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Civilian casualties only sustain cycle of violence: China Daily editorial | Updated: 2023-12-05 19:55
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A man carries a body of a victim after an Israeli strike in the southern Gaza Strip city of Rafah, on Dec 4, 2023. [Photo/Xinhua]

Palestinians have already been driven from northern Gaza to the south of the enclave as Israel bombed the northern part and put boots on the ground there. Having extended its military offensive to the south, the Israeli military operations will no doubt turn southern Gaza into a bloody slaughterhouse.

Israel's military offensive in Gaza, in retaliation for Hamas' abrupt attacks on Israel on Oct 7, has entered its second month. Yet, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu insisted on Saturday that his country's ground operation in Gaza must continue to ensure the release of hostages.

Netanyahu's government has already withdrawn its negotiation team from cease-fire talks with Hamas in Qatar, leaving little room and hope for further negotiations. This has fueled growing international concern that Israel's military apparatus is determined to exact retribution on the people in Gaza.

The World Health Organization said on Monday it had been forced to move supplies from a WHO medical warehouse in southern Gaza as the Israeli military's ground operations there made it inaccessible. WHO officials said the health sector in Gaza has undergone "a massive degradation" with 18 hospitals currently functioning well below capacity and down from 36 prior to the start of the current conflict.

Since Israel resumed military operations in Gaza, members of the world community have raised concerns and put intensive pressure on Israel to halt its punishment offensive, with the United Nations warning the situation in Gaza was becoming "more apocalyptic".

Israel consumed by rage, fear and loathing, and an internal blame game within its political circle for lapses that enabled the Oct 7 attacks, shows no signs that compassion will stay its vengeful hand. But even the United States, which has thrown its hat into the ring in support of Israel — as well as two aircraft carriers — has begun to put pressure on Israel as the situation in Gaza is no longer condonable by any blinkered loyalty or self-serving need. US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan saying that "too many innocent civilians have died in the Gaza conflict" has been the strongest censure of Israel by the US administration so far.

Influential stakeholders such as the US must ramp up the pressure on Israel to see sense. Its punishment of the Palestinians in Gaza is not conducive to its long-term security. Greater efforts are needed by the international community acting in consort to protect civilians in Gaza. More civilian casualties in Gaza will be a scar on the conscience of Israel and a terrible indictment of the world's impotence to prevent the barbarism that has characterized the conflict.

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