Growing Concerns over Rising Death Toll in Gaza

The conflict between Israel and Gaza has reached a new level of violence, with the Hamas-run health ministry reporting that more than 25,000 people have been killed since Israel’s offensive began. The recent 24 hours alone witnessed 178 deaths, making it one of the deadliest days so far. The situation in Gaza is dire, with Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejecting the idea of a Palestinian state and tensions escalating on both sides.

The offensive started in response to a deadly attack by Hamas fighters in southern Israel, where they killed 1,300 people and took over 240 hostages. Israel claims its goal is to destroy Hamas, focusing its offensive on southern Gaza, where they believe top Hamas commanders are hiding. Recent footage from the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) shows the discovery of a lengthy tunnel containing booby-traps and blast doors, reinforcing Israeli suspicions of hostages being held underground.

Despite three months of conflict, Israel has not been able to achieve its objective of destroying Hamas. US intelligence agencies estimate that only 20-30% of Hamas fighters have been killed, while the group still possesses enough munitions to continue attacking Israel for months. The slow progress, along with no capture or killing of top Hamas commanders, has led to growing anti-government sentiment in Israel.

The conflict has taken a significant toll on civilian lives, with Hamas killing mostly civilians during its surprise attack on southern Israel. Protests are continuing by relatives of those still held by Hamas, demanding prioritization of their release over the objective of destroying Hamas. Additionally, there is a small anti-war movement in Israel, expressing horror at the extensive damage inflicted on Gaza.

Within Israel, support for Prime Minister Netanyahu is waning. Only 15% of the public believe he should remain in office once the war concludes. Netanyahu’s rejection of a future Palestinian state has further strained relations with Israel’s western allies. Despite a phone call between Netanyahu and US President Joe Biden, the Israeli prime minister maintains his stance of retaining security control over the entire area west of the Jordan River.

This position is met with disappointment from UK Defense Secretary Grant Shapps and strong condemnation from UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who deems it “completely unacceptable” and warns of prolonged conflict and a threat to global peace and security. The refusal to accept a Palestinian state contradicts the hopes of Israeli allies, who believe that the current bloodshed could lead to meaningful diplomacy for a sustainable two-state solution.

The situation in Gaza requires immediate attention and de-escalation of violence. The rising death toll and ongoing conflict pose a grave concern for global peace and security. Diplomatic efforts must be intensified to find a resolution that addresses the legitimate aspirations of both Israelis and Palestinians, in order to establish lasting peace in the region.