Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has rejected international calls for a ceasefire as fighting intensifies in the Gaza Strip. The Israeli military has launched a ground invasion, pushing tanks and other armored vehicles deeper into Gaza and freeing a soldier held captive by Hamas militants.
The Israeli military has confirmed the death of Nasim Abu Ajina, one of the leaders of the Oct. 7 Hamas massacre in Israel, adding that this “significantly harms” Hamas’ efforts to fight off Israeli ground forces. A statement from the military revealed that Pvt. Ori Megidish, 19, was rescued in Gaza, marking the first rescue since the war began.
Prime Minister Netanyahu welcomed Pvt. Megidish home, hailing the achievement as a testament to Israel’s commitment to freeing all hostages. However, he remained adamant about not succumbing to calls for a ceasefire.
“Calls for a ceasefire are calls for Israel to surrender to Hamas. That will not happen,” Netanyahu stated during a news conference.
Despite this, the Palestinian Health Ministry has reported a death toll of over 8,300, with most of the casualties being women and children. The United Nations figures indicate that around 117,000 displaced people are currently taking refuge in hospitals in northern Gaza, and nearly 672,000 Palestinians are sheltering in schools and other facilities operated by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA).
In response to these escalating tensions, the U.S. has ramped up its weapons shipments to Israel. Pentagon deputy press secretary Sabrina Singh affirmed that “we are not putting any limits on how Israel uses weapons.”
The conflict has had a devastating impact on civilians in Gaza, with hundreds of thousands remaining in the north despite Israeli orders to move south. Hospitals in the region are now facing an unprecedented threat, with all ten hospitals in northern Gaza receiving evacuation orders. Despite this, staff are refusing to leave, stating that doing so would result in the death of patients reliant on ventilators.
The violence has also spread to other regions, with daily skirmishes taking place between Israel and the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah along Israel’s northern border. The U.S. has attributed a recent spike in rocket and drone attacks in Iraq and Syria to Iran-backed forces and has conducted strikes in Syria as a result.
The situation in the occupied West Bank is equally volatile, with Israeli forces carrying out airstrikes against militants in the Jenin refugee camp. As per U.N. figures, Israeli forces and settlers have killed 123 Palestinians, including 33 minors, in the West Bank, with half of these casualties occurring during search-and-arrest operations.