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Smoke is rising after an Israeli strike on Gaza seen from a viewpoint in Southern Israel. Image Credit: Reuters

Israel has ramped up airstrikes across the Gaza Strip, reducing residential buildings to rubble and crushing families. The surging death toll foretells even greater loss of life ahead in Gaza, where Israeli forces are expected to launch a ground invasion seeking to destory Hamas. Fuel shortages and the bombardment forced the shutdown of medical facilities, Gaza officials said.

U.S. and other officials fear the fighting could spill over into a wider regional conflict.

The Hamas-run Health Ministry said that at least 5,791 Palestinians have been killed, including at least 704 in the past day, and 16,297 wounded. In the occupied West Bank, 96 Palestinians have been killed and 1,650 wounded in violence and Israeli raids since Oct. 7.

Follow the latest updates on Israel-Hamas war:

Gaza has experienced '16 years of de-development'

The Gaza Strip has lived through 16 years of de-development, the United Nations said Wednesday, adding that the economic consequences of the Israel-Hamas war were "impossible to determine".

"Gaza has experienced 16 years of de-development and suppressed human potential and the right to development," the UN's UNCTAD trade and development agency said in an annual report on the Palestinian economy.

Erdogan says cancelling plans to visit Israel

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Wednesday he was cancelling plans to visit Israel because of its "inhumane" war against Hamas militants in Gaza.

"We had a project to go to Israel, but it was cancelled, we will not go," Erdogan told ruling party lawmakers in parliament, adding that he viewed Hamas as "liberators" fighting for their own land.

Israel-Hamas war already affecting regional economies

The raging war between Israel and Hamas is already battering the economies of nearby countries, the managing director of the International Monetary Fund told a Saudi investor forum on Wednesday.

"You look at the neighbouring countries - Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan - there the channels of impact are already visible," Kristalina Georgieva said at the Future Investment Initiative in the Saudi capital Riyadh.

Syria says Israeli attack kills eight soldiers

An Israeli attack on military positions in southwest Syria on Wednesday killed eight soldiers and wounded seven more, the Syrian state news agency (SANA) reported.

Citing a military source, SANA said Israel's "aerial aggression" targeted a number of military positions near the southwestern city of Deraa. The strike also caused material damage, it reported.

The attack took place at around 1:45 a.m. on Wednesday (2245 GMT on Tuesday), SANA reported.

Israel's military said earlier that its jets had struck Syrian army infrastructure and mortar launchers early on Wednesday in what it described as a response to rocket launches from Syria toward Israel.

At least 80 killed in Israel night strikes

Gaza's Hamas government said Wednesday that Israeli air strikes on the besieged Palestinian territory during the night killed at least 80 people.

A statement from the government's media office said "more than 80 people were martyred and hundreds wounded in massacres committed by the occupation (Israel) raids" overnight.

Thousands of people, mostly civilians, have been killed in the war between Israel and Hamas since it erupted on October 7.

UN agency warns of 'halt' to Gaza aid operations

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Members of the Palestine Red Crescent Society distribute aid to people in Deir al-Balah, in the central Gaza Strip. Image Credit: Reuters

A UN agency warned it could be forced to stop aid operations in war-riven Gaza on Wednesday due to dwindling fuel supplies, as calls mounted for a humanitarian "pause" in fighting.

After 18 days of withering Israeli air strikes and a near-total land, sea and air blockade of the Palestinian territory, UN refugee agency UNRWA warned operations were at breaking point.

"If we do not get fuel urgently, we will be forced to halt our operations in the Gaza Strip," said the UN agency, which provides aid to 600,000 displaced Gazans.

Australia sends 2 more transport jets to Middle East

Australia said it sent an additional two air force transport jets to the Middle East in case citizens of the country need to be evacuated should hostilities escalate.

Acting Prime Minister Richard Marles said Wednesday that three aircraft were now in the region.

“All of this is a contingency and the purpose of it is to be supporting Australian populations that are in the Middle East if, in fact, this conflict gets worse,” Marles told Nine Network television.

Marles did not say where the aircraft were sent other than they were not in Israel. He urged Australians who want to return home to take commercial flights now rather than wait for a possible military evacuation.

Australia has helped hundreds of Australians leave Israel aboard chartered flights and was working toward helping 79 leave Gaza.

S&P changes Israel credit outlook from 'stable' to 'negative'

Credit rating agency Standard & Poor’s says it is changing its outlook on Israel’s credit rating to “negative” from “stable” as the country fights a war against Hamas in Gaza in response to the militant group’s devastating attack.

S&P said Tuesday it was revising the outlooks on its long-term foreign and local-currency ratings on Israel, citing the war, its potential to escalate into a broader regional conflict and the impact that could have on the country’s economy.

S&P left Israel’s credit rating unchanged at AA-. The agency’s highest rating is AAA. By revising the outlook, S&P is raising a warning flag signaling that a rating downgrade could happen in the future.

Credit ratings firms Fitch and Moody’s have taken similar actions.

Canada doesn't believe Hamas would respect a cease-fire

Canadian Defense Minister Bill Blair said Tuesday that Canada’s government does not believe Hamas would respect a cease-fire in its conflict with Israel.

“I have no expectation that a terrorist organization would respect international law or any call for a cease-fire,” Blair said before heading into a Cabinet meeting.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said afterward that Canada supports the idea of “humanitarian pauses,” temporary halts to fighting, allowing for aid to get into Gaza safely and people to leave.

Hamas is sworn to Israel's destruction, and Blair said it is a threat as long as it exists.

"I think (Israel has) a right to defend themselves against that terror threat,″ Blair said. “And quite frankly, Hamas has to be eliminated as a threat, not just to Israel but to the world.″

Canada has listed Hamas as a terrorist group since 2002 and has no dealings with any of its leaders.

Israeli FM renews vow to crush Hamas

Israel is vowing again to destroy Hamas, rejecting calls for a cease-fire from the U.N. chief, the Palestinians and many countries at a high-level U.N. meeting and saying the war in Gaza is not merely its own but “the war of the free world.”

Israel’s Foreign Minister Eli Cohen also dismissed calls for “proportionality” in the country’s response to Hamas’ surprise attacks Oct. 7 that killed 1,400 people. More than 5,700 Palestinians have since been killed in Gaza, according to its Health Ministry.

Cohen told the U.N. Security Council the proportionate response to the Oct. 7 massacre is “a total destruction to the last one of the Hamas,” calling the extremist group “the new Nazis.”

“It is not only Israel’s right to destroy Hamas. It’s our duty,” he said.

Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki said he came to the meeting “to stop … the ongoing massacres being deliberately and systematically and savagely perpetrated by Israel.”

“Over 2 million Palestinians are on a survival mission every day, every night,” he added.

Under international law, al-Maliki said, “it is our collective human duty to stop” the Israeli attacks and bloodshed.