IDF moves 2 miles into Gaza amid breakdown in civil order
Gaza crisis deepens as Israel's operations escalate prompting urgent appeals for a ceasefire
Israeli tanks and military vehicles are manoeuvring their entry two miles into Gaza as part of their expanded operations, even as relief aid groups claimed that civil order is breaking down in the territory while hospitals said it is next to impossible to comply with the evacuation orders on patients.
The Israel Defence Forces (IDF) have been continuously warning Palestinian civilians to evacuate the territory ahead of their planned major incursion into Gaza to “crush the Hamas” and free the hostages, though latest reports say IDF shifted that responsibility to the global community wanting ceasefire, media reports said.
Over 700,000 Palestinian civilians have fled to the southern border of Gaza where the situation is no better than the north.
Gaza houses 2.2 million Palestinians in the narrow strip and the IDF claimed that others could not flee as probably the Hamas is holding them back either by force or a section of them are supporting the militant outfit.
Hamas is reportedly holding the civilians as human shields against Israel attacks.
Israeli troops have advanced more than two miles into Gaza in their expanding ground operation, a CNN analysis found, as aid groups warned civil order is breaking down while hospitals are grappling with “impossible” orders to evacuate patients.
Israel announced on Sunday it is entering the “second stage” of its ''war'' against militant group Hamas intensifying ground operation in Gaza after weeks of aerial strikes on the Hamas-controlled territory.
The country is prepared for a “long and difficult” war, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Saturday, as it sought to flush out and “destroy” Hamas after its October 7 attack on Israel, leading to 1,400 deaths, mostly civilians.
Israel’s expanded operations have raised alarm as global leaders warned about the risk of broader West Asia conflict, and the UN calling for a humanitarian ceasefire to deliver desperately needed aid into Gaza, reports said.
Israeli airstrikes have damaged hospitals extensively, exposing residents and patients to suffocation at the Al-Quds Hospital, the Palestinian Red Crescent Society said on Sunday.
The society accused Israel of “deliberately” launching airstrikes next to its facility to force the hospital’s evacuation. The hospital, the second largest in Gaza, is treating hundreds of patients, while some 12,000 internally displaced civilians also sheltering there, the agency said.
Israeli forces relayed warnings to the organisation on Sunday to evacuate the hospital forthwith ahead of possible bombardment, which the WHO has said would be “impossible” to comply without risking patients’ lives.
The hospital is located north of Wadi Gaza, where Israel has urged people to flee south of as it continues to strike Hamas targets in the north, CNN reported.
The evacuation orders have come under heavy fire from aid groups saying the civilians' challenges to move out of Gaza or within amid the bombardment is enormous at the risk of their lives. Even those who have been able to follow that evacuation order have not found safety, CNN reported.
Desperation rules Gaza as shortages of water, food and fuel impose untold sufferings amid a communications blackout from Friday evening into Sunday morning. However, services were gradually being restored from Sunday, following US pressure on Israel to go slow and safely with the incursion and not to harm civilians, a US official said.
The United Nations warned on Sunday that there are signs “civil order is breaking down” in Gaza, reporting that thousands of desperate Palestinians are taking basic items like flour and hygiene supplies from UN warehouses.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told a news conference in New York that the situation in Gaza is “growing more desperate by the hour", and reiterated his call for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire and the “delivery of sustained humanitarian relief".
UN officials earlier said the levels of aid coming through are not nearly enough to meet the needs in Gaza.
US President Joe Biden spoke with Netanyahu and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi Sunday about the need for the continued flow of aid into Gaza and stressed the importance of protecting civilian lives.
Since October 7, the death toll in Gaza has risen to nearly 8,000, the Palestinian Ministry of Health announced on Sunday, relyng on sources in the Hamas-controlled enclave.
Relief group 'Save the Children' said the 3,000 children reported killed in Gaza over the past three weeks have surpassed the annual number of children killed in armed conflict globally in each of the past four years.
The rising death toll has raked up emotions and anger and protests in the Middle East and beyond.
In the latest reported incident, an angry crowd in Russia’s mostly Muslim region of Dagestan stormed an airport where a flight from Israel arrived on Sunday, forcing authorities to close the facility and divert flights, reports said.
A CNN team in the Israeli city of Sderot, near the Gaza Strip perimeter, heard machine gun fire at regular intervals on Sunday and witnessed IDF tanks and armored personnel vehicles nearing the border as helicopters, drones and fighter jets flew overhead.
The Israeli government has taken heavy flak under public pressure to ensure the safety of what Israel has counted as 239 known hostages in Gaza. Senior officials say the intensified attack is part of a strategy to secure the hostages' release.
Iran, backing Hamas, warned that the current conflict risked widening.
Israel has “crossed the red lines” in Gaza, which “may force everyone to take action", Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi said on Sunday.
US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan also said there is an “elevated risk” of a spillover conflict in the Middle East.
Egypt and Saudi Arabia over the weekend have issued warnings of the potential for destabilisation of regional security following Israel’s expanded operations.
Meanwhile, calls have continued for an humanitarian pause, CNN reported.