Hamas issued a chilling warning on Sunday, declaring that hostages in Gaza would not leave alive unless their demands for prisoner release were met.
The international community is grappling with the escalating crisis, marked by a collapsing health system and a devastating toll on civilians.
The conflict, triggered by Hamas with a deadly attack on Israel on October 7, has seen a significant loss of life on both sides. According to Israeli figures, around 1,200 people were killed in the initial attack, and approximately 240 hostages were taken back to Gaza.
In response, Israel launched a relentless military offensive, resulting in widespread destruction and a reported death toll of at least 17,997 people, predominantly women and children, according to the Hamas-run health ministry.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has raised alarms about the dire situation in Gaza, stating that the territory’s health system is on the verge of collapse after more than two months of war.
WHO Chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus highlighted the critical condition, with only 14 out of 36 hospitals functioning at any capacity.
In response to the urgent situation, the WHO’s executive board adopted a resolution on Sunday, calling for immediate and unimpeded aid deliveries to address the growing humanitarian crisis.
As aid groups warn of the impending collapse of essential services and an increasing risk of disease and starvation, the United Nations (UN) faces challenges in securing a ceasefire.
The head of the UN criticized the Security Council for being “divided” and “paralyzed,” unable to reach an agreement to halt the conflict and alleviate the suffering of civilians.
The UN estimates that 1.9 million out of Gaza’s 2.4 million people have been displaced, with half of them being children. Many are forced south and are running out of safe places to seek refuge.
AFP reporters visited the ruins of Gaza City’s Al-Shifa hospital, finding at least 30,000 people taking refuge amid the rubble after Israeli forces raided the medical facility last month.
In a televised statement, a Hamas spokesman added a new layer of complexity to the situation, stating that Israel would not receive their prisoners alive without an exchange, negotiation, and meeting the demands of the resistance.
The international community watches anxiously as the hostage crisis intensifies, further complicating efforts to achieve a peaceful resolution and provide much-needed aid to the beleaguered people of Gaza.
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