Israel continues ground advance into Gaza as civilians face starvation – Mondoweiss

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Casualties: 

Gaza

  • 10,022 killed, including at least 4,800 children
  • 24,808 wounded

Occupied West Bank

  • 155 killed
  • 2,100 wounded 

Key Developments: 

  • At least 144 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire since October 7 in the occupied West Bank, including 43 children, accounting for “more than one-third of all [383] Palestinian fatalities in the West Bank in 2023,” reported OCHA. 
  • Seven water facilities in the Gaza Strip were “directly hit and sustained major damage” on Saturday and Sunday. These included two water wells in Rafah, three sewage pipelines in Gaza City, and two water reservoirs, according to OCHA.
  • 88 UNRWA staff members have been killed in Gaza since October 7, making this the “highest number of UN fatalities ever recorded in a single conflict,” said UNICEF. 
  • 175 medical personnel and 24 civil defense workers have been killed in Gaza since October 7, according to the Palestinian Health Minister. 
  • 16 out of 36 hospitals and 51 of 72 clinics in the besieged enclave are nonoperational due to Israel’s ongoing bombardment, denial of the entry of fuel, and a lack of medicine, according to the Palestinian Minister of Health. 
  • Israeli airstrikes targeted their third refugee camp within 24 hours on Sunday: al-Bureij camp, killing at least 20 people, says Al Jazeera. 
  • An Israeli airstrike in southern Lebanon killed three children and their grandmother, according to AP news. Hezbollah followed the attack by firing at Kiryat Shmona, northern Israel, killing one Israeli. 
  • Israeli forces arrest Ahed Tamimi from her home overnight, accusing her of “incitement” on social media. Her family denies the claims.
  • At least 346 Israeli soldiers have been killed since October 7, including 32 who died during Israeli military ground incursions on Gaza, according to the Israeli army. 

Israeli military advances amid humanitarian crisis

Israeli bombardment has continued throughout the Gaza Strip on Sunday and Monday. At least 200 Palestinians were killed during Israel’s overnight airstrikes, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health.

The Israeli military is still operating deep inside northwest Gaza, claiming they are in the final stages of encircling the area by land, sea, and air with the goal of “taking out” Hamas and its targets. 

Since 2005, this is the farthest an Israeli military invasion has reached inside of the besieged enclave, detailed Al Jazeera. 

On Sunday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced that despite growing international demand, there will be no ceasefire. 

“There will be no ceasefire without the return of our hostages,” he said, “We say this to both our enemies and our friends: We will continue until we beat them.”

The Israeli army says they have effectively split the besieged enclave into two territories. They “have encircled Gaza City … Now there exists a south Gaza and a north Gaza,” said army spokesman Daniel Hagari as the “widespread strikes” continued in the area. 

While the Israeli military has continued to parade what it claims are vast successes in its ground operations, the rising Israeli death toll of ground troops (32 killed), as well as video footage published by Hamas in recent days, tell a different side of the story. According to the Hamas movement, its fighters have been engaging in guerilla warfare at near point-blank range, with direct hits to Israeli tanks and bulldozers on the ground in Gaza. It is also important to note that the majority of the Israeli ground forces have so far proceeded in heavily armored vehicles and taken up fixed positions within Gaza’s urban landscape, while the deployment of actual infantry units has so far remained limited in scope. Israeli journalists embedded with the military indicate that the army aims to gradually encircle Gaza City before it deploys a more wide-ranging attack. Haaretz military analyst Amos Harel has maintained that the “Hamas leadership maintains control over Gaza,” and that the next stage of the invasion would likely take months in which the army would be deployed to demolish the defensive tunnel network of the resistance.

From the air, meanwhile, Wafa reported “violent explosions and an unprecedented bombardment” across the Gaza Strip on Sunday targeting targeted the vicinity of Gaza hospitals, Al-Zaytoun neighborhood, Al-Sabra, Al-Rimal, Al-Rimal Al-Janubi, Al-Shati, Al-Safina, Al-Mashtal, Ansar Complex, Sheikh Ajleen, Tal Al-Hawa, and other communities and areas in Gaza City and its surrounding. The attacks have continued to level complete neighborhoods to the ground. 

Al Jazeera says that the heavy shelling in the northern Gaza Strip has most intensely been targeting areas surrounding the area’s largest hospital, Al Shifa, in Gaza City. 

The World Health Organization (WHO)  expressed its concern for the safety of “the patients, health workers, and the thousands of people sheltering at the hospital” after reports of heavy shelling and airstrikes in the vicinity of Al-Quds Hospital.

“We repeat, healthcare is #NotATarget. WHO reiterates its call for an immediate ceasefire, active protection of civilians and healthcare, and respect for International Humanitarian Law,” they said on X. 

Meanwhile, Palestinian fighters are trying to block Israeli force’s entry and force them to retreat. Severe armed clashes were reported on Sunday evening between Israeli troops and Palestinian fighters in the Gaza Strip.

Videos circulating the internet show Palestinian fighters coming out of secret tunnels and attacking Israeli forces; however, Mondoweiss cannot individually verify the footage. 

As the attacks continued on Sunday evening, all communications and internet services were cut within the Gaza Strip, plunging the densely populated area into darkness for the third time this week. Al Jazeera reported that Israel has declined to say if they were behind it but added it would “do whatever is needed” to protect its forces.

The blackout led the Palestine Red Crescent Society (PRCS) to lose communication with their team in the Gaza Strip.

Paltel, a Palestinian telecommunication company, announced that phone lines and Internet in the Gaza Strip “gradually began working” on Monday Morning, as illustrated by NetBlocks, which monitors cybersecurity and the governance of the internet.

Israel’s slow and cruel killing of civilians

The humanitarian situation in the besieged enclave continues to plummet exponentially. 

Israel’s ongoing assault has internally displaced nearly 1.5 million people, according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). 

Critical food supplies have reached dangerously low levels, making matters even worse. Even as the entry of humanitarian aid into Gaza steadily increases, “it is nowhere near enough to meet the exponentially growing needs,” according to the UN World Food Programme (WFP)

“Right now, parents in Gaza do not know whether they can feed their children today and whether they will even survive to see tomorrow. The suffering just meters away is unfathomable standing on this side of the border,” said Cindy McCain, Executive Director of the WFP. 

OCHA recorded that 710,275 of them are sheltering across 149 UNRWA facilities, 122,000 people are in hospitals, churches, and public buildings, 09,755 people are in 89 non-UNRWA schools, and the remainder are seeking refuge with host families, none of which are safe from Israeli bombardment.  

OCHA goes on to say that these overcrowded conditions are causing severe health risks and are exacerbated by damage to water and sanitation infrastructure and the lack of fuel to pump water. 

“Over the past few days, most water facilities in the above mentioned areas, including some 60 municipal water wells, have shut down due to the lack of fuel and the inability of staff to reach them,” the United Nations said in their report

The Israeli military told residents of Gaza that evacuating southwards through Salah al-Din Street between 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. will be granted safe passage. However, people are terrified and have little trust in Israel to secure their safety, as the army has attacked safe routes on multiple occasions since October 7. 

In addition, logistically, evacuating is very difficult and dangerous as civilians do not have access to transport due to the fuel shortage, destroyed roads, and debris from demolished buildings caused by the month of ongoing bombardment on the area. 

Around midnight on Sunday, Jordanian King Abdullah II said on X that their air force air-dropped urgent medical aid to the Jordanian field hospital in Gaza, as is their “duty.”

“We will always be there for our Palestinian brethren,” he said. 

The Israeli military said in a statement on Monday that they coordinated with Jordan to drop the “medical equipment and food to the Jordanian Hospital in the Gaza Strip.”

Israeli attack kills family in Lebanon

Israel and Hezbollah have continued to intensify their exchange of fire at the border between Lebanon and Israel. 

On Sunday, an Israeli airstrike on a car in south Lebanon killed three children and their grandmother. 

The Lebanese Prime Minister, Najib Mikati, denounced the attack as an “abhorrent crime committed by the Israeli enemy,” adding that drones targeted the cars.

Following the attack, Hassan Fadlallah, a Hezbollah lawmaker, told Reuters news agency, “The enemy will pay the price for its crimes against civilians.”

The Israeli army released no details on the incident. However, Israeli military spokesperson Daniel Hagari said: “Regarding Lebanon, we attack on the basis of intelligence information, and we will continue to attack. That is our mission. Anyone who threatens us, we will attack them.”

Over 70 people have been killed in southern Lebanon since the hostilities began, including 59 Hezbollah fighters, ten civilians, and one Reuters journalist, Al Jazeera reported. 

As fighting escalates with Hezbollah, Israeli media reported that the Israeli military is prepared for an attack on Lebanon. 

“We are ready to strike in the north at any time,” said Israeli Chief of General Staff Herzi Halevi during a troop visit to the border.

“We know that it can happen. We have the clear goal of restoring a much better security situation on the borders – not just in the Gaza Strip.”

Ahed Tamimi among dozens arrested in West Bank

Violence against Palestinians by the Israeli state and illegal settlers has been increasing at an alarming rate. 

Israeli military raids took place overnight on Sunday and in the early hours of Monday across the occupied West Bank in Palestinian towns, cities, and villages, including Hebron, Qalqilya, Nablus, Jenin, Tubas, and occupied East Jerusalem. 

The Palestinian Prisoners’ Club says about 70 Palestinians were arrested during these raids, including an adviser to the Palestinian Authority, Fatah member Rafat Alian, and Palestinian activist Ahed Tamimi.

Tamimi made headlines when she was arrested at just 16 years old for slapping an Israeli soldier that was raiding her village of Nabi Saleh. The now 22-year-old was arrested from her home in the middle of the night Sunday “on suspicion of inciting violence and terrorist activities in the town of Nabi Saleh” an Israeli spokesperson told AFP. 

The spokesperson said Tamimi was arrested as part of raid “aimed at apprehending individuals suspected of being involved in terrorist activities and incitement to hatred,” citing an alleged Instagram post, in which that army claims Tamimi wrote in both Arabic and Hebrew calling for violence against illegal Israeli settlers in the West Bank.

Tamimi’s mother told AFP that the post in question was written and posted by a fake Instagram page attributed to her daughter, and was not written by Tamimi. “There are dozens of (online) pages in Ahed’s name with her photo, with which she has no connection,” Tamimi’s mother told AFP.

Following Tamimi’s arrest, Israeli National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir, whose ministry is in charge of the Israeli police, boasted about the arrest, calling Tamimi a “terrorist,” claiming that she “expressed sympathy and support for the Nazi human beings on social media. Zero tolerance with terrorists and supporters of terrorism! Just like that!”

Ben-Gvir and the police have been leading a campaign of targeted arrests, harassment, and incitement against Palestinians in Israel and occupied Jerusalem over their social media activity. With the arrest of Tamimi and allegations that she was arrested over social media activity, it could indicate that the campaign of targeting people over social media activity is now extending to the occupied West Bank. 

Separately, on Monday morning, Israeli police said they shot dead a 16-year-old resident of occupied East Jerusalem’s al-Issawiya neighborhood after a stabbing incident that wounded two officers. 

At least 144 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire since October 7, including 43 children, according to the UN. According to OCHA, the 144 Palestinians killed in the last month account for “more than one-third of all [383] Palestinian fatalities in the West Bank in 2023.”

The UN report goes on to explain that nearly 50% of the fatalities occurred during confrontations that followed military search and arrest operations, and 35% took place in the context of demonstrations in solidarity with Gaza.

Palestinian Authority open to future role in Gaza

The Palestinian Authority, which governs over the West Bank while it is occupied and controlled by Israel, is open to playing a central role in “what comes next in Gaza,” as proposed by U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken. 

Currently, the PA maintains a policy of security coordination with Israel  in the West Bank, enabling the foreign occupation and suppressing Palestinian resistance groups. The U.S. and Israel likely want the group to play a similar role in Gaza. 

“We will fully assume our responsibilities within the framework of a comprehensive political solution that includes all of the West Bank, including east Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip,” Abbas said, according to Wafa news agency. 

Late on Sunday, the Fatah Central Committee, the ruling party of the PA, discussed the latest developments of Israel’s ongoing bombardment of Gaza. 

“The Central Committee reaffirmed the Palestinian position calling for stopping the Israeli aggression against our people in the Gaza Strip, where our people are subjected to a barbaric war of extermination by the occupation army, which insists on violating all taboos by targeting children, women and the elderly, and preventing the entry of humanitarian aid to our people in beloved Gaza,” Fatah said in a statement, reported Wafa, according to Al Jazeera. 

They also urged the international community “to shoulder its responsibilities to stop the bleeding Palestinian bloodbath in Gaza, and to stop this aggression that threatens to explode the entire region.”

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