Israel forms unity government and bombs Gaza after Hamas attack | ET REALITY


After the deadliest attack on Israel in 50 years, the right-wing government and members of the centrist opposition formed a unity government on Wednesday to confront the crisis, as their warplanes caused destruction in the Gaza Strip and both sides prepared. for an escalation of war between Israel and Israel. Israel and Hamas.

The creation of an emergency government came as the devastation of the Hamas incursion that overran dozens of cities and a military base last weekend became clearer: civilians, including children, shot dead in homes, cars, streets and hiding places, with bodies still being recovered and counted. The Israeli government said the toll from the attack had risen to 1,200 people dead, 169 of them Israeli soldiers, nearly 3,000 wounded and an estimated 150 people kidnapped and held hostage in Gaza.

Israel’s military forces are carrying out a more intense airstrike campaign than in past conflicts with Gaza against Hamas, the group that controls the region, and its allies, killing at least 1,127 people and wounding more than 5,300. , according to Gaza health officials, who say most of the victims are non-combatants, including children. After Israel escalated its 16-year blockade of Gaza to a “full siege” this week, cutting off fuel, water and food, electricity in the region was shut off Wednesday, and already overwhelmed hospitals reported they would soon be unable to function.

Hamas has threatened to kill hostages if Israel attacks civilian homes without warning.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a televised news conference Wednesday night that Palestinians who invaded Israel shot children in the head, burned people alive, raped women and beheaded soldiers.

“Every Hamas member is a dead man,” Netanyahu said. Equating Hamas with the Islamic State, he added: “it will be crushed and eliminated.”

President Biden, speaking to reporters in Washington after meeting with Jewish leaders, appeared to endorse reports of a particularly gruesome atrocity, which Israeli authorities have not verified. “I never thought he would see it and have confirmed footage of terrorists beheading children,” he said.

Administration officials later said that the president did not actually see any images of beheaded children, but instead based his comments on a variety of news reports. The White House cited five examples of CBS News and Israeli media citing Israeli military officials claiming that children had been beheaded.

The Israeli government has called up 360,000 reservists, a huge increase in military forces, amid widespread speculation that it will launch a large-scale ground offensive in Gaza, the first since 2014. At the same time, skirmishes and artillery fire on Israel’s northern border Hostilities continued on Wednesday, fueling fears of a major confrontation with the Lebanese group Hezbollah – a much more powerful enemy than Hamas – and a two-front war.

Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, whose country has long joined Israel in blocking Gaza, said he would not allow Gazans to flee to his territory.

The agreement for an Israeli unity government between Netanyahu and Benny Gantz, leader of an opposition party, creates an emergency “war management cabinet” composed of the two of them and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant. Decision-making will largely remain in the hands of the broader security cabinet, according to a spokesman for Netanyahu’s Likud party.

The deal infuses the government with much greater military experience, a move that could bolster public confidence that has been battered by months of fighting against a proposed judiciary reform by Netanyahu’s far-right, religiously conservative ruling coalition. and now for failure. of Israel’s vaunted security services to anticipate or quickly defeat the attack from Gaza.

The 14-member security cabinet now includes four lawmakers who had been in the opposition, including Gantz and Gadi Eizenkot, both former army chiefs who bring a wealth of wartime knowledge from previous conflicts with Gaza and Lebanon.

“It’s about bringing in people who were chiefs of staff and who were not involved in the current disaster,” said Gideon Rahat, a political scientist at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. “They are not responsible for this, so they can help us get out of this.”

Public trust in the government had declined throughout the year, following a huge backlash against the government’s plan to undermine the power of the courts. Parliament approved the reform in July and it is being reviewed by Israel’s Supreme Court.

Many reservists said earlier this year that they would refuse to serve if the changes were adopted, prompting Gallant, the Defense Minister, to say the plan would undermine national security.

Now that reservists are mobilized, “they need to know that they have someone they can trust in the government,” Professor Rahat said.

Main opposition leader Yair Lapid said he would not join a unity government while it still included the most extreme figures in Netanyahu’s coalition, such as Itamar Ben-Gvir, the national security minister. Mr. Ben-Gvir, whose anti-Arab campaign resulted a 2007 conviction for inciting racism and supporting a terrorist group, he remains in the security cabinet.

The Hamas attack was far larger than anything the group had attempted before, with the coordinated destruction of Israel’s network of electronic border surveillance and remote-controlled weaponry, as well as dozens of breaches in the border barrier. The Israeli army, which took days to regain control of the affected areas, said it recovered the bodies of 1,500 Palestinian gunmen who took part in the attack and were killed.

The terrorists laid waste to cities, a kibbutzim and a music festival, among other places, killing indiscriminately and taking hostages, in an incursion that was felt far beyond Israel.

The U.S. State Department said Wednesday that 22 of the dead were U.S. citizens, up from 14 the previous day, and officials have said some of the captives are also U.S. citizens. John Kirby, a spokesman for the National Security Council, said 17 Americans remain missing, but the number of hostages is likely “very small, very small, less than a handful.”

Thailand’s government said 14 of its citizens were killed and France said 10 of its citizens were dead and 18 were still missing.

Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken told reporters on Wednesday, just before boarding a flight to Israel, that his message to Jerusalem would be that the United States stands with Israel. “We’ll have it tomorrow, we’ll have it every day,” he said. “We resolutely oppose terrorism.”

Thousands of Israelis have volunteered to dig graves.

In Gaza, on Israel’s southwestern border, conditions deteriorated rapidly in what local officials and the United Nations described as a humanitarian crisis. The territory’s only power plant ran out of fuel and closed. It was unclear how long food and water supplies would last.

Gazans reported that Israeli airstrikes had targeted structures normally considered relatively safe, such as schools, hospitals and mosques. Mkhaimar Abusada, a political science professor who lives in Gaza, said previous conflicts began with airstrikes on individual buildings used as security facilities. This time, he said, the attacks devastated entire neighborhoods.

“There is nothing left in the areas, almost everything is bombed,” he said, adding that he had left his house to go to his brother’s house.

Israel has acknowledged attacking multiple mosques, saying they were used as staging areas by Hamas and other militant groups.

As of Tuesday, 250,000 people were in shelters in Gaza run by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East. Rescuers in Gaza struggled, with inadequate equipment and dwindling fuel, to reach people buried under the rubble of airstrikes.

Al-Shifa Hospital, the largest medical complex in the area, was treating 800 patients with only 500 beds and was running out of supplies, said its director, Dr. Muhammad Abu Salima. “We’re caring for patients in the hallways and on the floor,” he said.

The hospital had enough fuel to power its backup generators for another four days at most, he added, and had already reduced energy use. Without electricity, she said, ventilators, operating rooms, incubators and other equipment will simply stop working.

“If the electricity is cut, our hospitals will become nothing more than mass graves,” said Dr. Abu Salima.

“We will sit there and watch patients die one by one without being able to provide them with medical care,” he added.

Israel Katz, the Israeli energy minister, posted on X, formerly Twitter: “We will continue to intensify the siege until the Hamas threat to Israel and the world is eliminated.”

In the north, the Israeli military said it had attacked Hezbollah targets in Lebanon with aircraft and artillery on Wednesday, in response to a missile attack by the group. The number of victims on both sides remains unclear.

Some Israeli villages near the border are deserted and the only sound is the constant drone of aerial drones. The troop presence in the region was noticeably heavier than usual, with soldiers operating checkpoints along roads and stopping vehicles.

Hiba Yazbek and Patrick Kingsley reported from Jerusalem, and nicolas casey from Madrid. The report was contributed by Raja Abdulrahim and Aaron Boxerman from Jerusalem; Gabby Sobelman from Rehovot, Israel; Euan Ward from Beirut, Lebanon; Nadav Gavrielov from New York; Sui-Lee Wee from Bangkok; Jin Yu Young from Seoul; Aurelien Breeden from Paris; Iyad Abuheweila from Cairo; and Peter Panadero, Katie Rogers and Eduardo Wong from Washington.

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