Israel’s ground assault into Gaza city is in full flow as its forces engage with Hamas targets in close quarter combat. Following a month-long campaign in which Israel took out multiple high value targets with airstrikes, the army has now begun its push into Gaza city.
In recent days, Israel had encircled and blockaded Gaza, leading to an ever-escalating humanitarian crisis in the region. The situation has taken a turn for the worse, which has prompted a mass exodus of Palestinian citizens from Northern Gaza.
These citizens are headed south where the have been offered safety by Israeli authorities. Multiple calls for the evacuation of civilians from the northern region were made by Israeli forces in the initial part of the conflict as well. This was an attempt by Israel to avoid civilian casualties but did not yield fruit as the death toll crosses 10,500, according to recent reports.
As a result of the open conflict in and around Gaza city, many civilians have had to walk miles just to get away from the bombardment and fighting in the northern region.
Israel has stated with confidence that its “stranglehold” on Hamas is tightening day by day. Representatives of Hamas on the other hand have said that they have been quite successful in destroying Israel’s tanks and armored vehicles, repelling military attacks in the process.
Israel has called its push into Gaza city an attack at the ‘Heart of Terrorism’. That might well be the case but many observers have pointed out the extensive loss of civilian life in the region. Questions have also been raised about the blockade of Gaza which has led to a dearth of food, fuel, medical aid and basic supplies to the civilians trapped by the blockade.
Major General Yaron Finkelman, Commanding Officer of the Southern Command of the Israeli Defense Forces, had this to say on the matter, “For the first time in decades, IDF is fighting in the heart of Gaza City. At the heart of terrorism.”
Sources have stated that while Israeli troops push into Gaza city, tank battalions have been stationed on the outskirts for the purpose of storming the urban heartland.
“Every day and every hour the forces are killing militants, exposing tunnels and destroying weapons and continuing onward to enemy centres. I’m not going to talk about how we are operationally acting from within our encirclement around Gaza City. You are in the right direction, that’s all I can say.” Finkelman added.
Israel has made it clear that it will not take a step back in this conflict, aiming at rooting out Hamas definitively. The United Nations have shed light on another aspect of the conflict, calling Gaza ‘a children’s graveyard’.
These words ring true, considering the fact that out of the current death toll figures, 40% can be attributed to children.
Volcker Turk, the UN Human Rights Commissioner, made the following statement, “It has been one full month of carnage, of incessant suffering, bloodshed, destruction, outrage and despair.”
The Interior Ministry of Gaza has stated that over 900,000 people are still in the conflict zone, despite the fact that Israel offered civilians a window between 10 am to 2 pm to vacate Gaza City.
Prime Mininster Benjamin Netanyahu has reiterated his stance on the conflict stating, that Israel is prepared take the responsibility of ensuring Gaza’s safety indefinitely.
“We’ve seen what happens when we don’t have that security responsibility” he added.
While US President Joe Biden is officially opposed to Israel’s reoccupation of Gaza, he has also made it clear that the region can not be left in the hands of Hamas. He said, “it’s not good for Israel, it’s not good for the Israeli people. Whatever it is, it can’t be what it was on Oct. 6. It can’t be Hamas.”