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Saturday, March 2, 2024

Israeli strikes destroy Gaza neighborhoods; blackout imminent

In the sealed-off Gaza Strip, a dire situation unfolded as Israeli airstrikes ravaged entire neighborhoods, hospitals faced dwindling supplies, and a looming power blackout threatened to compound the ongoing crisis. This devastating war, initially ignited by a deadly assault by Hamas militants, has taken a severe toll on the population.

Airstrikes resulted in the destruction of city blocks within this small coastal enclave, with countless bodies buried beneath the debris. These attacks continued despite the holding of an estimated 150 people, including Israeli soldiers, men, women, children, and older adults, by the militants.

The conflict began after Hamas fighters breached the border fence and launched attacks that killed hundreds of Israelis in their homes, on the streets, and at an outdoor music festival. Since then, rocket fire from militants towards Israel has persisted, with a significant barrage directed at the southern town of Ashkelon on Wednesday.

This ongoing war, which has already claimed the lives of at least 2,200 people on both sides, is expected to escalate further, amplifying the suffering of Gaza’s residents who were already grappling with shortages of basic necessities and electricity.

Following the attack, Israel halted the entry of food, water, fuel, and medicine into Gaza, a 40-kilometer-long strip of land that is home to 2.3 million Palestinians. The sole access point from Egypt was also shut down after border-crossing airstrikes. As a result, the humanitarian situation deteriorated rapidly, with hospitals overwhelmed by the influx of wounded and running out of supplies.

The Gaza Power Authority announced that its sole power plant would run out of fuel within hours, leaving the entire territory without electricity, as Israel had cut off fuel supplies. Gaza’s residents had relied on generators for power but had no means of importing fuel.

The World Health Organization reported that pre-positioned supplies for seven hospitals had already been exhausted due to the surge in casualties. Doctors Without Borders, which operates two hospitals in Gaza, faced shortages of surgical equipment, antibiotics, fuel, and other crucial supplies.

In the midst of this crisis, the largest hospital in Gaza, Al-Shifa, had only enough fuel for three days.

As the conflict intensifies, Israel has mobilized 360,000 reservists, with the prospect of a ground offensive into Gaza becoming increasingly likely. The Israeli government is under intense public pressure to topple Hamas, which has ruled Gaza since 2007 and remained firmly in control through four previous wars. A ground offensive would necessitate reoccupying Gaza, at least temporarily, as Hamas has a history of operating as an underground insurgency within areas controlled by Israel.

In a new tactic, Israel is urging civilians to evacuate entire neighborhoods rather than just individual buildings before inflicting destruction, which may signal preparations for a ground offensive.

The situation in Gaza has deteriorated to the point where some Palestinians see no hope under prolonged Israeli military occupation, increasing settlements in the West Bank, a 16-year blockade in Gaza, and what they perceive as international apathy.

As the violence continues, desperation grows among Palestinians in Gaza, with many feeling they have nothing left to lose. Amid the escalating tragedy, the world watches in concern, hoping for a resolution to this devastating conflict.

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