The Containment Conundrum

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Israeli warplanes struck targets across Gaza, southern Lebanon, airports in Syria and a mosque in the West Bank over the weekend and into Monday, as the war with Hamas threatened to spiral into a broader conflict, the Associated Press reported.

Israel has traded fire with Lebanon’s Hezbollah militant group since the war began on Oct. 7 with attacks by Hamas on Israel. But now, tensions are rising in the West Bank, where Israeli forces have battled militants in refugee camps and carried out several airstrikes in recent days.

At the same time, Israel has over the past week been setting the stage for a ground offensive in Gaza with tanks and troops massed at the border, the newswire wrote.

Israel’s military said it had increased airstrikes across Gaza to hit targets that would reduce the risk to troops in the next stage of the war. Hamas, meanwhile, said it fought with Israeli forces near Khan Younis in southern Gaza and destroyed a tank and two bulldozers.

Also, aid began trickling into besieged Gaza over the weekend, Reuters reported. Even so, the United Nations appealed for more aid Sunday after about 40 trucks were allowed to cross the Egyptian border into Gaza in two days. The goods delivered through the Rafah crossing were equivalent to just 4 percent of Gaza’s daily imports before recent hostilities, the UN said.

Aid officials said far more aid was needed to address the spiraling humanitarian crisis in Gaza, where half the territory’s 2.3 million people have fled their homes and have been living without food, water, fuel electricity or medical supplies due to the Israeli siege.

At the same time, casualties are mounting in Gaza. Heavy airstrikes were reported across the enclave on Sunday and Monday, the AP reported, including in the southern part, where Israel has told civilians to seek refuge. Airstrikes also smashed through the marketplace in the Nuseirat refugee camp.

Since Oct. 7, more than 1,400 people in Israel have been killed and at least 212 were captured and dragged back to Gaza.

More than 4,600 people have been killed in Gaza, according to the Health Ministry.

Syrian state media reported that Israeli airstrikes hit international airports in the capital, Damascus, and the northern city of Aleppo, killing one person and putting the runways out of service.

Israel has carried out several strikes in Syria since the war began, the military said, to prevent Hezbollah and other militants from bringing in arms from Iran, which also supports Hamas.

Meanwhile, Israel struck southern Lebanon, where Hezbollah said six fighters were killed Saturday, the AP reported separately.

In the Israeli-occupied West Bank, 93 Palestinians have been killed in clashes with Israeli troops, arrest raids and attacks by Jewish settlers since the Hamas attacks, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry. Israeli forces have closed crossings into the territory and checkpoints between cities, measures they say are aimed at preventing attacks. Israel says it has arrested more than 700 Palestinians since Oct. 7, including 480 suspected Hamas members.

Among the dead were two killed in an airstrike on a mosque in the town of Jenin, which has seen heavy gun battles over the past year, with the Israeli Defense Force saying the compound was being used by Hamas and other militants.

Also over the weekend, hundreds of thousands protested around the world, with 100,000 pro-Palestinian protesters in London marching against the war, and protesters across the Muslim world – from Tunisia to Turkey to Malaysia – calling for an end to the Israeli bombardment of Gaza. In Berlin, more than 10,000 demonstrated against anti-Semitism which has seen a sharp rise across Western Europe over the past two weeks.

Meanwhile, Egypt and Jordan harshly criticized Israel over its actions in Gaza at a summit in Cairo on Saturday, a sign that the two Western allies that made peace with Israel decades ago are losing patience with its two-week-old war against Hamas, PBS reported.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi, who hosted the summit, again rejected any talk of driving Gaza’s 2.3 million Palestinians into the Sinai Peninsula and warned against the “liquidation of the Palestinian cause.” Jordan’s King Abdullah II called Israel’s siege and bombardment of Gaza “a war crime.”

The speeches reflected growing anger in the region, even among those with close ties to Israel who have often worked as mediators, as the war enters a third week with casualties mounting and no end in sight.

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