Palestinians Face Gaza Humanitarian Crisis as Israel Readies Assault

Latest developments

  • Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vows to “demolish Hamas” as Israel masses troops on Gaza border for likely invasion.
  • U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken to return to Israel Monday after talks with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi.
  • The U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem will begin evacuating U.S. nationals by sea from Haifa to Cyprus.
  • U.S. says 30 Americans killed, 13 unaccounted for.

The United States says a border crossing between the Gaza Strip and Egypt will be reopened, but the timing remained unclear as the United Nations warned of dire humanitarian conditions in Gaza and Israel told Palestinians living in the northern part of the enclave to leave ahead of a military operation.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who is due back in Israel on Monday after visits to several other countries in the region, said the United States was working with Egypt, Israel and the U.N. to ensure aid can enter Gaza and reach those in need.

The head of the U.N.’s Palestinian refugee agency said Sunday that Gaza is “being strangled” and that soon supplies of water, food and medicine will run out.

“Last week’s attack on Israel was horrendous,” he told reporters. “The attack and the taking of hostages are a flagrant violation of international humanitarian law. But the answer to killing civilians cannot be to kill more civilians.”

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called on Hamas militants who attacked Israel and took more than 150 people hostage to immediately release the hostages without conditions. He also urged Israel to allow for unimpeded access for humanitarian supplies and workers to Gaza.

A convoy of trucks loaded with aid supplies for Gaza provided by Egyptian NGOs waits for an agreement to cross through the Egypt-Gaza border in Arish City in Egypt’s north Sinai Peninsula on Oct. 15, 2023.

A convoy of trucks loaded with aid supplies for Gaza provided by Egyptian NGOs waits for an agreement to cross through the Egypt-Gaza border in Arish City in Egypt’s north Sinai Peninsula on Oct. 15, 2023.

“Each one of these two objectives are valid in themselves. They should not become bargaining chips,” Guterres said in a statement.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed Sunday to “demolish Hamas” as 300,000 Israeli troops massed on the border of the Gaza Strip ahead of an expected ground invasion to find and attack Hamas militants.

The Hamas attack has killed 1,300 Israelis and foreign nationals. Israel, in turn, has launched hundreds of airstrikes and missile attacks on Gaza and killed 2,670 Palestinians.

“Hamas thought we would be demolished,” Netanyahu said. “It is we who will demolish Hamas.” He said the show of political unity “sends a clear message to the nation, the enemy and the world.”

Thirty Americans have been killed in the fighting and 13 others remain unaccounted for.

U.S. President Joe Biden called Netanyahu on Saturday and reiterated the “unwavering” U.S. support for Israel and warned against anyone “seeking to expand the conflict,” a White House statement said. Biden also updated Netanyahu on U.S. military support to Israel.

Later Saturday, U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said in a statement that the U.S. is sending a second carrier strike group, the USS Eisenhower, to the eastern Mediterranean. It would join the USS Gerald R. Ford carrier strike group, which arrived days ago.

“The increases to U.S. force posture signal the United States’ ironclad commitment to Israel’s security and our resolve to deter any state or non-state actor seeking to escalate this war,” Austin said in a statement.

Also Saturday, Russia asked the U.N. Security Council to vote Monday on a draft resolution on the Israel-Hamas conflict calling for a humanitarian cease-fire and condemning violence against civilians and all acts of terrorism.

U.N. Correspondent Margaret Besheer contributed to this report. Some information for this article came The Associated Press, Agence France-Presse and Reuters.

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