The number of people killed in Gaza in the war has risen to 27,947, according to the regional health authorities after 107 Palestinians died in Israeli attacks and fighting during the past day.
A total of 67,460 people have been injured, after 142 suffered injuries during the past 24 hours, the Hamas-controlled authority said on Friday. While the figures could not be independently verified, they are viewed as credible.
Israel is trying to eliminate the leadership of Hamas, and is pounding Gaza with massive airstrikes and a ground offensive in retaliation for massacres by fighters from Hamas and other extremist Palestinian organizations. More than 1,200 Israelis were killed in the October 7 attacks and Hamas is still holding some 136 people hostage.
Fighting has mainly been focused in the south of the strip in recent weeks, where the Israeli military suspects Hamas leaders of hiding in an underground network of tunnels. They also say Hamas may be holding hostages there.
The Israeli army says Hamas’ leader in the Gaza Strip, Yehya al-Sinwar, is hiding with hostages that could serve as a human shield.
After starting in the north, fighting has long centred in Khan Younis in the south of the strip but Israel is planning to extend its operation to the border city of Rafah.
This could lead to a humanitarian catastrophe, the United Nations has warned, saying this would have ripple effects throughout the region.
The city was home to some 200,000 people before the war but now, 1 million Palestinians are sheltering there, having fled fighting throughout the rest of the densely-populated strip.
Egypt fears a massive military operation in Rafah could lead to an influx of Palestinians to Egypt’s Sinai peninsula.
The head of the UN children’s agency UNICEF, Executive Director Catherine Russell, called on the warring parties to refrain from further military escalation in Rafah, pointing to the risk to the children and families living there.
The consequences for the more than 600,000 young people and their families could otherwise be devastating, she said in a statement, calling for an immediate ceasefire.
“Thousands more could die in the violence or by lack of essential services, and further disruption of humanitarian assistance,” she said. “We need Gaza’s last remaining hospitals, shelters, markets and water systems to stay functional. Without them, hunger and disease will skyrocket, taking more child lives.”