Gaza at breaking point as Israel evacuates north

DEATH TOLL … More than 2 800 people, in- cluding some 1 000 children, have been killed in Israel’s bombardment of Gaza since 7 Oc- tober, when Palestinian militant group Hamas launched an attack inside Israel that killed at least 1 400 people. Photos: Al Jazeera

In a report yesterday, the UN said the Israeli army continued pounding southern areas despite previously telling residents to move south ahead of a looming offensive by land, air and sea on the tiny coastal strip of land.

It also stressed that “water remains a key issue as people will start dying without water”, a warning that came hours after the World Health Organisation said there are only “24 hours of water, electricity and fuel left” in Gaza.

Residents of the besieged strip, home to more than two million Palestinians, have already been severely struggling with little to no water to drink, shower or do laundry with.

They are also facing grave shortages of basic supplies, including baby formula and flour, with all supermarkets out of stock.

“Concerns over dehydration and waterborne diseases are high, given the collapse of water and sanitation services, including today’s shutdown of Gaza’s last functioning seawater desalination plant,” the UN agency for Palestinian refugees said in the report.

“Fuel reserves at all hospitals across Gaza are expected to last for an additional 24 hours only. The shutdown of backup generators would place the lives of thousands of patients at serious risk.”

More than 2 800 people, including at least 1 000 children, have been killed in Israel’s bombing campaign since 7 October, according to Palestinian officials.

Some 10 000 others have been wounded, with many remaining buried under the rubble.

The bombardment began after fighters from Hamas, the Palestinian armed resistance movement running the strip, launched a surprise attack just outside the besieged enclave on Israeli territory.

So far, at least 1 400 people in Israel have been killed, and more than 4 000 injured, according to Israeli officials.

In the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, Israel has killed 61 Palestinians over the past 11 days in military raids and arrests in Palestinian neighbourhoods, towns and villages, the Palestinian health ministry said yesterday morning.

At least seven of those were killed by settlers.

The latest deadly raid took place at dawn yesterday when the Israeli army killed Mohammad Melhem (17) in a raid on the town of Halhul in Hebron in the southern occupied West Bank.

In Nablus, the health ministry announced the death of Sameer Sabra (72) yesterday after he sustained an Israeli army gunshot wound on Friday.

Meanwhile, Israel announced on Monday night that it would begin evacuating residents of 28 mostly Jewish-only communities located about 2km away from its northern border with Lebanon as tensions and exchanges of fire with the Hezbollah armed group continue, threatening a wider, more regional war.

The evacuation will be carried out by the Israeli army, and those evacuated will be accommodated in hotels and guest houses paid for by the Israeli government.

ARRESTS AND CAPTIVES

In a video statement on Monday, Abu Obaida, spokesperson for Hamas’ armed wing, said the group was holding up to 250 captives in the besieged Gaza Strip.

He said 22 captives have so far lost their lives in Israeli bombardment.

The group also said it was holding a number of non-Israeli captives they were prepared to release when “on-the-ground circumstances permit it”.

Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal indicated on Monday that the captives were being held in hopes of releasing the roughly 6 000 Palestinians in Israeli prisons.

He told Al Araby TV that Hamas “has what it needs to empty the prisons of all prisoners”.
– Al Jazeera

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