While the USA and the EU states are putting Israel under increased pressure and demanding an immediate ceasefire in the Gaza Strip, the leadership in Jerusalem is steadfastly sticking to its war goals. The UN Security Council is expected to vote today on a draft resolution introduced by the US calling for an immediate and lasting ceasefire, diplomats said.

EU heads of state and government also called for an immediate ceasefire at a summit meeting in view of the terrible plight of the civilian population in Gaza, as EU Council President Charles Michel announced. Nevertheless, Israel is sticking to its planned ground offensive in the city of Rafah, which is overcrowded with refugees. “Even if the whole world turns against Israel, including the United States, we will fight until the battle is won,” Israel’s Strategic Affairs Minister Ron Dermer said in a podcast.

Israel: Hamas must release the hostages

If the resolution is approved in the UN Security Council, it would be the first time since Israel’s military operation against the Islamist Hamas began in early October that the most powerful body in the United Nations has spoken out in favor of a continued ceasefire in the Gaza Strip.

In an apparent reaction to the US resolution, Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations, Gilad Erdan, wrote on the X platform (formerly Twitter): “There is only one formula for an immediate ceasefire – Hamas must release the hostages and turn themselves in . This is what the world should demand.” Although the resolution, according to US officials, is aimed at pressuring Hamas to accept a ceasefire, it sends at least an equally strong signal to Israel, the Wall Street Journal quoted Richard Gowan, director at the International Crisis Group, as saying.

Report: US calls on Qatar to put pressure on Hamas

Since the beginning of the war, the US government, as Israel’s closest ally, has opposed the word “ceasefire” and used three vetoes against corresponding resolutions in the UN Security Council. In view of the increasing number of civilian casualties and the threat of famine in parts of the coastal strip, the USA is now increasing pressure on Israel.

According to information from the US broadcaster CNN, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who is currently conducting talks in the Middle East again, called on Qatar to put pressure on Hamas at the beginning of the month. Qatar should threaten Hamas with expelling its senior representatives from the country if it does not give in to negotiations over a ceasefire and the associated release of hostages, CNN reported, citing two US officials. The information could not be independently verified.

Before his talks in Israel, Blinken again warned of an Israeli military offensive in Rafah in the far south of the Gaza Strip during a visit to Egypt. “We have made it very clear that a ground offensive in Rafah would be a mistake and we cannot support that,” Blinken said after meeting his Egyptian counterpart Samih Schukri.

Israeli Minister: We have no choice

In Rafah, it is estimated that 1.5 million of Gaza’s 2.2 million residents are currently seeking shelter from the fighting in other parts of the coastal area. The border crossing with Egypt is also located there, through which aid deliveries reach the Gaza Strip. However, Israel does not want to be dissuaded from the planned offensive.

“If you leave four battalions (of the Islamist Hamas) in Rafah, you have lost the war, and Israel will not lose the war,” Israeli Strategic Affairs Minister Ron Dermer said on the American-Israeli’s “Call Me Back” podcast. Canadian columnist and political consultant Dan Senor. “With or without the United States, we will not do it. We have no choice,” Dermer continued.

Air Force wants to continue relief flights for as long as necessary

The air force wants to continue its aid flights over Gaza for as long as necessary. A spokesman for the Ministry of Defense said in Berlin: “We are reacting flexibly to the needs. We are ready as long as we and our partners consider these relief flights to be necessary, (we) are able to persevere.”

The air force will stay as long as there are relief supplies to distribute. As of Friday morning, she had completed four flights with a total of 22 tons of relief supplies on board. Last Saturday, the air force began dropping mainly food items over Gaza.

Report: Israel wants faster arms deliveries

According to a media report, Israeli Defense Minister Joav Galant will come to Washington next week with a long wish list of US weapons. As the news portal Axios reported, citing two Israeli and US officials, Israel wants to quickly receive these weapons from its ally. This is not just supplies for the war in the Gaza Strip, which has been going on for more than five months, but also long-term needs, including the purchase of additional F-35 and F-15 fighter jets. Israel wants to speed up the supply of these aircraft and other weapons systems from the USA, it said.

Galant is expected in Washington next week and will meet, among others, his US counterpart Lloyd Austin. Both had spoken to each other on the phone on Wednesday.

Since the beginning of the Gaza war in response to the attack on Israel by terrorists from Hamas and other groups on October 7, the Israeli armed forces have become increasingly reliant on US weapons, Axios reported. This would be even more the case if the conflict with the Hezbollah militia in Lebanon were to escalate, it said.

Exchange of fire after a suspected attack in the West Bank

At least six Israelis were reportedly injured in a firefight lasting several hours following a suspected attack by a Palestinian in the West Bank. One person was in critical condition, several Israeli media reported, citing hospital information. According to reports, the suspected perpetrator was killed in an airstrike during the pursuit.

According to the Israeli army, a man opened fire on an Israeli vehicle early this morning near an Israeli settlement not far from the West Bank city of Ramallah. There was then an exchange of fire with the alleged perpetrator. The firefight reportedly lasted several hours.

EU states also against Rafah offensive

Separate from Galant’s visit, an Israeli delegation will also travel to Washington next week at the request of the US government. According to reports, Dermer will be there. According to reports, at the meeting the US government wants to show the Israeli side alternatives to a ground offensive in Rafah. The EU states also issued a statement at the summit in Brussels calling on Israel not to launch a ground offensive in Rafah, which would further worsen the already catastrophic humanitarian situation and prevent the urgently needed basic humanitarian aid.

Again protests in Israel against the government

Meanwhile, there were renewed protests against Prime Minister Netanyahu’s government in Israel. Around 2,000 people near his home in Caesarea demanded his resignation and the immediate return of the hostages, the Israeli news site “Ynet” reported. There were clashes with the police. The demonstrators therefore want to continue their protest actions until today.