As the conflict between Hamas and Israel enters its sixth day, with a combined death toll of over 2500, people in Gaza continue to go without water or electricity as Israel bombs the strip in what United Nations experts described as “indiscriminate military attacks,” and Hamas continues to fire rockets into Israel.
US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken gave a statement during a press conference with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu while the White House corrects US President Joe Biden’s claim of seeing photographs of beheaded children.
ِAt least 1417 Palestinians have been killed since the beginning of the bombing, of which 447 were children and 218 women, with at least 6868 injured, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health. Additionally, 31 people have been killed in the West Bank, and over 600 injured.
In its 12 October situation update, the ministry revealed that “the health system has begun to collapse” with no ICU beds available for the wounded and the number of injured people “greater than the hospitals’ clinical capabilities.”
Al Jazeera reports that over 600 Gazan workers in Israel were forced to flee to the West Bank under the threat of violence and arrest.
In Israel, over 1200 have been killed and more than 3000 injured, with over 5000 rockets fired from Gaza, according to the Israeli Defense Forces.
Army spokesperson Daniel Hagari said that the army had received intelligence information regarding the attack beforehand, but “ did not expect it to be of this magnitude,” according to Al Alarbiya. Netanyahu denied that the government knew of the attack beforehand. Chair of the US House foreign affairs committee, Michael McCaul claims Egypt has warned Israel three days before. However, “high-level” sources speaking to Ahram Online denied such reports.
Hagari also said that Hamas is no longer in control of certain parts of Gaza, according to ABC News.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu formed a wartime cabinet yesterday, 11 October, with opposition leader Benny Gantz joining Netanyahu and Gallant. This comes amid a besieged Gaza without water or electricity, with brutal scenes of destruction leading way to a dire humanitarian crisis.
Israel said that there will be no humanitarian exceptions to the siege until hostages are freed.
In addition, Syrian TV says that Israel bombed the Damascus and Aleppo airports, putting them out of service.
War Crimes and a Humanitarian Crisis
In a statement published by the The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, a group of independent UN experts “unequivocally condemned targeted and deadly violence directed at civilians in Israel and violent and indiscriminate attacks against Palestinian civilians in Gaza and a further tightening of the unlawful blockade, which will have devastating impacts on the whole civilian population.”
The experts described both transgressions as violations of international law which “amounts to war crimes.”
The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) said that about 340,000 people in Gaza have been displaced, with nearly 218,600 taking refuge in 92 UNRWA schools across Gaza.
“There is no humanitarian access for food or other essential supplies,” UNRWA wrote in its 11 October situation report. The agency is urgently seeking USD 104 million (EGP 2.3 billion) in assistance to “to enable its multi-sectoral humanitarian response over the coming 90 days.”
12 UNRWA personnel have been killed since the beginning of the conflict on 7 October.
US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken arrived in Israel on 12 October, holding private consultations with Netanyahu followed by a joint press conference.
“You may be strong enough on your own to defend yourself, but as long as America exists you will never, ever have to,” Blinken said. He also advised caution to avoid civilian casualties.
Stateside, US president Joe Biden had claimed that he never thought he would “see and have confirmed pictures of terrorists beheading children.” The White House has since corrected the US president, stating that he was referring to media reports of the incident. The ‘beheaded babies’ claim relayed by the IDF remains unconfirmed.
The Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, on its part, issued a statement on 12 October denying the closure of the Rafah crossing “at any point since the beginning of the current crisis,” clarifying that the Palestinian side’s basic infrastructure was damaged, which led to irregular operations.
Egypt also invited all states and organizations willing to aid the Palestinian people in Gaza to send aid to the Al-Arish International Airport.
Egyptian security sources told Reuters that Egypt is discussing plans with the US and other parties to facilitate humanitarian aid through Egypt, but is rejecting of the idea of establishing humanitarian corridors for refugees.
On its part, Al-Azhar issued a brief statement on 11 October calling upon all Arab and Islamic countries to fulfill their “religious and historic duties and responsibilities,” adding that “supporting innocent Palestinian civilians through official channels is a religious duty.”
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called for the “immediate release of all Israeli hostages held in Gaza” and demanded that supplies must be allowed into Gaza.
“We need rapid and unimpeded humanitarian access now,” the secretary-general said on 11 October.