(CTN News) – As the two-week-old confrontation with Hamas threatened to escalate into a wider conflict, Israeli aeroplanes attacked targets across Gaza overnight and into Sunday, as well as two airports in Syria and a mosque in the occupied West Bank purportedly used by militants.
Since the start of the war, Israel has exchanged fire with Lebanon’s Hezbollah militant group on an almost daily basis, and emotions are high in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, where Israeli soldiers have battled militants in refugee camps and carried out two airstrikes in recent days.
For days, it appeared like Israel was about to launch a ground invasion in Gaza in retaliation to Hamas’ deadly Oct. 7 massacre. Tanks and tens of thousands of troops have gathered at the border, and Israeli authorities have hinted at an unspecified next stage in operations.
Israel issued new requests for residents to leave northern Gaza, including by dropping leaflets from the sky. It is estimated that 700,000 people have already evacuated, while hundreds of thousands remain. Any ground operation would be more likely to result in huge civilian casualties as a result.
According to Israeli military authorities, Hamas’ infrastructure and subterranean tunnel system are centred in Gaza City to the north, and the next round of the offensive would use tremendous force there. Israel claims it intends to defeat Hamas, but officials have also mentioned the possibility of establishing a buffer zone to discourage Palestinians from approaching the border.
On Saturday, 20 trucks of humanitarian aid were allowed to enter Gaza from Egypt via the Rafah crossing, the first time anything had entered the region since Israel imposed a total siege two weeks ago.
Aid workers claimed it was much too little to handle Gaza’s spiralling humanitarian crisis, which has displaced half of the territory’s 2.3 million people. According to the United Nations‘ humanitarian organisation, OCHA, the convoy delivered just 4% of a typical day’s imports before the war and “a fraction of what is needed after 13 days of complete siege.”
The Israeli military declared the humanitarian situation “under control,” while OCHA requested 100 trucks each day. Hospitals are running low on medical supplies and generator fuel, forcing doctors to do surgery with sewing needles, vinegar as a disinfectant, and without anaesthesia.
According to the World Health Organisation, at least 130 premature babies are at “grave risk” due to a lack of generator fuel. It stated that seven hospitals in northern Gaza had to close owing to damage from attacks, a lack of power and supplies, or Israeli evacuation orders.
Shortages of key supplies, such as ventilators, are causing doctors to restrict care, according to Dr. Mohammed Qandeel of Khan Younis’ Nasser Hospital. As hospitals conserve electricity for intensive care units, dozens of patients continue to come and are treated in congested, shadowy halls.
“It’s heartbreaking,” Qandeel said, according to The Associated Press. “Every day, if we receive 10 severely injured patients we have to manage with maybe three or five ICU beds available.”
Palestinians in UN-run schools and tent camps are running out of food and drinking contaminated water. A power outage has rendered water and sanitation systems inoperable. According to OCHA, incidences of chicken pox, scabies, and diarrhoea are on the rise due to a lack of clean water.
Heavy airstrikes were reported over Gaza, especially in the southern portion of the coastal strip, where Israel has warned residents to flee. Several dead wrapped in white shrouds were lined up on the ground outside the Al-Aqsa hospital in Deir al-Balah, south of the evacuation queue.
As the sound of a nearby bombing rang behind him, hospital spokesman Khalil al-Degran claimed more than 90 bodies had been brought in since early Sunday. He stated that 180 injured persons had come, the majority of whom were children, women, and the elderly who had been relocated from neighbouring places.
Israel’s military has stated that it is targeting Hamas members and installations but not civilians. According to the military, Palestinian militants fired over 7,000 rockets towards Israel, with Hamas claiming to have struck Tel Aviv early Sunday.
The military says it would increase airstrikes ahead of the “next stages of the war,” but does not elaborate.
More than 1,400 Israelis have been murdered in the conflict, the majority of them were civilians killed during the initial Hamas attack. At least 212 persons, including men, women, children, and the elderly, were apprehended and taken back to Gaza. Two Americans were released on Friday as a humanitarian gesture by Hamas.
According to the Hamas-run Health Ministry, over 4,300 people have been murdered in Gaza. This contains the contested death toll from a hospital explosion.
Meanwhile, Syrian state media stated that Israeli airstrikes had targeted international airports in Damascus and Aleppo, Syria’s northernmost metropolis. According to the report, the impacts killed one person and damaged the runways, rendering them inoperable.
Since the start of the war, Israel has carried out multiple raids in Syria, notably on airports. Individual strikes are rarely acknowledged by Israel, but it claims to be acting to prevent Hezbollah and other violent groups from getting in arms from their benefactor, Iran, which also supports Hamas.
Hezbollah reported six of its fighters were killed in Lebanon on Saturday, and the group’s deputy commander, Sheikh Naim Kassem, warned that Israel would pay a severe price if it launched a combat operation in Gaza. According to the military, Israel hit Hezbollah targets early Sunday in response to rocket firing.
Israel has announced evacuation plans for 14 more towns along the Lebanon border. Kiryat Shmona, a city of about 20,000 inhabitants, was ordered to evacuate last week.
Hundreds of Palestinians have been killed in battles with the Israeli military, arrest raids, and attacks by Jewish settlers in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. Israeli forces have restricted border crossings and checkpoints connecting cities, claiming that the restrictions are intended to prevent attacks.
Israel claims to have detained over 700 Palestinians since October 7, including 480 suspected Hamas members. The internationally recognised Palestinian Authority controls sections of the West Bank and works with Israel on security, but it is profoundly unpopular and has faced violent Palestinian protests.
According to the Palestinian Health Ministry, Israeli soldiers killed at least five civilians in the West Bank early Sunday. Two people were killed in an airstrike on a mosque in Jenin, which has seen intense gunfights between Palestinian militants and Israeli troops in recent months.
According to the Israeli military, the mosque compound belonged to Hamas and Islamic Jihad militants who had carried out numerous recent attacks and were plotting another.
According to the Health Ministry, the deaths on Sunday pushed the total number of Palestinians killed in the West Bank to 90 since the conflict began on Oct. 7. Most appear to have been slain in clashes with Israeli police or during violent protests.
Thirteen Palestinians, including five youngsters, and an Israeli Border Police officer were murdered last week in a skirmish in a refugee camp in the West Bank town of Tulkarem, during which Israel also launched an airstrike.
Magdy contributed reporting from Cairo, and Krauss from Jerusalem. Amy Teibel in Jerusalem, Samya Kullab in Baghdad, Bassem Mroue in Beirut, and Albert Aji in Damascus, Syria contributed to this report.
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