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ConflictsMiddle East

Israel-Hamas war: Gantz urges Gaza day-after plan

Published May 18, 2024last updated May 18, 2024

Israeli war Cabinet minister Benny Gantz said there should be a six-point plan for Gaza by June 8 or he would resign. Meanwhile, the UNRWA said 800,000 people had left Rafah amid the Israeli operation. DW has more.

Benny Gantz attends a press conference in October 2023.
Benny Gantz put his political differences with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu aside to serve in the Israeli war Cabinet following the October 7 Hamas terror attacks Image: Abir Sultan/Pool/AP/picture alliance
Skip next section What you need to know

What you need to know

  • Israeli minister Gantz calls for "American, European, Arab and Palestinian administration" to manage post-Hamas Gaza
  • UNWRA says half of Rafah's population fled since Israeli operation on May 6
  • Thousands in Berlin march in protest marking "Nakba Day" 
  • Israel recovers body of hostage from Gaza

Here are the developments from the Israel-Hamas war and the wider Middle East region on Saturday, May 18: 

Skip next section Israel war Cabinet minister threatens to quit unless Gaza day-after plan approved
May 18, 2024

Israel war Cabinet minister threatens to quit unless Gaza day-after plan approved

Israeli war Cabinet Minister Benny Gantz said he would resign from the unity government set up after October 7 unless Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu approves a postwar plan for the Gaza Strip that includes determining who would govern the territory after the war with Hamas.

Gantz said he wanted the war Cabinet to formulate a six-point plan by June 8. He said the six goals included toppling Hamas, ensuring Israeli security control over the Palestinian territory and returning Israeli hostages.

"Along with maintaining Israeli security control, establish an American, European, Arab and Palestinian administration that will manage civilian affairs in the Gaza Strip and lay the foundation for a future alternative that is not Hamas or [Mahmoud] Abbas," he told reporters, referring to the president of the Palestinian Authority, which governs the occupied West Bank.

He also urged the normalization of relations with Saudi Arabia "as part of an overall move that will create an alliance with the free world and the Arab world against Iran and its affiliates."

If his expectations are not met, Gantz said he would withdraw his centrist party from the conservative prime minister's expanded emergency coalition.

Gantz, a retired top Israeli general who opinion polls show is Netanyahu's most viable political rival, gave no date for the prospective walkout, but his challenge could increase strains on the uneasy alliances in the unity government.

Skip next section Thousands march in Berlin marking 'Nakba Day'
May 18, 2024

Thousands march in Berlin marking 'Nakba Day'

Pro-Palestinian demonstration "Palestine will be free" in Berlin, Germany
Demonstrators wave Palestinian flags during demonstration in BerlinImage: Fabian Sommer/dpa/picture alliance

About 6,200 people gathered in Berlin on Saturday to show support for Palestinians and mark Nakba Day, German police said, though the number rose and fell throughout the day as people joined the demonstration and others left.

Officials had initially expected about 2,000 people to commemorate the Nakbameaning "catastrophe" in Arabic, which refers to the displacement of the majority of Palestinians amid the emergence of the State of Israel in 1948.

About 500 officers were deployed, and the police called on the demonstrators to remain calm. But they stopped the rally several times after some participants threw firecrackers at officers and set off fireworks, a police spokeswoman said.

Police block the road during a pro-Palestinian demonstration in Berlin
Approximately 500 police officers were deployed at the demonstrationImage: RALF HIRSCHBERGER / AFP

Many demonstrators carried Palestinian flags, while others held up umbrellas in the shape of a watermelon, a symbol of support for Palestinians, whose flag shares the same red, green, white and black colors.

Some people carried signs that read "Stop the genocide in Gaza" and "Stop the terror of the occupation! Others shouted "Free Palestine, Free Gaza."

The authorities had imposed a number of conditions before allowing the demonstration to take place, including a ban on calls for violence or what German authorities deemed defamatory slogans.

Skip next section UNRWA says 800,000 'forced to flee' Rafah since start of Israeli operation
May 18, 2024

UNRWA says 800,000 'forced to flee' Rafah since start of Israeli operation

The head of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine refugees (UNRWA) said 800,000 people had been "forced to flee" Gaza's southern city of Rafah since Israel began military operations there this month.

"Nearly half of the population of Rafah or 800,000 people are on the road having been forced to flee since the Israeli forces started the military operation in the area on 6 May," UNRWA chief Philippe Lazzarini said in a post on social media site X.

Following the evacuation orders, Gazans have fled to "the middle areas and Khan Younis including to destroyed buildings," he said

Israel has said the ground assault on Rafah was crucial to its fight against militants, insisting that it was the last Hamas stronghold in Gaza.

Before the operation began, Israel told Gazans sheltering in some eastern parts of the city to leave, describing its operation there as "limited."

Israel says it will send more troops to Rafah

Skip next section Israeli army says it recovered another hostage body from Gaza
May 18, 2024

Israeli army says it recovered another hostage body from Gaza

The Israeli army said that its forces operating in the Gaza Strip recovered the body of Ron Binyamin, who was among 252 people seized by Hamas-led gunmen in the cross-border October 7 rampage that preceded the ongoing war.

Military spokesman Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari said Binyamin's body was recovered in the same operation in which troops recovered the remains of three other hostages, which was announced on Friday.

Citing intelligence information, the military said all four had been killed on October 7. 

Skip next section Austria to release frozen UNRWA funds
May 18, 2024

Austria to release frozen UNRWA funds

Austria on Saturday said it would resume funding for the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA).

Vienna and several other governments had blocked funds earmarked for UNRWA over allegations that agency employees were involved in the Hamas militant group's attacks on Israel on October 7.

Austria's decision to release funds comes after UNRWA made an action plan to ensure the agency's impartiality and strengthen internal reviews and monitoring of staff.

"After a thorough analysis of the action plan, we will release funds to UNRWA again," the Austrian Foreign Ministry said.

Austria had pledged €3.4 million ($3.7) million to UNRWA for 2024.

Last month, Germany said it would also resume cooperation with UNRWA.

UNRWA is a major supplier of aid in Gaza and employs some 32,000 people in the Palestinian territories and Palestinian refugee camps in neighboring countries. Roughly 13,000 of those employees are active in Gaza.

Skip next section 83 killed in last 24 hours — Health Ministry in Hamas-run Gaza
May 18, 2024

83 killed in last 24 hours — Health Ministry in Hamas-run Gaza

The Health Ministry in the Hamas-run Gaza Strip reported that at least 35,386 people have been killed in the territory since Israel began its retaliation campaign following the October 7 terror attacks by Hamas-led militants.

Eighty-three people had been killed over the past 24 hours, the ministry reported.

According to the ministry, 79,366 people have been wounded in Gaza.

Skip next section Aid arrives in Gaza over US-built pier
May 18, 2024

Aid arrives in Gaza over US-built pier

Some humanitarian supplies have entered Gaza via a temporary floating pier constructed by the US, the Israeli army said in a statement.

So far, 310 pallets began moving ashore in "the first entry of humanitarian aid through the floating pier," the statement said. 

The pier, over which some 500 tons of aid are expected to be transported in the coming days, was built to deliver supplies to the Palestinian enclave despite key land crossings being closed or operating at limited capacity.

However, aid agencies have warned that truck convoys would be by far the most efficient was to transport aid to the Gaza Strip to curb the threat of famine.

Gaza aid deliveries begin at floating pier


Skip next section IDF says Islamic Jihad commander killed
May 18, 2024

IDF says Islamic Jihad commander killed

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said on Saturday that it killed a commander of the Islamic Jihad organization, an Iran-backed militia allied with the Palestinian militant Islamist Hamas.

The man was said to have been the head of logistics for the group in the southern Gaza city of Rafah. 

The commander was killed in an airstrike east of Rafah, the army said.

It said militants' weapons depots and rocket positions were also destroyed in airstrikes.

Skip next section US security adviser to visit Saudi Arabia and Israel
May 18, 2024

US security adviser to visit Saudi Arabia and Israel

Jake Sullivan, the security adviser to US President Joe Biden, is to travel to Saudi Arabia and Israel this weekend for talks with both countries' leaders focused on tensions in the region, US officials say.

Sullivan is to meet Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince and de facto ruler, Mohammed bin Salman, on Saturday, then to travel on to Israel for talks with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

National Security Council Communications Director John Kirby said talks with Netanyahu would center on the war and humanitarian situation in Gaza and negotiations on an agreement to release the remaining hostages.

According to Israel, the militant Palestinian Islamist group Hamas took 252 Israelis and foreigners hostage on October 7 last year in deadly raids in southern Israel in which some 1,200 Israelis, mostly civilians, were killed.

Altogether 125 hostages remain unaccounted for.

Skip next section Oil tanker attacked off Yemen
May 18, 2024

Oil tanker attacked off Yemen

British security firm Ambrey says it has received information about an attack on a Panama-flagged crude oil tanker some 10 nautical miles (18.5 kilometers) southwest of the Red Sea port city of Mokha in Yemen

Ambrey said the first indications were that the ship had been hit by a missile that caused a fire.

The British navy's maritime security agency had received a report of a vessel "sustaining slight damage after being struck by an unknown object."

"The vessel and crew are safe and continuing to its next port of call," United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO) added.

Although the cause of the incident has yet to be confirmed, Yemen's Iran-backed Houthi militia have been carrying out attacks on vessels in waters near the country for several months, saying they are doing it to show solidarity with Palestinians fighting Israeli forces in Gaza.

The string of attacks in the Red Sea has disrupted global shipping and stoked fears that the Israel-Hamas war could destabilize the wider Middle East.

The United States and Britain have targeted Houthi forces in response to the attacks on shipping.