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‘Al-Aqsa Flood Operation’ Day 13: Humanitarian Aid To Gaza Stalls

Above photo: Palestinians evacuate wounded children after an Israeli airstrike in Deir al-Balah, in the southern Gaza Strip, October 18, 2023. Omar Ashtawy/APA Images.

Israel Renews Airstrikes.

Due to the destruction Israel wrought at the Rafah crossing and to roads, moving humanitarian aid into Gaza is currently impossible. Meanwhile, Israel has renewed its indiscriminate airstrikes with U.S. diplomatic cover.

Casualties

Gaza: 3,569 killed
West Bank: 69 killed
Israel: over 1,400

Key Developments

  • Israel bombed five bakeries across the Gaza Strip, killing and injuring Palestinians waiting in line for bread.
  • Israeli forces killed seven Palestinians in the West Bank in less than 24 hours.
  • U.S. President Joe Biden promises 100 million dollars in humanitarian aid to Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank.
  • Israel intensified bombing in the Rafah district in the early hours of Thursday, further delaying the entry of humanitarian aid into Gaza due to damages to roads leading to the Rafah crossing, bordering Egypt.
  • The UN says almost half of Gaza’s population has been displaced.
  • Israel has detained at least 850 Palestinians since October 7, according to the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society.

Israel’s bombardment of the Gaza Strip continued overnight on Wednesday into the early hours of Thursday morning. Civilians and journalists continue to report that nowhere is safe.

Israel intensified its bombing across the area, most heavily targeting the Rafah district, killing dozens of Palestinians, and further damaging roads leading from the border crossing with Egypt, according to Al Jazeera, which also reported at least 121 people have been killed and 540 injured in Gaza since Wednesday evening.

In the al-Zahra neighborhood, Palestinian media reports that Israeli warplanes completely destroyed four residential towers after nearly 100 Palestinians evacuated them.

According to the UN, approximately one million people in Gaza, almost half the population, are displaced after fleeing their homes. Around 352,000 of those displaced Gazans are seeking refuge in schools run by UNRWA.

Where Is The Humanitarian Aid?

Following a meeting with the Israeli cabinet on Wednesday, U.S. President Joe Biden said the Israeli government agreed to allow humanitarian aid into Gaza with the “understanding that there will be inspections, and that aid should go to civilians, not Hamas.”

“Israel agreed, humanitarian assistance can begin to move from Egypt to Gaza,” Biden continued.

Later that day, Netenyahus’s office released a statement saying, “In light of President Biden’s demand, Israel will not thwart humanitarian supplies from Egypt as long as it is only food, water, and medicine for the civilian population in the southern Gaza Strip or moving there.”

“Any supplies that reach Hamas will be thwarted,” the statement added.

Egypt’s President Abdelfattah al-Sisi agreed to open Egypt’s sealed border crossing with Gaza, allowing 20 humanitarian trucks carrying medical supplies and food on the Egyptian side to cross into Gaza.

However, the Rafah governorate, including roads leading to the crossing, has been bombed by Israel multiple times, including on Thursday morning, causing substantial damage to the road. Until the crossing road network is restored, the entrance of humanitarian aid is impossible. The U.S. president believes the restoration could take several hours and estimates that humanitarian aid will be able to cross into Gaza Friday morning.

Meanwhile, with the support of the U.S., Israel continues to deny its involvement in the bombing of the Anglican-run al-Ahli Arab Hospital, instead claiming that the massacre was caused by a misfired rocket of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ). Israel has not produced any concrete evidence to prove its claim, while the PIJ has stridently denied the accusations.

“The Zionist enemy is trying hard to evade its responsibility for the brutal massacre committed by bombing the Baptist Arab National Hospital [al-Ahli Arab Hospital] in Gaza through [its] usual fabrication of lies … We therefore affirm that the accusations put forward by the enemy are false and baseless,” said PIJ.

Resolution For Ceasefire And Aid Struck Down By The U.s.

On Wednesday, the U.S. vetoed a United Nations Security Council resolution drafted by Brazil, which condemned all violence against civilians, including “the heinous terrorist attacks by Hamas,” while urging a pause in the fighting to allow humanitarian assistance into Gaza.

Among the 15 countries, the U.S. was the only one to vote against the resolution.

Twelve countries voted for the resolution, including Albania, Brazil, China, Ecuador, France, Gabon, Ghana, Japan, Malta, Mozambique, Switzerland, and the UAE. Russia and the United Kingdom abstained.

The U.S., which has a history of using its veto power to shield Israel from critical resolutions, criticized the text for not emphasizing Israel’s right to self-defense.

After the vote, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, U.S. Ambassador to the UN, said to the council, “We are on the ground doing the hard work of diplomacy. We believe we need to let that diplomacy play out.”

Along with the billions of dollars in military aid the U.S. sends to Israel, U.S. President Joe Biden announced that $100 million in humanitarian assistance will be sent to Gaza and the West Bank.

“This money will support more than 1 million displaced in conflict-affected Palestinians, including emergency needs in Gaza,” he said during a speech in Tel Aviv.

“If Hamas diverts or steals the assistance, they will have demonstrated once again that they have no concern for the welfare of the Palestinian people, and it will end as a practical matter,” Biden said. “It will stop the international community from being able to provide this aid.”

Meanwhile, Kobi Shabtai, Israel’s police chief, declared “zero tolerance” for pro-Palestinian protests in Israel.

“Whoever wants to become an Israeli citizen, welcome,” Shabtai said on the TikTok account of the Israeli police. “Anyone who wants to identify with Gaza is welcome. I will put him on the buses heading there now.”

Deadly Overnight Military Raids Across The Occupied West Bank.

Israeli forces continued targeting Palestinian youth in deadly military raids across the West Bank overnight on Wednesday and early Thursday. At least 7 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces during these raids, including four children, bringing the West Bank death toll up to at least 69 Palestinians since October 7.

Sixteen-year-old Taha Mahameed was shot and killed during confrontations in Nur Shams refugee camp, which Israel’s military put under siege as local media reports soldiers banning movement, raiding and ransacking homes, and bulldozing streets.

Israeli forces killed 14-year-old Ahmad Saduq in Bethlehem; Qais Shalash, 17, Khalil Khalil, 15, Mohammad Fawaqam, 21, and Jibril Awad were all killed in villages west of Ramallah; and in the Nablus governorate, Israeli forces killed Ibrahim al-Hajj Ali, 24.

The Palestinian Prisoner’s Society says Israel detained at least 120 Palestinians, including lawmakers, civic leaders, former prisoners, and journalists. At least 850 Palestinians have been detained since October 7.

Settler violence against Palestinians under the protection of the army has also continued.

Israeli Bombing Continues

On Thursday, the Israeli military said they have destroyed “hundreds” of Hamas’s positions while targeting their infrastructure in Gaza, including anti-tank missile launch sites, tunnel shafts, and intelligence positions.

The army also said they killed several Palestinian fighters who led Hamas’s multi-pronged attack in Israel on October 7 and ten other group members. However, this has not been confirmed by the Qassam Brigades, who said on Wednesday that three of their fighters were killed.

Al Jazeera reports that Israeli tanks and troops continue to amass in southern occupied Palestine near the Gaza fence; however, there is still no definitive information as to whether or when a ground invasion of Gaza might take place.

The Israeli military continues searching for information about the Israeli captives in Gaza while demanding that the International Red Cross be allowed to visit them, and are working to mobilize international support for the demand.

“In the past day, we have carried out limited and targeted raids for the purpose of scanning and locating information about the missing. It is important for me to emphasize – the task of purifying the surrounding area from terrorists is not over. This is still a war zone,” said Daniel Hagari, Israel’s military spokesperson.

Meanwhile, Alma al-Sha’b, southern Lebanon, has been targeted by several rounds of shellings as the exchange of fire at the Lebanon-Israel border intensifies.

Al Jazeera reports that the attacks have increased from almost daily to three to five. They have remained contained to a radius of four kilometers, as both sides avoid civilian casualties.

Al Jazeera reports that Hezbollah is “trying to put pressure on the Israelis, telling them they are going to deal with more than one front if they continue to target Gaza.”

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