An Israeli airstrike on central Gaza has resulted in at least 68 fatalities, adding to the ongoing conflict’s toll, and Israeli soldier fatalities rose to 17 over the weekend.
Latest escalation: The targeted location was the Maghazi refugee camp east of Deir al-Balah where the dead and wounded were carried to a nearby hospital.
* The 68 fatalities included 12 women and seven children.
* Conflicting information had earlier reported the death toll to be 70. The Israeli military had no immediate comment.
Humanitarian concerns: The war in Gaza has resulted in approximately 20,400 Palestinian fatalities, greatly impacted living conditions, and displaced almost its entire 2.3 million population.
* More than two-thirds of the Palestinians killed have been women and children.
* Israel also faces allegations of mistreating detained Palestinian men and teenage boys. The abuse claims include withholding of food and water and physical assault.
Political fallout: The increasing death toll of Israeli troops, now at 156, could impact public support for the war, which commenced after Hamas-led militants attacked communities in Southern Israel.
* Despite growing international criticism against Israel’s offensive and resulting Palestinian casualties, Israelis generally still support their government’s goal of diminishing Hamas’ governing and military capabilities and securing the release of the remaining 129 captives.
Potential peace talks: Tentative efforts towards negotiations and prisoner exchanges continued in neighboring Egypt.
* The leaders of Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Hamas attended talks in Cairo. The militant groups stated they would consider releasing hostages after conflict cessation.
International impact: The U.N. Security Council has passed a resolution demanding immediate delivery of humanitarian aid and the release of all hostages, without calling for a ceasefire.
* The head of the World Health Organization has called for a humanitarian ceasefire and has labeled the destruction of Gaza’s health infrastructure a tragedy.
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