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Bodies pile up in Central Gaza as Israel steps up strikes

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ICJ urges Israel to prevent genocide in Gaza

Scores of people rushed to Deir el-Balah hospital to identify bodies on Sunday after Israel stepped up its air strikes on Gaza, as the territory’s Hamas rulers said 4,651 people have now been killed since the start of the war.

Authorities said Deir el-Balah in central Gaza, had suffered most from one of the most intense nights of shelling since Israel started its bombardment in response to Hamas’ cross-border attacks on October 7.

More than 260 people died in 24 hours, according to the health ministry toll, which said 1,873 of those killed in the past fortnight were children.

Israel began bombarding the tiny enclave after Hamas militants stormed over the border on October 7, killing at least 1,400 people, mostly civilians, and kidnapping more than 200 in the deadliest attack in Israel’s history.

At the hospital morgue in Deir el-Balah, bodies were everywhere including that of Mohammad Judeh and his three-year-old daughter Misk, who were placed on the same table, their faces uncovered.

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Judeh’s cousin Wael Wafi said the girl was hugging her father when their bodies were pulled from the debris.

“All the Judeh family, including my aunt, were killed in the bombardment,” said Wafi.

“Two buildings were destroyed and came down on them.”

Some family members had taken refuge in the building after escaping shelling in northern Gaza, he added.

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“My cousin was sleeping in his house with his daughter in his arms. He was a man with no record, nothing to do with the resistance,” said Wafi.

Death in the south

Another woman in the morgue nearly collapsed after lifting the sheets lying over bodies to discover her daughter and other members of her family.

Their names — Layan, Hani and Joane — were written on their legs. A relative later led the distraught woman away.

In the southern town of Khan Yunis, one strike on the Rio cafe killed 13 people.

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The cafe was on the ground floor of a building housing people who had fled Israel’s bombardment of northern Gaza.

Israel has issued daily warnings for people to leave the north.

“I heard an explosion and then I saw dust, flames and debris flying. One minute later they struck again,” said Naji Shurrab, who lives opposite the cafe.

‘Move south for safety’

Israel said Saturday it was stepping up its raids and has massed tens of thousands of troops around Gaza for a widely expected ground invasion.

It says its daily raids have already killed many leaders and military commanders of the Palestinian Islamist group that has ruled Gaza since 2007.

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“From today, we are increasing the strikes and minimising the danger,” an Israeli military spokesman said late Saturday. “We will increase the attacks and therefore I call on Gaza City residents to continue moving south for their safety.”

Israel has repeatedly urged Gaza’s 1.1 million residents of the north to move south ahead of any ground operation.

As strikes pummelled the strip, the Hamas government also hit out at the lack of aid, despite the arrival of 37 trucks on Saturday and Sunday. It said there were now 1.4 million displaced people within the enclave.

“The aid that arrived in Gaza is not enough for one day. We call on the international community to pressure the Israeli government to bring in thousands of trucks,” Hamas said in a statement.

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AFP

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