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Health Ministry in Hamas-run Gaza says fatalities surpassed 15,200, 70% of them women and children

Many of Israel’s attacks Saturday were focused on the Khan Younis area in southern Gaza, where the military said it had struck more than 50 Hamas targets with airstrikes, tank fire and its navy.

GAZA STRIP: The Health Ministry in Hamas-run Gaza said the death toll has surpassed 15,200 and that 70% of those killed were women and children.

The figure was announced Saturday by ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Qidra, who did provide further details.

The previous toll given by the ministry was more than 13,300 dead. Al-Qidra did not explain the sharp jump. However, the ministry hGaza deathsad only been able to provide sporadic updates since Nov. 11, amid problems with connectivity and major war-related disruptions in hospital operations.

The ministry does not differentiate between civilians and combatants.

Israel pounded targets in the southern Gaza Strip on Saturday, intensifying a renewed offensive that followed a weeklong truce with Hamas and giving rise to renewed concerns about civilian casualties.

At least 200 Palestinians have been killed since the fighting resumed Friday morning, according to the Health Ministry in Hamas-run Gaza, even as the United States urged ally Israel to do everything possible to protect civilians.

“They expelled us from the north, and now they are pushing us to leave the south.”

Israel’s military said it also carried out strikes in the north, and hit more than 400 targets in all across the Gaza Strip.

Some 2 million people — almost Gaza’s entire population — are crammed into the territory’s south, where Israel urged people to relocate at the war’s start and has since vowed to extend its ground assault. Unable to go into north Gaza or neighboring Egypt, their only escape is to move around within the 220-square-kilometre (85-square-mile) area.

In response to U.S. calls to protect civilians, the Israeli military released an online map, but it has done more to confuse than to help.

It divides the Gaza Strip into hundreds of numbered, haphazardly drawn parcels, sometimes across roads or blocks, and asks residents to learn the number of their location in case of an eventual evacuation.

“The publication does not specify where people should evacuate to,” the U.N. office for coordinating humanitarian issues in the Palestinian territory noted in its daily report. “It is unclear how those residing in Gaza would access the map without electricity and amid recurrent telecommunications cuts.”

Egypt has expressed concerns the renewed offensive could cause Palestinians to try and cross into its territory. In a statement late Friday, the Egyptian Foreign Ministry said the forced transfer of Palestinians “is a red line.”

U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris, who was in Dubai on Saturday for the COP28 climate conference, was expected to outline proposals with regional leaders to “put Palestinian voices at the centre” of planning the next steps for the Gaza Strip after the conflict, according to the White House. The U.S.

During the truce, Israel freed 240 Palestinians from its prisons. Most of those released from both sides were women and children.

The war began after the Oct. 7 attack by Hamas and other militants, who killed about 1,200 people, mostly civilians, in southern Israel and took around 240 people captive.

After the end of the truce, militants in Gaza resumed firing rockets into Israel, and fighting broke out between Israel and Hezbollah militants operating along its northern border with Lebanon.

 

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