Israeli Forces Strike Across Gaza Strip As Gaza Health Ministry Says Death Toll Tops 24,100


Israeli forces launched new airstrikes across the Gaza Strip on Monday, while the Hamas-run Health Ministry in Gaza said Monday that Israeli attacks killed more than 130 people during the past day. 

Israel’s military said its operations included killing five militants in northern Gaza “who were attempting to locate weapons,” along with airstrikes and ground attacks that destroyed weapons storage facilities in southern Gaza’s Khan Younis area. 

The Gaza Health Ministry, which does not differentiate between fighters and civilians in its casualty totals, said Monday that the number of dead from Israel’s military campaign had risen to at least 24,100, with more than 60,000 others injured. 

Israel began its military campaign to wipe out Hamas after Hamas fighters crossed into southern Israel on October 7, killing 1,200 people and taking 240 people hostage in the terror attack. 

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres renewed his appeal Monday for an immediate humanitarian cease-fire, saying it is urgently needed to get aid to Palestinians, facilitate the release of hostages held by Hamas, and halt the spread of the war throughout the Middle East. 

“I am profoundly worried by what is unfolding,” Guterres told reporters at the United Nations.

Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong called Monday for a “sustainable cease-fire” in Gaza as she became the latest diplomat to travel to the region to discuss the conflict and humanitarian efforts.

“No cease-fire can be one sided and no cease-fire can be unconditional,” Wong said at a news conference ahead of her departure on the trip that includes stops in Jordan, Israel, the West Bank and the United Arab Emirates.

A temporary cease-fire in late November included militants in the Gaza Strip releasing more than 100 hostages, while Israel set free 240 Palestinian prisoners.

The World Food Program, World Health Organization and UNICEF warned Monday the amount of humanitarian aid entering Gaza is “far short of what is needed to prevent a deadly combination of hunger, malnutrition, and disease.”

The agencies called for new routes for aid to enter Gaza along with more trucks allowed in each day, as well as fewer restrictions on aid worker movements and better safety protections.

“People in Gaza risk dying of hunger just miles from trucks filled with food,” WFP Executive Director Cindy McCain said in a statement. “Every hour lost puts countless lives at risk. We can keep famine at bay but only if we can deliver sufficient supplies and have safe access to everyone in need, wherever they are.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has vowed to continue his country’s war against Hamas until victory.

Netanyahu said at a news conference late Saturday that Israel will not be deterred by accusations that Israel is committing genocide against Palestinians.

“No one will stop us, not The Hague, not the Axis of Evil, no one,” he said, referring to Hamas fighting Israel in Gaza, Iran-backed Hezbollah militants who have been firing on Israel from Lebanon, and Houthi militias who have been launching drones and missiles to attack commercial vessels in the Red Sea as a show of support to Hamas.

The Israeli prime minister spoke after a two-day hearing at the International Court of Justice in The Hague, where South Africa accused Israel of genocide in a case before the court. Israel has rejected the accusation as libelous and hypocritical.

Israel says that ending the war now would mean victory for Hamas, an Islamic militant group that has been designated as a terrorist organization by the United States, the European Union and Britain, among others. Hamas has ruled Gaza since 2007 and says it is bent on Israel’s destruction.

An interim ICJ ruling is expected in a few weeks. Rulings are binding but difficult to enforce.

Israel faces growing international pressure to end the war, which has led to widespread suffering in addition to the death toll. According to the Hamas-run Gaza health ministry, about two-thirds of the dead are women and children.

Since the start of Israel’s ground operation in late October, 186 Israeli soldiers have been killed and 1,099 more have been injured in Gaza, according to the military. More than 85% of Gaza’s population of 2.3 million have been displaced due to Israel’s air and ground offensive, and vast swaths of the territory have been leveled.


The VOA is the Voice of America

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