More than one million people have been displaced in the Gaza Strip in the last week, the UN said Sunday, after sustained Israeli bombardment and warnings about a ground attack targeting Hamas commanders.
Israel declared war on the Islamist group last Sunday, a day after waves of fighters broke through the heavily fortified border and shot, stabbed and burned to death more than 1,400 people, most of them civilians.
Seven days of relentless bombing targeting those who masterminded the attack have flattened neighbourhoods and left at least 2,670 people dead in the Gaza Strip, the majority ordinary Palestinians.
As Israel seeks to avenge the worst attack in its history, the Arab League and African Union warned the invasion could lead to “a genocide of unprecedented proportions”.
It also faced a grave warning about the wider security implications of putting boots on the ground in the densely populated enclave.
“No one can guarantee the control of the situation and the non-expansion of the conflicts” if Israel sends its soldiers into Gaza, said Iran’s foreign minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian.
“Those who are interested in preventing the scope of war and crisis from expanding need to prevent the current barbaric attacks… against citizens and civilians in Gaza,” he added.
Iran is Israel’s number one enemy and as well as funding Hamas also backs Hezbollah in Lebanon to the north, where cross-border fire has intensified in the last week, prompting Israel to shut the area to civilians.
The UN peacekeeping mission UNIFIL said its base was hit by a rocket but no one was hurt.
Defence Minister Yoav Gallant said Israel had “no interest in a war in the north, we don’t want to escalate the situation.
“If Hezbollah chooses the path of war, it will pay a heavy price… but if it restrains itself, we’ll respect the situation,” he said.