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GAZA STRIP: Israel hit Gaza with air strikes on Tuesday as world powers grappled with how to broker a ceasefire ahead of a UN Security Council vote that was expected to be blocked by a US veto.

A total of 103 Palestinians were killed in the past 24 hours of Israeli strikes and ground combat in the besieged Hamas-ruled territory, its health ministry said. The United Nations has sounded the alarm over the dire humanitarian situation in Gaza, warning that food shortages could lead to an “explosion” of preventable child deaths.

More than four months of relentless fighting have flattened much of the coastal territory, pushed 2.2 million people to the brink of famine and displaced three-quarters of the population, according to UN estimates. “How many of us have to die... to stop these crimes?” said Ahmad Moghrabi, a Palestinian doctor in southern Gaza’s main city, Khan Yunis. “Where is the humanity?”

Global powers trying to navigate a way out of the spiralling crisis have so far come up short, with a push later Tuesday for a UN ceasefire resolution facing an expected US veto.

After months of struggling for a united response, all EU members except Hungary called Monday for an “immediate humanitarian pause”. They also urged Israel not to invade Gaza’s southernmost city of Rafah, where nearly 1.5 million Palestinians are sheltering, many in makeshift tents.

The city, the last untouched by Israeli ground troops, is also the main entry point for desperately needed relief supplies via neighbouring Egypt. Israel’s strikes on the city are hampering humanitarian operations, while the food supply is disrupted by regular border closures, says the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA.

The scarcity of food and safe water has triggered a steep rise in malnutrition, the UN children’s fund warned Monday. One in six children in northern Gaza are now acutely malnourished, UNICEF said, a situation poised to “compound the already unbearable level of child deaths”.

The war started when Hamas launched its unprecedented attack on October 7 that resulted in the deaths of about 1,160 people in Israel, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally of Israeli figures. Hamas militants also took about 250 hostages — 130 of whom remain in Gaza, including 30 presumed dead, according to Israel.

Israel’s retaliatory campaign has killed at least 29,195 people, mostly women and children, according to the latest count by the territory’s health ministry.

For weeks, Israel has concentrated its military operations in Khan Yunis, the hometown of Hamas’s leader in the territory Yahya Sinwar, the alleged architect of the October 7 attack.

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Pakistani1 Feb 21, 2024 11:45am
Cruelty at its worst!
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