Israel Hamas live updates: Israel steps up Gaza strikes, aid flows through Rafah

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‘Heartbreaking’ life-or-death decisions for Gaza’s doctors

Hospitals across the Gaza Strip are scrounging for fuel stocks to keep the lights on in critical wards and continue to save the lives of the relentless stream of wounded patients.

Serious shortages in other supplies, including ventilators, are forcing medical teams to prioritise the lives of those who can be saved for certain over severe cases that require complex care, said Dr Mohammed Qandeel, who works in the Nasser Hospital in Khan Younis.

A Palestinian child, wounded in the Israeli bombardment of the Gaza Strip, is brought to a hospital in Khan Younis.Credit: AP

“It’s heartbreaking,” he told The Associated Press. “Every day, if we receive 10 severely injured patients, we have to manage with maybe three or five ICU beds available.

“We have to choose who must face death, or manage them in regular wards or do some limited care because we think as a medical team, between two patients in a life-threatening situation, we have to give the ventilator to the patient who has a higher chance of improving in 24 hours.”

Many departments in the hospital are plunged in darkness as medical staff allow electricity only in critical departments where patients risk death without it.

The World Health Organisation says Gaza’s Health Ministry is reporting that its daily use of medical consumables during the war is equivalent to its monthly consumption before the war.

The report said “an imminent public health catastrophe looms” in the setting of mass displacement, overcrowding of shelters and damage to the water and sanitation infrastructure.

India on Sunday sent nearly 6.5 tonnes of medical aid and 32 tonnes of disaster relief supplies to Palestinians.

US expects Israel-Hamas war to escalate through Iran proxies

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin on Sunday said the United States expects the Israel-Hamas war to escalate through involvement by proxies of Iran and asserted that the Biden administration is prepared to respond if American personnel or armed forces become the target of any such hostilities.

“This is not what we want, not what we’re looking for. We don’t want escalation,” Blinken said. “We don’t want to see our forces or our personnel come under fire. But if that happens, we’re ready for it.”

The US is concerned the conflict could escalate with the involvement of Iranian proxies.Credit: Getty

Austin, echoing Blinken, said: “what we’re seeing is a prospect of a significant escalation of attacks on our troops and our people throughout the region.”

He said the US has the right to self-defence “and we won’t hesitate to take the appropriate action.”

Blinken, who recently spent several days in the region, spoke of a “likelihood of escalation” while saying no one wants to see a second or third front to the hostilities between Israel and Hamas, which rules Gaza.

He said he expects that “escalation by Iranian proxies directed against our forces, directed against our personnel, and added: “We are taking steps to make sure that we can effectively defend our people and respond decisively if we need to.” Iran is an enemy of Israel.

Israel has traded fire with Lebanon’s Hezbollah militant group on a near-daily basis since the war began, and tensions are soaring in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, where Israeli forces have battled militants in refugee camps and carried out two airstrikes in recent days.

Blinken, appearing on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” noted that additional military assets had been deployed to the region, including two aircraft carrier battle groups, “not to provoke, but to deter, to make clear that if anyone tries to do anything, we’re there.”

US President Joe Biden, repeatedly has used one word to warn Israel’s enemies against trying to take advantage of the situation: “Don’t.”


Pope renews appeal for humanitarian aid and release of hostages in Gaza

Pope Francis has renewed his appeal for the free flow of humanitarian aid to Gaza and for the release of the hostages, saying “every war is really a defeat.”

Speaking after Sunday’s Angelus prayer, Pope Francis expressed his concern and grief over what is happening in Israel and Palestine, the Vatican News reported.

“I am very concerned, grieved. I pray and I am close to all those who are suffering, the hostages, the wounded, the victims and their families,” he said.

Pope Francis pauses during an interview with AP at The Vatican on January 24, 2023.Credit: AP

Welcome to our rolling coverage of the conflict

Good morning, I am Melissa Cunningham and I will bring you the latest developments in Tel Aviv and Gaza. A quick summary of where things stand:

  • Israeli warplanes have struck targets across the Gaza Strip as well as two airports in Syria and a mosque in the occupied West Bank.
  • An Israeli missile attack targeted Damascus and Aleppo international airports early on Sunday.
  • At least 130 premature babies are at grave risk because of lack of fuel at Gaza hospitals, the United Nations health agency said.
  • The US will send new anti-aircraft defence systems to the Middle East as Israel and the US face more drone attacks.
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