Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has announced that the military has entered a “second stage” in the war against Hamas by sending ground forces into Gaza and expanding attacks from the ground, air, and sea. In a televised address to the nation, Netanyahu framed the conflict as a fight for Israel’s survival and vowed that the assault would intensify before a broad ground invasion.
The bombardment, described by Gaza residents as the most intense of the war, has severely disrupted communications in the territory and cut off its 2.3 million people from the outside world. The Israeli military released images showing tank columns moving near the border and airstrikes targeting Hamas tunnels and bunkers. Destroying these underground sites is a key objective for Israel in its campaign to crush Hamas after its incursion into Israel three weeks ago.
The escalation of the conflict has increased pressure on Israel’s government to secure the release of dozens of hostages taken during the initial attack by Hamas. Desperate family members met with Netanyahu and expressed support for a prisoner exchange with Palestinian prisoners held in Israel, an idea proposed by the top Hamas leader in Gaza.
Netanyahu assured the families that Israel is determined to bring back all the hostages and stated that the expanding ground operation would aid in achieving this goal. He emphasized that the objectives of the war are to destroy Hamas’ military and governmental capabilities and secure the release of the hostages.
While Netanyahu did not address calls for a cease-fire, he made it clear that Israel’s future depends on its success against “enemy” forces. He referred to Israel’s history and military conflicts, asserting that their soldiers’ supreme goal is to destroy the enemy and ensure Israel’s existence.
The Israeli military stated that it is gradually expanding its ground operations inside Gaza, suggesting a strategy of staged escalation rather than an all-out invasion. Until now, troops had conducted brief nightly incursions before returning to Israel. Despite Israel’s offensive, Palestinian militants continue to fire rockets into Israel, posing a constant threat.
The death toll in Gaza has risen to over 7,700 people since the war began, with 377 deaths reported since late Friday. The majority of those killed have been women and children. The disruption of communications has paralyzed the health network, making it difficult for residents to call ambulances and for emergency teams to respond to the injured.
The World Health Organization has appealed for an end to the fighting, highlighting the increasing number of wounded and the challenges faced by medical personnel due to the communications blackout. Palestinians also mourn the loss of funeral rites, as overcrowded cemeteries have forced families to dig up long-buried bodies and deepen graves.
Over 1.4 million people in Gaza have fled their homes, seeking refuge in UN schools and shelters. However, conditions in these safe zones are deteriorating due to Israeli bombardment, with food and water supplies running low. Humanitarian workers report that the aid allowed into Gaza by Israel is insufficient, leaving hospitals struggling to operate without sufficient fuel for generators.
The intensified air and ground campaign has raised concerns about the fate of hostages held by Hamas. Hundreds of relatives gathered in Tel Aviv, demanding that the government prioritize their return. In response, Hamas’ top leader in Gaza offered to release all hostages if Israel releases all Palestinians held in Israeli prisons. However, the Israeli military dismissed this offer as “psychological terror.”
Efforts are underway to de-escalate the conflict through talks between Egypt and the warring parties. Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi has been working to secure the release of prisoners and hostages. The United Nations Secretary-General expressed surprise at the escalation of bombardments in Gaza and called for an end to the violence.
Impatience with Israel’s actions is growing internationally, with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announcing plans to declare Israel a “war criminal.” In response, Israel’s foreign minister has ordered the return of the country’s diplomatic mission from Turkey to reassess ties.
The current conflict between Israel and Hamas has resulted in a higher death toll than previous wars. The situation has raised concerns about the potential for a wider regional war, with Arab nations expressing alarm over the possibility of a ground invasion.
In conclusion, the conflict between Israel and Hamas has entered a new stage with the deployment of ground forces into Gaza. The intensification of attacks has disrupted communications and put the lives of Gaza’s population at risk. Efforts to secure the release of hostages and de-escalate the conflict are underway, but the situation remains volatile and has the potential to escalate further.