Benjamin Nethanyu, the Prime Minister of Israel, ordered Israel’s army to make forays into Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip and since then, the Israel Defense Forces has launched its offensive in Gaza.
On the third day of its offensive, a violent battle erupted in the Shijaiyah neighborhood of Gaza City. The result was extremely gruesome, and resulted in the demise of 65 Palestinians and 13 Israeli soldiers.
The conflict erupted on Sunday when Israel troops marched into the heavily populated district of Shijaiyah, past after midnight. There the Israeli forces were met with heavy resistance from the Hamas militants who were reported to be using anti-tank missiles, rocket-propelled grenades, and automatic weapons from local houses and buildings according to Lieutenant Colonel, Peter Lerner said.
Nethanyu has said that, the offensive will continue for “as long as necessary”. However, in other reports, he has also assured that all measures will be taken to protect innocent civilians.
Regardless, a heavy toll has been exacted on the civilians. Due to these attacks, residents of the Gaza Strip have been forced to abandon their houses for refugee camps, and other areas of shelter.
“The gate of hell has opened, and shrapnel came through the windows,” Shijayah resident Jawad Hassanain said to the Associated Press by phone. Jawad and his family had to seek refuge in a nearby-building.
According to Gaza Health officials, at least 65 Palestinians have been killed and about 300 people have been injured. In the aftermath of the showdown, Gaza’s Shifa Hospital was inundated with injured civilians. Parents entered the hospital weeping, demanding attention for their children covered in debris and shrapnel and pleading for help. Due to the influx of patients, the hospital’s emergency rooms quickly filled up, and pushed doctors to treat individuals in the hallways,
The overall objective of Israel’s offensive is to cripple the ability of Hamas to launch aerial and other attacks on Israel. The Shijaiyah neighborhood was the area from where a moderate proportion of the rockets fired at Israel were deployed from, and thus was targeted as a Hamas stronghold.
Despite the losses suffered on both ends, the IDF plans to escalate their offense in Israel, according to army chief Lieutenant General Benny Gantz. As a result, Gaza residents have received automated phone calls advising them to evacuate refugee camps in the center of Gaza Strip.
Ban Ki-moon, the Secretary General of the United Nations, has condemned Israel’s actions, and labeled the latest incursion as “atrocious”. “I condemn the atrocious action. Israel must exercise maximum restraint and do far more to protect civilians” he stated.
From the west, John Kerry, the Secretary of the State for the United States, will be heading to Israel to make inlays into a cease-fire between the two parties. He has sided with the cease-fire proposal from Egypt, and has affirmed that Israel “has every right in the world to defend itself”.
Meanwhile, Qatar has been more supportive of Hamas. Qatari Foreign Minister Khalid al-Attiya, has asserted Qatar’s stance on the issue by stating:
“We condemn the acts of aggression that Israel has carried out against the Palestinian people, and most recently the massacre of Shijaiyah today in which most of those killed were children”.
In related news, confirmed reports of American deaths in the Gaza Strip have surfaced as well.
Hopefully, international pressure, and the efforts of the U.N. will compel both the sides into a negotiation and cease-fire that will foster peace in this, currently, volatile region.