Israel prepares for possible ground assault in Gaza as war deaths mount

Palestinians sit outside their house following Israeli airstrikes in Rafah refugee camp, southern Gaza Strip, Thursday, Oct. 12, 2023. (AP Photo/Hatem Ali)

The Israeli government is under intense public pressure Thursday to topple Hamas after its militants stormed through a border fence Saturday and killed hundreds of Israelis in their homes, on the streets and at an outdoor music festival.

Hamas said it launched its attack Saturday because Palestinians’ suffering had become intolerable under unending Israeli military occupation, increasing settlements in the West Bank and a 16-year-long blockade in Gaza.

Here’s what’s happening on Day 6 of the war:

The morgue at Gaza’s biggest hospital overflowed Thursday as bodies came in faster than relatives could claim them on the sixth day of Israel’s heavy aerial bombardment on the territory of 2.3 million people.

With scores of Palestinians killed each day in the Israeli onslaught after an unprecedented Hamas attack, medics in the besieged enclave said they ran out of places to put remains pulled from the latest strikes or recovered from under the ruins of demolished buildings.

Israel’s military said Thursday that 247 soldiers have been killed since the start of the war last weekend — an increase from 222 earlier in the day.

The military previously confirmed to The Associated Press that the 222 soldiers had all been identified and their families notified.

Iran’s Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian expressed his country’s support for the rights of the Palestinian people, saying that the ongoing war in Gaza will affect the whole region.

Amirabdollahian said there is a need for an end to the “killing of children and civilians in Palestine.”

The Iranian official made his comments Thursday during a meeting with Iraq’s National Security Adviser Qasim al-Araji in Baghdad.

Amirabdollahian’s comments were carried in a statement released by al-Araji’s office.

Al-Araji said demonstrations will be held in different parts of Iraq on Friday in support of the Palestinians.

Iran is a main supporter of Palestinian factions based in Gaza, including Hamas and the Islamic Jihad group.

A former Israeli defense official told the Associated Press Thursday that Israel should continue bombarding Gaza for as long as militants remain in the territory, even if it incurs massive casualties to Israeli soldiers.

Yaakov Amidror, a retired General and senior fellow at JINSA, a Washington D.C.-based think tank, said that Israel would “bomb any attempt to build military capability in the in the Gaza Strip for the next hundred years,” raising the specter of an unending military engagement in Gaza.

“We need to crush Hamas to ashes, no matter how many casualties,” Amidror said. “Of course, we will give all means to our soldiers to defend themselves. but I don’t think casualties are the main element in decision-making.”

The number of U.S. citizens who have died in the Israel-Palestinian war has risen to at least 25, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Thursday during a visit Thursday with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

That’s an increase from 22 on Wednesday. The State Department previously said at least 17 more Americans remain unaccounted for.

By Associated Press

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