Skip to main content
Open this photo in gallery:

People inspect damage and recover items from their homes following Israeli air strikes in Rafah, Gaza, on March 25.Ahmad Hasaballah/Getty Images

Israel’s military carried out new air strikes in Gaza and laid siege to two hospitals on Monday, despite what the U.N. chief called a growing international consensus to tell Israel a ceasefire is needed.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres also issued a new call to Israel to allow aid in to northern Gaza to combat starvation after more than five months of war and not to carry out a threatened assault on the southern Gazan city of Rafah.

“It is absolutely essential to have a massive supply of humanitarian aid now,” Guterres said during a visit to Jordan.

Rafah, the last refuge for about half of Gaza’s 2.3 million population after many people arrived in search of shelter after being displaced by fighting elsewhere, came under heavy fire in the latest Israeli attacks, witnesses said.

Palestinian medics said 30 people had been killed in the previous 24 hours in Rafah, where Israel is planning a ground assault to eliminate what it says are Palestinian militant cells there.

“The past 24 hours were one of the worst days since we moved in to Rafah,” said Abu Khaled, a father of seven, who declined to give his full name for fear of reprisals.

“In Rafah, we live in fear, we are hungry, we are homeless and our future is unknown. With no ceasefire in sight, we might end up dead or displaced somewhere else, maybe north and maybe south (to Egypt),” he told Reuters via a chat app.

Dozens of Palestinians took part in rallies and attended funerals early on Monday after an Israeli air strike killed 18 Palestinians in one house in Deir Al-Balah in central Gaza, medics and witnesses said.

Israeli forces were also besieging Al-Amal and Nasser hospitals in the southern city of Khan Younis, Palestinian witnesses said, a week after entering Al Shifa hospital in Gaza City, the main hospital in the Strip.

Israel says hospitals in Gaza are used by the Palestinian militant group Hamas as bases. Hamas and medical staff deny this. Israel also says its military operations are “precise” and that it does not target civilians.

The Israeli military said it had detained 500 people affiliated with Hamas and the allied Islamic Jihad and located weapons in the Al Shifa area. The health ministry in Hamas-run Gaza said hundreds of patients and medical staff had been detained there.

Israel’s military also said 20 militants had been “eliminated” in fighting and air strikes around Al Amal Hospital over the previous 24 hours.

Reuters has been unable to access Gaza’s contested hospital areas and verify accounts by either side.

UN Security Council passes Gaza ceasefire resolution, its first demand to halt fighting, as U.S. abstains

Palestinian cross-border rocket attacks have tapered off in recent weeks as Israeli forces advanced through areas in the Gaza Strip from where missiles have previously been fired.

But, in a sign the Hamas arsenal has not been completely depleted, Israel’s military on Monday sounded sirens in Ashdod, 40 km (25 miles) from Gaza, warning of incoming rockets. Medics said there was no immediate word of any damage or casualties.

At least 32,333 Palestinians have been killed and 74,694 injured since Israel’s offensive in Gaza began, including 107 Palestinians killed in the past 24 hours, the Gaza health ministry said.

Israel began its military campaign in response to the Hamas-led attack on its south on Oct. 7 in which, according to Israeli tallies, 1,200 people were killed and 253 abducted.

U.S.-backed mediation by Qatar and Egypt has so far failed to secure agreement on a ceasefire and prisoner-hostage swap between Israel and Hamas, and international concerns about famine are increasing.

“We see a growing consensus emerging in the international community to tell the Israelis that the ceasefire is needed,” Guterres said in Jordan.

He said Israel’s main ally, the United states, supported an international consensus “to tell clearly to Israelis that any ground invasion of Rafah could mean a humanitarian disaster”.

Israel should lift all obstacles to aid into Gaza and allow convoys of the U.N. Palestinian refugee agency UNRWA into northern Gaza where starvation is looming, Guterres added.

He made his comments after UNRWA head Philippe Lazzarini said Israel had informed the U.N. that it will no longer approve UNRWA food convoys to the north of Gaza.

Israel denies blocking aid to Gaza, and says delivery of aid once inside the territory is the responsibility of the U.N. and humanitarian agencies. Israel has also accused Hamas of stealing aid, a charge the group denies.

Aid organizations say security checks and the difficulty of moving through a war zone have hindered their operations in Gaza.

Follow related authors and topics

Authors and topics you follow will be added to your personal news feed in Following.

Interact with The Globe