Gaza’s morgues were full and hospitals struggled to cope with the influx of casualties on Tuesday as Israel carpet bombed and destroyed entire neighborhoods and appeared set to launch a lengthy ground invasion of the territory.
The UN humanitarian group OCHA said late Tuesday that more than 400 Palestinians in Gaza had been killed in the past 24 hours – “compared with the over 200 in the previous two days, since the start of hostilities.”
Gaza’s health ministry said late Tuesday that there were 900 fatalities and 4,600 injuries in the territory since Israel began its reprisal strikes on Saturday. Among those killed were 260 children and 230 women, suggesting that the overwhelming number of Palestinians killed in Gaza were civilians.Varying unofficial figures given by Israeli media put the death toll in that country from Saturday’s raids by guerrilla fighters and ongoing rocket fire at 900 to 1,200 on Tuesday.
On Tuesday, the Israeli military conducted tours for foreign correspondents of Gaza-area settlements where it said civilians were massacred, but has denied Israeli journalists access to those areas.
An Israeli military spokesperson claimed on Tuesday that the army had found the bodies of 1,500 Palestinian guerrillas in the country.
The Israeli government, including its military, has a long track record of lying and in general, its claims should be met with skepticism until there is verified information.
Volker Türk, the United Nations human rights chief, said on Tuesday that he was “deeply shocked and appalled by allegations of summary executions of civilians and, in some instances, horrifying mass killings by members of Palestinian armed groups.”said on Tuesday that a “criminal policy of revenge is underway” in Gaza.
“The Gaza Strip is closed off on all sides and the residents have no way out. There are no shelters and no way to seek cover from airstrikes,” the rights group said.
B’Tselem added that Israel’s targeting of civilians and civilian infrastructure was “not new, but has been implemented towards Gaza for many years” and has only wrought “more horror.”
On Monday, the armed wing of Hamas threatened to execute captives held in Gaza since Saturday if Israel continued to kill Palestinian families in their home without warning, but there was no claim or evidence that they had carried out that threat as of Tuesday night.
Israeli aerial and ground bombardments on Tuesday focused on the Rimal neighborhood west of Gaza City and southern Khan Younis. Palestinian armed groups continued to fire rockets and mortars from Gaza on Tuesday, with reports that a Palestinian youth in a West Bank town near Tulkarm was killed by one of those projectiles or shrapnel from an Iron Dome interception.
The Israeli military said on Tuesday it had secured the Gaza boundary that was crossed at several points by guerrillas on Saturday but it was still searching for fighters in the area.Egypt’s president, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, urged a ceasefire and said that Cairo, which has mediated such agreements between Israel and Palestinian resistance groups in Gaza in the past, was “communicating with all international and regional parties in order to reach an immediate cessation of violence and achieve de-escalation.”
As Israel and guerrilla groups in Lebanon exchanged fire over the border for the third consecutive day, and senior Iraqi and Yemeni leaders aligned with Iran threatened the US over its intervention in support of Israel, al-Sisi warned that the current situation threatened “security and stability” in the wider region.
An Egyptian official said that Israel has rebuffed Cairo’s efforts to mediate a de-escalation, “indicating that it wants to deal a knock-out blow to Hamas before entertaining the idea of a ceasefire,” The Times of Israel reported.
The Egyptian official said that Israel was “readying for a months-long ground campaign in Gaza,” the publication added.
Resistance prepared for long war
Hamas dug in its heels as well, with its politburo leader Ismail Haniyeh stating that the resistance group would only engage in negotiations to release the dozens of Israelis and foreign nationals it has held captive in Gaza since Saturday until after the war was over.
But that may be a very long time to come.
Ali Barakeh, a senior Hamas official in Beirut, said on Monday that the resistance group is ready for a long war and had prepared accordingly.
“We have reserves that can last us months. … We held up for 51 days in the 2014 war, and we are ready to withstand many months,” Barakeh said.
He said that the surprise attack on Saturday was known to only a handful of commanders in Gaza and that Iran and Hizballah played no role. But Barakeh said that the Palestinian resistance’s allies “are ready to join [the fight] if Gaza is subjected to a war of annihilation.”
The AP news agency reported that “Barakeh also denied speculation that the attack, which had been planned for more than a year, was aimed at derailing US efforts to convince Saudi Arabia to normalize ties with Israel.”
Instead, it was a reaction to the Israeli far-right government’s provocations at al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem and increased punitive measures against the more than 5,000 Palestinians held in Israeli prisons.
“He also said Hamas believed Israel had plans to kill its top leaders,” AP reported. Israeli leaders like national security minister Itamar Ben-Gvir have called for the assassination of Hamas leaders and pushed for an unprovoked, surprise attack on Gaza earlier this year killing multiple Islamic Jihad leaders along with their family members and neighbors.
Barakeh said that only 2,000 of Hamas’ fighting force of 40,000 had participated in the hostilities thus far. The resistance group would use the Israelis and foreign nationals captured in its surprise raid on Saturday to “secure the release of all Arabs detained in Israeli jails and even some Palestinians imprisoned in the United States on charges of funding Hamas,” AP reported.
The reference to Palestinians held by the US appeared to be about the Holy Land Five – a group of men serving lengthy prison sentences for trumped-up terror financing charges in relation to their charitable work in Gaza.On Monday, Israel declared a total war and comprehensive siege on the Gaza Strip, which has been under blockade since 2006, as it intensified its reprisal strikes.
Palestinians in the territory – half of its population are under the age of 18 and most are refugees from lands beyond the boundary fence breached by guerrillas on Saturday – warned that Israel was waging a genocidal war of elimination or expulsion against them.
Biden cheerleads Israel’s genocidal war
Those fears of the worst were reinforced by statements made by Israeli political and military figures in recent days.
In a video posted online Tuesday, Ghassan Alian, the head of COGAT, the Israeli military body that decides which Palestinians are allowed to access life-saving treatment unavailable in besieged Gaza, described the population of the territory as “human beasts” – echoing similar genocidal language already used by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant.
“Israel has imposed a total blockade on Gaza, no electricity, no water, just damage,” Alian said. “You wanted hell – you will get hell.”
During a visit to Ofakim, a settlement near the Gaza boundary infiltrated by Palestinian guerrillas on Saturday, Gallant said that Israel’s response would be “remembered for the next 50 years.”
Gallant said that “the rules of war have changed. The price the Gaza Strip will pay will be a very heavy price that will change reality for generations.”
Israel Katz, Israel’s electricity minister, boasted on Tuesday that after supply of fuel was cut to the territory, Gaza’s power plant would shut down in a matter of days and water pumping stations within a week.
He said this is what Israel would do “to a nation of murderers and butchers of children. What was will not be.”
One Israeli security official told media that “Gaza will eventually turn into a city of tents. There will be no buildings.”On Tuesday, Gallant said that the military had regained control of the Gaza boundary area and that “I have released all the restraints … and we are moving to a full offense.”
“Gaza will never go back to what it was,” he said.
The Israeli military’s top spokesperson meanwhile said that killing senior Hamas officials was “top priority.”
Israeli political and military leaders espousing genocidal rhetoric and vowing war crimes surely feel emboldened by the Biden administration in Washington. When pressed about the genocidal rhetoric employed by Israel, the State Department’s spokesperson on Tuesday blamed Hamas for Palestinian civilian deaths in Gaza:Meanwhile, in a speech cheerleading Israel’s revenge war on Gaza on Tuesday, Biden said that Hamas unleashed “pure, unadulterated evil.”
He repeated unsubstantiated claims that Palestinian guerrillas raped women. He also trotted out the false Israeli propaganda trope that Hamas, a national liberation organization with widespread support among the Palestinian people, uses Palestinian civilians as human shields and “whose stated purpose … is to kill Jews.”
He evoked the trauma of the Holocaust in defense of Israel’s actions – a bitter irony given that the scorched earth carpet bombing in Gaza is reminiscent of Nazi crimes tried at Nuremberg.
Biden said that the US was “surging additional military assistance” to Israel to make sure that it “does not run out of these critical assets to defend its cities and its citizens.” He made no mention of the welfare of Palestinians in Gaza, leaving them without even a rhetorical defense of their right to exist.
Biden made the patently false claim that unlike “terrorists” who “purposefully target civilians … we uphold the laws of war.”
Targeting civilians and civilian infrastructure, often with US-sourced weapons, has been Israeli military doctrine in Gaza and Lebanon for decades. Meanwhile, Biden made no reference to the Israeli government being run by adherents to a genocidal ideology who may use the current crisis to initiate a mass expulsion of Palestinians.
Palestinians in Gaza were terrorized by Israel’s relentless strikes by air, sea and land for a fourth consecutive day on Tuesday.
Palestinian human rights groups said that “the population is being urged, by means of random texts, to evacuate their homes, heightening fear, terror and panic among the civilian population while warplanes hover constantly.”
Human rights groups continue to collect information about “egregious Israeli attacks” that have wiped out entire families across the territory.
The Israeli military said on Tuesday that it had dropped hundreds of tons of bombs on Gaza – one of the most densely populated areas in the world – and said that “the emphasis is on damage, not precision.”
Meanwhile, Israel bombed Gaza’s Rafah crossing with Egypt on Tuesday, preventing the delivery of humanitarian aid.Israel told Egypt that it would bomb trucks carrying humanitarian assistance to Gaza.
Egypt was meanwhile “moving to prevent a mass exodus from the Gaza Strip into its Sinai Peninsula,” the Reuters news agency reported on Tuesday.
“Israeli bombardments halted crossings at the only exit point from the Palestinian enclave,” the agency added.
The Israeli military denied that it advised Palestinians to flee to Egypt, even though its international spokesperson said in a phone call with foreign reporters early Tuesday that “Rafah crossing is still open. Anyone who can get out, I would advise them to get out.”
The International Committee of the Red Cross warned against the targeting of civilians and said that “without immediate restraint, we are heading for a humanitarian disaster.”
The Palestine Red Crescent Society said that it and other medical teams lacked essential supplies and that its crews had been attacked by Israeli forces in both Gaza and the West Bank. It said that six healthcare workers were among those killed in Gaza since Saturday.The Committee to Protect Journalists meanwhile said that seven journalists in Gaza have been killed, one was injured, another was detained by the Israeli military, and one remained missing.
Three of the journalists killed – Saeed al-Taweel, editor-in-chief of the Al-Khamsa News website, Mohammed Sobih, a Khabar News Agency photographer, and Hisham Alnwajha, a Khabar News Agency journalist – were killed in Israel’s attack on a building housing several media outlets in the Rimal district of Gaza City on 9 October.The press freedom watchdog said that an Israeli photographer for Ynet, “whose wife was killed, was reported missing and his family fears he was taken hostage along with his 3-year-old daughter.” UNRWA, the UN agency for Palestine refugees, said on Tuesday that the building housing its headquarters in Gaza City was significantly damaged as a result of airstrikes nearby.
The agency said that two of its staff members and five of its students have been killed in Gaza since Saturday.
UNRWA said that 18 of its facilities had been damaged, including its schools, which sheltered a majority of the nearly 190,000 Palestinians displaced within Gaza.
Turkey says US intervention would bring more massacres
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan criticized Israel’s cutoff of electricity and water to Gaza and warned that the deployment of a US aircraft carrier to the eastern Mediterranean would lead to additional massacres in the territory.The AP news agency reported that the Ford carrier strike group arrived on Tuesday “within range to provide a host of air support or long-range strike options for Israel if requested.”
A US official told the agency that the carrier would bolster “US military presence to prevent the now four-day old war with Hamas from spilling over into a more dangerous regional conflict.”
The UN’s humanitarian coordinator in Palestine called for the immediate and unconditional release of captured civilians on Tuesday and said that “all relevant actors must allow humanitarian teams and goods to immediately and safely reach the hundreds of thousands of people in need.”The International Committee of the Red Cross said that it was attempting to gain access to prisoners, including captives held by Palestinian guerrillas in Gaza, but to no avail.
“We ask also for the civilians who have been captured to have an opportunity to communicate with their family, to tell them that they are safe and well,” Fabrizio Carboni, the Middle East director for the ICRC, said on Tuesday.
But it appeared that some information about the captives were reaching their families.
The mother of Shani Louk – a dual German-Israeli national captured at the Supernova rave, and whose contorted and seemingly unconscious body was shown on video being driven in the back of a pickup truck in Gaza – said that her daughter was alive.
Der Spiegel reported on Tuesday that Louk’s mother received that information from a family friend in Gaza.
Louk was being treated for critical injuries at Indonesia Hospital in northern Beit Lahiya, according to the report. That hospital was hit in an Israeli strike on Sunday, killing one of the facility’s Palestinian staff.