After three week under Israeli siege and a bombing campaign which has been unprecedented in its intensity, Gazans are getting increasingly desperate. The Strip is almost completely enveloped in darkness, also with communications cut, which happened Friday, and the United Nations is now warning of a total breakdown in civic order.
UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) in Gaza has said that thousands of Palestinians have broken into several of its warehouses in the Strip, raiding wheat, flour, and hygiene stores – among other basic necessities stored there.
“This is a worrying sign that civil order is starting to break down after three weeks of war and a tight siege,” UNRWA director Thomas White told press agencies.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has also in fresh Sunday statements called the crisis a “nightmare” and again urged a ceasefire. “The situation in Gaza is growing more desperate by the hour. I regret that instead of a critically needed humanitarian pause, supported by the international community, Israel has intensified its military operations.”
Over the weekend the Gazan death toll surpassed 8,000 – with Gaza’s Health Ministry saying that most of these are women and young people. The Biden administration, which has repeatedly affirmed that it “stands with Israel”, has also said that it doesn’t trust casualty figures being issued by Hamas or Palestinian sources.
There are reports that communications were restored to much of the Gaza Strip as of Sunday, possibly the result of growing international pressure on the Israelis. Ten more aid trucks have also reportedly crossed from Egypt on Sunday.
According to Al Jazeera, “The Israeli military said on Sunday it had struck more than 450 targets over the past 24 hours, including Hamas command centres, observation posts and antitank missile launching positions. It said more ground forces were sent into Gaza overnight.” The Israeli ground offensive has continued expanding, with The Guardian observing, “Under the cover of strikes and artillery, Israeli ground troops have begun moving into the north of the strip in Beit Lahia and Beit Hanoun in what the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, described as the “second stage” of the war triggered by Hamas.”
As we continue to expand our ground operations in northern Gaza:
🔴IAF aircraft, guided by IDF troops, struck Hamas structures.
🔴Anti-tank missile launch posts & observation posts were struck.
🔴Multiple terrorists were eliminated. pic.twitter.com/XMwKPKGZ1R
— Israel Defense Forces (@IDF) October 29, 2023
IDF troops have been seen reaching a point some two miles into Gaza:
Israeli troops appear to have advanced over two miles into Gaza, according to a CNN analysis of video published by an Israeli media outlet.
The troops in the video, taken on Saturday, are seen putting an Israeli flag on a Gaza resort hotel’s roof. CNN geolocated the video to an area just over two miles from the Gaza-Israeli border.
“Soldiers of the 52 Battalion of the 401 Brigade are waving the Israeli flag in the heart of Gaza, by the beach,” a soldier is heard saying in the video, taken several miles north of central Gaza City. “We will not forgive nor forget, and we’ll not stop until the victory.”
Palestinian sources are also saying another major hospital, which is treating hundreds of patients and giving shelter to over 10,000, has come under attack:
Israeli airstrikes have “caused extensive damage to hospital departments and exposed residents and patients to suffocation” at the Al-Quds Hospital, the Palestinian Red Crescent Society said Sunday.
The aid organization accused Israel of “deliberately” launching the airstrikes “directly next to Al-Quds Hospital, with the aim of forcing the medical staff, displaced people, and patients to evacuate the hospital.”
Major bulldozing and tank operations have been observed on the beach in Gaza…
Israeli Defence Forces over the last few hours continued to strike and kill terrorists in the Gaza Strip. IDF soldiers operating adjacent to the Erez Crossing identified a number of terrorists exiting the shaft of a tunnel in the Gaza Strip. Following the identification, the… pic.twitter.com/EKGA69Vvdo
— Aditya Raj Kaul (@AdityaRajKaul) October 29, 2023
A statement cited in The Times of Israel described:
The IDF says troops killed a number of Hamas gunmen who opened fire at the ground forces in the Strip, and other terrorists identified on the beach in Gaza, near the southern Israel community of Zikim.
Hamas and the IDF have continued to exchange gunfire, but the status of forces on either said remains unknown and for the moment lost in the fog of war. At this point, if either suffers significant casualties, they are unlikely to make it publicly known.
Meanwhile, the intensifying crisis for Palestinian civilians has not only led to massive street protests in various nations, particularly in Europe, but has resulted in rare criticism aimed at Israel from leading Western nations. The French government has issued scathing criticism of “unacceptable” Israeli settler attacks on Palestinians in the West Bank:
More than 100 Palestinians have been killed in the West Bank since the outbreak of war in the Gaza Strip earlier this month, mostly during raids by Israeli forces or attacks by settlers, according to the Ramallah-based health ministry.
“France strongly condemns the settler attacks that have led to the deaths of several Palestinian civilians over the past few days in Qusra and Sawiya, as well as the forced departure of several communities,” said a foreign ministry statement.
And Norway too has condemned what it says is a massive and “disproportionate” response and death toll among Palestinians in the wake of the Oct.7 Hamas terror attack which killed 1,400 people. “International law stipulates that [the reaction] must be proportionate. Civilians must be taken into account, and humanitarian law is very clear on this. I think this limit has been largely exceeded,” Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Store aid in a public broadcast radio interview.
“Almost half of the thousands of people killed are children,” he stressed. “Israel has the right to defend itself, and I recognize that it is very difficult to defend against attacks from an area as densely populated as Gaza,” Store said. “Rockets are still being fired from Gaza into Israel, and we condemn this.”
Israeli flag flies inside Gaza for first time since 2005pic.twitter.com/uc0sJrNyXW
— Lucas Tomlinson (@LucasFoxNews) October 29, 2023
Even the White House has begun to urge caution, with national security advisor Jake Sullivan telling the Sunday shows that even though Hamas used civilians as “human shields” – it’s still ultimately Israel’s responsibility to avoid hitting them.
“They’re putting rockets and other terrorist infrastructure in civilian areas. That creates an added burden for the Israeli Defense Forces,” he said. “But it does not lessen their responsibility to distinguish between terrorists and innocent civilians and to protect the lives of innocent civilians as they conduct this military operation.”