Israel’s military has communicated its intent for “unrelenting attacks” to dismantle Hamas. Meanwhile, former US President Obama voiced concerns over potential civilian casualties, cautioning that an Israeli military approach neglecting human implications could be counterproductive.
The Palestinian health ministry released distressing figures, revealing that over 5,087 Palestinians, including 2,055 children, lost their lives due to the recent strikes. As the situation escalated, Israeli forces continued their air assaults on Gaza, engaging with Hamas fighters. Amidst the intense conflict, Hamas announced the release of two Israeli women, making them the third and fourth hostages to be freed since the onset of the October 7 assault.
Statements from Israeli and US Officials
Israeli Chief of Staff Lieutenant General Herzi Halevi delivered a clear message, indicating that Israel had no plans to scale back its operations in the densely populated Gaza Strip. He further hinted at the possibility of a full-blown ground assault. In his statement, Halevi said, “We want to bring Hamas to a state of full dismantling…We are well prepared for the ground operations in the south.”
While the US publicly supports Israel’s right to self-defence, there are indications of intensified private conversations urging restraint between US institutions and Israeli officials. One key US objective is to secure more time for negotiations, aiming at releasing remaining hostages.
US President Joe Biden, when queried about a possible ceasefire, stated that the priority was to ensure the release of hostages before engaging in any discussions.
Obama’s Warning and Global Reactions
Barack Obama, in his statement, raised alarms over Israel’s strategy, emphasizing the potential long-term ramifications. He highlighted that depriving a captive population of essentials like food, water, and electricity could foster longstanding resentment, diminish global backing for Israel, and jeopardize peace efforts in the region.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is slated to join a UN Security Council meeting to discuss the Middle East situation. However, it remains uncertain what resolutions, if any, will emerge, given the divide among the council’s primary powers.
In this tumultuous backdrop, China and Russia are seizing the opportunity to position themselves as allies of the developing world, distinguishing their stance from the US, which has largely supported Israel.
Humanitarian Crisis Amidst Continued Hostilities
Reports from Monday suggested an alarming increase in casualties, with Gaza’s health ministry attributing the death of 436 individuals to bombardments in just 24 hours. On the other hand, the Israeli military provided insights into their operations, stating they targeted over 320 locations in Gaza, including Hamas strongholds and weapon positions.
Given the dire circumstances, with Gaza’s 2.3 million residents facing acute shortages, global leaders appear inclined to endorse calls from the UN and Arab nations for a “humanitarian pause”. This pause aims to facilitate the provision of essential aid, including food, water, and medicine. Concerns persist despite some aid entering the region, especially with fuel reserves anticipated to deplete within two days.