Israel-Gaza war photos capture one month of pain and devastation

An Israeli strike destroys the Palestine Tower in central Gaza on Oct. 7. (Loay Ayyoub for The Washington Post)

It’s been a month since Hamas broke through Israel’s border security, killing more than 1,400 people in an unprecedented attack. Israeli officials have said militants abducted about 240 hostages. The Israeli military retaliated immediately, pummeling the densely populated Gaza Strip with airstrikes and expanding ground operations into a full-fledged invasion. Palestinian health officials say more than 10,000 people have since been killed in Gaza.

Here are some of the images of the past four weeks of war, captured by photographers on the ground:

On Oct. 7, Hamas launched a multipronged attack on Israel, with a barrage of rocket fire that struck several cities.

Hamas claimed responsibility for the barrage of rocket attacks launched toward Israel from Gaza early on Oct. 7. (Video: Reuters)

Hamas used bulldozers, paragliders and speedboats, overwhelming military posts and advancing deep into Israeli territory with little resistance. Militants overran towns, killing residents and burning homes.

Scenes from a massacre: Inside an Israeli town destroyed by Hamas

“They knew exactly what they were doing,” Shai Asher, a member of the armed kibbutz security squad that battled Hamas gunmen that day said. “They had a flawless battle plan that they executed flawlessly.”

A video shared on Telegram on Oct. 8 shows scorched cars abandoned on the roads near the festival grounds. (Video: Telegram)

“We are at war,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared the same day as the Hamas attack.

Netanyahu called for an “extensive mobilization” of some 360,000 reservists, pledging: “The enemy will pay an unprecedented price.”

The Israeli air force responded with devastating airstrikes across Gaza and announced a “full siege” of the enclave, home to about 2.3 million people, cutting off electricity and fuel, and leaving residents with little food or water.

A mom, her girls and festival-goers: The captives Hamas took to Gaza

The search continues for hostages, including foreign nationals believed to have been taken to Gaza. Hamas took hostages from their homes and from a musical festival near the border fence with Gaza, including children and the elderly.

While four hostages have been released, families of those remaining fear that their loved ones will be forgotten as the war continues to rage.

One released Israeli hostage recounted the “spiderweb” of Gaza tunnels she was held in.

Released Israeli hostage Yocheved Lifshitz said she was taken into a “spiderweb” of tunnels after being abducted from a kibbutz in southern Israel. (Video: Naomi Schanen/Reuters)

As a barrage of Israeli airstrikes reduces buildings in Gaza to rubble, aid workers have issued dire warnings about the humanitarian crisis unfolding for nearly 2.3 million residents with nowhere to flee in the Palestinian enclave.

Hospitals, overcrowded and running out of supplies, are collapsing and morgues are filling up. Drinking water is dwindling, prompting fears about the spread of disease. Internet blackouts, fuel shortages and Israeli bombardment have prevented ambulances from reaching the injured as people remain trapped under the wreckage.

Nearly 1.5 million people are now displaced in Gaza, many of them sheltering in hospitals or schools that have also come under attack.

The U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA, said “at least one strike hit the schoolyard” and another hit “where women were breaking bread.” (Video: Reuters)

Gazan families face agonizing choices as they search for safety

As Israeli forces expanded raids into northern Gaza into a full-fledged ground invasion, U.N. officials have described Israel’s calls for Gaza residents to move south for shelter as effectively impossible, and said that Israel’s call could amount to forcible evacuation that violates international law.

Footage released by the IDF appears to show Israeli tanks shooting at targets in the northern Gaza Strip on Oct. 25-26. (Video: IDF via Reuters)

Israeli airstrikes have continued to hit southern Gaza, and aid workers have likened the directive for hospitals in northern Gaza to evacuate to “a death sentence for the sick and injured.”

Thousands of children have been killed in Gaza in this war, according to Palestinian health authorities, with families mourning not just their own losses, but what feels like the loss of an entire generation, The Washington Post reports. Nearly half of the people packed into the strip, one of the world’s densest urban areas, are below 18, according to the United Nations.

UNICEF says “Gaza has become a graveyard for children” and “a living hell for everyone else.”

Gaza becomes ‘a graveyard for children’ as Israel intensifies airstrikes

The Rafah border crossing, a vital gateway between Gaza and Egypt, shut down early in the war after Israeli airstrikes damaged the main passage for relief convoys and Egypt kept the crossing closed to passengers.

Foreign nationals in Gaza gathered at the Rafah crossing to enter Egypt on Nov. 1. (Video: Reuters)

Limited openings of the crossing at Rafah followed border negotiations involving Hamas, and the U.S., Israeli and Egyptian governments. The openings allowed groups of foreign citizens to leave, as well as some injured Palestinians for treatment in Egypt, and provided the only route for aid trucks carrying food and medical supplies to enter the Palestinian territory.

Why Egypt’s Rafah border crossing is vital for Gaza’s humanitarian crisis

But the aid deliveries at Rafah are a drop in the bucket of need, with trapped Palestinians far past the point of desperation, many of them cut off from their basic needs for survival including food and medicine, aid workers said.

Convoys with dozens of trucks have entered Gaza, compared with hundreds that rolled in daily from various points before this war. Israel has also blocked fuel from being sent into the enclave, despite hospitals saying they have been pushed to the breaking point by the lack of fuel.

At gate to Gaza, deported workers mark end of rare exchange with Israel

As the Israeli offensive intensifies, thousands of people in cities around the world have taken to the streets to call for an urgent cease-fire and express support for Palestinian rights.

U.N. agencies and leaders have called for a cease-fire, cautioning that residents of Gaza “must not be collectively punished.” Polls show that Americans are not in broad agreement over America’s role in the conflict, or President Biden’s handling of the crisis.

The Biden administration, which has pledged unwavering support for Israel, has pushed for “humanitarian pauses” in talks with Netanyahu, to facilitate the flow of aid and the release of hostages. Netanyahu, appearing to reject the U.S. push, has maintained that Israel would not agree to a “temporary cease-fire” before Hamas frees all the hostages.

The fate of many hostages remains unclear since Oct. 7. A dual German-Israeli citizen, who many believed was kidnapped from the music festival in southern Israel, was declared dead late last month.“We don’t even know if they’re alive or not,” one relative said as a large group gathered in D.C. last week to plead for the release of the hostages.

A comparison of satellite imagery captured on Oct. 31 and Nov. 1 shows the destruction following an Israeli airstrike on the Jabalya refugee camp in Gaza. (Video: Maxar Technologies)

Calls for a cease-fire have grown as the casualty toll mounts in Gaza under Israeli airstrikes and siege. Israel has said its strikes are targeting at Hamas infrastructure and operatives.

Yet attacks have battered U.N.-run schools sheltering displaced families, the crowded Jabalya refugee camp and health infrastructure, including a deadly Israeli strike on an ambulance outside Gaza City’s largest hospital last week.

Israel struck an ambulance on Nov. 3 near Gaza City’s al-Shifa Hospital. The Israel Defense Forces claims the ambulances were being used by Hamas. (Video: Reuters)

The four-week conflict has become the deadliest month for journalists since the Committee to Protect Journalists began gathering data in 1992. At least 37 journalists and media workers have been killed, the majority of them Palestinians in Gaza, where reporters face power and internet outages as their offices, homes and family members come under fire, according to the press freedom group.

Journalists attended a funeral Oct. 10 for two colleagues killed in an Israeli airstrike while reporting in Gaza. (Video: Reuters)

With attention focused on Gaza, tensions are also rising in the West Bank, where settler violence against Palestinians has reached record levels in the wake of the Oct. 7 attack, according to rights groups, which warn that the radical settler movement is seeking to further entrench its presence across the occupied territory.

Leo Sands, Shira Rubin, Loveday Morris, Steve Hendrix, and Paul Schwartzman contributed to this report

Israel-Gaza war

Israeli forces advanced deeper into the territory, closing in on Gaza City — a move that U.S. officials said would probably lead to increased casualties. As the war passes a month of fighting, Israel’s endgame for Gaza is no clearer. Understand what’s behind the Israel-Gaza war.

Hostages: Israeli officials say Hamas militants abducted about 240 hostages in a highly organized attack. Four hostages have been released — two Americans and two Israelis — as families hold on to hope. One released Israeli hostage recounted the “spiderweb” of Gaza tunnels she was held in.

Humanitarian aid: The Palestine Red Crescent Society said it has received over 300 trucks with food, medicine and water to the Gaza Strip through Egypt’s Rafah crossing. However, the PRCS said, there hasn’t been permission yet to bring in fuel, which powers the enclave’s hospitals, water pumps, taxis and more.

Israeli-Palestinian conflict: The Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip has a complicated history, and its rulers have long been at odds with the Palestinian Authority, the U.S.-backed government in the West Bank. Here is a timeline of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

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