Efforts to deliver aid to the besieged Gaza Strip faced setbacks on Monday, and Israel initiated evacuations of its villages near the Lebanon border, sparking concerns of potential widening conflict.
Israel is determined to eliminate Hamas, the governing body in Gaza, following a breach by Hamas fighters into Israel on October 7, resulting in a tragic day where 1,300 Israelis, mostly civilians, lost their lives.
Gaza, home to 2.3 million Palestinians, remains under a complete blockade, enduring intense airstrikes with a looming possibility of a ground assault. The situation is dire, with over 2,800 reported casualties, a significant portion being children, and more than 10,000 injured individuals in hospitals grappling with severe shortages.
The United Nations reports that a million Gazans have been displaced from their homes. Essential resources such as power, clean water, and medical supplies are in critically short supply, and hospital emergency generators may run out of fuel within a day.
Residents reported that the air strikes overnight and during the day were the most intense they had experienced.
One resident, Abed Rabayaa, described a horrifying scene where bodies, including those of innocent children, were sent flying due to a nearby strike on a neighbor’s house in Khan Younis, a major city in the southern part of the area.
There’s a growing concern that the conflict might escalate to a new area, as Israel ordered the evacuation of 28 villages within a two-kilometer (1.2-mile) zone near the Lebanese border.
Lebanon’s Hezbollah movement claimed to have targeted five Israeli positions. Recent clashes in the border region mark the deadliest since the 2006 war between Israel and Hezbollah.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu emphasized that Israel is preparing for an extended battle, focusing on uniting forces and striving for victory. He issued a stern warning to Iran and Hezbollah, urging them not to provoke conflict in the north, cautioning that the consequences would be severe.
The ongoing conflict in the Gaza Strip has seen continuous airstrikes over the span of 10 days, yet these strikes have not succeeded in disabling Hamas’ ability to launch rockets into Israel. Hamas, in response, launched a barrage of rockets at Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, prompting residents to seek shelter during these alerts.
Efforts to address the humanitarian crisis in Gaza have focused on facilitating aid through the Rafah crossing with Egypt, the only exit point not controlled by Israel.
However, the crossing remains inoperable due to Israeli strikes on the Gaza side, according to Egyptian authorities.
There is an urgent need to ease the suffering of the Palestinian population in Gaza, and the United Nations is advocating for life-saving aid to move through the Rafah crossing promptly.
The situation for the Gazans attempting to reach the crossing is perilous, with constant shelling and attacks making the journey extremely dangerous. Israel has urged over a million people in the northern half of the enclave to relocate to the southern half for their safety, although Hamas has advised them to stay put.
Amidst this chaos, there is a desperate struggle to rescue neighbors and recover the deceased from the rubble of collapsed buildings, often using bare hands due to a lack of mechanical equipment.
The humanitarian situation is dire, with numerous bodies trapped under rubble and severely wounded patients needing urgent transfer to hospitals outside Gaza.
The risk of running out of fuel for hospital generators looms, which could force medics to turn off life-saving equipment. The deteriorating circumstances underscore the urgent need for international aid and intervention to prevent a worsening catastrophe.