Thousands of Israeli soldiers backed by tanks, artillery, warplanes and warships have surrounded Gaza City, the most densely populated portion of the Gaza Strip, threatening mass killing on an even greater scale than has already taken place. The Gaza Health Ministry announced Monday that the confirmed death toll has now surpassed 10,000 in the first 30 days of the war, which is in reality a one-sided slaughter of the population of an enclave in which 2.3 million people live in an area the size of Detroit or Philadelphia.
Palestinians inspect the damage of a destroyed house following an Israeli airstrike in Jabaliya refugee camp, on the outskirts of Gaza City, Sunday, November 5, 2023.
The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said Monday that it had cut the northern half of Gaza off from the southern half, meaning that there was no longer any possibility of the remaining people in Gaza City—estimated at 500,000—escaping from the hellish conditions of bombardment and massacre. A full-scale block-by-block, house-to-house ground invasion of Gaza City could develop within hours, according to military observers and journalists. This is likely to include the destruction of any building believed to be housing Hamas fighters, or any structure the IDF claims has a Hamas tunnel underneath it. Given the reports in the imperialist press of “hundreds of miles” of such tunnels, and the IDF claims that Hamas has built headquarters and other military facilities underneath hospitals, schools and other key civilian infrastructure, it is predictable that a ground invasion will involve the total destruction of Gaza City, with countless casualties among the helpless and trapped population.
The conditions for Palestinians in Gaza, both north and south, combine mass starvation with the threat of imminent death from bombs, rockets, missiles and artillery shells unleashed by the Israeli military. The Gaza director of UNRWA, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for the Palestinian people, said Friday that the average Gaza resident is living on two pieces of pita bread per day made from flour stockpiled by the UN agency. The Gaza Strip is a “scene of death and destruction,” Thomas White said, while UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said the enclave had become a “graveyard for children.”
UNRWA sustains 89 bakeries throughout Gaza, supplying bread to three-quarters of the population, about 1.7 million, but many of these have been shut down because of damage inflicted in the bombing or the exhaustion of fuel supplies needed to run ovens. Israel is not permitting fuel trucks to pass through the Rafah Border Crossing from Egypt into southern Gaza.
At a press briefing by UN aid officials, White said that the water supply in Gaza was hopelessly compromised, partly through the shutdown of water intake from Israel, partly from the collapse of sewage treatment because of lack of fuel, leading to contamination of what water remains. This is endangering the health of the population, especially children, because of the threat of cholera and other diseases related to consumption of untreated water.