Hamas released two elderly Israeli women held hostage in Gaza on Monday, as the United States expressed increasing concern that the escalating Israel-Hamas war will spark a wider conflict in the region, including attacks on American troops.
Israel increased its bombings on Gaza, destroying residential buildings in what it claims was preparation for a ground invasion, but the death toll there increased quickly. In order to give Israel more time to negotiate the release of other captives that Hamas took during its barbaric incursion two weeks ago, the United States recommended Israel to postpone its planned ground invasion.
Under Israel’s two-week blockade, Gaza’s 2.3 million inhabitants have been running low on food, water, and medication. A third tiny aid convoy from Egypt arrived in Gaza. The United Nations warned that if Israel continues to block gasoline imports, its humanitarian delivery would come to an immediate stop as it would run out of fuel for its trucks. With so many injured arriving every day, Gaza’s hospitals are having difficulty maintaining the generators needed to run critical life-saving equipment including preterm babies’ incubators.
According to footage on Egyptian TV, the two liberated captives, 85-year-old Yocheved Lifshitz and 79-year-old Nurit Cooper, were carried from Gaza at the Rafah crossing into Egypt and placed into ambulances. During Hamas’ Oct. 7 incursion into southern Israeli settlements, the two ladies and their husbands were abducted from their homes in the kibbutz of Nir Oz, which is close to the Gaza border. Their spouses remained in custody.
Just a few days after releasing an American woman and her adolescent daughter, Hamas claimed to have freed them for humanitarian purposes. Roughly 220 persons are thought to have been captured by Hamas and other militants in Gaza, including an unknown number of foreigners and dual nationals.
With a promise to destroy Hamas, Israel is generally expected to begin a ground offensive in Gaza. Fighters in the area with Iranian support are announcing that if that occurs, there may be an escalation that targets American military stationed in the Middle East.
The US has advised Hezbollah in Lebanon, which is sponsored by Iran, and other organisations not to take up arms. Israeli aeroplanes have recently attacked sites in the occupied West Bank, Syria, and Lebanon. Israel and Hezbollah have been exchanging gunfire across the Israel-Lebanon border virtually every day.
The United States is “deeply concerned about the possibility for any significant escalation” in attacks in the coming days, according to National Security Council spokesman John Kirby, who noted that there has been an increase in rocket and drone strikes on American forces in Iraq and Syria by militias backed by Iran.
According to him, American and Israeli officials were “actively conversing” about the possible consequences of escalating military action.
According to a U.S. official, Washington counselled Israeli officials against launching a ground offensive in order to allow Washington more time to collaborate with regional mediators to secure the release of further captives.
Israeli ground forces and tanks have gathered near the Gaza border, and Defence Minister Yoav Gallant advised soldiers there on Monday to continue getting ready for an attack “because it will come.” He did not provide a timeline, only stating that it will be a combined air, land, and sea offensive.
The current conflict between Israel and Hamas, which has been the worst by far out of five since the Islamist group took control of Gaza in 2007, is certain to get much deadlier if a ground offensive is launched.
Over 1,400 people have died in Israel, the majority of them were civilians killed in the original Hamas strike. The military updated a previous tally on Monday, saying that at least 222 people, including foreigners, were apprehended and taken back to Gaza.
Over 5,000 Palestinians have died, the Health Ministry, operated by Hamas, claimed on Monday. Among them were over 1,100 women and 2,000 children. This includes the disputed number of casualties from last week’s explosion at a hospital. The government has reported 436 more deaths in the past 24 hours alone, indicating that the toll has increased significantly in recent days.
Israel claimed that over the previous day, it had attacked 320 terrorist sites in Gaza. The military claims that since the beginning of the conflict, Palestinian militants have shot over 7,000 rockets onto Israel, although they do not specifically target civilians.
Israel carried out limited ground forays into Gaza. On Sunday, Hamas said it destroyed an Israeli tank and two armored bulldozers inside Gaza. The Israeli military said a soldier was killed and three others were wounded by an anti-tank missile during a raid inside Gaza.
Intense airstrikes continued Monday across Gaza. After a strike in Gaza City, a woman with blood on her face wept as she clasped the hand of a dead relative. At least three bodies were sprawled on the street, one lying in a gray stream of water. After a series of strikes in the south, Rafah’s Abou Youssef Al-Najjar Hospital registered 61 deaths Monday, its spokesperson said. Bodies of the dead were laid out in the hospital grounds, spokesperson Talaat Barghout said.
The Rafah crossing with Egypt, which is the sole route into Gaza that is not under Israeli control, is how 20 trucks, according to the Palestinian Red Crescent, entered the territory on Monday delivering food, water, medicine, and medical supplies. It was the third similar-sized delivery in as many days.
In comparison to the needs of the populace, the relief that has been provided thus far is “a drop in the ocean,” according to Thomas White, the director of UNRWA’s Gaza office. The U.N. has stated that hundreds of trucks a day are required and that 20 trucks represented 4% of daily average imports before to the war.
Only three days remained to supply the agency’s trucks with fuel, according to White. In the south of Gaza, where hundreds of thousands of people are seeking refuge, running low on food, and mostly drinking tainted water, supplies arriving through Rafah are reloaded into UNRWA and Red Crescent vehicles.
The U.N. reported on Monday that at least 1.4 million Palestinians in Gaza have evacuated their homes, with roughly 580,000 of them taking refuge in schools and shelters managed by the organisation.
There will be no relief sent to the hundreds of thousands of civilians who are still living in Gaza City and other northern areas. With a typical capacity of 700 patients, the major al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City is currently overflowing with 5,000 patients, and the U.N. reported that some 45,000 displaced Palestinians had congregated for shelter in and around its premises.
According to Mahmoud Shalabi, an aid worker with the Medical Aid for Palestinians organisation, which is situated in the northern town of Beit Lahia, “the north didn’t receive anything” from incoming aid. “It resembles a death sentence for the Gazanian people living in the north.”