While the international community intensifies debates on ceasefire proposals and pressure for civilians to be spared, Israel continues to kill hundreds of Palestinians a day, the majority of them children and teenagers.
At least 110 people were killed in a bombing of the Jabalia refugee camp, in Gaza, this Monday (18), with more than 100 injured, according to the Gaza Ministry of Health. As a result, the death toll on the Palestinian side now approaches 19,000, which represents an average of 256 victims per day since the offensive began on October 7.
According to the Gaza Ministry of Health, the victims of the new attack were buried in mass graves near the Kamal Adwan hospital, which was recently destroyed. And at Al-Shifa hospital, which has long been targeted by Israel, what is seen is “a complete scene of horror”, according to the WHO (World Health Organization) reported on Sunday.
The organization said Al-Shifa is providing only basic trauma stabilization services, with no blood for transfusions and almost no healthcare workers to care for the constant flow of patients. He also claimed to have seen hundreds of injured patients, with more people arriving every minute and traumatic injuries being stitched on the floor, with virtually no painkillers.
Only four of the 24 hospitals that were operating in northern Gaza before Israel’s massacre began still offer any services, and three of them operate in appalling conditions, according to the WHO. Israel claims that it is justifiable to attack hospitals because the sites would be used by Hamas fighters.
Collapsed water supply
The scarcity of drinking water and lack of hygiene could be as “dangerous” as the Israeli attack on Gaza, warned Ricardo Martinez, logistics coordinator for Doctors Without Borders (MSF). According to him, the water system is no longer working, “it has completely collapsed”, and people only have one liter of water per day for drinking, washing and cooking.
Martinez, who spent a month in Gaza during the war, said in an interview that the lack of fuel and electricity is further intensifying the challenges people face in their daily lives. “Without fuel, the mills are not working, so no one has wheat. No wheat, no food. Trucks coming from Egypt are unloading aid to other trucks in Gaza, but without fuel, these trucks cannot move and distribute the aid.”
Hunger as a weapon of war
A Human Rights Watch (HRW) stated that the Israeli government is using hunger as a weapon of war in the Gaza Strip, which constitutes a crime under international law. According to the organization, the delivery of food, water, fuel and humanitarian aid to the Palestinian territory is being sabotaged by Israel, creating catastrophic conditions for civilians. HRW also denounced the destruction of agricultural land in Gaza.
Diplomacy and politics
This Monday (18), new diplomatic moves are taking place with the aim of forcing Israel to cease the massacre of civilians. At the UN (United Nations), the Security Council must vote on a new resolution calling for a ceasefire in Gaza. In recent days, the US used its veto power in a similar vote in the CS itself and also voted against a ceasefire resolution in the General Assembly — this was approved by a large majority, but has no practical effect.
At the same time as it opposes initiatives within the UN, Joe Biden’s government continues to send envoys to Tel Aviv to discuss the next steps in the war with the Israeli government, and criticizes the deaths of civilians. The person who has just arrived in Israel is the Secretary of Defense, Lloyd Austin (see post below).
A senior U.S. defense official told reporters traveling with Austin that the secretary should discuss Israel’s plans for transitioning to the next phase of the war in his talks with Israeli leaders, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Minister of Defense Yoav Gallant. “What you see in terms of high-intensity ground operations, in addition to airstrikes, today will not last forever. It is a phase of the campaign,” the source said.
Wheels down in Tel Aviv. I’ll meet w/@yoavgallant, @IsraeliPM & War Cabinet to reiterate America’s ironclad commitment to Israel, discuss IDF ops to dismantle Hamas, & underscore the need to protect civilians from harm & enable the flow of humanitarian aid into Gaza. pic.twitter.com/hbsO7MLu7K
— Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III (@SecDef) December 18, 2023
Editing: Rodrigo Durão Coelho