Palestinian death toll soars past 25,000 in Gaza with no end in sight to Israel-Hamas war


Palestinians surround a car that was hit by an Israeli airstrike in Rafah, Gaza Strip, Saturday, Jan. 20, 2024. (AP Photo/Hatem Ali)

BY NAJIB JOBAIN AND SAMY MAGDYRAFAH, Gaza Strip, Jan 21: The Palestinian death toll in Gaza from over three months of war between Israel and the territory’s Hamas rulers has soared past 25,000, the Gaza Health Ministry said Sunday.

At least 178 bodies were brought to Gaza’s hospitals in 24 hours along with nearly 300 wounded people, according to Health Ministry spokesperson Ashraf al-Qidra.

Women and children are the main victims in the Israel-Hamas war, according to the United Nations.

The war began with Hamas’ surprise attack on Israel on Oct. 7, in which Palestinian militants killed some 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and took around 250 hostage, including men, women and children.

Israel responded with a three-week air campaign and then a ground invasion into northern Gaza that flattened entire neighbourhoods. Ground operations are now focused on the southern city of Khan Younis and built-up refugee camps in central Gaza dating back to the 1948 war surrounding Israel’s creation.

Some 85% of Gaza’s population have fled their homes, with hundreds of thousands packing into U.N.-run shelters and tent camps in the southern part of the tiny coastal enclave. U.N. officials say a quarter of the population of 2.3 million is starving as only a trickle of humanitarian aid enters because of the fighting and Israeli restrictions.

Gaza’s Health Ministry says a total of 25,105 Palestinians have been killed in the territory since Oct. 7, and another 62,681 have been wounded. Al-Qidra said many casualties remain buried under the rubble from Israeli strikes or in areas where medics cannot reach them.

The ministry does not differentiate between civilians and combatants in its death toll but says around two-thirds of those killed were women and minors.

The Israeli military says it has killed around 9,000 militants, without providing evidence, and blames the high civilian death toll on Hamas because it fights in dense, residential neighbourhoods.

The military says 195 of its soldiers have been killed since the start of the Gaza offensive.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has vowed to keep up the offensive until Hamas is dismantled and all the hostages are returned.

Nearly half of the captives were released during a weeklong cease-fire in November in exchange for the release of scores of Palestinians imprisoned by Israel. Israel says some 130 remain in captivity, but only around 100 are believed to be still alive.

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