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More than 5,000 killed in Israeli strikes on Gaza — health ministry

Thousands of buildings have been destroyed and more than 1 million people displaced in Gaza

By AFP - Oct 24,2023 - Last updated at Oct 24,2023

Members of the Al Zanati, family killed following an Israeli strike, are taken to a waiting vehicle to be driven to a cemetery for burial in Khan Yunis on Monday (AFP photo)

RAFAH, Occupied Palestine — Gaza's health ministry said on Monday that more than 5,000 people have been killed in the besieged Palestinian enclave since Israel launched its withering bombing campaign more than two weeks ago.

Alarm has surged about the spiralling humanitarian crisis in Gaza amid the war sparked by the October 7 Hamas attack that, Israeli officials say, killed more than 1,400 people. Hamas also took more than 200 hostages.

On a day when Israel's army reported more than 300 new strikes within 24 hours, Gaza's health ministry said the death toll had surged above 5,000, more than 2,000 of them children, in figures AFP has not been able to independently verify.

Thousands of buildings have been destroyed and more than one million people displaced in the territory that has been under siege and largely deprived of water, food and other basic supplies.

About a dozen trucks carrying desperately needed aid, the third convoy in three days, arrived inside Gaza from Egypt on Monday through Rafah, Gaza's only crossing not controlled by Israel.

The United States, which has brokered the entry of the aid convoys, has vowed a "continued flow" of relief goods into Gaza, even as UN aid agencies have said far more is needed.

Fighting raged unabated overnight, after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed again that Israel would "erase Hamas" and as a full-scale ground invasion loomed.

Gaza's Hamas-controlled government media office said that "more than 60 were martyred in the raids" during the night, including 17 in a single strike that hit a house in Gaza's north, and at least 10 others were killed in new strikes early Monday.

The Israeli military said it had hit "over 320 military targets in the Gaza Strip" in the past 24 hours.

Call for blood donations

 

Rafah resident Mohammed Abu Sabalah said he had returned home from the local mosque after dawn prayers on Monday and that “a quarter of an hour later there was a bombing”.

“We couldn’t see anything because of the thick smoke,” he said, adding that “we thank God that we’ve emerged safe and sound” with “only a few windows and doors destroyed”.

Israeli forces are massed near the Gaza border, and smaller units have already carried out limited incursions, targeting Hamas and hoping to rescue hostages, whose number Israel now puts at 222.

Tensions have been inflamed in the occupied West Bank, where 95 Palestinians have been killed in clashes involving Israeli forces or settlers since fighting began in Gaza, according to the Ramallah-based health ministry.

In Gaza, where thousands have been wounded, the health ministry issued a statement saying “citizens are called upon to immediately go to hospitals and blood bank branches to donate blood”.

Alarm has grown about the dire needs of the 2.4 million civilians trapped inside the 40 kilometre long coastal strip that was already blockaded and impoverished before the war.

Children killed in an Israeli air strike in the southern city of Khan Yunis were on Monday laid to rest in a makeshift grave, while in Rafah men were filling plastic jerrycans from containers with now scare safe drinking water.

US President Joe Biden brokered the passage of aid convoys with Egyptian and Israeli leaders in talks last week, but the United Nations estimates Gaza needs about 100 trucks of relief goods every day.

UN aid chief Martin Griffiths said Sunday’s delivery of food, water and medical supplies was “another small glimmer of hope for the millions of people in dire need of humanitarian aid”.

“But they need more, much more.”

Israel has rejected the entry of fuel into Gaza, fearing Hamas could use it for weapons and explosives.

This has sparked warnings that soon Gaza’s ambulances, hospital incubators for infants and water desalination plants will soon stop functioning.

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