Palestinians mourn relatives killed in the Israeli bombardment of the Gaza Strip in front of the morgue in Deir al Balah, Sunday, Nov. 6, 2023.
TEL AVIV, Israel — The conflict between Israel and Hamas is reaching a gruesome milestone: Almost 10,000 people have died in Gaza in the four weeks since the conflict began.
On Sunday, the Ministry of Health in Gaza reported more than 9,700 people killed — most of them women and children.
This all started nearly one month ago on Oct. 7, when Hamas attacked several communities in Israel, killing 1,400 people and kidnapping around 240 people.
Israeli forces launched an intense response that included a bombardment on Gaza from the air and ground invasion, with the ultimate goal of eliminating Hamas.
More than 340 Israeli soldiers have died since the Oct. 7 attacks, Israel said.
On Sunday, Israeli forces reached the coast of Gaza, splitting the besieged area in half and essentially cutting off the north from the south, the military said.
“In the last 12 hours, the soldiers of the division struck around 50 targets, including combat zones, operational residences, outposts, military positions and underground infrastructure, and eliminated terrorists in close-quarter combat,” the military said.
Phone, 4G cellular networks as well as internet services were cut off in Gaza for several hours. By Monday morning local time, the networks appeared to have been at least partially restored.
Israeli bombs hit refugee camps. One attack on the Maghazi refugee camp early Sunday, killed at least 33 people and wounded dozens, health officials in the region said.
As the Israelis continued its military operations around Gaza City, many Palestinians have been trying to head south as the IDF has urged civilians to do.
On Sunday, for the second day in a row, the IDF announced another window for civilians in the north of Gaza to travel south.
A day earlier, the IDF also allowed passage for a few hours, but people trying to flee found the roads were impassable.
The IDF has accused Hamas of firing on Israeli troops who were attempting to secure the route for civilian passage.
The United Nations estimates that of the roughly 300,000 people trapped in northern Gaza, only 2,000 were able to move south this weekend, according to monitors on the ground.
The ones that have managed to flee, have mostly traveled by foot for miles — adults carrying babies or pushing wheelchairs with the elderly, and holding the hands of children lugging bags full of whatever belongings they could grab. Some waved white pieces of cloth to show they were civilians.
They walked by piles of rubble, looking exhausted as shells exploded in the distance.
NPR spoke with a group traveling in Gaza who said they had to walk past dead bodies rotting in the street as bombs dropped in the distance. They declined to provide their names over security concerns.
A man holds his baby as he looks at posters of the men, women and children held hostage by Hamas in the Gaza Strip, during a vigil marking 30 days since the Oct. 7 Hamas attack that started the fighting, in Jerusalem, Israel Sunday, Nov. 5, 2023.
Blinken continues Middle East tour and CIA Director Burns visits Israel
U.S. Secretary of State is wrapping up a busy weekend tour of the Middle East with a stop in Turkey Monday morning.
On Sunday, he made an unannounced visit to Iraq and met with Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani in Baghdad for more than an hour. Blinken also made trips to Israel, Jordan and had a sit-down with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah in the West Bank.
Blinken’s stop in Turkey comes as President Recep Tayyip Erdogan strongly criticized Israel and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu this weekend.
CIA Director William Burns is reportedly visiting Israel today, as well.