The death toll in Gaza has now surpassed 25,000 people killed since Israel launched its military offensive against Hamas and other militant groups on October 7th, 2023. As the conflict enters its 100th day, Israel shows no signs of letting up its bombing campaign despite growing international condemnation over the staggering civilian death toll.
Israel Reports Eliminating 9,000 “Terrorists”
According to the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF), over 9,000 “terrorists” have been eliminated in Gaza through targeted airstrikes on Hamas infrastructure and positions. However, Palestinian health officials contest this figure, saying the vast majority of casualties have been civilians caught in the bombardments which have decimated large areas of Gaza’s densely populated cities and refugee camps.
“Israel has pounded Gaza with unrelenting airstrikes day and night for 100 days now. Entire neighborhoods have been reduced to rubble, critical infrastructure like hospitals and schools lie in ruins, and over 25,000 people have been killed, including at least 7000 children,” said Dr. Basem Naim, Head of Council on International Relations in Gaza. “This is nothing short of a massacre of civilians trapped in an open-air prison.”
Netanyahu Vows To Destroy Hamas “No Matter What”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has remained defiant in the face of mounting international criticism, vowing to push forward with the military campaign until Hamas is destroyed.
“We will do whatever it takes to ensure the security of our people. Hamas and its allies represent an axis of evil and terror which threatens Israeli civilians. No matter what the world or international courts say, we will continue fighting until their ability to attack us has been eliminated,” Netanyahu told reporters in Tel Aviv yesterday.
His comments come after legal teams presented evidence of alleged war crimes and genocide to the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague last week. However, given the U.S.’s close alliance with Israel, analysts say it is unlikely any charges will be brought against Israeli political or military leaders over their conduct in Gaza.
Ground Invasion Into Southern Gaza
After over three months of aerial bombardment failed to stop Palestinian militant rocket attacks, last week the IDF launched a ground invasion into Khan Younis and Jabaliya refugee camps south of Gaza City. Fighting has been intense with Hamas and Islamic Jihad fighters putting up fierce resistance against Israeli tanks and infantry squads edging further into the densely populated camps.
“We have taken the fight underground into tunnels and booby-trapped buildings, bleeding the IDF with ambushes and IED attacks. Tel Aviv cannot defeat us no matter how many bombs they drop on Palestinian children and civilians,” said Abu Ubaida, spokesman for the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas.
International Pressure Mounting But U.S. Support Ensures War Continues
With the Gaza death toll now tragically surpassing 25,000, international diplomatic pressure is mounting on Israel to halt its bombing campaign and ground invasion. However, so far Israel has ignored calls for a ceasefire from the United Nations, European Union, and Arab League partners.
Crucially, Israel continues to enjoy staunch support from its closest ally the United States. President Biden has urged calm and restraint, but stopped short of condemning Israeli actions in Gaza which the U.S. still classifies Hamas as a terrorist organization. Analysts say that unless Washington halts the over $4 billion in annual military assistance it provides Tel Aviv, Netanyahu likely has enough political cover domestically to continue prosecuting the war.
“Short of the U.S. threatening to cut financial or military support, it is unlikely the Israeli government will stop its offensive in Gaza given most Israelis still view Hamas rocket attacks as an existential threat,” said Natan Sachs, Director for Center Eastern Studies at the Brookings Institute in Washington D.C.
Humanitarian Crisis Reaching Breaking Point
The 100-day Israeli bombing campaign and now ground invasion have sparked an unprecedented humanitarian emergency in Gaza according to the United Nations. Critical infrastructure like water treatment and electricity plants have been destroyed, leaving the population of over 2 million lacking basic necessities.
Due to the security situation, little aid can enter Gaza and the UN warns that if hostilities do not cease immediately, Gaza could face outbreaks of disease, starvation, and acute shortages of medical supplies.
“The situation in Gaza is untenable. Over 25,000 people killed, hundreds of thousands injured, and vital infrastructure destroyed. Gaza is on the brink. The world cannot stand idly by and watch this catastrophe unfold, emergency aid must be allowed in and the war must end now before an even greater tragedy unfolds,” said UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres in an emergency session of the Security Council last Tuesday.
|Without Clean Water
Table showing latest figures on humanitarian impact after 100 days of war on Gaza. Source: UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)
As the war rages into its fourth month with over 25,000 Gazans now killed and no sign of slowing down, attention has turned to how the conflict can be brought to an end before the mounting civilian death toll incites further radicalization and violence beyond Gaza’s borders. However, with Prime Minister Netanyahu defiantly vowing to destroy Hamas at all costs and ongoing U.S. support providing continued political cover, analysts say there is no end in sight.
Some worry the war in Gaza could expand into a regional conflagration if Hamas activates its allies in the Iranian backed “Axis of Resistance” spanning Lebanon, Syria and Iraq. Meanwhile, average Palestinians and progressive Israelis continue holding daily protests demanding an immediate ceasefire and accountability for the staggering civilian casualties inflicted by the unrelenting Israeli bombing campaign.
“The disastrous war in Gaza has shocked the conscience of the world. Israel says it is fighting terrorists, but it is Gaza’s civilian population which has borne the horrific consequences of this conflict,” said Tom Friedman, internationally renowned author and columnist at the New York Times on his weekly podcast last Thursday. “Now the question the world is asking with over 25,000 dead is how much farther will Israel go before the international community finally says enough is enough?”
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