The Palestinian envoy to the United Nations on Tuesday (10 October) described Israel’s bombardment of the Gaza Strip and vow to impose a complete siege on the Hamas-controlled Palestinian enclave as “nothing less than genocidal.”
Hamas militants carried out their deadliest attack in Israel’s history on Saturday, when gunmen rampaged through Israeli towns, killing more than 1,000 people and taking scores of hostages to Gaza. Israel has retaliated with air strikes on Gaza that have razed entire districts as it prepares for a possible ground offensive.
Israel’s Defence Minister Yoav Gallant drew international condemnation by announcing on Monday a “total blockade” to stop food and fuel from reaching Gaza, home to 2.3 million people. Gallant said Israel was battling “beastly people.”
“Such blatant dehumanization and attempts to bomb a people into submission, to use starvation as a method of warfare, and to eradicate their national existence are nothing less than genocidal,” Palestinian UN envoy Riyad Mansour wrote in a letter to the UN Security Council on Tuesday.
“These acts constitute war crimes,” he wrote.
US national security adviser Jake Sullivan said on Tuesday that his understanding was that “the concept of siege is not something that in fact is going to be pursued by the Israeli government,” adding that Washington was speaking with the Israeli government “about their actions in this regard.”
Sullivan also said US President Joe Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday discussed “the difference between going full bore against Hamas terrorists and how we distinguish between terrorists and innocent civilians.”
Israel’s UN Ambassador Gilad Erdan on Sunday accused Hamas of war crimes and said it was time to “obliterate Hamas terror infrastructure,” as the 15-member U.N. Security Council met behind closed-doors on the conflict.
UN Secretary-General António Guterres on Monday said he was “deeply distressed” by Israel’s announcement of a complete siege on Gaza.
“The humanitarian situation in Gaza was extremely dire before these hostilities; now it will only deteriorate exponentially,” Guterres said.
Preparing the Gaza ground offensive
Israel said dozens of its fighter jets struck more than 200 targets overnight on Wednesday in a neighbourhood of Gaza City that it said had been used by Hamas to launch its unprecedented wave of attacks.
Gaza’s health ministry said at least 900 people have been killed and 4,600 wounded in the crowded coastal enclave.
Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant, speaking to soldiers near the Gaza fence, said: “Hamas wanted a change and it will get one. What was in Gaza will no longer be.”
“We started the offensive from the air, later on we will also come from the ground. We’ve been controlling the area since Day 2 and we are on the offensive. It will only intensify.”
Palestinian media said Israeli airstrikes hit homes in Gaza City, the southern city of Khan Younis and in the Bureij refugee camp in central Gaza.
One home struck belonged to the father of Mohammed Deif, the leader of Hamas’ armed wing in Gaza, reports said. Deif’s brother and other family members were killed, according to the reports.