Israel escalates bombing of Gaza Strip, Hamas says at least 5700 Palestinians dead

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Israel is escalating its bombardment of targets in the Gaza Strip ahead of an expected ground invasion against Hamas militants. The war is rapidly raising the death toll in Gaza, and the US fears the fighting could spark a wider conflict in the region.

Gaza’s 2.3 million people have been running out of food, water and medicine since Israel sealed off the territory following the Hamas attack on Israeli towns on October 7. The aid convoys allowed into Gaza so far have carried a fraction of what’s needed, and the UN said distribution will have to stop if there’s no fuel for the trucks.

Smoke rises following an Israeli airstrike in the Gaza Strip.Credit: AP

Twenty trucks were unable to transport aid to Palestinian civilians in the besieged Gaza Strip on Tuesday, the United Nations said as US President Joe Biden dubbed humanitarian efforts to deliver help via a crossing from Egypt as “not fast enough.”

“We hope the materials can enter Gaza tomorrow,” said UN aid spokesperson Eri Kaneko. She did not say why the trucks had not been able to cross into Gaza from Egypt on Tuesday.

The war, in its 18th day Tuesday, is the deadliest of five Gaza wars for both sides. The Hamas-run Health Ministry said at least 5791 Palestinians have been killed and 16,297 wounded. In the occupied West Bank, 96 Palestinians have been killed and 1650 wounded in violence and Israeli raids since October 7.

More than 1400 people in Israel have been killed, mostly civilians who died in the initial Hamas rampage. In addition, 222 people including foreigners were believed captured by Hamas during the incursion and taken into Gaza, Israel’s military has said. Four of those have been released.

Several dozen people held a vigil outside the Houses of Parliament on Tuesday to remember the thousands of Palestinian children killed by Israeli airstrikes.

Palestinians injured in Israeli air raids arrive at Nasser Medical Hospital in Khan Yunis, in the southern Gaza Strip.Credit: Getty

The group, organised by the Medical Aid for Palestinians charity, had written the names of dead children on their palms and held a minute of silence.

“There has been an outpouring, justifiably, for those Israeli citizens who have been taken hostage,” said Layla Moran, a Liberal Democrat member of Parliament, who has family in Gaza. “I think it’s also equally important to show the depths of humanity for all those affected. … We’re going to be writing the names of one of the children on our hands to mark our respects for not just the children, but everyone who was an innocent civilian who has died in this conflict.”

More than 40 per cent of the 5700 reported killed in Gaza have been children.

The vigil was held the same day families of Israelis killed or taken hostage by Hamas militants in October 7 raids spoke at the Israeli Embassy in London.

More than 1400 people in Israel have been killed, mostly civilians who died in the rampage and more than 220 were captured and taken back to Gaza.

The spokesman of the military wing of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad group says Israel is acting in a way that shows it does not care about the lives of hostages held by militants in the Gaza Strip.

Abu Hamza said in a statement released by the group on Tuesday that the ongoing bombardment of Gaza indicates the Israeli government “does not want the prisoners (hostages) to see sunlight”.

His comments came a day after the militant Hamas group released two Israeli women who were held hostage. Last week, Hamas released an American woman and her teenage daughter as part of a mediation by Qatar.


More coverage of the Hamas-Israel conflict

  • Cascading violence: Tremors from the Hamas attacks and Israel’s response have reached far beyond the border. But what would all-out war in the Middle East look like?
  • The human cost: Hamas’ massacre in Israel has traumatised – and hardened – survivors. And in Gaza, neighbourhoods have become ghost cities.
  • “Hamas metro”: Inside the labyrinthine network of underground tunnels, which the Palestinian militant group has commanded beneath war-ravaged Gaza for 16 years. The covert corridors have long provided essential channels for the movement of weapons and armed combatants.
  • What is Hezbollah?: As fears of the conflict expanding beyond Israel and Hamas steadily rise, all eyes are on the militant group and political party that controls southern Lebanon and has been designated internationally as a terrorist group. How did it form and what does Iran have to do with it?

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