Israeli forces pushed deeper into the Gaza Strip over the weekend, battling Hamas militants in fierce urban warfare as the war between the bitter enemies entered its fourth month. Renewed diplomatic support from the U.S. has emboldened Israel to attempt to deal a decisive blow to Hamas by retaking control of major cities in Gaza.
Fierce Fighting Across Southern Gaza
Intense bombardments and firefights erupted across southern Gaza on Sunday as Israeli tanks rolled into the city centers of Rafah and Khan Younis. Hamas unleashed barrages of anti-tank missiles and sent suicide bombers against Israeli forces, while terrified civilians were trapped by clashing sides.
At least 40 Palestinian civilians were killed in the bombardments, according to Gaza health officials. An Israeli soldier also died in a Hamas ambush on the outskirts of Rafah.
“There is nowhere to flee in Gaza anymore – we are stuck between Israeli bombs and Hamas fighters. I keep asking myself each day, how will I die?” said Khan Younis resident Salah Tanani, whose home was flattened in an airstrike last week.
The United Nations warned that Gaza’s healthcare system is near collapse, with hospitals damaged and medical supplies running dangerously low after months of war.
Israel Prepared for Protracted Conflict
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that defeating Hamas could take “months or more,” vowing to capture all major cities in Gaza. Israel enjoys staunch U.S. diplomatic backing at the U.N. Security Council, which again blocked calls for a ceasefire over the weekend.
The Biden administration also approved an additional $1.2 billion in emergency military aid for Israel and said it has “no daylight” between U.S. and Israeli goals in Gaza.
“We will stand firmly beside our ally until the terrorist threat from Hamas is eliminated – by force if needed,” said Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
Critics warned of a deepening humanitarian disaster and accused the U.S. of granting Israel a “blank check” in Gaza after nearly 1,000 Palestinian civilians have been killed. Israel claims most deaths are due to Hamas using human shields.
Gaza Economy and Services Nearing Collapse
As Israeli troops advanced further into Khan Younis and Rafah over the weekend, there were reports of looting and lawlessness breaking out in areas where Hamas governance has evaporated.
Bank robberies, kidnappings, and shootouts between rival militant factions are rising rapidly. Basic services like power, water, and sanitation are failing across southern Gaza.
“We haven’t had electricity or running water in over 2 weeks. I have to scavenge each day to find food for my family. I fear criminals and chaos more than Israeli bombs,” said Rafah resident Abu Omar.
The U.N. estimates that nearly 250,000 Gaza residents have fled their homes. With Israel controlling Gaza’s borders and blocking aid shipments during wartime, food shortages could spur a humanitarian catastrophe in coming months.
Timeline of Major Developments
August 5: Israel launches major ground offensive into Gaza after months of rising border clashes and rocket attacks from Hamas. Aims to degrade Hamas military capabilities.
September: Israeli forces capture northern third of Gaza along border after weeks of heavy fighting. Over 500 Palestinian civilians reported killed.
October: Israel bombards Gazan cities for weeks, causing widespread damage. Gaza’s economy and infrastructure suffering heavily.
November: Israel makes slow, grinding progress capturing key cities like Beit Lahia and Jabaliya. Calls grow for ceasefire but U.S. blocks U.N. action.
December: With renewed U.S. support, Israel launches large-scale assaults on Rafah and Khan Younis as it eyes full control of Gaza Strip.
Most analysts predict months of continued heavy combat as Israel attempts to reoccupy Gaza’s major population centers in pursuit of Hamas. Gaza residents face a dire choice between the dangers of war or descending into poverty and lawlessness.
Israel insists dismantling Hamas is the only path to sustainable quiet. But even if Hamas is militarily beaten back, its ideology may still fuel future resistance among Gazans unless underlying political issues are addressed.
Amid the chaos, more radical militant factions could also gain strength in Gaza. Some even warn Al Qaeda or ISIS-aligned groups may attempt to exploit the power vacuum left by Hamas’ decline.
For now, Israeli leaders believe they must first achieve decisive military gains despite growing criticism over Gaza’s humanitarian plight. But it remains unclear if any victory can create lasting stability in Gaza without an eventual political solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
|Impacts of 4 Months of War in Gaza
|12,000+ Palestinian homes destroyed
|800+ Palestinian civilians killed
|250,000+ displaced Gazans
|50%+ unemployment rate
|80%+ lack reliable access to clean water
|90%+ receive less than 8 hours electricity daily
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