Gaza’s crisis in the last few months: what is happening, what is going on in Gaza, and what will it have to do with the civilians?
TEL AVIV, Israel — The streets of Gaza are empty of cars. Many of its bakeries are shuttered; meat suppliers have no refrigeration. Doctors perform operations by flashlight.
Aid trucks have entered Gaza in the last week, but no fuel has been delivered due to concerns that it could be stolen and used by Hamas.
As a result, aid groups have escalated their warnings, saying the lack of fuel has reached a critical point. UNRWA says it may run out of fuel within a day.
The situation in Gaza gets worse by the hour, not even by the day, according to a UNRWA spokeswoman.
Touma said fuel is needed for the UN to deliver aid to Gaza. Doctors warn that people will die if the life-saving medical equipment is unable to operate, as fuel is used in hospitals to power them.
Most of Gaza’s bakeries have shut down, including many of those that contract with the World Food Programme. (At least 10 bakeries have been struck and destroyed over the last week, according to the U.N.)
For those that remain intact and operational, long lines form daily, exposing people to airstrikes. The lack of electricity or fuel for generators has started to affect meat suppliers, too, who cannot refrigerate their products, according to the U.N.
In response to an UNRWA appeal for fuel on the social media site X, the Israel Defense Forces responded with a satellite image of what it described as fuel tanks located in Gaza.
The supply situation speaks to the relative sophistication of Hamas as a fighting force and an axiom among military professionals is that while amateurs discuss tactics, professionals talk about logistics. With Gazans facing a humanitarian catastrophe, Hamas’s stockpiles raise questions about what it has to do with the civilians.
Cindy McCain, the Director of the World Food programme, said in an interview that she was not hopeful about the negotiations for allowing more aid into Gaza.
Nothing’s working. Nothing is happening. Both sides are not talking,” McCain said. “They’re not dealing with the issue of people who are going to die. They are going to die as a result of no food, no water, and unable to support themselves.
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Israel has increased the intensity of its attacks on Gaza over the last few days. Health officials in Gaza say there has been a reported death in the area.
“The Israelis should be incredibly careful to be sure that they’re focusing on going after the folks that are propagating this war against Israel. It is against their interest when that doesn’t happen.
TheMinistry of Health is nominally owned by the Palestinian Authority which provides funding and supplies, and maintains close contact with hospitals in Gaza. Hamas likely has oversight over the information health officials in Gaza put out. Humanitarian groups generally consider the daily casualty counts to be accurate and have been cited by the State Department.
The borders of Gaza are closed, meaning aid groups and journalists are limited in their ability to independently verify the numbers.
As the conflict nears the end of its third week, more than 200 hostages still remain in Hamas captivity. U.S. officials and hostages’ families have urged Israeli forces to delay the invasion in order to leave more time for negotiations over their release.
And hundreds of U.S. citizens are still stranded in Gaza. Massachusetts resident Abood Okal, along with his wife and their 1-year-old son, have been sharing a house in southern Rafah with dozens of others, he told NPR.
Gaza’s militant group, Hamas, is a colonialist, and it’s to break our spirit, so that’s it
They sleep on the floor, without running water and only a couple hours a day of electricity from the home’s solar panels. On Wednesday, they ran out of milk for his son, he said.
“We feel fortunate every morning that we wake up and we have lived for another day,” Okal said. It’s becoming more and more difficult to find hope because of everything else.
The officials said that Hamas has hundreds of thousands of liters of fuel for vehicles and rockets, as well as large quantities of food, water, and medicine. A senior Lebanese official said the militants, who are estimated to number between 35,000 and 40,000, had enough stocked away to keep fighting for three to four months without resupply.
The militant group Hamas provided captives with medical and hygiene products when they were freed from Israeli custody. All are now said to be extraordinarily scarce in Gaza more than two weeks after Israel, aided by Egypt, imposed what it called a “complete” blockade following the attack by the terrorist group on Oct. 7.
The Arab and Western officials that described Hamas’s supply situation all did so on the condition of anonymity because they were leaking information from other sources. The stockpiles are typically kept underground, they said, and cautioned that precise details on Hamas’s supplies were difficult to come by.
Hamas has a goal to break down the Israeli society and it is seen as a colonialist by the group.
“They always believe that all of us should go back to Germany and Poland and whatever, even if we are from Morocco,” Chorev says. “It’s to break our spirit, so that’s it.”
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There is also the reality of daily life: Most in Gaza are poor, and most young people are without a job. Some young Palestinian are not affiliated with Hamas, but militant groups that give a steady income can shape their views.
Israeli officials say it’s an ideology of hate against Jews and Israel that is dominant. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called Hamas “worse than ISIS.” Israel, the United States and other countries recognize Hamas and the smaller Islamic Jihad group as terrorists.
There are around 20,000 to 25,000 militants in Hamas’ Qassam militant wing, according to Gaza experts Samir Ghattas of the Cairo-based Middle East Forum for Strategic Studies and National Security, and Harel Chorev of Tel Aviv University. They estimate about 5,000 to 6,000 belong to Islamic Jihad’s Al-Quds Brigades.
In the Kibbutz Be’eri massacre, spacious homes were torn apart: kitchens turned upside down; Rummikub game tiles and an elderly man’s walker strewn over the floors. In one house the smell of a blood-soaked mattress lingers.
The Israeli army says it collected terabytes of footage from the various attacks, which included footage from cameras recovered from the Gaza Strip and victims’ cellphones.
As Israeli bombardments on the Gaza Strip continue, which Gaza health officials say have claimed the lives of more than 7,000 Palestinians, new details are emerging about the men who carried out the brutal violence in Israel that sparked the current war.
“We want to receive the attention of the world”, said a member of Hamas’ political bureau. Look at the Palestinians. We are under oppression and torture and collective punishment all the time. This is our message to the world.”
The men in the videos claim that they were ordered to kill and take many hostages back to Gaza. One person claimed that those who took hostages were promised $10,000 and an apartment.
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Mohammed’s father and neighbor spoke on the condition of anonymity because Israel could potentially target them.
“May God be merciful with him,” his father told NPR. “To be a martyr is a huge thing, and this is what he pursued. I hope the Almighty accepts him as a martyr.
He said that Mohammed had made it a mile or two inside Israel when an Israeli plane shot him, and he was killed by one of the bullets.
Mohammed disappeared on the day of the attacks, his neighbor said. Mohammed’s family only found out what had happened the next day when a fellow militant returned from Israel with Mohammed’s cellphone and personal effects.
All of the family and neighborhood knew he was a member of Islamic Jihad, a Palestinian militia in the Gaza Strip that is aligned with Iran.
Mohammed’s next-door neighbor said he had led an ordinary life. He failed his high school exam. He worked as a taxi driver, had a big wedding party with family and friends, and started a business selling food products.
They were young at the time. They were trained well. There were specific orders that they had. The conditions and ideologies that constitute life in Gaza have a mix of motivations that are tied to them.
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The men’s nervous pacing and shouted instructions are captured in the videos. In one of the most gruesome scenes screened to foreign media, a man calls out for a knife and calls to cut off a wounded man’s head, before attempting to behead him with a garden hoe.
Ghattas, the Gaza expert in Cairo, believes elite combatants in Gaza traveled on false passports to countries like Lebanon or Iran where they learned the combat methods of the Iran-backed militia Hezbollah. He believes they returned to Gaza to train the squads who carried out the attacks.
The Israeli army wouldn’t elaborate on the question of foreign training, but asserts there was Iranian involvement. Iran does not agree that they had prior coordination.
Israel has released images of pamphlets it says it found with the Hamas fighters, as well as interrogation videos of some of the attackers it has arrested.