The death toll in the wake of a brutal three-day war between Israeli security forces and Palestinian militants soared to nearly 1,400 on Monday, with thousands more injured as Israel ordered a complete blockade on the already besieged Gaza Strip.
According to the Palestinian health ministry, Israeli strikes on the enclave since Saturday have left at least 560 people dead and nearly 3,000 wounded.
Most patients in Gaza hospitals have sustained severe burn injuries and amputations of their lower and upper limbs.
Several residential buildings and mosques have been reduced to rubble by Israeli airstrikes, leading to the displacement of nearly 74,000 people who are now housed in schools, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency said.
The conflict erupted when heavily armed Hamas militants launched a multi-pronged offensive and infiltrated Israel, killing hundreds, including civilians and security personnel, and abducting around 100.
In Israel, the death toll has reached 800, with more than 2,500 wounded, the local media reported, citing health sources.
While the Israeli health ministry has not disclosed the exact number of fatalities, it has stated that 376 among the 2,506 wounded are in critical condition.
However, the Israeli military claimed that more than 700 Israelis have lost their lives, with 2,150 wounded in the carnage over the past three days.
As Israel intensified its bombing of the blockaded enclave on Monday, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said the government had ordered tightening the siege on Gaza, home to over 2.3 million people.
The enclave has been under a blockade by Israel and Egypt since the Islamist Hamas group seized power in 2007.
“Nothing is allowed in or out. There will be no fuel, electricity, or food supplies,” he said in a press statement. “We fight animals in human form and proceed accordingly.”
The Israeli military said it regained control over communities near the Gaza Strip after they were overrun by Hamas militants in a surprise attack over the weekend.
“We are in control of all towns and communities in the south. There could be more terrorists in the area, and we are continuing to clear it,” said IDF spokesperson Daniel Hagari.
He said the Israeli forces were conducting “wide-scale aerial strikes” and “thousands of terrorist targets have been struck and hundreds of terrorists have been neutralized.”
Israel claimed that it bombed 500 targets of Palestinian militias in Gaza overnight as fighting raged in several places in parts of Israel, where militants were holed up.
“In a wave of night attacks, the IDF (Israel Defense Forces) attacked more than 500 strategic targets of the terrorist organizations in the Gaza Strip,” the Israeli military said in a statement.
Hamas, designated a terrorist group by the United States and the European Union, said it continued to fire rockets toward the southern Israeli cities of Ashdod and Ashkelon in response to Israeli airstrikes.
The Islamist group said Israel’s retaliatory bombings have killed at least four Israeli hostages.
The fighters of the Islamist group 100 kidnapped people after their incursion into Israeli territory, where they shot, massacred, and abducted civilians and security forces.
The dead due to the Hamas attack included foreign nationals and dual citizens from Brazil, France, Mexico, Nepal, Thailand, Ukraine, the United Kingdom, and the United States.