Update(1630ET): There's been more confirmation of the Israeli airstrikes on a densely populated refugee camp in Jabaliya neighborhood, which lies north of Gaza City. Israel's military has owned up to it, saying an important senior Hamas commander who helped plan the Oct.7 terror attack was eliminated. Al Jazeera is citing health sources at the nearby "Indonesian Hospital" to say that at least 50 Palestinians have been killed, mostly civilians, and that number is expected to rise. "Hundreds" are said to have been injured and killed in the attack, per Sky News.
But when an IDF spokesman was pressed by CNN's Wolf Blitzer over why Israel chose to attack even while knowing hundreds of civilians were there, he essentially explained that eliminating the Hamas commander was more important than safeguarding civilian lives (see exchange below). The New York Times has detailed of the massive strikes on the neighborhood area and refugee camp:
The Gaza Health Ministry, which is controlled by Hamas, said the Israeli strikes killed and wounded “hundreds” of people in the Jabaliya neighborhood, a statement that could not be immediately verified. A doctor at a nearby hospital said the facility was receiving hundreds of injured and that dozens were dead.
Israel’s military said in a statement that its fighter jets, in a “wide-scale” attack, had struck Hamas militants, including a commander who helped plan the Oct. 7 massacre that left 1,400 people dead, mostly civilians.
“His elimination was carried out as part of a wide-scale strike on terrorists and terror infrastructure belonging to the Central Jabaliya Battalion, which had taken control over civilian buildings in Gaza City,” the military said.
It reiterated a warning for Gazans to evacuate south, a call that came as Israeli ground troops and tanks pushed deeper into the Gaza Strip and were edging closer to the territory’s main city. More than half the population of two million people has been displaced since Israel expanded a blockade of the enclave in response to Hamas attacks that killed 1,400 people.
CNN's Wolf Blitzer: You knew that there were innocent civilians in that refugee camp, right?— Justin Baragona (@justinbaragona) October 31, 2023
IDF spox: This is the tragedy of war. We told them to move south.
Blitzer: So you decided to drop the bomb anyway.
IDF spox: We’re doing everything we can to minimize civilian deaths. pic.twitter.com/oAtW7jV0pc
World Health Organization head Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has said the loss of life in Gaza is reaching "staggering" numbers. He stated, "The number of civilian casualties in Gaza is staggering. The limited aid flow is a mere trickle of the growing needs. Without urgent, unrestricted access at scale, tragedy will continue unfolding before our eyes," he emphasized.
The White House has continued to reject calls for a ceasefire, in support of its Middle East partner Israel. However, the bad optics of the IDF's spokesman essentially shrugging off mass civilian death when pressed by Wolf Blitzer will only serve to increase the international pressure. When its not Putin or Assad doing it, it must be 'okay'... the message to the globe seems to be from Washington and the Western allies.
Pressure mounting on Israel, and no doubt the White House as Gaza deaths soar past 8,500
This is not self-defense. Unquestionably a war crime. pic.twitter.com/eyuHaoB8oE— Levent Kemal (@leventkemaI) October 31, 2023
* * *
Update(1323ET): Israel has admitted that this war will be long and costly, including in human lives on both sides. It has announced what the IDF says are its first troop casualties of the Gaza campaign which are being publicly disclosed by the military (there could be more that aren't publicly disclosed). Per Israeli media citing the Tuesday words of Defense Minister Yoav Gallant:
There are battles against the forces that are operating [in Gaza] and the results and achievements on the battlefield are very high,” he says.
“Unfortunately, in war, there are also prices, and the prices in the last day were heavy prices,” Gallant continues.
“Despite that, we are also determined to continue and win,” he adds.
The IDF has said that two soldiers were killed and two seriously injured in fierce fighting in Gaza today and that “numerous” terrorists were killed.
More tanks have been observed pouring into northern Gaza, as the scale of the operation continues to grow by the day.
🚨 WATCH: Commander's Battle Orders for Gaza Operation:— Mario Nawfal (@MarioNawfal) October 31, 2023
"We will fight in the alleys, and we will fight in the tunnels, we will fight where necessary and defeat the abominable enemy we are facing - the residents of Bari, Sderot, Nir Oz, and Kfar Gaza. The whole nation of Israel… https://t.co/KW1rLzzpEL pic.twitter.com/p4GGnYQ1z7
Missile fire and artillery exchanges have also continued on Israel's northern border, where Hezbollah has been claiming successful anti-tank operations.
Latest 🚨🚨🚨— 𝖂𝖆𝖖𝖆𝖘 𝕾𝖎𝖆𝖑 (@waqas_sial007) October 31, 2023
Hezbollah has announced an Attack today on Israeli Forces along the Border with Southern Lebanon, which is claimed to have resulted in the Targeting and Destruction of a Merkava Mark lll or lV Main Battle Tank.#Gaza #Israel #FreePalestine #غزة_تنتصر #حزب_اللہ pic.twitter.com/hIZhhpzsYn
A mass casualty event is also being widely reported after Israeli airstrikes flattened Jabalia refugee camp, as WSJ details based on eyewitness accounts:
Explosions rocked a densely populated area north of Gaza City on Tuesday, flattening whole housing blocs, leaving deep craters and sending hundreds of casualties to a hospital, where officials said there were scores of dead.
The blasts hit the Jabalia refugee camp, where the Israeli military has been conducting frequent airstrikes as its ground offensive to topple Hamas picks up speed. Hamas-led health authorities said the bombs were Israeli airstrikes that had left hundreds dead and injured. The Israeli military said it was checking reports of strikes in that area.
Video footage aired by Palestinian television networks and Al Jazeera showed hundreds of people digging through the rubble with their hands to extract bodies and survivors, many of them children.
A local hospital has said at least 50 people were killed in the blasts but expects the death toll to rise as more casualties come in.
A rare exchange for American MSM:
* * *
The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) has said Tuesday its troops are busy engaged in "fierce battles against Hamas terrorists deep in the Gaza Strip" and that multiple Hamas positions and anti-tank guided missile units have been destroyed.
A military statement also said troops had killed dozens of terrorists as tanks push deeper into northern and central Gaza, after yesterday tank units cut off a key north-south highway which links both halves of the Strip.
A statement from Hamas was cited in regional media as saying, "Israeli military vehicles are being seen on the Salahuddin Highway trying to move west," and affirmed that "Israeli forces also entered the strip from northwestern Gaza. Armored vehicles can now be seen in the al-Karam district north of Gaza City."
Amid ongoing airstrikes accompanying the ground invasion, the Palestinian death toll has surpassed 8,500 as of Tuesday. For the first time this has pushed the total number of people killed in the conflict from both sides near 10,000 - as more than 1,400 Israelis have been confirmed dead.
A fresh New York Times report has examined satellite imagery taken Monday morning which "shows the substantial scale of one of Israel’s main advances into northern Gaza, where hundreds of armored vehicles have pushed miles past the border into urban areas on the outskirts of Gaza City." According to more from the detailed report:
Israel has so far stopped short of the rapid and overwhelming ground assault that many analysts expected. But the imagery, taken on Monday morning by Planet Labs, a commercial satellite company, shows a significant invading force: many groups of dozens of armored vehicles cutting through open fields and amassing in urban spaces.
The image provides the clearest picture yet of how far one the main lines of Israel’s invasion has moved into Gaza and the destruction it has caused. Israeli vehicles are seen as far south as the neighborhood of Al Karama, north of Gaza City. Videos released by the Israeli military had previously shown lines of tanks operating near the border area.
Many nearby buildings appear to have been heavily damaged or completely destroyed by airstrikes. Hundreds of craters from airstrikes and shelling are visible, including in homes and on roads, and apartment blocks have been flattened.
Extensive piece by @Josh_H et al. @nytimes analysing satellite imagery taken today of Gaza.— Will Marshall (@Will4Planet) October 31, 2023
"A Detailed Satellite View of Israel’s Invasion" https://t.co/lsYwwMXRJa https://t.co/RXOSCMgUSX pic.twitter.com/E3hlJPQdcW
Israel has also said it has begun to attack Hamas militants inside the sprawling network of tunnels which forms the base of the group's operations in the Gaza Strip.
Regional tensions and the potential for the war to spread have grown after PM Netanyahu said in a Monday night address amid international calls for a ceasefire or at least humanitarian pause that, "Calls for a ceasefire or calls for Israel to surrender to Hamas, to surrender to terrorists, to surrender to barbarism, that will not happen."
He was also pressed by reporters over whether he would resign amid the growing scandal over Oct.7 intelligence and military preparedness failures. Netanyahu merely said he plans to "resign" Hamas: "We’re going to resign them to the dustbin of history. That’s my goal. That’s my responsibility."
Hamas' Qassam Brigades releases scenes of yesterday's clashes with Israeli forces invading west of Erez in the Gaza Strip. pic.twitter.com/AqXlPrbBDz— The Cradle (@TheCradleMedia) October 31, 2023
The UN is now warning that the war is spilling over into Syria, after Israel struck more targets in Syria and Lebanon overnight, and after Hezbollah fired more projectiles. Israel in the last two weeks has already struck Damascus and Aleppo international airports several times.
And related to regional tensions with Iran, Shia Houthi rebels in Yemen appear to have stepped up their threats and attacks aimed at Israel. The group's military spokesman on Tuesday announced a "third operation targeting Israel with more to come." A Houthi military spokesman has vowed there are more attacks to come in what amounts to a 'declaration of war'. According to Al Jazeera, a drone sent from Yemen made it to southern Israeli skies:
Yemen’s Houthi rebels claim to have launched a drone attack towards Israel’s southern city of Eilat in “retaliation” for the war in Gaza.
Israel reported having destroyed an unidentified “aerial target” over the Red Sea on Tuesday morning.
It was successfully intercepted, Israeli officials have said. "The incident triggered air raid sirens in the popular Red Sea tourist resort of Eilat and sent residents running for shelter," the Al Jazeera report continues, indicating further:
After an initial warning of a possible "hostile aircraft intrusion", the military said in a statement, its "systems identified an aerial target approaching Israeli territory".
#Eilat and Ramon Airport in north of this town were attacked again by missiles or drones of #Yemen's Ansar Allah. It should be noted that the Israeli media claimed that Saudi Arabia and Egypt helped Israel repel these attacks.— IWN (@A7_Mirza) October 31, 2023
Video: activity of air defense systems over Eilat. pic.twitter.com/wfT0JUNOsv
Yesterday at the UN, Israel's ambassador Gilad Erdan in a dramatic speech, which also saw his delegation wearing yellow star of David emblems and vowing "never again", ripped the "Nazi regime" of the Islamic Republic of Iran.
"Just like the Nazi regime, the Ayatollah's regime (in Iran) sows death and destruction everywhere it touches," the Israeli ambassador to the UN said. "The Islamic Nazi regime of Iran is responsible for aiding terrorists around the globe, and working toward destroying every value the civilized world holds dear. Today the world is watching the rise of a Shiite Islamic Reich. Yet just like the rise of Nazism, the world is deafeningly silent."
The stunt was met with criticism and pushback internationally, and especially from Yad Vashem (The World Holocaust Remembrance Center), whose chairman Dani Dayan had this to say...
"We were deeply saddened to witness members of the Israeli delegation to the UN donning yellow badges." He emphasized that such a move trivializes and dishonors the Holocaust and its victims, and harms the reputation of Israel itself.
Israel and the US have continued to ultimately blame Tehran for what its proxies are doing, particularly related to Hezbollah, paramilitaries in Syria, and now Houthis after it has sent a few rockets toward Israel in the last couple weeks (the first which was intercepted by a US warship off Yemen's coast).