Smoke billows behind Gaza’s Shifer Hospital as thousands of displaced people fill the courtyard and corridors. Israeli forces are engaged in combat with Hamas militants amidst the wreckage of buildings in the northern Gaza Strip, gradually advancing towards Asifa and another major hospital in Gaza City. Within the emergency room, a man recounts his attempt, alongside others, to head south. However, their escape was thwarted by tank fire upon reaching the road, causing some to flee along a route near the frontlines. The White House announced on Thursday that Israel has agreed to a daily four-hour pause in operations in Northern Gaza, marking the first sign of respite in the ongoing war.
This brief period allows people to seek refuge through two designated humanitarian corridors. Some of those fleeing expressed concerns of enduring another catastrophic displacement similar to the mass dispossession experienced during the founding of Israel in 1948.
They claim that the authorities are intentionally terrorizing individuals, forcing them to abandon their homes. The scene behind them is one of death and destruction. US President Joe Biden is advocating for a longer suspension of hostilities, lasting three days, to facilitate the release of Hamas-held hostages. When asked if he specifically requested a three-day pause to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Biden affirms that he has been seeking a cessation for a longer duration.
Israel initiated its offensive on Gaza in response to a cross-border attack perpetrated by Hamas gunmen, resulting in the deaths of approximately 1,400 individuals, mostly civilians, and the abduction of around 240 people. The dire situation faced by Palestinians trapped within the besieged enclave has sparked global pleas for a ceasefire. However, Israel and its primary ally, the United States, have rejected these calls.
Palestinian officials report that as of Thursday, over 10,800 Gaza residents, including 40% children, have been killed. At a humanitarian conference in Paris, representatives from around 80 countries and organizations are striving to coordinate a unified response. Jan Egeland, the head of the Norwegian Refugee Council, emphasizes the urgency of achieving a humanitarian ceasefire for the entire civilian population in Gaza, without any further delay. Additionally, immediate efforts are required to lift the siege, which amounts to collective.