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Gaza Strip death toll nears 30,000, says Hamas

Photo: Mahmud Hams Archives Agence France-Presse The Hamas health ministry, whose figures are considered credible by the UN, says Tuesday that the war has killed 29,878 Gazans and injured 70,215 others since October 7.

Adel Zaanoun – Agence France-Presse in the Gaza Strip

10:48 a.m.

  • Middle East

Iman Mussallam finds it hard to believe that the number of deaths announced by Hamas in the Gaza Strip is already on track to reach 30,000, in less than five months of war between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist movement.

But she also knows that the real toll is “much higher”, with many victims buried under the rubble of Israeli bombings. And it will only get heavier.

This war is already, by far, the deadliest of the five between Israel and Hamas, ahead of that of 2014 (2,250 Palestinians killed).

“We don’t know how many martyrs there will be” at the end of the war, says the 30-year-old teacher, taking refuge in a UN building transformed into a shelter in Rafah, in the 'extreme south of the Palestinian territory.

These countless “tragedies” and “suffering” will have disastrous consequences for Palestinians for “generations,” Ahmed Orabi, professor of political science at the University of Gaza, told AFP.

The conflict was sparked on October 7 by a bloody attack in southern Israel by Hamas commandos from Gaza, where the Palestinian movement took power in 2007.

Israel has since carried out a massive air and ground offensive in retaliation in the Palestinian territory, where the cemeteries are full and there are no longer enough body bags to wrap the corpses.

Here, a farmer buried his three brothers and their five children in his citrus plantation. There, a mass grave was dug on a football field.

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Fear for Rafah

On Tuesday, the Hamas Ministry of Health, whose figures are considered credible by the UN, announced that 96 people had been killed in Israeli night strikes, bringing the death toll in the war to 29 878 dead and 70,215 injured since October 7.

About 70% of the dead are women and children, he said.

In the eyes of the Palestinians, “the enormous number of women, children and elderly people killed leaves no doubt that these were massacres,” underlines Professor Orabi.

Civilians are caught up in the fighting on a daily basis, between aerial bombardments and artillery and sniper fire, which have spared no area, devastated entire neighborhoods and forced many families to flee, often without being able to take anything with them.

Many only survive thanks to the solidarity of loved ones, sometimes strangers, on a strip of land approximately 40 kilometers long and 10 wide, already undermined before the war by an Israeli blockade imposed since 2006, poverty and unemployment.

More than 70% of Gaza's 2.4 million inhabitants have been displaced by the war and the population is at risk of famine, says the UN.

The latter, like many international leaders, now fears carnage in Rafah, where Israel has the firm intention of quickly completing its ground offensive, while nearly a million and a half people, 80% of them displaced, are pile up there.

“Death Zone”

In Israel, attention remains focused on the approximately 1,160 people, mostly civilians, killed during the October 7 attack, according to an AFP count based on official data.

And on the fate of the 130 hostages kidnapped that day and still held in Gaza, a torture for their loved ones and a trauma of an unprecedented magnitude for the country. In total some 250 people were kidnapped.

In Gaza, the population survives as best it can in the face of Israel's military response, relentlessly waged from land, sea and sky to “destroy” Hamas.

The Hamas Ministry of Health does not specify the number of Hamas fighters killed, estimated at 10,000 by the Israeli army, which deplores 240 deaths in the ground offensive and denies having deliberately targeted civilians.

Among civilian casualties, Gaza journalists who provide stories and images of the war to media around the world are paying a heavy price. According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, at least 88 media workers have died since October 7.

Gaza, described as a “death zone” by World Health Organization (WHO) Director Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, has become a permanent place of mourning.

Not a day goes by without a funeral, which grieving families must improvise according to the conditions of war.

The bodies are often transported on carts pulled by donkeys, due to lack of fuel.

Hospital staff, overwhelmed, exhausted and lacking everything, sometimes have to use ice cream trucks to guard the bodies before burials.

For Iman Mussallam, the war in Gaza is “the great massacre of modern history”.

It also attacks Hamas, which it accuses of having abandoned civilians to hide in its network of tunnels dug under Gaza.

But like many Gazans, she wonders: “how is this our fault?”.

Israel “systematically” blocks aid access to Gaza, UN denounces

Israeli forces are “systematically” blocking access to people in need of humanitarian aid in Gaza, further complicating the already delicate task of delivering aid into what has become a lawless war zone, the UN said on Tuesday.

Carrying out medical evacuations and aid deliveries in the northern Gaza Strip has become virtually impossible and increasingly difficult in the south, said spokesman Jens Laerke of the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

All aid convoys planned for the north have been refused by Israeli authorities in recent weeks, with the last one authorized on January 23, according to the World Health Organization (WHO) .

Worse still, even convoys that had received authorization from Israeli authorities were repeatedly blocked or came under fire.

Mr. Laerke thus recalled an incident that occurred last Sunday, when a convoy jointly organized by the WHO and the Palestinian Red Crescent to evacuate patients from the besieged Al Amal hospital in the city of Khan Yunis, was blocked for hours and that paramedics were arrested.

“Despite prior coordination with Israeli authorities for all personnel and vehicles, Israeli forces blocked the WHO convoy for many hours as soon as it left the hospital “, Laerke told reporters in Geneva.

“The Israeli military forced patients and staff out of ambulances and made medical staff undress,” he added, adding that the convoy, which was carrying 24 patients, was stuck for seven hours. .

“Three Palestinian Red Crescent paramedics were subsequently arrested, although their personal information had been provided to Israeli forces in advance,” Laerke said, adding that a only one of them had been released so far.

“This is not an isolated incident,” he stressed.

“Aid convoys have come under fire and are systematically denied access to people in need of rescue.”

This “inadequate facilitation of the delivery of aid into the Gaza Strip means that humanitarian workers are exposed to unacceptable and avoidable risks of being detained, injured or worse,” Mr. Laerke said.< /p>

The war broke out on October 7 when Hamas commandos launched an unprecedented attack on southern Israel, killing at least 1,160 people, most of them civilians, according to one count. from AFP made from official Israeli data.

During the attack, some 250 people were kidnapped and taken to Gaza. According to Israel, 130 hostages are still being held there, 31 of whom are believed to have died.

Agence France-Presse, in Geneva

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116