“Nightmare” in Gaza: UN decries soaring civilian toll as Israel’s assault rages on

His comments came as the UN upwardly revised the toll of Palestinian casualties, now estimating that at least 35,857 people have been killed in Gaza by Israeli air strikes and shelling since the war began last fall. An additional 80,293 Palestinians have been wounded, according to the grim statistics.

The United Nations’ emergency relief coordinator has issued an impassioned plea for an end to the “nightmare” unfolding in Gaza, as the latest figures reveal the staggering civilian casualties from over seven months of Israel’s relentless military assault on the Palestinian territory.

In a statement, UN aid chief Martin Griffiths said the scale of death and destruction from Israel’s bombing campaign and ground incursion since it constitutes “a tragedy beyond words.”

His comments came as the UN upwardly revised the toll of Palestinian casualties, now estimating that at least 35,857 people have been killed in Gaza by Israeli air strikes and shelling since the war began last fall. An additional 80,293 Palestinians have been wounded, according to the grim statistics.

Those numbing figures mean that roughly 10 percent of Gaza’s 2 million total population has now been killed or injured by Israeli munitions, in what Griffiths called “an outrageous level of civilian carnage that must be met by serious consequences.”

The harrowing new figures reflect the vast scale of human devastation wrought by Israel’s overwhelming firepower unleashed against the besieged populace packed into Gaza’s tiny urban density.

Israel has justified its assault as a necessary response to the October 7th attack by the Palestinian militant group Hamas, which fired rockets into Israeli territory sparking the conflict. The revised Israeli death toll stood at 1,139 from that initial attack as well as subsequent Hamas rocket barrages, with dozens more Israelis still being held captive.

But the lopsided Palestinian death rate – over 97% of which are civilians, including thousands of children – has inflamed criticisms of potential Israeli war crimes and disproportionate force used against the largely unsupported Gaza population.

In one of the most searing indictments, the UN agency for Palestinian refugees said over 450 displaced civilians had been killed by Israeli strikes on its facilities being used as shelters across Gaza, with another 1,472 injured. Schools, sanitation offices and other UNRWA sites have repeatedly taken direct hits.

Beyond the civilian casualties, Gaza’s critical infrastructure has been largely reduced to rubble, setting the stage for a cascading humanitarian catastrophe across the densely populated territory, the UN has warned. Vast areas have no power, water systems are critically damaged, and medical facilities are overwhelmed with wounded.

While Israeli officials accuse Hamas of operating among civilians and dismiss many of the casualty figures as inflated propaganda, the sheer magnitude of death and destruction has laid bare what critics deem an unconscionable and grossly disproportionate military response by the region’s predominant power.