In a significant development, Israel has instituted a comprehensive blockade on the Gaza Strip, following a major offensive by Hamas on Israeli territory.
According to Al Jazeera, Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant announced on Monday that the blockade will encompass a ban on food, water, electricity, and fuel. This move intensifies the longstanding restrictions that have been in place since June 2007. The Gaza Strip, home to approximately 2.3 million people, stands as one of the most densely populated regions globally.
Israel currently maintains control over Gaza’s airspace, territorial waters, and two of its three border crossings, with Egypt controlling the remaining one. Gallant emphasized, “We are implementing a complete blockade on Gaza… No electricity, no food, no water, no gas – it’s all closed.”
Daniel Hagari, Israel’s chief military spokesperson, confirmed on Monday that Israel has regained control over its communities following a significant incursion by Hamas fighters into its territory on Saturday. He mentioned some isolated incidents on Monday morning but noted that “at this stage, there is no fighting in the communities.” However, he said that there might still be terrorists in the region. Israeli forces are strategically stationed with tanks and drones at fence openings to prevent further infiltrations.
Fifteen out of twenty-four border communities have already been evacuated, and the rest are expected to follow suit within the next 24 hours. Hamas, on the other hand, reported that their fighters are engaged in ongoing battles outside Gaza and have captured additional Israelis as recently as Monday morning. This is all in the contact of Israel’s latest offensive against Gaza which has severely harmed the population.
According to the Middle East Eye, in Beit Hanoun, Gaza, Palestinians were instructed by the Israeli army to evacuate to the city center, purportedly for safety. Hours later, the city center was bombarded, killing over 50 people. Witnesses described scenes of devastation, with bodies strewn across streets, malls ablaze, and homes demolished.
Many victims had heeded text messages urging them to seek refuge in the city center, following previous warnings from Israeli forces. The area targeted was near a UN agency-run school housing over 20,000 displaced Palestinians. Gaza, densely populated and facing severe infrastructure challenges, is one of the world’s most densely populated areas.