Israel carried out extensive bombardments in Gaza on Sunday, prompting international calls for the protection of civilians and the renewal of an expired truce with the Palestinian militant group Hamas. The Israeli army reported over 400 strikes in Gaza since the collapse of a ceasefire on Friday, while Hamas responded with “rocket barrages” targeting multiple Israeli towns, including Tel Aviv.
The Nuseirat refugee camp in central Gaza faced Israeli strikes late Saturday, resulting in at least 13 reported casualties, according to the official Palestinian news agency Wafa. The conflict has drawn significant international concern, with United States Vice President Kamala Harris condemning the escalating civilian toll in Israel’s eight-week war. She expressed deep distress over the widespread suffering and devastation, emphasizing the need for a renewed focus on protecting civilians.
The United Nations estimates that over two-thirds of Gaza’s population, around 1.7 million people, have been displaced by the eight weeks of conflict. Fadel Naim, the chief doctor at the Al-Ahli Arab Hospital in Gaza City, reported receiving 30 bodies on Saturday alone, including seven children. The dire situation in Gaza is exacerbated by a shortage of essential resources, the destruction of homes, and a humanitarian catastrophe declared by UN agencies.
Despite some aid trucks reaching Gaza on Saturday, the Palestine Red Crescent Society revealed that Israel had instructed non-governmental organizations not to bring aid convoys across the Rafah border crossing from Egypt after the truce expired. This impediment to humanitarian aid delivery adds to the challenges faced by the already distressed population in Gaza.
The conflict originated when Hamas fighters breached Gaza’s militarized border with Israel on October 7, resulting in an unprecedented attack that killed approximately 1,200 people, mostly civilians. Israel responded with a comprehensive air and ground campaign, causing over 15,000 casualties, according to Hamas authorities who run Gaza.
Efforts to broker a truce, including a week-long agreement backed by Qatar, Egypt, and the United States, led to the release of 80 Israeli hostages in exchange for 240 Palestinian prisoners. However, the truce collapsed amid mutual accusations of violations, and Israeli negotiators left talks in Doha after reaching an impasse.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared on Saturday that the war would continue “until we achieve all its aims,” including the total elimination of the Islamist movement, Hamas. He emphasized the necessity of continuing the ground campaign while observing international law.
As the conflict intensifies, with Israel conducting hundreds of strikes and Hamas responding with rocket barrages, the international community faces the challenge of addressing the humanitarian crisis and fostering a lasting ceasefire. The unfolding events underscore the urgent need for diplomatic solutions to alleviate the suffering of civilians caught in the crossfire.