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Health ministry in Hamas-run Gaza says war death toll hits 10,812

Fierce street-by-street combat rages in Gaza City

By AFP

November 9, 2023 06:53 PM


 

The health ministry in Hamas-run Gaza said Thursday that 10,812 people have been killed in the weeks-long war between Israel and the militant group which controls the Palestinian territory.

At least 4,412 children are among those killed, while another 26,905 people have been wounded in a blistering Israeli assault in retaliation for a deadly attack on southern Israel by Hamas militants on October 7.

 

8 Palestinians killed in Israeli raid on Jenin: ministry

 

Eight Palestinians were killed Thursday in an Israeli raid on Jenin in the occupied West Bank, the Palestinian health ministry said as AFP journalists reported intense fighting.

They saw black smoke rising over Jenin and heard multiple explosions and gunfire.

A statement from the Palestinian health ministry said the current death toll in Jenin stood at eight, with 14 others wounded.

The Israeli army said its forces were operating in the northern West Bank city, but did not provide further details.

Fierce street-by-street combat rages in Gaza City

Israeli troops and Hamas were locked in heavy, close-quarters fighting in Gaza City on Thursday, including a 10-hour battle that Israel said toppled one of the Palestinian fighters' strongholds.

Hamas fighters armed with rocket-propelled grenade launchers and assault rifles were clashing with Israeli soldiers backed by armoured vehicles in the ruins of the besieged territory's north.

 

 

- Stronghold and tunnels -

 

The Israeli military said its forces secured a Hamas "military stronghold" in the western Jabalia area in the past day, adding the troops had "finished securing the compound after 10 hours of combat".

The battle raged above and below ground, it said, exposing some of Hamas's extensive network of tunnel and subterranean bases that form a significant element of the militants' capacity to fight.

Israel said dozens of fighters were killed while adding the overall death toll for Israel's troops in the ground offensive had risen to 34.

The intense combat and the densely populated coastal territory being effectively sealed off have led to increasingly dire conditions for civilians.

French President Emmanuel Macron urged nations to "work towards a ceasefire" between Israel and Hamas, as he opened a conference in Paris on Gaza aid.

Israel is not attending the meeting, which aims to mobilise the main players involved in the humanitarian response in the Palestinian territory.

Tom Potokar, chief surgeon at the International Committee of the Red Cross, described the scene at the European hospital in Khan Yunis in southern Gaza as "catastrophic".

"In the last 24 hours, I've seen three patients with maggots in their wounds," Potokar told AFP.

Italy said it is sending a hospital ship to the Middle East that is expected to arrive "in a couple of days", without confirming how close the ship would get to Gaza.

 

- Thousands fleeing fighting -

 

The army said 50,000 people had fled their homes in the main battle zone of northern Gaza on Wednesday, a sharp increase in numbers from earlier this week, adding to the more than 1.5 million people already seeking safety in the south of the coastal strip.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) confirmed the figure, and warned hundreds of thousands of civilians remained in battle zones north of the central Wadi Gaza district.

"We know the civil situation in the Gaza Strip is not an easy one," said Colonel Moshe Tetro, head of coordination and liaison at COGAT, the Israeli defence ministry body handling civil affairs in Gaza.

Yet as he spoke, the climbing death toll in the territory meant that Palestinians were having to inter their dead in makeshift cemeteries.

"We bury the dead in football fields and other vacant lots because the proper burial grounds are full," said Shihteh Nasser, 48, helped in the burials.

Bodies have piled up outside hospitals, on roads and in parks, in refrigerated trucks and even in a repurposed ice-cream van.

 

- After the war -

 

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has repeatedly rejected a ceasefire unless the 239 hostages Hamas currently holds in Gaza are released.

According to a source close to Hamas, talks are underway for the release of 12 hostages, including six Americans, in return for a three-day ceasefire.

The United States has backed Israel's rejection of a ceasefire, and G7 foreign ministers in Japan said Wednesday they supported "humanitarian pauses and corridors".

As the war intensifies, discussions on the possible future of Gaza once the conflict ends have also grown, after Netanyahu this week said Israel would assume "overall security" of the territory.

US National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said Wednesday that it was plausible that "for at least some period of time" Israeli forces would remain in Gaza "to manage the immediate aftermath and security situation".

Israel seized Gaza in the 1967 Six-Day War and withdrew in 2005. Two years later, Hamas took control and Israel imposed a crippling blockade.

In the longer term, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has suggested the Palestinian Authority -- which exercises limited autonomy only in parts of the occupied West Bank -- should retake control of Gaza.

"It must include Palestinian-led governance and Gaza unified with the West Bank under the Palestinian Authority," Blinken said on Wednesday, repeating the long-standing US call for a two-state solution.

Since the war broke out, violence has also gripped the West Bank, whose health ministry said eight Palestinians were killed Thursday during an Israeli army raid on the northern city of Jenin.



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