Hamas, has issued a threat to kill Israeli hostages in retaliation for Israeli airstrikes on civilian areas in Gaza. Israel has called up around 300,000 soldiers and enforced a total blockade on the Gaza Strip, preventing millions of residents from accessing food, water, and fuel.
This blockade has cut off essential supplies such as water, food, and electricity to Gaza. Hamas has warned that they may start harming Israeli civilian hostages if Israel continues to bomb civilian areas without warning.
In a surprise attack, Palestinian militants abducted more than 100 people and killed over 700, making it the deadliest day in Israel’s history, with reports suggesting the death toll has risen to 900. In response, Israel has launched airstrikes from the air and sea, resulting in the deaths of over 680 Palestinians in Gaza, an area home to 2.3 million people with no escape.
Additionally, there have been incidents along Israel’s northern border with Lebanon, raising concerns about a potential second front in the conflict.
Israel’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has called for a government of national unity and emphasized that the offensive has only just begun. He pledged to eliminate terrorists still present in Israel.
Hamas has already claimed to have killed some of the hostages in their custody due to Israeli bombardment.
In response to this violence, international leaders, including Joe Biden, the U.S. president, Rishi Sunak, the UK prime minister, Emmanuel Macron, the French president, Olaf Scholz, the German chancellor, and Giorgia Meloni, the Italian prime minister, have jointly condemned Hamas’ and expressed their support for Israel. They emphasized that there is no justification for terrorism.
Efforts for intervention and a possible prisoner swap are ongoing, with Qatar and Egypt involved in negotiations. The captives include civilians, women, children, and soldiers, including dozens of American citizens.
The situation in Gaza, already dire due to a 16-year Israeli blockade, has worsened, and the UN has expressed deep concern about the humanitarian impact.
UNRWA reported that nearly half a million people in Gaza did not receive their food rations this week due to the forced closure of UN food distribution centers amidst the Israeli military actions. Human Rights Watch has labeled Israel’s complete blockade on essential supplies for ordinary people in Gaza as a war crime.
Omar Shakir, the Israel and Palestine Director at Human Rights Watch, strongly condemned Defense Minister Gallant’s statements, stating, “Depriving the population in an occupied territory of food and electricity is collective punishment, which constitutes a war crime, as does using starvation as a weapon of war. The International Criminal Court should take serious note of this call for a war crime.”