Officials from Egypt, the United States, and Qatar highlighted active measures being taken to resume the transfer of injured Gaza citizens and those carrying foreign passports via the Rafah crossing into Egypt. This critical humanitarian operation experienced a suspension after a devastating ambulance attack on Saturday. Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas, used a meeting with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken to underscore the need for an urgent cessation of Israeli hostilities.
Despite being amidst a contentious scenario, Blinken’s covert journey to the occupied West Bank revealed a strategic intent to prevent the conflict between Israel and Hamas from escalating. The Rafah traverse towards Egypt’s Sinai peninsula is a crucial gate for Gazans as it’s not under Israel’s control. Up until now, aid trucks continued to deliver much-needed supplies into Gaza, say two Egyptian sources.
The evacuation process had initially commenced on Wednesday thanks to an agreement facilitated by international intermediaries. As the dawn broke over the Maghzai refugee camp in Gaza, locals began desperately searching for survivors or the remains of those less fortunate. The Hamas-run health ministry’s spokesperson accused the Israeli military of an incursion on the camp which reportedly caused the tragic death of 47 individuals.
Furthermore, an entirely separate onslaught by the Israeli forces led to the tragic annihilation of 21 Palestinian family members, including women and children. Abbas asserted his message to Blinken with urgency, insisting he intervene to halt the ‘crimes’ being perpetuated. The Palestinian leader was insistent on securing an immediate ceasefire from Israel.
Abbas painted a mournful picture of the ‘genocide and destruction’ being rained on Palestinians in Gaza via the unstoppable force of Israel’s military machinery. He further emphasized that this military offensive had little to no regard for established norms of international law. His fervent plea for respite was echoed by foreign ministers from leading Middle East countries including Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, and the UAE, who met Blinken in Amman to ask him to convince Israel to agree to a ceasefire.
Pope Francis added his voice to the chorus, delivering an urgent plea on behalf of the Holy See with the words ‘Stop in the name of God’. He made an impassioned call for expanded humanitarian aid and support for the injured to alleviate the ‘critical situation’ in Gaza. However, Blinken viewed a ceasefire amid current contexts as ultimately beneficial to Hamas, arguing such a move could allow the Islamist group a chance to regroup and possibly launch a future assault.
The US State Secretary instead showed a preference for short-term intermissions in combat that would permit the delivery of humanitarian assistance and enable people to escape Gaza. Blinken’s spokesperson, Matthew Miller, doubled down on this stance, emphasizing U.S. commitment to ensuring the provision of life-saving humanitarian relief and the reestablishment of necessary services in Gaza.
Taking a defensive position, Israel counters that its military interventions are solely aimed at Hamas, not innocent civilian populations. They further assert that the Palestinian Islamist organization is exploiting the local populace by using them as human shields. Following Israel’s accusations, Gaza’s health authorities announced on Sunday that the war had so far resulted in over 9,770 Palestinian deaths.
The conflict was initiated by Hamas’ unexpected attack on southern Israel on October 7, which claimed the lives of 1,400 Israelis and resulted in more than 240 individuals taken hostage. Israel subsequently responded with relentless airstrikes and artillery targeting the Gaza Strip. Explicitly, Israeli airstrikes razed houses within the Maghazi refugee camp, with the Israeli military currently trying to gather more details of the operation.
The Palestinian Red Crescent flagged intense bombardment, powerful artillery explosions, and air strikes in the vicinity of the Al-Quds Hospital in Gaza’s Tal Al-Hawa area. David Satterfield, the U.S. special envoy, stated in Amman on Saturday that between 800,000 to 1,000,000 individuals had migrated to the southern regions, whereas 350,000 to 400,000 had chosen to stay in and around Gaza City.
Pre-existing living conditions that were already harsh in Gaza have been severely exacerbated by the war. Vital supplies like food are in short supply, inhabitants are forced to consume salty water, and on the brink of collapse is the once thriving healthcare infrastructure. Close to 1.5 million of Gaza’s 2.3 million citizens have been displaced within their own borders, as per the U.N humanitarian office’s estimates.
Qatar’s foreign ministry emphasized that without a temporary halt in violence in Gaza, its mediators would not be able to facilitate the release of Israeli hostages held captive there. The Gulf nation, in coordination with the United States, has been taking the lead in engaging talks with both Hamas and Israeli representatives. These discussions revolve around securing the release of hostages since the hostile attack by Hamas on October 7.
In a surprising parallel development, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reprimanded a cabinet subordinate who entertained the idea of a potential nuclear assault on Gaza publicly. A rapidly escalating climate of violence within the Israeli-occupied West Bank has added cause for concern about a possible third front to the already widespread conflict. This is in addition to an increasingly hostile situation along the northern border confronting Lebanese Hezbollah forces.
Israeli police conducting an arrest operation in Abu Dis, a village near Jerusalem, were confronted by an armed attacker, and in the ensuing firefight, shot him dead. The Palestinian health ministry reported around three Palestinians were killed in the incident, which involved clashes with Israeli forces. Yet another Palestinian fell victim to Israeli forces in the West Bank city of Hebron , eliciting no immediate comment from the Israeli military.