Israel-Palestine war: First week ends with over 2,500 Palestinians, 1,400 Israelis killed
Good evening Middle East Eye readers,
As we come to an end of the first week of fighting between Israel and Palestinian groups, this blog will be signing off.
Another will take its place for week two of coverage. You can find it here.
As of Sunday, 15 October, at least 2,670 Palestinians in Gaza have been killed, including 724 children and 458 women. In the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, 56 people have been killed by Israeli fire.
Meanwhile, at least 1,400 people have been killed in Israel.
Currently, the Palestinian Civil Defence in Gaza estimates that there are around 1,000 people trapped in rubble created by Israel's campaign of indiscriminate bombardments.
Israel continues to promise that a ground invasion is imminent, and fighting shows no signs of cooling off. Middle East Eye will continue to bring our readers the most important updates as they are confirmed. Please be sure to follow our week two blog.
Aseel Moussa, a freelance journalist for Middle East Eye, is currently on the ground in Gaza where she met with Dr Hossam al-Madhoun, 29, at al-Aouda hospital, in the besieged enclave.
Dr al-Madhoun, who is from Tall al-Zaatar in Gaza, says that typically, in emergency situations, he works for one week and takes one week off, but due to the current circumstances, he has been working 10 days consecutively with no days off.
Al-Mahdoun tells Moussa that the current situation inside hospitals is "indescribable", and that all doctors are finding it hard to operate on people, particularly as six hospitals across Gaza have been rendered out of service due to Israel's bombing campaign.
"There is no doubt that the conditions are very difficult right now. Hospitals have collapsed because of the lack of capacity and tools. We have been operating on generators which are not fit to work for long hours," he says.
Al-Mahdoun also says that one of the most difficult things for him is when he sees children and babies die in front of him. And while he wants to fulfil his duty as a doctor, he is also constantly worrying about his family.
'My biggest fear'
Many doctors have to operate on their own family members who have been wounded in Israeli bombings, something he says "is my biggest fear". "I don't know if I would even be able to help them," he says.
Israel's siege on Gaza has had a disastrous impact on hospitals.
"We need around 60,000 litres of water for hospitals in Gaza every 24 hours and now we have little to nothing," al-Madhoun explains. "Solar panels are not enough."
"Generators need filters, oils and someone to turn them on every hour, but we don't even have these tools," he adds.
"Some patients will die if they don't receive treatment immediately. We also have babies who need urgent care. Everyone is exhausted and the generators could turn off at any second."
The doctor has called for humanitarian groups and international organisations to intervene and help people in Gaza.
"Patients have not been able to go to the toilet or drink water. We don't have any facilities to help anyone and the environment is not clean around us, making people prone to illness and the spread of disease," he explains, warning against a potential outbreak of infection.
"We have hundreds of wounded patients who need urgent surgery following Israel's bombing, and patients are now getting worse or dying because we can't help them. They are crowded in rooms and in the corridors and hallways of the hospital."
A pro-Palestine parliamentary group within the UK's Labour Party has described Israel's actions on Gaza as "war crimes", days after the party's leader came under fire for defending Israel's siege on the blockaded enclave.
Labour Friends of Palestine said in a statement on Sunday that Israel's air strikes, siege and forcible ejection of people in Gaza were "collective punishment of the Palestinian people".
"The continuous horrific devastation on innocent Palestinians in Gaza has so far left thousands dead including hundreds of children. International Law also applies to Israel," the group said.
Labour Friends of Palestine condemned Hamas and called for the release of Israeli hostages.
It also said that Israel's decision to shut down electricity, food, water and medical supplies would "tip Gaza into catastrophe".
"We were horrified to see the warning for 1.1m Palestinians to evacuate which, in our view, amounts to effective forcible transfer of half the population of Gaza," the group said.
The Israeli army said combat helicopters were striking southern Lebanon amid escalating cross-boundary fire.
The attacks were targeting "military infrastructure", the army said, while adding that ground troops are exchanging fire with armed men along the fence separating Israel and Lebanon.
Hamas has claimed responsibility for rockets fired from Lebanon at northern Israel earlier today.
The rockets triggered sirens to sound across northern Israel .
The rockets were fired by Hamas’ Lebanon branch, and were done “in response to the occupation’s crimes against our people in Gaza.”
There were not immediate reports of injuries or damage in Israel.
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi said that Israel's response to the Hamas attacks on 7 October amounted to "collective punishment" and transcended "self defence".
The comments were addressed to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in a televised meeting held in Cairo.
During the speech, Sisi also stated that he rejects the targeting of civilians.
Samah Jabr, a psychiatrist and the head of the mental health unit at the Palestinian health ministry, argues in a column for Middle East Eye that leading US psychiatric associations have published one-sided condemnations which have made them "accomplices of the oppression and killing of Palestinians".
"The statements by the world's leading psychiatric associations neglect the historical context and cast a blind eye to the besieged population in Gaza, half of whom are children. They make no mention of the horrific bombardment of the tiny enclave or what many rights groups are now calling a genocide against Palestinians," she writes.
"By the same token, the statements totally ignore the psychological impact and trauma of the occupation."
At least 12 journalists have been killed since the war began over a week ago, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).
Ten of them were Palestinian journalists killed by Israeli strikes, while one Israeli journalist was killed during Hamas's attack in southern Israel on 7 October.
Elsewhere, Beirut-based Reuters journalist Issam Abdallah was killed on Friday during an Israeli shelling attack in southern Lebanon.
"CPJ emphasises that journalists are civilians doing important work during times of crisis and must not be targeted by warring parties," said Sherif Mansour, CPJ's Middle East and North Africa programme coordinator.
"Journalists are making great sacrifices across the region covering this important conflict. Measures to ensure their safety must be taken by all parties to stop this deadly and heavy toll."
The corridors may be dimly lit, but the devastation that has engulfed Gaza's Dar al-Shifa hospital is on full display for the newly arriving wounded to see.
Doctors can be seen trying to navigate through a sea of injured Palestinians being treated on the floors, as groans and screams of pain ring out from different sides of the emergency room.
Hospital workers grab mops and start cleaning the blood-stained floor tiles between the wounded, as the strong smell of chlorine wafts through the air.
"Medical staff are treating the injured on the ground. Literally on the ground," a GP who previously worked at the Shifa hospital in Gaza, told MEE.
Sirens were sounded in several towns across northern Israel as local media reported Iran Dome defences being activated to intercept incoming rockets.
The possible rocket attack from Lebanon comes amid soaring tensions along the Israel-Lebanon frontier on Sunday.
An anti-tank missile was fired from Lebanon towards Israel on Sunday afternoon, the fifth such incident today amid Israeli shelling.
One person in Israel was killed earlier with five more wounded in later attacks, according to Israeli Channel 13.
Hezbollah claimed in the morning to have targeted an Israeli Merkava tank and caused casualties. The Israeli military has not commented on casualties among its forces.
Meanwhile, Israeli forces continued to carry out artillery attacks in southern Lebanon as tensions along the boundary spike.
Throughout the Gaza Strip, classrooms are packed with distressed Palestinians.
Schools run by Unrwa, the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, have become shelters for Palestinian families displaced by relentless Israeli bombing and an order to flee Gaza's north.
In an Unrwa school in al-Maghazi, a refugee camp in central Gaza for Palestinians displaced by the 1948 Nakba, the situation is dire.
Around 5,870 people, about 1,100 families, are taking shelter here. Of these, people running the shelter say, just over half are male.
Umm Yousef came here from al-Shati camp, which is by the sea.
"Now it has become more dangerous, and living there meant living in constant fear. Rockets fell around us day and night, and the sky was filled with the ominous hum of aircraft. We were warned to flee, so I took my children and left for al-Maghazi," she told Middle East Eye.
"The scene resembled a mass migration: trucks filled with families, mattresses, and the sounds of children," she said.
Israeli forces killed a 17-year-old Palestinian near the occupied West Bank city of Nablus on Sunday, according to the Palestinian health ministry.
Karam Ayman Dweikat became the 56th Palestinian killed by Israeli soldiers and settlers in the West Bank and East Jerusalem since the outbreak of war in Gaza on 7 October.
At least 15 children and one woman are among those killed.
A report by the New York Times revealed the level of coordination between Hamas, Iran and Hezbollah in the lead-up to the Palestinian surprise assault against Israel on 7 October.
According to sources close to Iranian officials, the newspaper reported on Friday that Iran and Hezbollah have been taking steps in the past year to increase coordination between Iranian-backed groups in the region.
Hassan Nasrallah, Hezbollah's chief, reportedly held an online meeting in March with those groups and told them to be ready for a large-scale confrontation with Israel. NYT did not specify if Hamas representatives were part of the meeting.
Nasrallah allegedly said in the meeting that the upcoming confrontation would be on a "scale that would mark a turning point in the decades-long Arab-Israeli conflict".
However, NYT said it was not clear if he was referring to the attack by Hamas last week.
In an April discussion involving members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, one speaker said Iran directed armed groups under its influence to "showcase a military manoeuvre to make the Zionist regime understand it is surrounded from every side".
According to the report, some believe Iran may have had some involvement in the Hamas attack but it was "not deep".
Iran has officially denied being involved saying it was all done by Palestinian groups. The United States and Israel say initial intelligence assessments show Iran was not involved.
A hospital in the furthest town in southern Gaza has been given an order by Israeli authorities to clear out, the hospital's director said.
'The world has failed but we will not leave our people alone'
- Palestinian doctor
Israel had ordered residents of northern Gaza, including hospital staff, to move south. When some people did move, they were bombed and killed. Now Israel is threatening to level hospitals in the south.
"Everyone in the hospital are civilian," said the director of the Kuwait Speciality Hospital, located in the town of Rafah at the nearest point to the Egyptian border.
"We will only leave the hospital to paradise," the doctor said.
"The world has failed but we will not leave our people alone."