Death toll from Israeli strikes in Gaza passes 25,000, Gaza health officials say By Reuters


© Reuters. Displaced Palestinians, who fled their houses due to Israeli strikes, take shelter in a tent camp in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip January 21, 2024. REUTERS/Saleh Salem


By Nidal al-Mughrabi and Ibraheem Abu Mustafa

DOHA/GAZA (Reuters) – The toll of Palestinians killed in Israeli strikes on Gaza since Oct. 7 has passed 25,000, health officials in the enclave said on Sunday, amid heavy Israeli strikes and street battles raging across the Hamas-run Strip.

Israeli forces and Hamas fighters clashed in several locations, from Jabalia in the north to Khan Younis farther south.

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

A total of 25,105 Palestinians have been killed and 62,681 have been injured in Israeli strikes since Oct. 7, the Gaza ministry said in a statement. It does not differentiate between civilian and militant deaths but says most of those killed have been civilians.

Israel launched its campaign to eliminate Hamas after the Islamist group burst into Israel on Oct 7. and rampaged through southern towns and bases killing 1,200 people, most of them civilians, and dragging 253 hostages back to the enclave.

Israeli forces have said they have 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 bombardment. However fighting has continued in the Jabalia refugee camp and other areas around Gaza City.

Palestinian still in the area described 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 who lives in northern Gaza, told Reuters. He messaged via eSIM card, Gazans’ only tool to connect with the outside world amid a ninth day of disruptions to communications.

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.

Israel’s military said its soldiers had killed 15 Palestinian gunmen during fighting in the northern Gaza Strip, while snipers, backed by air support, had “eliminated a number of terrorists” in Khan Younis.

Hamas official Sami Abu Zuhri dismissed the Israeli account and the reported death toll, saying it was meant to “portray fake and delusional victory”.

Palestinians said fierce fighting has raged in Jabalia for the past three days. The sounds of shelling from the air and the ground were non-stop, they said. Some buildings caught fire and smoke rose where bombs had fallen.

Along Gaza’s southern coast, witnesses said Israeli naval boats shelled the beach.

In the southern city of Rafah, where over a million displaced people are concentrated, three Palestinians were killed in an Israeli air strike on a car. Another car was hit in Gaza City, killing three other people, health officials said.

Violence has also surged in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, where Hamas’s rival the Palestinian Authority has limited self-rule. The Palestinian Health Ministry there said Israeli forces have killed 360 Palestinians since Oct. 7.

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