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Gaza Death Toll Surpasses 7,000 as Israel Continues Air Raids

The Israeli military has stepped up its air raids on the Gaza Strip, killing more than 7,000 Palestinians, including nearly 3,000 children and women, since the start of the conflict on October 7.

The Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza announced the grim milestone on Thursday, saying that the Israeli strikes have also injured more than 20,000 people and displaced hundreds of thousands from their homes.

The escalation came as Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki urged the international community to pressure Israel to agree to a full ceasefire in order to allow humanitarian aid to enter the besieged enclave.

Speaking at The Hague, al-Maliki said that the proposal by the European Union leaders for pauses in bombardments to enable access for aid was unacceptable, as it would not guarantee the safety of civilians and the restoration of basic services.

He also accused Israel of committing war crimes and violating international humanitarian law by targeting residential buildings, hospitals, schools and media offices.

Meanwhile, the United Nations warned that “nowhere is safe” in Gaza amid the ongoing Israeli attacks that have destroyed or damaged thousands of homes and infrastructure.

Lynne Hastings, UN humanitarian coordinator for the occupied Palestinian territory, said in a statement that people in Gaza are facing “impossible choices” and are in desperate need of food, water, medicine and shelter.

She also called for an immediate halt to the hostilities and urged all parties to respect their obligations under international law.

The conflict erupted on October 7 when Hamas fired rockets at Israel in response to what it said were Israeli provocations at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in occupied East Jerusalem.

Israel retaliated with a massive aerial campaign that has targeted Hamas’s military and civilian infrastructure, as well as its leaders and fighters.

Hamas has claimed responsibility for several attacks on Israeli soldiers and civilians, including kidnappings and tunnel infiltrations.

Israel has also carried out limited ground incursions into northern Gaza, saying that its aim is to destroy Hamas’s network of tunnels and prepare for a possible wider invasion.

The United States, Israel’s main ally, has expressed support for Israel’s right to self-defense, but has also called for de-escalation and protection of civilians.

US President Joe Biden has spoken several times with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other regional leaders, but has not publicly backed a ceasefire.

Other countries, such as Egypt, Qatar and Turkey, have been trying to mediate between Israel and Hamas to end the violence.

The UN Security Council has held four emergency meetings on the crisis, but has failed to issue a joint statement due to US opposition.

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