Gaza death toll reaches grim milestone of 30,000 people, health ministry says

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has vowed to push into Rafah - where 1.4 million Palestinians have fled - which he calls a Hamas stronghold.

More than 30,000 people have been killed in Gaza since Israel’s attack on Hamas began in October, the health ministry in the besieged enclave has confirmed.

The bleak milestone, reported by CNN, comes four months into the war, and amid mounting international pressure to halt a planned attack on the southernmost city of Rafah, where 1.4 million Palestinians have sought safety from Israel’s daily bombardments.Israel’s bombing and ground campaigns have displaced the vast majority of the population and created a dire humanitarian crisis.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has vowed to push into Rafah, which he calls a Hamas stronghold.

Talks are underway to pause fighting over the holy month of Ramadan – which is expected to begin on March 10 or 11 – to facilitate aid deliveries into Gaza and the release of Hamas held hostages.

An estimated 250 people were taken by Hamas from Israel in October, with 100 of them released last year. Israel says more than 100 hostages remain in captivity, with the others presumed dead.

Israeli war cabinet minister Benny Gantz previously warned:
“The world must know, and Hamas leaders must know – if by Ramadan our hostages are not home – the fighting will continue to the Rafah area.”

Around 1.5 million people are now living in the city of Rafah, many in refugee camps. / Credit: AP

As well as displacing the majority of Gaza’s 2.2 million people, the war has drastically diminished supplies of water, electricity and food, and cut off access to vital life-saving care.

The hospitals in the enclave have become battlegrounds, with dozens of facilities no longer functional.

The UN Humanitarian Affairs Coordination Office, OCHA, said that at least 576,000 people across Gaza are “facing catastrophic levels of deprivation and starvation” and are “one step away from famine”.

“Gaza is seeing the worst level of child malnutrition anywhere in the world,” Carl Skau, WFP Deputy Executive Director, told the UN Security Council on Tuesday.

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