Overall Security Responsibility in Gaza
Israel's control over Gaza, ongoing conflict tolls rise, focus on Gaza City, and hostage release challenge
KHAN YOUNIS, Gaza Strip — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has made it clear that Israel intends to maintain control over the Gaza Strip even after the war with Hamas. This means that Israel will have "overall security responsibility" in Gaza for an indefinite period. The coastal enclave is home to approximately 2.3 million Palestinians.
In a recent interview with ABC News, Netanyahu expressed openness to "little pauses" in the fighting. These pauses would allow for the release of some of the more than 240 captives seized by Hamas during their attack on Israel on October 7th, which sparked the war a month ago.
However, Netanyahu made it clear that a general cease-fire will not be considered until all the hostages are released. United States President Joe Biden called for a broader humanitarian pause during a phone call with Netanyahu, but no agreement was reached on this matter.
Israeli troops have been engaged in a battle with Palestinian militants inside Gaza for over a week. They have managed to cut the territory in half and encircle Gaza City as part of their military operations.
The ongoing conflict has taken an unimaginable toll on both sides. Airstrikes have decimated entire city blocks, reducing them to rubble. As a result, approximately 70% of the population has been forced to flee their homes. Many have followed Israeli instructions, seeking refuge in the southern part of the besieged territory. However, even there, they are not safe from the relentless bombings.
The consequences extend far beyond displacement. The scarcity of essential resources such as food, medicine, fuel, and water has reached critical levels. Even the United Nations-operated schools, which have been turned into makeshift shelters, are now overflowing with those seeking refuge.
Tragically, the Palestinian death toll has surpassed a staggering 10,000 according to the Health Ministry of the Hamas-run Gaza Strip. This includes over 4,100 innocent children. Heartbreakingly, another 2,300 individuals remain missing and are presumed to be trapped beneath the wreckage of the countless buildings that have been obliterated. It is important to note that the ministry does not differentiate between civilians and combatants, whereas Israel maintains that thousands of fighters have been neutralized.
Israel has also experienced profound loss, with approximately 1,400 people losing their lives. The majority of these casualties were civilians caught in the crossfire during the incursion by Hamas on October 7th, which marked the beginning of this devastating conflict.
The Israeli government remains resolute in its determination to eliminate Hamas from power and dismantle its military capabilities. However, the human cost of such a mission is immeasurable, with countless lives forever altered or lost in the process. It is a tragic reminder that even with seemingly justifiable goals, war takes an unimaginable toll on all those caught in its grip.
Israel's attention is currently directed towards Gaza City, which served as the residence for approximately 650,000 individuals before the outbreak of war. This population is roughly equivalent to that of Washington, D.C. One of Israel's main concerns lies in Hamas' significant militant presence within the city. Notably, Gaza City houses an extensive network of tunnels, which Israel alleges are strategically utilized by Hamas. Furthermore, Israel accuses Hamas of exploiting civilians as human shields in their operations within the city.