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Israel-Hamas war: Tanks, troops blast into Gaza to make first ground raids

In a significant update that occurred on Friday, the Israeli military declared that their ground forces, accompanied by tanks, initiated land operations within the Gaza Strip. This shift marks a transition from an aerial campaign to ground-based military actions.

The primary objective of this transition is to target and neutralize Hamas fighters, particularly in response to their recent incursion into southern Israel.

Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari, a spokesperson for the Israeli military, stated that these ground operations were initiated with the goals of dismantling Palestinian rocket crews and gathering crucial intelligence on the whereabouts of hostages held by Hamas.

Hamas, the governing authority in the densely populated Palestinian territory, remains determined to resist these actions. As a result, a significant number of Gazans have begun moving southward, likely in an effort to ensure their safety.

Following Israel’s warning of an anticipated ground offensive against Hamas in response to the deadliest attack in Israel’s history, thousands of Palestinians rushed to the southern Gaza region in search of refuge.

The Israeli military’s warning came six days after Hamas militants breached the heavily fortified border around the Gaza Strip, resulting in over 1,300 casualties, predominantly among civilians. This attack has drawn comparisons to the 9/11 attacks in the United States.

Civilian casualties and hostages:
Over the course of waves of missile strikes in the densely populated enclave, nearly 1,800 Gazans have lost their lives, with the majority being civilians, including more than 580 children. During their initial attack, Hamas took around 150 Israeli, foreign, and dual-national hostages back to Gaza. The militant group claims that 13 hostages were killed in Israeli airstrikes, with an additional four reportedly dying due to bombardments. These developments could complicate any future Israeli ground offensive.

International response:
Germany’s Foreign Minister, Annalena Baerbock, accused Hamas of using residents as “shields” during a visit to Jerusalem. Tensions have escalated across the Middle East and beyond, with protests in support of the Palestinians, while Israel faces the potential of a confrontation with Hezbollah in Lebanon.

UN’s appeal and humanitarian crisis:
The United Nations expressed concerns over Israel’s evacuation order, deeming it “impossible” to move approximately 1.1 million people, nearly half of Gaza’s population, within such a short timeframe. Aid agencies warned that mass evacuations would strain resources due to the Israeli blockade, leading to shortages of fuel, food, and water. Hospitals were overwhelmed with the dead and wounded, and the healthcare system was already under severe stress.

International calls for action:
Jordan’s King Abdullah II called for the urgent opening of “humanitarian corridors,” and various international leaders condemned the ongoing siege, describing Israel’s evacuation order as a “forced transfer” and a “crime.”

Hamas threats:
Hamas has threatened to kill captives if Israel bombs civilian targets without advance warning.

Potential second front:
Israel is facing the possibility of a second front in the north, with Hezbollah in Lebanon stating that it is “fully prepared” to join the conflict alongside Hamas. Cross-border fire has raised concerns about regional stability.

US support:
The United States has dispatched additional munitions and its largest aircraft carrier to the region. President Joe Biden has warned other regional powers not to become involved. The Pentagon has assured Israel of “iron-clad” US support.

Iran’s involvement:
Iran, a long-time financial and military supporter of Hamas, praised the attack but denied direct involvement. Reports have emerged of an agreement between US and Qatari officials to prevent Iran from using a $6 billion humanitarian assistance fund following the Hamas attack.

The situation remains highly volatile, with the potential for an Israeli ground offensive and an escalation of conflict in the region.

In another development, Russian President Vladimir Putin has compared Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip to Nazi Germany’s siege of Leningrad during World War II and called for a resolution to the conflict through mediation.

However, Israel’s ambassador to the UN, Gilad Erdan, has criticized the UN’s response to Israel’s early warning to the residents of Gaza, suggesting that the UN should focus on condemning Hamas and supporting Israel’s right to self-defense.

Salama Marouf, head of the Hamas government media office, has characterized the relocation warning as an attempt by Israel to spread misleading information, aiming to sow confusion among citizens and undermine internal cohesion.

Food and water shortages:
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has warned that fuel powering emergency generators at Gaza hospitals could run out within hours, and the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has raised concerns about dangerously low supplies of food and fresh water.

Amid Israel’s 24-hour ultimatum, Gaza’s Health Ministry has informed the World Health Organization (WHO) that evacuating vulnerable hospital patients from northern Gaza is impossible.

The UN Humanitarian Office (OCHA) reports that more than 400,000 people have fled their homes in Gaza, and 23 aid workers have been killed.

So far, Israel’s bombings have resulted in over 1,500 Palestinian casualties, including hundreds of children, according to Gaza authorities. The Israeli forces have also been accused of deliberately killing four medics, as claimed by the Palestinian Red Crescent.

Israel has imposed a blockade on Gaza, home to 2.3 million people, and launched a bombing campaign that has destroyed entire neighborhoods.

Pro-Palestinian protests are expected to take place around the world, and the United States and regional leaders are planning meetings amid fears that the conflict could spread.

 

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