Israeli strikes on Gaza intensify even as truce talks grow 'serious'
In the Gaza Strip, intense Israeli bombardment intensified on Thursday, marking some of the war's heaviest fighting. This escalation occurred amidst what the U.S. described as "very serious discussions" on establishing a new truce.
Northern Gaza experienced the most severe attacks, with continuous airstrikes and gunfire rattling the area as daylight broke.
In the southern part of Gaza, an Israeli strike reportedly killed the commander of a recently opened aid checkpoint. Residents of Jabalia, near the Israeli border, faced dire conditions as the area became isolated, with Israeli snipers targeting anyone attempting to flee. Communication disruptions in Gaza, often preceding Israeli assaults, added to the residents' plight, forcing reliance on Israeli mobile networks for outside contact.
The Palestinian Red Crescent reported significant challenges for emergency services, unable to reach numerous casualties in Jabalia due to relentless shelling. Compounding the crisis, the World Health Organization noted that the last functioning hospital in northern Gaza had ceased operations, leaving no medical facilities available for the wounded. These developments highlighted the worsening humanitarian situation amidst ongoing conflict.
Diplomatic efforts intensified to prevent further catastrophe, with discussions focused on a new truce and the release of over 100 hostages taken by militants during an attack on Israeli towns. The U.N. Security Council also worked on a plan to increase aid. High-level negotiations involved Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh and Islamic Jihad, indicating crucial stages in diplomacy. Despite these talks, significant gaps remained between the opposing sides' positions, with Israel seeking a temporary pause and Hamas insisting on a permanent end to hostilities.
In a broader context, Washington urged Israel to scale down its ground offensive, while Israeli officials maintained a firm stance on continuing military actions. An Israeli airstrike at the Rafah crossing killed four people, including a border crossing commander. Meanwhile, Israel's military expressed unfamiliarity with the incident. The ongoing conflict has caused thousands of casualties and displaced nearly all of Gaza's 2.3 million residents. The U.N. Security Council prepared to vote on a resolution to boost aid, reflecting the urgent need for humanitarian assistance amidst the escalating crisis.