Israel Bombs Gaza As US Warns Against Wider War

Israel continued to bombard Gaza on Tuesday, despite Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s announcement that the “intense phase” of the war was coming to an end, as the US urged its partner to prevent additional escalation along the Lebanon border.

Israeli forces carried out additional lethal attacks in Gaza City, killing 13 people in two schools and a residence, according to the Hamas-run territory’s civil defense organization.

With Israel preparing to redeploy some soldiers from Gaza to the Lebanese border, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken urged the country’s defense minister on Monday not to let the bloodshed escalate.

Blinken “underscored the importance of avoiding further escalation of the conflict and reaching a diplomatic resolution that allows both Israeli and Lebanese families to return to their homes,” spokesman Matthew Miller said after meeting with Defense Minister Yoav Gallant in Washington.

Since the start of the Israel-Hamas war on October 7, there has been regular cross-border firing between Israel and Lebanon’s Hezbollah, with fears mounting in recent weeks that it will become another major front.

In the most recent combat, Iran-backed Hezbollah announced on Monday that it had hit three Israeli military installations across the border.

Israel’s military said that its airplanes struck militant facilities in the Baalbek district of eastern Lebanon.

In recent months, thousands of Lebanese and Israeli people have been forced to flee the violence along their respective countries’ borders.

“A war must happen to push Hezbollah away from the border,” said Helene Abergel, a 49-year-old resident displaced from the Israeli border town of Kiryat Shmona.

‘Dragging Israel into destruction’

Israeli airstrikes have devastated much of Gaza’s infrastructure, leaving Palestinians fighting to live.

Netanyahu said the military would soon complete the “intense phase” of operations in Gaza’s southern Rafah, prompting a large number of civilians who had sought safety there to evacuate again.

Netanyahu told Israel’s Channel 14 on Sunday that the development “doesn’t mean that the war is about to end”.

The prime minister is facing rising outrage in Israel for failing to obtain the release of 116 hostages abducted on October 7 and still held in Gaza, 42 of whom the army claims are dead.

“I think Netanyahu is dragging Israel into destruction,” demonstrator and former spy Gonen Ben Itzhak told AFP.

The premier on Sunday again rejected the permanent ceasefire demanded by Hamas during on-and-off talks involving the US and other mediators.

“The goal is to return the kidnapped and uproot the Hamas regime in Gaza,” Netanyahu said.

According to an AFP calculation based on Israeli official data, Hamas’ October 7 strike on southern Israel, which triggered the conflict, killed 1,195 people, the majority of whom were civilians.

The health ministry in Hamas-ruled Gaza reported that Israel’s retaliatory operation had killed at least 37,626 individuals, the majority of whom were civilians.

A few dozen protestors in Washington chanted “war criminal” as Israel’s defense minister exited the meeting with Blinken.

Gallant also met with CIA Director Bill Burns, the principal US negotiator in discussions to rescue the detainees.

Gallant highlighted “Israel’s primary commitment to returning the hostages, without exception.”

Netanyahu promised in his interview that “we will win,” but US officials have expressed skepticism about Israel’s ambition of utterly eradicating Hamas.

‘We are totally trapped’

Rafah city core in southern Gaza is empty as most inhabitants and those seeking refuge fled the Israeli army’ advance.

“There’s no more water or food. “We are completely trapped,” said Haitham Abu Taha, one of the very few Palestinians who have returned.

Abu Taha, 30, warned of the “danger of quadcopter drones which mercilessly target anyone walking” on the streets.

The 2.4 million people living in the short strip of land known as Gaza, who were already impoverished prior to the war, are suffering even more as a result of the fighting.

United Nations agencies have frequently warned of critical supply shortages, and on Monday France and Jordan urged Israel to ease all land-based “restrictions” on assistance deliveries.

According to Philippe Lazzarini, chief of the United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees, “the breakdown of civil order” in Gaza has resulted in “rampant looting and smuggling”.

According to the UNRWA chief, such incidents hamper assistance deliveries to a territory suffering from “catastrophic levels of hunger”.

UNRWA, which organizes nearly all aid to Gaza, has been in crisis since January, when Israel accused roughly a dozen of its 13,000 Gaza employees of participating in the strikes that began the conflict.

According to court documents, families of those killed in Hamas’ October 7 strike inside Israel filed a lawsuit against UNRWA on Monday, alleging that it enabled the unprecedented bloodshed.

An independent study of UNRWA, led by former French foreign minister Catherine Colonna, discovered certain “neutrality-related issues,” but Israel had yet to offer evidence for its primary claims.

Leave a Reply