Israel is launching airstrikes on Gaza, targeting hundreds of targets and causing destruction in neighborhoods. The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) claims to have secured the border with Gaza by Tuesday, after Hamas sent fighters into Israeli territory on Saturday.
At least 1,200 people were killed in Israel and thousands more injured in the attack. Israel’s Defense Minister Yoav Gallant has released all restraints for IDF troops in their fight against Hamas, stating that Gaza will never return to what it was.
As Israeli troops regain ground, details of the horror unleashed during the weekend attack are gradually emerging. More than 100 bodies have been found in the Israeli kibbutz Be’eri, a farming community near Gaza, which was one of the first places targeted by militants on Saturday.
Israel has formally declared war on Hamas and is now battering the densely-inhabited strip with air strikes that have killed at least 900 people, including hundreds of children, women, and entire families. Israeli officials have pledged to cut off food, water, and energy to the impoverished coastal enclave, which Hamas controls, in a “complete siege” ahead of an expected ground incursion. The strikes have already damaged Gaza’s medical infrastructure and forced over 187,500 Palestinians to flee their homes. The full scale of Israel’s response is still unclear, but complicating its retaliation operations are 150 army and civilian hostages believed to have been taken to Gaza by militants.
Rockets were fired from southern Lebanon towards Israel, prompting the Israeli Defense Forces to respond with artillery fire. Rockets were also launched from Syria into Israeli territory, landing in open areas. Hamas fighters have been attempting to breach the border with Israel for suicide missions.
A firefight between IDF troops and Hamas militants near the southern town of Mefalsim occurred on Tuesday evening. Scenes of desperation have emerged from Gaza amid Israel’s bombing campaign, as the Palestinian health ministry accuses Israeli forces of deliberately targeting civilian neighborhoods, health facilities, medical and rescue crews, as well as ambulance vehicles. The Palestinian Ministry of Information reported that 168 buildings, including 1,009 residential units, were completely destroyed, while 12,630 units were partially destroyed. Ten medical institutions, including seven hospitals, were bombed, and 12 ambulances were directly targeted. Most of those arriving at hospitals in Gaza have sustained second- and third-degree burns and amputations, with many also suffering shrapnel injuries.
The United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) reported that its emergency shelters in Gaza are at 90% capacity, with over 137,000 people taking cover from Israeli strikes. The only border crossing between Gaza and Egypt has been closed after an Israeli strike on Tuesday.
Gaza is one of the most densely populated places on Earth, with around 2 million people living in 140 square miles. Israel and Egypt have imposed a strict siege on the territory, which is ongoing. The UNRWA has been forced to close all 14 of its food distribution centers in Gaza, resulting in half a million people stopping receiving vital food aid.