Over 90 Palestinians, including many from a large family, lost their lives in Israeli air raids on two homes, according to rescue teams and hospital staff last Saturday. This tragic event occurred just a day after the U.N. head highlighted the grave dangers in Gaza, stressing how Israel’s continued assault severely hampers the delivery of vital aid.
On the same day, the Israeli military disclosed the capture of hundreds of suspected militants in Gaza over the past week. Over 200 of these individuals have been moved to Israel for further questioning. This update sheds light on the practice of large-scale detentions of Palestinian men, which has sparked controversy. The military reports that upwards of 700 people suspected of connections with Hamas and Islamic Jihad have been detained in Israeli facilities.
The conflict escalated when Hamas fighters entered the border on October 7, resulting in about 1,200 casualties and roughly 240 people taken hostage. Israel’s campaign, aimed at dismantling Hamas, has led to over 20,000 Palestinian deaths and more than 53,000 injuries, as per Gaza’s health authorities. Gaza, under Hamas control for 16 years, continues to face severe challenges amidst the ongoing conflict.
President Biden had a lengthy and private chat with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last Saturday. This came right after the Biden administration once again backed Israel diplomatically. On Friday, the U.N. Security Council passed a resolution urging for faster aid to civilians in Gaza, but it didn’t call for a cease-fire.
Biden mentioned, ” I did not ask for a cease-fire,” Netanyahu’s team stated that the prime minister emphasized Israel’s intent to continue its military actions until all its objectives are met.
In spite of growing global pleas for a cease-fire, Israel remains determined to fight until Hamas is defeated and ousted from Gaza, and all hostages are liberated.
On Friday, air attacks demolished two houses, one in Gaza City and another in the Nuseirat refugee camp in the central part of the region.
On Saturday evening, Gaza’s Health Ministry reported that 201 people lost their lives in the last 24 hours.
The strikes in Gaza City on Friday took the lives of 76 members of the al-Mughrabi family, marking one of the most tragic events of the war, shared Mahmoud Bassal, a representative for Palestinian Civil Defense. He listed 16 family heads and noted that women and children were among those who died.
Issam al-Mughrabi, a long-time worker at the U.N. Development Program, his wife, and their five kids were also among the casualties.
“The loss of Issam and his family has deeply affected us all. The U.N. and civilians in Gaza are not a target,” stated Achim Steiner, the leader of the U.N. agency. “This war must end.”
On a later note, on Friday, Mohammed Khalifa’s home in Nuseirat was destroyed by a strike. Mohammed, a local TV reporter, and at least 14 others died, as confirmed by staff at Al Aqsa Martyrs’ Hospital, where the victims were taken. Funeral prayers were held on Saturday in the hospital yard, while rescue teams kept searching for any survivors. Under a pile of rubble, which looked like a collapsed roof, the legs of at least two victims were visible.
Israel holds Hamas responsible for the large number of civilian deaths, pointing to their tactics of operating in densely populated areas and using tunnels. Since October 7, Israel has conducted thousands of airstrikes and generally avoids speaking about specific strikes, including the targets intended.
Israel’s military action has become one of the most intense in recent times, uprooting nearly 85% of Gaza’s 2.3 million residents and extensively damaging large areas of the small coastal region. This week, a United Nations report and other sources stated that over half a million people in Gaza, which is about a quarter of its population, are facing hunger.
Late Friday, military spokesperson Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari announced that the ground operations are expanding to cover more parts of Gaza, especially focusing on the southern region. He mentioned that the operations are ongoing in Gaza’s northern area, which was the initial target of Israel’s ground assault. The army has also been conducting airstrikes against Hamas militants in various parts of Gaza City.
The army recently responded to reports from Palestinians about widespread arrests of young men and teenagers in northern Gaza, where ground forces have a stronger presence. Some who were let go shared that they were made to undress to their underwear, faced physical mistreatment, and were kept for days with little water.
The military has refuted these claims of mistreatment, stating that those not connected to militant activities were released promptly.
Israel claims to have eliminated thousands of Hamas fighters, including roughly 2,000 in the last three weeks, although no proof has been provided. It also reports that 139 of its soldiers have died in the ground campaign.
After the U.N. resolution, it’s still unclear how and when there will be more aid deliveries. Right now, trucks use two crossings — Rafah at the Egypt border and Kerem Shalom at the Israel border. Both were closed on Saturday by Israel, Egypt, and the U.N. agreeing together, said Israeli officials.
Before the Security Council voted, the U.S. worked to take out parts of the resolution that would have let the U.N. check the aid going into Gaza. Israel insists it needs to keep checking to make sure the aid doesn’t go to Hamas.
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres mentioned on Friday that counting trucks isn’t the best way to see if the humanitarian efforts are working well.
“The real problem is that the way Israel is conducting this offensive is creating massive obstacles to the distribution of humanitarian aid inside Gaza,” he explained. He pointed out that for aid to work well, a few things are needed – safety, staff who can work without danger, enough trucks and logistics, and getting businesses going again.
Guterres repeated his strong request for a cease-fire to help with the humanitarian situation. He’s hopeful the resolution might assist in this but emphasized that ” much more is needed immediately ” to stop the terrible situation for people in Gaza.
The United States succeeded in removing a strong demand for an “urgent suspension of hostilities” between Israel and Hamas. In the vote, the U.S., along with Russia, which favored stronger wording, abstained.
Israel’s U.N. ambassador, Gilad Erdan, strongly criticized the U.N. for not condemning the attacks by Hamas on October 7. The U.S. vetoed an October resolution that would have condemned the attacks, because it didn’t emphasize Israel’s right to defend itself.
Hamas argued that the U.N. resolution should have insisted on an immediate stop to Israel’s military actions. They accused the United States of diluting the resolution’s impact before the Security Council vote on Friday.