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No end to grief in Gaza

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Pleas from the UN warning of a severe humanitarian crisis in Gaza has failed to shift the dial to get water, food and medicine through the Egypt crossing to weary Palestinians.

There is no indication that Israel is preparing for a short, sharp response to the atrocities caused against its civilians by Hamas gunmen who terrorised neighbourhoods, shooting indiscriminately and throwing grenades where people were sheltering.

Adding to the anguish and collective trauma felt by the entire country, around 200 people were taken hostage – some have since died – including young children.

Israel is transferring its rage to Gaza in its vowed mission to eliminate Hamas, once and for all.

The Gaza death toll is around three times the 1400 Israelis butchered by extremists.

Whether defeating Hamas is militarily plausible or humanly possible is a question that divides defence strategists and experts.

Once it has stopped the intense bombing of Gaza, Israel’s amassed ground troops on the border are waiting to conduct a seek-and-destroy mission.

Two weeks after the Hamas massacre, there is no clearer picture of where this conflict is heading apart from deeper in the mire.

The merciless bombing of Gaza has triggered protests around the globe and a sharp rise in antisemitism.

Sporadic terror attacks by those indoctrinated with hate, as in the Brussels shootings that killed two Swedish fans, are more likely during this divisive climate.

Cyprus fears it could feel the brunt of a mass refugee influx if the Middle East crisis spreads into Lebanon, where Iranian-backed militants appear ready for a fight.

Widening of the conflict could destabilise the whole region where another ‘Arab Spring’ could grow as the protests signal a wider discontent with the established rule.

Moreover, there is prevailing uncertainty over what happens next and the consequences of those actions.

Outrage

Outrage over the Gaza hospital attack is still raw, with each side blaming the other for the horror blast, which is said to have killed around 470 people in a building that should be off bounds to hostile activity.

Hamas quickly denounced Israel for the callous bombing, while the Israel Defence Force offered evidence that it was a rocket malfunction from a missile fired by an Islamic group.

Few in the Arab world believe Israel’s version of events, while Biden declared it was the “other side” during his visit to Tel Aviv this week.

Without allowing independent experts to investigate the scene and collect irrefutable evidence, the disinformation war has enough fuel to rage longer.

And if we have learnt anything from similar conflicts, the truth is the first victim; needless deaths are buried under lies and deception.

A fixed narrative is followed, and each side will stick to theirs.

Nicosia condemned the hospital attack but was careful not to apportion blame; France did the same.

Biden was in Israel to offer reassurances the US would be with them in their hour of need, persuade Israel to let humanitarian aid into Gaza and deter Iran from getting involved.

Although the go-ahead was given to let aid through the Egyptian side of Gaza, lorries are backed up waiting to enter.

Egypt said Israeli bombs have ruined the road network, while critics say Cairo is reluctant to open the crossing because it allows thousands of Palestinians into its territory.

Another argument is that long-awaited aid delivery to Gaza’s 2.3 million people has been delayed by disagreements over ensuring Hamas does not control the supplies.

Israel has cut off electricity, fuel and goods deliveries and severely restricted water supplies, exacerbating the dire humanitarian situation.

Fuel is not part of the aid package to war-smashed Gaza.

Even if some trucks are allowed through, what’s provided still won’t be enough to support a population on its knees.

Israel said it would allow 20 trucks to cross, well below the 450 vehicles that entered daily before the fighting.

But this may be of little consequence as Israel’s end game appears to be sealing off Gaza for good.

Israel plans to cut ties with the Gaza Strip to establish a new “security reality” after destroying Hamas as part of their three-phase strategy.

Whatever reality is envisaged for Gaza, it has become hell on earth as the international community is powerless to stop the bloodshed.