New Delhi, October 29: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has issued a stark warning, describing the ongoing conflict with Hamas in Gaza as an "existential test" for Israel, asserting that the mission involves destroying Hamas' military and leadership capabilities and ensuring the safe return of hostages.
Here are the significant updates on this unfolding crisis:
- Long and Difficult War: Netanyahu emphasised that the war in the Gaza Strip would be prolonged and challenging, indicating Israel's preparedness for the arduous battle ahead.
- UN Concerns: The United Nations expressed grave concerns, stating that thousands more civilians in Gaza could lose their lives as Israeli ground forces continue their operations in the Hamas-controlled territory. The UN warned of catastrophic consequences from large-scale ground operations.
- Hostages in Gaza: Israeli military confirmed that over 230 hostages, including numerous foreigners and dual nationals, have been taken to Gaza. Hamas claimed that nearly 50 hostages were killed in Israeli airstrikes.
- Hamas Demands Prisoner Swap: Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar declared readiness for an immediate prisoner exchange, demanding the release of all Palestinian prisoners from Israeli jails in exchange for those held by Palestinian resistance groups.
- UN General Assembly Vote: India abstained from a UN General Assembly resolution calling for an immediate humanitarian truce. The resolution, titled "Protection of civilians and upholding legal and humanitarian obligations," received 120 votes in favor, 14 against, and 45 abstentions.
- Intensified Airstrikes: Gaza Strip, blockaded since 2007, witnessed relentless Israeli airstrikes following the October 7 Hamas attacks, allowing Israeli ground forces to escalate operations in the region.
- International Reactions: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan criticized Western powers as the main culprits responsible for the Gaza "massacre." Israel responded by recalling its diplomatic staff from Turkey for a reevaluation of bilateral relations.
- Elon Musk's Pledge: Billionaire Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX, pledged Starlink satellite internet access to recognized aid organizations in Gaza after a communication blackout affected emergency services and ambulance operations.
- Casualty Figures: The October 7 Hamas attack resulted in at least 1,400 casualties, predominantly civilians. In retaliation, Israeli airstrikes in Gaza have reportedly claimed more than 8,000 lives, with half of the victims being children, according to the Hamas-controlled health ministry.
The situation remains tense and continues to evolve rapidly as international efforts to broker peace face significant challenges.
- With inputs from agencies