GAZA CITY: Palestinians pray over the body of 23-year-old Palestinian Muntaser Jawabreh, who succumbed to his injuries after being wounded two days ago in clashes with Zionist troops during protests against the ongoing airstrikes on Gaza, at his funeral in the village of Oum Dar east of Jenin in the occupied West Bank yesterday. — AFP

PARIS/GAZA CITY: With Europe divided and the United States wary of antagonizing Zionist forces, world powers have failed to rein in the Gaza conflict, in a new sign of the international community’s inability to put any Middle East peace process on track, analysts say.

World powers are walking a diplomatic tightrope, trying to strike a sometimes excruciating balance between Zionist entity and Palestinian militant group Hamas in the conflict that has raged for 10 days. Condemnation of the stream of Hamas rockets Zionist cities has only in the last few days been balanced by ceasefire calls directed at the Zionist entity, with Washington now urging de-escalation.

Meanwhile, a column of grey smoke billowed above Gaza after a night in which families cowered in fear from the bombing while, the Zionist army said, some 70 rockets were fired from Gaza toward the Jewish state, sending residents fleeing into bomb shelters. Talks continued to end the bloodshed after US President Joe Biden urged a “significant de-escalation” while Zionist Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to push on until the military campaign reaches its objective, “to restore quiet and security.”

UN Middle East peace envoy Tor Wennesland was visiting Qatar for talks with Ismail Haniyeh, the political leader of the Islamist group Hamas which rules the enclave, as part of an effort to “restore calm,” according to a diplomatic source. German Chancellor Angela Merkel said “indirect talks” with Hamas were essential to advancing efforts toward an end of hostilities. “Of course Hamas has to be included because without Hamas there will be no ceasefire,” she said.

‘Path to a ceasefire’
A senior Hamas official told AFP: “We expect a return to calm in the coming hours, or tomorrow (Friday), but it depends on the cessation of the aggression of the occupation forces in Gaza and Jerusalem. “But there is nothing definitive for the moment,” added the source, indicating that Qatar, an emirate financing aid to Gaza and where Haniyeh lives, was at the heart of “intense” negotiations.

The occupation army said Hamas and other Islamist armed groups in Gaza have fired 4,070 rockets towards the Jewish state, with the overwhelming majority of those that were bound for populated areas intercepted by its Iron Dome air defenses. The rockets have claimed 12 lives in the Jewish state, including one child, with one Indian and two Thai nationals among those killed, the police say.

Zionist strikes on Gaza have killed 230 Palestinians, including 65 children, according to the Gaza health ministry, leaving vast areas in rubble and displacing some 120,000 people, according to the Hamas government. Overnight, the Zionist entity continued to pound Gaza with air strikes and artillery fire aimed at destroying Hamas tunnels and other infrastructure, the military said. One Zionist strike on Gaza on Wednesday killed a disabled man, his pregnant wife and their three-year-old child, the enclave’s health ministry said. “What did my brother do?” the man’s bereaved brother Omar Saleha, 31, told AFP. “He was just sitting in his wheelchair.”

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken however again stressed on Twitter that Washington “expects to see de-escalation on the path to a ceasefire”. The Zionist state’s bombing campaign has left the two million people of Gaza, which has been under its blockade for 14 years, desperate for relief. The International Committee of the Red Cross warned that people in both Gaza and Zionist state “urgently need respite from non-stop hostilities”. The World Health Organization yesterday issued an urgent appeal for $7 million it said are needed to “enable a comprehensive emergency response in the next six months” following the escalation of violence. – AFP