The fragile ceasefire between Israel and Hamas collapsed this week, leading to a resurgence of violence in the Gaza Strip. The breakdown in talks to extend the week-old truce resulted in devastating airstrikes by Israel’s warplanes on Thursday and Friday, raising fears of increased civilian casualties and further exacerbating the already dire situation.
Within hours of the truce expiring, Gaza health officials reported 109 people killed and dozens wounded in airstrikes that targeted at least eight homes. The most intense bombing occurred in Khan Younis and Rafah in southern Gaza, where a significant population sought refuge from the conflict further north.
Emad Hajar, who, along with his wife and three children, sought refuge in Khan Younis a month ago after fleeing the northern town of Beit Lahia, expressed the dangers- “There is no place to go. They expelled us from the north, and now they are pushing us to leave the south.”
As the truce collapsed, peace talks crumpled overnight, with Israel demanding the release of female soldiers not among the 240 hostages taken on October 7. The seven-day truce, initially starting on November 24 and extended twice, allowed for daily exchanges of over 100 hostages held in Gaza for Palestinian detainees.
Despite ongoing negotiations with key mediator Qatar, the renewed bombardment by Israel has posed significant challenges, complicating efforts to find a resolution to the conflict.
The United Nations stated that the collapse of the ceasefire would worsen an extreme humanitarian emergency. Leaders worldwide expressed regret and dismay, reinforcing the urgency of de-escalation. However, notable silence from Washington, specifically from US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, raised questions about the international response.
Caught in the Crossfire
Israeli officials cited a terrorist attack in Jerusalem as part of the reason for resuming the offensive. Since the fighting resumed, about 200 Palestinians have been killed, according to the Health Ministry in Hamas-run Gaza. The United States urged Israel to do everything possible to protect civilians - “This is going to be very important going forward,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Friday, “It’s something we’re going to be looking at very closely.”
Israeli forces targeted the Khan Younis area in southern Gaza, striking over 50 Hamas targets with airstrikes, tank fire, and naval operations. Israel claimed to have hit more than 400 targets overall since the resumption of hostilities.
However, the densely populated southern Gaza, home to almost the entire population of the territory, faces increased challenges as Israel urges relocation. With limited options for escape, civilians find themselves caught in the crossfire and displaced within the confined area.
Photograph: Palestinians look at destruction after the Israeli bombing In Khan Younis refugee camp in Gaza Strip on Friday, Dec. 1, 2023. (MOHAMMED DAHMAN)
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