A Palestinian woman is at the site of an Israeli strike on a house in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, on January 18, 2024. Image Credit: REUTERS

GAZA STRIP: Israeli strikes killed dozens more people overnight, the health ministry in Hamas-run Gaza said on Thursday, including in the territory’s south where Israel has intensified operations.

The renewed strikes came as medicine for hostages held by the militants and fresh aid for civilians entered the Palestinian territory under a newly brokered deal, mediator Qatar said.

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The ministry said 93 people had been killed, including 16 in a single strike on a house in the southern city of Rafah, where many people have fled.

“The strike left 16 killed, among them women and children, and 20 injured,” the ministry said.

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The Hamas government reported dozens of strikes, including on the southern city of Khan Younis and Palestinian refugee camps in central Gaza.

Plumes of black smoke rose over Khan Yunis at dawn after the strikes.

Fighting has ravaged the Gaza Strip since Hamas’s unprecedented October 7 attacks on Israel that resulted in the death of about 1,140 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally based on official Israeli figures.

At least 24,448 Palestinians, most of them women, children and adolescents, have been killed in Israeli bombardments and a ground offensive, according to figures from the health ministry.

Hamas and other militants seized about 250 hostages during the October 7 attacks, and around 132 remain in Gaza, including at least 27 believed to have been killed.

The fate of those still in captivity has gripped Israeli society, leading to pressure against the government for their release.

A broader humanitarian crisis in besieged Gaza is marked by the threat of famine and disease, fuelling international calls for a ceasefire.

Late Wednesday Qatar’s foreign ministry spokesman Majed Al Ansari said on X, formerly Twitter, that medicine for hostages and aid entered Gaza “over the past few hours” under the agreement announced on Tuesday following French and Qatari mediation.

Two planes earlier arrived in the Egyptian city of Al Arish near the Gaza border with 61 tonnes of aid provided by Doha and France, including medicine and food, Qatar said.

The International Committee of the Red Cross welcomed the deal as “a much-needed moment of relief”, under which 45 hostages are expected to receive medication.

France said the drugs would be sent to a hospital in Rafah, given to the Red Cross and divided into batches before being transferred to the hostages.

‘Our life is gone’

Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant said the army was hitting Gaza’s main southern city of Khan Younis particularly hard to dismantle the Hamas leadership, which the army says has already been done in northern Gaza.

Israel’s army announced the death of one soldier on Wednesday, bringing to 193 the total number killed in Gaza since ground operations began in late October.

At the Abu Yussef Al Najjar hospital in Rafah, Palestinians stood in front of bodies wrapped in shrouds, mourning loved ones killed in Israeli bombardment.

Hassan Gebril Franjee, a resident of central Gaza’s Nuseirat refugee camp, returned to find his home had been destroyed.

“I wish they would stop the war because the situation is devastating. Our youth is gone. Our whole life is gone,” he told AFP.

The United Nations says the war has displaced roughly 85 per cent of Gaza’s people, many of whom have crowded into shelters and struggle to get food, water, fuel and medical care.

At Israel’s Nir Oz kibbutz, where about one in four residents was killed or kidnapped in the Hamas attack, Yossi Schneider is clinging to hope for his relative Kfir Bibas, a baby, despite Hamas’s announcing his death.

The youngest hostage kidnapped by Hamas was less than nine months old on October 7 and would be celebrating his first birthday this week.

“We are thinking about them every day, every second, every minute,” Schneider said of Bibas and his missing brother and mother.

West Bank violence

Since October 7 violence has also surged in the Israeli-occupied West Bank to a level not seen since the second Palestinian intifada, or uprising, between 2000 and 2005.

Israeli army raids and attacks by settlers have killed around 360 people in the territory, according to the Palestinian health ministry.

Israeli forces killed 10 people in the West Bank on Wednesday, the Palestinian health ministry and the Israeli army said.

Five were killed inside Tulkarem refugee camp, according to the ministry, while Israel’s military confirmed an air strike that killed “a number of terrorists” during a raid there.

Separately, Al Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades, the armed wing of Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah party, said five of its fighters died east of the city of Nablus.

Among them was Ahmed Abdullah Abu Shalal, a Palestinian militant, both sides said.

The Israeli army said he was killed following intelligence “of his cell’s intentions of carrying out an imminent terrorist attack”.

Fears are mounting the Israel-Hamas conflict will trigger an all-out war across the Middle East, with growing violence involving Iran-aligned groups.

Israel has exchanged regular cross-border fire with Lebanon’s Hezbollah movement since the start of the war.

Military chief Herzi Halevi warned on Wednesday the likelihood of war on Israel’s northern border with Lebanon in the coming months was “much higher”.

US forces late Wednesday said they conducted a fourth round of strikes on areas of Yemen controlled by Iran-backed Al Houthi militants. United States Central Command (CENTCOM) said forces struck 14 Huthi missiles that were loaded to be fired.

The latest strikes came after Washington said it would re-designate the Huthis as a “terrorist” entity, for their attacks on merchant vessels in the Red Sea vital to world trade.

The Houthis vowed to continue their attacks against what they deem Israeli-linked shipping and said they had hit another vessel on Wednesday, following the US designation.

CENTCOM said a US-owned and operated, Marshall Islands-flagged bulk carrier had been hit but was still sailing.

The United States and Britain bombed scores of targets inside Huthi-controlled Yemen last week in response to attacks by the rebels.