Hamas says Gaza deaths top 25,000 as Israel pushes offensive


The United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees says that about 1.7 million people have been displaced in Gaza, with about 1 million crowded into the Rafah area.

UN agencies have warned that better aid access is needed urgently as famine and disease loom.

Diplomatic efforts have sought to secure scaled-up aid deliveries for Gaza and a truce, after a week-long cessation of hostilities in November saw Hamas release dozens of hostages in exchange for Palestinian prisoners held by Israel.

Hamas’s Qatar-based chief Ismail Haniyeh was in Türkiye on Saturday for talks with its foreign minister, diplomatic sources said, renewing ties with the key regional power which asked the group’s leaders to leave the country following the October attacks.

Violence has meanwhile surged in the Israeli-occupied West Bank since Oct 7.

The Israeli military said it demolished two houses in Hebron belonging to two Palestinian gunmen who carried out an attack on a road between Jerusalem and Bethlehem in November.

An AFP journalist saw a fireball erupt and smoke billowing from a home on Sunday as Israeli armoured vehicles manoeuvred through Hebron’s roads during the raid.

Palestinians gathered outside the crumpled remains of one of the homes on Sunday, with young boys weaving their way through a thicket of tangled metal and rubble.

One man removed a banner Israeli forces attached to a destroyed house which read “Terrorism has no home”.

The official Palestinian news agency Wafa reported clashes between Israeli troops and Palestinian fighters in a village south of Jenin and the towns of Arura and Qalqilya.

Rising tensions and violence across the Middle East have also stoked fears of a wider conflagration involving Iran-backed groups in Lebanon, Iraq, Syria and Yemen.

Iranian media said an Israeli strike on Damascus on Saturday killed the Revolutionary Guards’ spy chief in Syria and four other Guards members, prompting a threat of retaliation.

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