The conflict between Israel and Hamas has reached a gruesome milestone: More than 10,000 people have died in Gaza in the four weeks since the conflict began.
On Monday, the Ministry of Health in Gaza reported more than 10,000 people killed — most of them women and children.
This all started nearly one month ago when Hamas attacked several communities in Israel, killing 1,400 people and kidnapping around 240 hostages, including elderly people and children, during the October 7 attack.
Thousands gathered outside Israel’s Ministry of Defense headquarters in Tel Aviv on Saturday night, among them many relatives of people kidnapped by Hamas, protesting against the government’s handling of the hostage situation.
Israeli forces launched an intense response that included a bombardment of Gaza from the air and ground invasion, with the ultimate goal of eliminating Hamas.
More than 340 Israeli soldiers have died since the Oct. 7 attacks, Israel said.
On Sunday, Israeli forces reached the coast of Gaza, splitting the besieged area in half and essentially cutting off the north from the south, Israel’s military said.
“In the last 12 hours, the soldiers of the division struck around 50 targets, including combat zones, operational residences, outposts, military positions, and underground infrastructure, and eliminated terrorists in close-quarter combat,” the military said.
Phone, 4G cellular networks as well as internet services were cut off in Gaza for several hours. By Monday morning local time, the networks appeared to have been at least partially restored.
Israeli bombs hit refugee camps. One attack on the Maghazi refugee camp early Sunday killed at least 33 people and wounded dozens, health officials in the region said.
As the Israelis continued its military operations around Gaza City, many Palestinians have been trying to head south as the Israeli military has urged civilians to do.
“We don’t accept that it is a self-defense,” Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi said at a news conference with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken following the talks on Saturday in Jordan after holding talks with Arab leaders from Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, and Egypt, who want an immediate halt to the fighting.
Blinken said the US continues to support Israel’s right to defend itself against Hamas but Safadi described the conflict as a “raging war that is killing civilians, destroying their homes, their hospitals, their schools, their mosques and their churches.”
“It cannot be justified under any pretext and it will not bring Israel security, it will not bring the region peace,” said Safadi.
There have been concerns that the war could draw in other regional actors and lead to the destabilization of the Middle East.
Blinken, who has been calling for humanitarian pauses in the fighting instead of a ceasefire, said that while the US disagreed with Arab leaders on some of the means to achieve a lasting peace in the region, their goal was the same.
“We all understand that we not only have an interest, but a responsibility to do everything we can to chart a better path forward together,” he said.
On Sunday, for the second day in a row, Israel’s military announced another window for civilians in the north of Gaza to travel south.
A day earlier, the military also allowed passage for a few hours, but people trying to flee found the roads impassable.
Israel has accused Hamas of firing on Israeli troops who were attempting to secure the route for civilian passage.
The United Nations estimates that of the roughly 300,000 people trapped in northern Gaza, only 2,000 were able to move south this weekend, according to monitors on the ground.
The ones that have managed to flee have mostly traveled by foot for miles — adults carrying babies or pushing wheelchairs with the elderly, and holding the hands of children lugging bags full of whatever belongings they could grab. Some waved white pieces of cloth to show they were civilians.
They walked by piles of rubble, looking exhausted, as shells exploded in the distance.
NPR spoke with a group traveling in Gaza who said they had to walk past dead bodies rotting in the street as bombs dropped in the distance. They declined to provide their names over security concerns.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken is wrapping up a busy weekend tour of the Middle East with a stop in Turkey Monday morning.
On Sunday, he made an unannounced visit to Iraq and met with Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani in Baghdad for more than an hour. Blinken also made trips to Israel and Jordan and had a sit-down with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah in the West Bank.
Blinken’s stop in Turkey comes as President Recep Tayyip Erdogan strongly criticized Israel and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu this weekend.
CIA Director William Burns is reportedly visiting Israel on Monday, as well.