Israel Palestine Conflict

Fatalities in Gaza surpassed 15,200, 70 pct of them women and children: Ministry

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The health ministry in Hamas-run Gaza said the death toll has surpassed 15,200 and that 70 percent of those killed were women and children.

The figure was announced Saturday by ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Qidra, who did provide further details.

The previous toll given by the ministry was more than 13,300 dead.

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Al-Qidra did not explain the sharp jump. However, the ministry had only been able to provide sporadic updates since November 11, amid problems with connectivity and major war-related disruptions in hospital operations.

The ministry does not differentiate between civilians and combatants.

More than 40,000 people have been wounded, al-Qidra said.

Israel intensified a renewed offensive that followed a weeklong truce with Hamas, giving rise to renewed concerns about civilian casualties, even as the United States urged ally Israel to do everything possible to protect civilians.

“This is going to be very important going forward,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Friday after meetings with Arab foreign ministers in Dubai, wrapping up his third Middle East tour since the war started.

“It’s something we’re going to be looking at very closely.”

Many of Israel’s attacks Saturday were focused on the Khan Younis area in southern Gaza, where the military said it had struck more than 50 Hamas targets with airstrikes, tank fire and its navy.

The military dropped leaflets the day before warning residents to leave but, as of late Friday, there had been no reports of large numbers of people leaving, according to the United Nations.

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