update deskIsrael at War

Under US pressure, Israel to allow UN delegation to visit north Gaza

The visit, aimed at preparing for the return home of north Gaza residents, comes amid reports that Hamas is attempting to reestablish a foothold there.

Israeli soldiers operating in Beit Lahia, in the northern Gaza Strip, during an Israeli military operation in the Gaza Strip in Dec. 28, 2023. Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90.
Israeli soldiers operating in Beit Lahia, in the northern Gaza Strip, during an Israeli military operation in the Gaza Strip in Dec. 28, 2023. Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90.

A United Nations delegation is set to visit the northern Gaza Strip, after Israel’s War Cabinet on Thursday approved a U.S. demand to survey the situation there in preparation for the return of residents displaced by the war, Ynet reported on Monday.

Three conditions were set for the visit, however: that the U.N. delegation be accompanied by an American official, that the approval of the tour does not indicate Israel will allow residents to return to the north and that the delegation will visit Israeli communities close to the Gaza border before entering the coastal enclave.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reportedly conveyed Israel’s approval of the tour to U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken during their meeting in Israel on Jan. 9. However, Netanyahu clarified that at this stage it was not possible for residents to return to northern Gaza.

The top U.S. diplomat then announced this at a press conference concluding his visit.

“We agreed that a U.N. delegation will come to the north of the Gaza Strip to examine the situation there in terms of the ability to return to residence. All these things will be examined by the U.N., and after there are conclusions, we want to see the Palestinian residents return to their homes,” Blinken said at the time.

Hamas attempting to reestablish itself in northern Gaza

The Israel Defense Forces is expected to increase troop activity in northern Gaza in the coming weeks following attempts by Hamas to reestablish a foothold there.

Israel’s Army Radio reported that the military is planning to carry out extensive raids due to increased activity by the terror group in northern Gaza, which included a rocket barrage that set off sirens in Ashkelon on Sunday night for the first time in nearly a month.

The report also pointed out a recent gun battle near the coastline in northern Gaza in which five Hamas operatives were killed by IDF soldiers.

According to Israeli military estimates, there are about 2,000 Hamas terrorists in the north (the rest were eliminated or escaped), who are completely disconnected from the leadership in the south.

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