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Israeli Defense Minister orders full siege of Gaza “No power, no food, no gas”

Palestinians inspect the ruins of Watan Tower destroyed in Israeli airstrikes in Gaza city, on October 8, 2023. (Photo: Naaman Omar/APA Images)

  • Palestinian Ministry of Health (as of 11:00 am local time): 493 killed in Gaza including 91 children; 16 killed in West Bank including three children
  • UN OCHA: More than 17,500 families, comprising over 123,538 people, have been internally displaced in Gaza
  • Israel continues massing for invasion, 300,000 reservists called up
  • U.S. orders aircraft carrier strike group to Mediterranean to assist Israel
  • Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant: “I ordered a full siege on the Gaza Strip. No power, no food, no gas, everything is closed. We are fighting human animals and we act accordingly.”

Fighting between Israel and Palestinian resistance factions, led by Hamas in Gaza, continued into their third day on Monday, with the violence continuing to expand across occupied Palestine, particularly in the West Bank and Jerusalem.

As of Monday morning local time, the death toll inside Gaza had surpassed 493, with more than 2,700 injuries, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health. Israeli media have quoted Israeli military sources saying that its forces have killed “hundreds more” Palestinian fighters and Gazans who broke through the Israeli barrier on Saturday during gun battles inside Israeli territory. The Israeli death toll also continued to skyrocket, with official sources reporting at least 700 deaths and over 2,380 injuries, though the number is expected to continue climbing.

Meanwhile in the West Bank, the death toll rose to 15 Palestinians
killed by Israeli gunfire since Saturday, with eight Palestinians killed
between Sunday evening and Monday morning. On Sunday night the Israel army announced widespread closures across the West Bank, with some Palestinian outlets reporting that the lockdown could last for two weeks.

Israeli air forces continued its bombing campaign of the Gaza Strip overnight on Monday, with locals in Gaza saying the bombardment has been “nonstop” since Israel launched “Operation Iron Swords” on Saturday morning.

According to the latest reports from the UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), more than 17,500 Palestinian families, comprising over 123,538 people, have been internally displaced in Gaza since Israel’s bombardment began.

The majority Palestinians in Gaza, who number more than two million, are facing prolonged blackouts, as Israel continues to cut power to the majority of the strip. On Monday Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said in a statement that he “ordered a full siege on the Gaza Strip. No power, no food, no gas, everything is closed. We are fighting human animals and we act accordingly.”

Gaza has been under complete Israeli siege since 2007, with Israel controlling the land and sea borders, as well as air space around Gaza, controlling the movement of people and goods in and out of the Strip.

The events on Saturday morning, when Hamas launched “Operation Al Aqsa Flood”, marked the first time in 16 years since Gazans successfully broke through Israel’s siege, breaching several areas along the highly militarized Israeli border fence, as well as temporarily taking control of Israeli-controlled pedestrian and commercial crossings into the Strip.

As of Monday afternoon local time, Israeli airstrikes on Gaza were ongoing, with the Israeli army announcing “widespread” airstrikes across Gaza around 1:15 pm local time. The spokesperson for the armed wing of Hamas, the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, said in a statement that Israeli airstrikes killed four Israeli captives in Gaza, along with a number of fighters.

Palestinian rocket fire also continued to be reported on Monday, with at least one rocket landing in an area near the Ben Gurion Airport, though no injuries or damages were reported, Israeli media said. Rockets also landed in the southern Israeli city of Ashdod, injuring a number of Israelis.

Reports indicated the Israeli electricity and petroleum plant in the southern city of Ahkelon had caught fire following a barrage of rocket fire from Gaza. Also on Monday afternoon, the Al-Qassam Brigades revealed “Mutabar-1″its locally-made air defense system which it says it has used during “Operation Al Aqsa Flood”.

Gaza destruction

Israeli airstrikes pounded the Gaza Strip overnight Monday and into the morning and afternoon, with dozens of airstrikes reported across the Strip. While Israel claims it is targeting Hamas posts across the Strip, Palestinians on the ground say that the Israeli bombardment has targeted entire residential buildings, schools, mosques, as well as open markets in Gaza.

Among the targets on Monday were the Rafah and Khan Younis areas of the southern Gaza Strip, as well as the Jabalia refugee camp in the northern strip, one of the most crowded refugee camps in Gaza. According to local reports, more than 50 Palestinains were killed in a single round of airstrikes on the refugee camp just before 2:00 p.m. local time on Monday afternoon. Over 120 more people were injured.

Inside the al-Shujaiyya neighborhood close to the eastern border of Gaza, Palestinians described the situation as “frightening.” At the entrance of the neighborhoods, dozens of cars, loaded up with peoples furniture were seen trying to evacuate the neighborhood. Families evacuated the neighborhood en masse after witnessing a “terrifying night” of relentless airstrikes targeting the neighborhood and surrounding areas.

Locals told Mondoweiss that they were forced to change their mind about sheltering in place, after hearing the relentless screams of their neighbors and people in the streets overnight. Dust and rubble filled the homes of residents of eastern Gaza, as airstrikes pounded areas close to the borders.

Mondoweiss correspondent Tareq Hajjaj said that he went back to his home in al-Shujaiyya on Monday morning after evacuating with his family on Sunday afternoon. He described complete destruction, saying that a bomb had dropped around 15 meters away from his home.

“My home was full of dust and black smoke. I couldn’t stay for more than a few minutes. I left without even locking my home,” Hajjaj said. “The sounds and the smoke that rises after every bomb gives people the feeling that this will be the last moment of their lives.”

“I have lived through more than five wars so far. This is the most devastating I have seen so far,” Hajjaj said. “People are running with their children and bags of whatever they could salvage from their homes, as dust continues to rise around them.”

According to UNRWA, more than 74,000 Palestinians are sheltering in the agency’s schools across the Gaza Strip. At least one school in the al-Shati refugee camp in Gaza was targeted by an Israeli airstrike, though no one was hurt.

The Ministry of Health has called on doctors and nurses to volunteer. The main hospital in Gaza, al-Shifa hospital released a statement saying it is facing a significant shortage of power, medical supplies, and staff.

Battles in ‘Gaza envelope’ continues, calls for emergency Israeli unity government

Early Monday afternoon the Israeli military said it had “regained control of all Gaza border towns” that had been temporarily captured by fighters from Gaza over the weekend, but that its forces were still searching for Palestinian fighters that remained inside various locales inside southern border towns.

Contradictory to Israel’s claims that it had regained control over all the border towns, local reports from Palestinian media and Telegram channels indicated that armed clashes between Palestinian fighters and Israeli forces were ongoing in at least two locations, Zikim and Sderot.

Just a few hours prior, the Israeli military was still battling Palestinian fighters in the border town of Sderot, where some of the fiercest fighting took place over the weekend, Israeli media reported.

According to an Israeli army spokesman, the fighting has largely stopped in the several towns that had been taken by Palestinian fighters, and that the army had evacuated 15 out of 24 towns on the Gaza border. More towns are expected to be evacuated in the coming days.

Since Saturday the Israeli army has also drafted 300,000 reservists, the quickest mobilization of reservists in Israeli history, an army spokesperson said.

As the Israeli Security Cabinet officially announced a state of war on Sunday, Israel’s political echelon continued talks on Monday of forming an emergency unity government. According to Israeli media, certain members of Netanyahu’s right-wing coalition, like Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich, have called for the immediate formation of an emergency government with the opposition.

“Unity and cohesion are the imperative of the hour in order to defeat our enemies,” Smotrich said in a statement. “Never mind [negotiation] teams, and never mind negotiations.”

Opposition leader and former Netanyahu ally, Avigdor Liberman said on Sunday that his joining of the current government would be conditioned on Netanyahu, Defense Minister Yoav Galalnt, and others publicly announcing the intention to “eliminate the Hamas terror organization and all its terrorist leaders,” and that he would “not suffice with anything less,” Israeli media reported.

Members of Netanyahu’s own coalition, including National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir, echoed those same calls, saying he would only agree to a unity government if its “stated goal is the total defeat of Hamas and the shattering of its military and political might.”

While debates on the forming of a unit government continued, the U.S. announced Sunday that it was ordering the USS Gerald R. Ford aircraft carrier, along with its 5,000 U.S. sailors, deck of warplanes, cruisers and destroyers to sail to the eastern Mediterranean to “be ready to assist Israel.”

The USS Gerald Ford is the largest aircraft carrier in the world to date, and marks a significant show of strength and support on part of the US. Over the weekend, U.S. President Joe Biden also reportedly told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that the U.S. would also be sending weapons and munitions reinforcements, including additional bolstering of Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system, Al Jazeera reported.

Hamas released a statement following the announcement, saying it was a clear “aggression” against Palestinians. “The announcement of the U.S. that it will provide an aircraft carrier to support the occupation is actual participation in the aggression against our people,” the statement said.

Armed clashes erupt in West Bank, death toll rises

At least nine Palestinains were killed by Israeli forces in the West Bank between Sunday afternoon and Monday, with several instances of armed confrontations reported in various areas of the occupied territory.

According to the Ministry of Health, since Operation Al-Aqsa Flood began on Saturday, 16 Palestinians have been killed and more than 80 people have been injured.

On Sunday night protests erupted in the vicinity of the Qalandiya military checkpoint and the nearby Qalandiya refugee camp. As Israeli forces suppressed protests, armed Palestinian fighters also confronted Israeli soldiers, leading to a gun battle.

Local Palestinian media reported that a number of Palestinians were injured with live ammunition. Three Palestinians, including one minor, were killed during the confrontations on Sunday night, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health. They were identified as Mohammad Hmaid, 24, Amjad Khadeir, 36, and Yasser al-Kisba, 17. A fourth Palestinian, also a child, that was injured during the Qalandiya confrontations succumbed to his wounds early Monday morning, and was identified as 16-year-old Adam al-Joulani.

Between Sunday night and Monday afternoon, three Palestinians were killed in the Hebron district in the southern West Bank. On Sunday night, a Palestinian was killed during confrontations that erupted between local residents and armed Israeli soldiers in the city of Hebron. He was identified by Palestinian media as Mohammed Abdel-Rahman Zghayyar.

A second Palestinian was killed in the Hebron district on Monday morning, and was identified by the MOH as 18-year-old Rajeh Taha, who was reportedly killed as he allegedly attempted to break into the illegal settlement of Kiryat Arba using a tractor. Also on Monday, a Palestinian identified as 28-year-old Ahmed Khaled Abu Turki, 28, was shot and killed by Israeli forces after soldiers opened fire on his vehicle as he was driving near the city of Hebron. According to Palestinian Authority-owned Wafa news agency, soldiers reportedly attacked Wafa correspondents and other Palestinian journalists, broke their cameras, and opened fire on them in the Hebron area.

In the Jericho district, a Palestinian man was killed on Sunday after he was shot by Israeli forces during confrontations near the entrance of the city. He was identified as Abdel Halim Abu Sneina. Another Palestinian was killed in the Nablus district, in the town of Beita, according to the MOH. His identity remained unknown.

In-Depth: Beyond October

Ever since the Palestinian resistance launched its wide-ranging surprise attack, Israel struggled to push back the resistance fighters that continued to fight in the colonies bordering Gaza for over 48 hours. The blow this attack has dealt to the settler colony cannot be overstated: it is not only in the killing of over 800 Israeli colonists or the injury of thousands more, or in putting Israel in a state of war and bringing it to a standstill — but in the catastrophic loss of its superiority within the equation of deterrence. This also means that Israel is now gearing up to attempt to restore it, and is preemptively letting its Western allies know that it will go crazy in its response.

Already, PM Netanyahu has warned that Israel will “operate forcefully everywhere,” and that he spoke with President Biden and world leaders “in order to ensure freedom of action for Israel in the continuation of the campaign.” It hardly takes an expert to discern that this means Israel is demanding impunity for the wanton and indiscriminate massacres that it is already committing, and will continue to commit, in Gaza.

What it entails, it seems, is the objective of completely wiping out the Palestinian resistance in Gaza. This is at least what heads of state, politicians, and political pundits are declaring and calling for, and it’s what analysts from the Israeli security establishment are advocating.

Deterrence underlies every aspect of Israel’s security doctrine — from its regional calculation regarding regional actors and rivals, to its strategy of discouraging armed Palestinian resistance in the West Bank, and to its policy toward the resistance in Gaza. In large part, this deterrence is bolstered by the perception of an undefeated and invincible army, one that would use disproportionate force in order to discourage any challenge to its might. In the past 48 hours, that perception has been irrevocably shattered. The amount of carnage and destruction it will have to sow in order to regain it will be on a scale we have never seen before.

Yet such bloodshed is exactly what most “rational” and level-headed Israeli analysts are proposing — often using euphemistic language to conceal near-genocidal intentions, and, more often than not, saying it outright.

The “moderate” analysts from the security establishment have argued that the international legitimacy and sympathy that Israel is currently enjoying will allow it “freedom of offensive action” that would “enable high aggressiveness.” But because the nature of this international legitimacy has a time limit attached to it, they argue, “the Israeli blow needs to be swift, deep, and significant, to ensure important achievements before Israel has to face a host of pressures from the international community.”

These “pressures” are, of course, the belated international outcry against the carnage. Central to keeping such outcries contained and ineffectual is the continued U.S. commitment to granting Israel freedom to “react as it sees fit,” according to INSS director Tamir Hayman, who believes that U.S. support will only continue so long as Israel’s actions proceed according to a “national consensus” with a “clear and viable strategic purpose.”

What is that purpose? What we can glean so far from Israeli intentions is clouded by the fog of war, but one of the most prominent aims being publically promoted is no less than the destruction of Hamas’s military capabilities. Yet this objective, if it is to be truly realized beyond mere bluster, cannot be achieved with Israeli airpower and the imprecise and indiscriminate destruction it causes. A ground invasion of Gaza would have to be mobilized, and that would mean a fundamental change in Israel’s reigning military field strategy.

Wrestling with defeat

The eventuality of a ground invasion is not off the table. Hayman admits that “basic assumptions have collapsed,” and that a complete overhaul in military thinking is required to deal with the current reality. A part of that overhaul entails coming to terms with the fact that Israeli ground forces have grown weak, and that the cost it would have to pay in its soldiers’ lives during a ground invasion will be far beyond anything to which it has accustomed itself.

During the invasion of Jenin refugee camp last summer, an entire brigade of over 1,000 elite Israeli soldiers was marshaled to lead a limited invasion of the camp with the aim of avoiding close combat with Palestinian resistance fighters at all costs. This strategy, which has become the institutionalized military approach of the Israeli army, is based on what Abdaljawad Omar has called an “impossible criterion of zero tolerance for Israeli casualties.”

And the Qassam Brigades in Gaza are nothing like the resistance in Jenin. The Israeli army will lose entire units in any ground invasion it launches, but in order to truly restore deterrence, it might not have a choice in the matter. If that happens, all bets are off.

We can already see this newly emerging tendency in Israeli thinking, evident in the reflections on the failures that led to the resistance’s surprise attack — not only in the colossal security failure of being unable to uncover the plot, but in the complete inability to even fathom that Palestinians were capable of such a move. It was a failure of the imagination, born of colonial arrogance and the racist conviction that the natives had been cowed into submission.

What this meant in practice was that Israel was totally ill-equipped to deal with such a scenario, from the insufficient deployment of troops, to the disorganization and slow response time after the surprise attack, to inadequate transport arrangements to bring fighting forces to the front lines, and a host of other deficiencies resulting from the same mistaken delusion that Gaza had grown used to its prison.

The Israelis are now wrestling with this fatal mistake. Retired general Yaakov Amirdor said that it was a “huge failure of the intelligence system and the military apparatus in the south” due to the “stupidity” of assuming that Hamas was not interested in war — most recently displayed by National Security Adviser Tzachi Hanegbi’s statement that Hamas was “very, very restrained” in an interview with the Army Radio a week before the attack.

INSS senior researcher Kobi Michael said that the “colossal intelligence and operational failures” were the product of the “paradigm of restraint” and “addiction to calm” since 2009, which Israel would have to replace with “an iron sword and a confident hand.”

Liberal military analyst Amos Harel said it wasn’t simply the lack of intelligence or combat readiness that led to the failure: “the entire system simply collapsed,” which Harel maintains did not happen when Israel fought Hezbollah in 2006 or Egypt during its surprise attack on October 6, 1973. Yet the reason for this collapse wasn’t simply operational, but a “conceptual failure.” Harel quotes a senior reserve officer on this score, who said: “We convinced ourselves that Hamas is deterred and frightened, and that we’ll always have intelligence warnings in time. We thought we knew how to analyze their intention and thoughts.”

This is beyond the humiliation of October 1973 and the failure to anticipate the attack of the Egyptian state, which was supported by the Soviet Union and commanded an entire army of tanks, heavy artillery, and an airforce. This is the humiliation of October 2023, where Israel’s entire southern military and security apparatus crumbled before a few hundred resistance fighters, who descended from the skies on paragliders. The Israeli failure of imagination, based in racial and cultural perceptions of Arab inferiority and Jewish supremacism, was its most fatal error. Now, Israel is determined to make Gaza pay the price of its mistake.

Yumna Patel, Mondoweiss Palestine News Director

Yumna Patel, Palestine News Director

Articles / Twitter / Mastodon

Faris Giacaman, Mondoweiss Managing Editor

Faris Giacaman, Managing Editor


Tareq Hajjaj, Gaza Correspondent

Tareq Hajjaj, Gaza Correspondent

Articles / Twitter

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