After thirty-five days since the Hamas attacks in Israel, the conflict in the Gaza Strip is escalating. Recent reports indicate increased hostilities near important medical facilities, along with growing international reactions and political statements. Here are the latest updates on the ongoing conflict:
The conflict centers around hospitals: Hamas officials and Palestinian media have reported fighting around Gaza’s Shifa Hospital, which Israel claims is a Hamas command center, as well as the Rantisi Hospital. The Times of Israel adds that Shifa Hospital, allegedly located above Hamas’s headquarters, is now surrounded. Al Jazeera reports that Israel has bombed buildings in Al-Shifa Hospital five times since Thursday night, according to Gaza’s Health Ministry spokesperson, Ashraf al-Qudra.
The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) have renewed calls for evacuation, surrounding the two key hospitals in Gaza City. On Thursday, Israel agreed to daily four-hour pauses in operations to allow for civilian evacuations and increased humanitarian aid from Egypt, as confirmed by the White House.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has stated that there will be no ceasefire without the release of hostages held by Hamas.
International responses and condemnations: The conflict has garnered strong international responses. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, during his visit to New Delhi, condemned the civilian death toll in Gaza and emphasized the need to minimize harm to Palestinians. Catherine Russell, the head of UNICEF, called for the unconditional release of all hostages. Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman called for an end to the war and the forced displacement of Palestinians during the Saudi-Africa summit in Riyadh.
The Biden administration is facing warnings from American diplomats in Arab countries regarding the consequences of its strong support for Israel’s military campaign in Gaza.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has reiterated his readiness to govern the Gaza Strip after the conflict. However, he stated that this would only be possible as part of a broader political solution, including the establishment of a Palestinian State along the 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital. In contrast, Israel has declared its intention to maintain security control over Gaza indefinitely after its military campaign against Hamas.
Market reactions on Friday: The Israeli shekel weakened by 1.2%. The Tel Aviv 125, Israel’s primary stock index, experienced a decline of 0.6%. The iShares MSCI Israel ETF saw a substantial fall, closing 1.7% lower. Stock futures indicated an uptrend, with both the S&P 500 and Nasdaq 100 index futures up by 0.3%. Treasury yields saw a slight relaxation, with the 30-year yield dropping by 5 basis points to 4.72%. The iShares 20+ Year Treasury Bond ETF finished 2.3% lower on Thursday.