In a deeply concerning development, the conflict in Gaza has escalated, resulting in a devastating toll of 1,500 lives lost. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres expressed profound distress over Israel’s imposition of a siege on Gaza, raising significant humanitarian concerns. Here are the key points in this critical situation:
1. Israeli Defence Minister’s Announcement: Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant declared a “complete siege” on Gaza, indicating a severe restriction on the enclave’s 2.3 million inhabitants. The consequences outlined include a lack of electricity, food, water, and gas.
2. Concerns Raised by UN Secretary-General: UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres acknowledged Israel’s security concerns but emphasized that military operations must adhere strictly to international humanitarian law. The UN chief expressed distress over the unfolding situation.
3. Hamas’ Warning of Retaliation: Hamas issued a warning of retaliation, threatening to kill civilian hostages if Israeli airstrikes continued without prior warning targeting residents of Gaza. This declaration was made by the armed wing of Hamas, the Ezzedine al-Qassem Brigades.
4. Escalation in Death Toll: The conflict has seen a significant rise in casualties, with over 800 reported dead in the last three days. Palestinian officials stated that Israel’s air strikes have pushed the death count to 687, including nine U.S. citizens. Israel claimed to have regained control of areas near the Gaza Strip taken over by Hamas.
5. Israeli Defense Forces’ Operations: The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) conducted extensive operations, striking over 500 targets belonging to Hamas and Islamic Jihad in the Gaza Strip. The attacks involved fighter jets, helicopters, aircraft, and artillery.
6. Gaza Prepares for Ground Attack: In anticipation of an Israeli ground attack, Palestinians in Gaza are bracing themselves for further conflict. The objective is reportedly to defeat Hamas and liberate hostages, with an estimated 100 individuals at risk.
7. Continuous Rocket Attacks: Despite the ongoing conflict, Hamas continued firing rockets, reaching as far as Jerusalem. Air raid sirens sounded, and explosions were heard in the capital.
8. Netanyahu’s Warning to Gaza Civilians: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued a warning to Gaza civilians, urging them to evacuate areas near Hamas sites that he pledged to turn “to rubble.”
9. Border Breach and Incidents in Gaza: On a troubling note, over 1,000 Hamas troops breached the border fence in Gaza and infiltrated nearby Jewish communities. Incidents involving gunmen going house to house, either killing or abducting residents back into Gaza, have been reported.
10. International Concerns and Calls for Restraint: The international community has expressed deep concern over the deteriorating situation. Calls for restraint and a return to peaceful dialogue have emerged from various quarters, emphasizing the urgency of de-escalation and a focus on diplomatic resolutions.
The conflict in Gaza continues to unfold, raising fears of further loss of life and humanitarian crises. The international community is closely monitoring developments, urging all parties to prioritize dialogue and peaceful resolutions to prevent further escalation.