Israel has dramatically escalated its military offensive in Gaza over the past day, expanding ground operations and launching new airstrikes that have killed dozens more Palestinians. The rising death toll, which Gaza officials say has now surpassed 20,000, along with worsening humanitarian conditions, has sparked urgent international calls for restraint and de-escalation.
Israel widens ground offensive, airstrikes
After over 80 days of conflict, Israel continues to widen its ground offensive in Gaza, moving deeper into cities and refugee camps in a stated bid to eliminate militant strongholds and weapons caches.
Over the past 24 hours, Israeli tanks, troops and aircraft have pushed into the Maghazi and Nuseirat refugee camps in central Gaza, meeting fierce resistance. Airstrikes across the territory have struck homes, buildings and farmland, forcing thousands more Palestinians to flee south.
The intensive bombardment has killed at least another 68 Palestinians, Gaza health officials report, bringing the total death toll to over 20,240. Nearly 300 Palestinians were also wounded in the raids.
Palestinian death toll over 80 days
|Reported cumulative death toll
|Oct 28 (start of conflict)
An Israeli military spokesman said forces were targeting a Hamas tunnel network running under Gaza, as well as weapons factories, rocket launch sites and military posts. But residents said civilian homes and buildings were also hit.
The UN warns the ongoing operation is causing further civilian casualties and destruction of infrastructure vital to the population.
Israel expresses regret after strike kills civilians
In one incident during the intense bombardment, an Israeli strike hit a refugee camp in central Gaza, killing around 70 Palestinians according to local reports. While Israel said it was targeting Hamas tunnels and infrastructure, officials later expressed regret for unintended civilian deaths.
The strike set off explosions under a street outside a mosque in the Nuseirat camp at evening prayer time, when large numbers had gathered. Victims were still being pulled from the rubble hours later as desperate appeals went out across Gaza begging for rescue equipment.
After the strike an Israeli military spokesman said: “It appears that unfortunately, during the strike, there was an unintentional shooting at civilians which was not planned.”
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas called the incident a “massacre against our defenseless people.”
Tens of thousands displaced as humanitarian crisis deepens
The unrelenting Israeli strikes over more than 80 days have forced tens of thousands more Palestinians to abandon their homes and flee south, as Israel continues to expand ground operations across nearly all of Gaza.
Close to 30,000 terrified residents have flooded into already overcrowded refugee camps near Rafah and the Egyptian border in recent days, UN officials report. With nowhere left to seek shelter and supplies fast running out, Gaza verges close to catastrophic famine, the UN humanitarian coordinator for Palestine warns.
Blockades at Kerem Shalom and Erez have also cut off new humanitarian aid deliveries to the battered territory for weeks. Currently less than 2 months of wheat remains in all the Gaza Strip, along with depleted medical supplies.
Vital statistics on the humanitarian situation in Gaza
|Hospitals reaching max capacity
|16 out of 18
|Households with access to tap water
|Households receiving less than 5 hours electricity per day
The deepening desperation is seen in scenes of entire families camping on streets with nowhere to sleep, crowding outside shuttered bakeries for any chance of bread.
With no end in sight after over 80 days of war, the international Red Cross chief in Jerusalem warns “We are seeing a level of need we have not seen before, ever.”
International calls for restraint as conflict continues
As the civilian death toll mounts in Gaza along with a deepening humanitarian emergency, urgent calls are growing from the international community and rights groups for restraint and de-escalation.
In some of the strongest language yet, the UN rights office accused Israeli forces of “carrying out direct attacks against civilians and civilian objects, indiscriminate attacks and attacks against civilians that constitute war crimes.” Demands are rising for accountability and justice over incidents like the strike on the Nuseirat camp.
The killing sparked large protests globally, as demonstrators accused the Israeli military of war crimes and disproportionate use of force. South Africa also announced it is filing a case alleging Israeli genocide against Palestinians with the International Criminal Court.
US and Egyptian mediators continue intense behind-the-scenes efforts to broker even a temporary cease fire. But with Benjamin Netanyahu pledging “the operation will take time,” and Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar saying “we promise Al-Aqsa victory is coming,” there are worries the Gaza war could grind on for months absent a dramatic breakthrough.
For now the cross-border rocket fire and bombardment continues, while Gazans desperately hope for the fighting to stop.
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