Israel gave civilians still trapped inside the newly encircled Gaza City a four-hour window to leave on Tuesday, and residents who escaped said they passed tanks in a position to possibly begin storming it.
Israel says its forces have surrounded Gaza City, home to a third of the enclave’s 2.3 million people, and are poised to storm it soon in their campaign to root out Hamas Islamists who have attacked Israeli cities. exactly one month ago.
The war began on October 7, when militants breached the fence encircling Gaza and killed 1,400 Israelis, mostly civilians, and kidnapped more than 200, according to Israeli accounts. Since then, Israel has pounded Hamas-run Gaza with raids, killing more than 10,000 people, about 40 percent of them children, according to counts by health officials there.
“It has been a whole month of carnage, unceasing suffering, bloodshed, destruction, rage and despair,” UN Human Rights Commissioner Volcker Turk said in a statement at the start of his trip to the region, during which he will visit Rafah. passage through Egypt, the only route to help.
“Human rights abuses are at the root of this escalation, and human rights play a central role in finding a way out of this maelstrom of suffering.”
Read: ‘An hour here, an hour there’, says Israel open to Gaza, ceasefires for aid, hostages
Israel gave residents a window from 10:00 a.m. to 14:00 noon to leave Gaza City on Tuesday. Residents say Israeli tanks moved mostly at night, with Israeli forces relying heavily on airstrikes and artillery to clear the way for their ground advance.
“For your safety, take this next opportunity to move south across the Gaza Strip,” the army announced, referring to the wetlands that bisect the strip.
“The most dangerous trip of my life. We saw the tanks from point blank range. We saw decomposing body parts. We saw death,” resident Adam Fayez Zeyara posted with a selfie of himself on the road outside Gaza City.
While Israel’s military operation is focused on the northern half of Gaza, the south has also come under attack. Palestinian health officials said at least 23 people were killed in two separate Israeli airstrikes early Tuesday in the southern Gaza towns of Khan Younis and Rafah.
“We are civilians,” said Ahmed Ayesh, who was rescued from the rubble of a house in Khan Younis where health officials said 11 people had been killed. “This is the bravery of so-called Israel, they show their strength and power against civilians, babies inside, children inside and old people.”
As he spoke, rescuers at the home used their hands to free a girl who was buried up to her waist in the debris.
Emergency personnel work to rescue a Palestinian woman at the site of Israeli raids on a residential building in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip November 7, 2023. PHOTO: REUTERS
Israel seeks “indefinite period” of control
Israeli soldiers take part in ground operations in a location referred to as Gaza in this handout photo released November 7, 2023. PHOTO: REUTERS
Israel has given little clear indication of the fate it sees for Gaza when the war ends.
Israel withdrew its troops and settlers from Gaza in 2005 and two years later, Hamas took power there, defeating the Palestinian Authority (PA) which exercises limited self-rule in a separate, Israeli-occupied territory, the West Bank.
Asked who would be in charge of security in Gaza after the defeat of Hamas, Netanyahu told US broadcaster ABC News: “I think Israel will, indefinitely, have overall responsibility for security because we have seen what it happens when we don’t. they have that security responsibility.”
Simcha Rothman, an MP from Netanyahu’s religious-nationalist coalition, said in a social media post: “Our forces should not shed blood to give the Gaza Strip to the Palestinian Authority wrapped in a bow… Only full Israeli control and complete demilitarization of the strip will restore security.”
The White House, however, said US President Joe Biden does not favor Israel’s reoccupation of Gaza. “It’s not good for Israel, it’s not good for the Israeli people,” said spokesman John Kirby.
Read also: The absurdity of the USA
US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken has been in talks with leaders in the region about what the governance of Gaza could look like after the war, Kirby told CNN. “Whatever it is, it can’t be what it was on October 6. It can’t be Hamas.”
While Israelis overwhelmingly support the military campaign to eliminate Hamas after last month’s attacks, there is some concern about whether Netanyahu’s far-right coalition has the diplomatic wherewithal to find a long-term solution for Gaza.
Opposition Labor Party leader Merav Michaeli said Israel must work with the United States, Arab countries and the Palestinian Authority on a plan for a “political victory” in Gaza to make Israel safe once Hamas is defeated military.
Military analysts have said that a final victory for the well-entrenched forces of Hamas is not a given.
The Israeli military said it had captured a militant compound in northern Gaza and was about to attack militants hiding in underground tunnels. He posted footage showing troops using bulldozers to dig up earth and knock down walls.
Israeli Lt. Col. Richard Hecht told reporters that Hamas fighters were “coming out” of the tunnels to fire rockets at Israeli forces.
“So we’re really making an effort to remove these tunnels as we move forward and get closer to Gaza City,” he said.
Both Israel and Hamas have rejected calls for an end to the fighting. Israel says the hostages must be freed first. Hamas says it will not release them or stop fighting while it is under attack in Gaza.
A Palestinian boy carries a makeshift white flag as he arrives with his mother near Al-Shifa hospital in Gaza City on November 6, 2023. PHOTO: AFP
Incessant horror stories of civilian suffering on both sides have polarized global opinion over the past month and show no sign of abating.
In Shefayim, Israel, Avihai Brodutch described 31 days of agony after Hamas kidnapped his wife and three children from Kfar Aza, a kibbutz about three kilometers (2 miles) from Gaza.
“My children, they are so young and they haven’t done anything bad to anyone,” he said of his 10-year-old daughter Ofri and sons Yuval, eight, and Uriah, four.
Since last week, hundreds of Gazans holding foreign passports have been allowed to exit the Rafah crossing into Egypt. But the vast majority of Gazans are trapped inside the strip, and those who managed to escape describe the agony of leaving loved ones behind.
“It’s just a horror movie that keeps repeating itself,” Susan Beseiso, a 31-year-old Palestinian-American who managed to leave Gaza for Egypt last week, told Reuters in Cairo. “No sleep. No food. No water. You keep being evacuated from one place to another.”
The Israeli military shared footage of hundreds of Gazans forced to relocate.
Hundreds of Gazans can be seen with their hands in the air and carrying white flags. pic.twitter.com/ahngg139zI
— Clash Report (@clashreport) November 7, 2023
Her own escape was fraught with danger from Israeli shelling along the way, she said.
Netanyahu said a blanket cease-fire would hamper his country’s war effort, but humanitarian pauses in the fighting could still be considered under the treaties.
US President Joe Biden discussed such pauses with Netanyahu by phone on Monday, reiterating his support for Israel while stressing that it must protect civilians, the White House said.
Washington supports Israel’s claim that Hamas would benefit from a full ceasefire to regroup. But many countries and agencies say a ceasefire is needed immediately to help Gaza’s citizens in danger.
The enclave is turning into a “cemetery for children,” UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said on Monday. International agencies have said hospitals are unable to deal with the wounded and food and clean water are running out with aid deliveries not close enough.
Also read: UN leaders say Gaza war must ‘stop now’ as death toll tops 10,000
“We need an immediate humanitarian ceasefire. It’s been 30 days. Enough is enough. This must stop now,” said a statement from the heads of several UN bodies on Monday.
The Israeli military released video on Monday of tanks moving through bombed streets and groups of troops moving on foot. Chief military spokesman Vice Admiral Daniel Haggari said troops were hunting Hamas commanders at the field level to weaken the militants’ ability to “carry out counter-attacks”.
There are fears the month-long conflict could spread to other fronts, including the Israeli-occupied West Bank and the northern border with Lebanon, both areas that have seen an outbreak of unrest among the deadliest in years.
In the occupied West Bank, the Palestinian health ministry said on Tuesday that a total of 163 Palestinians had been killed by Israeli forces since October 7, bringing the death toll since the start of this year to 371.
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