The ongoing violent conflict between Israel and Palestinian militant group Hamas has entered a critical new phase as Israel’s military splits Gaza into two and pushes towards Gaza City. Meanwhile, the humanitarian crisis in the besieged territory worsens by the day.
Israel’s ground offensive to root out Hamas continues to take a devastating toll, with thousands killed and vital infrastructure destroyed. Gaza has suffered repeated blackouts and shortages of food, water, and medical supplies as residents flee heavy shelling. Attempts to broker a ceasefire have so far failed.
As international criticism of its bombing campaign grows, Israel claims its targeting is precise and that civilian casualties are unavoidable due to Hamas using human shields. However, the indiscriminate suffering on the ground has sparked global protests demanding an end to the bloodshed.
Here are the key developments unfolding in this high-stakes conflict:
Israel Splits Gaza, Presses Towards Hamas Stronghold
The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) have cut off Gaza into separate northern and southern sections as troops push towards the coastal enclave’s main city, according to military spokespeople.
IDF forces reached Gaza’s Mediterranean shore on Sunday, splitting the territory in half geographically. Spokesperson Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari stated there is now a “northern Gaza and a southern Gaza” under Israeli control.
With Gaza City encircled, the IDF is now advancing to take the urban center that is a stronghold of Hamas militants. Spokesperson Lt. Col. Peter Lerner told media Monday that Israel is “determined” to destroy Hamas and its capabilities.
Lerner described Gaza City as the “fortress” of Hamas activities and said Israel has enabled a “one-way corridor” for displaced civilians to flee north Gaza to the south. However, earlier evacuations during the conflict have not guaranteed civilian safety.
As its troops push forward, Israel has intensified strikes on Gaza City, worsening shortages of food, water, and medicine. Hospitals are overwhelmed with wounded residents as the death toll climbs daily.
Humanitarian Emergency Reaches Breaking Point
The U.N. has warned Gaza’s humanitarian situation is at a breaking point, with vital supplies almost exhausted. Shortages of medical equipment are reaching crisis levels as hospitals struggle to cope with thousands of casualties.
Gaza has also suffered repeated blackouts as power infrastructure is destroyed. Telecoms blackouts have occurred multiple times, severing communications and Internet connectivity for millions.
Journalists in Gaza say damaged infrastructure makes reporting extremely difficult, hampering their ability to show the world what is happening. Aid groups have lost contact with personnel, further impairing emergency relief efforts.
Desperate civilians continue fleeing areas under heavy bombardment, with many heading towards Gaza’s south. However, the U.N. warns emergency shelters there are overwhelmed, with water and hygiene facilities critically lacking.
Calls for Ceasefire Mount as Deaths Spiral
As the civilian death toll mounts into the thousands, urgent calls are growing globally for an immediate ceasefire between Israel and Hamas. However, neither side appears willing to stand down until their opposing military capabilities are significantly degraded.
The U.S., Egypt, and other third-party mediators are struggling to broker even a temporary truce. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the U.S. is intensely focused on making progress but did not elaborate on any concrete breakthroughs.
Israel insists its strikes target only Hamas militants and resources, but Palestinian authorities say thousands of civilians have been killed in what amounts to war crimes. The indiscriminate deaths, combined with severe shortages of essentials like food and medicine in Gaza, has sparked intense protests internationally demanding Israel halt its bombing campaign.
Various governments have condemned the loss of innocent lives and want accountability for any violations of international law. Some have even recalled diplomats from Israel in protest. But military maneuvers on both sides make a ceasefire unlikely in the near term.
Hamas Hits Southern Israel in Renewed Cross-Border Attacks
Despite Israel’s chokehold on Gaza, Hamas continues sporadic rocket barrages on southern Israeli cities in a bid to pressure Israel’s government. The latest cross-border attacks brought parts of southern Israel to a standstill again as air raid sirens blared.
Schools and non-essential businesses in cities like Ashkelon and Ashdod were forced to close, with residents hunkering down in bomb shelters. While Israel’s Iron Dome defense system has intercepted the vast majority of incoming projectiles, some rockets still slip through and hit Israeli neighborhoods.
These Hamas rocket attacks on Israeli population centers were the initial trigger for Israel’s massive bombardment campaign in Gaza. But Israel’s disproportionate military responses, combined with associated civilian casualties, has drawn heavy criticism even from allies like the U.S.
There appears no end in sight for the violence as both militants and Israeli forces vow to achieve their military objectives. As the two sides remain locked in all-out warfare, civilians on both sides of the border continue paying the price