The United Nations declared on Saturday that the war in Gaza, initiated on October 7 with “heinous” attacks by Hamas in Israel, triggering retaliations causing “devastation” in the Palestinian territory, represents a “stain” on humanity.
As the conflict reached its 100th day, Israel rejected any pressure to halt the offensive aimed at eradicating the Islamist movement Hamas, which has been in power in Gaza since 2007. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stated, “No one will stop us, neither The Hague nor the Axis of Evil nor anyone else,” referring to South Africa’s accusation against Israel at the International Court of Justice for alleged violations of the Genocide Prevention Convention.
Israeli Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi asserted that Israel is waging a “just war, initiated by a bloodthirsty enemy that massacred innocent people in an inhumane way.”
Hamas militants killed around 1,140 people in Israel on October 7, most of whom were civilians, according to AFP estimates based on Israeli authorities’ figures. They also abducted approximately 250 individuals, with around a hundred exchanged for the release of Palestinian prisoners during a week-long truce in late November.
Israel launched a relentless bombing campaign, later augmented with ground operations and a strict blockade of the small enclave, resulting in nearly 2.4 million people being deprived of food, water, medicine, and fuel.
According to the health ministry of Hamas, at least 23,843 people, predominantly women and minors, have died in Gaza due to the Israeli offensive.
Philippe Lazzarini, the head of the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), highlighted the suffering, stating, “The massive death, destruction, displacement, hunger, losses, and pain of a hundred days of war in Gaza stain our common humanity.”
The fear of a regional escalation intensified in the past week. The US and the UK bombed Houthi rebel positions in Yemen in response to militia attacks on ships they consider linked to Israel in the Red Sea. Violence also escalated in the West Bank, where at least 337 people died at the hands of Israeli troops or settlers, according to the health ministry in Ramallah.
In the midst of the ongoing conflict, concerns grow for the hostages held by Hamas, with increased pressure on Netanyahu for their release. Relatives of the captives installed a replica of the tunnels built by Islamists in Gaza, believed to house some of the prisoners. The deteriorating conditions of the hostages, including lack of fresh air, minimal food, no medication, and sleeping on the floor, heighten the urgency for resolution.