July 13, 2024

Israel vows to continue offensive during Ramadan unless Hamas releases hostages


Deadly clashes persisted in Gaza on Monday following Israel’s declaration that it will press forward with its military campaign throughout the holy month of Ramadan unless Hamas releases all captives, notably in the southern Rafah area.

Concern has escalated globally for the 1.4 million Palestinians amassed in Rafah near the Egyptian border, enduring relentless attacks and severe food shortages as they inhabit overcrowded makeshift shelters.

Overnight airstrikes and confrontations in Gaza claimed over 100 Palestinian lives, predominantly women and children, propelling the death toll beyond 29,000, as reported by the health ministry in the Hamas-controlled region. The fiercest clashes unfolded in Khan Yunis, just north of Rafah. Benny Gantz, a member of the war cabinet, cautioned on Sunday that the Israeli military stands prepared to penetrate deeper into Rafah once Ramadan commences around March 10, emphasizing the imperative of releasing the captives.

Gantz underscored that if the hostages are not liberated by Ramadan, Israel will persist in its coordinated offensive, prioritizing the safety of civilians through dialogue with American and Egyptian counterparts. He issued a direct ultimatum to Hamas, offering them the choice to surrender, release the hostages, and enable Gaza’s populace to observe Ramadan without fear.

Israel has refrained from specifying alternative destinations for displaced Palestinians following over four months of relentless warfare that has devastated vast expanses of the Gaza Strip. Egypt has expressed reluctance to accommodate Gazan refugees within its Sinai territory, contending that such an influx would serve to depopulate Gaza, a notion Israel refutes. Satellite imagery reveals Egypt’s construction of a fortified barrier along the Gaza border, potentially as a precautionary measure against a mass exodus.

International pressure mounts on Israel to cease hostilities in the besieged enclave; however, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu remains steadfast in his commitment to dismantle Hamas and secure the release of captives. Netanyahu reiterated his pledge of “total victory” over Hamas, despite mounting domestic dissent and anguish among hostage families.

The conflict ignited when Hamas launched a devastating assault on October 7, resulting in approximately 1,160 casualties in southern Israel, predominantly civilians, according to official Israeli data. Hamas militants, deemed a “terrorist” organization by several nations, including the US and EU, seized around 250 hostages, of whom 130 are still held in Gaza, with 30 presumed deceased. Israel’s retaliatory offensive has claimed the lives of at least 29,092 individuals, primarily non-combatants, according to the latest figures from the territory’s health ministry.

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