RAFAH, Gaza Strip: Israel escalated airstrikes across the Gaza Strip on Tuesday, crushing families in the rubble of residential buildings, as health officials said hundreds of Palestinians were killed in the past day and medical facilities were shut down because of bomb damage and lack of power.
The massive air bombardment continued through the night as Israeli jets hit sites across Gaza, the Hamas-run Interior Ministry said.
The soaring death toll from the bombardment is unprecedented in the decades-long Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It augurs an even greater loss of life in Gaza once Israeli forces backed by tanks and artillery launch an expected ground offensive aimed at crushing Hamas militants.
Gaza’s 2.3 million people have been running out of food, water and medicine since Israel sealed off the territory following the devastating Oct. 7 attack by Hamas on towns in southern Israel.
The Gaza Health Ministry, which is run by Hamas, said Israeli airstrikes killed at least 704 people over the past day, mostly women and children. The Associated Press could not independently verify the death tolls cited by Hamas, which says it tallies figures from hospital directors.
In Washington, White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told reporters that the U.S. also could not verify that one-day death toll.
“The Ministry of Health is run by Hamas, and I think that all needs to be factored into anything that they put out publicly.”