Palestinian officials now say more than 10,000 people have been killed in Gaza since the start of the Israel-Hamas war, which entered its second month of fighting earlier this week. The humanitarian crisis in the Hamas-governed territory is expected to worsen and the staggering death toll – already three times higher than the number of American civilians killed in the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks – is expected to rise as Israel’s ground invasion through Gaza City continues.
United Nations officials have stepped up their appeals for a humanitarian pause in Gaza, where whole communities have been destroyed and families are struggling for any semblance of normal life. According to the Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry, the death toll includes about 4,000 children as basic supplies are running out and health care facilities are unable to tend to the wounded.
The level of death and suffering is “hard to fathom,” U.N. health agency spokesperson Christian Lindmeier told reporters in Geneva. “Every day, you think it is the worst day and then the next day is worse.”
Israel declared war on Hamas after the terror group led an invasion into southern Israel on Oct. 7, and terrorists gunned down, slaughtered and burned 1,400 people in Israeli border towns, mostly civilians. Hamas also took approximately 240 hostages.
While Israel has attempted to forewarn Palestinian residents of potential airstrikes across Gaza, many civilians are unable to escape or are prevented from doing so by Hamas operatives, whom Israeli officials accuse of using civilians as human shields.
The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) have also provided evidence, including photos and videos, of Hamas bases and tunnels being set up near schools, hospitals and other high-traffic civilian buildings.
In Israel, families plead for the release of hundreds of hostages and the safe return of their loved ones. Many are still mourning the 1,400 people who were killed, as their bodies continue to be identified.
Photos of Israeli border towns show bullet holes piercing the side of bloodied homes, where Hamas fighters dragged civilians out of their residences. Images out of Gaza show similar devastation, with buildings completely destroyed and body bags flooding the streets.
In Gaza, a mother with her young children takes shelter in an improvised tent, struggling to find necessities.
“The situation is getting worse day after day,” she said at Gaza City’s Al Shifa hospital, according to Reuters. “There is no food, no water. When my son goes to pick up water, he queues for three or four hours in the line. They struck bakeries, we don’t have bread.”
Gaza’s health system is close to collapse and is flooded with trauma patients and about 350,000 patients with chronic conditions. They are also running out of medicines and fuel, the United Nations has said.
Approximately 50,000 pregnant women are also in these hospitals, according to data from United Nations organizations. Many patients are no longer able to receive treatment due to the scarcity of resources.
“The longer we wait, the worse some patients will get. Many people will die merely because they have no access to treatment,” said Osama Adromia, the supervisor at Makassed Hospital, per Reuters.
The Israeli military said on Wednesday that two separate strikes in Gaza City, the Hamas militant group’s main stronghold in the territory, killed a Hamas weapons maker and several operatives. The IDF said it is continuing its air and ground offensive in the Palestinian territory, targeting Hamas’ strongholds and tunnel network.
Despite the Israeli offensive, a senior Hamas official continues to taunt Israel.
“Gaza is unbreakable and will remain a thorn in the throat of the Americans and the Zionists,” senior Hamas official Ghazi Hamad told Al Jazeera television.
Nearly two-thirds of Gaza’s 2.3 million residents have been internally displaced, according to U.N. figures. Thousands remain homeless or are residing in temporary U.N. shelters, tents or other improvised havens.
Reuters contributed to this report.