Warnings of war crimes
Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu has addressed the nation to call for unity and warn that there are “hard days coming”. He also vowed to unleash retaliation that would “reverberate with them for generations” and that “Hamas will understand that by attacking us, they have made a mistake of historic proportions.” That includes a “complete siege” with electricity, fuel, and water to be cut off after aid organisations confirmed that no food or medicine has reached the Palestinian territory’s 2.3 million people since Saturday. And as the death toll reached 900 on Israel’s side and 830 in Gaza, Israel’s military continued its airstrikes on Gaza and retook control of the border fence. Israel also said it has killed 1,500 Hamas militants who crossed the border from Gaza on Saturday.
How did that go down?
Hamas has threatened to kill an Israeli hostage every time Israel bombs a Palestinian home without warning. A senior member of the militant group has also said that the plan is to use the Israeli civilians and soldiers captured and taken back to Gaza on the weekend to secure the release of Palestinians detained in Israel and overseas. Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen has warned Hamas against harming any of the 100-plus hostages, saying they “will not be forgiven” if their people come to harm. Reports say it means Israeli forces could face the unprecedented task of fighting an urban war in Gaza because the hostages are likely to be hidden in tunnels and basements of strategic targets. So, between Israel’s blockade and Hamas’s hostage situation, human rights organisations and the United Nations have warned both sides against committing war crimes.
Are any Aussies caught up in this?
Foreign Minister Penny Wong says it’s too early to know. “We are continuing to work to confirm the welfare of Australians who are in either Israel or the occupied Palestinian territories. We are obviously concerned about the situation, and we will continue to do the work to assess the circumstances of those Australians,” she said yesterday. There are reports of Aussies in the region who are concerned about their safety, and late yesterday, PM Anthony Albanese said the government was “working on a range of contingency arrangements” with officials. He also condemned the anti-Semitic chants and Israel flag burning at a pro-Palestine rally at the Sydney Opera House on Monday night. He added that he didn’t believe the rally should have been allowed to go ahead, calling it “just inappropriate”.
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