Israel has launched a series of intense airstrikes on Gaza, with the bombardment described as "unprecedented" in its intensity. The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) confirmed that they are expanding operations and preparing for a full-scale ground invasion of the Gaza Strip. Prior to the airstrikes, the IDF warned Palestinian civilians to evacuate the area, but many were unable to escape before their homes were destroyed. The Israeli military has targeted Hamas-controlled areas, aiming to dismantle their military capabilities and dissolve their political structure. Israeli political adviser, Mark Regev, stated that Hamas will pay for their alleged crimes against humanity, and that Gaza will be significantly different when the conflict is over. In response, Hamas fired rockets back at Israel, as they called on supporters in the West Bank and Israel to take up arms.
The airstrikes have caused widespread damage and casualties in Gaza. The bombing campaign has been described as ferocious, with reports of bunker-buster missiles being used to target Hamas' tunnel network. Electricity and communications blackouts have affected the besieged enclave. The loss of communication networks has raised concerns for the safety of Gaza's citizens and hindered the work of emergency services.
International NGOs have expressed grave concerns over the escalation of violence in Gaza. ActionAid, Oxfam, and the Palestinian Red Crescent have all called for an immediate ceasefire to protect innocent lives. The UN's general assembly has also urged for a humanitarian truce and the unconditional release of civilians held captive, although the resolution does not explicitly name Hamas as the captor.
The increased airstrikes coincided with the Jordanian foreign minister accusing Israel of launching a ground war that could lead to a "humanitarian catastrophe." The United Nations Secretary-General highlighted the urgent need for aid deliveries to Gaza, as the region faces a collapse of its humanitarian system. The United States expressed support for a temporary pause in military operations to allow for the delivery of aid, fuel, and electricity to civilians.
As the violence continues to escalate, political figures around the world are voicing their concerns. Scotland's First Minister, Humza Yousaf, shared his fears for his trapped parents-in-law, while Layla Moran, MP for Oxford West & Abingdon, called for an international movement for lasting peace. The death toll in Gaza has surpassed 7,300, while more than 110 Palestinians have been killed in the occupied West Bank. Hamas has also taken hostages, with four released so far, and 229 individuals, including children, still held captive in Gaza.