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Palestinian death toll in Gaza surpasses 25,000 with no end in sight to Israel-Gaza war

by admin

22 January 2024, ABC News

Key points:

  • The IDF continues to carry out air strikes on the Gaza Strip, as Israelis grow increasingly divided over the conflict
  • The UN secretary-general has condemned Israel for the soaring number of civilian deaths in the territory
  • Israel has approved a plan for frozen tax funds earmarked for the Gaza Strip to be held by Norway

The Palestinian death toll from the war between Israel and Gaza has soared past 25,000, the health ministry in the Gaza Strip said on Sunday, while the Israeli government appeared far from achieving its goals of crushing the militant group and freeing more than 100 hostages.

The level of death, destruction and displacement from the war is already without precedent in the decades-old Israeli-Palestinian conflict, yet Israeli officials say the fighting is likely to continue for several more months.

The slow progress and the plight of the hostages held in Gaza has divided ordinary Israelis and their leaders, even as the offensive threatens to ignite a wider war involving Iran-backed groups in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Yemen that support the Palestinians.

The United States, which has provided essential diplomatic and military support for the offensive, has had limited success in persuading Israel to adopt military tactics that put civilians at less risk and to facilitate the delivery of more humanitarian aid.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has also rejected US and international calls for postwar plans that would include a path to Palestinian statehood.

Gaza death toll climbs amid blistering offensive

The war began with Hamas’s surprise terror attack in southern Israel on October 7, during which Palestinian militants killed about 1,200 people, many of them civilians, and took around 250 hostages back to Gaza.

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

Israel responded with a blistering three-week air campaign and then a ground invasion into northern Gaza that laid waste to entire neighbourhoods.

Ground operations are now focused on the southern city of Khan Younis and built-up refugee camps in central Gaza dating back to the 1948 war surrounding Israel’s creation.

Israel continues to carry out air strikes throughout the besieged territory, including areas in the south where it told civilians to seek refuge. Many Palestinians have ignored evacuation orders, saying nowhere feels safe.

Since the war started, a total of 25,105 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza, while another 62,681 have been wounded, the health ministry reported on Sunday.

The death toll included 178 bodies brought to Gaza’s hospitals since Saturday, ministry spokesperson Ashraf al-Qidra said. Another 300 people were wounded in the past day, he said.

The overall toll is thought to be even higher than that number, because many casualties remain buried under the rubble from Israeli strikes or in areas where medics cannot reach them, he added.

Gaza’s health ministry does not differentiate between civilians and combatants in its figures, but says around two-thirds of the people killed in Gaza have been women or children.

The ministry is part of the Hamas-run government, but its casualty figures from previous wars have been largely consistent with those of UN agencies and even the Israeli military.

Israel’s military says it has killed around 9,000 militants, and blames the high civilian death toll on Hamas because it positions fighters, tunnels and other militant infrastructure in dense neighbourhoods, often near homes, schools or mosques.

The military says 195 of its soldiers have been killed since the start of the Gaza offensive.

The war has displaced some 85 per cent of Gaza’s residents from their homes, with hundreds of thousands packing into United Nations-run shelters and tent camps in the southern part of the tiny coastal enclave.

UN officials say a quarter of the population of 2.3 million is starving, as only a trickle of humanitarian aid reaches them because of the fighting and Israeli restrictions.

Hamas defends October 7 attack

Hamas on Sunday defended its October 7 attacks on Israel but admitted to “faults” and called for an end to “Israeli aggression” in Gaza.

In its first public report on the attacks that began the war, Hamas said they were a “necessary step” against Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories, and a way to secure release of Palestinian prisoners.

Mr Netanyahu later vowed “complete victory” and said his government would not accept Hamas’ conditions for releasing hostages still held in Gaza.

“In exchange for the release of our hostages, Hamas demands an end to the war, the withdrawal of our forces from Gaza, the release of all murderers … If we accept this, our soldiers have fallen in vain. If we accept this, we won’t be able to guarantee the safety of our citizens,” Mr Netanyahu said.

“I reject outright the terms of surrender of the monsters of Hamas,” he said.

Hamas’ 16-page report admitted “some faults happened … due to the rapid collapse of the Israeli security and military system, and the chaos caused along the border areas with Gaza”.

The report did not make clear why it was issued now, more than three months into the war that began when militants broke through Gaza’s militarised border to attack Israelis and foreigners in the streets, in their homes and at an outdoor rave party.

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Article source: ABC News 22.1.2024

2024-05-08 07:04:10.000000