At least 6,546 people, the majority of them women and children, died after Israel’s military began deploying a limited ground operation in the Gaza Strip, following nearly three weeks of brutal airstrikes that were launched in retaliation for a surprise attack by Hamas militants.
Military officials say they struck Hamas sites and operatives in the hours-long ‘targeted raid’ before returning infantry units to the Israeli side of the border, as troops prepare for a larger ground assault.
The Israeli military and border police forces were criticized for killing Palestinian children with virtually no recourse for accountability long before the war. Activists in allied nations have said Israeli forces should end the routine use of lethal force against Palestinian children.
The Hamas-run Health Ministry in Gaza released a list that included 6,747 people killed by Israeli attacks, among the dead were 2,665 children.
Another 529 bodies remain to be identified, the ministry added.
Citizens inside Israel’s allies are vocally asserting that their government leaders should increase pressure to end the unlawful practice.
The Israel Defense Forces tanks and infantry “struck numerous terrorist cells, infrastructure, and anti-tank missile launch posts” before returning to Israeli territory.
The “targeted raid” appeared to be the most significant ground offensive into the Palestinian enclave since war broke out earlier this month, as the IDF prepares a full-scale invasion to eliminate the Hamas terror group that has ruled the Gaza Strip since 2007.
Israeli airstrikes have damaged at least 29,000 buildings in the Gaza Strip since Oct. 7, the Government Media Office in the blockaded enclave said Thursday.
Around 190,000 homes have been partially damaged in the attacks so far, while at least 2,000 people are still trapped under the debris, it said in a statement.
Due to the Israeli attacks, 79 government buildings, 38 mosques, three churches and 189 schools were bombed. In addition, 25 of the schools were put out of service.
Over 1.5 million people left their homes and took shelter in centers, hospitals and public facilities, it added.
That Hamas is not Palestine, which does not even represent a majority of Palestinians, is a premise that is accepted by the international community and by a part of Israeli society, but Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu acts as if they were exactly the same thing.
UN General Assembly President Dennis Francis on Thursday denounced attacks by Hamas on Israel but condemned the “indiscriminate” attacks by Israel against Palestinians.
Francis said Hamas’ attacks were “shocking” and “has no place in our world,” in opening remarks to the Assembly’s emergency session on the conflict.
“Similarly, I condemn and reject the indiscriminate targeting of innocent civilians in the Gaza Strip, and the scale of destruction of critical infrastructure by Israel,” he said. “The ceaseless bombardment of the Gaza Strip by Israel and its consequences are deeply alarming.”
He noted that the right of self-defense of Israel does not and cannot lawfully give it a license to “undertake indiscriminate and disproportionate reprisal.”
According to the IDF, the raid — led by the Givati infantry brigade and the 162nd Armored Division — was part of preparing the border area for the “next stages of the war,” referring to the full ground offensive promised by Israeli officials.
Israeli officials have pledged to ensure Hamas can no longer carry out attacks that threaten Israel following its October 7 massacre of about 1,400 people, mostly civilians.
The death toll in Gaza has reached at least 6,546 people, the majority are women and children, according to the Palestinian health ministry.
Troops struck “numerous” terrorists, infrastructure, and anti-tank guided missile launch positions, and “operated to prepare the battlefield,” the army said.
IDF Spokesperson Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari said the operation lasted a few hours, and no soldiers were hurt. The troops operated within one kilometer of the border.
“Through the raid, we eliminated terrorists, neutralized threats, dismantled explosives, neutralized ambushes, in order to enable the next stages of the war for the ground forces,” Hagari said.
Israel says its war against Hamas is aimed at destroying the Iran-backed terror group’s infrastructure and has vowed to dismantle the organization after the October 7 massacres, while minimizing harm to Gaza’s civilians.
Led by Hamas and carried out with other terror groups, the assault saw some 2,500 terrorists burst across the border into Israel from the Gaza Strip by land, air, and sea, killing some 1,400 people and seizing at least 228 hostages of all ages, under the cover of thousands of rockets fired at Israeli towns and cities.
The IDF has been calling on Palestinians to evacuate from northern Gaza southward, as it intensifies strikes in the Gaza City area ahead of the expected major ground incursion.
In the past day, Israeli jets struck over 250 sites belonging to Hamas, including infrastructure, command centers, tunnels, and rocket launchers, the army said.
At least half of the 2.2 million people trapped in the Gaza Strip are children.
Some analysts have described the Gaza Strip as the largest open-air prison in the world: a territory of 141 square miles, about the same size as Las Vegas, which cannot be entered or exited by land, sea, or air after Israel imposed a total siege following the attack of October 7.
There is hardly any drinking water left in the enclave and electricity, food and medicine are scarce. Trucks carrying humanitarian aid are only allowed to pass through in dribs and drabs.
There is, however, no shortage of missiles: up to 6,000 were fired by the Israeli army in the first six days of the siege, killing 1,140 people.
Shortages, fear, insecurity, and death have become permanent companions for girls like 16-year-old Dima Allamdani, who last week buried 13 members of her family.
“I came to look for my father, mother and siblings at the morgue. First they told me: come and look at your mother. They didn’t show me her face, but I recognized her by her feet,” the teenager, her face bruised and dirty, told Reuters reporters. “It broke my heart; it’s a nightmare.”
She speaks sitting on a rug, with another boy, about 10 years old, beside her, whose legs are half-bandaged, covered in wounds, and with a black eye.
Allamdani’s family was one of many who moved to the south of the Strip to avoid Israeli air strikes. They settled in a temporary shelter in the town of Khan Younis, but an attack on the night of October 17 hit the area. Allamdani, one of her brothers and two younger cousins were the only survivors.
In addition to those killed, at least 5,000 children have been reported injured and 800 more are missing, probably buried under the rubble of destroyed buildings, according to Palestinian officials.
“Thousands of homes and dozens of playgrounds, schools, hospitals, churches and mosques have been damaged or destroyed in Gaza,” the Gazan Health Ministry reports. Of the injured children, the same source claims that some are enduring “excruciating burns, loss of limbs, and other horrific injuries caused by the shelling.”
The Hamas-run Health Ministry in Gaza released a list of 6,747 people it said were killed in Israeli airstrikes.
The list includes the names, ages, genders, and ID numbers of the people who were registered with the government. The ministry said that another 281 dead had not been identified.
The list was released in response to U.S. President Joe Biden saying he had “no confidence” in Gaza’s casualty figures. Hamas said they released the names to “let the world know the truth about the genocide perpetrated by the Israeli occupation against our people”.
The airstrikes began on October 7 in retaliation for a Hamas-led raid that killed more than 1,400 people in Israel. Israeli authorities said that at least 1,400 people died and 3,400 others were injured in Israel.