While the accidental killing of three Israeli hostages in the Gaza Strip by its own soldiers continues to stir people, the government is undeterred in continuing its war against the Islamist Hamas. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu emphasized that military pressure on Hamas must be maintained. This is the only way to defeat them and ensure the return of all those abducted. “We are more determined than ever to continue to the end, until we destroy Hamas and bring back all of our abductees,” Netanyahu said.

Protesters are putting pressure on Israel’s government

Meanwhile, released hostages, relatives of hostages and hundreds of supporters demonstrated again in Tel Aviv on Saturday evening for the release of those still in the Gaza Strip. Noam Perry, a relative of one of the hostages, accused Netanyahu’s war cabinet of saying military pressure was necessary to get the hostages released. “Now more and more hostages are coming back as corpses,” said Perry. According to Israeli estimates, 112 hostages are still being held.

Meanwhile, Israel’s Chief of General Staff Herzi Halevi took responsibility for the accidental killing of the three Israeli hostages. “The army and I as its commander are responsible for what happened and we will do everything to prevent such cases from repeating in the future of the fighting,” he said in a video published on X.

Military chief: Shooting is not allowed when the flag is white

At the same time, he made it clear that people with a white flag who wanted to surrender should not be shot at. Rules of engagement were violated when the hostages were killed on Friday. “The three hostages did everything to make us recognize them as such – they had their shirts off so we could see they weren’t wearing explosive belts, and they were holding a white flag,” Halevi said.

At the same time, he pointed out that the soldiers were in an active combat zone. Terrorists are active there in civilian clothing and every decision in a split second can mean the difference between life and death. The only consolation for the families of the fallen soldiers is that their deaths were not in vain, said Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, according to the newspaper “The Times of Israel”. Therefore, they will “ensure that we continue to fight until we achieve total victory,” said Netanyahu.

The situation for civilians in Gaza remains unbearable

Meanwhile, the situation of the Palestinian civilian population remains unbearable. Gaza’s heavily damaged main hospital, Shifa, is only “minimally functional” and urgently needs to be able to resume at least the most basic functions “to continue to serve the thousands of people in need of life-saving medical care,” the WHO said on Sunday .

A team described the emergency room as a “bloodbath” with new patients arriving every minute. In the largest hospital in the Gaza Strip, only a handful of doctors, a few nurses and 70 volunteers are working under “incredibly difficult” conditions. The operating theaters are not functioning because there is a lack of fuel, oxygen, specialist staff and supplies. There was also no blood for transfusions, it was said.

US President Joe Biden had called on Israel to show more consideration for the civilian population in the war that has been going on for more than two months. After talks with the Israeli leadership, the US government recently expressed the expectation that Israel would move from “high-intensity” military action to “more targeted” operations. A time period for this was not mentioned.

Al-Jazeera brings cameraman’s death to criminal court

After the death of a cameraman from the Arabic television station Al-Jazeera in the Gaza Strip, the company wants to take the case to the International Criminal Court. The Qatar-based broadcaster announced this on Saturday. The station speaks of murder. The cameraman was killed in an Israeli drone attack in southern Gaza. Because of the fighting, rescue workers were initially unable to reach him – ultimately, according to the broadcaster, they were only able to recover his body. Israel’s military has rejected allegations of targeting journalists.

Baerbock and Cameron are calling for a permanent ceasefire

Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock (Greens) and her British colleague David Cameron called for a permanent ceasefire in a joint article for the British “Sunday Times”: “Our goal cannot simply be an end to the fighting today. It must be a peace that lasts for days , years, generations. We therefore support a ceasefire, but only if it is permanent.” However, there is currently no end to the fighting in sight.

Israeli soldier killed on border with Lebanon

Meanwhile, an Israeli soldier was also killed in a drone strike from Lebanon in the Israeli-annexed Golan Heights. The Israeli army confirmed on Saturday evening that the drone loaded with explosives hit the town of Margaliot. The air defense was able to intercept a second enemy aircraft from Lebanon in the morning. In response, targets in Lebanon were attacked. Since the beginning of the Gaza war after the Hamas massacre in Israel on October 7, there have been repeated confrontations between Israel’s army and militant groups such as Hezbollah in the Israeli-Lebanese border region.

Hamas’ million-dollar business remained untouched for years

According to a newspaper report, Israel’s security authorities had discovered million-dollar transactions by the Islamist Hamas years ago, without the Israeli or US governments taking immediate action. As the New York Times reported, in 2018 security authorities were able to obtain detailed lists of assets worth hundreds of millions of dollars from a computer belonging to a senior Hamas official.

Nevertheless, for years none of the Hamas companies listed there had been sanctioned, neither by the Israeli government nor by the USA. At that time, no pressure was exerted on Turkey, the hub of the Hamas financing network, to close it down.

Hamas controlled mining, chicken breeding and road construction companies in Sudan, two skyscrapers in the United Arab Emirates, a real estate developer in Algeria and a real estate company listed on the Turkish stock exchange. The newspaper wrote that the relevant documents had been viewed.

The authorities involved passed it on within their own government and in Washington, but nothing happened. It is now known in both countries that Hamas’s financial flows helped it build its military infrastructure and thus laid the foundations for the attacks on October 7th.

Even after sanctions were finally imposed on the financing network in 2022, people linked to Hamas could have made millions by selling shares in a company that was on the sanctions list, it said. There are fears that such flows of money will enable Hamas to rebuild its structures after the end of the Gaza war.

What will be important on Sunday

US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin visits the Middle East. The stations are Israel, Qatar and Bahrain. In Israel he also wants to talk to the military leadership about a possible end to intensive ground operations and air strikes. In Qatar, Austin wants to meet, among other things, US forces stationed there. In Bahrain, the minister wants to visit the Central Command of the US Naval Forces.