BY THE ASSOCIATED PRESS, Oct 25: Israel has ramped up airstrikes across the Gaza Strip, reducing residential buildings to rubble and crushing families. Airstrikes have killed dozens at a time in leveled homes, according to witnesses.
The surging death toll foretells even greater loss of life ahead in Gaza, where Israeli forces are expected to launch a ground invasion seeking to destory Hamas. Fuel shortages and the bombardment forced the shutdown of medical facilities, Gaza officials said.
U.S. and other officials fear the fighting could spill over into a wider regional conflict.
The war, in its 19th day Wednesday, is the deadliest of five Gaza wars for both sides. The Hamas-run Health Ministry said Tuesday that least 5,791 Palestinians have been killed, including at least 704 in the past day, and 16,297 wounded. In the occupied West Bank, 96 Palestinians have been killed and 1,650 wounded in violence and Israeli raids since Oct. 7.
The Associated Press could not independently verify the death tolls cited by Hamas, which says it tallies figures from hospital directors.
More than 1,400 people in Israel have been killed, according to Israeli officials, 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.