Israel’s aerial attacks on the Gaza Strip have so far killed 3,785 people, including 1,524 children and 1,000 women, and wounded more than 12,000, Palestinian health officials said on Thursday.
On the 13th day after Palestinian militant group Hamas launched a serious of coordinated surprise attacks on Israel, killing at least 1400 people, Israeli air strikes continue to blast the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip.
Wednesday night and Thursday morning saw reports of dozens of civilian deaths as Israel said they struck “hundreds” of sites in Gaza over the past 24 hours.
The Israeli forces on early Thursday targeted Rafah, a city on the border with Egypt in Gaza’s southern region, where civilians fled following repeated evacuation instructions by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). At least thirty people have been killed and 21 injured, Wafa, the official state-run news agency of the Palestinian National Authority reported.
Reports of air strikes are also coming in from the north and centre of the Gaza Strip. Warplanes attacked a house in the centre of Khan Younis in the south of Gaza City, killing 13 people and wounding many others.
Israel strikes Hezbollah targets in Lebanon
Earlier in the night, Israel also attacked Hezbollah targets in Lebanon. According to the Israeli forces’ statement, the attacks were in response to several rockets fired from Lebanon into northern Israel. Some missiles are said to have been intercepted, no casualties have been reported.
Since the commencement of the latest Gaza conflict, there have been periodic exchanges of fire between Lebanese militant group Hezbollah and Israeli forces but these skirmishes have not yet extended into civilian-populated areas.
Hamas signals willingness to release hostages for ceasefire
The political leader of Hamas in the West Bank has indicated that the militant group may be open to releasing hostages if Israel agrees to a 24-hour ceasefire. In an interview with Globe and Mail, Sheikh Hassan Yousef conveyed Hamas’s willingness to consider such a move to enable the delivery of humanitarian aid to Gaza.
“Hamas has no interest in holding women and children, and is likely to be willing to release them and the foreign hostages if Israel agrees to a cessation of hostilities to allow humanitarian aid into Gaza,” Sheikh Hassan Yousef stated.
At least 203 people abducted during 7 October attacks are being held hostage by Hamas in Gaza, according to the Israeli military.
Ground operation looms
The Israeli army had finalised preparations for a ground operation in the Gaza Strip, Israel’s state television KAN announced on Wednesday, describing the upcoming ground operation as the “second phase” of the war “after the clearing of Jewish settlements from armed Palestinians”.
Land forces of the Israeli army massed close to the Gaza fence on Thursday.