The Gaza Strip has witnessed one of its deadliest days since the conflict began on October 7, with over 700 Palestinians killed in the last 24 hours. This surge in casualties comes as Israel intensifies its military operations across the besieged area, causing widespread devastation.
Palestinians from north to south are experiencing a heightened sense of insecurity, particularly with the Jabalia refugee camp being targeted for a second consecutive day. This offensive has led to the destruction of homes and the tragic loss of many lives. Additionally, Israeli authorities have urged residents in parts of Khan Younis, located in southern Gaza, to evacuate. The conflict has severely damaged or destroyed crucial roads, hindering access to other areas.
The Ministry of Health in Gaza has reported a staggering number of over 15,500 deaths since the conflict’s onset. The situation has become increasingly dire, with a spokesperson for the Palestinian Civil Defence highlighting the immense challenges faced by rescuers in reaching victims due to the continuous Israeli bombardment.
Hamas Incursion and Israel’s Response
The conflict escalated when Hamas fighters breached Gaza’s border with Israel on October 7, resulting in approximately 1,200 deaths, mostly civilians, and taking around 240 Israelis and foreigners hostage. Israel responded with a vow to eliminate Hamas, launching an extensive air and ground campaign. This operation has led to over 15,000 deaths, with the majority being civilians, according to Hamas authorities in Gaza.
A week-long truce, facilitated by Qatar and supported by Egypt and the United States, briefly halted hostilities. It resulted in the exchange of 80 Israeli hostages for 240 Palestinian prisoners. However, this ceasefire collapsed, with both sides accusing each other of violating the terms. Israel claimed that Hamas attempted a rocket fire before the ceasefire’s end and failed to provide a complete list of hostages for release. Israeli negotiators have since left Doha after talks for a renewed truce reached a stalemate.
Currently, 137 hostages remain in Gaza, as per the Israeli army. Israel’s Defence Minister Yoav Gallant has expressed the need for further military action to compel Hamas to release the remaining hostages. The released Israeli hostages have spoken publicly for the first time, urging their government to secure the freedom of those still held captive in the war-affected Palestinian territory.