Intense Israeli Bombardment Hits Southern Gaza, Calls For More Aid Grow

Despite worldwide calls for an urgent truce in the Palestinian territory where starvation is approaching, Israel intensified its shelling of the southern Gaza Strip overnight.

Besieged Gaza is in severe need of supplies, and the US has declared it will continue airdrops, despite Hamas’ appeals to suspend the practice after the Islamist group claimed 18 people had died attempting to reach food parcels.

A fireball lighted up the night sky in Rafah, Gaza’s only surviving metropolitan center that had not been targeted by Israeli ground forces. Approximately 1.5 million people are jammed in the area, with more fleeing south towards the Egyptian border.

Explosions were also heard, and smoke could be seen rising in northern Gaza City, where Israeli troops have been attacking the city’s major hospital for more than a week.

The health ministry in Hamas-run Gaza reported early Wednesday that 66 people were killed overnight, including three in Israeli air strikes in and near Rafah.

The combat continued uninterrupted two days after the UN Security Council passed its first resolution, asking for a “immediate ceasefire” and requesting the release of the approximately 130 prisoners Israel claims remain in Gaza, including 34 detainees thought dead.

Israeli forces have also surrounded two hospitals in Khan Yunis, where the health ministry said that 12 people, including some children, were killed during an Israeli strike on a displaced persons camp.

According to the Palestinian Red Crescent, thousands of people are stuck in the Nasser hospital in Khan Yunis, and “their lives are in danger”.

‘Man-made famine’

To highlight the despair of civilians trapped in the war, Hamas has asked donor countries to halt airdrops after 12 Palestinians perished while attempting to rescue parachuted food aid from the sea off Gaza’s Mediterranean shore.

Hamas and the Swiss-based Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor further reported that six more individuals were killed in stampedes while attempting to obtain help.

“People are dying just to get a can of tuna,” Gaza resident Mohamad al-Sabaawi told AFP, clutching a can following a scramble for an aid delivery.

Hamas has also asked that Israel allow additional relief trucks into Gaza, which the United Nations has warned is on the verge of a “man-made famine” after nearly six months of violence.

The conflict, sparked by Hamas’ extraordinary October 7 attack on Israel, has wrecked Gaza’s infrastructure, and aid agencies estimate all 2.4 million inhabitants now require humanitarian assistance.

UNICEF, the UN Children’s Fund, stated that in order to avoid a “imminent famine,” considerably more aid must be pushed into Gaza via road rather than air or water.

UNICEF spokesperson James Elder said the necessary assistance was “a matter of kilometres away” in aid-filled trucks waiting over Gaza’s southern border with Egypt.

The US National Security Council said in a statement that it would continue to try to get aid in via road while simultaneously continuing airdrops.

On Tuesday, AFPTV footage showed crowds racing to receive assistance supplies dropped by parachute from planes sent by Jordan, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, and Germany.

‘Political isolation’ 

The October 7 attack killed around 1,160 people in Israel, the majority of them were civilians, according to an AFP assessment of Israeli official data.

Israel’s military assault against Hamas has killed at least 32,414 individuals in Gaza, the majority of them are women and children, according to the health ministry.

Israeli troops have shown no signs of relenting in their fight against Hamas, with the military reporting that its jets had hit more than 60 targets, including tunnels and buildings “in which armed terrorists were identified.”

The UN Security Council resolution passed on Monday called for a cease-fire for the remaining two weeks of Ramadan, with the goal of establishing a “lasting” truce.

The United States, Israel’s main ally, abstained from the vote, leading Israel to cancel a high official visit to the US.

According to Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh, Israel is facing “unprecedented political isolation” and is losing “protection” from the United States on the Security Council.

Washington has objected to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s decision to launch a ground attack on Rafah, and the US has also expressed growing alarm about the humanitarian toll.

US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin stated before meeting with his Israeli counterpart that “the number of civilian casualties is far too high, and the amount of humanitarian aid is far too low” in Gaza.

Talks ‘ongoing’ 

Officials from the two warring factions are holding indirect mediated discussions in Qatar to reach an agreement on a ceasefire and the release of captives.

However, both Hamas and Netanyahu claimed the discussions were failing and blamed one other.

Majed al-Ansari, a spokesperson for Qatar’s foreign ministry, said the conversations were “ongoing” this week.

In Khan Yunis, scores of Israeli tanks and military vehicles surrounded the Nasser hospital.

According to the health ministry, bullets were fired throughout the large compound, but no raid has occurred as of yet.

For nine days, Israeli troops have engaged in heavy warfare at Gaza City’s Al-Shifa Hospital, the territory’s largest.

Israel claimed to have killed 170 Palestinian militants and arrested hundreds there.

Israel has described its actions as “precise operational activities” and stated that it has taken precautions to avoid harm to civilians, although relief agencies have expressed worry for noncombatants caught up in the conflict.

Palestinians living near Al-Shifa have reported dead in the streets, frequent bombardment, and the rounding up of males stripped to their underwear and interrogated.

Jamaa Islamiya, a Lebanese group with close ties to Hamas, reported early Wednesday that seven individuals were murdered in an overnight strike in south Lebanon.

Since the beginning of the Gaza war, Hezbollah and other Hamas supporters have exchanged practically daily fire with Israeli troops.

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