Israel Resumes Attack on Southern Gaza Strip, Death Toll Rises
Israel resumed its attack on targets in the southern Gaza Strip on Saturday, ordering more neighborhoods designated for attack to evacuate. The renewed fighting has driven up the death toll, prompting the United States and other countries to urge Israel to do more to protect civilians after a truce collapsed.
Israeli officials cited a terrorist attack that killed four people in Jerusalem on Thursday as part of the reason for the renewed fighting. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stated that the war will continue until all its goals are achieved, emphasizing the need for a ground operation to do so.
The health ministry in Hamas-run Gaza reported that about 200 Palestinians have been killed since the fighting resumed on Friday, with more than 15,200 deaths overall since the war started on October 7. The ministry stated that 70% of the dead were women and children, with more than 40,000 people wounded since the war began.
Israel has faced criticism for civilian casualties, with the military claiming it is targeting Hamas operatives and blaming the militants for operating in residential neighborhoods. The military stated that it has struck more than 400 targets since the fighting resumed in Gaza on Friday, with a focus on the Khan Younis area in southern Gaza.
The renewed hostilities have also raised concerns for the safety of 136 hostages still held captive by Hamas and other militants. The truce had resulted in the freeing of 105 hostages, but the renewed fighting has halted any progress on freeing the remaining captives.
The International Rescue Committee, an aid group operating in Gaza, warned that the return of fighting will have catastrophic effects on Palestinian civilians, wiping out even the minimal relief provided by the truce.
The prospect of further cease-fires in Gaza appeared bleak as Israel recalled its negotiators and Hamas’ deputy leader stated that any further swap of Gaza-held hostages for Palestinians imprisoned by Israel would only happen as part of ending the war. As the conflict escalates, concerns for civilians and the humanitarian situation in Gaza continue to grow.