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Over 29,000 Palestinian Deaths in Israel-Hamas Conflict, Reports Gaza Health Ministry

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RAFAH, Gaza Strip — The ongoing Israeli offensive in Gaza has resulted in the tragic loss of over 29,000 Palestinian lives since October 7, according to the Health Ministry of the territory. This marks a somber milestone in one of the most devastating military campaigns in recent memory.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has pledged to persist with the offensive until a “total victory” is achieved against Hamas, following the militant group’s attack on Israeli communities on October 7. The Israeli military has indicated that troops will soon advance into Rafah, the southernmost town on the Egyptian border. This is where more than half of Gaza’s 2.3 million inhabitants have sought refuge from the ongoing conflict.

The United States, a key ally of Israel, has stated that it is still collaborating with Egypt and Qatar to negotiate another cease-fire and hostage release agreement. However, these efforts seem to have hit a roadblock in recent days, with Netanyahu’s call for Qatar to exert pressure on Hamas and insinuations that it funds the militant group causing friction.

The conflict has also led to almost daily exchanges of fire between Israel and Lebanon’s Hezbollah militant group, raising the specter of further escalation.

On Monday, Israeli warplanes launched at least two strikes near the southern port city of Sidon, marking one of the largest attacks near a major city, as reported by Lebanese state media. The Israeli military stated that it targeted Hezbollah arms depots near Sidon in response to a drone that exploded in an open field near the northern Israeli city of Tiberias earlier that day.

In Gaza, the Health Ministry reported that the death toll has now reached 29,092 since the war began, with women and children making up around two-thirds of the casualties. Over 69,000 Palestinians have been injured, placing a tremendous strain on the territory’s hospitals, less than half of which are even partially operational.

The Health Ministry, which is part of the Hamas-run government in Gaza, does not differentiate between civilians and combatants in its casualty count. It maintains detailed records of casualties, and its figures from previous wars in Gaza have largely been in line with those of U.N. agencies, independent experts, and Israel’s own counts.

The conflict was sparked when Hamas-led militants launched an attack on southern Israel from Gaza on October 7, resulting in the deaths of approximately 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and the abduction of around 250 individuals. After a prisoner exchange in November, about 130 hostages remain, with a quarter of them presumed dead.

The Israeli military released a video on Monday showing what is believed to be the youngest hostage, his brother, and mother being led through the streets of the southern Gaza city of Khan Younis shortly after their abduction on October 7.

The video provides evidence that Shiri Bibas and her two young boys, Ariel, 4, and Kfir, who was 9 months old at the time, survived the initial kidnapping. The boys are the only children who remain in captivity, along with their mother.

Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari, the military’s chief spokesman, expressed deep concern about the family’s well-being. He revealed that the army discovered the videos in security cameras seized during its offensive in Khan Younis.

The video appears to show Bibas, wrapped in a blanket, being led through a dirt street by her captors as she carries Ariel. The military believes that Kfir was in a baby sling and could not be seen under the blanket.

The infant with red hair and a toothless smile has become a symbol across Israel for the helplessness and anger over the hostages still held in Gaza. Their father, Yarden Bibas, is also still in captivity.

In a statement, the extended Bibas family said the videos “tear our hearts out.” They made a desperate plea for negotiations to release all of the hostages. In January, the family and hundreds of activists marked Kfir’s first birthday in what his family called “the saddest birthday party in the world.”

Israel claims it has killed over 10,000 Palestinian militants but has not provided any evidence to support this figure. The military asserts that it strives to avoid civilian casualties and attributes the high death toll to Hamas, as the militant group operates in densely populated residential areas. The military reports that 236 of its soldiers have been killed since the ground offensive began in late October.

On Sunday, Benny Gantz, a member of Netanyahu’s three-man War Cabinet, warned that the offensive would expand to Rafah if the hostages are not freed by the start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, expected around March 10.

Israel has stated that it is developing plans to evacuate civilians from Rafah, but it remains unclear where they would be relocated in the devastated territory, much of which has been reduced to rubble. Egypt has sealed the border and cautioned that any mass influx of Palestinians could jeopardize its longstanding peace treaty with Israel.

Already, the war has displaced around 80% of the Palestinians in Gaza from their homes and has left a quarter of the population facing starvation, according to U.N. officials.

The United States maintains that it is still advocating for a truce and hostage-release and that it would veto a U.N. Security Council resolution calling for an immediate cease-fire as it conflicts with these efforts.

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Truth Media Network
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3 COMMENTS

  1. Disagree – The loss of life on both sides is tragic and unacceptable. Peace talks must resume immediately to prevent further bloodshed.

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