In a conflict now entering its sixth week, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has firmly rejected growing international calls for a ceasefire in Gaza, stating that Israel’s battle against Hamas militants will persist with “full force.” This stance comes amidst heightened tensions and a humanitarian crisis unfolding in Gaza, particularly around its largest hospital, Shifa.
Netanyahu, in a televised address, stipulated that a ceasefire would only be considered upon the release of all 239 hostages held by militants in Gaza. Further, he asserted plans for Gaza’s demilitarization and Israel’s continued security control post-conflict, directly contradicting visions shared by the United States for the region’s future.
U.S. Stance and International Reactions
Secretary of State Antony Blinken has opposed an Israeli reoccupation of Gaza, advocating instead for a unified Palestinian government across Gaza and the West Bank. Meanwhile, a 57-nation Muslim and Arab summit in Saudi Arabia has echoed calls for an immediate end to the conflict and requested an International Court of Justice investigation into Israel’s actions.
Humanitarian Crisis at Shifa Hospital
The situation at Shifa Hospital reached a critical point as the last generator ran out of fuel, leading to the deaths of patients, including a premature baby and a child in an incubator. Israeli military’s allegations of Hamas using hospitals as shields have been refuted by medical staff. Hospital director Mohammed Abu Selmia described the dire conditions, with Israel’s military denying a siege but acknowledging clashes nearby.
Casualty and Displacement Toll
More than 11,070 Palestinians, predominantly women and minors, have been reported killed since the war’s onset, with about 2,700 missing and possibly trapped under rubble. Israeli casualties include at least 1,200 people, mainly from the initial Hamas attack. The conflict has also led to mass displacement, with over 150,000 civilians fleeing northern Gaza following Israeli evacuation advisories.
Civilian Response and Continued Conflict
As Palestinian civilians and rights advocates question the safety of designated evacuation zones, large-scale demonstrations have occurred globally, including a 300,000-strong march in London. Despite international outcry and calls for humanitarian pauses, Netanyahu remains steadfast, asserting Hamas’s responsibility for civilian harm and emphasizing Israel’s goal to decisively win the conflict.
The conflict has extended beyond Gaza’s borders, with Israeli and Hezbollah forces engaging along the Lebanon border. Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant warned of Hezbollah potentially drawing Lebanon into war, heightening regional tensions.