- Palestinians, in large numbers, flee to southern Gaza.
- Israel has amassed ground forces near Gaza for major offensive.
- Crisis has claimed lives of 1,900 Palestinians, including 600 children.
Thousands of Palestinians sought refuge in southern Gaza following Israel’s warning to evacuate in the run-up to a ground offensive against Hamas as Israel’s army chief said that it was a time of war.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed relentless action after Hamas’ deadliest attack, likening it to 9/11 in the United States. Israeli ground forces conducted localised raids in Gaza, aiming to clear areas of terrorists and weaponry.
The initial attack by Hamas resulted in over 1,300 casualties in Israel. In response, Israel targeted Gaza, leading to over 1,900 deaths, predominantly civilians, including over 600 children, according to the health ministry.
Hamas, deemed a terrorist organisation by the European Union and the United States, seized 150 hostages in the initial attack, resulting in casualties during subsequent Israeli air strikes.
Germany’s Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock highlighted Hamas’s use of residents as shields in Gaza, where essential supplies have been cut off.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres termed the situation a dangerous new low, urging immediate humanitarian access throughout Gaza. US President Joe Biden echoed this concern, prioritising addressing the humanitarian crisis.
Tensions escalated across the Middle East, with global protests in support of Palestinians and the looming threat of a confrontation with Hezbollah in Lebanon.
The displacement of over a million people, almost half of Gaza’s population, raises human rights concerns. The UN, advocating for rescinding the mass evacuation order, emphasised the impossibility of such a forced population transfer. Hospitals in Gaza are overwhelmed, grappling with the aftermath of relentless bombardment.
The Israeli military dropped evacuation flyers in northern Gaza, urging residents to move south to avoid harm. Israeli forces, aiming to minimise civilian casualties, highlighted Hamas terrorists’ use of civilian infrastructure for cover. However, the international community emphasised the need to avoid disproportionate destruction.
As the conflict continues, the potential involvement of Hezbollah in Lebanon adds to the complexity of the situation. Israel faces a potential second front, prompting the United States to reinforce its support for Israel and warn against regional involvement.
The conflict’s toll on civilians and the wider humanitarian crisis necessitates urgent international efforts to find a resolution and mitigate suffering, stressing the need for a diplomatic solution to end the violence and protect civilian lives.