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The death toll in Gaza surpasses 10,000 as the conflict enters a second month

A Palestinian man reacts as others check the rubble of a building in Khan Younis, Gaza Strip, on Monday as battles continue between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas.
Mahmud Hams
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AFP via Getty Images
A Palestinian man reacts as others check the rubble of a building in Khan Younis, Gaza Strip, on Monday as battles continue between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas.

Updated November 6, 2023 at 11:21 AM ET

TEL AVIV, Israel — The conflict between Israel and Hamas has reached a gruesome milestone: More than 10,000 people have died in Gaza in the four weeks since the conflict began.

On Monday, the Ministry of Health in Gaza reported more than 10,000 people killed — most of them women and children — in the besieged territory. In the West Bank, 155 people have been killed since Oct. 7, the health ministry says.

There have been more than 100 attacks on health care facilities according to several humanitarian groups,including the U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees, or UNRWA.

The groups also reported 88 workers with UNRWA have been killed since Oct. 7, "the highest number of United Nations fatalities ever recorded in a single conflict."

This all started nearly one month ago, on Oct. 7, when Hamas attacked several communities in Israel, killing 1,400 people and kidnapping around 240 people.

Israeli forces launched an intense response that included a bombardment on Gaza from the air and ground invasion, with the ultimate goal of eliminating Hamas.

More than 340 Israeli soldiers have died since the Oct. 7 attacks, Israel said.

A man holds his baby as he looks at posters of the men, women and children held hostage by Hamas in the Gaza Strip, during a vigil marking 30 days since the Oct. 7 Hamas attack that started the fighting, in Jerusalem, Israel Sunday, Nov. 5, 2023.
Maya Alleruzzo / AP
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AP
A man holds his baby Sunday in Jerusalem as he looks at posters of the men, women and children held hostage by Hamas in the Gaza Strip, during a vigil marking 30 days since the Oct. 7 Hamas attack that started the fighting.

Humanitarian groups like the UNRWA continue to plead for the release of hostages and for each party to agree to a cease-fire.

"We need an immediate humanitarian ceasefire. It's been 30 days. Enough is enough. This must stop now," the aid groups said.

Intense military operations over the weekend

On Sunday, Israeli forces reached the coast of Gaza, splitting the besieged area in half and essentially cutting off the north from the south, Israel's military said.

"In the last 12 hours, the soldiers of the division struck around 50 targets, including combat zones, operational residences, outposts, military positions and underground infrastructure, and eliminated terrorists in close-quarter combat," the military said.

Phone, 4G cellular networks as well as internet services were cut off in Gaza for several hours. By Monday morning local time, the networks appeared to have been at least partially restored.

Israeli bombs hit refugee camps. One attack on the Maghazi refugee camp early Sunday killed at least 33 people and wounded dozens, health officials in the region said.

Civilians try to head south, but many roads impassable

The Rafah border crossing was reopened Monday for foreign passport holders whose names appeared on the approval list, according to a statement by the General Authority for Crossings and Borders, which is run by the Hamas government in Gaza.

Individuals whose names don't appear on the list will not be allowed to leave Gaza.

As fighting around Gaza City continues, many Palestinians are trying to head south as Israel's military continues to urge civilians to do.

On Sunday, for the second day in a row, Israel's military announced another window for civilians in the north of Gaza to travel south.

A day earlier,the military also allowed passage for a few hours, but people trying to flee found the roads impassable.

Israel has accused Hamas of firing on Israeli troops who were attempting to secure the route for civilian passage.

The United Nations estimates that of the roughly 300,000 people trapped in northern Gaza, only 2,000 were able to move south this weekend, according to monitors on the ground.

The ones that have managed to flee have mostly traveled by foot for miles — adults carrying babies or pushing wheelchairs with the elderly, and holding the hands of children lugging bags full of whatever belongings they could grab. Some waved white pieces of cloth to show they were civilians.

They walked by piles of rubble, looking exhausted, as shells exploded in the distance.

NPR spoke with a group traveling in Gaza who said they had to walk past dead bodies rotting in the street as bombs dropped in the distance. They declined to provide their names over security concerns.

Biden and Netanyahu talk after Blinken's Middle East tour

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken walks to board a plane after his meetings with Turkish counterparts, as he departs from Ankara Esenboga Airport in Ankara, Turkey, on Monday.
Jonathan Ernst / AP
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AP
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken walks to board a plane after his meetings with Turkish counterparts, as he departs from Ankara Esenboga Airport in Ankara, Turkey, on Monday.

President Joe Biden spoke to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday morning, discussing the efforts to release hostages held by Hamas and ramping up humanitarian aid to Gaza, the White House said.

While Biden reiterated "his steadfast support for Israel and the protection of Israeli citizens from Hamas and all other threats," the White House said the two leaders discussed the possibility of "tactical pauses" to allow civilians to leave areas of ongoing fighting, to ensure assistance is reaching civilians and to enable hostage releases.

Biden also raised the need to hold extremist Israeli settlers in the West Bank accountable for violence against Palestinians, which has escalated since the Oct. 7 attacks.

Their conversation followed U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken's busy weekend tour of the Middle East, finishing with a stop in Turkey on Monday.

On Sunday, he made an unannounced visit to Iraq and met with Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani in Baghdad for more than an hour. Blinken also made trips to Israel and Jordan and had a sit-down with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah in the West Bank.

Blinken's stop in Turkey comes as President Recep Tayyip Erdogan strongly criticized Israel and Netanyahu this weekend.

Blinken met with Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan to discuss, among other things, the war and the need to increase humanitarian aid to Gaza, he told the media.

Despite this whirlwind visit, Blinken's efforts yielded little obvious progress on cease-fire talks or increasing humanitarian aid to Gaza.

Blinken said he remained optimistic and told the media, "We're working on all of this almost every single minute."

CIA Director William Burns is reportedly visiting Israel Monday, as well.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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Lauren Migaki is a senior producer with NPR's education desk. She helps tell stories about teacher strikes, college access and a new high school for young men in Washington D.C. She also produces and hosts NPR's podcast about the Student Podcast Challenge.
Anas Baba
Lauren Frayer covers India for NPR News. In June 2018, she opened a new NPR bureau in India's biggest city, its financial center, and the heart of Bollywood—Mumbai.