The humanitarian crisis in Gaza has gotten worse.
What’s the latest?
It’s been over one week since Hamas’s deadly terror attacks. Since then, Israel has warned more than 1 million Gazan residents to move south as it prepares to potentially escalate its attack on Hamas in the north. The UN warned that the mass evacuation was not possible without “devastating humanitarian consequences.” Israel extended its deadline — and has yet to begin a potential ground invasion.
Is everyone fleeing?
No. Many have stayed back, afraid to leave their homes given reports of violence and airstrikes on the few roads south: last week, Hamas said Israeli strikes killed 70 people and injured 200 others as they fled south. Some are also concerned that leaving home could lead to permanent displacement — like in 1948. Meanwhile, Hamas told residents to stay, dismissing Israel’s warnings as “psychological war.” Now, medics in Gaza are reportedly warning that thousands of patients in hospitals could die as a result of a shortage of fuel and other supplies. Doctors and journalists are still working through near-continuous airstrikes — which have killed more than 2,600 people since last Saturday — reportedly including at least 700 children.
What about aid?
That’s the key question. Over the past week, Israel cut off access to fuel, food, and water. Yesterday, in apparent response to pressure from the Biden administration, Israel has reopened access to water in southern Gaza. But the country has continued a siege on fuel and electricity. Meanwhile, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the Rafah border crossing between Egypt and Gaza will open for those with foreign passports. The goal is to allow humanitarian aid that's been sitting around to get in and to give some the option to leave. Still, it's not clear how long Rafah will be open for and if people will be allowed to return.
Why is that?
While Egypt has supported humanitarian aid into Gaza through Rafah, the country reportedly won’t agree to take in Gazan refugees. The reason: Egypt worries Hamas militants could join civilians — potentially leading to security risks. Egyptian officials also fear an exodus of Palestinians could overwhelm the country, which is reportedly already home to 9 million refugees. And despite being a mediator between Israel and the Palestinians, Egypt has long maintained both sides resolve the conflict within their borders.
The death toll in Gaza in eight days has surpassed the 2014 Gaza War lasting 50 days. That human toll — combined with a crisis in access to food, water, and fuel — is expected to climb as Israel prepares for a potential ground invasion.
What Is Israel’s Military Objective?
To defeat Hamas. On Saturday, October 7th, Hamas launched the deadliest attack in Israel’s history, killing an estimated 1,400 people. It was also the deadliest attack on Jews since the Holocaust. Most of the dead were civilians — killed at a music festival, on the streets, and in their homes — including entire families. More than 120 people were taken hostage.
In response, Israel has announced a war promising to “eliminate Hamas,” including its ability to govern the area. That objective also reportedly includes a focused effort to kill Yahya Sinwar, Hamas’s top official. Israel has called up 300,000 reservists, with military officials preparing both for a possible ground invasion as well as a potential attack from the north. Iranian-backed Hezbollah militants based in southern Lebanon are threatening to join the conflict, with clashes escalating at the Israel-Lebanon border.
As for what could happen next: If Israel defeats Hamas, Israel says it has “no interest” in staying there, something President Biden said would be a “big mistake.” Instead, Israelis may hope for the return of the Palestinian Authority, which governs the West Bank. Another possibility could be an international peacekeeping force. One Israeli official says the country may end up leaving Hamas in power, prioritizing an end to its military capabilities. It’s unclear what Israel could do if it succeeds in eliminating Hamas. For now, Israeli officials say they’re prioritizing immediate military objectives.
Who people are mourning…
Wadea Al-Fayoume. Over the weekend, an Illinois landlord allegedly fatally stabbed a 6-year-old boy because of his Islamic faith and the Israel-Hamas War. The little boy was stabbed 26 times. The 71-year-old man also seriously injured the boy’s mother after stabbing her more than a dozen times. She remains at a hospital in serious condition and is expected to survive. Their family reportedly identified them as Palestinian American. Authorities charged the man with murder, hate crime, and aggravated battery with a deadly weapon. A Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization called it “our worst nightmare.” The DOJ launched a federal hate crimes investigation. President Biden said he was “shocked and sickened” by the killing of the boy and added that “this horrific act of hate has no place in America.”
What’s still getting its ducks in a row…
House Republicans. On Friday, they voted for Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) to be their new House speaker nominee, but the lawmaker math still isn’t adding up. The new nomination comes after Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) dropped his candidacy, and Jordan beat out Rep. Austin Scott (R-GA) in a closed-door GOP vote. His popularity amongst hard right Republicans may not be enough to carry him. After a secret vote to gauge support behind him, Jordan only secured 152 votes with 55 against him. That’s still far from the 217 floor votes needed to secure his role as speaker. Rep. Mark Alford (R-TX) said the House could hold a floor vote for Jordan’s speakership tomorrow. Meanwhile, Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) said there’ve been “informal conversations” to deal with the speaker vacancy.
What had people straining their necks…
A solar eclipse. Over the weekend, some in the US got to see the “ring of fire” eclipse. The annular eclipse happens when the moon is at or near its farthest point from Earth and directly blocks the sun for a few moments so that it looks like there’s a bright ring around it. It was visible in Oregon, California, Nevada, Utah, and a handful of other states. For those in the US who want to mark the next annular eclipse on their calendar, it won’t be happening again until 2039. On the brightside, there will be a total solar eclipse on April 8, 2024, when the moon will completely block the sun.
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