Israel seeks new reality in Gaza but breaks international law, says EU

Israel seeks ‘a new reality’ with terrorism eradicated as Netanyahu condemns ‘savagery not seen since the Holocaust’ – but EU accuses Jewish state of breaking international laws by cutting off food and water to Gaza

  • Israeli ministers declared they will ‘change reality in Gaza’ after Hamas attacks
  • But EU said the blockade and bombardment of Gaza breaks international law
  • Israel Defence Forces have responded to Hamas killing Israeli civilians with fury 

Israeli officials have declared they are seeking a ‘new reality’ that will see Hamas eradicated as the Israeli Defence Forces gear up to launch a massive military operation in Gaza.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, declaring war on Hamas following this weekend’s surprise attack which saw 1,000 Israelis slaughtered, gave a solemn vow.

‘What we will do to our enemies in the coming days will reverberate with them for generations,’ he said, and in remarks to U.S. President Joe Biden condemned Hamas for what he said was ‘savagery not seen since the Holocaust.’

Meanwhile, Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant ordered a total siege of Gaza, cutting off water, food and electricity to force its residents into starvation as they are pounded by constant airstrikes.

Speaking to soldiers near the Gaza fence yesterday, Gallant doubled down and said: ‘Hamas wanted a change and it will get one. What was in Gaza will no longer be,’ with even a former Israeli ambassador to Britain declaring that the IDF’s goal is ‘to come out of this with a different reality in Gaza.’

But the swift and brutal retaliation against Hamas has given rise to hundreds of Palestinian civilian casualties with many in the international community questioning whether the Israeli Defence Forces are committing war crimes. 

The U.N.’s top diplomat Josep Borrell said: ‘Israel has the right to defend (itself) but it has to be done accordingly with international law, humanitarian law, and some decisions are contrary to international law.

‘Some of the actions – (such) as cutting water, cutting electricity, cutting food to a mass of civilian people is against international law,’ Borrell said on Tuesday.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4 this morning, Professor Ghassan Abu Sittah, a London-based surgeon who has gone to work at a hospital in Gaza following the strikes, shed light on the harrowing conditions there.

‘There’s such a high percentage of children that are wounded. We have children with major burns, a teenager with 70 per cent total body burns, he said.

And Palestinian envoy to the U.N., Riyad Mansour, condemned Israel’s widespread bombing of civilian centres: ‘Such blatant dehumanisation and attempts to bomb a people into submission, to use starvation as a method of warfare, and to eradicate their national existence are nothing less than genocidal.’

A Palestinian works to remove a casualty from the rubble of a house hit in Israeli strikes, in Khan Younis, in the southern Gaza Strip, October 11, 2023

Israeli soldiers remove the body of civilian, who was killed days earlier in an attack by Palestinian militants on this kibbutz near the border with Gaza, on October 10, 2023 in Kfar Gaza, Israel

A man reacts outside a burning collapsed building following Israeli bombardment in Gaza City on October 11, 2023

Smoke billows following Israeli strikes in Gaza City, October 11, 2023.

Smoke rises following an Israeli air strike in Al-Ramal neigbourhood in Gaza City on, 10 October 2023

A dove flies over the debris of houses destroyed in Israeli strikes, in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip October 11, 2023.

This morning, residents of the Gaza Strip were still scrambling to find safety, as Israeli warplanes continued to hammer neighbourhood after neighbourhood in the tiny coastal enclave.

How Israel will carry out the siege of Gaza: With ground assault hours away, expert reveals how troops will be faced with deadly street-to-street battles at the risk of high casualties, combined with air power and artillery 

As Gazans crowded into UN schools and a shrinking number of safe neighbourhoods, humanitarian groups pleaded for the creation of corridors to get aid into Gaza, warning that hospitals overwhelmed with wounded people were running out of supplies.

Israel has stopped entry of food, fuel and medicine into Gaza, and the sole remaining access from Egypt shut down Tuesday after airstrikes hit near the border crossing.

Gaza’s power authority said this morning its sole power plant will fun out of fuel within hours, the generators on which residents and hospitals have long relied will soon go silent.

The war, which has claimed at least 2,100 lives on both sides, is expected to escalate.

Israel appears determined to crush Hamas’ hold on Gaza, following an unprecedented attack in which militants gunned down civilians in their homes, on streets and at a mass outdoor music festival, while dragging men, women and children into captivity.

Hamas and other militant groups in Gaza hold about 150 soldiers and civilians hostage, according to Israel.

A looming question is whether Israel will launch a ground assault into the 25-mile-long strip of land wedged among Israel, Egypt and the Mediterranean Sea that is home to 2.3 million people and has been governed by Hamas since 2007.

In a new tactic, Israel is warning civilians to evacuate neighbourhood after neighbourhood, and then inflicting devastation, in what could be a prelude to a ground offensive. 

On Tuesday, the military told residents of the nearby al-Daraj neighbourhood to evacuate. New explosions soon rocked it and other areas, continuing into the night.

Fighter jets returned multiple times to another neighbourhood, al-Furqan, striking 450 targets in 24 hours, the Israeli military said.

One blast hit Gaza City’s seaport, setting fishing boats aflame.

‘There is no safe place in Gaza right now. You see decent people being killed every day,’ Gaza journalist Hasan Jabar said after three Palestinian journalists were killed in the Rimal bombardment. ‘I am genuinely afraid for my life.’

Rescue officials in Gaza said ‘large numbers’ of people were still trapped under the remnants of levelled buildings, with rescue equipment and ambulances unable to reach the area.

Palestinian Civil Defence forces pulled Abdullah Musleh out of his basement together with 30 others after their apartment building was flattened.

‘I sell toys, not missiles,’ the 46-year-old said, weeping. ‘I want to leave Gaza. Why do I have to stay here? I lost my home and my job.’

A Palestinian boy holds a child as he stands on the rubble of destroyed buildings following Israeli strikes, in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip October 11, 2023

A missile explodes in Gaza City during an Israeli air strike

A smoke rises and ball of fire over a buildings in Gaza City on October 9, 2023 during an Israeli air strike

An Israeli soldier wears a mask as he looks on following an attack by Gazan militants on Kibbutz Kfar Aza, in southern Israel, October 10, 2023

Israeli army Merkava tanks are positioned near the border with Gaza in southern Israel on October 10, 2023

A Palestinian points to the Ahmed Yassin mosque, which was levelled by Israeli airstrikes, in Gaza City early on October 9, 2023

Israel’s new tactics could point to a new objective.

Four previous rounds of Israel-Hamas fighting between 2008 and 2021 all ended inconclusively, with Hamas battered but still in control. 

Ruthless Hamas gunmen calmly raid family fridge after shooting brave pet dog… then torch the home in Israeli kibbutz where 108 bodies were found amid slaughter 

This time, Israel’s government is under intense pressure from the public to topple Hamas, a goal considered unachievable in the past because it would require a reoccupation of the Gaza Strip, at least temporarily.

‘The objective is for this war to end very differently from all of the previous rounds. There has to be a clear victory,’ said Chuck Freilich, a former deputy national security adviser in Israel. ‘Whatever has to be done to fundamentally change the situation will have to be done,’ he said.

The devastation also sharpened questions about Hamas’ strategy and objectives. Hamas officials have said they planned for all possibilities, including a punishing Israeli escalation. 

Desperation has grown among Palestinians, many of whom see nothing to lose under unending Israeli control and increasing settlements in the West Bank, a 16-year-long blockade in Gaza and what they see as the world’s apathy.

Hamas may have been counting on the fight to spread to the West Bank and possibly for Lebanon’s Hezbollah to open a front in the north. Days of clashes between rock-throwing Palestinians and Israeli forces in the West Bank have left 15 Palestinians dead, but Israel has clamped down heavily on the territory, preventing movement between communities. The violence also spread into east Jerusalem, where Israeli police said they killed two Palestinians who hurled stones at police late Tuesday.

Brief exchanges of fire across Israel’s northern border have taken place nearly daily. Palestinian militants fired rockets into northern Israel from Lebanon and from Syria on Tuesday, each bringing Israeli artillery and mortar fire in return. But so far they have not escalated.

The Israeli military said more than 1,200 people, including 155 soldiers, have been killed in Israel. In Gaza, 950 people have been killed, including 260 children and 230 women, according to authorities there; Israel says hundreds of Hamas fighters are among them. Thousands have been wounded on both sides.

U.S. President Joe Biden said Tuesday at least 14 U.S. citizens were killed in Hamas’ attack and that Americans are among those being held hostage in Gaza. Biden, who spoke earlier in the day with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, said ‘there is no justification for terrorism.’

Palestinians gather on rubble in the aftermath of Israeli strikes, in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip October 11, 2023

Smoke billows following Israeli strikes, in Gaza City, October 11, 2023

Aftermath of israeli air strikes in Gaza on October 10, 2023. Israeli air strikes hammered Gaza on Tuesday, razing entire districts and filling morgues with dead Palestinians as Israel took revenge for the Hamas assaults that have triggered some of the worst blood-letting in 75 years of conflict

Palestinians carry belongings near their damaged house following Israeli strikes, in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip October 11, 2023

Biden added an apparent warning to Hezbollah, saying, ‘To any country, any organisation, anyone thinking of taking advantage of the situation, I have one word: Don’t.’

The State Department announced that Secretary of State Antony Blinken would travel in the coming days to Israel to deliver a message of solidarity and support.

Hamas responded to Biden, saying his administration should ‘review its biased position’ and ‘move away from the policy of double standards’ over Palestinian rights to defend themselves against Israeli occupation.

The bodies of roughly 1,500 Hamas militants were found on Israeli territory, the military said. It wasn’t clear whether those numbers overlapped with deaths reported by Palestinian authorities.

In Gaza, more than 250,000 people have fled their homes, the U.N. said, the most since a 2014 air and ground offensive by Israel uprooted about 400,000. The vast majority are sheltering in schools run by the U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees. Damage to three water and sanitation sites has cut off services to 400,000 people, the U.N. said.

The U.N.’s World Health Organization (WHO) said that supplies it had pre-positioned for seven hospitals in Gaza have already run out amid the flood of wounded. The head of the medical aid group Doctors Without Borders said surgical equipment, antibiotics, fuel and other supplies were running out at two hospitals it runs in Gaza.

The World Food Programme (WFP) said Tuesday it was targeting food help for some 800,000 people in Gaza and the West Bank following the outbreak of more violence.

The WFP is appealing for $17.3 million in the next four weeks to address the ‘critical situation’ in the Palestinian territories, and also echoed a call by the WHO for a humanitarian corridor to provide aid to Gaza.

‘Distributions are ongoing daily for displaced people in shelters in Gaza, amid concerns that the city is running out of critical resources like food, water, and electricity, with damaged infrastructure severely impeding both food production and distribution networks,’ it said.

It is also beginning to distribute cash-based transfers to 164,000 people in Gaza and the West Bank, electronic vouchers which can be redeemed for food in local shops, it said – even while expressing fears that local supplies are running out.

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