Israel has dramatically increased its strikes in Gaza, the Israeli military said, bringing renewed death and destruction across the enclave even as humanitarian organizations and international allies have grown more alarmed at the scale of the unfolding crisis.
The Israel Defense Forces on Friday announced that it had struck over 450 targets in the last 24 hours—the most since its ceasefire with Hamas broke down last week. The surge in strikes seemingly unfolded on the same day that U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken expressed concerns over the “gap” between Israel’s “intent to protect civilians and the actual results that we’re seeing on the ground.”
Israel launched a new phase of its war this week, commencing a new assault in the south of Gaza after weeks of intense shelling and combat in the north. The humanitarian situation was already desperate with most Gazans displaced and unable to access aid at the same time that the local medical system has been pushed to breaking point by an unprecedented influx of patients. It’s now even more extreme.
“Civil order is breaking down in Gaza—the streets feel wild, particularly after dark—some aid convoys are being looted and UN vehicles stoned,” Thomas White, the Gaza head of the U.N.’s aid agency for Palestinian refugees, wrote on X on Friday. “Society is on the brink of full-blown collapse.” He said his organization is continuing “to serve the population with what [limited] aid we have.”
Both the Israeli military and local residents say there has been intense fighting in the north and south of Gaza, Reuters reports, even after Israel claimed to have completed the majority of its military objectives in the north last month. The health ministry in Hamas-run Gaza said 350 people died on Thursday, meaning that over 17,170 people have been killed in the conflict.
Israel launched its invasion of Gaza in response to the Oct. 7 terror attacks which left 1,200 people dead, according to Israeli figures. Hundreds more were kidnapped during the rampage, many of whom remain unaccounted for. Eitan Levy, a 52-year-old taxi driver who took a passenger to a kibbutz attacked on Oct. 7, was confirmed Friday to have died in Hamas captivity, according to The Times of Israel, though it’s not clear when his death happened.
The overwhelming majority of Gaza’s 2.3 million population have been made homeless in the fighting over the last two months, with many locals saying there is nowhere safe to seek shelter as Israel’s operation has expanded.
On Thursday, images circulating online showing Palestinian men being detained by Israel, with the footage apparently showing the captives stripped to their underwear and being made to kneel. Amid a furore over allegations of inhumane treatment, Israeli government spokesman Eylon Levy told the BBC on Friday the men had been detained in Jabalia and Shejaiya in northern Gaza which Levy called “Hamas strongholds and centers of gravity.”
He also said the detainees were “military age men” found “in areas that civilians were supposed to have evacuated weeks ago.”
In a statement on its website, the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor said the “Israeli army detained and severely abused dozens of Palestinian civilians in the northern Gaza Strip.” The organization said it “received reports that Israeli forces launched random and arbitrary arrest campaigns against displaced people, including doctors, academics, journalists, and elderly men.”
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