Gaza Strip death toll on track to reach 30,000, says Hamas

Iman Mussallam finds it hard to believe that the number of deaths announced by Hamas in the Gaza Strip is already on the way to reaching 30,000, in less than five months of war between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist movement.

But she also knows that the real toll is “much higher”, with many victims buried under the rubble of Israeli bombings. And it will only get heavier.

This war is already, by far, the deadliest of the five between Israel and Hamas, ahead of that of 2014 (2,250 Palestinians killed).

“We don’t know how many martyrs there will be” at the end of the war, said the 30-year-old teacher, taking refuge in a UN building transformed into a shelter in Rafah, in the far south of the Palestinian territory.

These countless “tragedies” and “suffering” will have disastrous consequences for Palestinians for “generations,” Ahmed Orabi, professor of political science at the University of Gaza, told AFP.

The conflict was triggered on October 7 by a bloody attack in southern Israel by Hamas commandos from Gaza, where the Palestinian movement took power in 2007.

Israel has since carried out a massive air and ground offensive in retaliation in the Palestinian territory, where the cemeteries are full and there are no longer enough body bags to wrap the corpses.

Here, a farmer buried his three brothers and their five children on his citrus plantation. There, a mass grave was dug on a football field.

Fear for Rafah

On Tuesday, the Hamas Ministry of Health, whose figures are considered credible by the UN, announced that 96 people had been killed in Israeli night strikes, bringing the war toll to 29,878 dead and 70,215 wounded since then. on October 7.

About 70% of the dead are women and children, he said.

In the eyes of the Palestinians, “the enormous number of women, children and elderly people killed leaves no doubt that these were massacres,” underlines Professor Orabi.

Civilians are caught up in the fighting on a daily basis, between aerial bombardments and artillery and sniper fire, which have spared no area, devastated entire neighborhoods and forced many families to flee, often without being able to take anything with them.

Many only survive thanks to the solidarity of loved ones, sometimes strangers, on a strip of land approximately 40 kilometers long and 10 kilometers wide, already undermined before the war by an Israeli blockade imposed since 2006, poverty and unemployment.

More than 70% of Gaza’s 2.4 million inhabitants have been displaced by the war and the population is threatened with famine, underlines the UN.

The latter, like many international leaders, now fears carnage in Rafah, where Israel has the firm intention of quickly completing its ground offensive, while nearly a million and a half people, 80% of the displaced, are pile up there.

“Death Zone”

In Israel, attention remains focused on the approximately 1,160 people, mostly civilians, killed during the October 7 attack, according to an AFP count based on official data.

And on the fate of the 130 hostages kidnapped that day and still held in Gaza, a torture for their loved ones and a trauma of an unprecedented magnitude for the country. In total some 250 people were kidnapped.

In Gaza, the population survives as best it can in the face of Israel’s military response, relentlessly waged from land, sea and sky to “destroy” Hamas.

The Hamas Ministry of Health does not specify the number of Hamas fighters killed, estimated at 10,000 by the Israeli army which deplores 240 deaths in the ground offensive and denies having deliberately targeted civilians.

Among civilian victims, Gaza journalists who provide stories and images of the war to media around the world are paying a heavy price. According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, at least 88 media workers have died since October 7.

Gaza, described as a “death zone” by the director of the World Health Organization (WHO), Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, has become a place of permanent mourning.

Not a day passes without a funeral, which grieving families must improvise according to the conditions of the war.

Bodies are often transported on carts pulled by donkeys due to lack of fuel.

Hospital staff, overwhelmed, exhausted and lacking everything, sometimes have to use ice cream trucks to guard bodies before burials.

For Iman Mussallam, the war in Gaza is “the great massacre of modern history”.

She also attacks Hamas, which she accuses of having abandoned civilians to hide in its network of tunnels dug under Gaza.

But like many Gazans, she wonders: “How is this our fault? “.

Israel “systematically” blocks aid access to Gaza, denounces UN

To watch on video

source site-40