting.
Israel bombed and then sent ground troops into Gaza last month after Hamas militants carried out the deadliest attack ever on Israel, killing more than 1,200 people, according to Israeli officials.
The Israeli assault has so far killed more than 11,000 people, including more than 4,500 children and more than 3,000 women, according to Palestinian officials.
Israel has also severely restricted the supply of electricity, fuel, water and food to Gaza, fueling what aid groups have described as a humanitarian catastrophe in the impoverished enclave.
OCHA, the UN’s humanitarian arm, said 20 of Gaza’s 36 hospitals had stopped functioning because of the conflict. On Saturday, the enclave’s largest medical facility, al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City, suspended operations because it had run out of fuel for its generators.
Doctors Without Borders said hospitals in Gaza had been “subjected to incessant bombardment” over the past 24 hours and that Shifa had been hit “several times.”
Israel denied besieging Shifa and said Saturday it would “coordinate with anyone who wants to leave the hospital safely.” Israel said it was operating near the hospitals because Hamas was using them as bases. Hamas, which has controlled Gaza since 2007, denied this information.
Mai al-Kaila, the Palestinian Authority’s health minister in Gaza, warned on Saturday that 39 babies in Shifa were at risk of death due to lack of electricity, oxygen and medicine.
Mohamed Abu Silmeyeh, director of the hospital, told Al Jazeera television that the injured were still being brought in “but we cannot operate on them because all the operating theaters are completely closed and without electricity.”
He said between 500 and 600 patients were stuck in the hospital, along with 800 staff members and around 15,000 displaced people. Health officials said two infants died due to a lack of electricity at the hospital.
“Medical teams are using primitive methods to keep (infants) warm, like wrapping them in cellophane and giving them artificial respiration, but this won’t last long and I expect more people to die in the incubators and intensive care units,” Abou Silmeyeh said.
Netanyahu said world leaders should condemn Hamas, not Israel, for harm caused to civilians. “Israel entered the war because of the brutal murder of hundreds of Israelis by this terrorist organization and the holding of more than 200 Israelis hostage,” he said.