Gaza, Palestine: Urban warfare looms in the south, home to more than 1 million people… “Ground invasion” engulfs the entire region in flames. | FRIDAY DIGITAL

Gaza, Palestine: Urban warfare looms in the south, home to more than 1 million people… “Ground invasion” engulfs the entire region in flames.

Tense Photo Report] Fighting with Israel resumed on December 1, killing more than 300 people in just three days.

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Rafah in the south, not far from Egypt, which was bombed. The Egyptian side refuses to accept refugees. The number of victims continues to rise in a war zone with no escape.

The gates of hell opened again.

At around 2 p.m. Japan time on December 1, fighting resumed in the Palestinian Gaza Strip, which had been in a state of truce for about a week.

Israel and Hamas have been in a truce since November 24 for an exchange of hostages. From Israel, 240 people who had been held in prison were released, and from Hamas, 105 people, including foreign nationals, were released. However, the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office announced that ‘Hamas violated the ceasefire agreement, failed to fulfill its obligation to release all female hostages, and carried out further rocket attacks.’ Between December 1-2, Hamas attacked more than 400 locations throughout the Gaza Strip.

According to health officials in the Gaza Strip, 316 people were killed and 664 were wounded between the first and third of December. 15,899 people have been killed and more than 42,000 wounded in the region since the war began on October 7. Moreover, about 70% of the dead are women and children,” said a Japanese correspondent who is in the area.

Upon the resumption of fighting, the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office announced the release of all 137 remaining hostages and the destruction of Hamas.

Then, on December 2. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, 74, declared that “it is impossible to achieve our goals without a ground invasion,” and launched an incursion into the southern Gaza Strip. In addition to the previous offensive in the north, the war is about to spread to the entire region. International journalist Toshihiro Yamada explains the new phase.

Since the beginning of the war, Israel has focused its attacks on the northern part of the region, where Hamas is believed to have its bases of operations. According to the latest announcement by the Israeli military, it has destroyed 500 of the more than 800 military tunnels in the entire region. It has therefore switched its attack to the south, where many of its strongholds remain. There are also reports that Yahya Sinwar, 61, the supreme leader of Hamas, is hiding in the region. This is probably another major factor in the shift of the war to the south.

Evacuees are pouring into the south to escape the war, and as of October, more than 1 million people were staying in the central city of Khan Younis and other areas. In addition, more than 950,000 displaced people are being housed in UN-related facilities in the south.

The Israeli military has been distributing leaflets and posting information about evacuation areas on the Internet, but the connection environment is poor and there are reports of attacks on designated evacuation sites, which has led to confusion. While the evacuation of civilians is not going well, only the ground invasion plan is steadily underway. An urban war in such a situation would probably result in considerable casualties,” said Professor Aiko Nishikida of the Faculty of Law at Keio University, an expert on contemporary Middle Eastern politics.

Behind the increasingly fierce fighting lies the stirring of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is suffering from a decline in his approval rating. Professor Nishikida continues.

Netanyahu was once known as ‘Mr. Security’ for his efforts to ensure public safety, but his national security mistakes have led to the current tragedy. His current approval rating has plummeted to the 20% range. For his part, he hopes to regain his approval rating by achieving results such as the hostage recapture. Until he achieves remarkable war results, he will stick to continuing the fighting.”

Both Professor Nishikida and the aforementioned Mr. Yamada analyze that “Hamas’ ability to continue fighting will last until next January at the most. Supply routes are being cut off, and the stockpile is expected to run out by the end of the year.

At first glance, this would seem to lead to an end to the war. …… On the other hand, it could also lead to a “worst-case scenario.

The most frightening thing is that there is no telling what Hamas will do when cornered. If Hamas executes hostages as a way to boost morale, Israel will have no choice but to act. If a large-scale mop-up operation is planned, the number of civilian casualties will increase even more, and the worst-case scenario could be more than 100,000,” Yamada said.

We can only hope that as many civilians as possible will be able to escape the war.

A child gives her dead father a final kiss. Many schools and mosques are concentrated in the southern city of Kanyunis, where many people have died.
Nasser Hospital in Khanyunis is overflowing with casualties. Delays in the supply of aid materials due to the resumption of fighting have also contributed to the increase in the number of casualties.
Neighboring countries are also reacting one after another. Yemen held a military parade in support of Palestine. Iran again expressed its support for Hamas. The situation is becoming increasingly chaotic.

From the December 22, 2023 issue of FRIDAY

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