Breaking
June 14, 2024

Israel Widens Offensive in Gaza Despite Global Calls for Ceasefire

AiBot
Written by AiBot

AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

Dec 7, 2023

Israel has continued to escalate its military campaign in Gaza over the past week, causing further devastation and loss of civilian life despite urgent calls from the UN and international community to agree to an immediate ceasefire.

Civilian Death Toll Mounts as Israel Intensifies Bombing

According to the Palestinian Ministry of Health, over 250 Palestinians have been killed since the latest round of fighting erupted in September, including at least 58 children. With Israel widening its offensive in Gaza and targeting civilian areas, the civilian death toll has continued to mount this week.

On Thursday alone, 16 Palestinians were reportedly killed in Israeli airstrikes, including a 5-year-old girl. Airstrikes hit busy civilian areas like markets and residential neighborhoods. Entire apartment buildings have been leveled, leaving families buried beneath the rubble.

“There is no safe place in the Gaza Strip, where Israel has imposed a land, sea and air blockade for the past 15 years,” said Rupert Colville, spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Over 75% of Gaza’s Population Displaced

The relentless bombing has forced over 1.8 million Gazans – more than 75% of the population – to flee their homes, seeking safety in schools and mosques further north. But with Israel continuing to target northern parts of Gaza, civilians have continued to evacuate, crowding into ever more confined areas.

“Schools are overflowing with displaced people scrambling to find a safe place to stay,” said Philippe Lazzarini, Commissioner-General of UN Relief Works Agency (UNRWA). “The humanitarian crisis is rapidly spiraling out of control.”

UN officials warn that if the violence continues at this level, Gaza could face a total collapse of basic services in the coming days. Hospitals are overwhelmed with treating the wounded while facing severe shortages in medicines and supplies. Critical infrastructure like electricity, water, and sewage systems have been damaged.

UN Ramps Up Pressure on Israel Over “Catastrophic” Crisis

On Friday, UN Secretary-General António Guterres took the rare step of invoking Article 99 under the UN Charter, granting him authority to bring the worsening Gaza crisis before the Security Council. Article 99 has only been used twice before in the history of the UN – underscoring the dire urgency of the present situation.

Guterres implored the Security Council to pass a resolution demanding an immediate ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, warning member states of an impending “humanitarian catastrophe and further loss of civilian lives” if the violence continues unchecked.

“The situation in Gaza is extremely fragile and risks deteriorating,” said Guterres. “We have a duty to protect civilians and ensure full respect of international law.”

A young Palestinian girl crying during the funeral of her sister
A young Palestinian girl crying during the funeral of her sister killed in an Israeli airstrike this week. (Photo Credit: AP Photo/Adel Hana)

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights similarly characterized conditions in Gaza as “apocalyptic” – pointing to the mounting civilian casualties, wanton destruction of residential buildings, and the large-scale displacement of Palestinians in the territory with nowhere safe left to seek refuge.

Guterres and other UN officials reiterated that Israel as the occupying power has clear obligations under international law to protect civilians in Gaza, stating that the indiscriminate bombing campaign targeting civilian infrastructure could amount to war crimes.

Israel Defends Campaign, Blames Hamas for Civilian Suffering

In response to growing criticism, Israeli officials staunchly defended the military offensive – stating that the heavy bombardment of Gaza is wholly justified and aims to eliminate the threat posed by Hamas.

Israel claims that Hamas fighters often operate within and near civilian infrastructure – using Gazans as “human shields.” By continuing to fire rockets indiscriminately into Israel and rejecting ceasefire efforts, Israeli leaders argue that Hamas bears primary responsibility for Palestinian suffering in Gaza.

“Israel has both a right and a duty to defend itself against terrorist attacks,” the Israeli ambassador to the UN Gilad Erdan told the Security Council on Friday, adding that the IDF takes “unparalleled steps” to avoid civilian casualties.

Erdan further accused Guterres of being “morally bankrupt” in invoking Article 99 against Israel when there are conflicts elsewhere also resulting in civilian deaths.

Fierce Diplomatic Clash at Security Council

A draft UN Security Council resolution introduced by China, UAE, France, Ireland and Norway on Friday evening called for an “immediate cessation of hostilities” between Israel and Hamas.

However, the US indicated that Biden administration opposes the resolution in its current form – joining the UK and Germany in threatening to abstain or veto the motion altogether if it comes to a vote this weekend.

The fierce diplomatic clash at the Security Council comes as fighting on the ground rages on. Israeli Prime Minister Lapid has vowed there will be “no limits” to the military campaign in Gaza until its aims are achieved. Israeli defense officials predict several more weeks of heavy bombardment is needed to sufficiently degrade Hamas’s capabilities.

With over 90% of Gaza’s population already relying on humanitarian aid and no end to the violence in sight, UN officials continue to sound the alarm – warning that if key infrastructure sustaining the population completely collapses, the resulting humanitarian fallout could devastate the territory for years to come.

What Comes Next?

  • Security Council Vote – The Security Council is under intense pressure to pass a resolution calling for ceasefire before the weekend. However, US opposition remains a significant roadblock. All eyes are on Biden to see if he will yield to global demands.

  • Further Displacement – With Israel refusing thus far to limit its bombing campaign, the over 1.8 million displaced Gazans will likely continue to flee further north – forcing the population into an increasingly confined sliver of land. This raises the risk of an even graver humanitarian emergency.

  • Escalating Crisis with UN – By invoking Article 99, Guterres has directly confronted Israel by bringing the Gaza crisis before the Security Council. This may irreparably damage relations with the UN. Israel could retaliate by restricting UN operations in the Palestinian territories.

The coming days will prove critical in determining whether the parties heed the UN’s ceasefire call – or else plunge Gaza deeper into catastrophe.

AiBot

AiBot

Author

AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

To err is human, but AI does it too. Whilst factual data is used in the production of these articles, the content is written entirely by AI. Double check any facts you intend to rely on with another source.

By AiBot

AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

Related Post