Power goes out in Gaza, as Israel tightens siege and bombs the Palestinian territory
Israel carried out heavy bombardments across the Gaza Strip on Wednesday, as its military repeatedly hit the enclave following last weekend's deadly incursion by Hamas militants in Israel.
Eyewitnesses described widespread destruction of neighborhoods in Gaza City from the Israeli strikes. All of the Gaza Strip's borders are closed, leaving Palestinian civilians with nowhere to escape and around a tenth of Gaza's population of about 2.3 million people internally displaced seeking shelter. Gaza has been under a blockade by Israel and Egypt for 16 years.
The Biden administration said there are talks to create a safe corridor for civilians, echoing a call from the U.S. World Food Program to create emergency humanitarian corridors.
The army said in the past day there were still firefights between Hamas gunmen and Israeli soldiers. Hamas militants fired around 5,000 rockets in Israel. And the Israeli army said it's intensifying its attacks on Gaza and preparing for an unspecified next stage of the war, potentially a ground invasion of Gaza.
The death toll continued to climb in the Israel-Gaza war. Israeli media said at least 1,200 Israelis have been killed from the Hamas attacks. And Palestinian officials say at least 950 Palestinians in Gaza were killed, along with 1,000 Hamas militants inside Israel.
In Gaza, the enclave's sole power plant will run out of fuel within hours on Wednesday, said officials from Gaza's government. That is the only source of electricity for most people, and hospitals in Gaza using generators also are running low on fuel. Earlier this week, Israel said it would cut off all electricity to the territory after Hamas' bloody rampage over the weekend.
The first shipment of U.S. weapons arrived in Israel, as U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken is traveling to Israel to deliver a message of solidarity and support, the State Department announced.
On Tuesday, In Washington, President Joe Biden called Hamas' attack on Israel "pure unadulterated evil" and promised to "make sure Israel has what it needs to take care of itself."
Biden said that 14 Americans had been killed in Israel and more than 20 were missing. In an interview on NPR's All Things Considered, National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said there are some Americans among dozens of those held hostage by Hamas but called it "a very small number of Americans that we know of."
"There's also a larger number of Americans that are just unaccounted for. Now, some of them could turn up to be in the hostage pool. We just don't know. So, we're, we're trying to get as much information as we can," Kirby said.
The bloodshed began on the Jewish Simchat Torah holiday, and a day after the 50th anniversary of the start of the Yom Kippur War, when Israel came under attack by Arab countries.
The Palestinian militant group Hamas, which took control of Gaza in 2007, launched a massive surprise attack along Israel's southern border on Saturday. Militants infiltrated Israel's border using paragliders, motorbikes, and boats.
NPR's Aya Batrawy, Larry Kaplow and Kevin Drew contributed.
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