As IDF soldiers await commands at the Gaza borders, tensions rise surrounding the conflict between Hamas and Israel that started approximately two weeks ago, on Saturday, October 7th.
As of now, Friday, October 20th, the Israeli Defense Forces have not gotten the go-ahead from Defence Minister Yoav Gallant to begin a ground offence in Gaza. On Thursday, October 8th, Gallant visited troops and stated, "You see Gaza now from a distance, you will soon see it from inside. The command will come."
The Gaza Strip, which has not had access to water, electricity, fuel, food, and medical supplies since the beginning of the conflict on October 7th, has already seen the deaths of over 3,500 civilians, a third of which were children.
The looming threat of a ground invasion has put many on high alert. Surrounding Arab countries such as Lebanon and Iran fear the conflict might evolve into a regional war. The statement from Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian has escalated concerns within the region and on the international stage. His warning of a possible "preemptive" action against Israel if it proceeded with the invasion of Gaza underscores the volatile nature of the situation.
Regarding the ground operation, codenamed "Operation Swords of Iron," Israel does not seem to have an endgame. The IDF also does not have any clear exit strategies. When visiting troops at the border, Yoav Gallant has also proclaimed, "We will be precise and forceful, and we will keep going until we fulfil our mission."
Such statements and the apparent lack of an endgame have raised flags and concerns for many regarding the lives of innocent civilians in Gaza. The statements from Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and other Arab leaders have intensified concerns about the safety and well-being of innocent civilians in Gaza.
Al-Sisi vehemently rejected the forced displacement of Palestinians from their land into the Sinai peninsula bordering Gaza. He emphasized that such a move would not only lead to widespread protests within Egypt, involving millions of Egyptians, but also transform the area into a potential base for attacks against Israel, escalating the conflict further.
Additionally, Arab leaders have condemned Hamas's attacks on Israel. However, they strongly oppose the idea of collective punishment against ordinary Palestinians. They fear that such measures could not only exacerbate the humanitarian crisis in Gaza but also have the potential to trigger widespread unrest across the region.
Even American President Joe Biden has recognized the loss of innocent Palestinians amidst his unwavering support for Israel. In an official statement, Biden wrote, "we can't ignore the humanity of innocent Palestinians who only want to live in peace and have an opportunity."
The looming possibility of Hezbollah joining the battle from Israel's northern border has added another layer of complexity to the situation. As tensions continue to rise and diplomatic efforts struggle to find common ground, the international community remains deeply concerned about the innocent lives caught in the crossfire. Many, including the UN chief, have begun to call for an immediate ceasefire.
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