This development comes just one week after a catastrophic attack, the deadliest in Israel's history, which has drawn parallels to the United States' 9/11. During the attack, militants associated with the Islamist group Hamas perpetrated a gruesome onslaught, resulting in the deaths of more than 1,300 individuals through shootings, stabbings, and burnings.
In retaliation, Israel initiated a large-scale bombing campaign targeting Hamas, which has subsequently claimed the lives of over 2,200 individuals in Gaza.
The growing concern now revolves around the well-being of Palestinian civilians residing in the blockaded and besieged Gaza Strip, an area renowned for its high population density and home to 2.4 million people.
“The situation in Gaza has reached a dangerous new low,” said UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. “Even wars have rules,” he added, stressing that “civilians must be protected and also never used as shields”.
Israel, which has vowed to destroy Hamas, has massed ground forces and tanks around Gaza, dropped leaflets in the north of the enclave telling civilians to flee and staged “localised” raids “to cleanse the area of terrorists and weaponry”, the army said.
The raids have also sought to locate “missing persons” inside Gaza, the military said, as Hamas has been holding some 150 hostages whose families have watched the escalating war with growing terror.
Israel has pounded Gaza targets with thousands of strikes in the past week, leaving at least 2,215 Gazans dead, including 724 children by Saturday, according to the health ministry in the Palestinian enclave.
“We wake up to the killing and death under the bombs,” said Mohamed Abu Ali, a resident of the territory. “We don’t know where to go, where is safe. We have no food, water or electricity.”
In Geneva, the Red Cross said the unjustifiable “horrific” attacks on Israel could equally not justify “the limitless destruction of Gaza”.