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Gaza death toll exceeds 30,000 in ongoing Israeli assault

Over 30,000 lives lost in the 5-month Israel-Gaza conflict, with 13,000 children and 8,800 women among the casualties. As the crisis deepens, Prime Minister Netanyahu vows military action in Rafah, while ceasefire negotiations progress amid escalating casualties.



(Photo: UNRWA)

In the past five months, the conflict between Israel and Gaza has taken a devastating toll, with the Ministry of Health in Gaza reporting a total death toll exceeding 30,000.

Among the casualties, more than 13,000 were children and 8,800 were women.

The humanitarian situation in Gaza is worsening, with over 70,457 people injured, including more than 11,000 in critical condition requiring evacuation.

As the crisis deepens, Gaza is on the brink of famine, and there are concerns about a potential Israeli ground invasion of Rafah.

Approximately 1.5 million people, mostly displaced by the war, are seeking shelter in Rafah.

The World Health Organization’s Director-General, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, has called for a ceasefire, emphasizing the need to end the “horrific violence and suffering.”

Samantha Power, head of the US Agency for International Development (USAID), stressed the urgent need for Israel to open more crossings to allow a surge in humanitarian assistance, describing it as a “matter of life and death.”

United Nations aid agencies have accused Israel of systematically blocking aid to desperate Palestinians in Gaza, warning that a quarter of the enclave’s population is on the brink of famine.

The situation escalated further when the Israeli military opened fire on Palestinians waiting for food aid in Gaza, resulting in over 100 Palestinians killed and around 700 others sustaining injuries, according to the Health Ministry.

The Palestinian Ministry of Foreign Affairs strongly condemned what it deemed a cold-blooded “massacre” in response to the recent attack.

According to the ministry, this incident is viewed as a disturbing part of Israel’s ongoing “genocidal war.”

Urging immediate action, the ministry called upon the international community to intervene urgently, emphasizing that establishing a ceasefire is the only viable means to safeguard civilians from further harm.

Netanyahu vows military action in Rafah despite ceasefire talks

In the latest assault (23 Feb) on Palestinians in the southern Gaza Strip’s largest city, Rafah, at least seven people, including a child, were killed by Israeli forces.

The attack targeted a residential building housing displaced individuals, resulting in significant destruction to buildings and cars.

The aftermath revealed a devastating scene, with victims, including women, children, and the elderly, scattered on the road.

The injured were taken to Yusuf al-Najjar Hospital in Rafah, as reported by Al Jazeera.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared on Sunday (25 Feb) that Israeli forces would advance into the southern Gaza Strip city of Rafah, irrespective of the ongoing progress in talks aimed at a temporary ceasefire.

Emphasizing the pursuit of “total victory,” Netanyahu acknowledged a potential delay if a cease-fire agreement is reached.

Israeli officials hinted at the possibility of the battle for Rafah occurring during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, set to commence in the second week of March.

Netanyahu justified the military action, stating that the war was imposed on Israel, accusing Hamas of targeting civilians and using them as shields.

Israel claimed to facilitate the movement of displaced civilians in Rafah to safer locations, emphasizing that the population was relocated from other combat zones.

Netanyahu, in a late Sunday interview with CBS, outlined that the intense phase of fighting in Rafah would take weeks to complete.

He asserted alignment with the U.S. regarding the necessity to evacuate civilians, emphasizing that the relocation aims to provide space for them in areas already cleared of conflict.

The Israeli leader reiterated that Israel had no plans to push Palestinians in Rafah towards the border with Egypt.

Ceasefire negotiations progress

Negotiations for a cease-fire deal continued amid the escalating casualties in Israel’s war on Gaza.

The Israeli war cabinet was scheduled to meet on Saturday (24 Feb) to receive a briefing from negotiators who held talks in Paris with representatives from the United States, Israel, Egypt, and Qatar.

Reports suggested the agreement on a new draft for a captive deal during the Paris meeting.

The proposed outline involves Hamas releasing approximately 40 captives in exchange for a six-week cease-fire and the release of hundreds of Palestinian prisoners held by Israel.

If approved, follow-up meetings would occur in the coming days.

Biden administration officials expressed a desire to reach a deal before the start of Ramadan on 10 March.

The success of the negotiations hinged on Qatari and Egyptian negotiators convincing Hamas to agree to the proposed terms.

Reports indicated progress in the talks, with all parties demonstrating flexibility and the potential for a deal before the holy month of Ramadan, though further progress rested in the hands of Hamas.

President Joe Biden addressed the Israel-Hamas conflict during an appearance on “Late Night with Seth Meyers” on 26 February.

In response to questions about calls for an immediate cease-fire, Biden acknowledged the difficulty but emphasized the need for the release of hostages.

He mentioned an agreement by the Israelis not to engage in activities during Ramadan to allow time for securing the release of hostages.

Biden expressed optimism that a temporary cease-fire could lead to changing dynamics and potentially pave the way for a two-state solution in the long term.

He reiterated this hope, stating, “My hope is by next Monday we will have a cease-fire.”

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