The Israeli army reported on Sunday that it had uncovered an expansive Hamas tunnel while continuing its offensive in Gaza, despite increasing international appeals for a ceasefire and calls from families to bring back remaining hostages.
The discovery of the largest Hamas tunnel to date was announced by Israel near the Erez border crossing, with the tunnel being large enough to accommodate small vehicles, as per an AFP photographer’s account. Israel estimated the tunnel’s cost to be in the millions and revealed that it took years to construct, featuring infrastructure such as rails, electricity, drainage, and a communications network.
The conflict in Gaza originated on October 7 when Hamas militants breached the high-security border fence, leading to the most severe attack on Israel. The updated Israeli figures indicate that the attack resulted in the death of 1,139 people, predominantly civilians, and the abduction of approximately 250 individuals. The Israeli army has reported the loss of 121 soldiers in the ground operations accompanying continuous aerial and artillery bombardments that began later in October.
Despite global concerns over the devastating impact of the bloodiest Gaza war, Israel has expressed its commitment to continue the fight until Hamas is eradicated, hostages are freed, and Gaza is no longer a “center for terrorism,” according to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna, visiting Tel Aviv, joined the growing list of envoys calling for an “immediate and durable” truce, emphasizing the significant civilian casualties.
Pope Francis deplored the death of a Christian mother and daughter reportedly shot by an Israeli soldier at Gaza’s only Catholic church. The United Nations estimates that approximately 80% of Gaza’s population, or 1.9 million people, have been displaced by the war, facing challenges related to food, water, medicine, and communications outages.
The Gaza war has also witnessed violence escalating in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, where Israeli forces reportedly killed five Palestinians at a refugee camp. The broader repercussions of the conflict include increased tensions on Israel’s northern border with Lebanon, regular exchanges of fire between Israeli forces and Iran-backed Hezbollah militants, and attacks by Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthi rebels on vessels in the Red Sea shipping zone.
While diplomatic efforts are underway to renew a humanitarian pause, Hamas, via Telegram, expressed its opposition to negotiations for the exchange of prisoners until the complete cessation of aggression against its people.
The Israeli government, facing pressure from various quarters, including the United States, and families of hostages, is urged to reconsider or halt the military campaign. The conflict has resulted in the inadvertent killing of three hostages, adding to the emotional toll on their grieving families. One freed hostage, Raz Ben-Ami, shared the hardships endured during captivity, including daily humiliation and inadequate living conditions.
As the conflict unfolds, there are concerns about its potential to escalate into a broader Middle East conflict, with repercussions seen in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, Lebanon, and the Red Sea shipping zone. The situation remains dynamic, with ongoing diplomatic efforts to address the humanitarian crisis and achieve a lasting truce.