The Hamas-run Health Ministry in Gaza says death toll surges to 1,055 amid Israeli airstrike

An UNRWA school sheltering displaced families in Gaza has received a direct hit.Photo Courtesy: UNRWA/Mohammed Hinnawi

#Gaza, #GazaDeathToll, #Hamas, #Israel, #Palestine

IBNS: The Hamas-run Health Ministry in Gaza on Wednesday said 1055 people have died in the Gaza Strip ever since Israel launched an airstrike in the region.

The ministry said 5184 people were injured in the incident.

Israel launched airstrike in Gaza after Hamas attacked the country on Saturday.

Meanwhile, amid airstrikes and a complete siege of the Gaza Strip, staff from the UN agency that supports Palestine refugees, UNRWA, continue their lifesaving work, even in the face of immense personal losses.

UNRWA was established more than 70 years ago, and its services include education, healthcare, camp infrastructure and social safety net assistance to Palestine refugees across the Middle East.

This includes around two million people in Gaza, where UNRWA schools are now housing roughly 170,000 residents who have fled their homes in the wake of the escalating crisis sparked by Hamas attacks against Israel last Saturday.

The UN agency is also a casualty of the conflict. Four staff have been killed and 14 facilities have sustained damage. Many personnel are also sheltering in its schools.

UN News spoke to Juliette Touma, UNRWA Director of Communications, who is based in Amman, Jordan.

She described her 13,000 colleagues  – who include doctors, nurses, teachers and sanitation workers – as “unsung heroes” who “have been on the ground providing services to people in need”.

What is Hamas in the context of Oct 7, 2023 attack on Israel?

Hamas, the Palestine Islamist group which governs Gaza and attacked Israel on Oct 7, 2023, is an offshoot of the Sunni Muslim Brotherhood in the late 1980s.

The militant group defeated its political rival Fatah (which officially renounced violence) in the 2006 elections and took over the Gaza Strip, a  41-km-long and 10-km-wide territory between Israel, Egypt and the Mediterranean Sea, inhabited by about  2.3 million people in one of the most densely populated regions of the world. Since 2006, Hamas has been ruling the Gaza Strip without elections.

The United States and European Union have designated Hamas as a terrorist organization which believes in violence as a means to liberate Palestinian territories from Israel and propagates the eradication of the state of Israel.

According to American think tank Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), Iran provides it with material and financial support, and Turkey reportedly harbours some of its top leaders.

Organisations like Hezbollah, a Lebanese Shia Islamist political party and militant group with strong presence in southern Lebanon, also share a common goal with Hamas and hence during the ongoing conflict has fired a barrage of rockets into Israel inviting retalitaion from the latter. Hezbollah is also designated as a terrorist organisation by the United States and U.S.-allied Gulf Arab states including Saudi Arabia.

On Oct 7, 2023 (Saturday) when the Israelis were nearing the end of their seven-day-long Jewish festival of Sukkot, Hamas mounted a surprise attack on southern Israel launching over 5000 rockets decimating buildings, killing hundreds of people by the strikes and infiltrating on a festival across the Gaza border, taking innocent hostages of young women, men, children and families besides killing many.