Israeli forces conducted a raid on the Jalazone refugee camp in the West Bank, resulting in two casualties, according to the Palestinian health ministry. In a joint statement, President Biden and European leaders expressed their support for Israel and called for the protection of civilians. Additionally, a second aid convoy has reached Gaza. Concerns are mounting that the conflict between Israel and Hamas could escalate further with the possibility of a ground offensive.
In the early hours of Monday, Israel carried out air strikes on Gaza, while also targeting southern Lebanon with airstrikes overnight. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu convened a meeting with his top generals and war cabinet to assess the situation and discuss the escalating conflict.
Reports from Palestinian media indicate that Israel focused its attacks on the center and north of Gaza Strip. A strike near the Jabalia refugee camp in northern Gaza resulted in the deaths of several Palestinians and injuries to others. Meanwhile, in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, two Palestinians were killed at the Jalazone refugee camp. The Palestinian health ministry reported that Israeli forces conducted a raid on the camp, leading to widespread arrests and clashes with gunmen and youths who threw stones.
Health authorities in Gaza have reported that at least 4,600 people have been killed during Israel's two-week bombardment, which began after an October 7 rampage by Hamas on southern Israeli communities, resulting in 1,400 deaths and the detention of 212 hostages.
Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh and Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian discussed means to halt Israel's "brutal crimes" in Gaza during a call on Sunday, according to a statement from Hamas.
Israel has amassed tanks and troops near the fenced border surrounding Gaza in preparation for a planned ground invasion aimed at eradicating Hamas. Concerns have risen that the Israel-Hamas conflict may expand into a wider Middle East conflict, prompting Washington to warn of a significant risk to U.S. interests in the region. The United States has also announced the deployment of advanced air defenses.
The Pentagon has already sent a substantial naval force to the Middle East, including two aircraft carriers, support ships, and approximately 2,000 Marines, to deter attacks by Iran-affiliated forces. U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin expressed concerns about a significant escalation of attacks on troops and people throughout the region.
China's Middle East special envoy Zhai Jun, currently visiting the region, expressed worries about the increasing risk of a large-scale ground conflict and spillover conflicts in the area, according to Chinese state media.
Iranian security officials disclosed to Reuters that Iran's strategy is for its Middle East proxies, like Hezbollah, to carry out limited strikes on Israeli and U.S. targets, while avoiding a major escalation that would draw in Tehran.
In Syria, where Iran has a military presence and acts as Hamas' main regional supporter, Israeli missiles struck Damascus and Aleppo international airports early on Sunday, resulting in their closure and the deaths of two workers, as reported by Syrian state media.
Along Israel's northern border with Lebanon, the Iran-backed Hezbollah group has clashed with Israeli forces, supporting Hamas. This marks the deadliest escalation of frontier violence since the Israel-Hezbollah war in 2006.
Early on Monday, Israeli aircraft targeted two Hezbollah cells in Lebanon that were planning to launch anti-tank missiles and rockets towards Israel, according to the Israeli military. Israel's military also reported striking other Hezbollah targets, including a compound and an observation post. Hezbollah confirmed the death of one of its fighters, without providing further details. The Israeli military stated that seven troops have been killed on the Lebanese border since the start of the current conflict.
As violence intensifies along heavily guarded borders, Israel has expanded its evacuation contingency plan to include 14 communities near Lebanon and Syria.
MORE AID ARRIVES IN GAZA
Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh called on the international community to unite in order to halt Israel's attacks in Gaza and facilitate the urgently needed assistance, which has only begun to trickle in. On Sunday night, a second convoy consisting of 14 aid trucks entered the Rafah crossing, heading towards the besieged Gaza Strip. In a call between U.S. President Joe Biden and Benjamin Netanyahu, they affirmed that there would be a continued flow of critical assistance into Gaza, as stated by the White House.
The volume of aid entering Gaza is only 4% of the previous daily average. This amount is insufficient to meet the escalating needs for food, water, medicines, and fuel stocks, which are rapidly depleting. To address the situation, President Biden has intensified his diplomatic efforts by engaging in calls with leaders such as Netanyahu, Pope Francis, and the heads of Canada, France, Britain, Germany, Italy, and Britain. The objective is to facilitate the delivery of aid to Gaza and prevent the conflict from spreading further.
In a joint statement, these leaders expressed their support for Israel's right to self-defense. They also emphasized the importance of upholding international humanitarian law, particularly in regards to safeguarding civilians.
Additionally, Prime Minister Netanyahu held a phone conversation with the leaders of France, Spain, and the Netherlands. Furthermore, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte is scheduled to visit Israel on Monday, while French President Emmanuel Macron will visit on Tuesday.
This report includes contributions from Nidal al-Mughrabi in Gaza, Emily Rose in Jerusalem, as well as the Washington and Jerusalem bureaus. The writing was done by Phil Stewart, with editing by Lisa Shumaker, Michael Perry, and Miral Fahmy.