Israeli airstrikes hit the Gaza Strip for the sixth consecutive day as fears of a humanitarian disaster in the besieged Palestinian enclave grow.
Israel said on Thursday it had dropped 6,000 bombs weighing 4,000 tonnes on Gaza over the past six days, killing more than 1,400 people.
Officials in Gaza said the dead included 447 children, 248 women and 10 health workers. More than 150 people were killed on Thursday alone.
Entire neighborhoods of Gaza – home to 2.3 million people, half of them children – have been destroyed by relentless bombardment, forcing 338,000 Palestinians to flee their homes and seek refuge.
The death toll in the occupied West Bank also rose to 31 while more than 600 people were injured, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry.
On the Israeli side, at least 1,300 people have been killed since the Palestinian armed group Hamas attacked southern Israel and took at least 100 people captive on Saturday.
Israel has imposed a complete siege of Gaza, cutting off access to food, water, medicine and fuel, as its forces prepare for a possible ground attack.
Here is a summary of the latest developments:
Gazans left homeless by bombing
The United Nations humanitarian office said Israeli bombing of Gaza has destroyed more than 1,000 homes since Saturday, while another 560 homes have been seriously damaged and rendered uninhabitable.
More than 12,600 homes were damaged by Israeli airstrikes, the agency, called the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), said.
He said reduced water supplies due to Israel’s tightening siege on the Gaza Strip have led to severe water shortages for more than 650,000 people.
Sewage systems were destroyed, OCHA added, sending fetid sewage into the streets and posing a health risk.
Israeli airstrikes have made access to Gaza’s cemeteries unsafe, so grieving families bury their dead in informal cemeteries dug in empty lots, according to reports.
Hospitals risk turning into morgues
Human rights groups have said Gaza’s health system, already stretched to its limits by a 16-year blockade, is on the verge of complete collapse. The only power plant in the enclave was forced to close its doors on Wednesday after a fuel shortage.
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said Gaza’s hospitals “risk turning into morgues” as seriously injured civilians, including infants, are rushed into its overcrowded wards, where beds and medical supplies are running out.
“As Gaza loses electricity, hospitals are losing power, putting newborns in incubators and elderly patients on oxygen at risk,” said Fabrizio Carboni, ICRC regional director.
OCHA said the territory’s 13 hospitals are only partially operational due to severe shortages of fuel and crucial medical supplies.
Israel said Thursday there would be no humanitarian exceptions to its siege of Gaza until all its hostages are released by Hamas.
“Humanitarian aid to Gaza? No power switch will be lifted, no water hydrants will be opened and no fuel trucks will enter until the Israeli hostages are returned home,” Israeli Energy Minister Israel Katz said. in a message on social networks.
Egypt says it is facilitating aid flights to Gaza
Egypt said Thursday it was directing international aid flights to Gaza to an airport in North Sinai, although Israeli bombardment along the border has so far hampered the delivery of relief supplies.
The Rafah border crossing between Sinai and Gaza remains open, the Egyptian Foreign Ministry said, adding that Egypt had asked Israel to avoid targeting the Palestinian side of the crossing after strikes prevented normal operations over there.
Israeli bombings and the total siege of Gaza have sparked concern in Egypt, which shares a border with the south of this narrow coastal enclave.
El Arish airport in northern Sinai, about 45 km from the border with Gaza, was ready to receive aid deliveries from Qatar and Jordan, but these would not leave the airport until humanitarian corridors were established, Egyptian security sources told Reuters. agency.
US Secretary of State in Israel
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken arrived in Israel on Thursday as President Joe Biden’s administration seeks to send an unequivocal message of support to its ally Israel and deter regional forces hostile to it from joining the fight alongside Hamas.
Blinken spoke to reporters in Tel Aviv, saying the toll of American citizens killed in Hamas attacks stood at at least 25, from 22 Wednesday.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said: “Thank you, America, for standing with Israel today, tomorrow and always. »
Also on Thursday, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said he expected the Israeli military to “do the right thing” as it prepares for a ground attack on Gaza. He said the United States had not placed any conditions on military assistance to Israel.
Rights groups fear that, in the face of little external pressure, the Israeli assault on Gaza could continue without regard for civilian casualties or compliance with international law.
Palestinians killed by settlers in the West Bank
While the world’s attention is focused on events in Gaza and Israel, tensions in the occupied West Bank are also at a boiling point with the Israeli lockdown in place and Israeli settlers killing several Palestinians in a series of attacks. attacks last week.
On Thursday, a Palestinian father and his son were shot dead by settlers and Israeli soldiers participating in a funeral procession for four Palestinians killed in a settler attack the day before.
Also on Thursday, two Palestinians were injured by Israeli forces in a shooting near a police station in occupied East Jerusalem.
Israeli police said they opened fire on a group of Palestinians after a man allegedly fired at the police station.