Israel’s military destroyed the Gaza Strip with airstrikes, prepared for a potential ground invasion, and announced Thursday that its total siege, which has left Palestinians in need of food, fuel, and medicine, would continue until the Hamas militants in control of the region released about 150 hostages taken during a bloody weekend incursion.
Even as international aid organizations warned of a rising humanitarian crisis, Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s visit and the delivery of American munitions gave Israel the powerful go-ahead to move forward with its reprisal in Gaza after Hamas’ horrific attack on civilians and troops.
Israel has stopped supplying Gaza’s 2.3 million residents with electricity and essential commodities and has blocked supplies from Egypt from entering the territory.
Israeli Energy Minister Israel Katz posted on social media that “not a single electricity switch will be flipped on, not a single faucet will be turned on, and not a single fuel truck will enter until the Israeli hostages are returned home.”
According to Lt. Col. Richard Hecht, a spokesman for the Israeli military, units “are preparing for a ground maneuver” in the event that political leaders order one.
A ground invasion in Gaza, where the population is crammed into a small area about 40 kilometers (25 miles) long, would probably result in far more deaths from brutal house-to-house combat on both sides.