The world was stunned by Hamas terrorists’ horrific assault through Israeli border communities on Saturday, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu threatened to “demolish Hamas” as his army prepared to enter the Gaza Strip in pursuit of them.
In the beleaguered territory, which is home to more than 2 million people, Israel has pleaded with the tired Gazans to flee south, and hundreds of thousands have already done so. The government in Gaza, Hamas, has urged residents to disregard Israel’s message.
Inside Gaza’s narrow and crowded streets, conditions were deteriorating as deaths from Israeli air strikes rose. Bodies were stored in ice cream freezer trucks because moving them to hospitals was too risky and cemeteries were full.
With fears of the conflict spilling further, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken continued his tour of Middle East states, seeking to prevent escalation and secure the release of 155 hostages Israel says were taken by Hamas back into Gaza.
Arab leaders stressed the need to protect Gaza civilians.
“The reaction went beyond the right to self-defence, turning into collective punishment,” said Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi of Israel’s retaliatory strikes.
Clashes on Israel’s border with Lebanon, the deadliest since 2006, have underscored the dangers of regional spillover.
On Sunday, Hamas’ armed wing Al Qassam Brigades said it fired 20 rockets from Lebanon at two Israeli settlements while Lebanon’s Hezbollah militia said it fired missiles at Israeli barracks in Hanita and had inflicted casualties.