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More than 30 Palestinians reported killed in Israeli airstrikes in the Gaza Strip

Palestinians mourn relatives killed in the Israeli bombardment of the Gaza Strip in Rafah, Saturday, Jan. 13, 2024.
Fatima Shbair
Palestinians mourn relatives killed in the Israeli bombardment of the Gaza Strip in Rafah, Saturday, Jan. 13, 2024.

RAFAH, Gaza Strip — More than 30 Palestinians, including young children, were killed in two Israeli airstrikes overnight into Saturday in the Gaza Strip, officials said, as concerns continued to grow over a lack of fuel and supplies for overburdened hospitals.

Video provided by Gaza's Civil Defense department showed rescue workers searching through the twisted rubble of a home in Gaza City by flashlight early Saturday morning after it was hit by an Israeli attack.

Footage showed them carrying a young girl wrapped in blankets with injuries to her face, and at least two other children who appeared dead. A boy, covered in dust, winced as he was loaded into an ambulance.

The attack on the home in the Daraj neighborhood killed at least 20 people in total, according to Civil Defense spokesperson Mahmoud Bassal.

Another strike near the southern city of Rafah on the Egyptian border killed at least 13 people, including two children. The bodies of those killed, primarily from a displaced family from central Gaza, were taken to the city's Abu Youssef al-Najjar hospital where they were seen by an Associated Press reporter.

The Health Ministry in Hamas-run Gaza said Saturday that 135 Palestinians were killed in the last 24 hours, bringing the overall toll of the war to 23,843. The count does not differentiate between combatants and civilians, but the ministry has said about two-thirds of the dead are women and children. The ministry said the total number of war-wounded surpassed 60,000.

Israel has argued Hamas is responsible for the high civilian casualties, saying its fighters make use of civilian buildings and launch attacks from densely populated urban areas.

With the war in Gaza entering its 100th day on Sunday, the World Health Organization has said only 15 of the territories' 36 hospitals still partially functional, according to OCHA, the United Nations' humanitarian affairs agency.

The main hospital in central Gaza, Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital in the city of Deir al-Balah, went dark Friday morning after running out of fuel.

Staff were able to keep ventilators and incubators operating with solar-charged batteries during the day, and received a small emergency shipment of fuel from another hospital late Friday.

Fuel was expected to run out again on Saturday unless the WHO is able to deliver a promised shipment, hospital officials said. Aid deliveries were being disrupted by a renewed drop in telecommunications connectivity in much of Gaza, which began late Friday.

In its Oct. 7 attack that sparked the war, Hamas and other militants killed some 1,200 people in Israel, mostly civilians. About 250 more were taken hostage, and while some have been released or confirmed dead, more than half are believed to still be in captivity.

Since the start of Israel's ground operation in late October, 186 Israeli soldiers were killed and another 1,099 injured in Gaza, according to the military. More than 85% of Gaza's population of 2.3 million has been displaced as a result of Israel's air and ground offensive, and vast swaths of the territory have been leveled.

Recent developments, including U.S. and British military strikes on Houthi-controlled sites in Yemen, have stoked growing fears of the war broadening into a regional conflict.

The strikes came in response to a Houthi campaign of drone and missile attacks on commercial ships in the Red Sea, which they said was in response to Israel's offensive in Gaza.

Amid already severe shortages of food, clean water and fuel in Gaza, OCHA said in its daily report that Israel's severe constraints on humanitarian missions and outright denials had increased since the start of the year.

The agency said only 21% of planned deliveries of food, medicine, water and other supplies have been successfully reaching northern Gaza.

"These denials paralyze the ability of humanitarian partners to respond meaningfully, consistently and at-scale to widespread humanitarian needs," the agency said.

American and other international efforts pushing Israel to do more to alleviate the suffering of Palestinian civilians have met with little success.

At the same time, Shifa Hospital in Gaza City, the territory's main hospital that had been shut down since November, had begun partially functioning again, the WHO said Friday.

Director-General Tedros Ghebreyesus said his organization has delivered 9,300 liters (2,460 gallons) of fuel to Shifa, allowing a 60-person medical team to begin treating more than 1,000 patients.

The lack of adequate humanitarian aid for civilians in Gaza forms part of South Africa's case that opened this week at the International Court of Justice in The Hague accusing Israel of genocide.

In its complaint, South Africa argues Israel has failed to ensure that the medical needs of Palestinians are met, and accuses Israel of " directly attacking Palestinian hospitals, ambulances and other healthcare facilities in Gaza."

When the case opened on Thursday, South Africa called for broad provisional measures to be implemented, including asking the court to immediately order Israel to halt its offensive and to provide access to "adequate fuel, shelter, clothes, hygiene and sanitization" as well as medical supplies and assistance.

Israel's legal team accused Hamas of using hospitals and other civilian facilities to launch attacks and shelter their fighters. Israel has argued that it is doing everything possible to protect civilians and that is has been working with hospitals to provide assistance. Israel called for a dismissal of South Africa's case.

It was not immediately clear when a decision would be reached.

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The Associated Press
[Copyright 2024 NPR]