The number of Palestinian deaths, now 25,295, according to the Gaza health ministry – with the likelihood of thousands more buried under rubble of destroyed buildings – has been branded ‘heartbreaking and unacceptable’ by the United Nations.
Most of the casualties from the continued Israeli bombardments of Gaza since October 7th, were women and children, the ministry said.
Speaking at a global summit in the Ugandan capital of Kampala, the UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, denounced the three-month assault – that many have labelled genocide – on Gaza.
‘Israel’s military operations have spread mass destruction and killed civilians on a scale unprecedented during my time as secretary general,’ Guterres said during the G77+China summit, a coalition of 135 developing countries.
‘This is heartbreaking and utterly unacceptable. The Middle East is a tinderbox. We must do all we can to prevent conflict from igniting across the region.’
Israel Continues It Assault on Gaza Civilians
Israeli forces are advancing into southern parts of Gaza crowded with those who have fled combat elsewhere.
At least a million displaced people are believed to have sought refuge in the small town of Rafah on the border with Egypt, where they are living in makeshift camps, UN-run shelters and private apartments.
Although humanitarians are doing their best to deliver aid, they face constant bombardments and daily dangers amid enormous constraints posed by damaged roads, communication blackouts and access denials.
Meanwhile, disease and hunger are deepening, he said.
He said people are dying not only from bombs and bullets, but from lack of food and clean water, hospitals without power and medicine, and gruelling journeys to ever-smaller slivers of land to escape the fighting.
At least 178 bodies had been brought to Gaza’s hospitals in the opening day of this week (January 21st), along with nearly 300 wounded people, according to Ashraf al-Qidra, a Palestinian health ministry spokesperson.
Gaza’s government’s media office said the dead and injured ‘could not be transferred to hospitals because of the continued artillery shelling on (the town of) Khan Younis and the Tal al-Hawa area in Gaza City and the north’.
Aid officials say blockades and the storming of hospitals in Khan Younis have left the wounded and dead beyond the reach of rescuers, even as fighting escalated in the crowded city.
The dead were being buried inside the grounds of the town’s main Nasser hospital because it was unsafe to leave to reach the cemetery.
Israeli troops entered another Khan Younis hospital, al-Khair, where they arrested staff, and Palestinian officials said al-Amal hospital, where Red Crescent rescuers are based, was cut off and unreachable.
In the latest development 24 Israeli soldiers were killed in the town, by far the biggest single-day Israeli death toll.
The deaths came amid fierce fighting, with dozens of Palestinians killed and wounded. The Israeli deaths are likely to increase domestic pressure on Benjamin Netanyahu over his leadership and handling of the situation.