Israeli jets have intensified their attacks on central Gaza, leaving towns and refugee camps in ruins. The ongoing war, characterized by relentless airstrikes and ground battles, shows no signs of abating, with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu indicating that the conflict may extend for “many more months.”
The recent air strikes focused on al-Maghazi and al-Bureij in central Gaza, resulting in the tragic death of 10 individuals in a single house. The violence has forced more residents to flee to Rafah on the border with Egypt, where Israeli tanks are engaged in fierce battles with Hamas fighters.
A video released by the Red Crescent captures the chaotic aftermath of the strikes, portraying rescuers working amidst the smoking rubble in central Gaza. The situation on the ground remains dire, with civilians enduring the brunt of the conflict.
As the year draws to a close, the people of Gaza are left with little optimism for the coming year. The destruction of Gaza has displaced its 2.3 million residents, leaving many without homes and necessities. In Rafah, Suzan Khader, one resident, conveys the collective sentiment, expressing that they have nowhere to live due to the destruction in Gaza.
The stated objective of Israel’s military is the elimination of Hamas, the Palestinian militant group responsible for a cross-border assault on Israeli towns that commenced on October 7. The toll on civilians has been severe, with health authorities in Hamas-run Gaza reporting over 21,800 casualties. The conflict has also pushed nearly all of Gaza’s population from their homes, creating a dire humanitarian crisis.
The United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees warns that 40% of Gazans are at risk of famine due to the war and the blockade imposed by Israel after the October 7 attack. In response, Israel has expressed readiness to allow aid ships from some Western countries to deliver assistance directly to Gaza’s shores after security checks in Cyprus.
While intensifying hostilities, concerns are rising about the humanitarian conditions faced by tens of thousands of people fleeing to Rafah. Gemma Connell, an official with the U.N. humanitarian agency OCHA, expresses fear that the death toll may increase exponentially due to the renewed offensive and the dire conditions faced by displaced individuals.
International pressure is mounting on Israel to de-escalate the conflict, with the United States, its main ally, urging a reduction in hostilities. European states have signalled alarm at the extent of civilian suffering in Palestine.
However, Netanyahu’s recent statements suggest that there will be no easing of the conflict in the near future. He emphasized that “the war is at its height” and asserted Israel’s intention to retake control of Gaza’s border with Egypt. This move could have far-reaching implications, potentially constituting a de facto reversal of Israel’s 2005 withdrawal from Gaza and raising questions about the future of the enclave and the prospects for a Palestinian state.
As the conflict in Gaza continues to evolve, there are growing fears that the war could escalate into a wider regional conflict, involving not only Hamas but also Iran-backed groups across the Middle East. Recent attacks on a Maersk cargo ship by Yemen’s Iran-aligned Houthi group further underscore the regional dimensions and complexities of the ongoing crisis