Israel Prepares To Demolish Hamas In Devastated Gaza
Israel prepares to demolish Hamas in devastated Gaza, as Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu prepares Israeli forces for an incursion into the Gaza Strip to pursue Hamas militants. Their recent deadly attacks on Israeli border towns had drawn global attention.
Israel has called on Gaza residents to move south for their safety, and a significant number of people, among the over 2 million inhabitants in the besieged region, have already heeded this call. However, Hamas, the governing authority in Gaza, has instructed its people to disregard Israel's warnings.
Within the densely packed streets of Gaza, the situation worsened as the number of casualties from Israeli airstrikes increased. To address the logistical challenges and overwhelmed hospitals, bodies were temporarily stored in ice cream freezer trucks, while cemeteries were at full capacity.
Amid growing concerns about the conflict's potential to escalate, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken continued his diplomatic mission across Middle Eastern nations. His primary objectives included preventing further escalation and negotiating the return of 155 hostages, as claimed by Israel, who were allegedly taken by Hamas and returned to Gaza.
Arab leaders emphasized the importance of safeguarding the well-being of civilians in Gaza.
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Egypt's President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi criticized Israel's retaliatory strikes, stating that their response had escalated beyond the realm of self-defense, resulting in what he described as collective punishment.
Recent clashes along Israel's border with Lebanon, the deadliest since 2006, have highlighted the risks of a regional spillover.
On a recent Sunday, Hamas' armed wing, Al Qassam Brigades, claimed to have launched 20 rockets from Lebanon at two Israeli settlements. Simultaneously, Lebanon's Hezbollah militia announced that it had fired missiles at Israeli barracks in Hanita and caused casualties.
Israel claimed to be conducting strikes in Lebanon as a response, and the United Nations peacekeeping force confirmed that its southern Lebanon headquarters had been targeted by a rocket.
Iran, a supporter of both Hamas and Hezbollah, issued a warning to Israel regarding potential escalation if its attacks on Palestinians continued. Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian stated, "If the Zionist aggressions do not stop, the hands of all parties in the region are on the trigger," emphasizing that Tehran could not remain a passive observer in the situation.
During his diplomatic tour, Blinken held meetings with Saudi Arabia's Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Riyadh and Egypt's President Sisi in Cairo. As part of the global initiatives to alleviate the humanitarian situation in Gaza, Blinken announced the reopening of the Rafah crossing between Gaza and Egypt.
Blinken stated, "There's a determination in every country I went to, to make sure that this conflict doesn't spread. They are using their own influence, their own relationships, to try to make sure that this doesn't happen" He was scheduled to return to Israel on Monday.
In a display of solidarity, Prime Minister Netanyahu gathered an extended emergency cabinet in Israel, which included former opposition members. He emphasized their determination, saying, "Hamas thought we would be demolished. It is we who will demolish Hamas."
Israel has launched its most extensive bombing campaign in response to the events of October 7, during which Hamas fighters caused significant casualties, resulting in the deaths of 1,300 individuals in Israeli towns.
In the most brutal assault on civilians in Israel's history, they targeted and shot men, women, children, and soldiers, even taking hostages.
The shocking reality of these attacks was further underscored by graphic videos of the incidents and reports from overwhelmed medical and emergency services in the affected towns and kibbutzes.
France reported that 19 of its citizens lost their lives in the Hamas attacks, while 13 others remained unaccounted for and possibly held hostage. Canada revised its casualty count to five.
Authorities in Gaza have reported that Israel's retaliatory strikes have resulted in the deaths of at least 2,670 people, with a quarter of them being children, and nearly 10,000 individuals have been wounded. Approximately 1,000 people are still missing and believed to be trapped under the rubble.
Gaza's hospitals are facing severe shortages of medical supplies and are struggling to manage the high number of casualties.
In one heartbreaking case, 4-year-old Fulla Al-Laham survived an Israeli air strike that claimed the lives of 14 family members, including her parents and siblings. Her grandmother, Um Muhammed Al-Laham, who held her hand as she received treatment in a hospital, expressed her hope to care for the young girl, saying, "May God keep me alive to take care of her."
Israel's military, with tanks positioned at Gaza's border in readiness for a ground operation, has stated that its focus is on targeting Hamas and its infrastructure. On Sunday, Israeli aircraft carried out strikes on approximately 250 military targets, resulting in the death of the Hamas southern district commander, as confirmed by the military.
Israeli military chief Lieutenant General Herzi Halevi addressed soldiers near the Gaza border, emphasizing their mission to root out Hamas, with a commitment to target "every place, every commander, every operator."
You are about to do something big and important, that needs to change the situation for a long time in a clear way.- Lieutenant General Herzi Halevi
A blockade imposed by Israel has restricted the flow of fuel, food, and water into Gaza. However, it was disclosed on Sunday that Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu had reached an agreement with U.S. President Joe Biden to restore the water supply to certain areas in southern Gaza, according to a minister's statement.
The Israeli military reported that approximately 600,000 Gazans had fled the northern part of the territory, encompassing more than 1 million residents in Gaza City. Some Palestinians who had moved south revealed that they were returning north due to encountering hostilities wherever they went.
For some, like Hussam Abu Safiya, an intensive care doctor at the Kamal Edwan hospital in northern Gaza, the evacuation order posed an impossible challenge.
The dire situation was vividly expressed by Dr. Hussam Abu Safiya, who asked, "In this ward as you can see, there are children who are attached to ventilators, and now we have been asked to evacuate the hospital, where should we evacuate these children?"
The World Health Organization strongly condemned Israel's orders to evacuate 22 Gaza hospitals, describing it as a "death sentence for the sick and injured."
Philippe Lazzarini, the commissioner general of the UN agency for the Palestinians, UNRWA, warned that UN relief operations in Gaza were on the brink of collapse.
The number of people seeking shelter in our schools and other UNRWA facilities in the south is absolutely overwhelming, and we do not have the capacity to accommodate them.- Philippe Lazzarini