Israel Bombards Gaza with Air Strikes as Conflict Escalates
Israel launched a series of air strikes on Gaza early Monday morning, while also conducting airstrikes in southern Lebanon. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu convened a meeting with his top generals and war cabinet to assess the escalating conflict. The attacks primarily targeted the center and north of the Gaza Strip, resulting in casualties and damage.
The recent wave of violence began after Hamas conducted a rampage on southern Israeli communities on October 7, resulting in numerous casualties and hostages. In response, Israel initiated a two-week bombardment of Gaza, resulting in thousands of deaths and injuries. Health authorities in Gaza reported at least 4,600 people killed during this period.
Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh and Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian held a call on Sunday to discuss ways to stop Israel’s “brutal crimes” in Gaza. Meanwhile, Israel has amassed tanks and troops near the fenced border with Gaza, signaling a potential ground invasion to annihilate Hamas.
The conflict between Israel and Hamas has raised concerns about a wider Middle East conflict. The United States has issued warnings about the significant risk to its interests in the region and has deployed advanced air defenses. The Pentagon has already sent naval power, including two aircraft carriers and about 2,000 Marines, to deter attacks by Iran-affiliated forces.
Iran’s strategy in the region involves limited strikes by proxies like Hezbollah on Israeli and US targets while avoiding a major escalation that would draw in Tehran. In Syria, where Iran has a military presence, Israeli missiles struck Damascus and Aleppo international airports, causing casualties and rendering the airports out of service.
On Israel’s northern border with Lebanon, clashes between Israel and Hezbollah have intensified. Hezbollah, backed by Iran, has supported Hamas in this conflict. Israeli aircraft targeted two Hezbollah cells in Lebanon planning to launch anti-tank missiles and rockets towards Israel. Other Hezbollah targets, including a compound and an observation post, were also struck.
With violence escalating along its borders, Israel has added 14 communities close to Lebanon and Syria to its evacuation contingency plan in the north of the country. Hezbollah reported the deaths of six more fighters, bringing the total number of its members killed since October 7 to 26.
As the conflict continues, aid is desperately needed in Gaza. Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh called on the international community to create a united front to stop Israel’s attacks and allow aid to reach Gaza. A second convoy of aid trucks entered the Rafah crossing on Sunday night, but the volume of aid so far is only 4 percent of the daily average before the hostilities. Food, water, medicines, and fuel stocks are running out.
US President Joe Biden has ramped up diplomacy efforts, holding calls with Netanyahu, Pope Francis, and leaders from Canada, France, Britain, Germany, Italy, and Britain. The leaders expressed support for Israel’s right to defend itself while calling for adherence to international humanitarian law and the protection of civilians.
Netanyahu also held phone calls with the leaders of France, Spain, and the Netherlands. Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte will visit Israel on Monday, followed by French President Emmanuel Macron on Tuesday.
The situation in Gaza remains dire, with the conflict showing no signs of abating. The international community must continue to work towards a peaceful resolution and provide much-needed aid to alleviate the suffering of the people in Gaza.