Violence Escalates in Gaza: Civilian Casualties and Hostage Crisis Deepen

At least a dozen people, including children and women, were killed in Gaza airstrikes. Over a million Palestinians have fled, seeking refuge in dire conditions. Hostage talks stall as the Israeli government faces pressure. The conflict continues to cause widespread suffering and civilian casualties.

PTI | Jerusalem | Updated: 31-05-2024 19:01 IST | Created: 31-05-2024 19:01 IST
Violence Escalates in Gaza: Civilian Casualties and Hostage Crisis Deepen
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At least a dozen people were killed in two airstrikes Friday in central Gaza. Two children and four women were among the dead.

Palestinians in the border city of Rafah have reported heavy fighting in recent days as Israel's military widened its offensive in the south, seizing control of the entire length of Gaza's border with Egypt. Fighting in Rafah has spurred more than 1 million Palestinians to flee, most of whom had already been displaced earlier in the war. They now seek refuge in makeshift tent camps and other war-ravaged areas, where they lack shelter, food, water and other essentials for survival, the United Nations says. Joint British-United States airstrikes targeting Yemen's Houthi rebels killed at least 16 people and wounded 42 others, the rebels said Friday. That's the highest publicly acknowledged death toll from the multiple rounds of strikes carried out over the rebels' attacks on shipping in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden, demanding that Israel end the war in Gaza.

The Israel-Hamas war has killed more than 36,000 Palestinians, according to the Health Ministry, which doesn't distinguish between combatants and civilians. Israel launched its war in Gaza after Hamas' October 7 attack in which militants stormed into southern Israel, killed some 1,200 people — mostly civilians — and abducted about 250. Israel says around 100 hostages are still captive in Gaza, along with the bodies of around 30 more. Currently: — Houthi rebels say at least 16 killed and 42 others wounded in joint US-British airstrikes in Yemen — Slovenia's government endorses recognition of a Palestinian state — A pro-Palestinian camp at Wayne State is dismantled while MIT students walk out of commencement — A global aid group asks warring forces to respect its neutrality, saying 24 of its aid workers have been killed Here's the latest: ISRAELI GOVERNMENT TELLS HOSTAGE FAMILIES THAT IT'S NOT READY TO SIGN A DEAL TO BRING BACK ALL HOSTAGES TEL AVIV, Israel — In an aggressive meeting Thursday, Israel's national security adviser told hostage families that the government wasn't ready to sign a deal to bring all of the hostages home and that there was no plan B.

Gil Dickmann, who's cousin Carmel is being held hostage, told The Associated Press that during a face-to-face meeting with Tzachi Hanegbi and several hostage families, they were told the government wasn't prepared to end the war to bring their loved ones back.

"I said: Does that mean that we're doomed, we're lost?' He said, yes," said Dickmann.

The remarks came a day after the official said he expects the war to drag on for another seven months, in order to destroy the military and governing capabilities of Hamas and the smaller Islamic Jihad militant group.

Hamas-led militants killed around 1,200 people, mainly civilians, and abducted around 250 others in the October 7 attack. Around half of those hostages have since been freed, most in swaps for Palestinian prisoners held by Israel during a weeklong cease-fire in November.

After months of on-and-off negotiations, cease-fire talks are at a standstill.

Dickmann said it was the harshest and most difficult meeting with officials since the war began, because it left them hopeless.

At one point in the meeting, Hanegbi lashed out at one of the women who criticised Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, telling her she was "full of hate", said Dickmann.

Hanegbi told the hostage families the only way to possibly get the government to sign a deal was through public pressure, said Dickmann. Opinion polls need to show that most Israelis are willing to bring the hostages back at the cost of ending the war, he said.

Israelis are divided into two main camps: those who want the government to put the war on hold and free the hostages, and others who think the hostages are an unfortunate price to pay for eradicating Hamas Hanegbi's office didn't respond to request for comment.

On Friday, a group supporting the hostages accused the government of making a "conscious and deliberate decision to sacrifice" them, forgoing the Israeli principle that it will never leave anyone behind.

ISRAELI ARMY COMPLETES MISSION IN PART OF JABALIYA IN NORTHERN GAZA TEL AVIV, Israel — Israel's army said Friday that it completed its mission in part of the Gaza Strip's northern city of Jabaliya and will continue operations in other parts of the enclave.

The army said during its operations in eastern Jabaliya that it killed hundreds of fighters, destroyed dozens of targets and combat compounds and located hundreds of weapons.

It also said it destroyed more than 10 kilometres (6 miles) of underground tunnels and retrieved the bodies of seven hostages and returned them to their families in Israel.

Israeli troops returned to Jabaliya and the surrounding areas in northern Gaza in early May, months after an earlier operation. The United Nations said that about 100,000 Palestinians were displaced in northern Gaza following Israel's evacuation orders.

Northern Gaza was the first target of Israel's ground offensive launched after Hamas and other militants attacked southern Israel on October 7, killing around 1,200 people.

Israeli troops have relaunched attacks in the north as Hamas repeatedly returns to areas that Israel withdraws from.

AIRSTRIKES IN CENTRAL GAZA KILL AT LEAST A DOZEN PEOPLE DEIR AL-BALAH — At least a dozen people were killed, including children, in two airstrikes Friday in Central Gaza, according to hospital officials and Associated Press journalists who counted the bodies.

The strikes hit Nuseirat and Bureij, two children and four women were among those killed and the bodies were brought to the Al Aqsa Hospital in Deir al-Balah.

A funeral for all 12 people was held Friday.

Israel's campaign of bombardment and offensives in Gaza has killed more than 36,000 Palestinians and wounded more than 80,000, according to the Gaza Health Ministry. Its count does not differentiate between civilians and combatants.

AIRSTRIKES TARGETING YEMEN'S HOUTHI REBELS KILL AT LEAST 16 DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Joint British-United States airstrikes targeting Yemen's Houthi rebels killed at least 16 people and wounded 42 others, the rebels said Friday — the highest publicly acknowledged death toll from the multiple rounds of strikes carried out over the rebels' attacks on shipping. The Houthis have stepped up attacks on shipping in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden, demanding that Israel end the war in Gaza, which has killed more than 36,000 Palestinians there. The war began after Hamas-led militants attacked Israel on October 7, killing about 1,200 people and taking around 250 hostage.

Houthis said Friday morning that one of the strikes struck a building housing Hodeida Radio and civilian homes in the port city on the Red Sea. Their Al Masirah satellite news channel aired images of one bloodied man being carried downstairs and others receiving aid in the hospital. It said all the dead and nearly all the wounded from the strikes came from there.

The Houthis described all those killed and hurt in Hodeida as civilians, something The Associated Press couldn't immediately confirm. The rebel force that's held Yemen's capital, Sanaa, since 2014 includes fighters who often are not in uniform.

Other strikes hit outside of Sanaa near its airport and communication equipment in Taiz, the broadcaster said. Little other information was released on those sites — likely signalling that Houthi military sites had been struck. One person was wounded in Sanaa.

The US and the UK have launched strikes against the Houthis since January. Abdul Malik al-Houthi, the Houthis' secretive supreme leader, offered an overall death toll for the strikes up to that point as 40 people killed and 35 others wounded. He did not offer a breakdown between civilian and combatant casualties at the time. The Houthis have launched more than 50 attacks on shipping, killed three sailors, seized one vessel and sunk another since November, according to the US Maritime Administration. This week, they attacked a ship carrying grain to Iran, the rebels' main benefactor.

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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