Israel has claimed that its forces have effectively surrounded Gaza City. The announcement comes amid US Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s return to Tel Aviv for a second meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu within a month.
The United States intends to encourage Netanyahu to agree to temporary pauses in the conflict, allowing humanitarian aid to reach the embattled Palestinian region. Despite the mounting casualties and dire conditions in Gaza, Israel has been selective in heeding global calls for a ceasefire.
Gaza health authorities have reported over 9,061 casualties since the onset of Israel’s retaliation against Hamas attacks. As the conflict approaches its fourth week, tensions continue to rise with the Israeli military confronting Hamas fighters and their underground hit-and-run tactics.
International Responses and Concerns
A group of independent United Nations experts expressed their concerns, stating that the Palestinians in Gaza are potentially facing “grave risk of genocide.” In response to this, the Israeli mission to the UN in Geneva labelled these remarks as “deplorable and deeply concerning.” The White House also chimed in, expressing its intention to explore a series of pauses in the conflict.
Reports from the ground reveal the strategic use of underground tunnels by Hamas fighters. They are known to target tanks and then retreat into their tunnel network. Concurrently, the US has deployed intelligence-gathering drones over Gaza, aiming to locate hostages.
Evacuations and Hospital Challenges
The Rafah crossing between Gaza and Egypt was opened for limited evacuations, facilitating the exit of foreign passport holders and some wounded Gazans. The already deteriorating healthcare system in Gaza is witnessing a collapse, with over a third of its hospitals non-operational. Many of these hospitals are now makeshift refugee camps, leading international charities to describe the situation as “beyond catastrophic.”