Palestinians killed by Israel in Gaza top 24,000 as war drags on

AFP , Monday 15 Jan 2024

Health officials reported on Monday that more than 24,000 Palestinians have been killed by Israel in its war on Gaza, which has sent shockwaves across the region, as the fighting passed the grim 100-day milestone.

This photograph taken on January 15, 2024 from Rafah shows smoke billowing over Khan Yunis in the so
This photograph taken on January 15, 2024 from Rafah shows smoke billowing over Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip during Israeli bombardment. AFP

 

The war has created a humanitarian catastrophe for the 2.4 million people in the besieged strip, the United Nations and aid groups warn, and reduced much of the territory to rubble.

The health ministry, reported more than 60 "martyrs" and dozens more wounded overnight, in what the group's media office described as "intense" Israeli bombardment across Gaza.

The government media office said two hospitals, a girls' school and "dozens" of homes were hit overnight.

Hospitals in Gaza have been hit repeatedly since the war erupted, and the World Health Organization (WHO) says most of them are no longer functioning.

The latest strikes hit the southern cities of Khan Younis and Rafah, as well as areas around Gaza City, the media office said.

The UN says more than three months of fighting have displaced roughly 85 percent of the territory's population, crowded into shelters and struggling to get food, water, fuel and medical care.

"There's no food, no water, no heating. We are dying from the cold," said Mohammad Kahil, displaced from northern Gaza to Rafah, on the southern border with Egypt.

'Living in hell' 

WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said people in Gaza were "living in hell", echoing earlier UN warnings of a fast-approaching famine.

In a joint statement on Sunday, the WHO, World Food Programme (WFP) and UNICEF said "a fundamental step change in the flow of humanitarian aid into Gaza is urgently needed".

They called for "safer, faster" supply routes to be opened, warning that the current levels of aid "fall far short of what is needed to prevent a deadly combination of hunger, malnutrition and disease".

The WFP said an aid convoy brought food to the territory's north on Thursday, the first such delivery since a one-week truce ended on December 1.

Cindy McCain, the UN agency's director, said: "People in Gaza risk dying of hunger just miles from trucks filled with food. Every hour puts countless lives at risk."

Israel is facing international pressure over surging civilian casualties in Gaza, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is under intense domestic pressure to account for political and security failings surrounding Al-Aqsa Flood operation.

On the war's 100th day on Sunday, hundreds of Israelis gathered in Tel Aviv for events urging action to rescue the remaining captives.

A Hamas spokesman on Sunday said most of the prisoners held in Gaza are likely to have been killed, blaming the Israeli leadership for their fate. 

Peace efforts 

Deadly violence in the Israeli-occupied West Bank and along Israel's border with Lebanon as well as fighting between US forces and Houthi Yemeni rebels in the Red Sea have raised fears of an escalation beyond the Gaza Strip.

In Yemen, the US military said its fighter jets had shot down a cruise missile fired at an American destroyer in the Red Sea.

Attacks by Yemen's Houthi rebels, who say they act in solidarity with Gaza, have disrupted shipping in the vital maritime trade route, triggering strikes in recent days by US and British forces.

On the Israel-Lebanon border, Israeli forces and Hezbollah have traded near daily fire.

A missile strike on Sunday killed two Israeli civilians, medics said, and three militants who had crossed in from Lebanon ere killed in a gun battle.

Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah said Israel "has not achieved any real victory" in Gaza and will be forced to end the war and negotiate a diplomatic solution.

International efforts to avoid escalation on Sunday saw China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi visiting Egypt, where he called for "an international summit for peace" and Palestinian statehood.

Australia's top diplomat Penny Wong is due in Jordan, Israel, the West Bank and the United Arab Emirates this week to "support international diplomatic efforts towards a durable peace in the Middle East", her office said.

 

 

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