New Delhi, Nov 4: The Israeli military granted a three-hour window for residents of northern Gaza to access Salah al-Din Street, the main thoroughfare in the region, to move south. This opportunity took place on Saturday between 11:00 GMT and 14:00 GMT. Over recent weeks, there have been numerous reports of Israeli attacks on civilian vehicles and convoys travelling southward.
However, the limited timeframe and transportation options are the main challenges for the residents of northern Gaza looking to relocate. According to US special envoy David Satterfield, approximately 400,000 people are still situated in the northern part of Gaza. Israel has urged these residents to move to the southern area, which it designates as a “safe zone.” Despite this directive, both the north and south of Gaza have been subjected to Israeli airstrikes, including a ground offensive in the northern region.
Intensifying Israeli Airstrikes in Gaza Lead to Ambulance Convoy Attack
The conflict between Israel and Gaza escalates with a heightened barrage of airstrikes, focusing on multiple structures. Tragically, an ambulance convoy in Gaza City was attacked on Friday, resulting in the loss of at least 15 lives, as confirmed by health authorities. Israel acknowledged striking the ambulance but asserted that its target was connected to Hamas
According to the Palestinian Red Crescent Society (PRCS), a convoy came under attack, causing 15 casualties. The Israeli military stated that the targeted ambulance was purportedly linked to Hamas operatives, though the precise location was not disclosed. PRCS shared a statement on a social media platform, explaining that the convoy was hit twice during its journey to Al-Shifa hospital, about 1 kilometre from the hospital and again at the hospital gate while attempting to offload patients.
The PRCS revealed that the attack occurred as the convoy was attempting to transport wounded individuals to the Rafah border crossing. However, they were forced to turn back about 4 kilometres from the hospital due to road obstructions.
The World Health Organization (WHO) strongly condemned the Israeli airstrike on the ambulance convoy near Gaza City’s Al Shifa Hospital on Friday. WHO’s Chief, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, expressed his profound shock over these reports through social media. In an interview with UN News, Dr Ahmed Al Mandhari, the agency’s Regional Director, denounced these “acts of hostility,” emphasizing the severe impact of ongoing bombardments on healthcare services and their violation of international humanitarian law.
The Israeli military claimed that the strike targeted Hamas fighters and accused Hamas of using ambulances for transferring militants and weaponry. The Israel Defence Forces (IDF) announced that it has eliminated numerous Hamas members and destroyed their infrastructure in recent days. They cited attempted attacks on IDF troops from tunnel shafts and military compounds in the northern Gaza Strip.
A day earlier, the IDF reported that it had encircled Gaza City and eliminated ten high-ranking “Hamas terrorists” responsible for planning the deadly attacks on October 7, which resulted in the deaths of 1,400 Israelis.
Israeli Adviser Accuses Hamas of Operating Control Centre Beneath Hospital
Mark Regev, an adviser to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, has disclosed to the UK’s Channel 4 news that Israel holds the belief that Hamas has established its “command and control” centre beneath the Al-Shifa hospital. Regev further asserts that if combatants construct such facilities beneath civilian infrastructure, they risk becoming legitimate targets. Israel has previously alleged that Hamas exploits the Gaza population as human shields by placing elements of its military apparatus under civilian structures.
The Israeli airstrikes on Gaza were initiated in response to Hamas actions, which resulted in the loss of over 1,400 lives in Israel and the kidnapping of more than 200 individuals. The health ministry in Gaza has reported that over 9,000 people have lost their lives in the region since the events of October 7.
UN’s Dire Warning: Gaza Offers No Safe Haven
A United Nations representative has issued a stark warning, declaring that “there is currently no place of safety in Gaza,” as a significant number of UN facilities providing refuge to displaced individuals have been adversely affected by the ongoing conflict. Meanwhile, Israel’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has rejected appeals from the US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, who called for a humanitarian pause until all hostages held by Hamas are released. Blinken is currently in Jordan, engaging in discussions with Arab leaders as apprehension grows over the escalating toll of civilian casualties in this conflict.
A Pentagon Spokesperson Affirms Deterrence of Wider Middle East Conflict
In a statement to BBC Newsnight, Brig Gen Patrick S Ryder, a spokesperson for the Pentagon, emphasised that a “broader regional conflict” in the Middle East has been effectively prevented. He underlined that the current conflict is perceived as limited to Israel and Hamas. This assurance follows a recent speech by Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of the Lebanese Shia Islamist group Hezbollah, where he refrained from committing his fighters to an all-encompassing war.
When questioned about the successful deterrence of Hezbollah’s involvement in the conflict, Ryder asserted, “Preventing this conflict from expanding into a broader regional crisis has been a top priority for our government and the Department of Defence. To that end, we have bolstered our capabilities by deploying two US aircraft carrier strike groups to the region, granting us a diverse range of options and resources should the need arise to address various scenarios.”
Ryder continued, “Therefore, we can affirm that broadly speaking, we have managed to deter the escalation into a larger regional conflict. Our primary objective remains to avoid any conflict with Iran and to prevent regional instability. Our focus is on containment and the swift restoration of stability and security in the region.”