Amid escalating tensions in the Middle East, the Gaza Strip has become the epicenter of a devastating conflict that has claimed the lives of at least 198 Palestinians, according to health officials in the region. In a retaliatory response to Hamas’s incursion, Israel launched “Operation Sword of Iron,” which began with massive rocket strikes early Saturday morning.
The conflict has left at least 1,610 people injured, further intensifying the humanitarian crisis in Gaza.
The health minister in Gaza declared a state of emergency in hospitals across the territory as medical facilities strained to cope with the influx of casualties. Israel conducted strikes on 20 sites in Gaza, claiming they were operated by Hamas, in retaliation to the incursion as part of “Operation Sword of Iron.” Meanwhile, Israeli media reports indicate that at least 40 Israelis have been killed, with an additional 740 people wounded as a result of the ongoing hostilities. However, there has been no official confirmation of these figures.
Official statistics reveal 22 Israeli deaths and 545 injured as of the latest update. Disturbing reports have also emerged, with Israel’s N12 news channel stating that around 50 Israeli hostages are currently being held by Hamas gunmen in the Be’eri kibbutz, located in southern Israel near the eastern border with the Gaza Strip.
Israel’s foreign ministry has made alarming claims of Hamas fighters going door to door and murdering civilians. While these claims remain unverified, Israeli media has reported the taking of “civilian hostages” to Gaza and alleged street killings.
In response to the escalating conflict, the Palestinian state issued a statement earlier in the day, calling for an end to the “Israeli occupation of the land and State of Palestine.”
The statement highlighted the warnings about the consequences of blocking the political horizon and daily provocations, as well as raids on the Al Aqsa holy site. It emphasized that security, stability, and peace in the region could only be achieved by ending the Israeli occupation.
Meanwhile, US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin has expressed Washington’s commitment to ensuring Israel has the necessary resources to defend itself.
“Over the coming days, the Department of Defense will work to ensure that Israel has what it needs to defend itself and protect civilians from indiscriminate violence and terrorism,” Austin stated, underscoring the United States’ involvement in the ongoing crisis.
As tensions continue to escalate, the international community watches with growing concern, hoping for a swift resolution to the conflict to prevent further loss of life and suffering in the region.