The Israeli warplanes conducted airstrikes in various areas in Gaza early on Monday, even targeting places where Palestinian civilians have been instructed to take shelter. This comes after a small aid shipment was allowed into the Hamas-ruled territory, which has been under siege.
There is widespread anticipation that Israel will initiate a ground offensive in Gaza in response to the violent incursion by Hamas into southern Israeli communities on October 7. Tanks and troops have been amassed at the Gaza border, and Israel claims to have intensified airstrikes to minimize the risk to its troops in subsequent stages.
Concerns of a broader conflict have increased as Israeli warplanes have recently targeted locations in the occupied West Bank, Syria, and Lebanon. Israel has frequently exchanged fire with Lebanon’s Hezbollah militant group, which possesses a large arsenal of rockets.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressed troops in northern Israel on Sunday, warning that if Hezbollah were to start a war, it would be a grave mistake. He stated that Israel would incapacitate Hezbollah with an unimaginable force, and the consequences for both the group and the Lebanese state would be catastrophic.
Hezbollah is a political movement that operates independently from the Lebanese government. In 2006, Israel conducted extensive airstrikes on Beirut’s airport and civilian infrastructure during a war with Hezbollah. Currently, Israel is evacuating certain communities on its side of the border.
Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari stated that Israeli forces have eliminated eight militant cells in Lebanon in the past 24 hours and over 20 since the beginning of the war, without providing further details. In Israel, more than 1,400 people, mostly civilians killed during the initial Hamas attack, have lost their lives. At least 222 people, including foreigners, were captured and taken back to Gaza, with two Americans being released on Friday. The first shipment of humanitarian aid arrived shortly after.
In Gaza, the Hamas-run Health Ministry reports that over 4,600 people have been killed, including casualties from a hospital explosion that is still disputed. Israel has conducted limited ground operations in Gaza, and Hamas claims to have destroyed an Israeli tank and two armored bulldozers within their territory. The Israeli military confirmed that one soldier was killed and three others were injured by an anti-tank missile during a raid in Gaza. This raid was part of an effort to rescue hostages taken during the October 7 attack, as Hamas aims to exchange them for Palestinian prisoners held by Israel.
On Saturday, the first aid shipment since the beginning of the war entered Gaza with 20 trucks. Israel allowed a second convoy of 15 trucks to enter on Sunday through the Rafah crossing, which is not controlled by Israel. The aid, including water, food, and medical supplies, was permitted at the request of the United States and underwent inspection by Israeli authorities. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and U.S. President Joe Biden discussed the continued flow of critical assistance into Gaza.
Relief workers emphasize that much more aid is necessary to address the escalating humanitarian crisis in Gaza, where half of the population has been displaced. The United Nations humanitarian agency called for 100 trucks per day to enter Gaza, while only 20 trucks were allowed in on Saturday. The Israeli military claims that the humanitarian situation is “under control,” despite these calls for more aid.
Israel has not permitted any fuel to enter Gaza, resulting in a complete power blackout for over a week. Hospitals are struggling to find generator fuel to operate life-saving medical equipment and incubators for premature babies. The World Health Organization reports that seven hospitals in northern Gaza have been forced to close due to damage from airstrikes, lack of power and supplies, or Israeli evacuation orders. The lack of fuel has also severely impacted water and sanitation systems, leaving hundreds of thousands of Palestinians without clean water.
Israel has urged people to leave northern Gaza through leaflets dropped from the air. It is estimated that 700,000 people have already fled, but hundreds of thousands remain at risk. Secretary of State Antony Blinken stated that Israel cannot return to the status quo where Hamas controls Gaza and poses a threat. However, he clarified that Israel has no intention of governing Gaza itself. Finding a solution that prevents Hamas from repeating such attacks while avoiding Israeli control over Gaza is a challenge that needs to be addressed.
Israel gained control of Gaza, along with the West Bank and East Jerusalem, during the 1967 Mideast war. The Palestinians seek all three territories for their future state. In 2005, Israel withdrew its troops and settlers from Gaza, but both Israel and Egypt have imposed varying degrees of blockade since Hamas took power in 2007.
Heavy Israeli airstrikes and shelling continued throughout the night in Gaza, according to the Hamas-run Interior Ministry. Residential apartments in the town of Khan Younis and the Nuseirat refugee camp were targeted. The Palestinian Red Crescent medical service reported intense airstrikes near al-Quds hospital in Gaza City, which currently houses over 12,000 displaced people.