The Israeli military has launched one of its most violent attacks on the Gaza Strip since its latest bombing campaign began two weeks ago, further devastating the occupied territory as its overwhelmed healthcare system and humanitarian services teeter on the brink of collapse.
Over just the past 24 hours, Israeli airstrikes have killed more than 400 people in Gaza, bringing the enclave’s total death toll since October 7 to more than 4,500. Israeli bombs reportedly hit Gaza’s largest refugee camp on Sunday, killing dozens.
Gaza’s Interior Ministry said Israel also struck “residential apartments in the town of Khan Younis and the Nuseirat refugee camp, both of which are south of the evacuation line,” The Associated Press reported.
The Israeli military said Monday that it had bombed more than 320 targets in Gaza in the past 24 hours.
The intense bombardment came as Israel prepared for what’s expected to be a large-scale ground invasion of the Gaza Strip. In recent days, the Israeli military has been conducting ground raids in Gaza but has thus far held off on fully invading, as the U.S. advises the Israeli government to delay the operation.
But according to The New York Times, the Biden administration is “not making a demand of Israel and still supports the ground invasion.”
On Sunday, U.S. President Joe Biden joined the leaders of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, and the United Kingdom in issuing a joint statement reiterating their “support for Israel and its right to defend itself” and calling for “adherence to international humanitarian law,” which Israel has been accused of violating repeatedly with its indiscriminate airstrikes and blockade.
The Western leaders’ joint statement said they are “committed to continue close diplomatic coordination, including with key partners in the region, to prevent the conflict from spreading, preserve stability in the Middle East, and work toward a political solution and durable peace,” but they did not call for a cease-fire.
Aid convoys were finally allowed to enter Gaza through the Egyptian border over the weekend, a development that United Nations emergency relief coordinator Martin Griffiths called a “small glimmer of hope for the millions of people in dire need of humanitarian aid.”
“But they need more, much more,” Griffiths added. “I’m particularly grateful to the aid workers on the Palestinian side who immediately sprang to action to offload the goods — despite the risks. True heroes. They, too, need protection.”
The aid convoys carried food, drinking water, and key medical supplies, but not fuel that hospitals desperately need to continue operating after Israel cut off Gaza’s electricity supply. Middle East Eye reported Monday that more than half of Gaza’s hospitals have been forced to shut down. The ones that are still running are dangerously low on anesthesia and other supplies.
The Guardian noted that doctors in Gaza have been forced to perform surgeries “using sewing needles, resorting to vinegar as disinfectant and operating without anesthesia.”
Israel has ordered 20 hospitals in northern Gaza to evacuate, part of a broader evacuation directive that human rights groups and legal experts have called a violation of international law.
Tonight Israel is intensely bombing Gaza.
Israel has reportedly ordered all hospitals in North Gaza to evacuate immediately. That’s impossible. Thousands of patients and refugees cannot simply leave.
Israel is committing a mass atrocity against Palestinians, right now.
— IMEU (@theIMEU) October 22, 2023
The Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor said in a report last week that the Israeli military has already destroyed a quarter of northern Gaza as part of what the group called “the largest campaign of destruction of buildings and residential houses in the Gaza Strip in modern history.”
The group concluded that Israel is “committing complex war crimes” in Gaza and stressed that “these crimes represent serious violations of international humanitarian law and may amount to war crimes under the Fourth Geneva Convention for the Protection of Civilians.”
More than a million Gazans have been displaced since October 7, when Israel started bombing the strip following a deadly Hamas attack. According to the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, more than 1,000 people in Gaza “have been reported missing and are presumed to be trapped or dead under the rubble.”
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