On the edge in the Middle East
An Israel Defence Forces (IDF) official has confirmed they will “deepen” and “increase” the strikes on Gaza as preparations for a ground invasion are finalised. Over the weekend, Israel has continued to mass tanks and troops along the border with Gaza and warned those who remain in the north of the Palestinian territory to leave. IDF spokesperson Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari said the priority is “to eliminate the terrorists and especially those involved in the massacre on Saturday 2 weeks ago.” Officials have not confirmed a specific timeframe for when they will go in. As those preparations are made, a group of United Nations agencies said the conditions in Gaza are “catastrophic”, with growing concerns the territory will collapse under the weight of starvation, dehydration, disease and Israeli attacks.
Yep – on Saturday, 20 trucks of aid were allowed into Gaza through Egypt’s Rafah border crossing for the first time since the Israel-Hamas war erupted, and reports say another convoy has been allowed in overnight. UN Secretary-General António Guterres says the shipment of food, water and medicine was welcomed but insufficient to help alleviate the crisis. Since Israel announced a “full siege” of Gaza after the deadly 7 October Hamas attacks, electricity and water supplies have been cut, and food, fuel, and medicine shipments have been blocked. Adding to that, reports say more than half of Gaza’s 2.3 million people – who are packed into the 360km2 strip (about the size of an Aussie regional city…) – have been displaced but remain in the territory because they can’t get out. That includes 77 Australian citizens, permanent residents and immediate family members.
Western nations are standing by Israel and its right to defend itself. Yesterday, US President Joe Biden said he will “continue to work with all parties” to get more aid into Gaza – he’ll also send extra air defences to the Middle East and has placed more forces on standby, ready to “assist in the defence of Israel”. Meanwhile, Arab leaders got together on Saturday, but there was no agreement on how to move forward. What they did was condemn Israel’s escalating strikes on Gaza – as did thousands of pro-Palestinian protesters over the weekend… In London, reports say 100,000 turned out, as did upwards of 12,000 in Sydney. Jewish communities rallied too – in Melbourne, there was a gathering yesterday supporting the hostages taken from Israel. On that front, Friday saw 2 American hostages handed over by Hamas for “humanitarian reasons”, the terror group said.
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