More foreign nationals are choosing to leave the besieged Gaza Strip as the Hamas-run government reports at least 195 Palestinians dead in Israel's recent attacks. U.N. human rights officials have labeled these strikes as potential war crimes. On Wednesday, 320 foreign citizens crossed into Egypt under a deal between Israel, Egypt, and Hamas. Passport holders from several countries, including the United States and the United Kingdom, were among those evacuated. The border crossing is set to reopen on Thursday to allow more foreigners to exit, with an estimated 7,500 passport holders expected to leave Gaza over the next two weeks.
Israel continues its offensive against Hamas militants in Gaza, using airstrikes and bombing from land and sea to target the Islamist group. The recent strikes on the Jabalia refugee camp has led to the deaths of two Hamas military leaders, according to Israel. However, Gaza's Hamas-run government reports that at least 195 Palestinians were killed in these attacks, with over 120 missing and 777 more wounded. These strikes have caused extensive destruction and have led to concerns of disproportionate attacks and potential war crimes from the United Nations.
As calls for a humanitarian pause in hostilities grow, the situation in Gaza becomes increasingly dire. The assault and tightened blockade by Israel have resulted in shortages of food, fuel, drinking water, and medicine. Hospitals are also struggling due to fuel shortages, causing shutdowns, and even Gaza's only cancer hospital has been affected. The Indonesian Hospital faces a lack of fuel, which will endanger patients if not resolved promptly. The dire situation in Gaza is further compounded by the refusal of Israel to allow humanitarian convoys to bring in fuel, citing concerns of diversion by Hamas fighters.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is set to depart for Israel for the second time in less than a month. During his visit, Blinken will voice solidarity with Israeli officials, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and emphasize the need to minimize civilian casualties. Blinken will also visit Jordan to underscore the importance of protecting civilian lives and ensure that Palestinians are not forcibly displaced from Gaza. Additionally, talks led by Egypt and Qatar on securing the release of all hostages held by Hamas will be pursued.
In a separate development, the US House of Representatives is expected to pass a bill providing $14.3 billion in aid for Israel. However, it faces opposition in the Democratic-controlled Senate and a potential veto from President Joe Biden, who supports a broader bill funding Ukraine, border security, humanitarian aid, and money for Israel.
The conflict escalated after weeks of airstrikes, with Israel sending ground forces into Gaza following a surprise attack by Hamas on October 7. The Gaza health ministry reports that since then, at least 8,796 Palestinians, including 3,648 children, have been killed by Israeli strikes.