Battles Rage Across Gaza as Israel faces international outrage after its military offensive, with diplomatic support and arms from close ally the United States, has killed thousands of Palestinian civilians
Battles Rage Across Gaza as Israel Indicates it’s Willing to Fight for Months
Palestinian captives sit in a truck as Israeli soldiers surround them in the Gaza Strip, where Israel is at odds with the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas.
On Sunday, battles raged across Gaza as Israel signalled its willingness to fight for months or longer to destroy the territory’s Hamas rulers, while a key mediator signalled willingness to talk a cease-fire was dwindling.
Israel is facing international condemnation for its military offensive, which has murdered thousands of Palestinian people while receiving diplomatic support and armaments from its close ally the United States. Approximately 90% of Gaza’s 2.3 million residents have been displaced within the besieged enclave, where UN agencies claim there is no haven.
In recent days, the United States has provided critical backing by vetoing a United Nations Security Council resolution to cease the conflict and forcing through an emergency sale of more than $100 million in tank ammunition to Israel.
Russia supported the resolution. According to an Israeli statement, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Sunday and voiced his displeasure with “anti-Israel positions” adopted by Moscow’s envoys at the United Nations and abroad.
Netanyahu informed Putin that any country attacked in the same manner as Israel “would have reacted with no less force than Israel is using,” according to the statement.
The United Nations General Assembly has called an extraordinary session for Tuesday to vote on a draft resolution calling for an immediate humanitarian truce in Gaza. The Palestinian ambassador to the United Nations, Riyad Mansour, told The Associated Press that it is similar to the Security Council resolution that the United States vetoed on Friday.
The General Assembly has no veto power, but unlike the Security Council, its resolutions are not legally binding. Nonetheless, they are significant as a barometer of global opinion.
Since the Oct. 7 onslaught by Hamas and other terrorists killed 1,200 people and abducted roughly 240, Israel’s air and ground war has killed thousands of Palestinians, largely civilians. During a week-long cease-fire last month, over 100 of them were released.
With virtually little aid let in, Palestinians face severe food, water, and other basic goods shortages. Some observers openly fear that Palestinians will be compelled to leave Gaza.
“Be prepared for public order to collapse quickly, and an even worse situation to emerge, including epidemic diseases and increased pressure for mass migration into Egypt,” UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told a gathering in Qatar, a crucial middleman.
An Israeli government spokeswoman, Eylon Levy, called the reports of mass displacement from Gaza “outrageous and false.”
Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, Qatar’s prime minister, told the event that mediation attempts to end the war and free all hostages will continue, but “unfortunately, we are not seeing the same willingness that we had seen in the weeks before.”
Tzachi Hanegbi, Israel’s national security adviser, told Israel’s Channel 12 TV that the US has set no timeline for Israel to meet its objectives. “The evaluation that this can’t be measured in weeks is correct, and I’m not sure it can be measured in months,” he was quoted as saying.
According to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, the duration and nature of the fighting are “decisions for Israel to make.”
Jordan’s foreign minister, Ayman Safadi, warned the Qatar summit that “Israel has created an amount of hatred that will haunt this region and define generations to come.”
ARRESTS AND FIGHTS IN THE NORTH
Israeli soldiers confront stiff opposition, particularly in northern Gaza, where air bombs have destroyed neighbourhoods and ground troops have been operating for more than six weeks.
Channel 13 in Israel aired a video of scores of captives in their pants, hands in the air. One man walked forward, holding an assault rifle above his head, and placed a gun on the ground.
Other recordings have revealed groups of unarmed individuals being kept in similar conditions, including being stripped naked, shackled, and blindfolded. The Associated Press was told by detainees from a group released on Saturday that they had been abused and refused food and drink.
According to Israeli military spokesperson Daniel Hagari, scores of arrests have taken place in two Hamas strongholds, and people are being stripped of their identities to make sure they are not harbouring explosives.
Residents reported severe fighting in Gaza City’s Shijaiyah neighbourhood and the Jabaliya refugee camp, a dense urban region housing Palestinian families who fled or were pushed out of what is now Israel during the 1948 conflict.
“They are attacking anything that moves,” said Shijaiyah resident Hamza Abu Fatouh. He claimed that the dead and injured were abandoned on the streets because ambulances were unable to access the area.
Early in the war, Israel ordered the evacuation of the northern third of the territory, including Gaza City, but tens of thousands of residents stayed.
Heavy fighting was also taking place in and around Khan Younis, a southern city.
FOOD WAITING DAYS
The price of scarce food in Gaza has risen. Abdulsalam al-Majdalawi said he had been coming to a United Nations distribution centre every day for about two weeks, trying to collect food for his family of seven.
“Thank God, today they drew our name,” that’s what he said.
According to Wael Abu Omar, a spokesman for the Palestinian Crossings Authority, one hundred trucks carrying humanitarian aid entered on Sunday. That falls well short of what is required.
According to the Health Ministry in the Hamas-controlled area, the Palestinian death toll in Gaza has topped 17,900, with the bulk of victims being women and children. The Ministry of Defence makes no distinction between civilian and combatant deaths.
Israel blames Hamas for civilian losses, claiming that the militants put civilians in peril by fighting in residential areas. According to the military, 97 Israeli troops were killed in the offensive. Palestinian insurgents have continued to launch rockets into Israel.
According to Netanyahu’s administration, Hamas still has 117 captives and the bodies of 20 persons who died in captivity or during the Oct. 7 attack. The militants intend to trade them for Palestinians detained by Israel.
Even as it strikes what it claims are militant targets, Israel claims to have provided specific instructions for civilians to escape to safer regions. Thousands of people have fled to districts near the Egyptian border, which are among the final sites where humanitarian agencies can supply food and water.
Demonstrations in favour of the Palestinians and asking for an end to the conflict were staged in various locations, while thousands marched in Europe against antisemitism.
The conflict has heightened tensions throughout the Middle East, with Lebanon’s Hezbollah exchanging fire with Israel along the border and other Iran-backed militant organisations targeting the US in Syria and Iraq. Israeli artillery, drones, and airstrikes on border communities in Lebanon have increased.