Hamas frees two US hostages in Gaza after Oct. 7 incident
File Pic

JERUSALEM/GENEVA : Israeli warplanes hammered the Gaza Strip neighbourhood by neighbourhood on Tuesday, reducing buildings to rubble and sending people scrambling to find safety in the tiny, sealed-off territory as Israel vowed a retaliation for Hamas’ surprise weekend attack. Four days after Hamas launched a multifront attack, Israel’s military said Tuesday morning that it had regained control over areas the militant group attacked in its south, and of the Gaza border, as the Israeli death toll crossed 1100. Israel pressed ahead with a fierce offensive of airstrikes in Gaza that has claimed 830 lives on the other side, resulted in 187,000 people fleeing their homes and caused widespread destruction. The US does not want to see innocent civilians killed anywhere, including in Gaza and Israel, White House national security spokesman John Kirby said on Tuesday as the first tranche of US security assistance headed to Israel. “What we’re focused on is making sure that Israel has what it needs to defend itself and to take action against Hamas as the first tranche of military assistance is on its way to Israel as we speak,” Kirby said in a CNN interview. President Joe Biden connected with Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu over a phone call to discuss “coordination to support Israel, deter hostile actors, and protect innocent people”. Biden was expected to outline actions the US is taking to support Israel in a speech following the call. Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin, speaking at a meeting with Iraqi PM Mohammed Shia Al-Sudani in Moscow, accused the US of trying to monopolise efforts toward a resolution, putting pressure on both sides “without taking into account the fundamental interests of the Palestinians”. He said an independent, sovereign Palestinian state was a necessity. The militants’ attack stunned Israel with a death toll unseen since the 1973 war with Egypt and Syria — and those deaths happened over a longer period of time. It brought horrific scenes of Hamas militants gunning down civilians in their cars on the road, in streets of towns, and at a music festival attended by thousands in the desert near Gaza, while dragging men, women and children into captivity. Hamas has taken around 150 hostage. The conflict is only expected to escalate. Israel expanded the mobilisation of reservists to 360,000 for its “Swords of Iron” campaign and massed tanks and other heavy armour both near Gaza and on the northern border with Lebanon. A looming question is whether Israel will launch a ground offensive into Gaza — a 40 km-long strip of land wedged among Israel, Egypt and the Mediterranean Sea that is home to 2.3 million people and has been governed by Hamas since 2007. Israeli leaders now must decide whether to constrain their retaliation to safeguard the hostages now hidden in Gaza. “We are going to go on the offence and attack the Hamas terrorist group and any other group that is in Gaza,” Israeli Brig Gen Dan Goldfus told reporters during a briefing on Tuesday. “We will have to change the reality from within Gaza to prevent this from happening again.” The Israeli military also responded with artillery fire to launches coming from Lebanese territory on the third consecutive day of violence along the Lebanese-Israeli border. “In response to the launches identified from Lebanese territory toward Israeli territory, IDF (army) soldiers are currently responding with artillery fire,” a statement said. A person in the security establishment told Reuters that the bombardment was carried out by Palestinian factions. In Gaza, more than 187,000 people have fled their homes, the United Nations said. Damage to three water and sanitation sites have cut off services to 400,000 people, the UN said. On Monday, Israel announced a “complete siege” of Gaza.



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here