Amid escalating conflict, Israel’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, solemnly pledged to “demolish Hamas.”
Israeli troops were preparing to enter the Gaza Strip in pursuit of Hamas militants, who had launched a deadly rampage through Israeli border towns, shocking the world. This statement marked a significant escalation in the long-standing conflict in the region.
Israel had urged Gazans to evacuate south, with hundreds of thousands complying in the densely populated enclave, home to over 2 million people. However, Hamas, which governs Gaza, instructed its citizens to disregard Israel’s evacuation message.
The situation inside Gaza deteriorated rapidly as casualties from Israeli airstrikes continued to rise. To deal with the increasing number of casualties, bodies were stored in ice cream freezer trucks as moving them to hospitals was deemed too risky, and cemeteries were already full.
As the conflict raised concerns of regional spillover, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken embarked on a tour of Middle Eastern states.
His objectives included preventing further escalation and securing the release of 155 hostages that Israel claimed were taken by Hamas back into Gaza. Arab leaders emphasized the necessity of protecting Gaza’s civilian population, condemning Israel’s retaliatory strikes as collective punishment.
The situation took a dangerous turn when clashes erupted on Israel’s border with Lebanon, the deadliest incident since 2006.
Hamas’ armed wing, the Al Qassam Brigades, claimed to have fired rockets from Lebanon into two Israeli settlements. At the same time, Lebanon’s Hezbollah militia reported launching missiles at Israeli barracks in Hanita, causing casualties.
In retaliation, Israel struck Lebanon, and the UN peacekeeping force in south Lebanon reported that its headquarters had been hit by a rocket.
Iran, a supporter of both Hamas and Hezbollah, warned Israel of further escalation if its attacks on Palestinians continued. Iran’s Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian stated that all parties in the region had their “hands on the trigger.”
Amid these escalating tensions, Blinken met with Saudi Arabia’s Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Riyadh and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in Cairo.
International efforts were focused on alleviating the humanitarian crisis in Gaza, with Blinken announcing the Rafah crossing between Gaza and Egypt reopening.
Back in Israel, Prime Minister Netanyahu convened an expanded emergency cabinet, emphasizing national unity and vowing to “demolish Hamas.”
Israel had launched its most intense bombardment of Gaza in response to a deadly attack by Hamas militants on Israeli towns, resulting in the deaths of 1,300 people.
These attacks included targeting men, women, children, and soldiers and taking hostages in a horrifying act that marked the worst attack on Israeli civilians in the country’s history.
The toll of the conflict was high on both sides, with France reporting the deaths of 19 of its citizens in the Hamas attacks and Canada confirming five fatalities.
In Gaza, authorities reported that at least 2,670 people had been killed by Israel’s retaliatory strikes, with children accounting for a quarter of the casualties and nearly 10,000 wounded. Another 1,000 people were missing, believed to be trapped under the rubble.
Gaza’s hospitals were grappling with a shortage of supplies and struggling to accommodate the large number of wounded.
The dire situation raised concerns about the ability to care for the injured, particularly children and the critically ill.
The military aimed to target Hamas and its infrastructure with Israel amassing tanks on Gaza’s border in preparation for a ground offensive. Israeli airstrikes continued, with around 250 military targets hit on one particular day, resulting in the killing of the Hamas southern district commander.
Despite the dire circumstances, some Gazans who had initially evacuated to the south were forced to head back north due to being targeted wherever they went.
Medical professionals faced an impossible situation as they tried to evacuate hospitals with critically ill patients, including children, attached to ventilators.
The World Health Organization warned that Israel’s orders to evacuate 22 Gaza hospitals severely threatened the sick and injured.
UN relief operations in Gaza were on the brink of collapse, with the influx of people seeking shelter overwhelming their capacity to respond to the crisis. The humanitarian situation in Gaza remained critical and needed urgent international attention.