Latest Update on the War in Gaza, Israel Land Attacks Go Crazy

Hamas said its fighters were involved in “fierce fighting” in Gaza on Sunday 29 October 2023 where Israel had increased the intensity of ground operations. This comes as there are increasing calls to send aid to the Palestinian territories after weeks of siege and bombing. World leaders underscored the importance of increasing aid to Hamas-controlled areas and protesters around the world rallied for a ceasefire, after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu steeled his country for a “long and difficult war.”

Despite calls for a humanitarian ceasefire, international outrage and the potential risk of hostages in Gaza, Israel has escalated the war sparked by an unprecedented Hamas offensive. Reported by AFP, Hamas militants stormed the Gaza border on October 7 in the deadliest attack in Israel’s history, killing 1,400 people, mostly civilians, and kidnapping 239 others including many migrant workers, according to the latest figures provided Sunday by military spokesman Daniel Hagari.

Gaza’s Hamas-run Health Ministry said Israeli counterattacks had killed more than 8,000 people, most of them civilians and half of them children. Panic and fear are rising in the Palestinian territories, where the UN says more than half of its 2.4 million residents have fled and thousands of buildings have been destroyed.

Hamas’ armed wing, the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, said on Sunday that its fighters were “engaged in heavy fighting… with the invading (Israeli) occupation forces in northwest Gaza”.

On the other hand, the Israeli army said a new “phase” of the war began with a ground offensive from Friday evening, an escalation from two brief operations earlier this week.

Humanitarian Aid

In a telephone conversation with Netanyahu on Sunday, US President Joe Biden “underscored the need to immediately and significantly increase the flow of humanitarian assistance to meet the needs of civilians in Gaza”, according to a White House readout of the conversation. In separate talks with President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi of Egypt, which borders Gaza to the south, the two leaders “committed to speeding up and significantly increasing aid”, the White House said. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said the situation was “getting more desperate over time” as the number of victims rose and supplies of food, water, medicine and shelter dwindled. The Palestinian Red Crescent Society said Israel repeatedly bombed the Al-Quds hospital in central Gaza, causing damage and endangering civilians.

Mohamed al-Talmas, who took refuge in Gaza’s largest hospital, Shifa, said the “ground was shaking” with intensive Israeli attacks.

“Nobody knows where (the attack) came from – north, south, east or west.”

The UN agency for Palestine Refugees, UNRWA, said “thousands of people” broke into several warehouses and distribution centers in Gaza, taking basic goods such as flour and hygiene supplies.

“This is a worrying sign that civil order is starting to break down,” he said. A US administration official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said earlier that Israel was committed to allowing 100 truckloads of aid into Gaza every day – the amount the UN says is needed to meet its most basic needs.

No Safe Place

On Sunday, the Israeli military said it had struck hundreds of Hamas targets and was increasing its ground forces in Gaza. Military spokesman Hagari vowed to “go after” Hamas leader in Gaza, Yahya Sinwar. The army said its troops had “encountered” militants emerging from a tunnel in northern Gaza, highlighting the challenge Hamas’ extensive underground network poses to Israeli ground operations.

In a late-night televised address on Saturday, Netanyahu announced a “second phase of war” to “eradicate” Hamas, the Palestinian Islamist faction that has ruled Gaza since 2007. Communications were cut in Gaza after Israel cut internet links ahead of the intensification of its operations, although connectivity gradually returned to normal on Sunday. The “burden” is on Israel to differentiate between militants and innocent civilians in Gaza, US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan told CNN. Hagari again urged Palestinian civilians to go south “to safer areas”, but residents remained alert as airstrikes continued. Ibrahim Shandoughli, 53, from Jabaliya in northern Gaza, told AFP that he and his family were not going anywhere.

“Where do you want us to evacuate? All areas are dangerous.”

Psychological game

In Israel, sympathy is growing for families whose loved ones have been kidnapped by Hamas and are at high risk as the war escalates.

Hamas has released four hostages, but this week said “nearly 50” had been killed by Israeli strikes, a claim that is difficult to verify.

“We demand that no action be taken that endangers the fate of our family members,” said Meirav Leshem Gonen, mother of hostage Romi Gonen.

After Hamas said it was ready to release hostages if Israel released the Palestinian prisoners it was holding, Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant accused the group of playing “psychological games”.

“Hamas cynically takes advantage of our loved ones – they understand the pain and stress,” Gallant told relatives of the hostages, according to a statement released by his office. Ifat Kalderon, whose relatives are believed to be detained in Gaza, told AFP he supported the idea of releasing prisoners in exchange for the hostages.

“Take them, we don’t need them here,” he said, referring to Palestinian prisoners.

The ground operation has raised concerns that Israel’s other enemies – Iran-allied “resistance axis” forces in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Yemen – could join the conflict.

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi warned on X, formerly Twitter, that Israel’s “crimes have crossed a red line, which may force everyone to take action”.

The United States has warned Israel’s enemies not to interfere and strengthen its military presence in the region. Fighting has escalated on the Israel-Lebanon border with Hamas’ Iran-backed ally Hezbollah, raising fears of a new front forming. Violence has also increased in the occupied West Bank since the Oct. 7 attacks, with more than 110 Palestinians killed, according to the region’s health ministry.

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