Israel says no humanitarian break to Gaza siege unless hostages are freed | Inquirer News

Israel says no humanitarian break to Gaza siege unless hostages are freed

/ 04:21 PM October 12, 2023

Israel says no humanitarian break to Gaza siege unless hostages are freed

People walk on rubble in the aftermath of a strike amid the conflict with Israel in Khan Younis, in the southern Gaza Strip, October 12, 2023. REUTERS

JERUSALEM/GAZA — Israel said on Thursday there would be no humanitarian break to its siege of the Gaza Strip until all its hostages were freed, after the Red Cross pleaded for fuel to be allowed in to prevent overwhelmed hospitals from “turning into morgues”.

Israel has vowed to annihilate the Hamas movement that rules the Gaza Strip in retribution for the deadliest attack on Jews since the Holocaust, when hundreds of gunmen poured across the barrier fence and rampaged through Israeli towns on Saturday.


The gunmen killed at least 1,200 people, mostly civilians gunned down in their homes or on the streets, and carried scores of hostages back to Gaza.


The scale of the killings has emerged in recent days after Israeli forces reclaimed control of towns, finding homes strewn with bodies, including women who were raped and killed and children who were shot and burned.

Israel has responded so far by putting the enclave, home to 2.3 million people, under total siege and launching by far the most powerful bombing campaign in the 75-year history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, destroying whole neighborhoods.

Gaza authorities say more than 1,200 people have been killed and more 5,000 people have been wounded in the bombing. The sole electric power station has been switched off and hospitals are running out of fuel for emergency generators.

“The human misery caused by this escalation is abhorrent, and I implore the sides to reduce the suffering of civilians,” Fabrizio Carboni, regional director of the International Committee of the Red Cross, said in a statement on Thursday.

“As Gaza loses power, hospitals lose power, putting newborns in incubators and elderly patients on oxygen at risk. Kidney dialysis stops, and X-rays can’t be taken. Without electricity, hospitals risk turning into morgues.”

Israel’s Energy Minister Israel Katz said there would be no exception to the siege without freedom for Israeli hostages.


“Humanitarian aid to Gaza? No electrical switch will be lifted, no water hydrant will be opened and no fuel truck will enter until the Israeli hostages are returned home. Humanitarian for humanitarian. And nobody should preach us morals,” Katz posted on social media platform X.

No decision on ground assault

Israel formed a new unity war government on Wednesday, bringing opponents of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu into his cabinet.

It has called up hundreds of thousands of reservists in preparation for what could be a ground assault on Gaza. No decision to invade has yet been made “but we’re preparing for it,” military spokesperson Lieutenant-Colonel Richard Hecht said early on Thursday.

The latest strikes overnight were focused on Hamas’s “Nukhba Force”, which spearheaded Saturday’s attacks, Hecht told reporters. Palestinian gunmen were still trying to infiltrate Israel by sea and the military was still working to secure the Gaza fence, Hecht said.

Hamas media said 15 Palestinians had been killed and several wounded in the latest Israeli air strikes. Witnesses reported Israeli aircraft heavily bombarding Gaza city and Gazan authorities also reported an air strike on the Jabalia refuge camp in northern Gaza.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken landed in Israel on Thursday on a trip to the region show solidarity with Israel and help prevent the war from spreading. He will also visit Jordan.

Hussein Al-Sheikh, secretary general of the executive committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization, said on X that Blinken would meet Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Friday.

Abbas’s Palestinian Authority has limited self-rule in the Israeli-occupied West Bank but lost control of the Gaza Strip to its rivals Hamas, an Islamist militant group backed by Iran, in 2007.

Message to Iran

The war has overturned the plans of diplomats in the region, coming just as Israel was preparing to reach an agreement to normalise ties with Saudi Arabia, the richest Arab power, and months after Riyadh resumed ties with its regional rival Iran, sponsor of Hamas.

Tehran has celebrated the Hamas attacks but denied being behind them.

U.S. President Joe Biden said his deployment of military ships and aircraft closer to Israel should be seen as a signal to Iran, which backs Hamas and Lebanon’s Hezbollah movement.

“We made it clear to the Iranians: Be careful,” Biden said.

‘We are all soldiers of Israel’

Israel’s leaders on Wednesday formed a unity government, promising to put bitter political divisions aside to focus on the fight against Hamas.

Former defence minister Benny Gantz, a centrist opposition leader, spoke live on Israeli television alongside Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defence Minister Yoav Gallant after forming a war cabinet focused entirely on the conflict.

“Our partnership is not political, it is a shared fate,” said Gantz. “At this time we are all the soldiers of Israel.”

Netanyahu said the people of Israel and its leadership were united. “We have put aside all differences because the fate of our state is on the line,” he said.

With Palestinian rescue workers overwhelmed, others in the crowded coastal strip searched for bodies in the rubble.

“I was sleeping here when the house collapsed on top of me,” one man cried as he and others used flashlights on the stairs of a building hit by missiles to find anyone trapped.

Some 340,000 of Gaza’s 2.3 million population have been displaced due to the war, and around 65% of them have sought safety at shelters or schools, according to the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in the enclave.

Your subscription could not be saved. Please try again.
Your subscription has been successful.

Subscribe to our daily newsletter

By providing an email address. I agree to the Terms of Use and acknowledge that I have read the Privacy Policy.

Israel withdrew its troops and settlers from Gaza in 2005 after 38 years of occupation. Hamas seized power in the enclave in 2007 and Israel and Egypt have subjected the territory to a blockade ever since that has created conditions that Palestinians say are intolerable.

Washington said it was talking with Israel and Egypt about safe passage for civilians from Gaza, with food in short supply.

TAGS: Conflict, Gaza, Israel, Palestine

© Copyright 1997-2024 | All Rights Reserved

We use cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. By continuing, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. To find out more, please click this link.