The death toll from the ongoing Israeli bombardment of Gaza on Tuesday climbed to more than 2,800, as at least 49 Palestinians were killed in an overnight airstrike that hit homes in Khan Younis and Rafah, with 10,000 more people wounded, according to Gaza’s interior ministry.
Fears are mounting of a massive ground operation in the Gaza Strip, an enclave housing 2.3 million people, nearly two weeks since Israeli commenced its airstrikes on Oct. 7 after the Hamas group infiltrated into Israel, taking 199 hostages, killing 1,400 Israelis and injuring 3,400 others.
As tensions continue to mount, with Gazans reporting shortages of food, water, and medical supplies due to an Israeli blockade, U.S. President Joe Biden is set to make a “solidarity” visit to Israel on Wednesday, making it clear Washington is explicitly supporting Israel in its oppression of the Palestinian people.
“The president will hear from Israel what it needs to defend its people as we continue to work with Congress to meet those needs,” U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken told reporters after meeting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Tel Aviv early on Tuesday. During his visit, said Blinken, Biden would meet Netanyahu, reaffirm Washington’s commitment to Israel’s security, and receive a comprehensive briefing on its war aims and strategy.
“[The] president will hear from Israel how it will conduct its operations in a way that minimizes civilian casualties and enables humanitarian assistance to flow to civilians in Gaza in a way that does not benefit Hamas,” Blinken said, adding he and Netanyahu had agreed to develop a plan to get humanitarian aid to Gaza civilians.
There are concerns that Biden’s visit could embolden regional states, many of whom have slammed Israel for indiscriminating bombarding Gaza, resulting in heavy casualties of civilians, including children. Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian has already warned that Israel would not be allowed to act in Gaza without consequences, warning of “preemptive action” if the situation does not proceed toward a ceasefire.
“All options are open and we cannot be indifferent to the war crimes committed against the people of Gaza,” he said. “The resistance front is capable of waging a long-term war with the enemy,” he added.
With the threat of a regional war mounting, several nations have pledged humanitarian aid for Gaza, including the European Union, Japan, and Pakistan. In a statement, the Foreign Office said humanitarian relief assistance was being dispatched to Gaza “immediately” to alleviate the suffering of the Palestinians. It said Pakistan was collaborating with the Palestinian Red Crescent Society, relevant United Nations agencies, Egypt and the country’s foreign missions abroad to deliver the aid.
“I have a message for Iran and Hezbollah, don’t test us in the north. Don’t make the same mistake you once made. Because today the price you will pay will be much heavier,” Netanyahu has warned Iran during an address to the Israeli parliament on Monday.
Meanwhile, a Russian-drafted U.N. Security Council resolution calling for a humanitarian ceasefire between Hamas and Israel failed to get the minimum nine votes needed in the 15-member body on Monday. The draft resolution received five votes in favor, four votes against and six abstentions. In a statement posted on X, formerly Twitter, former prime minister Shehbaz Sharif said the failure to adopt the resolution was “not just disappointing but deeply troubling.”
Israel has, for now, warned Gazans to evacuate to the south, which tens of thousands have reportedly done. However, the U.N. and World Health Organization have both warned that it is “impossible” to move over a million people in such a short time without causing a human disaster.
According to the Foreign Office, caretaker Foreign Minister Jalil Abbas Jilani would attend an urgent ministerial meeting of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in Jeddah on Wednesday to discuss the Gaza crisis and the humanitarian situation.