Gaza/Jerusalem, Oct 22 (The Street Press) – Concerns grew on Sunday as the Israel-Hamas conflict showed signs of spreading across the Middle East. The U.S. sent more military resources to the region while Israel continued its airstrikes on Gaza, and there were deadly clashes at its border with Lebanon.
In the past 24 hours, Israeli air strikes have resulted in the tragic loss of 266 Palestinian lives, including 117 children in Gaza. This escalation followed a deadly mass infiltration into Israel by Hamas gunmen on October 7th, prompting Israel to impose a “total siege” on the enclave.
In Syria, Israeli missiles struck Damascus and Aleppo international airports early on Sunday, rendering them inoperative and tragically causing the loss of two workers, as reported by Syrian state media.
Along Israel’s northern border with Lebanon, the Iran-backed Hezbollah group clashed with Israeli forces, supporting Hamas. This marks the deadliest escalation of violence on the frontier since the Israel-Hezbollah war in 2006.
Hezbollah reported that four of its fighters were killed in intense clashes on Sunday, and another fighter succumbed to earlier injuries. This brings the total to 24 Hezbollah members lost since October 7.
Lebanese security sources stated that 11 fighters from Palestinian militant groups in Lebanon lost their lives in the volatile border area, along with four civilians. On the Israeli side of the border, at least five soldiers and one civilian have tragically lost their lives, as per reports from the Israeli military.
Due to the escalating violence along its well-guarded borders, Israel expanded its evacuation plan on Sunday to include 14 communities near Lebanon and Syria in the northern region.
Iranian security officials shared with Reuters that Iran’s strategy involved Middle East proxies like Hezbollah conducting limited strikes on Israeli and U.S. targets, while avoiding a significant escalation that could draw in Tehran. This presents a challenging balancing act for the Islamic Republic.
The situation is deeply tragic. In the scenario you described, it appears there has been a severe conflict between Israel and Hamas in Gaza. Many lives have been lost, with significant casualties among civilians and displacement of a large portion of Gaza’s population. It’s important to note that the situation in the region is very dynamic, and the numbers provided here might not reflect the current status of the conflict.
U.S. BEEFING UP MILITARY PRESENCE
U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin announced that the United States plans to send additional military assets to the Middle East to bolster support for Israel and enhance the U.S. defense presence in response to recent escalations involving Iran and its proxy forces, including Hezbollah and Palestinian Islamist militants.
Specifically, a Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system and additional Patriot air defense missile system battalions will be deployed to the region, and additional troops will be placed on standby, as stated by Austin.
The United States has recently deployed a substantial naval presence to the Middle East, which includes two aircraft carriers, support ships, and around 2,000 Marines. This move comes in response to drone and rocket attacks by militants on U.S. forces in Iraq.
Additionally, Israel has assembled tanks and troops near the fenced border surrounding Gaza, with the intention of carrying out a planned ground invasion aimed at dealing with the Hamas organization. This action follows several inconclusive wars since Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza in 2005 and Hamas’s subsequent rise to power in 2007.
The Israeli military’s strategy, as explained by military spokesperson Lieutenant-Colonel Jonathan Conricus in remarks to Fox TV, is to weaken, tire, and dislocate Hamas in preparation for future military operations. They assume that Hamas has prepared the battlefield with various elements of warfare, including tunnels, and that Hamas will engage in fighting, potentially inflicting heavy casualties on Israeli forces, especially in the initial and intermediate stages.
Hamas’ armed wing reported firing additional rockets at Tel Aviv on Sunday. At this time, there is no immediate information available regarding damage or casualties.
In light of Israel’s ongoing airstrikes that have caused significant destruction in densely populated areas of Gaza, Palestinians have stated that they received renewed warnings from the Israeli military to relocate from the north of Gaza to the south, in an effort to avoid the most intense conflict zones.
It appears that military leaflets were dropped in Gaza, with an additional warning that residents might be identified as sympathizers with a “terrorist organization” if they remain in their current locations.
The Israeli military spokesperson, Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari, reiterated the call for residents to move to the south for their own safety. He also stated that the Israeli military would continue to focus its attacks on the area around Gaza City and intensify its operations there.
Gaza’s Health Ministry reported that a significant number of casualties resulting from airstrikes over the past 24 hours were in the southern part of Gaza. Israel has maintained that its targets are primarily militants and that residential buildings are often used as cover by these groups.