Hamas, in response to Israeli airstrikes on civilian areas in Gaza, has issued a threat to harm Israeli hostages. Israel, in turn, has mobilized approximately 300,000 soldiers and imposed a complete blockade on the Gaza Strip, depriving millions of residents of access to essential resources such as food, water, and fuel.
This blockade has severed critical supplies, including water, food, and electricity, to Gaza. Hamas has cautioned that they may resort to harming Israeli civilian hostages if Israel persists in bombing civilian areas without prior warning.
In a shocking turn of events, Palestinian militants abducted more than 100 people, resulting in the loss of over 700 lives, marking it as one of the deadliest days in Israel’s history. Reports indicate that the death toll may have risen to 900. In response, Israel has initiated airstrikes from both the air and sea, resulting in casualties among over 680 Palestinians in Gaza, a densely populated area with 2.3 million residents and no viable escape routes.
Furthermore, incidents along Israel’s northern border with Lebanon have raised concerns of a potential second front in the ongoing conflict.
Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s Prime Minister, has called for a government of national unity and underlined that the offensive is in its early stages. He has pledged to eliminate remaining terrorists within Israel.
Hamas has already claimed to have taken the lives of some of the hostages in their custody due to Israeli bombardment.
In response to this escalating violence, international leaders, including U.S. President Joe Biden, UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, and Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, have jointly denounced Hamas and voiced their support for Israel. They stressed that terrorism has no justification.
Efforts for intervention and a potential prisoner exchange are underway, with Qatar and Egypt actively involved in negotiations. The captives encompass civilians, including women, children, and soldiers, among whom are dozens of American citizens.
The situation in Gaza, already dire due to a 16-year Israeli blockade, has further deteriorated, prompting deep concern from the United Nations about its humanitarian repercussions.
The United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) has reported that nearly half a million individuals in Gaza did not receive their food rations this week due to the enforced closure of UN food distribution centers amid Israeli military actions. Human Rights Watch has classified Israel’s complete blockade on essential supplies for ordinary Gazan citizens as a war crime.
Omar Shakir, the Israel and Palestine Director at Human Rights Watch, has vehemently condemned Defense Minister Gallant’s statements, asserting that “Depriving the population in an occupied territory of food and electricity is collective punishment, which constitutes a war crime, as does using starvation as a weapon of war. The International Criminal Court should take serious note of this call for a war crime.”