Gaza Conflict Escalates: Heavy Civilian Casualties, Health Crisis, and Allegations of Torture

Israeli Airstrikes and Ground Offensive

In the last 24 hours, Israeli warplanes and artillery have targeted densely populated civilian areas in Gaza’s north, centre, and south, resulting in the deaths of dozens of people. Ground troops have been systematically demolishing residential homes in Rafah, a city in southern Gaza, according to Al Jazeera’s correspondent in the region.

Humanitarian Crisis and Children in Danger

The Deputy Chief of UNICEF briefed the UN Security Council, stating that the bodies of thousands of missing children remain buried under the rubble. This highlights the severe humanitarian crisis unfolding in Gaza.

US Support for Israeli Military

Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant reported “significant progress” on US support for Israel’s military build-up and weapons supply during his recent visit to Washington, DC.

Health Infrastructure Devastated

At Al-Aqsa Hospital in Deir el-Balah, volunteer technician Khaled Shakshir described the dire situation as equipment, including anaesthesia machines, fail. Gaza’s healthcare system has been severely impacted by continuous airstrikes and shelling over the past eight months, leaving hospitals damaged and essential medical equipment destroyed. Efforts are underway to repair damaged machines at Al-Aqsa Hospital.

Casualties and Ongoing Conflict

Since October 7, at least 37,718 people have been killed and 86,377 wounded in Gaza. In Israel, the death toll from the Hamas-led attacks stands at 1,139, with dozens still held captive in Gaza.

Reports of Torture

Marking the UN’s International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, the Palestinian prisoners’ rights group Addameer accused Israeli forces of practising severe torture on detainees in Gaza. The group shared videos of Israeli soldiers allegedly bragging about their actions on social media.

Israeli Strikes in Gaza City

The Israeli military has bombed a home in central Gaza City, killing at least two people and injuring several others. Local media report that the strike targeted a house in the Sabra area. Another house, belonging to the Hassanein family in the Shujayea neighbourhood, was also targeted, though no casualties have been reported so far.

Children and Armed Conflict

UNICEF Deputy Executive Director Ted Chaiban reported to the UN Security Council that 4,312 Palestinian and 70 Israeli children were killed or maimed in 2023, making up 37% of all verified cases of child casualties in the report. The true number of child casualties in Gaza is likely higher due to the many bodies still buried under rubble and the lack of access for humanitarian actors.

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