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A wounded Palestinian man lies on a stretcher at the floor of the Baptist Hospital in Gaza City, on March 31, 2024. Image Credit: AFP

CAIRO: Israeli strikes killed 77 Palestinians in Gaza in the past 24 hours, health authorities said on Sunday, as Egypt hosted an Israeli delegation for a new round of talks in a bid to secure a truce with Gaza’s Hamas rulers.

The Israeli military said it killed a senior Islamic Jihad militant in a strike on a command centre in the courtyard of the Al Aqsa Hospital in central Gaza. It did not mention his name or rank.

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“The command centre and terrorists were struck precisely, the military said, adding it was intended to minimise “harm to uninvolved civilians in the area of the hospital”.

“The Al Aqsa Hospital building was not damaged and its functioning was not affected.” There was no immediate comment from Islamic Jihad, a militant group and ally of Hamas.

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Palestinian health officials and Hamas media said the strike hit several tents inside the Al Aqsa Hospital, killing four people and wounding several, including five journalists.

Tens of thousands of people have sought shelter in Gaza’s hospitals since the start of the war nearly six months ago, viewing them as relatively safe from airstrikes. Israel accuses Hamas and other militants of operating in and around medical facilities, and troops have raided a number of hospitals.

Israeli troops have been raiding Shifa Hospital , Gaza’s largest, for nearly two weeks and say they have fought battles with militants in and around the compound. The military says it has killed scores of fighters, including senior Hamas operatives. It said Sunday it had found numerous weapons hidden there.

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Palestinians wait to collect water in Zaytoun neighbourhood in Gaza City on March 31. Image Credit: AFP

Only a third of Gaza’s hospitals are even partially functioning, while Israeli strikes kill and wound scores of people every day. Doctors say they are often forced to operate without anesthetic and other crucial supplies.

Those wounded in Sunday’s strike lay on Al Aqsa Martyrs Hospital floor and gasped while being treated, one clutching at the underside of a stretcher that held someone else.

An international team of doctors who recently visited the hospital said they were horrified by the war’s gruesome impact on Palestinian children.

The World Health Organization director-general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, says around 9,000 patients urgently need to be evacuated abroad for lifesaving care.


More than 32,000 Palestinians have been killed in Israel’s military offensive in Gaza since Oct. 7, according to the health authorities.

The war erupted after Hamas militants broke through the border and rampaged through communities in southern Israel, killing 1,200 people and abducting 253 hostages, according to Israeli tallies.

The two sides have stepped up negotiations, mediated by Qatar and Egypt, on a six-week suspension of Israel’s offensive in return for the proposed release of 40 of 130 hostages still held by Hamas militants in Gaza after their Oct. 7 attack on southern Israel.

Hamas says any deal must secure an end to the fighting and withdrawal of Israeli forces. Israel has ruled this out, saying it would eventually resume efforts to dismantle the governing and military capabilities of Hamas.

Hamas would not be present at the talks in Cairo, an official told Reuters on Sunday, as it waited to hear from mediators on whether a new Israeli offer was on the table.

In the southern Gaza Strip city of Khan Younis, Israeli forces continued to blockade the two main hospitals, and tanks shelled areas in the middle and eastern areas of the territory.

Palestinian health officials said an Israeli air strike killed nine people in Bani Suhaila near Khan Younis, while another air strike killed four people in Al-Maghazi camp in the central Gaza Strip.

In Gaza City, Israeli forces continued to operate inside Al Shifa Hospital, the territory’s biggest, the health ministry said. Residents living nearby said residential districts had been destroyed by Israeli forces near Al Shifa.

“I went out looking to buy some medicine from a pharmacy and what I saw was heart-breaking. Complete streets with buildings that used to stand there had been destroyed,” said Abu Mustafa, 49.

“... This is not war, this is genocide,” he told Reuters over the phone from Gaza City.

Like the rest of the 2.3 million population of Gaza, Abu Mustafa, a father of six, is struggling to provide his family with food in the north of the enclave, where the United Nations warned famine was imminent.

“We’ve had enough, we sleep and wake up dreaming of a ceasefire that will end the war and preserve the lives of whoever remains in Gaza,” he said, refusing to give a name fearing Israeli reprisals.