Israel orders complete siege of Gaza; death toll rises to 1200

Israel orders complete siege of Gaza; death toll rises to 1200


Washington, Oct 9 (IANS) Israel Defence Minister Yoav Gallant has ordered a complete siege of Gaza vowing to cut electricity, food and fuel -- the lifeline to an impoverished home to over two million Palestinians in Gaza.

The US State Department has confirmed that the death toll on each side has risen to 1200, while also confirming the deaths of nine Americans. The death toll includes over 700 in Israel and more than 500 in Gaza.

The Israeli Health Ministry said more than 2,500 people were wounded in the attacks in Israel; Palestinian authorities estimated a similar number of injured in Gaza, media reports said.

Israel intensified its military's offensive against the Hamas while the Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has promised to "defeat Hamas forcefully", media reports said.

The Israeli military, which called up 300,000 reservists, pounded Gaza with an aerial assault aimed at halting Hamas rockets targeting Israel border towns, USA Today reported.

Netanyahu, while talking to local leaders in the towns bordering Gaza, assured his government would "leave no stone unturned" to help them.

"I know that you have undergone a difficult and terrible ordeal," he said adding, "What Hamas will experience will be difficult and terrible. We are all with you and we will defeat them forcefully."

Palestine’s Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh took to the social media to air his grievances claiming “massacres were taking place and entire families wiped out" in Gaza, and more than 100,000 have been displaced.

He blamed Israel for the war, claiming years of "occupation and aggression."

Israeli Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari claimed that the military took full control of communities bordering Gaza and that sporadic fighting is now on.

Meanwhile, the militant groups claimed to hold over 100 as hostages who have been abducted from Israel. Hamas also claimed that four hostages were killed by Israeli airstrikes.

No hostage negotiations

Abdel-Latif al-Qanoua, a spokesman for the militant group, said that the Hamas is holding at least 130 hostages and demanded that all Palestinians held in Israeli prisons be released forthwith.

Israel said as of now it was not involved in any negotiations aimed at securing the release of any hostages. The Egyptian news website Al-Ahram, said Egyptian authorities were attempting to secure a deal to free Palestinian women and children prisoners held in Israeli custody in exchange for Hamas releasing Israeli "civilian women" who were taken captive since the violence began Saturday.

“The Egyptian government is presently awaiting responses from both parties regarding the proposed prisoner exchange and a temporary cease-fire,” Al-Ahram said.

The Gaza Ministry of Public Works and Housing claimed hundreds of houses were destroyed and over 1,200 severely damaged. The U.N Palestinian refugee agency, UNRWA, said 137,000 people who fled in fear of their lives were being given shelter in over 70 U.N schools in Gaza.

UNRWA Spokeswoman Tamara Alrifai said the agency can house 150,000 people, adding that fuel in Gaza can last for up to 10 days.

The United Nations humanitarian affairs office said Israeli strikes have targeted houses and apartment buildings in Gaza, without warning for residents to evacuate.

Four large residential towers with multiple floors of residential units in Gaza city were completely destroyed. Israeli forces reportedly provided prior warnings in these cases, the agency said.

The US airlines have also suspended flights with the State Department issuing the travel warnings. The State Department has issued travel advisories for the region, asking Americans to use caution while they were headed to Israel and the West Bank, clearly suggesting cancelling any trip to Gaza, USA today said.

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