Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Toll of Palestinians martyred in Gaza hits 7,326 including 3,038 children

Toll of Palestinians martyred in Gaza hits 7,326 including 3,038 children
October 27, 2023 Web Desk

GAZA, Palestine (AFP/Reuters) - The Health Ministry in Gaza on Friday said 7,326 people have been killed in the Palestinian territory since the eruption of war with Israel on October 7.

The latest death toll includes 3,038 children martyred, a ministry statement said, while 18,967 people have been wounded across Gaza. The UN agency for Palestinian refugees confirmed the martyrs' toll given by the health ministry. "In the past, the five, six cycles of conflict in the Gaza Strip, these figures were considered as credible and no one ever really challenged these figures," UNRWA chief Philippe Lazzarini told reporters in Jerusalem.

The war erupted on October 7 after Hamas militants stormed across the Gaza border, killing 1,400 Israelis and making 229 hostages. The fatalities in Gaza are the highest since Israel withdrew from the Palestinian territory in 2005.

Lazzarini said 57 UNRWA staff had been killed since the conflict began, explaining how the agency's toll reflected the broader casualty rate in Gaza. He suggested the ratio of UNRWA staff killed to the total number of agency workers was in line with the ratio of Gazans killed to the territory's overall population, as provided by the health ministry. "We have more or less the same percentage," he told journalists in Jerusalem.

Meanwhile, a Hamas official tied the release of hostages held in Gaza to a ceasefire in Israel's bombardment of the enclave. An opinion poll published on Friday suggested almost half of Israelis now wanted to hold off on a ground invasion out of fears for at least 224 hostages reported to be held there.

The Russian newspaper Kommersant quoted a member of a Hamas delegation visiting Moscow as saying time was needed to locate all those who had been abducted by various Palestinian factions in the Hamas attack on Oct. 7. "They seized dozens of people, most of them civilians, and we need time to find them in the Gaza Strip and then release them," Abu Hamid said.

He said Hamas, which has freed four hostages so far, had made clear it intended to release "civilian prisoners". But this required a "calm environment", he said, repeating an assertion that Israeli bombing had already killed 50 of those held.

Residents of central Gaza said they had heard an apparent exchange of fire as well as heavy shelling and air strikes along the border, with Israeli planes dropping flares and bombs. Hamas's al-Qassam Brigades said Israeli forces had attempted to land on a beach at the southern end of the Strip.