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Home / News / Gaza death toll nears 24,000 on 99th day of war

Gaza death toll nears 24,000 on 99th day of war

Health officials in Hamas-ruled Gaza have said that Israeli strikes overnight killed at least 60 people in the besieged territory, which was also grappling with a telecommunications blackout on the war’s 99th day.

Fears of the conflict widening intensified after US and British forces struck pro-Hamas Houthi rebels in Yemen following attacks on Red Sea shipping, with the US military announcing a fresh air strike on Saturday.

Witnesses in Gaza reported Israeli bombardment in the early morning. An AFP correspondent said intense shelling and air strikes hit the Palestinian territory’s south overnight.

The Israeli army said its forces had struck dozens of rocket launchers that were “ready to be used” in central Gaza.

It also said it eliminated four “terrorists” in air strikes on Khan Younis, Gaza’s major southern city, near Rafah.

Ashraf al-Qudra, spokesman for the health ministry in the Hamas-run territory, reported “more than 60 martyrs” in Israeli air strikes and artillery fire, with dozens more wounded.

Israel’s relentless bombardment of Gaza since Hamas’s 7 October attack has killed at least 23,843 people, according to an updated toll today from the territory’s health ministry.

The war, in which Israel has vowed to destroy Hamas, began when the militants launched an attack on Israel that resulted in about 1,140 deaths, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally based on official figures.

At Rafah’s Al-Najjar hospital, mourners gathered and prayed around the bodies of dead relatives. One man held the body of a child, wrapped in white cloth, ahead of burial.

Relatives mourn their dead at Rafah’s Al-Najjar hospital in Gaza

Internet and telecommunications services were cut yesterday as a result of Israeli bombardment, the main operator Paltel said, reporting the latest such disruption.

The Palestinian Red Crescent posted that the outage was increasing the challenges in “reaching the wounded and injured promptly”.

Winter rains have exacerbated the dire humanitarian situation in Gaza, where the UN estimates 1.9m, which is nearly 85% of the population, have been displaced. Many have sought shelter in Rafah and other southern areas.

The United Nations humanitarian office, OCHA, told AFP that Israel was blocking aid convoys into northern Gaza.

“They have been very systematic in not allowing us to support hospitals,” said OCHA’s head for the Palestinian territories, Andrea De Domenico, decrying “a level of inhumanity … beyond comprehension”.

In central Gaza, a lack of fuel forced the shutdown of the main generator of Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital in Deir el-Balah, the health ministry said.

A horse-drawn cart moves past a bus hit by an Israeli attack in Salah al-Din Road

Health ministry spokesman Mr Qudra accused Israel of “deliberately targeting hospitals … to put them out of service”, warning of “devastating repercussions”.

Hospitals, protected under international humanitarian law, have been hit by Israeli strikes in Gaza since the war erupted.

The Israeli military accuses Hamas of having tunnels under hospitals and using the medical facilities as command centres, a charge denied by the Islamist group.

Fewer than half of Gaza’s hospitals are partly functioning, the World Health Organization has said.

In Israel, concern grew for hostages held in Gaza as they approach their 100th day in captivity.

Palestinian militants on 7 October seized about 250 hostages, 132 of whom Israel says remain in Gaza, including at least 25 believed to have been killed.

Yesterday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said a deal had been negotiated with Qatar to get medicine to the captives.

Israeli campaign group Hostages and Missing Families Forum released a report this week saying the captives were in poor health, some with complex illnesses, others with injuries.

A relative lifts portraits of Israeli hostages at an event in Tel Aviv

A diplomat familiar with the negotiations told AFP that both sides had expressed a willingness to allow the delivery of medicines, and a source close to Hamas said talks were ongoing.

Israel criticised the UN human rights office for not reiterating its calls for the release of the hostages in a statement marking the looming 100th day of the conflict.

“A call for a ceasefire, without demanding the release of our hostages and the disarming of Hamas, is a call for terrorism to win,” its mission in Geneva said.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Turk has called repeatedly for the hostages to be freed.

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