In a current, harrowing conflict, Israel has bombarded the Gaza Strip with its heaviest airstrikes since the beginning of its 75-year conflict with the Palestinians. This is reported by the news agency “Reuters“. Entire parts of the city are said to have been destroyed, despite Hamas threatening to execute prisoners in the event of any direct hit on Israeli territory.
Deaths in frightening numbers
According to Reuters, hundreds of thousands of reservists have been mobilized and Gaza, home to 2.3 million people, has been completely besieged. Israeli news reports reported that up to 900 people, mostly civilians, were killed by Hamas attacks last Saturday. People were shot in houses, on the streets and at a dance party in the desert, dwarfing even the brutal modern attacks by Islamists, apart from those on September 11th.
The losses on the Palestinian side are also shocking: in return, according to Reuters, the Gaza Strip’s Ministry of Health reported at least 770 deaths and over 4,000 injuries from Israeli retaliatory strikes. The airstrikes, already considered the most violent on record, continued to intensify on Tuesday night, with blast tremors shaking the ground and sending columns of smoke and flames shooting into the morning sky.
According to the United Nations, over 180,000 people in Gaza are now homeless, crowding streets or in schools. Access to the streets for rescue workers was blocked by bombardments. This creates tragic scenes, which Reuters reports: In the Khan Younis Hospital in Gaza, corpses had to be placed on the floor due to lack of space, with the names of the dead written on their stomachs. Paramedics appeal to relatives to collect the bodies quickly as there is no longer any capacity for the deceased.
Israel, which withdrew from the Gaza Strip in 2005 and has blockaded it since Hamas came to power in 2007, has now also attacked the border gate within the only crossing from Gaza to Egypt, according to Reuters. The call hours earlier for Gazans to flee to Egypt was reversed, making it clear that the border crossing was closed.
Unforeseeable consequences of the outbreak of violence
The attacks and retaliation, as reported by Reuters, have significantly disrupted diplomatic efforts in the Middle East, particularly at a critical time when Israel was close to reaching an agreement to normalize relations with Saudi Arabia. Western countries have largely supported Israel, while street demonstrations in support of Palestinians have taken place in Arab cities. Iran, known as a sponsor of Hamas, celebrated the attacks but denied direct involvement.