Gaza deaths pass grim 25,000 milestone

As Gaza's death toll exceeds 25,000, residents are as much at risk of famine as they are missiles.

As Gaza's death toll exceeds 25,000, residents are as much at risk of famine as they are missiles. Photo: AAP

The toll of Palestinians killed in Israeli strikes on the Gaza Strip since war broke out between Israel and Hamas in October has passed 25,000, Gaza health officials say, while Israeli attacks and street battles rage across the Hamas-run enclave.

Israeli forces and Hamas fighters clashed in several places, from Jabalia in the north to Khan Younis in the south, the focus of recent Israeli operations.

Israel said its troops had cleared much of northern Gaza of Hamas’ military network and more than a million residents of that part of the enclave have moved south to flee the bombardments. However fighting has continued in the Jabalia refugee camp and other areas around Gaza City.

Gaza’s health ministry said 178 Palestinians were killed in the past 24 hours, one of the deadliest days of the war so far. Israel’s military said a soldier was killed in fighting.

A total of 25,105 Palestinians – many of them women and children – have been killed and 62,681 have been wounded in Israeli strikes since October 7, the ministry said in a statement. It does not differentiate between civilian and militant deaths but says most of those killed have been civilians.

Israel unleashed its campaign to eliminate Hamas after militants burst into Israel on October 7 and rampaged through southern towns and bases, killing 1200 people, most of them civilians, and taking 253 hostages back to the enclave. It says it is fighting a threat to its very existence.

The Israeli military has said it takes steps to avoid civilian casualties but it accuses Hamas of operating in densely populated areas and using civilians as human shields, a charge the Islamist group denies.

‘Heartbreaking’: Secretary General

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres on Sunday denounced Israel for what he called the “heartbreaking” deaths of Palestinian civilians in Gaza.

“Israel’s military operations have spread mass destruction and killed civilians on a scale unprecedented during my time as secretary-general,” Guterres said at a summit in the Ugandan capital Kampala.

Most of the enclave’s 2.3 million people have been displaced from their homes and those who remain face dire conditions.

“We struggle to survive bombs, but frankly we try to survive hunger more. Finding food for the family, for the children, has become a more challenging adventure than surviving war,” Amer, 32, a father of three from northern Gaza, told Reuters.

The price of flour, for example, has surged along with other food items that are hard to come by in the already impoverished territory.

“Amid the famine threatening residents of northern Gaza, the people began to grind what is available to make flour, starting with corn and reaching to animal food,” Anas Al-Sharif, a Palestinian freelance journalist reporting from northern Gaza, posted on X.

Fighting rages on

Israel’s army said 15 Palestinian gunmen were killed in the north, as well as a number of militants in Khan Younis – reports Hamas dismissed.

Palestinians said fierce fighting has raged in Jabalia for the past three days.

Along Gaza’s southern coast, witnesses said Israeli naval vessels shelled the beach; while in the southern city of Rafa, three Palestinians were killed in an Israeli air strike on a car.

Another car was hit in Gaza City, killing three people, health officials said.

Violence also surged in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

Hamas defends attack

Hamas says the US is ignoring Palestinian suffering and deaths while supporting Israeli actions financially and militarily.

In a statement on Sunday, it called its October 7 assault a “necessary step”.

“It was a defensive act in the frame of getting rid of the Israeli occupation, reclaiming the Palestinian rights and on the way for liberation and independence,” Hamas said.

The attacks, in which many women and children were killed and bodies mutilated, drew worldwide revulsion and condemnation.


Topics: Gaza
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