Israeli assault intensifies in Gaza, civilian toll rises
Israeli forces escalated their offensive in central Gaza on Wednesday, launching intense attacks by land, sea, and air.
Palestinian authorities reported a significant increase in casualties, including 20 deaths from a single airstrike near Al-Amal Hospital in Khan Younis, located in the southern part of the Gaza Strip. The Israeli military has not yet commented on this specific incident.
Israel's Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi expressed determination to continue the military campaign against Hamas, indicating that the conflict could last for many months. He emphasized the lack of "magic solutions" or "shortcuts" in this war effort, despite mounting international calls for a ceasefire due to the worsening humanitarian crisis in Gaza.
The latest figures from the Gaza health ministry show that Israeli forces have killed 195 Palestinians and injured 325 in the past 24 hours. The cumulative toll since October 7 stands at 21,110 killed and 55,243 wounded due to Israeli attacks. The intensity of the conflict has forced nearly all of Gaza's 2.3 million residents to flee their homes multiple times.
Israel reported the death of three more soldiers in Gaza, bringing the total military fatalities to 166 since ground operations commenced on October 20. Meanwhile, the Hamas armed wing claimed to have targeted Israeli bulldozers and a tank in Khan Younis, a region that has witnessed intense combat recently.
Humanitarian Crisis Deepens
The World Health Organization highlighted the dire state of Gaza's healthcare system, now operating at only 20% capacity compared to 80 days ago. WHO's emergency medical team coordinator, Sean Casey, described the situation as a "bloodbath," with hospitals overwhelmed by trauma cases.
Amidst the ongoing violence, President Joe Biden of the United States has criticized the "indiscriminate bombing" by Israel and urged greater efforts to minimize civilian casualties. In a separate development, high-level talks between U.S. and Israeli officials, including White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan and Israeli Strategic Affairs Minister Ron Dermer, focused on post-war governance and security in Gaza.
In the Israeli-occupied West Bank, six youths were killed during an Israeli raid in Tulkarm. The Palestinian health ministry stated the youths were not involved in the clashes, contradicting the Israeli military's claim that they were militants attacking Israeli forces.