Hamas attack on Israel: Gaza under complete Israeli siege; total death toll in conflict nears 1,200

True to the words of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, his country has retaliated against the Hamas rocket attacks from Gaza in Palestine with full military might. According to various reports today, Gaza is under “complete siege”, while the total death toll in the conflict that began on Saturday is nearing 1,200.

Smoke rises from buildings in Gaza hit by the Israeli counter-attacks after the Hamas rocket attacks. Screenshot courtesy: X/@MuhammadSmiry

Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant today said, “I have given an order — Gaza will be under complete siege. There will be no electricity, food, or fuel [delivered to Gaza]. We are fighting barbaric [terrorists] and will respond accordingly.” Gaza depends on Israel largely for its basic supplies and the siege will cripple life in the densely populated area.

This follows a video released early this morning by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), in which the national military’s spokesperson called the militant outfit Hamas “more barbaric and more brutal than ISIS” and added that Hamas, like ISIS, had a strategy to “maximise civilian casualties in Gaza, in Israel, and make you all forget the massacre of hundreds of Israelis that started this war in the first place”.

At a rough estimate, the Hamas rocket attacks and the Israeli counter-attacks have killed more than 700 Israelis and more than 400 Palestinians so far. The health administration in Gaza said that 560 Palestinians were killed so far and 2,900 wounded in the Israeli bombardment.

Israeli firepower has literally pulverised parts of Gaza, levelling entire buildings. IDF had said in its video that Hamas operatives were hiding among Gaza civilians, in places like homes and hospitals. Simultaneously, the Israeli military has blocked the supply of food, fuel, and other provisions to the 2.3 million people of Gaza, according to the Associated Press (AP).

On the first day of the Hamas attack on Israel, the common people of Gaza tried their best to stock up on provisions, knowing full well that a counter-attack would hit them soon. In south Israel and Gaza, the people have mostly stayed indoors since Saturday.

The spokesperson for Hamas’s Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, going by the nom de guerre “Abu Obeida”, claimed that Israel’s bombing of the Gaza Strip had killed four Israeli hostages. More than 100 Israelis, old and young, have been taken captive by Hamas and Islamic Jihad in the current attack.

“The occupation’s bombing tonight and today on the Gaza Strip led to the killing of four enemy prisoners and the martyrdom of their captors, the Qassam Mujahideen,” said “Abu Obeida” on his Telegram channel.

As Hamas operatives had initially breached the Israel-Palestine border fence at Gaza, the Israeli military has taken care to position tanks and drones to prevent any new breaches. AP reported that Israel mobilised 300,000 reservists within the weekend. Israel is one of the few countries in the world to have compulsory military training for all men and women aged 18 or above.

A lot of the Israeli strikes on Gaza yesterday were focused on the town of Beit Hanoun, believed to be a staging ground for Hamas attacks. Today, the Israeli military gave advance warning for evacuation to a district named Rimal in Gaza City, said AP, “a signal that heavy strikes were to come”.

—With inputs from the Press Trust of India