Death toll spikes as Israeli forces kill 3,308 Palestinians
The rising human cost of the ongoing war between Israel and Palestine has continued to be a cause for concern as thousands of children and women have become casualties.
According to reports, no fewer than 3,308 Palestinians, including over 1,000 children and 1,417 women, have been so far killed in Gaza.
This figure included about 500 people who were killed by an Israeli airstrike at a Gaza hospital, the Palestinian Health Ministry said yesterday.
The ministry said the number of casualties at the Gaza City hospital, where many civilians had sought shelter, is expected to rise.
Reports say about 10,859 people have been injured in Gaza; while another 1,200 were reported missing in the occupied West Bank.
This is even as Israel’s strikes and blockade are pushing Gaza’s essential services and resources to the brink of collapse, with attendant humanitarian crisis.
The relentless bombings of Gaza by Israel have caused widespread destruction to schools and hospitals and displaced nearly a million people, with aid agencies warning of a “catastrophic” shortage of medical supplies in the besieged enclave.
Justifying its brutal assault in the wake of Hamas attacks on October 7 that left at least 1,300 Israelis dead, Israel has since cut off water, power and fuel supplies and trapped 2.3 million people.
Similarly, 59 people were reportedly killed in the occupied West Bank and 1,000 others, including minors, missing under rubble.
The Gaza Strip is home to 2.3 million people and the United Nations has put the figure of the displaced so far at 1 million, including 84,000 pregnant women, 10 per cent of whom are expected to give birth in a few months’ time.
On the flip side, 1,400 Israelis have been reportedly killed with 3,500 injured; while 70 are being detained. Also, 250 victims are said to have been abducted by Hamas, among them 10 UK citizens and 20 US citizens.
As the humanitarian crisis worsens, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has described the situation in Gaza as “abhorrent”.
It said residents now scramble for basic necessities such as food and water and struggle to get medical care in hospitals at the breaking point.
This is amidst reports that Israel has ordered 1.1 million people to move from the north to the south, causing panic and misery to tens of thousands in a territory that has been facing economic stagnation due to 16 years of Israeli blockades.
Similarly, the United Kingdom-based Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP) group says hospitals in Gaza are facing a “catastrophic” shortage of medical supplies, amid Israel’s total blockade.
“Emergency, trauma and surgical supplies are rapidly running out at hospitals and health partners’ warehouses, with the entry of humanitarian supplies still not possible. There is a shortage of blood and medicine is in short supply,” MAP’s advocacy and campaigns manager in the West Bank, Aseel Baidoun, reportedly said.
Due to the Gaza-wide power outage, hospitals are said to be running on external generators – a backup ticking towards its last few hours, according to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA).
The UNRWA warned that this would place thousands of patients at immediate risk, many of them already straddling the line between life and death such as kidney and cancer patients.
The UN Population Fun reportedly said 50,000 pregnant women in Gaza could not access health facilities as several hospitals had been bombed. Newborns in incubators at hospitals are also said to be at immediate risk if power runs out, according to Fabrizio Carboni, the ICRC’s regional director for the Near and Middle East.
“The hospital can’t operate much longer. The electricity is still off. The hospital’s fuel-based generators will be going off soon. The health system will collapse. The hospital will change to a graveyard,” Mohamed Kandil, director of the emergency department at Nasser Hospital, reportedly said.
There is a shortage of body bags for the dead, according to UNRWA, and people have resorted to storing dead bodies in ice-cream trucks.
Ashraf al-Qidra, spokesperson for Gaza’s health ministry, appealed to people to head to the Shifa Hospital, the largest in the enclave, to donate blood.
“If the hospital stops working, the whole world will be responsible for the lives of hundreds and thousands of patients who rely on our services, especially from Shifa,” said al-Qidra.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) said hospitals are “overflowing” as people seek safety.
Drinking water is also said to have become scarcer in Gaza as families were reported to be going around for hours, water bottles in hand, to search for water.
Others have resorted to drinking brackish water from agricultural wells, according to OCHA, triggering concerns about waterborne diseases such as cholera.
Reports on Gaza’s drinking water in recent years have shown that it has mostly remained unsafe.
‘Uninhabitable place’: Gaza suffers with water 97% polluted
Human rights organisations have warned for years about the deteriorating water situation in the Gaza Strip.
American President Joe Biden is billed to land in Israel today to demonstrate his support for that country in the face of the raging war.
But Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Jordan King Abdullah have canceled a planned meeting with Biden following a strike on a Gaza hospital.
A senior Palestinian official said Abbas was instead returning to Ramallah, the seat of his government in the occupied West Bank before Biden arrives.
CIO accuses int’l community of double standard
The Ulamaa wing of the Conference of Islamic Organisations (CIO) Tuesday called on the UN to call Israel to order to stop its aggression against Palestine.
The CIO complained that the international community, which rose in support of Ukraine in its ongoing war with Russia, had refused to condemn Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territory.
The General Secretary of CIO, Lukman Balogun, at a press conference in Lagos, said the Muslim world is in grief over the killings of innocent Palestinians.
“We are extremely sad about recent developments in Palestine, which represent deep-seated injustice and oppression,” he said.
He said the onslaught by Israeli forces in the form of ceaseless and repeated bombing of Gaza was targeted at defenseless and innocent Palestinians, leading to huge loss of lives.
“As at the time of this press conference today, Tuesday, October 17, no fewer than 2,750 Palestinians have been killed, including over 950 children and over 500 women, while over 9,700 have sustained various degrees of injuries.
“There were also casualties on the side of Israel too. Just as we sympathise with our brothers, sisters and children who lost their lives, our hearts go to the families of the innocent Israelis who died in the war. However, the root cause of this carnage is the occupation by Israel and its refusal to obey international laws, especially those calling for the establishment of a Palestinian state,” Balogun said.
The CIO recalled that the UN Security Council, in its Resolution 242 in 1967, called for the withdrawal of Israel from territories occupied during the six-day war, including the West Bank, Gaza Strip, East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights.
The resolution, the CIO said, affirms the principle of “land for peace” as a means to establish lasting peace and stability in the region.
It added that the Fourth Geneva Convention, ratified by most countries, including Israel, also prohibits the occupying power from transferring its population into the territories it occupies.
“But, Israel with the unwavering support of the US, has violated this resolution and other resolutions of the United Nations without facing any real consequences. The continuous building of settlements deemed illegal under international laws is a case in point.”
The CIO urged all supporters of Palestinians to go beyond providing humanitarian relief since Israel had declared a full-blown war on Palestine.
“For balance of power, they should rather provide weapons of war for the Palestinians and their liberators, the HAMAS. After all, like Israelis, Palestinians too have a right to defend themselves while the war rages. What is going on at present is not just a war actually, it is a pogrom, a massacre and ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians on their land,” Balogun added.
“We Muslims in Nigeria condemn without reservation the ongoing injustice meted to the Palestinian citizens. We call on the United Nations to wade in immediately and call Israel to order.
“It is sad to note that the same international community, which rose to the defence of Ukraine in its war with Russia has continued to look away in the case of Palestine. Why were militia groups in Ukraine seen as freedom fighters, but Hamas in Palestine is considered a terrorist organisation even when their objective of defending their territories is similar?”
It said the UN had failed the world, adding, “On the issue of Palestine, it has exposed itself as pro-West, a Western puppet that has become a toothless bull dog, always helpless whenever US interest is at stake and whenever Israel flouts its rules. The UN should therefore strive to redeem its image.
“The UN must find an alternative way of conducting a true peace process, which takes into consideration the aspiration for a sovereign Palestinian state. And for now, peace must be enforced.
“The international community led by the UN must retrieve the peace process from the monopoly of the United States, which has become part of the Israeli occupation machinery.
“We appreciate the Nigerian government for calling on both sides to de-escalate and embrace peace and dialogue. The Nigerian Senate should pass a bill that will scale down our diplomatic relations with Israel for its war crimes and for turning a blind eye to all UN Resolutions.”
CULLED FROM DAILY TRUST.