New York: Israel announced the formation of an emergency ‘War unity government’ with the opposition as the Israel–Palestinian conflict escalated with Hezbolla terrorist groups joining Hamas from Lebanon and Syria with harrowing details of atrocities from the five day conflict emerging.
The emergency ‘Unity’ government includes Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, opposition politician Benny Gantz and other officials in a wartime cabinet, the New York Times reported.
Ghastly pictures of people dead at a bus stop, bullet holes in residential walls started emerging from the war torn zone as Israel said the death toll in the attack had risen to 1,200, with an estimated 150 people still believed to be held hostage in Gaza.
Israel launched more missiles at the Gaza Strip, the sealed-off coastal territory controlled by the militant group, where fears of a humanitarian disaster were growing. New airstrikes hit rescue workers who were trying to ferret out people buried under the rubble of earlier artillery shelling.
The authorities in Gaza, which is under blockade by Israel and Egypt, said that its sole power plant had run out of fuel, forcing hospitals to rely on backup generators with limited fuel supplies. And there is nowhere to go for fresh supplies, media reports said.
The US has pledged “urgent action” to support Israel’s unrestricted retaliation against the brutality of Hamas which President Joe Biden called on Tuesday as “pure, unadulterated evil”.
In the meantime, the first shipment of new US weapons arrived in Israel, and Secretary of State Antony Blinken was traveling there as flare-ups on Israel’s borders with Lebanon and Syria fuelled fears of a broader conflict, the Times said.
It’s not clear if the Israeli military is preparing for a massive ground invasion into Gaza to crush Hamas as it assembles tanks and soldiers along the border with Gaza.
Over 1,100 Palestinians have been killed, including 326 children, and 5,539 wounded, since Saturday, Gaza health officials there on Wednesday said.
Gazans say Israel has hit, schools, hospitals and mosques. Israel had warned people to leave certain neighborhoods or towns but admitted that they are not as extensive or specific as they have been in the past.
Blinken was expected to meet with senior Israeli officials on Thursday to discuss military needs and hostage negotiations.
The number of US citizens killed during the attacks has risen to 14, and American citizens are among the hostages, the Times reported .
Israel exchanged fire across the border with Syria after projectiles were fired from the other side, the first time it had done so since the start of the war with Hamas. Israeli forces also said they launched retaliatory strikes inside Lebanon on Wednesday, hitting targets belonging to the Hezbollah militant group, sure indications the middle east war is escalating with Syria and Lebanon joining the Hamas.
A New York Times analysis of Hamas propaganda and satellite images shows how the assailants were able to execute such a sophisticated operation on Saturday.
They appear to have destroyed communications towers close to the Gaza border that are key to Israel’s defence.
Israel has said little about what appears to be a spectacular failure of its security and intelligence operations.