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 Monday.
Israel declared war on Hamas after the Islamist militant group launched a brutal attack on October 7, killing 1,400 in Israel and kidnapping more than 240. 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 had been 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.
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.
‘A graveyard for children’
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.”
“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.”
Nearly 500 trucks carrying humanitarian aid have crossed into Gaza since the conflict began a month ago – roughly the same amount that had been crossing into the area each day prior to the Hamas attack. The Israeli government has not allowed fuel to enter in with the shipments.
“Without fuel, newborn babies in incubators and patients on life support will die,” Guterres said.
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.
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 support may wane if the carnage in Gaza doesn’t stop.
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.