Palestinians Trapped In Northern Gaza Between Israeli And Hamas Orders — Mideast War, Day 7
A full siege is on in Gaza, and there's little room for escape for civilians.
Updated Oct. 13, at 5:55 p.m.
The reality of Palestinian civilians caught in the middle of warring parties has never been more evident than right now in northern Gaza.
Early Friday, the Israeli military told the United Nations that everyone living north of Wadi Gaza nature reserve should relocate “southwards” in the next 24 hours.
Just hours later, Hamas called on people in Gaza to stay where they are.
“Remain steadfast in your homes and to stand firm in the face of this disgusting psychological war waged by the occupation,” Hamas told those in the north of the besieged city, via a statement sent to media organizations. “Scenes of migration and displacement are a thing of the past and won’t be repeated, except with the victorious return of our people to our occupied land.”
Hamas, which was voted into power in Gaza, is also a heavily armed militia, and their demand that people not evacuate risks intimidating those that might want to try to leave.
Israel’s original announcement that people should leave northern Gaza is already an "impossible" demand, the United Nations said Friday. Any such attempt would bring major humanitarian consequences as it would involve displacing around 40,000 people per hour.
In response to the deadly Hamas terror attack last weekend that killed more than 1,000 Israelis, the government of Israel announced it was cuting off basic necessities such as food and water to the narrow strip of coastal land where more than 2 million Palestinians live. Meanwhile, bombing continues in Gaza, as a likely Israeli ground war approaches.
The UN has urged Israelis to withdraw the announcement. On the ground convoys of the International Red Cross and United Nations humanitarian agency staff have been spotted traveling south from Gaza City towards the southern part of territory, which may be in preparation for possible evacuation operation.
The Palestine Red Crescent Society (PRCS) has called on the world to help “prevent a humanitarian catastrophe” in Gaza, stressing there are “no safe areas” to evacuate.
“We do not have the means to evacuate the sick and the wounded in our hospitals, or the elderly and the disabled. There are no safe areas in the whole of the Gaza Strip,” it says in a statement.
The PRCS called on international aid organizations on the ground in Gaza including the International Committee of the Red Cross to intervene with governments to “protect humanity and humanitarian space” and put pressure on “Israel to rescind this order.”
Later Friday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Israel's cutting off vital supplies to Gaza is a “breach of the most fundamental human rights.”
Israel drops leaflets over Gaza warning residents to flee
The Israeli military has been dropping leaflets from the skies above Gaza City. The flyers warn residents to flee "immediately" to southern Gaza.
Israel has been carrying out a heavy campaign of airstrikes in Gaza which have killed more than 1,500 people. It is also believed to be getting ready for a ground offensive into Gaza.
Gaza’s largest hospital will not evacuate
Despite orders by the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) to evacuate the northern half of Gaza, the Al Shifa Hospital, the largest hospital in Gaza, will stay put. “We have nowhere to transport the patients to,” said Dr. Muhammad Abu Salima, the director of the hospital, justifying the decision on Friday.
Gaza’s hospital system is on the brink of collapse, with fuel and medical supplies being denied to the Palestinian territory by Israel’s siege. The Jordanian government sent a plane of medical supplies to Egypt on Thursday, intended to be delivered to Gaza through the Rafah border crossing between the coastal enclave and the Egyptian controlled Sinai Desert. The status of this aid is unknowable at this time.
Blinken meets with President of Palestinian Authority and the King of Jordan
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken traveled on Friday to Amman to speak first with King Abdullah II of Jordan, followed by a meeting with Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas.
King Abdullah II cautioned “any attempt to displace Palestinians from all their lands or provoke their displacement,” during the meeting, according to French daily Le Monde.
Displacing Palastinians at a mass level would only “aggravate” the refugee crisis in neighboring countries, such as Jordan. The King demanded that humanitarian corridors remain open, so that medical supplies and other vital goods can be delivered to the people of Gaza.
Israel missiles hit Damascus, Aleppo airports
A Jan. 2 photo of Israeli soldiers near the Syrian border in a tank in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.
Israel launched simultaneous missile strikes Thursday at two of Syria’s airports, in its capital Damascus and in the northern city of Aleppo, reports Syrian state news agency SANA. A Syrian military source told the agency that the runways of both airports have been damaged, and both hubs are now out of service. There are no immediate reports of casualties.
The military source said "bursts of missiles" hit the two airports at the same time, in what he said was a bid to distract the world's attention from Israel's war with Hamas militants in Gaza.
If confirmed, the strike raises the risk of a region-wide expansion of the six-day-old war between Israel and Palestinian militant group Hamas. A longstanding enemy of Israel, which occupies the Golan Heights, Syria is allied with regional power Iran, and Thursday's strikes came a day before Iran's foreign minister, Hossein Amirabdollahian, was due to visit Syria.
The strike also coincided with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinkens’ visit to Israel, and came hours after Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi spoke by phone with his Syrian counterpart Bashar al-Assad, calling on Arab and Islamic countries to cooperate in confronting Israel.
Israel has vowed to defeat Hamas movement that rules Gaza, after Saturday’s attack that has killed more than 1,000 civilians. Tehran has celebrated the Hamas attacks but denied being behind them.
On Tuesday, Israeli troops fired artillery and mortar shells towards Syria after rockets from southern Syria hit Israeli positions across the border. For years, Israel has carried out strikes against what it has described as Iran-linked targets in Syria, including against the Aleppo and Damascus airports.
Sources have said strikes on the airports are intended to disrupt Iranian supply lines to Syria, where Tehran's influence has grown since it began supporting President Bashar al-Assad in the civil war that started in 2011.
Israel links siege to fate of hostages
Israel has decided to use its ongoing siege of Gaza — which has cut off vital supplies to 2.2 million Palestinians since Tuesday — as a hardline bargaining chip to force Hamas to release scores of civilian hostages being held since Saturday’s attack in southern Israel.
Israeli Energy Minister Israel Katz said Thursday that Gaza will not be provided with any electricity, water, or fuel until Israeli hostages are returned home. Katz took to X, formerly known as Twitter, and posted that “no electrical switch will be turned on, no water hydrant will be opened, and no fuel truck will enter until the Israeli abductees are returned home. Humanitarian for humanitarian.”
People in Gaza can still use power generators for electricity but with all sides of the border blocked, the fuel needed for the generators to work is running out. Hamas militants are holding as many as 150 hostages in Gaza, and the Israeli government has confirmed the identity of 97 of them.
Meanwhile, Gaza’s sole electric power station has been switched off, and over-capacity hospitals are running out of fuel. Hospitals in Gaza "risk turning into morgues" as they lose power during Israel's bombardment of the enclave, the International Committee of the Red Cross warned on Thursday.
This showdown over the siege and hostages comes as Israel is preparing for what many believe is an imminent ground invasion into Gaza. A new Israeli unity government and war cabinet that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu formed with opposition leader Benny Gantz must take into account the hostage situation.
One extreme-right government minister has been quoted in the Israeli press saying "now is the time to be brutal”, suggesting that the fate of the hostages is not a relevant factor moving forward. Many others are pushing for Israel to do everything it can to rescue them, especially as families of the hostages make public appeals.
On Wednesday night, al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas’s armed wing, released a video allegedly showing the release of a female captive and two children. Israel dismissed the video as “theatrics” intended to distract from the group’s “true face as a barbaric organization”. Furthermore, Hamas warned that it would start executing hostages if Israel targeted people in Gaza without warning.
Lieutenant Colonel Jonathan Conricus, a spokesperson for the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said that Israel has never dealt with a hostage situation like this: "Not in the scope, not in the magnitude and not in the complexity of where our hostages are." Conricus also added that the hostages are being kept underground, to "keep them safe from Israeli intelligence, and efforts to get them out."
Meanwhile, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken landed in Israel on Thursday to show solidarity and seek to prevent the war from spreading as well as push for the release of captives. In a conference with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Blinken has reassured Israel that they will “never, ever” have to fight alone.
Israel clarifies goals of ground offensive
IDF fires artillery shells into Gaza as fighting between Israeli troops and Islamist Hamas militants continues.
Daniel Hagari, Israel’s top military spokesman, articulated on Thursday that the main priority of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) is to “eliminate” all senior members of Hamas and to eradicate the “ability of Hamas” to govern in Gaza according to the New York Times.
This is one of the first instances that a high ranking Israeli official has indicated a clear military objective since the beginning of the war on Saturday. It remains unclear what Israel’s political solution will be in Gaza if Hamas, which has dominated Gaza’s partially-autonomous government since the faction was elected in 2006, is successfully rooted out by the IDF. More than 1,300 have been killed in Gaza since Israel launched retaliatory air strikes, with 338,000 displaced.
Volodymyr Zelensky wants to go to Israel
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky wants to go to Israel to show solidarity with the country amid the fighting in Gaza according to Ukrainian and Israeli officials cited by Axios. A visit by Zelensky would boost international support for Israel's counteroffensive against Hamas in Gaza. Zelensky also told reporters on Wednesday that in the early days of Russia’s invasion, it was critical for Ukraine to feel international support.
"This is why I urge all leaders to visit Israel and show their support for the people. I'm not talking about any institutions, but about support for the people who suffered from terrorist attacks and are dying today," Zelensky said after a meeting with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg in Brussels.
Since Hamas' attack on Saturday, Zelensky has given Israel strong public support and equated Hamas to Russian President Vladimir Putin's invasion of Ukraine.
Israeli tourists in India try to get home
“I’m scared to go back. I’m scared that the situation will get out of hand,” says Shira Zer. This young Israeli realized something was wrong when her flight from New Delhi’s airport to Israel was canceled on Saturday. She then learned about the terrible news, including the death of one of her friends at the music festival raided by Hamas militants. Since the attack, Israeli tourists have been gathering in the Indian capital’s Chabad House to discuss the situation, find comfort and pray.
Clément Perruche, French daily Les Echos’ correspondent in India, talks with some of the Israelis trying to go back amid suspended flights, and gets their first reactions. “It’s terrible. Imagine you are sleeping and someone comes to kill you. What these terrorists did is not human,” says a young Israeli woman.
Jordan sends supplies to Gaza
The Rafah crossing along Gaza’s southern border with Egypt has been reported reopened after it was closed by Egyptian authorities on Tuesday due to Israeli airstrikes on the Gaza side. The crossing remains the only current escape route out of Gaza for Palestinian civilians fleeing Israeli airstrikes and the all but imminent ground invasion of Gaza. CNN later reported that it is “unclear” whether the border has been reopened.
The crossing is far from ideal however — only 400 people are allowed to cross into Egypt from Gaza during “normal” times. It is unclear if Egyptian authorities will increase this quota given the extreme circumstances and unprecedented volume of fleeing Palestinians. Egyptian border agents are likely to take security quite seriously, out of fear that Hamas fighters may attempt to relocate and take refuge in the Sinai Desert — potentially slowing down its ability to process fleeing Gazans.
Jordan has sent “medicine and medical supplies” to Egypt by plane to be delivered to Gaza. The scope and scale of the supply convoy is unknown at this time, but is undoubtedly a welcome sign to civilians in Gaza who have been cut off by Israel from electricity, food, water and fuel.
More than 100 antisemitic acts have been recorded in France since Saturday
.@GDarmanin : "Depuis samedi, c'est plus d'une centaine d'actes antisémites, essentiellement des tags, et des actes plus graves : 24 personnes ont été interpellées" #le710Inter pic.twitter.com/jLBrmI67PU— France Inter (@franceinter) October 12, 2023
More than 100 anti-Semitic acts, consisting mainly of “graffiti” have been recorded by French police since Saturday, Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin said in an interview with radio station France Inter.The graffiti includes swastikas and calls to kill Jews, in addition to "some more serious acts," including people with weapons stopped at the entrance to Jewish sites, he said.
There is currently no specific Islamist terrorist threat targeting Jews in France, Darmanin added. But he warned that "hate online has been unleashed," with an "extremely raised" level of reports of antisemitic abuse online.
"If it's a protest in support of Hamas or in support of the action by some Palestinians against Israel, it's 'No.' So, since Sunday we're prohibiting them on a case-by-case basis," Darmanin said, following the bans of several pro-Palestinian protests in France. "The Palestinian cause is absolutely respectable."
Elon Musk’s X says it has removed "hundreds" of Hamas-affiliated accounts
Social Media platform X, formerly known as Twitter, claimed on Wednesday that it has removed “hundreds of Hamas-affiliated accounts” after deleting thousands of posts since the war began on Saturday. The European Union (EU) gave Billionaire Elon Musk’s X 24 hours to address illegal content and disinformation related to the conflict before facing penalties under the Digital Services Act, a recently enacted EU law passed by the European Commission.
X has faced widespread criticism for allowing misinformation to flourish, a phenomenon amplified by the outbreak of war between Hamas and Israel this week.
For more, read our piece on Worldcrunch.
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