China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has deployed six warships in the Middle East, including a guided-missile destroyer, amid escalating regional tensions due to the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian militant group Hamas, as reported in news sources.
According to the South China Morning Post, these warships, including the Zibo (a Type 052D guided-missile destroyer), the frigate Jingzhou, and the integrated supply ship Qiandaohu, were part of the PLA’s 44th naval escort task force. This task force recently participated in a joint military exercise with Oman.
This deployment coincides with the United States sending the USS Gerald R. Ford, its most advanced carrier, and a battle group to the West Asia region. Meanwhile, Israel’s military has issued warnings about potential threats from Iran-backed Hezbollah in Lebanon and noted missile attacks originating from Lebanon.
Israel’s military has announced plans for the next phase of its campaign in Gaza without specifying a timeframe for a potential ground invasion against Hamas, which is designated as a terrorist group by both the United States and the European Union. The ongoing conflict has resulted in casualties in Gaza, including the disputed toll from a hospital explosion.
Additionally, Syrian state media has reported Israeli airstrikes targeting international airports in Damascus and Aleppo, as well as a mosque in the occupied West Bank allegedly used by militants. These actions have raised concerns about potentially expanding into a broader regional conflict.
Israel’s military claims that its strikes primarily target Hamas members and installations rather than civilians. It has also confirmed that many people are being held hostage in Gaza. Israeli strikes overnight have resulted in the deaths of dozens of Palestinian fighters, including the deputy chief of Hamas’s rocket forces.
On the northern front, Israel has been targeting fighters attempting to launch missiles across the Lebanese border, including striking a site in Lebanon from which a missile was fired at an Israeli aircraft. This has led to casualties in the West Bank as well, with 91 Palestinians reported killed since the outbreak of the conflict on October 7, primarily during clashes with Israeli forces or in violent protests.
Hospitals in Gaza, filled with patients and displaced individuals, are experiencing critical shortages of medical supplies and generator fuel. This scarcity has led doctors to resort to unconventional measures, such as surgeries using sewing needles, disinfecting with vinegar, and conducting procedures without anesthesia. The renewed Israeli blockade, following the October 7 Hamas attack in Israel, has left at least 130 premature babies at “grave risk” due to the shortage of generator fuel, according to the World Health Organization.
Gaza sees approximately 160 women giving birth every day, and there are an estimated 50,000 pregnant women across the territory, which is home to 2.3 million people, as reported by the UN Population Fund and Al Jazeera. Despite the delivery of a first batch of humanitarian aid via Egypt’s Rafah crossing, Israel continues to block critical supplies of fuel and electricity necessary for hospitals and other essential services.
President Joe Biden has emphasized the United States’ commitment to ensuring that civilians in Gaza have access to food, water, medical care, and other assistance without diversion by Hamas. In response, the U.S. is deploying a Thaad battery and additional Patriot battalions, two of its most powerful missile defense systems, to the region. However, specific deployment locations and troop numbers have not been disclosed by Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III.