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‘Operation Al-Aqsa Flood’ Day 15: Gaza Aid Trickles In Amid Bombing

Above photo: Trucks loaded with aid arrive from the Egyptian side to the Palestinian side at the Rafah border crossing, October 21, 2023. Mohammed Talatene/dpa via ZUMA Press/APA Images.

The meager aid convoy of 20 trucks carrying food and medicine will offer Gazans little reprieve.

Meanwhile, Israel continues its genocidal bombing campaign while stepping up its arrests in the West Bank and skirmishes with Hezbollah.

Casualties

Palestinians: 4,137 killed, over 13,000 injured
Israelis: 1,300 killed

Defense Minister Gallant Outlines ‘Three Phases’ For Gaza Operation

On Friday, Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant told a parliamentary committee that the Israeli army’s impending ground invasion of Gaza will unfold across “three phases,” with the objective of creating a “new security reality” in Gaza.

This reality would see the pacification of Palestinian resistance and the decimation of Hamas’s military “infrastructure,” which would be achieved through the current devastating airstrikes, coupled with an as-yet forthcoming ground maneuver. Gallant’s statement left vague what destroying that infrastructure would entail during this supposed first phase.

The second phase, however, would be followed by “lower intensity” warfare with the objective of destroying the remaining “pockets of resistance” in Gaza. In essence, this means some sort of extended reoccupation of Gaza, which would ostensibly continue until it is able to wipe out Hamas.

This, then, would be followed by the third phase, in which Gallant would relieve Israel of responsibility for “day-to-day life” in Gaza, which would become the responsibility of a “new security regime.”

Humanitarian Aid Enters At A Trickle, Hamas Releases American Prisoners

Late on Friday, Hamas released two American captives who were imprisoned during the October 7 attack on the “Gaza Envelope” area. The two prisoners were a mother and her daughter.

Hamas military spokesperson Abu Obaida said that the prisoners were released as a result of Qatari mediation efforts for “humanitarian reasons, and to prove to the American people and the world that the claims made by Biden and his fascist administration are false and baseless.”

On Saturday, October 21, a meager convoy of 20 aid trucks carrying food and medicine entered Gaza from Egypt through the Rafah crossing. According to Aljazeera, two-hundreds other trucks carrying 3,000 tonnes of aid have been camped out near the border crossing for days, and are so far unable to enter.

Notably, the convoy that was allowed in did not contain any fuel, which is essential for powering generators used at hospitals to treat patients and the over 13,000 injured in Gaza since October 7. The small number of trucks remains woefully unsuited to addressing the catastrophic humanitarian needs of the beleaguered population of Gaza. UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres stated that “the people of Gaza need a commitment for much, much more – a continuous delivery of aid to Gaza at the scale that is needed.”

Secretary general of the Palestinian National Initiative, Dr. Mustafa Barghouti, blasted the low number of aid trucks, asserting that “Gaza’s need for aid was 500 trucks per day before the war,” arguing that since Gaza has been cut off from supplies for the past two weeks, “20 trucks won’t do much” to alleviate the crisis.

More Palestinian Hospitals Under Threat

By Friday night, the Israeli army had sent evacuation orders for the Al-Quds Hospital in Gaza, which it sent to the Palestinian Red Crescent Society. The PRCS stated on its social media accounts in an “urgent appeal to the international community” that the hospital is treating 400 patients and housing 12,000 displaced persons sheltering in the hospital. The PRCS called upon the international community “to take immediate and urgent action to prevent another massacre similar to what occurred at Al-Ahli Baptist Hospital.”

The WHO put out a statement on its X account (formerly Twitter) early on Saturday past midnight, expressing concern over the “worrying reports of evacuation orders” and stating that “the sanctity of health care must be respected at all times.”

These calls to “prevent another massacre” come on the back of the Israeli army’s bombing of the Anglican-run Al-Ahli Arab Hospital (formerly the Baptist Hospital) on October 18. The massacre claimed the lives of over 500 Palestinians who were seeking shelter in the hospital’s courtyard. Following initial Israeli propaganda claims that it was not responsible for the bombing, but was rather the result of a supposed Islamic Jihad rocket misfire, a recent analysis by Forensic Architecture challenges the Israeli army’s claims. According to the University of London-based independent research group on their X account, the analysis produced a 3D rendition of the blast site in consultation with investigator and explosive weapons expert Chris S.G. Cobb-Smith, which concluded that fragmentation patterns indicated “the projectile came from the northeast—the direction of the Israeli-controlled side of the Gaza perimeter,” while an examination of the crater size “suggests a munition larger than…a Spike or Hellfire missile” and was “more consistent w/ the impact marks from an artillery shell.” The group also stressed that a “conclusive investigation into this attack requires full access to the site and munition fragments, as well as witness interviews.”

Israeli West Bank Campaign Continues, Skirmishes With Hezbollah Mount

Israel’s campaign of mass arrests over the past several days in the West Bank has continued. On Saturday morning, the Israeli army invaded several towns and cities across the West Bank, arresting over 120 people in a single night. Most of the arrests centered around the Ramallah area, including the villages of Arura and Rantis. Arura is notably the hometown of Hamas leader and political bureau member Saleh al-Aruri. The Israeli army raided his family home and hung a deliberately provocative banner outside it depicting a picture of Aruri with an Israeli flag beside it and a line that read, “This used to be the home of Saleh Aruri. It has now become the headquarters of Abu al-Nimr – the Israeli Intelligence.”

The arrests are the latest in a wide-ranging campaign to round up and arrest all alleged Hamas members and supporters in the West Bank. According to the Palestinian Prisoners’ Club, since October 7, Israel has arrested over 1,000 Palestinians in the West Bank, in addition to another 4,000 detainees from the Gaza Strip who were in Israel on Israeli-issued work permits when the war broke out. The 4,000 Gaza workers were retroactively labeled as “unlawful combatants” and arrested without the need for a judicial process based on the “Internment of Unlawful Combatants Law.”

This has effectively doubled the Palestinian prison population in Israeli jails, bringing the total number of prisoners to 10,000 amidst deplorable conditions.

On Palestine’s northern border with Lebanon, back-and-forth exchanges of fire between Israel and Hezbollah have steadily climbed over the past week. On Friday night, a Hezbollah anti-tank missile killed an Israeli soldier in northern occupied Palestine, and Israel retaliated overnight through a series of airstrikes. On Saturday, Hezbollah announced that one of its fighters had been killed by Israeli artillery fire in the village of Khula in southern Lebanon. Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said that “Hezbollah has decided to join the combat and is paying the price for it, and we must prepare for any possibility.”

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