KHAN YOUNIS, Gaza Strip (AP) — Doctors in Gaza warned Sunday that hospitals overflowing with wounded are running low on fuel and basic supplies, and thousands more could die. Palestinians in the besieged coastal region have struggled to find food, water and shelter ahead of an Israeli ground offensive. A deadly attack by Hamas sparked the war.
Israeli forces, backed by a growing U.S. warship in the region, have positioned themselves along Gaza’s border in what Israel said will be a broader campaign to eliminate the militant group. A week of blistering airstrikes has leveled entire neighborhoods, but failed to stem the militants’ rocket fire inside Israel.
Gaza’s health ministry says 2,670 Palestinians have been killed and 9,600 wounded since the outbreak of fighting, which has lasted more than six weeks since the 2014 Gaza war. This makes it the deadliest of the five Gaza wars fought for both sides.
More than 1,400 Israelis were killed, most of them civilians Hamas’ October 7 attack. According to Israel, at least 155 people, including children, were captured by Hamas and taken into Gaza. It was Israel’s worst war since the 1973 conflict with Egypt and Syria.
Secretary of State Anthony Blinken will return to Israel on Monday after wrapping up a frenzied six-nation tour through the Arab world aimed at avoiding triggering a wider regional conflict, the US State Department said.
Fighting on Israel’s border with Lebanon, which has erupted since the start of the latest Gaza war, intensified on Sunday, with Hezbollah fighters firing rockets and anti-tank missiles and Israel retaliating with airstrikes and shelling. The Israeli army also reported firing at one of its border posts. The fighting left at least one person dead on the Israeli side and many wounded on both sides of the border.
The state-run National News Agency reported that an Israeli drone fired two missiles late Sunday at a mountain west of the city of Kafr Gila in southern Lebanon. No casualties were reported in the attack, which took place near a Lebanese military base.
The Israeli military said in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter, that Hezbollah had hit targets, but did not specify what they were.
Hezbollah said in a statement that it fired rockets at an Israeli military position in the northern border town of Shtula in response to Israeli shelling that killed Reuters videographer Issam Abdullah on Friday and two Lebanese civilians on Saturday.
Hezbollah spokesman Rana Sahili said the increased fighting represented a “warning” and did not mean Hezbollah had decided to enter the war.
With the situation in Gaza growing increasingly desperate, the United States appointed David Satterfield, a former US ambassador to Turkey with years of experience in Middle East diplomacy, as special envoy for Middle East humanitarian issues. US National Security Adviser Jack Sullivan said in a statement on Sunday that Satterfield would focus on getting humanitarian aid to Palestinians in Gaza.
Hospitals in Gaza are expected to run out of generator fuel within two days, endangering the lives of thousands of patients, after Israel completely sealed off a 40-kilometer (25-mile) stretch of land that fuel shortages have fueled the UN. Gaza’s only power plant shut down. ) long stretch of territory following the Hamas offensive.
At Nasser Hospital in the southern city of Khan Younis, intensive care units were packed with injured patients, most of them children under the age of 3. Hundreds of people with severe blast injuries have arrived at the hospital, where the fuel is expected to run off. It will be discharged by Monday, said Dr Mohammad Qandeel, a consultant at the intensive care unit.
35 patients in the ICU require ventilators and 60 are on dialysis. Running out of fuel “would mean the entire healthcare system would shut down,” he said, as children moaned in pain in the background. All of these patients are at risk of death if the power goes out.
Dr. Hussam Abu Safia, head of pediatrics at Kamal Adwan Hospital in northern Gaza, said the facility did not leave even after the Israeli order. He said seven newborns in the ICU were connected to ventilators. Evacuation “could be fatal to them and other patients in our care.”
Ahmad al-Mandari, the WHO’s regional director, said hospitals were able to transport some mobile patients out of the north, but he said most patients could not be evacuated.
Shifa Hospital, Gaza City’s largest hospital, said it would bury 100 bodies in a mass grave as an emergency measure. Its mortuary was overflowing. Tens of thousands of people have thronged the hospital premises seeking safety.
Gaza was already in a humanitarian crisis Growing water scarcity and medical supplies caused by the Israeli blockade.
UN for Palestine Refugees “An unprecedented humanitarian disaster is unfolding before our eyes,” said the organization’s president, Philippe Lazzarini.
Sullivan told CNN that Israeli officials told him they had turned the water away in southern Gaza. Israel’s Energy and Water Minister Israel Katz said in a statement that water had been restored to a “specific point” in Gaza. The spokesman said the location was outside Khan Younis. Aid workers in Gaza said they had yet to see evidence that the water had returned.
Israel has ordered more than 1 million Palestinians — nearly half the territory’s population — Go south. The military says it is trying to evacuate civilians ahead of a major campaign against Hamas in the north, where it says the militants have an extensive network of tunnels, bunkers and rocket launchers.
Hamas urged people to stay in their homes, and the Israeli military showed photos of Hamas blocking a roadblock from moving south.
Still, more than 600,000 people have fled the Gaza Strip, Israel’s chief military spokesman, Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari, said.
About 500,000 people, nearly a quarter of Gaza’s population, have taken refuge in United Nations schools and other facilities across the territory, where water supplies are dwindling, said Juliet Douma, a spokeswoman for the UN’s Palestinian refugee agency. “Gaza is drying up,” he said.
The agency says 1 million people have been displaced in Gaza in just one week.
The broker is trying to broker a deal to reopen the US Egypt’s Rafah crosses Gaza Allow Americans and other foreigners to leave and bring humanitarian aid into Egyptian territory. The crossing, closed by air raids at the beginning of the war, has not yet been opened.
Israel has said the blockade will only be lifted when the captives return.
Hamas rocket attacks on Israel continued Sunday, prompting a mass evacuation from the southern Israeli city of Sterod. The city of about 34,000 people is about a mile (1.6 kilometers) from Gaza and is a frequent rocket target. “The children are shocked, they can’t sleep at night,” Yossi Edri told Channel 13 before boarding a bus.
The military said Sunday it killed a Hamas commander in southern Gaza in an airstrike blamed for the killings in Nirim, one of several communities attacked by Hamas in southern Israel. Israel said it struck more than 100 military targets overnight, including command centers and rocket launchers.
Israel has amassed some 360,000 military reserves, troops and tanks along the Gaza border. Israeli officials did not provide a timetable for the ground invasion.
Gullab reported from Baghdad and Nesman from Jerusalem. Associated Press writers Julia Frankel and Amy Diebel in Jerusalem, Abby Sewell in Beirut and Sammy Magdy in Cairo contributed to this report.