Gaza's Humanitarian Crisis Unfolds: Urgent Pleas for Ceasefire Amidst Worsening Conflict
Stockholm: An estimated 150,000 Palestinians are currently being compelled to evacuate central Gaza as Israeli forces advance on refugee camps, according to the United Nations. Witnesses and reports from Hamas's armed wing indicate that tanks have reached the eastern outskirts of Bureij camp. The Israeli military has expanded its ground offensive to target Bureij, along with nearby Nuseirat and Maghazi camps. On Thursday, Israeli bombardment resulted in numerous casualties across Gaza, as reported by the Hamas-run health ministry.
Egypt has presented a three-stage proposal to halt the conflict, culminating in a ceasefire. A Hamas delegation is in Cairo to provide its response to the plan. The war was initiated by a cross-border attack by Hamas gunmen on southern Israel on October 7, leading to 1,200 deaths and the capture of about 240 individuals. Over 21,300 people, primarily children and women, have lost their lives in Gaza during 11 weeks of fighting.
The Israeli military has urged the evacuation of a central Gaza strip, encompassing Bureij and Nuseirat camps, instructing nearly 90,000 residents and 61,000 displaced individuals to relocate southwards to the town of Deir al-Balah. However, the UN cautioned that Deir al-Balah is already overcrowded with several hundred thousand displaced people seeking shelter.
Rafah, the most densely populated town in Gaza, has experienced an influx of about 100,000 new arrivals as Israeli ground forces advance into new areas. Displaced individuals like Omar, 60, spoke of being forced to flee Bureij and finding refuge in Deir al-Balah due to the ongoing conflict.
Gaza's health ministry reported on Thursday evening that an Israeli air strike on a building in Rafah, housing displaced civilians, resulted in the death of 20 people. Earlier in the day, the ministry announced 50 casualties from Israeli strikes in Maghazi, Beit Lahia, and Khan Younis.
The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) asserted that they regretted the harm to uninvolved civilians caused by an airstrike in Maghazi on Sunday, which killed at least 70 people, according to Gaza's health ministry. IDF stated that fighter jets targeted locations adjacent to Hamas operatives.
In Israel, thousands of teenagers participated in a march demanding a new deal to secure the release of over 100 hostages held by Hamas and other armed groups in Gaza. Meanwhile, UN human rights chief Volker Türk urged Israel to cease what he deemed "unlawful" killings in the occupied West Bank. A UN report verified the killing of 300 Palestinians by Israeli forces and settlers in the West Bank since October 7. Israel's prime minister's spokesperson dismissed the report, labeling it as quite ridiculous and downplaying the significant security threats faced by Israelis