“WE ARE ALL SOLDIERS OF ISRAEL”
Israel’s leaders on Wednesday formed a unity government, promising to put bitter political divisions aside to focus on the fight against Hamas.
Former defence minister Benny Gantz, a centrist opposition leader, spoke live on Israeli television alongside Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defence Minister Yoav Gallant after forming a war cabinet focused entirely on the conflict.
“Our partnership is not political, it is a shared fate,” said Gantz. “At this time we are all the soldiers of Israel.”
Netanyahu said the people of Israel and its leadership were united. “We have put aside all differences because the fate of our state is on the line,” he said.
With Palestinian rescue workers overwhelmed, others in the crowded coastal strip searched for bodies in the rubble.
“I was sleeping here when the house collapsed on top of me,” one man cried as he and others used flashlights on the stairs of a building hit by missiles to find anyone trapped.
Some 340,000 of Gaza’s 2.3 million population have been displaced due to the war, and around 65 per cent of them have sought safety at shelters or schools, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in the enclave.
Israel has deployed formations of tanks and armoured vehicles near Gaza in possible preparation for a ground offensive into the enclave.
Israel withdrew its troops and settlers from Gaza in 2005 after 38 years of occupation. Hamas seized power in the enclave in 2007 and Israel and Egypt have subjected the territory to a blockade ever since that has created conditions which Palestinians say are intolerable.
Washington said it was talking with Israel and Egypt about safe passage for civilians from Gaza, with food in short supply.