One month since Hamas’ launched its brutal terror attack on Israel, killing over 1,400 people, the death toll fromhas soared over 10,300, according to the Palestinian territory’s Hamas-run Ministry of Health. The ministry says more than 4,200 of the dead are children, and about 1,300 more children are believed to be buried under the rubble of destroyed buildings.
The figures provided by the Hamas-run administration in Gaza cannot be independently verified, but U.S. officials say the civilian toll is undoubtedly in the thousands. Israel’s military says it does everything possible to avoid civilian casualties, targeting only Hamas and other militant groups and giving civilians advance warning of strikes. Israel insists that Hamas bears all responsibility for casualties in Gaza, as it sparked the war with its Oct. 7 terror attack, and it accuses Hamas of hiding weapons and fighters in civilian neighborhoods, including around schools and hospitals.
Regardless, the dizzying number of casualties and spiralling humanitarian crisis in Gaza have fueled increasing calls from governments and international organizations around the world for a humanitarian cease-fire. Israel has rejected the calls.
“The nightmare in Gaza is more than a humanitarian crisis. It is a crisis of humanity,” United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said Monday. The U.N. agency that operates in the Palestinian territories, UNRWA, says at least 70% of Gaza’s population has been displaced since the war started and that U.N. shelters in the enclave are at four times their capacity.
“Gaza is becoming a graveyard for children. Hundreds of girls and boys are reportedly being killed or injured every day,” Guterres said. “More journalists have reportedly been killed over a four-week period than in any conflict in at least three decades. More United Nations aid workers have been killed than in any comparable period in the history of our organization.”
At a Gaza cemetery on Monday, long-time grave digger Sadi Baraka told CBS News he used to bury two or three people per month. Since Oct. 7, he said the cemetery has received over 6,000 bodies, more than half of them children’s.
“Netanyahu is acting like a tough guy by killing women and children,” Baraka said. “Let him kill Hamas fighters — no one is stopping him from killing Hamas — but why is he massacring children and women?”
Baraka pointed at mass graves all around him, the biggest of which he said held 137 bodies, including 67 children and 40 women.
“Look at this massacre,” he said. “They call us terrorists, but look at what they are doing. Isn’t that terrorism? Where are the Arab nations? They see this and keep silent. Our only weapon is prayer. We have no weapons.”
The charity Save the Children said in a report last week that more children were killed in Gaza during the first three weeks of the war than during any full year of the other armed conflicts playing out around the world since 2019. The number of children with no surviving family members in Gaza is so high, the charity said, that medical workers there have coined a term to identify them: “WCNSF” or “Wounded Child No Surviving Family.”
After months of war, their future, like the future of Gaza itself, remains uncertain.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Monday in an interview with ABC News that there would only be a cease-fire in Gaza if Hamas agreed to free the over 240 hostages it’s believed to be holding there.
“There will be a cease-fire for that purpose,” Netanyahu said.
Netanyahu and other Israeli officials have said their final goal is to “destroy Hamas.” The group has controled Gaza for almost 20 years and is considered a terrorist organization by the United States, Israel and many other countries. It is— home to some 2.3 million people — if Israel’s military does the group out of the Palestinian territory, but Netanyahu gave a hint on Monday about his vision.
“I think Israel will, for an indefinite period, have the overall security responsibility, because we’ve seen what happens when we don’t have it,” he told ABC News. “When we don’t have that security responsibility, what we have is the eruption of Hamas terror on a scale that we couldn’t imagine.”