Gaza death toll soars as Israeli offensive intensifies

At least 75 Palestinians were killed by Israeli strikes in central Gaza since Wednesday, with that grim toll expected to rise further as rescue crews struggle to reach those still buried under smoking rubble.

An already catastrophic humanitarian crisis in Gaza has plunged to even more harrowing depths as the latest round of Israeli airstrikes and artillery bombardment left scores dead across the besieged coastal enclave over the past day alone.

Medical facilities normally strapped for resources are now being utterly overwhelmed as a torrent of casualties pours through their doors. At least 75 Palestinians were killed by Israeli strikes in central Gaza since Wednesday, with that grim toll expected to rise further as rescue crews struggle to reach those still buried under smoking rubble.

The latest escalation started overnight as Israeli ground forces advanced into the Bureij refugee camp near Deir el-Balah, with fighter jets and artillery pounding the residential areas from multiple fronts. Although the stated aim was rooting out militant cells, the indiscriminate bombardment has generated yet another inexcusable civilian massacre in the densely populated Palestinian territory.

Among the dead were dozens of children and entire families torn apart without warning by the Israeli onslaught, according to Palestinian officials. The devastating human costs were only compounded by the further destruction of already crumbling infrastructure across the Gaza Strip, exacerbating a humanitarian emergency for the enclave’s 2 million residents.

While Israeli forces touted what they claimed were efforts to minimise civilian harm, evidence on the ground suggested a systematic disregard for non-combatant life. One airstrike razed an entire apartment tower in central Gaza City, killing multiple families as they slept and leaving hundreds homeless.

Yet all signs point toward the worst violence still potentially lying ahead. Despite heavy Hamas rocket fire toward Israeli cities which prompted the current offensive, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to continue the campaign until the Palestinian militant group’s terrorist infrastructure is eliminated— an ominous threat of escalated urban warfare to come.

For their part, Hamas officials announced they cannot agree to any ceasefire unless Israel makes a clear commitment to a permanent truce and full withdrawal from Gaza. Previous ceasefires have only proven temporary amidst the almost annual bombardments of the besieged Palestinian territory over the past two decades.

Further complicating hopes for a speedy resolution, at least 1,139 Israelis have reportedly been killed by Hamas rocket attacks since early October, with dozens allegedly still being held captive in Gaza – figures contributing to the Jewish state’s hardline stance.