Sat. May 25th, 2024

Israel struck Gaza on Sunday and troops battled militants in several areas of the Hamas-run territory, where the health ministry said the death toll in the war had exceeded 35,000 people.

More than seven months into the Israel-Hamas war, UN chief Antonio Guterres urged “an immediate humanitarian ceasefire, the unconditional release of all hostages and an immediate surge in humanitarian aid” into the besieged Gaza Strip.

“But a ceasefire will only be the start,” Guterres told a donor conference in Kuwait, where countries pledged over $2 billion to aid the devastated Palestinian territory.

“It will be a long road back from the devastation and trauma of this war,” he added.

As Egyptian, Qatari and American mediation efforts towards a truce appeared to stall, US President Joe Biden said on Saturday a ceasefire could be achieved “tomorrow” if Hamas released the hostages held in Gaza since the October 7 attack that sparked the conflict.

The militant group on Sunday called Biden’s statement a “setback” to the negotiations, and said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had “rushed to overturn” the talks by launching the Rafah offensive.

AFP correspondents, witnesses and medics said Israeli air strikes pounded parts of northern, central and southern Gaza overnight and into Sunday morning.

Israel’s military said its jets had hit “over 150 terror targets throughout the Gaza Strip” over the past day.

In Rafah, Gaza’s southernmost city which sits on the border with Egypt, the Kuwaiti hospital said Sunday it had received the bodies of “18 martyrs” killed over the past 24 hours.

The territory’s health ministry said at least 63 people had been killed over the previous 24 hours, bringing the overall death toll from Israel’s bombardment and offensive in Gaza to at least 35,034 people, mostly women and children.

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