Israel and Hamas escalate their conflict
- Israel and Hamas are engaged in a deadly war that has claimed at least 2,300 lives on both sides since Saturday.
- Hamas launched a surprise attack on Israel through a border fence, killing hundreds of Israelis in their homes and streets.
- Israel responded with intense airstrikes and shelling in Gaza, destroying buildings, infrastructure and the only power plant.
- Both sides have vowed to continue fighting until they achieve their goals.
Netanyahu joins with rival to form wartime Cabinet
- Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced on Wednesday that he has formed a wartime Cabinet with his top political rival, Benny Gantz, a former defense minister and opposition leader.
- The Cabinet will focus only on issues of war and will be led by Netanyahu, Gantz and current Defense Minister Yoav Gallant.
- The move aims to create a degree of unity and stability in Israel after years of political deadlock and division.
- The Cabinet also includes a former chief of staff and another government minister as observer members.
Gaza faces humanitarian crisis amid blockade and bombardment
- Gaza, the densely populated coastal strip ruled by Hamas, is facing a humanitarian crisis as Israeli airstrikes have flattened entire neighborhoods and cut off essential supplies.
- The territory’s only power station ran out of fuel and shut down on Wednesday, plunging most of Gaza into darkness.
- Israel has halted the entry of food, water, fuel and medicine into Gaza, and the sole remaining crossing from Egypt was closed after airstrikes hit nearby on Tuesday.
- More than 250,000 people have fled their homes in Gaza, seeking shelter in UN schools or other safe areas.
- Medical teams and rescue workers are struggling to cope with the influx of wounded and the lack of equipment, fuel and antibiotics.
Hezbollah fires missiles at Israeli position near Lebanon border
- The risk of the war spreading was evident on Wednesday after Hezbollah, the Iranian-backed Lebanese militant group, fired anti-tank missiles at an Israeli military position near the border with Lebanon.
- Hezbollah claimed to have killed and wounded Israeli troops, but the Israeli military did not confirm any casualties.
- The Israeli army retaliated by shelling the area where the attack was launched.
- The incident raised fears of a wider conflict between Israel and Hezbollah, which fought a month-long war in 2006 that killed more than 1,000 people.
US warns against interference and sends support to Israel
- US President Joe Biden warned other countries and armed groups against entering the war between Israel and Hamas, saying that it would only escalate the violence and endanger civilians.
- The US is already rushing munitions and military equipment to Israel and has deployed a carrier strike group to the eastern Mediterranean as deterrence.
- The US has also expressed its support for Israel’s right to defend itself against Hamas’ attacks, but urged both sides to de-escalate and seek a peaceful solution.
- The US has faced criticism from some of its allies and human rights groups for not doing enough to stop the bloodshed and pressure Israel to end its blockade of Gaza.
Palestinians demand end to occupation and blockade
- Hamas said it launched its attack on Saturday because Palestinians’ suffering had become intolerable under unending Israeli military occupation, increasing settlements in the West Bank and a 16-year-long blockade in Gaza.
- Hamas also said it was acting in solidarity with the Palestinians in Jerusalem, who have faced violent clashes with Israeli police over the planned evictions of Palestinian families from their homes in Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood.
- Hamas demands that Israel end its occupation of Palestinian lands, lift its siege on Gaza, stop its aggression on Jerusalem and respect the rights of Palestinian refugees.
- Palestinians have also staged protests and strikes in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, where at least 17 have been killed by Israeli forces.
What will happen next?
The war between Israel and Hamas shows no sign of abating as both sides continue to exchange fire and inflict heavy casualties on each other. The international community has called for an immediate ceasefire and humanitarian access to Gaza, but so far no concrete steps have been taken to end the hostilities. The fate of hundreds of hostages held by Hamas in Gaza remains unknown. The possibility of a ground invasion by Israel or a regional escalation involving Hezbollah or Iran looms large. The prospects for peace and justice for both Israelis and Palestinians seem more distant than ever.