Gaza: Death toll reaches at least 29 with no end in sight for Israeli shelling

MEE Staff

Middle East Eye  /  May 11, 2023

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says offensive will take as long as necessary.

As the third day of Israeli air strikes on Gaza concluded with the Palestinian death toll reaching 29 people, there appears to be no end in sight, as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said the offensive would continue for as long as necessary.

The Israeli prime minister’s office has issued a statement following a security assessment, saying that Israel will “continue to make Islamic Jihad pay a heavy price for its aggression against Israeli citizens”.

Netanyahu and Defence Minister Yoav Gallant added that the operation would continue for as long as necessary, as reported by Haaretz.

“We are at the height of a campaign, both offensive and defensive,” Netanyahu said in a videotaped statement issued during a visit to an air base.

“Whoever comes to harm us – his blood is forfeit.”

Several leaders of Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), the second-largest armed group operating in Gaza, have been killed in the Israeli bombardment. And Gaza’s Joint Operations Room, the umbrella body of armed factions in Gaza that includes PIJ, said that it would continue to respond.

Hundreds of rockets have been launched from Gaza into Israel, with at least one Israeli citizen having been killed.

“We will not retreat and the assassinations will only make us stronger. Our revenge continues,” Islamic Jihad said in a communique.

While the Israeli offensive is the largest conducted since last year, the reaction from the international community has been quieter in comparison to previous years. The European Union said it was dismayed at the killing of Palestinian children and called for a comprehensive ceasefire to be established immediately.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres condemned the killing of civilians in Gaza as “unacceptable” and appealed for them to “stop immediately”.

The Arab League also slammed the “barbaric Israeli raids on the Gaza Strip, which targeted civilians, children, and women in residential neighbourhoods”.

Deterioration of humanitarian conditions

The US State Department commenting on the escalation said the casualties are “tragic and heartbreaking”.

Washington called on both sides “to take prudent steps to ensure the loss of civilian life is prevented and that steps are taken to ensure that violence is reduced”. But in its message, the US referenced the Israeli government and the Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority, of which neither Hamas nor PIJ fall under.

Humanitarian groups have meanwhile been warning of a crisis in Gaza due in part to Israeli bombing as well as Israel’s ongoing closure of crossings for the fourth day in a row. 

The Palestine Red Crescent Society has appealed to international organizations to pressure Israel into creating a humanitarian corridor for the entry of essential medical supplies and humanitarian aid. 

“This comes due to the deterioration of humanitarian conditions in the Strip, where Israeli occupation checkpoints and barriers surrounding the Gaza Strip remain closed for the fourth day in a row,” the society said in a statement.

It specifically highlighted the “severe shortage of medical supplies and materials in the healthcare system”. 

Despite early reports of a potential ceasefire and international calls to end the fighting, the Egyptian foreign minister said on Thursday that the current prospects for a negotiated peace are wary and circumspect.

“Egypt’s efforts to calm things down and resume the political process have not yet borne fruit,” Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry told reporters.