Israeli President Isaac Herzog has suggested the need for a continued strong presence in Gaza to prevent the resurgence of the Hamas militant group after the recent conflict. However, US President Joe Biden has cautioned against occupying Gaza, emphasizing the importance of a two-state solution for the Israel-Palestinian conflict. Herzog mentioned ongoing discussions within Israel’s government on post-war governance in Gaza, expecting involvement from the United States and regional neighbors. Meanwhile, Biden criticized Hamas for locating military headquarters under Gaza’s largest hospital, Al Shifa, and reiterated the importance of freeing hostages without direct US military intervention. The United Nations Security Council called for humanitarian pauses, while Israel has maintained its blockade of Gaza and rejected ceasefire calls. Qatar is mediating potential negotiations for a truce involving the release of captives by both sides.
Amidst these developments, the Israeli military’s focus remained on Al Shifa hospital, where they claimed Hamas had stored weapons and operated a command center in tunnels beneath the buildings. Israeli troops entered the hospital, leading to a search that uncovered automatic weapons, grenades, ammunition, and flak jackets, according to the army.
President Biden condemned Hamas for committing war crimes by situating military headquarters under a hospital and stressed the importance of precision and caution in Israeli actions. The military, however, made no mention of finding tunnel entrances in Al Shifa, despite previous assertions about a network of tunnels.
The situation escalated as Israeli forces raided the Shifa complex for the second time in 24 hours, deploying bulldozers and military vehicles, according to Palestinian news sources. Reports from the Hamas-affiliated Shehab news agency indicated that Israeli tanks raided Al Shifa from the southern side, with gunfire heard in the area.
The conflict, which began with an attack by Hamas on October 7, prompted Israel to enforce a strict blockade on Gaza and initiate an aerial bombardment and ground offensive. Palestinian authorities reported around 11,500 casualties, including approximately 40% children, with many more trapped under rubble. Israel has ordered the evacuation of the northern half of Gaza, leaving a significant portion of the population homeless.
In response to the crisis, the United Nations Security Council called for urgent humanitarian pauses in fighting and the unconditional release of all hostages held by Hamas. However, Israel has rejected calls for a ceasefire, asserting that it would benefit Hamas. Negotiations for a truce, mediated by Qatar, are reportedly underway, with discussions involving the release of captives by both sides. The situation remains complex and sensitive, with regional and international actors navigating diplomatic efforts to address the ongoing conflict.