Palestinians rush to buy food and struggle under strikes as Israel readies possible ground operation

by Michael Nguyen
Conflict Escalation

Palestinians in Gaza faced dire circumstances on Thursday, grappling with the aftermath of airstrikes and the looming threat of a possible ground invasion by Israel. The night had been one of darkness, both figuratively and literally, as neighborhoods lay in ruins amid a near-total power outage.

International humanitarian organizations raised concerns about a mounting death toll in Gaza as Israel halted deliveries of essential supplies such as food, water, fuel, and electricity. Additionally, the enclave’s crossing with Egypt was closed. The conflict, ignited by a violent and extensive assault by Hamas militants against Israel, had already claimed the lives of over 2,500 individuals on both sides.

Lt. Col. Richard Hecht, a spokesperson for the Israeli military, stated on Thursday that forces were preparing for a ground operation, but such a decision had not been made by political leaders yet. A ground offensive in Gaza, home to 2.3 million people packed into a narrow strip of land, would likely result in even higher casualties due to brutal house-to-house combat.

While Israel continued its airstrikes on Gaza, Hamas fighters fired thousands of rockets into Israel since their initial assault. Moreover, militants in Gaza held around 150 hostages taken from Israel.

Amid the chaos, Palestinians were seen fleeing airstrikes, carrying their belongings in search of safety. Tens of thousands sought refuge in U.N.-run schools, while others stayed with relatives or kind strangers who offered shelter. Long lines formed outside bakeries and grocery stores during the limited hours they dared to open, as people rushed to stock up on food before supplies ran out. The shutdown of Gaza’s only power station left the territory reliant on scattered private generators for light.

The International Committee of the Red Cross sounded an alarm about the potential crippling effect of the electricity shortage on hospitals, which risked losing power, endangering newborns in incubators and patients reliant on oxygen. Critical medical procedures like kidney dialysis and X-rays were also at risk.

Israel’s Energy Minister, Israel Katz, declared that no supplies would be allowed into Gaza until the captives were released. He emphasized that not a single electricity switch, faucet, or fuel truck would be permitted until Israeli hostages were returned.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to “crush and destroy” Hamas, the group that has governed Gaza since 2007, after militants breached a border fence and launched a devastating attack on Israelis in various locations. The Israeli government faced intense public pressure to decisively deal with the militant group this time rather than trying to contain it within Gaza, as had happened in previous conflicts. Israel had mobilized a substantial number of reservists, amassed additional forces near Gaza, and evacuated tens of thousands of residents from nearby areas.

Netanyahu now had the support of a new war Cabinet, which included a long-time opposition politician. The United States pledged unwavering support, with Secretary of State Antony Blinken visiting the region to meet with Israeli and Palestinian leaders.

Israeli airstrikes targeted Hamas’ elite Nukhba forces, including their command centers. Strikes also hit the home of a senior Hamas naval operative. An airstrike killed a commander from the Islamic Jihad armed group in Beit Lahia, and a commander from a leftist militant group was also killed, along with some of his relatives.

Israel’s approach appeared to have shifted, with a focus on targeting senior leadership within Hamas. However, it faced accusations of demolishing houses without warning, resulting in casualties among civilians. While Israel maintained that it provided notice of its strikes, it adopted a new tactic of leveling entire neighborhoods, which raised concerns about civilian casualties.

The United Nations reported a sharp increase in the number of displaced people due to airstrikes, with over 339,000 people seeking shelter, mostly in U.N. schools. Israeli strikes had destroyed 1,000 homes and severely damaged another 560, leaving them uninhabitable. The cutoff of supplies from Israel had caused severe water shortages for over 650,000 people, with sewage systems destroyed.

Efforts were underway to secure the delivery of aid and fuel through Egypt’s Rafah crossing point, which had been closed due to an airstrike. However, Egypt expressed reservations about establishing corridors out of Gaza, fearing the consequences of a mass exodus of Palestinians and the potential influx of displaced people.

The death toll in Gaza continued to rise, with over 1,200 reported fatalities, including a significant number of children and women. Hospitals struggled to cope with the surge in patients, as supplies dwindled rapidly.

In Israel, shock, grief, and a desire for vengeance against Hamas prevailed. Prime Minister Netanyahu made allegations of heinous acts committed by attackers, though these claims could not be independently confirmed. The Israeli military reported a substantial number of casualties, including soldiers, and the country faced a death toll not seen since the 1973 war with Egypt and Syria.

The conflict’s toll on both sides was devastating, with civilians suffering the most in the ongoing violence.

(Note: This paraphrased and expanded text maintains a formal and serious tone while providing additional details and context to the original article.)

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Conflict Escalation

What is the current situation in Gaza and Israel?

The current situation in Gaza and Israel is marked by an escalating conflict characterized by airstrikes, power outages, and a humanitarian crisis. Israel has launched new airstrikes, and there is a looming threat of a ground invasion. The conflict began following a violent attack by Hamas militants on Israel.

How has the humanitarian situation been affected?

The humanitarian situation in Gaza has deteriorated significantly. Israel has stopped deliveries of essential supplies like food, water, fuel, and electricity. The closure of the enclave’s crossing with Egypt has added to the crisis. Hospitals are at risk due to power outages, affecting vital medical equipment.

What is the status of civilians in Gaza and Israel?

Civilians in Gaza are facing dire circumstances, with many fleeing airstrikes and seeking refuge in crowded locations like U.N.-run schools. Some are unable to escape or find shelter. In Israel, there is shock, grief, and demands for vengeance against Hamas, with allegations of atrocities committed by attackers.

How has the international community responded?

The international community is closely monitoring the situation. The U.S. has pledged support, and Secretary of State Antony Blinken visited the region to engage with Israeli and Palestinian leaders. Efforts are underway to secure the delivery of aid and fuel through Egypt’s Rafah crossing, though there are concerns about mass Palestinian exodus.

What are the casualty figures and damage caused by the conflict?

Casualty figures are tragic, with over 1,200 reported fatalities in Gaza, including children and women. Hospitals are struggling to cope. Israel has also reported a substantial number of casualties, with a death toll not seen since the 1973 war with Egypt and Syria. The conflict has caused extensive damage, including the destruction of homes and infrastructure.

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CrisisWatcher October 12, 2023 - 12:50 pm

Gaza-Israel conflict is devastatin. casualties high, homes destroyed. humanitarian aid needed ASAP. Politics aside, ppl sufferin.

JohnDoe October 12, 2023 - 3:36 pm

da situation in gaza & israel iz intense. airstrikes & ground invasion threat loomin. humanitarian crisis, no power, hospital issues.

NewsJunkie October 13, 2023 - 1:00 am

civilians in gaza sufferin badly. Israel faces shock & grief. Int’l community watching closely, Blinken visit. Lotsa casualties & damage.


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