Web Stories Wednesday, April 17

“WAR ON CHILDREN”

The Gaza war was sparked by the Oct 7 Hamas attack that resulted in about 1,160 deaths in Israel, mostly civilians, according to an AFP count based on official Israeli figures.

The militants also took about 250 hostages, dozens of whom were released during a week-long truce in November. Israel believes about 130 captives remain in Gaza but that 32 of them are dead.

Israel’s retaliatory bombardment and ground offensive have killed 31,272 Palestinians in Gaza, mostly women and children, according to the health ministry.

At least 88 people were killed over the past 24 hours, it said, adding that “dozens of missing persons are still under the rubble”.

The Israeli army said its troops were “intensifying operations” in the southern Gaza Strip, including the biggest city there, Khan Younis.

“In the last 24 hours, there were exchanges of fire between IDF (Israeli army) troops and a terrorist cell consisting of seven terror operatives barricaded inside a compound in the Hamad area of Khan Younis,” it said.

“In a coordinated strike, the troops killed several of the terrorists, and then directed an aircraft to strike and eliminate the rest of the cell. Weapons were also located in the area.”

Weeks of talks involving US, Qatari and Egyptian mediators had aimed to bring a truce and hostage release deal before the start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, but missed the Monday deadline.

Qatari foreign ministry spokesman Majed al-Ansari said that, although talks continued, “we are not near a deal”.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has doubled down on his pledge to “destroy Hamas” – including by sending troops into Gaza’s last area so far spared ground operations, far-southern Rafah.

In a speech delivered via video link to a pro-Israel lobby group in the United States, he pledged that “we will finish the job in Rafah while enabling the civilian population to get out of harm’s way”.

The prospect of a Rafah invasion has sparked global alarm because it is crowded with almost 1.5 million people displaced by the war, many sheltering in camps of makeshift tents.

Philippe Lazzarini, head of the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, called for an immediate ceasefire and branded the conflict “a war on children”.

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