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May 29, 2024

Death Toll In Israel-Gaza Conflict Tops 20,000 As Fighting Intensifies

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Dec 22, 2023

The death toll from nearly 3 months of fighting between Israel and Palestinian militant groups in Gaza has surpassed 20,000, according to health officials in the Hamas-ruled territory. As both sides vow to continue the battle, the civilian population faces increasingly desperate conditions.

Israel Launches New Strikes As Ceasefire Calls Mount

Israel continued to pound Gaza with airstrikes on Tuesday even as calls mounted for a ceasefire. The Israeli military said it hit targets in Gaza City, the southern town of Rafah and the northern town of Jabaliya.

  • At least 24 Palestinians were killed Tuesday, bringing the death toll to over 20,000 since fighting erupted on September 13 (BBC, Al Jazeera)

  • The Jabaliya refugee camp was struck, with reports that a building collapsed causing many casualties (Washington Post, NBC News)

  • UN and world leaders urged both sides to stop fighting, but a Security Council vote on a resolution calling for a ceasefire was again delayed (France24)

Israel said the strikes were aimed at Palestinian militant targets and an underground network of attack tunnels. Prime Minister Netanyahu said “We will continue to strike Hamas as hard as necessary.”

The U.N. warned Gaza was on the brink of a “full-scale war,” with almost 2 million people displaced. Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh said “victory is coming” and that Hamas would not stop firing rockets into Israel.

Trapped Civilians Face Dire Conditions

Much of Gaza’s population has been trapped with nowhere to flee, facing shortages of food, water and medicine.

  • Electricity is only available for 4 hours per day (Washington Post)
  • Sewage systems have failed creating a health emergency (ReliefWeb)
  • Israeli strikes have damaged at least 58 medical facilities (UN News)

The U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said the crisis is deepening by the day:

“Indiscriminate rocket attacks from Gaza and Israeli airstrikes continue unabated, causing deaths, injuries and damage to civilian infrastructure. The already overstretched health system is further strained, with health personnel killed and injured, ambulances damaged, and access to healthcare disrupted for those in need.” (OCHA statement)

Background To The Conflict

Tensions erupted into conflict on September 13 when Israel launched airstrikes targeting an Islamic Jihad commander in Gaza City, killing him and 10 civilians. Militant groups retaliated by firing rockets at Israel.

What began as an Israeli targeted strike quickly escalated into a full blown war with Hamas, the militant group that controls Gaza, joining Palestinian Islamic Jihad in firing rockets and attacking Israeli troops and settlements near Gaza.

Israel meanwhile has conducted an extensive bombing campaign targeting Gaza’s infrastructure and militant sites such as rocket launchers and tunnels. Ground troops have also conducted frequent raids into Gaza towns and refugee camps resulting in intense urban combat.

Prior Tensions

Tensions between the sides have simmered for years since the last major conflict in 2014. Key issues include:

  • Israeli blockade of Gaza – Israel argues this is needed to contain Hamas, but it has devastated Gaza’s economy and residents see it as collective punishment

  • Palestinian prisoner exchanges – Hamas holds 2 Israeli civilians and the remains of 2 soldiers captured in 2014. Progress on a prisoner swap broke down.

  • Temple Mount tensions – Clashes frequently erupt between Israeli police and Palestinians over access to the holy site in Jerusalem, which Muslims call Haram al-Sharif. These tensions helped trigger the current conflict.

  • Evictions in East Jerusalem – Several Palestinian families face eviction from homes in Israeli-annexed East Jerusalem, which Palestinians claim as their future capital. Protests over this fueled prior clashes.

International Community Struggles To Respond

The international community has struggled to respond to the crisis and quell the raging violence. Egypt and Qatar have sought to mediate ceasefire talks but with little progress so far. The U.N. Security Council has failed to pass 3 resolutions calling for a ceasefire due to objections from the United States, Israel’s top ally.

On December 18th, 130 countries called for an immediate ceasefire in the General Assembly, signaling Israel’s growing isolation on the world stage. Yet so far statements have not been matched with concrete actions to restrain the warring parties.

Many Middle Eastern observers have lamented the lack of regional or international intervention to stop the mounting death toll:

“A failure to initiate a political process after so much bloodshed will only allow for the next round of fighting, and the next spasm of vengeance.” – Columnist Fawaz Gerges (Al Jazeera)

Outlook: No End In Sight

With both sides vowing to achieve victory, there appears little prospect in the immediate future for ending the devastating war. Israel insists any truce must eliminate the threat from Gaza militant groups by degrading their capabilities. Hamas insists that any truce must include measures to lift Gaza’s economic blockade.

Unless the international community intervenes more forcefully, the crisis looks set to continue claiming lives wantonly. Gazans will pay the steepest price, trapped in an endless cycle of blockade, poverty, and now all out war.

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AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

To err is human, but AI does it too. Whilst factual data is used in the production of these articles, the content is written entirely by AI. Double check any facts you intend to rely on with another source.

By AiBot

AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

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