Israel’s military forces are carrying out a more intense campaign of airstrikes than in past conflicts with Gaza against Hamas, the group that controls the region, and its allies, killing at least 1,127 people and injuring more than 5,300, according to Gazan health officials, who say most of the casualties are noncombatants, including children. After Israel escalated its 16-year blockade of Gaza to a “complete siege” this week, cutting off fuel, water and food, electricity to the region shut down on Wednesday, and hospitals, already overwhelmed, reported that they would soon be unable to function.
Hamas has threatened to kill hostages if Israel strikes civilian homes without warning.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a televised news conference Wednesday night that the Palestinians who surged into Israel shot children in the head, burned people alive, raped women and beheaded soldiers.
“Every Hamas member is a dead man,” Mr. Netanyahu said. Equating Hamas to the Islamic State, he added, “It will be crushed and eliminated.”….
Israel launched a wave of airstrikes on Gaza after gunmen from Hamas, the armed Palestinian group that controls the Gaza Strip, crossed the border on Saturday, massacred Israeli soldiers and civilians in their homes, and fired thousands of rockets toward Israeli towns and cities.
Israeli official have defended the airstrikes — an intense bombardment that has hit hospitals, schools and mosques — saying that Hamas uses civilian buildings for military purposes.
But the strikes have spared no one, and for the emergency workers with the Palestinian Red Crescent, they have turned Gaza into a “nightmare,” Mr. Ahmed said.
Rescuers, emergency workers and doctors are struggling to reach and save people buried under the rubble from the Israeli airstrikes, with power now cut, fuel supplies close to running out and the onslaught from the air making movement dangerous.
By the time they reach many of the destroyed buildings, Mr. Ahmed said, they find only bodies. “Sometimes we don’t pull out anyone alive,” he said. “We pull them all out dead.”
On Wednesday afternoon, electricity in the blockaded Gaza Strip went out after the only power station there shut down, a result of Israel’s ordering a “complete siege” on Gaza and blocking all electricity, food, water and fuel from entering the coastal enclave…..
US Military staging to Israel including Spec Ops units…
The U.S. has sent hostage rescue experts to advise the Israel Defense Forces on freeing the 150 hostages — including possibly some Americans — who were kidnapped by Hamas during the bloody attack on southern Israel, The Messenger has learned.
Meanwhile, U.S. special operations forces have been placed on alert in a nearby European country, according to two senior U.S. military officials who spoke to The Messenger under condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive national security matters.
Sources described these troops as “door kickers,” who could conduct a rescue effort themselves, if ordered.
For the moment, there is no indication that U.S. forces will aid in any operations on the ground in Israel, the sources said.
But, the Americans are only a few hours away by plane if they need to intervene.
The U.S. sent advisors from the U.S. intelligence community to augment an American special operations team assigned to the U.S. Embassy in Israel, the sources told The Messenger.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin confirmed Tuesday the U.S. has “people on the ground” who will assist Israeli authorities “with intelligence and planning” for potential operations involving hostage rescue efforts….
Egyptian intelligence repeatedly told Israel that Hamas was planning “something big,” but the warnings were discounted, an intelligence official in Cairo told the Associated Press on Monday, underscoring the failures that allowed the militant Islamist group to mount a devastating raid over the weekend.
“We have warned them an explosion of the situation is coming, and very soon, and it would be big,” the official, whose name was not disclosed, told AP.
“But they underestimated such warnings.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has since denied that Egypt warned them of an imminent Hamas incursion, adding that such claims are a “complete lie”, according to a report.
“Israeli Prime Minister’s office says reports about a warning that was passed from Egypt ahead of the Gaza war are false,” Axios correspondent Barak Ravid said on X, the former Twitter.
Egypt often mediates between Israel and Palestinian factions, and the two countries are close security partners. An estimated 700 Israelis were killed in the multi-pronged Hamas attack, and more than 400 Palestinians have died in reprisal bombings in Gaza.
Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari, Israel’s chief military spokesman, told reporters the army would get to the bottom of its failures. “First, we fight, then we investigate,” he said….
US Sec of State (On the way to the region) is trying to keep the conflict from expanding….
The discussions between Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman about the Palestinian-Israeli conflict are “helpful,” a senior State Department official said Wednesday.
The United States has been asking key allies to talk to Israel’s adversaries to prevent the war with Hamas from escalating into a larger regional conflict.
“It’s our stock and trade as diplomats. Right? It’s what we do,” said the U.S. official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive diplomacy. “You use the bilateral relations you have, whether they’re warm or cold, new, old, you use them to pursue your ends.”
The discussion between Raisi and Mohammed was the first call between the two leaders since their countries, which are longtime adversaries, resumed ties after a China-brokered détente in March.
The U.S. official — who was traveling with Secretary of State Antony Blinken to Israel and made the remarks during a refuel stop in Ireland — said the use of these channels in times of tumult is “normal” and “frankly helpful.”….