Overnight strikes in Gaza claim dozens of lives

Amidst ongoing negotiations for a truce, Gaza faced a devastating night of strikes resulting in dozens of casualties, according to the Hamas-run territory’s health ministry on Saturday. The situation has escalated concerns for the civilians of Gaza, with the United Nations’ aid body, UNWRA, warning of “extreme peril.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s post-war plan for Gaza, unveiled recently, drew criticism from key ally the United States. Hamas and the Palestinian Authority in the occupied West Bank rejected the proposal, further complicating the negotiations.

Hamas reported over 70 strikes on civilian homes in various locations within the last 24 hours, leading to at least 92 casualties. Disturbing scenes of Gazans queuing for food in Jabalia highlighted dire living conditions, with one individual expressing the scarcity of water and flour, and the toll of hunger, fire, and smoke.

The health ministry reported the tragic death of a two-month-old baby due to malnutrition, emphasizing the worsening humanitarian crisis. The UN humanitarian agency OCHA warned of an elevated risk of famine in Gaza without sufficient food, water, and health services.

The conflict, initiated by Hamas’s attack on October 7, has resulted in a significant toll on both sides. Israel’s retaliatory offensive has claimed the lives of thousands, including women and children. An Israeli airstrike on Friday destroyed the home of Palestinian comedian Mahmoud Zuaiter, resulting in at least 23 casualties.

Netanyahu’s post-war plan proposes civil affairs in Gaza being managed by Palestinian officials without ties to Hamas. However, it faces dismissal by a senior Hamas official who deems it unworkable.

As negotiations intensify, an Israeli delegation, led by Mossad intelligence agency chief David Barnea, is in Paris aiming to secure the release of remaining hostages. The United States, Egypt, and Qatar have been actively involved in these efforts. Pressure is mounting on Netanyahu’s government to negotiate a ceasefire and ensure the release of hostages.

White House envoy Brett McGurk’s recent talks with Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant and other mediators indicate ongoing diplomatic efforts. A proposed plan by Hamas suggests a six-week pause in the conflict and the release of Palestinian prisoners in exchange for hostages.

While discussions seem promising, the situation remains fluid, with the hope that diplomatic efforts will yield progress in resolving the longstanding conflict.

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