The United Nations warns of food shortages in the Gaza Strip. Hospitals refuse all non-emergency care to avoid running out of medicine. Power outages are widespread, and a lack of fuel for generators threatens water supplies.

Israel's military offensive, and its closure of the territory's border crossings, has worsened the plight of Palestinians in the already devastated Gaza Strip.

Signs of a humanitarian crisis are appearing in villages such as Beit Lahiya in northern Gaza, where Israeli tanks and bulldozers have damaged homes, leveled crops, toppled electricity poles and torn up underground water pipes while searching for tunnels and explosive devices used by militants to attack southern Israel.

Our guest was TANYA REINHART, Professor emeritus at Tel Aviv University, Reinhart is author of the forthcoming book "The Road Map to Nowhere: Israel/Palestine Since 2003." She said today: "The present Israeli 'operation' is not about releasing the captured Israeli soldier -- one need not be a military analyst to realize he cannot be released this way. The Israeli army has been planning this operation for quite a while, awaiting the appropriate trigger that will create the appropriate international conditions. "The major goal of the Israeli government is toppling the Hamas government by force. In Israel's view, the Palestinian election results are a disaster, because for the first time they have a leadership that insists on representing Palestinian interests rather than just collaborating with Israel's demands. "A second local goal is to turn the north of the Gaza Strip into a 'no man's land.' This plan has been openly discussed in Israeli media since the disengagement last summer." Reinhart is a columnist for the Israeli paper Yediot Aharonot and author of the book "Israel/Palestine: How to End the War of 1948."

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