This handout picture released by the Israeli army on October 31, 2023, reportedly shows soldiers in an area in the Gaza Strip amid ongoing battles between Israel and the Palestinian Hamas movement. Image Credit: AFP

Dubai: At least 100 Palestinians were killed when a series of Israeli airstrikes on Tuesday bombarded a densely populated refugee camp in north Gaza on Tuesday, Palestinian health officials said, as Israeli ground forces battled Hamas militants deep inside the enclave.

Israel’s military confirmed striking the Jabaliya refugee camp, saying the operation succeeded in killing a key Hamas commander linked to the October 7 attack on Israel by the Palestinian militant group.

“His elimination was carried out as part of a wide-scale strike on terrorists and terror infrastructure belonging to the Central Jabaliya Battalion, which had taken control over civilian buildings in Gaza City,” the military said, referring to the targeting of Ebrahim Biari, the commander of Hamas’ Central Jabaliya Battalion.

Reports said 100 Palestinians were killed and 150 wounded when tonnes of aerial explosives struck residential dwellings in the heart of the Jabaliya refugee camp in urbanised north Gaza.

Communications, internet services cut off in Gaza
Palestine Telecommunication Company, or Paltel, said on Wednesday in a post on messaging platform X that communications and internet services have been completely cut off in the Gaza Strip due to international access being disconnected again.

Paltel is Gaza's largest telecommunications provider.

read more on Refugee camp blast

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu dismissed international calls for a ceasefire to enable emergency aid deliveries to civilians suffering from critical shortages of food, medicine, drinking water and fuel.

On ground, Israeli forces were engaged in “fierce battles” with Hamas militants in northern Gaza on Tuesday as the UN said that the enclave has become a ‘graveyard for children and a living hell for everyone’.

The army said that Israeli forces were “engaged in fierce battles with Hamas terrorists deep inside the Gaza Strip,” adding that dozens of militants had been killed in the past few hours.

Gaza map
Image Credit: Gulf News

Israeli forces also fought Hamas gunmen inside the vast tunnel network beneath the enclave, seeking to free hostages and to push forward its campaign to wipe out the militant group.

As the battle inside Gaza intensified and airstrikes continued to pound Gaza, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu dismissed calls for a halt to the fighting.

Gaza now a ‘graveyard’ for thousands of children: UN

In Geneva, the United Nations said on Tuesday that the Gaza Strip has become a graveyard for thousands of children, as it feared the prospect of more dying of dehydration.

Also read

The UN children’s agency Unicef said there was a risk that the number of child deaths directly from bombardment could become eclipsed.

“Our gravest fears about the reported numbers of children killed becoming dozens, then hundreds, and ultimately thousands were realised in just a fortnight,” Unicef spokesman James Elder said in a statement.

3,450 children killed

“The numbers are appalling; reportedly more than 3,450 children killed; staggeringly this rises significantly every day.”

“Gaza has become a graveyard for thousands of children. It’s a living hell for everyone else.”

gaza nww-1698765170111
Palestinians search for casualties at the site of Israeli strikes on houses in Jabaliya refugee camp in the northern Gaza Strip, October 31, 2023. Image Credit: Reuters

More than one million children living in the Gaza Strip were also suffering from a lack of clean water.

“And if there is no ceasefire, no water, no medicine, and no release of abducted children? Then we hurtle towards even greater horrors afflicting innocent children,” said Elder.

“There are certainly children who are dying who have been impacted by the bombardment but should have had their lives saved,” Elder told reporters in Geneva, via video-link.

Imminent public health catastrophe looms

Also in Geneva, the World Health Organisation (WHO) spokesperson Christian Lindmeier warned of the risk of civilian deaths not directly linked to Israeli bombardment amid overcrowding, mass displacement and damage to water and sanitation infrastructure.

“It’s an imminent public health catastrophe that looms with the mass displacement, the overcrowding, the damage to water and sanitation infrastructure,” Lindmeier told reporters.

Asked if people were dying from complications other than those from the bombardment, Lindmeier said: “Indeed they are.” A spokesperson from the UN children’s agency, James Elder, warned of the risk of infant deaths due to dehydration with water output at 5 per cent of normal levels.

800,000 flee to south Gaza

“So child deaths to dehydration, particularly infant deaths due to dehydration, are a growing threat,” he said, adding that children were getting sick from drinking salty water.

About 800,000 of more than 2.3 million Palestinians have fled south, and half of the total population displaced, with hundreds of thousands sheltering in packed UN-run schools-turned-shelters or in hospitals alongside thousands of wounded patients.

Nearly 672,000 Palestinians are sheltering in its schools and other facilities — four times their capacity, according to the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, known as UNRWA.

WLD UAE LANA-1698749014126
Lana Zaki Nusseibeh addressing the UN Security Council on Monday. Image Credit: AFP

UAE calls for immediate ceasefire

At the UN Security Council, the UAE has called for an immediate, durable and sustained humanitarian truce in Gaza, warning that the drums of war are beating.

Lana Zaki Nusseibeh, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of the UAE to the UN, on Monday reiterated that a ceasefire is needed now, as is ensuring safe, sustained and humanitarian aid reaches Gaza, and that access to electricity, clean water and fuel is restored.

“If we lean on the General Assembly’s moral responsibility in other settings, we must also respect it in this one,” she said, noting that “this Council, ignoring the expressed will of the majority of the world, [is] maybe what breaks it.”

Ambassador Nusseibeh went on to note that while our eyes have been trained on Gaza, the occupied West Bank has not been spared from violence either.

“Israeli settlers are escalating their attacks against Palestinian civilians and forcing their displacement. These attacks must be prevented by the State of Israel,” she said, adding that across the region, there have been several credible warnings of a wider escalation.

“The drums of war are beating,” she said, urging Security Council members to take the warnings seriously.

“We do not serve Israel’s security by enabling it [the war] to go on. We cannot reverse the heinous October 7 attacks by condoning this war in which civilians are paying the price,” she noted, adding “ignoring what could happen day after day will have devastating consequences – not only for Israelis and Palestinians but for the prospects peace and stability in our region.”

Ultimate sacrifice

“We have heard many say that the 2.2 million Palestinians in Gaza are not Hamas, that this is not a war against them. And while these are welcome words, it is time that action reflected them,” She added.

She went on to say: “More than 8,000 people that have been killed in Gaza, and as we heard today, 70 per cent of whom were women and children, were surely not all Hamas. Nearly 1,000 children are missing and may be trapped or dead under the rubble. They are not Hamas. Will we help them? The number of Palestinian children killed in just three weeks of Israel’s bombardment of Gaza exceeds the total number of children killed in conflicts worldwide in each of the last four years.”

Nusseibeh added that the shutdown of cellular and internet services over the weekend as part of the offensive meant that wounded civilians were searching for help in the dark.

US Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin testifies as protesters calling for a ceasefire in Gaza raise their hands, painted in red, during a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Austin on October 31, 2023 in Washington, DC. Protesters repeatedly interrupted the hearing. Blinken and Austin both testified at the hearing on budget requests, which includes aid money for Israel and Ukraine. Image Credit: AFP

Netanyahu dismisses ceasefire calls

Netanyahu has dismissed growing international calls for a ceasefire, saying it would be “surrender” to the Hamas group he has vowed to destroy.

Inside Gaza, footage from the Israeli military showed tanks and armoured bulldozers churning up bomb-scarred dirt tracks and troops searching shattered buildings for Hamas militants and the 240 hostages still missing.

Israel struck 300 targets during its fourth night of land operations in northern Gaza, launched after the bloodiest attack in its history when Hamas gunmen killed some 1,400 in a brutal cross-border raid, according to Israeli officials.

The army said its forces were “engaged in fierce battles with Hamas terrorists deep inside the Gaza Strip,” killing dozens of militants.

Bombing campaign kills 8,525

Warplanes kept up a relentless barrage of strikes on Gaza, where the bombing campaign has now killed 8,525, according to the latest count given by the Hamas-run health ministry, many of them children.

The ministry later said another 50 people had died in an Israeli strike on the Jabaliya refugee camp.

The Palestinian death toll in the Israel-Hamas war has reached 8,525, according to the Hamas-run Health Ministry in Gaza . In the West Bank, more than 122 Palestinians have been killed in violence and Israeli raids.

More than 1,400 people in Israel have been killed, most of them civilians slain in the initial Hamas rampage that started the fighting October 7. In addition, 240 hostages were taken from Israel into Gaza by the militant group. One of the captives, a female Israeli soldier, was rescued in a special forces operation.

Yemen’s Al Houthi rebels vow more attacks on Israel

In a sign that the conflict risked spiralling throughout the region, Yemen’s Iran-backed Al Houthi rebels fired drones and missiles towards Israel and vowed to keep up attacks.

“The Yemeni Armed Forces... confirm they will continue to carry out qualitative strikes with missiles and drones until the Israeli aggression stops,” said an Al Houthi military statement aired on the rebels’ Al Masirah TV.

It said Al Houthi rebels “launched a large batch of ballistic missiles... and a large number of armed aircraft” towards Israel on Tuesday, in the third such operation since the Gaza assault began on October 7 after Hamas militants staged the worst attack in Israel’s history.

Earlier, Israel’s military said a “hostile aircraft intrusion” had set off warning sirens in Eilat, its Red Sea resort, later saying it had intercepted a “surface-to-surface missile” fired toward Israeli territory, that was “successfully intercepted by the ‘Arrow’ aerial defence system”.

“All aerial threats were intercepted outside of Israeli territory,” it said.

-- With inputs from AFP, Reuters