April 13, 2024

Number of lives lost in Gaza passes 30,000, Hamas-run health ministry says | World News

The figure comes as health officials in the territory said at least 70 people had been killed and more than 280 had been wounded in a strike on a crowd waiting for aid in Gaza City.

The Hamas-run health ministry says more than 30,000 Palestinians have died in Gaza since the war began.

The Gaza health ministry does not differentiate between civilians and combatants in its count but says women and children make up around two-thirds of those killed.

It also says the actual figure is higher because there are bodies buried under the rubble and in areas that medics cannot reach.

Israeli military officials have admitted the figure for the amount of deaths is probably right, while the US State Department has also said the number could be even higher because many bodies are likely to be under rubble and unaccounted for.

The Hamas-run health ministry has given the precise figures of 30,035 Palestinians dead and 70,457 injured in Israel’s assault on Gaza.

It comes as Israel’s assault on the densely populated strip approaches the end of its fifth month – and amid fears that the Israel Defence Forces will launch a ground offensive against the southern city of Rafah.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said he is determined to destroy Hamas after the militant group killed 1,200 people and seized about 250 hostages on 7 October 2023.

Talks have been held to agree a pause in military operations in Gaza and swap Israeli hostages held in the territory for Palestinian prisoners – and it is hoped that another deal may be close.

A Palestinian woman holds her child as she stands at a house damaged in Israeli strikes in Rafah. Pic: Reuters

Meanwhile, health officials in the Palestinian territory said on Thursday that at least 70 people had been killed and more than 280 had been wounded in a strike on a crowd waiting for aid in Gaza City.

Dr Hussam Abu Safiya, the director of the Kamal Adwan Hospital, said it had received at least 10 bodies and 160 wounded people.

Fares Afana, the head of the ambulance service at Kamal Adwan, said medics arriving at the scene found “dozens or hundreds” lying on the ground. He said there were not enough ambulances to collect all the dead and wounded and that some were brought to hospitals on donkey carts.

Dr Mohammad Salha, acting director of the Al-Awda Hospital, said it received 90 wounded and three dead, who were transferred to Kamal Adwan.

“We expect a rise in the number killed,” he said. “There are many wounded still at the reception and the emergency room.”

He said Al-Awda is largely out of commission, with no electricity and the operating room running on battery power with only hours left. Gaza’s health sector is under severe strain nearly five months into the Israel-Hamas war.

The Israeli military said it was looking into the reports.

Israel warned against invading Rafah

Thirty thousand dead, in less than five months of fighting. That figure doesn’t include the huge number injured.

It is only an estimate, and impossible for us to accurately corroborate as a figure, but historically the running toll during past Israel-Hamas wars has proven to be fairly accurate, once the guns have fallen silent and the dead could be formally counted.

Israel has repeatedly tried to discredit the Gaza health ministry which collates the numbers as being “Hamas-run” but, in truth, the people who count and register the dead tend to be medical professionals or administrators; according to reports by a number of international news agencies. IDF officials have admitted the figure is probably broadly right and the US State Department has assessed it could be even higher because of the many who are undoubtedly buried under rubble and currently irretrievable.

Among that number, Israel estimates around 12,000 of them were Hamas fighters – that means almost 20,000 were civilians, the majority reportedly women and children – they are every bit as much victims of Hamas’s deadly terror attack on 7 October as Israel’s unforgiving assault on Gaza ever since.

By way of comparison, the charity Oxfam calculated the average number of dead each day in Gaza to be higher than any other recent conflict including in Ukraine, Sudan, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and Yemen.

Although the Israel Defence Forces claims to be the most moral army in the world and insists it is making more effort than any army “in the history of the world” to prevent civilian casualties, its tactics in the first few months of the war were clearly assessed by allies, including the US, to be too heavy-handed.

The secretary of state Antony Blinken spoke of there being “a gap” between “Israel’s intent to protect civilians and what we’re seeing on the ground” and President Biden said that “too many” of the dead have been civilians.

It’s those concerns that are persuading Washington and others to warn Israel against invading the southern city of Rafah – with more than 1.1 million people sheltering there, and Israeli assault along the lines that we’ve witnessed over the past months, such an operation could result in a bloodbath unless considerable efforts are made to protect Palestinian civilians.

Meanwhile, a senior UN official has warned that at least a quarter of Gaza’s population is one step away from famine and many children are severely malnourished.

Humanitarian coordinator Ramesh Ramasingham told the UN Security Council last night that “there is every possibility for further deterioration” in the enclave, where nearly everyone needs food.

One in six children under two in northern Gaza – which was first targeted by Israel – are suffering from “acute malnutrition and wasting”, he said.

Despite the huge number of Palestinian casualties and the humanitarian crisis, the leader of Hamas has reportedly expressed confidence that the militant group is winning its war against Israel.

Media seeking ‘free access’ to Gaza

Yahya Sinwar, who has remained in hiding during the conflict, recently told senior Hamas officials in Qatar that his group “has the Israelis right where we want them”, according to the Wall Street Journal.

It comes the UN’s human rights chief Volker Turk has said war crimes have committed by both sides of the conflict between Israel and Hamas.

Speaking at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, Mr Turk said all suspected war crimes should be investigated and those responsible held accountable.

“Clear violations of international human rights and humanitarian laws, including war crimes and possibly other crimes under international law, have been committed by all parties,” Mr Turk said.

“It is time – well past time – for peace, investigation and accountability.”

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