7,703 dead so far in Gaza: Health ministry
At least 7,703 people have been killed since Israel began attacking the Gaza Strip, according to the enclave’s health ministry
The ministry added that more than 3,500 children were among the dead.
The new death toll comes after a night that has seen some of the heaviest Israeli bombings the strip has ever experienced.
Ashraf al-Qudra, the spokesperson of the health ministry in Gaza, stated that the heavy Israeli bombardment had turned Gaza into a “ball of fire”.
Al-Qudra added that Israel’s actions had caused complete paralysis of the health system, medical teams and ambulances in Gaza.
Repeating a call for international help, he also called on medical students and retired nurses to come forward.
Israeli ground forces inside Gaza: Army spokesman
Israeli ground forces are inside Gaza having entered the enclave overnight from the north, army spokesman Daniel Hagari claimed Saturday.
Israeli forces “went into the Gaza Strip and expanded the ground operation where infantry, armor and engineer units and artillery with heavy fire are taking part,” Hagari said during a press briefing in Tel Aviv.
“The forces are in the field and continue the fighting,” he added without giving further details.
The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) spokesman’s words confirm the military operation has undergone a significant expansion after what it had earlier described as two “targeted raids,” which took place on Wednesday night and Thursday night. Both those raids saw ground forces withdraw after a few hours.
However, it does not appear as though any major ground offensive aimed at seizing and holding significant amounts of the territory is yet underway.
Hagari said the army had suffered no casualties in overnight fighting, and added, “we keep doing everything in order to keep our forces safe.”
The IDF spokesperson stated Gazans who had moved south of Wadi Gaza, a waterway bisecting the centre of the strip, were in an area he called a “protected space,” and would receive more food, water and medicine today, though he did not give any details.
Hagari also reiterated his appeal to disregard rumours of a hostage deal with Hamas, calling it a cynical move by the group aimed at promoting what he called “psychological terror.”
“Returning the hostages home is of highest national effort. And all our operational activities are directed towards the realization of this goal,” he continued.
Families of Israeli hostages demand meeting with Netahyahu
The families of Israeli hostages held in Gaza by Hamas have warned they will begin protesting if Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defence Minister Yoav Gallant do not meet with them on Saturday.
A spokesperson for the families said they plan to gather at a central square in Tel Aviv. They want the meeting because of increased apprehension about their loved ones after Israel ramped up attacks on Gaza overnight.
The military’s claim it is targeting tunnel infrastructure has prompted fear among the families that military leaders are being cavalier with the lives of the hostages, who are believed to be held inside the tunnels.
El-Sisi urges warring sides to respect Egypt’s sovereignty
President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi has called for Egypt’s sovereignty and position to be respected, warning the international community over the possible regional expansion of the conflict.
His comments came a day after projectiles hit two Egyptian Red Sea towns, Taba and Nuweiba. At least six people were injured in the attack that struck Taba near the border with Israel.
El-Sisi also added his country is working to play a positive role in the conflict in Gaza through the release of those held captive.
Hundreds of buildings destroyed in Israeli bombing: Rescue service
Israeli air raids have destroyed hundreds of buildings in the Gaza Strip overnight, the civil defence service in Gaza said.
“Hundreds of buildings and houses were completely destroyed and thousands of other homes were damaged,” spokesperson Mahmud Bassal told AFP, adding that the intense bombardments had “changed the landscape” of northern Gaza.
Gaza at tipping point, humanity must prevail: WFP chief
Cindy McCain has added her voice to those warning that the situation in Gaza had reached “a tipping point”.
“The silence is deafening,” the head of the World Food Programme said on X, adding, “Humanity must prevail.”
Like other aid groups, the UN’s food agency has also lost contact with its teams in Gaza due to the telecommunications blackout.
“As conflict rages on, I am extremely worried for the safety of all humanitarian workers and civilians,” McCain stated.
There are no winners in war: UN migration agency
The International Organization for Migration has renewed its call for a ceasefire.
The UN agency wrote on X: “Civilians must be protected. There are no winners in war. The most vulnerable pay the heaviest toll.”
Erdogan says Israel is in a ‘state of madness’
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has called on Israel to “immediately come out of its state of madness and stop its attacks” on the Gaza Strip.
“The Israeli bombardments on Gaza, which intensified last night, have again targeted women, children and innocent civilians, deepening the humanitarian crisis,” he said.
WHO says still unable to contact staff, health facilities
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus says the UN’s health agency is still unable to reach its staff and health facilities after Israel cut phone and internet services across Gaza.
“I’m worried about their safety,” the World Health Organization chief wrote on X.
“Evacuation of patients is not possible under such circumstances, nor to find safe shelter. The blackout is also making it impossible for ambulances to reach the injured.”
Israel says its troops continue operating inside Gaza
Israeli military spokesman Major Nir Dinar has stated on Saturday that Israel’s troops continue their ground operations inside the Gaza Strip.
Dinar told the AFP news agency: “Our troops are operating inside Gaza as they did yesterday.”
The Israeli army has also announced it has struck 150 underground targets in the north of the Gaza Strip, including tunnels used by Hamas.
Several Hamas members were killed in the air raids overnight, according to a statement on X.
UN aid agencies say they’ve lost contact with staff in Gaza
Several United Nations agencies report they have lost contact with their local staff in Gaza, as most of the communication capabilities of the enclave appear to have been interrupted.
Communications in Gaza have been severely disrupted in the past several hours as a result of airstrikes, the main Palestinian telecoms company says, although those with Israeli or eSIMs still have patchy connection.
Gaza communication blackout may conceal ‘mass atrocities’: HRW
The widespread communication shutdown in Gaza could potentially shield “mass atrocities” Human Rights Watch warned on Saturday, amidst ongoing heavy bombardment of the region by Israel.
“This information blackout risks providing cover for mass atrocities and contributing to impunity for human rights violations,” the group’s senior technology and human rights researcher, Deborah Brown said in a statement.
Trucks entering Gaza through Rafah ‘nothing more than crumbs’: UNRWA chief
Speaking at a news briefing in occupied East Jerusalem, Philippe Lazzarini has called for a humanitarian ceasefire.
“Many of us saw in these trucks [entering through Rafah border crossing] a glimmer of hope. This is, however, becoming a distraction. These few trucks are nothing more than crumbs that will not make a difference for two million people in the streets,” the UNRWA commissioner-general said.
“We should avoid conveying the message that a few trucks a day means the siege is lifted for humanitarian aid; this is not true. The current system in place is geared to fail. What is needed is meaningful and uninterrupted aid flow and to succeed we need a humanitarian ceasefire to ensure this reaches those in need. This should not be too much to ask for.”
“There have been intense negotiations and endless diplomacy to open a humanitarian supply line,” he added.
“So far it has only resulted in a handful of aid convoys. This will not reverse the fact that Gaza is being strangled. The people of Gaza feel shunned, alienated and abandoned.”
“At least 57 colleagues of mine have been killed. In one day, we had confirmation that 15 were killed,” he continued, stating, “One of our colleagues two days ago died while he was going to the bakery to get bread. He left six children behind, six displaced children in shelter.”
More United Nations staff killed in Gaza: Relief agency
The number of United Nations staff killed in Gaza has increased to 53, after 14 lost their lives in the past 24 hours, according to a statement from the UN Relief Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) on Friday.
Nearly 640,000 out of 1.4 million internally displaced people in Gaza are sheltering in 150 UNRWA facilities across the strip, the statement said, adding that some of them have been killed at school sites operated by the relief agency.
Since the devastating October 7 Hamas attacks on Israel, which sparked its retaliatory offensive in Gaza, 18 displaced people sheltering at schools have been killed and 282 have been wounded, the UNRWA noted.
Current war in Israel and Gaza has been deadliest for journalists since 1992: Advocacy group
The past three weeks of the Israel-Hamas war has been the deadliest period for journalists covering conflicts in decades, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).
At least 29 journalists have lost their lives since the first attack by Hamas on October 7, it said in a statement released Friday. The CPJ added it began tracking the deaths of journalists covering a conflict in 1992.
Of the journalists killed, at least 24 were Palestinian, four were Israeli, and one was Lebanese, CPJ said.
The journalism advocacy group further said it was “highly alarmed” by reports of a communications blackout in Gaza.
“As news bureaus lose contact with their crews and reporters in Gaza, who are independently bearing witness to provide information about developments and the human toll of this war, the world is losing a window into the reality of all sides engaged in this conflict,” CPJ announced.
Communications in Gaza have been severely disrupted in the past several hours as a result of Israeli airstrikes, according to the local telecoms provider Jawwal.
The last standing major internet operator in the region, Paltel, experienced damage to its international routes, according to NetBlocks, an internet outage monitoring firm based in London.
Doctors Without Borders expresses deep concern over situation in Gaza
Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), also known as Doctors Without Borders, expressed on Friday profound concern about the situation in Gaza.
The organization said it has “lost contact with some of our Palestinian colleagues on the ground,” and expressed particular worry for patients, medical staff and families seeking refuge at Al Shifa hospital and other healthcare facilities.
“We call for the unequivocal protection of all medical facilities, staff and civilians across the Gaza Strip,” MSF wrote on X.
Gaza death toll numbers ‘reliable’: HRW
Omar Shakir from Human Rights Watch says death toll numbers from the Gaza health ministry are “reliable” after President Biden cast doubt on the figures.
“When we’ve done our own independent verification of particular strikes. The numbers have been generally consistent with no major deviations. The reasons for that are primarily methodological; the Gaza health ministry has access to data from morgues and hospitals that simply are not available to others,” Shakir told Al Jazeera.
“All this time we’re debating death counts and death tolls the bodies continue to pile up, and the focus for leaders really needs to be on preventing further mass atrocities – not quibbling over numbers,” he added.
At least 7,300 Palestinians have been killed in Israeli attacks since October 7, the Gaza health ministry has announced.
UN says Gaza health ministry death tolls in earlier conflicts ‘credible’
The UN agency for Palestinian refugees says the death toll given by the health ministry in Gaza had proved to be “credible” in previous conflicts after Washington raised doubts about figures from the current war.
“In the past, the five, six cycles of conflict in the Gaza Strip, these figures were considered as credible and no one ever really challenged these figures,” UNRWA chief Philippe Lazzarini told reporters.
Lazzarini added 57 UNRWA staff had been killed since the conflict began, explaining how the agency’s death toll was in line with the ratio of Palestinians killed to the territory’s overall population, as provided by the health ministry.
“We have more or less the same percentage,” he continued.
Lazzarini’s comments came just days after US President Joe Biden said he had “no confidence” in the figures provided by Gaza’s health ministry, drawing criticism from Palestinian rights advocates. On Thursday, meanwhile, the health ministry released a list with the names of the more than 7,000 Palestinians, including nearly 3,000 children, killed since the war began on October 7.
Thousands of patients at risk over lack of fuel: WHO
At least 94,000 litres of fuel are required daily to keep critical operations running at Gaza’s 12 major hospitals, the World Health Organization says.
Richard Peeperkorn, the WHO’s representative in the occupied Palestinian territories, warned the acute shortage of fuel and medical supplies puts at risk 1,000 patients in need of kidney dialysis, 130 premature babies in incubators, 2,000 cancer patients, and patients in intensive care.
“Maternal and neonatal health is worsening as the acute fuel crisis puts babies at risk,” Peeperkorn added.
He urged for a sustained supply of fuel, food, water, and medical supplies to Gaza, stressing the need for safe passage for aid within Gaza along with a ceasefire.
UNESCO says Gaza pupils, teachers ‘extremely vulnerable’
The UN’s culture agency has reiterated calls for a ceasefire in Gaza, where it said more than 625,000 pupils and some 22,500 teachers “are in an extremely vulnerable situation”.
UNESCO said it reminds “actors” in the conflict of their obligation to humanitarian law, especially Resolution 2601, which condemns attacks on civilians connected to schools, including students and teachers and “urges all parties to armed conflict to immediately cease such attacks and threats of attacks”.
Among the rising death toll, UNESCO added dozens were UNRWA employees, the vast majority being teachers and educators.
‘Running out’: People of Gaza going hungry: UN
“Gaza is struggling with a lack of basic supplies. Food and water are running out. People are facing increasingly desperate conditions,” says Abeer Etefa, a World Food Programme spokesperson.
“Outside Gaza, conditions in the West Bank are decreasing every day.”
United Nations agencies have warned the collapse of water and sanitation services will spark bouts of cholera and other deadly infectious diseases if urgent humanitarian aid is not delivered.
Israel cut off its water pipeline to Gaza – along with the fuel and electricity provisions that power water and sewage plants – after announcing a total blockade of the Palestinian enclave following the Hamas attack.
UN health agency cites reports of 1,000 unidentified bodies under Gaza rubble
The World Health Organization says it has received estimates that the bodies of at least 1,000 unidentified people who have not yet been included in death tolls are still buried under the rubble in Gaza.
“We also get these estimates that there are still 1,000 plus people under the rubble which have not been identified yet,” Richard Peeperkorn, the UN health agency’s representative for the occupied Palestinian territory, stated in response to a question about the death toll in Gaza. He did not elaborate.
According to Gaza’s health authorities, more than 7,000 people have been killed by Israeli bombardments in the past three weeks.
Israel ‘clearly’ opposes aid deliveries: UN
Israel “clearly” opposes the delivery of humanitarian aid to northern Gaza where hundreds of thousands of civilians remain trapped during incessant bombing.
“The government of Israel has been clear that they don’t want us delivering [aid] in the north,” Lynn Hastings, the UN’s humanitarian coordinator for Palestine, says.
“So our staff will have to assume certain security risks if we determine the assistance that we have to be lifesaving and needs to be delivered,” Hastings added.
“I’ve said it before that over a million people cannot just pick up and move to the south where there have been repeated bombings. There is no service delivery, there is no shelter there. We need to be able to deliver [assistance] to those people and we need to be able to deliver assistance to wherever people are in need.”
‘Soon many more will die’ from Gaza siege: UN
The United Nations warns “many more will die” as a result of Israel’s ongoing “total blockade” of the Gaza Strip, saying basic services in the Palestinian territory are “crumbling”.
“People in Gaza are dying – they are not only dying from bombs and strikes, soon many more will die from the consequences of [the] siege imposed on the Gaza Strip,” stated Philippe Lazzarini, commissioner general for the UN agency for Palestinian refugees.
“Basic services are crumbling, medicine is running out, food and water are running out, the streets of Gaza have started overflowing with sewage,” he added.