Fresh 17-Truck Aid Enters Gaza As Israel Intensifies Strikes
This aerial view shows humanitarian aid trucks arriving from Egypt . (FILE)
A 17-truck aid convoy entered Gaza from Egypt on Sunday as Israel intensified strikes on the Palestinian enclave facing a "catastrophic" humanitarian situation in the war sparked by Hamas's bloody attack.
As fears mount of a wider conflagration, Iran warned the region could spiral "out of control" and the Pentagon moved to bolster its forces in the Middle East.
Hamas operatives stormed into Israel from the Gaza Strip on October 7 and killed at least 1,400 people, mostly civilians who were shot, mutilated or burnt to death on the first day of the raid, according to Israeli officials.
It was the worst attack on civilians in Israel's history and coincided with the end of the religious holiday of Sukkot.
Israel's retaliatory bombing campaign has killed more than 4,600 Palestinians, mainly civilians, according to the Hamas-run health ministry.
More than 40 percent of all Gaza's housing has been damaged or destroyed, according to the UN citing local authorities, and Israel has halted food, water, fuel and electricity supplies.
Sunday's aid delivery through the Rafah crossing was the second such operation in two days after 20 trucks arrived on Saturday.
The United Nations has estimated about 100 trucks per day are needed to meet the needs of 2.4 million Gazans given the "catastrophic" humanitarian situation.
Israel has massed tens of thousands of troops around the enclave for an anticipated ground invasion.
Israel increased its attacks overnight and killed "dozens of terrorists" in and around Gaza City, including the deputy commander of the Hamas rocket network, military spokesman Daniel Hagari said on Sunday.
'We are preparing'
Hamas said overnight raids on the Gaza Strip killed at least 80 people and destroyed more than 30 homes.
In central Gaza's Deir al-Balah, an AFP journalist saw the bodies of children lie on the bloodied floor of a morgue.
A man clutched his dead toddler and people wept as they identified the bodies of their relatives.
Israel has warned more than one million residents of northern Gaza to move south for their safety, and the UN says more than half of the territory's population is now internally displaced.
Hundreds of thousands of civilians are believed to remain in and around Gaza City in the north, unwilling or unable to leave.
Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian on Sunday said that if the United States and Israel "do not immediately stop the crime against humanity and genocide in Gaza, anything is possible at any moment and the region will go out of control".
US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said on Saturday that he had ordered the deployment of a second carrier strike group in the eastern Mediterranean and additional Patriot battalions.
The Pentagon said the move aimed to defend US ally Israel amid what it called "escalations by Iran" and its proxies across the region.
It also said it was notifying additional troops to "prepare to deploy orders" without specifying how many or when they could be dispatched.
A ground invasion poses myriad challenges for Israeli troops, who are likely to face Hamas booby traps and tunnels.
"Gaza is densely populated, the enemy is preparing a lot of things there -- but we are also preparing for them," chief of staff Lieutenant General Herzi Halevi told one infantry brigade on a front-line visit.
Israel must also weigh the safety of the 212 hostages it says were abducted by the militants.
After negotiations and US pressure, food, water and medicine -- but no fuel -- entered Gaza from Egypt on Saturday before the crossing closed again.
More aid must arrive sustainably and safely, UNICEF spokesman Jonathan Crickx told AFP.
The head of the UN agency for Palestinian refugees said fuel supplies would run in out three days.
"Without fuel, there will be no humanitarian assistance," said Philippe Lazzarini.
A peace summit in Egypt on Saturday ended without a joint statement, as Western officials demanded a clear condemnation of Hamas and Arab attendees issued their own statement criticising world leaders.
Pope Francis pleaded for peace and humanitarian aid during his weekly Angelus prayer in Rome.
War is always a defeat, it is a destruction of human fraternity. Brothers, stop!
Inside Gaza, shellshocked residents were left homeless and unsure where to go next as plumes of smoke billowed from sites targeted by Israeli strikes.
Om Ahmad Abu Sanjar was sleeping in her Rafah home when she "woke up to the glass shattering on us and bricks falling".
"We got out miraculously," she told AFP.
The scale of the bombing has left basic systems unable to function, with the UN reporting dozens of unidentified bodies were buried in a mass grave in Gaza City because cold storage had run out.
Across the border in Israel's Kibbutz Beeri, where Hamas militants killed 10 percent of the population, funerals will be held Sunday.
Romy Gold, 70, said residents were still struggling to comprehend the attack.
"Around us whole families were shot or butchered or burned alive," he told AFP.
The ground invasion of Gaza "cannot come fast enough", he added.
Something needs to be done.
The conflict has sparked fresh violence in the West Bank, where Israeli raids and settler attacks have killed dozens of Palestinians.
Israel's military said Sunday it killed "terror operatives" in an air strike on a mosque in Jenin.
The Palestinian health ministry said two men were killed in the strike.
Fresh fire was also exchanged across Israel's border with Lebanon, as Israel's military warned the group and Hamas ally Hezbollah was "dragging Lebanon into a war".
Western leaders have warned Hezbollah against intervening in the conflict, but the group's number two said it was ready to step up involvement.
Israel has evacuated dozens of northern communities, and nearly 4,000 people in Lebanon have fled border areas for the southern city of Tyre.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)