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As death toll increases Israel intensifies its assault

Gaza's health ministry reported 20,057 Palestinians killed and 53,320 wounded in Israeli strikes since Oct. 7.

As death toll increases Israel intensifies its assault

Israeli forces indicated an expansion of their ground offensive by launching a new incursion into central Gaza on Friday. Simultaneously, the U.N. Security Council was poised to vote on a resolution aimed at increasing humanitarian aid to prevent a looming famine.

Hopes for a breakthrough in talks between Israel and Hamas, facilitated by Egypt, dwindled. Reports of air strikes, artillery bombardments, and clashes persisted throughout the Palestinian enclave. Israel’s military instructed residents of Al-Bureij in central Gaza to relocate southward, signifying a shift in the focus of the ongoing ground assault that has already impacted the northern and southern regions.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government pledged to eliminate Hamas following a cross-border raid on Oct. 7, attributing 1,200 deaths and 240 hostages to the group. The mounting casualties from Israel’s retaliatory campaign drew international criticism, including from its ally, the United States.

Gaza’s health ministry reported 20,057 Palestinians killed and 53,320 wounded in Israeli strikes since Oct. 7. Medical charity MSF highlighted the devastation in the north of the Strip, describing it as a “pile of rubble” and expressing concerns about the safety of the population.

While expressing regret for civilian deaths, the Israeli military blamed Hamas, alleging their presence in densely populated areas and use of civilians as human shields—claims denied by the group. Israel reported 140 of its soldiers killed since the ground incursion began on Oct. 20.

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Negotiations continued to avoid a U.S. veto of a U.N. Security Council resolution, demanding open access for humanitarian aid throughout Gaza. The vote was postponed until Friday despite indications that the U.S. might support an amended proposal.

Simultaneously, talks in Egypt aimed at a humanitarian ceasefire showed no immediate breakthrough but suggested progress on expediting aid deliveries. A previous humanitarian pause from Nov. 24 to Dec. 1 facilitated increased aid deliveries, but a U.N.-backed report warned of a crisis-level hunger situation in Gaza, with the risk of famine growing daily. The pause also led to the release of hostages held by Hamas and the exchange of prisoners with Israel.