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Thursday, February 15, 2024

Palestinian Death Toll Surges, UN Warns of Threats in Rafah

The Israeli offensive in Gaza intensifies, with a soaring death toll, targeted attacks on journalists, and worsening humanitarian crisis, prompting urgent calls for a ceasefire.

The Palestinian death toll from Israel’s deadly offensive against the Gaza Strip has jumped to 27,840 since Oct. 7, the Health Ministry in the enclave said on Thursday.

A ministry statement said that 67,317 other people have also been injured in the ongoing onslaught.

“Israeli attacks left 130 people dead and 170 others injured in the last 24 hours,” the statement said.

“Many people are still trapped under rubble and on the roads and rescuers can’t reach them,” it added.

Israel has pounded the Gaza Strip since a cross-border attack by Palestinian group Hamas in October, which Tel Aviv says killed nearly 1,200 people.

About 85% of Gazans have been displaced by the Israeli onslaught, while all of them are food insecure, according to the UN. Hundreds of thousands of people are living without shelter, and ⁠less than half of aid trucks are entering the territory than before the start of the conflict.

Killing of Journalists Continues

Another Palestinian journalist was killed in an Israeli airstrike in the Gaza Strip on Thursday, taking the tally to 124 since Oct. 7, according to the government media office.

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Nafez Abdel Jawad, a reporter for the official Palestine Television station, was killed in the central Gaza Strip, the media office said in a statement.

Around 10 Palestinian journalists have also been arrested by Israeli forces in Gaza, according to an earlier statement by the office.

UN Chief Warns

UN relief chief Martin Griffiths has voiced concern over further fighting in the southern Gaza Strip city of Rafah, saying it risks claiming more lives and exacerbating humanitarian needs.

“With the Gaza hostilities entering their fifth month, hope is dwindling for the millions of people affected and the humanitarians striving to assist them,” Martin Griffiths, the undersecretary-general for humanitarian affairs and emergency relief coordinator, said in a statement on Wednesday.

Griffiths said that as the war continues further into Rafah, he is “extremely concerned” about the safety and well-being of families who have endured the unthinkable in the search for safety.

“Their living conditions are abysmal — they lack the basic necessities to survive, stalked by hunger, disease and death,” he said, referring to the situation in which more than half of Gaza’s population of some 2 million people is now crammed into Rafah.

Griffiths said further fighting in the area also risks further hampering a humanitarian operation that is already limited by insecurity, damaged infrastructure, and access restrictions.

“To put it simply: This war must stop,” he added.

Saying the war on Gaza will continue until Israel can claim “total victory” over Hamas, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu this week vowed a further push into Rafah.