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Israel carried out intense bombing operations across the Gaza Strip on Wednesday, with its army repeatedly shelling the enclave following last weekend’s deadly incursion by Hamas into Israel.
Eyewitnesses described the widespread destruction caused to neighborhoods in Gaza City as a result of the Israeli raids. All borders of the Gaza Strip are closed, leaving Palestinian civilians nowhere to flee, and about a tenth of Gaza’s population of approximately 2.3 million people have been internally displaced in search of shelter. Gaza has been suffering from a siege imposed by Israel and Egypt for 16 years.
The Biden administration said there were talks to establish safe passage for civilians, echoing the US World Food Program’s call to establish emergency humanitarian corridors.
The army said last day that there were still clashes between Hamas militants and Israeli soldiers. Hamas fighters fired about 5,000 rockets at Israel. The Israeli army said it was intensifying its attacks on Gaza and preparing for an unspecified next phase of the war, possibly a ground invasion of Gaza.
The death toll continued to rise in the war between Israel and Gaza. Israeli media said that at least 1,200 Israelis were killed in Hamas attacks. Palestinian officials say at least 950 Palestinians were killed in Gaza, along with 1,000 Hamas fighters inside Israel.
In Gaza, officials from the Gaza government said that the only power plant in the Strip would run out of fuel within hours of Wednesday. This is the only source of electricity for most people, and fuel in Gaza’s hospitals that use generators is also running low. Earlier this week, Israel said it would cut off all electricity to the area following a bloody rampage by Hamas over the weekend.
The US State Department announced that the first shipment of US weapons has arrived in Israel, while US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken travels to Israel to deliver a message of solidarity and support.
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On Tuesday, in Washington, President Joe Biden called Hamas’ attack on Israel “pure evil” and promised to “make sure Israel has what it needs to take care of itself.”
Biden said that 14 Americans were killed in Israel and more than 20 others were missing. In an interview on NPR All things consideredNational Security Council spokesman John Kirby said there were some Americans among the dozens of hostages held by Hamas, but described them as “a very small number of Americans that we know of.”
“There are also a larger number of Americans who are still unaccounted for. Now, some of them may be in the hostage group. We don’t know. So, we are trying to get as much information as possible.” “As much information as we can get,” Kirby said.
The bloodshed began on the Jewish holiday of Simchat Torah, and a day after the fiftieth anniversary of the start of the Yom Kippur War, when Israel was attacked by Arab countries.
The Palestinian Hamas movement, which took control of the Gaza Strip in 2007, launched a large-scale surprise attack along Israel’s southern border on Saturday. Militants infiltrated Israel’s borders using paragliders, motorcycles and boats.
NPR’s Aya El-Batrawy, Larry Kaplow and Kevin Drew contributed.
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