Gaza death toll surpasses 25,000 as Israel escalates assault

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A Palestinian woman reacts at the grave of her son killed in an Israeli strike, in Khan Younis [Arafat Barbakh/Reuters]

UN chief António Guterres denounces Israel for the ‘heartbreaking’ deaths of Palestinian civilians in Gaza.

The Palestinian death toll in Israel’s assault on Gaza has surpassed 25,000, according to the Ministry of Health in the territory.

Ministry spokesperson Ashraf al-Qudra said on Sunday that 178 people had been confirmed killed in the previous 24 hours, with the death toll in more than three months of Israel’s war on Gaza reaching 25,105.

The Israeli bombardment began after Hamas’s surprise attack on southern Israel on October 7 killed at least 1,139 people, according to an Al Jazeera tally based on official Israeli statistics. Around 250 other people in Israel were taken hostage by Palestinian armed groups.

Reporting from Rafah in southern Gaza, Al Jazeera’s Hani Mahmoud said there was intense ground fighting near a key hospital in Khan Younis on Sunday.

“Snipers have taken positions in high-rise buildings, shooting people on the street below. People in [Nasser] hospital have no place to go,” said Mahmoud, adding that “It’s street-to-street, house-to-house fighting.”

The previous day, Israeli shelling east of the Jabalia refugee camp in northern Gaza killed four Palestinians and injured 21 others, according to the Palestine Red Crescent Society.

‘Heartbreaking’ deaths: UN chief

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres denounced Israel for the “heartbreaking” deaths of Palestinian civilians in Gaza.

“Israel’s military operations have spread mass destruction and killed civilians on a scale unprecedented during my time as secretary-general,” Guterres said at the opening of the G77+China summit in the Ugandan capital of Kampala.

Guterres told Al Jazeera that the resolution to the decades-long Israeli-Palestinian conflict lies in “the acceptance of the right of the Palestinians to statehood and the acceptance of a two-state solution”.

The comments come a day after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu doubled down on his opposition to Palestinian statehood.

At least 62,681 people have been wounded in the Israeli assault on Gaza, according to Palestinian authorities.

Some 85 percent of the territory’s population has been displaced, with thousands sheltering in UN-run camps in the southern part of the coastal enclave in squalid conditions.

The UN has said there are “famine-like” conditions in Gaza as around one in four of the population of 2.3 million people face extreme hunger.

Only a fraction of the aid needed has been delivered due to fighting and severe Israeli restrictions on shipments.

Women and children are the biggest victims in the war, according to the UN.

Netanyahu has vowed to keep up the offensive until Hamas is wiped out, with Israel also ramping up fighting on other fronts, sparking fears of tensions boiling over regionally.

SOURCE: AL JAZEERA AND NEWS AGENCIES

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