Residents of South Gaza Towns Report Severe Bombardment Amid Calls for Civilian Evacuation

by Sophia Chen
Biden visit to Israel and Jordan

Residents of the southern Gaza towns of Khan Younis and Rafah have reported heavy artillery shelling early on Tuesday, following Israel’s directives for civilians in these areas to take shelter. Information regarding casualties has yet to be confirmed.

Aerial bombardments targeted both the west and southeast regions of Khan Younis, as well as the western parts of Rafah, according to local sources. Thousands have congregated in Rafah, which hosts the only border crossing to Egypt, as international negotiators strive to secure an agreement that would allow humanitarian aid to enter and permit refugees holding foreign passports to exit.

Breaking News Update

Earlier reports indicate that the U.S. aims to resolve the stalemate over humanitarian aid delivery to the beleaguered civilians in Gaza after a severe assault by Hamas militants. U.S. President Joe Biden is slated to visit Israel and Jordan on Wednesday.

Ongoing Conflict: Israel-Hamas

  • Live Updates: Obstacles in Aid Delivery to Gaza Amid Persistent Israeli Blockade and Biden’s Upcoming Visit
  • Lack of Prioritization of Israeli-Palestinian Issue by Biden Criticized by Arab Leaders
  • UN Security Council Dismisses Russian Resolution on Gaza for Omitting Mention of Hamas

Relief organizations have issued warnings about the imminent collapse of life in Gaza due to the ongoing Israeli blockade, with dwindling water supplies, increasing numbers of people seeking shelter, and power shortages threatening hospital operations.

At the Rafah crossing—Gaza’s sole link to Egypt—aid supplies in trucks stand ready for delivery into the densely populated territory. Civilians, many of whom are dual-nationality Palestinians, remain trapped and are desperately seeking a way out.

Attempts to establish a ceasefire and open the border, closed last week following Israeli airstrikes, have yet to bear fruit. As of early Tuesday, it remains uncertain who is responsible for the continued closure of the crossing.

Gen. Erik Kurilla, the commander of the U.S. Central Command, has arrived in Tel Aviv for consultations with Israeli military officials ahead of Biden’s planned visit on Wednesday. This visit aims to demonstrate the U.S. administration’s support for Israel. Additionally, Biden is expected to meet Arab leaders in Jordan amid concerns of a wider regional conflict.

U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, fresh from a tour through six Arab countries, announced in Tel Aviv that a plan is in development between the U.S. and Israel to deliver humanitarian aid to Gaza’s civilian population. The plan would explore “potential safe zones to minimize civilian casualties.”

Israel continues its aggressive aerial campaign across Gaza, while Hamas persists in launching rockets. Growing tensions are also evident near the Israel-Lebanon border.

The Gaza Health Ministry reports that at least 2,778 people have been killed and 9,700 wounded. In contrast, over 1,400 Israelis have died, with a large number being civilians killed during Hamas’ attack on October 7.

The amalgamation of air raids, resource shortages, and Israel’s massive evacuation directives for northern Gaza has created a state of chaos among its 2.3 million inhabitants. Over one million Palestinians have been displaced, and approximately 60% are currently residing in an 8-mile stretch to the south of the evacuated zone, as per U.N. data.

Medical facilities in Gaza are facing the grim possibility of electrical outages, putting thousands of lives at risk. Meanwhile, hundreds of thousands of displaced Palestinians are scrambling for basic necessities like bread. Due to the lack of clean water, many are resorting to unsafe sources, thereby increasing the risk of disease spread.

The Israeli Defense Forces claim to be relocating civilians for their protection in anticipation of a comprehensive military operation against Hamas in northern Gaza. Much of Hamas’ military setup is located in residential zones.

Individuals evacuating from northern Gaza are still susceptible to airstrikes in the southern region. An airstrike in Rafah before dawn on Monday resulted in the collapse of a building that housed three families who had fled from Gaza City. A minimum of 12 individuals were killed, and nine more are reportedly still trapped beneath the rubble.

Israel has also initiated evacuations near its northern border with Lebanon, a region where repeated skirmishes have occurred with the Iranian-backed Hezbollah group. A precarious ceasefire has been in place between Israel and Hezbollah since their conflict in 2006.

Addressing the Israeli Knesset, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sent a stern warning to Iran and Hezbollah, cautioning them against any aggressive actions in the north.

Shortly after his speech, an evacuation of the Knesset was necessary due to rocket attacks aimed at Jerusalem. Emergency sirens in Tel Aviv led U.S. and Israeli officials to seek refuge.

Iran’s Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian warned of “preemptive action” if Israel escalates its military activities. This follows a pattern of increasing rhetoric from Iran, which backs both Hamas and Hezbollah.

The Israeli military reported that the number of hostages taken into Gaza is higher than initially estimated, with Hamas claiming to hold between 200 and 250 hostages.

Media attention in Israel remains focused on the plight of these hostages, with interviews of their relatives frequently broadcasted. Officials have pledged to continue the blockade until the hostages are safely returned.

In Gaza, an estimated 400,000 displaced persons have sought refuge in schools and other U.N. facilities. However, the agency reports it has limited water supply for its trapped staff members.

Philippe Lazzarini, the chief of UNRWA, emphasized the dire situation: “Gaza is running out of water, and Gaza is running out of life.” He called for an immediate end to the siege.

Hospitals are expected to exhaust their generator fuel supply within the next 24 hours, leading to the shutdown of critical life-supporting machinery and placing thousands of lives in jeopardy, according to U.N. sources.

Despite the risks, many medical professionals have opted to remain in the hospitals, arguing that their departure would be a death sentence for critically ill patients and neonates reliant on ventilators.

In the northern parts of Gaza, an unspecified number of people have chosen to stay, either unable or unwilling to evacuate. Hamas has urged the population to disregard Israel’s evacuation orders, and the Israeli military released images purportedly showing a Hamas blockade preventing southward traffic.

Contributions to this report were made by correspondents located in Baghdad, Jerusalem, Beirut, and Cairo.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Israeli bombardments in southern Gaza towns

What areas in Gaza are currently facing intense bombardments?

The southern towns of Khan Younis and Rafah in Gaza are experiencing heavy shelling. Israeli bombs have struck areas west and southeast of Khan Younis and west of Rafah.

What steps is the U.S. taking to address the situation?

President Joe Biden is set to visit Israel and Jordan to hold talks with the respective governments. U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken and Israeli authorities have agreed to develop a plan for enabling humanitarian aid to reach civilians in Gaza.

What is the status of humanitarian aid at the Rafah border crossing?

Truckloads of aid are currently waiting to enter Gaza through the Rafah crossing, which is the territory’s only border crossing to Egypt. Mediators are attempting to negotiate a cease-fire to open the border for aid and allow refugees with foreign passports to leave.

What is the impact of the Israeli siege on Gaza’s infrastructure?

Life in Gaza is nearing complete collapse due to the siege. Hospitals are on the brink of losing electricity, water supplies are decreasing, and hundreds of thousands of people are seeking shelter. The situation is described as increasingly desperate.

Are there any international reactions to the conflict?

The United Nations Security Council has rejected Russia’s resolution on Gaza that fails to mention Hamas. Arab leaders have criticized the lack of priority given to Israeli-Palestinian talks by the U.S. administration.

What is the casualty count in Gaza and Israel?

According to Gaza’s Health Ministry, at least 2,778 people have been killed and 9,700 wounded in the region. In Israel, more than 1,400 people have been killed, with the majority being civilians.

How is the conflict affecting the broader Middle East region?

Fears are mounting that the fighting could escalate into a wider regional conflict. Tensions have also increased near the Israel-Lebanon border, involving exchanges of fire with the Iranian-backed Hezbollah group.

What is the status of hostages in Gaza?

Hamas claims to be holding between 200 to 250 hostages. The situation has dominated Israeli media, and officials have vowed to maintain the siege of Gaza until the hostages are released.

What is the impact on healthcare in Gaza?

Hospitals are expected to run out of generator fuel in the next 24 hours, putting thousands of lives at risk as life-saving equipment like incubators and ventilators will stop functioning.

What is the UN’s stance on the situation?

The UN has called for a lifting of the siege on Gaza. Philippe Lazzarini, the chief of UNRWA, stated that “Gaza is running out of water, and Gaza is running out of life.”

More about Israeli bombardments in southern Gaza towns

  • Israel-Gaza Conflict Live Updates
  • U.S. Diplomacy in the Middle East
  • UN Security Council Resolutions on Gaza
  • Humanitarian Aid Stuck at Rafah Crossing
  • Hospitals in Gaza Nearing Collapse
  • Hostage Situation in Gaza: An Overview
  • Hezbollah and Israel: Rising Tensions
  • The Impact of Conflict on Gaza’s Infrastructure
  • Current Casualty Count in Gaza and Israel
  • Regional Implications of Israel-Gaza Conflict

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EmilyClark October 17, 2023 - 6:38 am

Very detailed article, but the numbers are staggering. Thousands killed and wounded, this needs to stop.

MikeBrown October 17, 2023 - 9:16 am

What about the hostages? it seems like that situation is getting buried under all the other news.

BettyWhite October 17, 2023 - 9:45 am

Surprised Iran is warning Israel, things are really heating up. This could go from bad to worse in no time.

RobertJohnson October 17, 2023 - 7:30 pm

Biden going to Israel n Jordan, hope it’s not just another photo op. Lives are at stake here.

JohnDoe October 17, 2023 - 9:06 pm

Wow, the situation is really escalating. it’s high time for international mediation to step in.

TomHarris October 18, 2023 - 12:03 am

If the UN cant even pass a resolution, what hope is there for a diplomatic solution. Seems like the world’s hands are tied.

SaraWilson October 18, 2023 - 12:14 am

hospitals running out of supplies? That’s just heartbreaking. Something has to be done, and fast.

MarkJones October 18, 2023 - 4:17 am

I’m worried this could escalate to a broader conflict involving other countries. The tensions are too high right now.

LisaMiller October 18, 2023 - 5:30 am

Who’s keeping the Rafah crossing closed? that’s the real question. People need to get out and aid needs to get in.

JaneSmith October 18, 2023 - 5:40 am

Can’t believe this is happening again, when will the cycle of violence end? Aid needs to get through ASAP.


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