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Israel prepares for ground invasion, Hamas claims 250 hostages in Gaza

TJI Wrap
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Israel prepares for ground invasion, calls on Gazans to leave northern area

Published: 17 October 2023

Last updated: 5 March 2024

Gaza’s humanitarian crisis worsens as Israel tells 1.1 million residents to leave the north so it can eradicate Hamas.

An extensive military campaign in Gaza aimed at eradicating Hamas is imminent after the Israel Defence Forces announced on Saturday that it is planning “an integrated and coordinated attack by air, sea and land” including a "significant ground operation".

The operation is aimed at eradicating Hamas, after its massacre of Israeli civilians and rocket attacks on October 7, which left 1400 people dead, and securing the release of hundreds of hostages, including children, young people taken from a music festival, and elderly people.

Hamas said yesterday that there were between 200 and 250 hostages in Gaza, 200 in the hands of Hamas and the rest held by other “resistance factions and in other places.” The terror group’s military spokesman Abu Obeida said one hostage, whom he referred to as "our guests" has already been killed by an Israeli atack.

Hamas rockets and missiles continued to rain on Israel, with direct hits reported in the cities of Ashkelon and Bat Yam. In the north, Israel traded sporadic fire with Hezbollah.

Israel says 1400 Israelis have been killed since the Hamas attack on October 7, which began the war. In Gaza, Hamas is reporting 2450 dead and 9200 wounded from Israeli raids.

Gaza’s humanitarian crisis

There were hopes on Monday afternoon that Egypt would open the Rafah crossing to allow Gazan refugees to leave the Strip. But the plan was dashed, with Egypt saying Israel was not co-operating to allow the evacuation of refugees or the entry of humanitarian aid.

Israel has laid a complete siege on Gaza, cutting off supplies of food, water, power and internet.

Israel urged 1.1 million residents of northern Gaza and Gaza City to move to the southern part of the Strip ahead of its planned incursion, but IDF spokesperson Daniel Hagari said that Hamas was discouraging civilians from leaving their homes, hoping to use them as human shields.

Even fleeing is dangerous. Dozens were killed by an explosion on the evacuation route on Friday.

Many refugees are sheltering in schools run by UNRWA, the UN agency for Palestinian refugees. But supplies are dwindling fast.

The nearly 6000 people sheltering in al-Maghazi school are becoming desperately hungry and thirsty. On Sunday, each person in the school was  to be supplied with a meal of bread and canned tuna, but UNRWA couldn’t  get  bread because its supplier is in western Gaza, where the bombing has been particularly severe. Taps now supply only contaminated water for about half-an-hour a day, and supplies are exhausted almost as soon as they're acquired.

No negotiations over kidnapped Israelis

Israel’s National Security Council head Tzachi Hanegbi said on Saturday that there are no active negotiation efforts underway by Israel to repatriate the Israelis and some other foreign nationals kidnapped by Hamas last Saturday, saying, “There is no way right now to have a negotiation” with the terror organisation.

“Israel will not hold negotiations with an enemy that we have vowed to wipe from the face of the earth,” he said, briefing reporters at the Israel Defence Force’s Tel Aviv headquarters.

His comments prompted fury from the families of the missing, with their spokesman accusing the government of abandoning them.

Hanegbi acknowledged that “the State of Israel did not fulfill its mission” to protect its citizens from the devastating Hamas onslaught, in which some 1500-2000 Hamas gunmen poured into Israel having blown up sections of the border fence and massacred over 1300 Israelis, most of them civilians, at 22 communities and about a dozen IDF bases and posts. He said, “I was wrong,” and so were others, to have assessed that Hamas was deterred.

In other developments:

  • The Australian Government passed a bipartisan resolution on Monday declaring Australia’s support for Israel. The Greens refused to support the motion and called instead for Israel to be condemned for "war crimes" in Gaza.
  • Three Australian evacuation flights left Israel on Monday with 255 passengers, after two were cancelled on Saturday.
  • CNN reports intelligence sources that claim the US produced at least two assessments warning of increased risk of Palestinian-Israeli conflict in the weeks ahead of the October 7 attack
  • A survey shows 86% of Israelis, including 79% of coalition supporters, blame the Israeli government for failing to prevent the Hamas attack
  • US President Joe Biden continued to pledge his support for Israel but warned it would be a mistake for Israel to reoccupy Gaza.

Israel prepares for ground operation; calls on Gazans to leave northern strip (Haaretz)  

Hamas: We hold 200 hostages; foreign nationals ‘guests,’ will be freed when possible (Times of Israel)

Gaza aid stuck as Egypt says Israel is not co-operating (Reuters)

Hanegbi: Israel won’t negotiate with Hamas on hostages now, will remove it from power (Times of Israel)

Israelis blame gov’t for Hamas massacre, say Netanyahu must resign - poll (Jerusalem Post)

Biden as Israel's ground invasion looms: It would be a big mistake to reoccupy Gaza (Haaretz)  

US intelligence warned of the potential for violence days before Hamas attack

Israel-Palestine war: Starving Palestinians shelter from bombs in UN schools (Middle East Eye)

Video shows 'families killed amid their belongings' on evacuation route (CNN)

Photo: IDF forces on their way to assembly areas in preparation for entering Gaza (Eliyahu Hershkovitz)

The Jewish Independent acknowledges Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the Traditional Owners and Custodians of Country throughout Australia. We pay our respects to Elders past and present, and strive to honour their rich history of storytelling in our work and mission.

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