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Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - GAZA — More than 10,000 people have been killed in Gaza since Israel launched its military offensive nearly a month ago, the Hamas-controlled health ministry in the Palestinian enclave said on Monday.
Israel declared war on Hamas after the group launched a surprise attack on October 7, killing 1,400 in Israel and taking more than 240 hostage. Israel retaliated by launching an air and ground offensive on Gaza, vowing to eliminate the militant group.
Ministry spokesperson Ashraf Al Qudra said 10,022 Palestinians in the enclave were killed by Israeli strikes, including 4,104 children, 2,641 women and 611 elderly people. Those numbers suggest about three-quarters of the dead are from vulnerable populations. The ministry also reported 25,408 injured.
It’s unclear how many combatants are included in the total. CNN cannot independently verify the numbers released by the ministry in Gaza, which is sealed off by Israel and Egypt.
On Monday alone, after a day of heavy Israeli bombardment, central Gaza’s Al-Aqsa Martyrs hospital saw over a hundred fatalities, according to the institution’s media office.
There have been “many, many thousands of innocent people killed” in Gaza, White House National Security Council coordinator for strategic communications John Kirby told reporters on a virtual gaggle Monday.
Thousands more Palestinians have been killed in Gaza in the last month than those who died in conflicts with Israel spanning over the last 15 years.
The United Nations Human Rights Office said last week’s attacks on Gaza’s largest refugee camp “could amount to war crimes” given the scale of casualties and destruction.
Israel has said that it is targeting Hamas operatives in Gaza, adding that Hamas “intentionally embeds its assets in civilian areas” and uses civilians as human shields, a defense echoed by US officials.
In an interview that aired on ABC News Monday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he expected Israel to have the “overall security responsibility” in Gaza for an “indefinite period” after the war ends.
“We’ve seen what happens when we don’t have it,” he continued.
On Monday, UN Secretary General António Guterres warned that Gaza is “becoming a graveyard for children,” adding that “the unfolding catastrophe makes the need for a humanitarian ceasefire more urgent.”
Based on the Gazan ministry’s figures, at least one child is being killed every 10 minutes, CNN calculations suggest.
“The nightmare in Gaza is more than a humanitarian crisis. It is a crisis of humanity,” Guterres reporters at the United Nations in New York.
The UN on Monday launched a $1.2 billion “humanitarian appeal,” Guterres said, calling the “trickle of assistance” making it into Gaza insufficient to “meet the ocean of need.”
Over 560 trucks carrying humanitarian aid have crossed into Gaza since the conflict began nearly a month ago, according to the Palestine Red Crescent, although the Israeli government has not allowed fuel to enter in with the shipments. Before the October 7 attack, about 500 aid trucks were crossing into the area each day.
“Without fuel, newborn babies in incubators and patients on life support will die,” Guterres said.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announced on Monday an extra 25 million euros of assistance for Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, bringing the EU's total aid to 100 million.
From Brussels, von der Leyen also spoke of the establishment of a maritime corridor from Cyprus to transport humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip.
“Israel has the right to fight Hamas, but it is also essential that it does everything possible to avoid civilian casualties,” she stressed in a speech to European ambassadors.
The international charity Save the Children said last month that the number of children reported killed in the enclave during Israel’s campaign had surpassed the annual number of children killed in armed conflict globally in each of the past four years.
In response to Guterres’ comments, Israel’s Ambassador to the UN Gilad Erdan called for his resignation, accusing him of making “the false immoral comparison between a brutal terrorist organization that commits war crimes and a law-abiding democracy.”
Amid intense criticism of the mounting death toll, the IDF has also released images that it alleged show Hamas using civilian infrastructure, including hospitals and children’s playgrounds, as shields for its attacks – a claim that the Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority Ministry of Health as well as Hamas-controlled government media have rejected.
On Sunday, the head of the Hamas government media Salama Marouf called for the UN to verify Israel’s claims about the use of hospitals as shields.
“We are ready to receive any international committee assembled by the UN, the WHO, the International Red Cross, or any international body to come and examine closely and refute the lies and slanders about hospitals,” Marouf said. “[The hospitals] are used for one purpose, which is to provide medical care to the wounded, injured and sick.”
At the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital, journalist Hassan Eslayeh saw dozens of casualties arriving throughout the day Monday. Most came in private cars, since a disruption in communications throughout Gaza has disabled many calls for emergency services. Ambulances were seen following cars back to the sites of bombings and then returning with more casualties.
CNN video recorded Monday shows over 20 body bags lined up in front of the hospital during the day for funeral prayer. People then carried the bags into trucks and ambulances for burial.
The United States has backed Israel’s campaign throughout the war, saying it has a right to defend itself. It vetoed a UN Security Council resolution for humanitarian pauses to deliver aid into Gaza on October 18, but President Joe Biden on Wednesday said that he was supportive of a humanitarian pause to allow for the release of more hostages held in Gaza.
Washington has also warned Israel that it will become increasingly difficult for it to pursue its military goals in Gaza as global outcry intensifies about the scale of humanitarian suffering there.
Israel’s operation in Gaza has triggered protests across the world and prompted warnings of a potential intervention from Iran-backed militants in the region, which have already been engaged in skirmishes with the Israeli military.
Israel is, however, yet to show any signs of backing down, saying its operations in Gaza are only expanding.
Nearly 1.5 million Gazans have already been displaced in the 140-square-meter strip, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said Friday, with thousands sheltering in crammed schools and hospitals with dwindling food, water and power. — Agencies
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