Israel attacks neighborhoods in Gaza as people struggle for safety in cordoned off areaThank you for reading this post, don't forget to subscribe!
Israelis evacuate a site hit by a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip in Ashkelon, southern Israel, on Monday, Oct. 9, 2023. (AP Photo/Ohad Zweigenberg)
By Joseph Federman and Issam Adwan
Israeli warplanes struck neighborhoods across the Gaza Strip on Tuesday, reducing buildings to rubble and sending people scrambling to find safety in small, sealed-off areas, as Israel prepared for a surprise weekend attack by Hamas. Vows retaliation that “will reverberate…for generations.”
Aid organizations advocated for the creation of humanitarian corridors to get aid into Gaza, warning that hospitals overwhelmed with the wounded were running out of supplies. Israel has cut off all access to food, fuel and medicine into Gaza, and the only remaining access from Egypt closed on Tuesday after airstrikes near the border crossing.
The war began after Hamas militants crossed into Israel on Saturday, sparking gunfire on Israeli streets for the first time in decades. At least 1,600 people were killed on both sides, and perhaps hundreds more. According to Israel, Hamas and other terrorist groups in Gaza are holding more than 150 soldiers and civilians hostage.
There is a possibility of further conflict due to this. Israel increased the number of conscripts to 360,000 on Tuesday, according to the country’s media. After days of fighting, Israel’s military said Tuesday morning it had regained effective control of areas attacked by Hamas in the south and along the Gaza border.
A bigger question is whether Israel would launch a ground attack on Gaza – a 40-kilometre-long (25-mile-long) strip of land between Israel, Egypt and the Mediterranean Sea that is home to 2.3 million people and ruled by Hamas since 2007.
The Israeli military said it struck hundreds of targets overnight in the Rimal neighborhood of Gaza City, an affluent district that is home to Hamas-run government ministries as well as the offices of universities, media outlets and aid organizations.
Palestinian civil defense forces rescue Abdullah Musleh from his basement with 30 other people after his apartment building was destroyed by airstrikes.
“I sell toys, not missiles,” the 46-year-old man said, crying. “I want to leave Gaza. Why do I have to stay here? I lost my house and job.
After hours of continuous attacks, residents left their homes in broad daylight to find buildings half-broken or reduced to heaps of concrete and rebar by airstrikes. Cars were destroyed on residential streets and trees were charred, creating moonscapes.
The disaster prompted a new Israeli strategy: warning civilians to leave certain areas and then attacking those areas with unprecedented intensity. On Tuesday afternoon, the army warned residents of another nearby neighborhood to evacuate and move into Gaza city center.
“There is no safe place in Gaza right now, you see decent people being killed every day,” Gaza journalist Hassan Jaber said after three other Palestinian journalists were killed in the Rimal bombing. “I’m really scared for my life.”
The bombings and Israeli threats to overthrow Hamas have heightened questions about the group’s strategy and objectives. But it is not clear what options it has given the intensity of Israel’s retaliation and the possibility of losing its government infrastructure.
Hours after Saturday’s incursion began, Saleh al-Arouri, a senior Hamas official, said the group had planned for all possibilities, including “total war” and was prepared to withstand “severe setbacks.”
Al-Arouri’s comments suggest that Hamas expects the fighting to spread to the West Bank and possibly lead to Lebanon’s Hezbollah opening up a front in the north. But despite some outbreaks of violence, none have been on a significant scale, especially amid the heavy Israeli lockdown on West Bank Palestinians.
Hoping to blunt the bombing, Hamas has threatened to execute a captive Israeli civilian whenever Israel targets civilians in their homes in Gaza “without prior warning.” Israel’s Foreign Minister Eli Cohen warned in response that “this war crime” would not be forgiven.
In return, Israel is committed to crushing Hamas, no matter what the cost.
The militants’ attack shocked Israel with so many deaths not seen since the 1973 war with Egypt and Syria – and over a long period of time. It revealed horrific scenes of Hamas militants gunning down civilians in their cars on the streets, in town streets and at a concert attended by thousands in the desert near Gaza, while men, women and children were taken captive. Went.
US President Joe Biden is due to speak with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday about coordinating with allies to “protect Israel and innocent people against terrorism,” the White House said.
The Israeli military said more than 900 people were killed in Israel. According to officials there, 704 people have been killed in Gaza and the West Bank; Israel says they include hundreds of Hamas fighters. Thousands of people have been injured from both sides.
The army said the bodies of about 1,500 Hamas militants were found in Israeli territory. It was not immediately clear whether those numbers matched the deaths previously reported by Palestinian officials.
The United Nations said more than 187,000 people have fled their homes in Gaza, the most since Israeli air and ground attacks in 2014 uprooted some 400,000 people. Most are taking shelter in schools run by UNRWA, the United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees. The United Nations said three water and sanitation sites were damaged, cutting off services for 400,000 people.
On Monday, Israel declared a “complete siege” on the area, blocking food, fuel, water, medicines, electricity and other supplies. This leaves the only way in and out with Egypt via the Rafah crossing.
But it was also closed on Tuesday because smoke spread around after the Israeli attack. The day before, the Egyptian Red Crescent managed to receive a shipment of medical supplies.
An Egyptian official said Egyptian officials are talking with Israel and the US and pushing for the establishment of humanitarian corridors to deliver aid to Gaza. Talks are ongoing with the Israelis to declare the area around the Rafah crossing between Egypt and Gaza a “no fire zone,” the official said on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media. Was.
The UN’s World Health Organization reiterated the call for humanitarian corridors. It said supplies previously earmarked for seven hospitals in Gaza had already been exhausted amid the influx of wounded.
“With the current influx of casualties, these hospitals are now working beyond their capacity,” WHO spokesman Tarik Jazarević told reporters in Geneva. The head of the medical aid group Doctors Without Borders said his two hospitals in Gaza were also running out of surgical equipment, antibiotics, fuel and other supplies.
At a briefing on Tuesday, army spokesman Lt. Col. Richard Hecht suggested that Palestinians should try to escape through the Rafah border crossing with Egypt.
The possibility of an exodus of Gazans into its territory has worried Egyptian officials. Following Hecht’s comments, Egypt’s state-owned Al-Qahera news channel, which is close to security agencies, quoted an unnamed security official as pushing back. “The occupation government is forcing Palestinians to choose between dying under bombardment or giving up their land,” the official was quoted as saying.
Meanwhile, Palestinians in the West Bank entered a fourth day under severe movement restrictions. Israeli authorities have closed crossings into the occupied territory and closed checkpoints, blocking movement between cities and towns. According to the United Nations, 15 Palestinians have been killed in clashes between stone-pelting Palestinians and Israeli forces in the area since the beginning of the incursion.
Adwan reported from Rafah, Gaza Strip. AP writers Isabelle Debray and Julia Frankel in Jerusalem; Wafa Shurafa in Gaza City; Tia Goldenberg in Tel Aviv, Israel; Bassem Maroué and Karim Chehayeb in Beirut; Sammy Magee in Cairo; and Amir Vahdat in Tehran, Iran contributed to this report.
Updated on October 10, 2023 at 10:19am ET with the latest details.