MORE than 700 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli air strikes on the Gaza Strip over the past 24 hours, the Hamas-run health ministry reported yesterday.
UN aid agencies meanwhile pleaded for sustained and safe humanitarian access, warning they were ‘on their knees’, after being completely starved of resources.
A third of hospitals in Gaza are no longer functioning due to acute shortages of electricity, medicine and staff, and the absence of clean water is now critical.
Israel launched its mass bombing and starvation campaign against Hamas after it was shaken to its core when Hamas fighters defeated all of Israel’s ‘impregnable’ obstacles and launched a cross-border attack on 7 October in which 222 Israeli settlers and soldiers were taken hostage.
Nearly 5,800 people have been killed in Gaza since then, according to the health ministry, as Israel vowed to bomb Gazans out of existence.
Intense Israeli air strikes overnight, every night now hit hundreds of locations across Gaza as the Zionists seek to drive Gaza back to the Stone Age, killing thousands of Gazans in the process, men, women and very young children.
Some of those killed in the southern cities of Khan Younis and Rafah were displaced people who had fled the north in response to the Israeli military order to evacuate the area as the only way to save their lives.
They included 13 members of one family from Gaza City, who had been staying in a residential building in Qarara, on the north-eastern outskirts of Khan Younis, where the population has swelled from 400,000 to 1.2 million. A relative who survived said: ‘We were sleeping and suddenly a big explosion happened. All of my family are dead.’
The BBC’s Rushdi Abu Alouf says there was grief, shock and anger at the city’s hospital on Tuesday morning, as bodies were brought out of the mortuary and taken away for burial. Mourners said there was ‘no safe place’ in Gaza. Later, about 20 people were reportedly killed in a strike on a residential building in the heavily-populated Amal area of Khan Younis.
Israel’s military chief meanwhile said that his ‘unrelenting attacks’ will fully dismantle Hamas. If anything, the brutal Israeli bombing campaign has strengthened Hamas and made it even more resolute.
The Hamas-run health ministry said yesterday that the last 24 hours had been the deadliest 24 hours of the war so far, with 704 people reported killed, including 305 children, 173 women and 78 elderly people. That brought the overall death toll in Gaza to 5,791, it added.
The Israel Defence Forces said on Tuesday morning that its jets struck ‘dozens of terror infrastructure and Hamas staging grounds’ in several northern areas in and around Gaza City, as well as a ‘Hamas operational tunnel shaft’ near the Mediterranean coastline.
It added that aircraft also targeted Hamas command centres and staging grounds located in mosques, killing the deputy commanders of three battalions of Hamas’s military wing, and also struck dozens of Hamas gunmen setting up to fire rockets towards Israel.
‘We want to bring Hamas to a state of full dismantling – its leaders, its military branch, and its working mechanisms,’ IDF Chief of Staff Lt Gen Herzi Halevi told commanders on Monday. ‘The path is a path of unrelenting attacks, damaging Hamas everywhere and in every way.’
He also said that Israeli troops massing near the Gaza perimeter fence were ‘well prepared for the ground operations’ – a reference to the invasion expected soon and also expected to kill thousands of Hamas fighters if the Zionists can breach the tunnel defences.
A spokeswoman for the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA, which runs the largest humanitarian operation in Gaza, warned that it had also almost exhausted its fuel stocks. If we do not get fuel urgently, we will be forced to halt our operations in the Gaza Strip as of Wednesday night,’ Juliette Touma told the BBC.
At a briefing in Geneva, UNRWA said just 54 lorries of aid had been allowed to cross through the Egyptian-controlled Rafah crossing since 21 October. Before that, Gaza had been receiving around 500 lorries a day.
British workers this Saturday will be marching through London and in all major cities in support of the workers and youth of Gaza .
This march must be followed by the TUC calling a general strike to support the people of Gaza by removing the Tory government and replacing it with a Workers Government that will give the workers and youth of Gaza all the support that they require to win their epic and historic struggle.