As air strikes blasted terrorist targets in Gaza and Palestinian organizations launched volleys of rockets, Israel and Hamas dismissed international demands to revive an expired truce.
Smoke filled the skies over the northern Palestinian region, whose Hamas leadership said 240 people had been killed since a cease-fire expired early Friday and battle began.
In Israel, the Home Front Command recorded 40 missile alerts in the country’s south and center, while the Palestinian groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad announced “rocket barrages” against a number of Israeli cities and towns, including Tel Aviv.
“Over 250 rockets have been fired at Israel since Friday morning,” Israeli military spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Peter Lerner told reporters. “The vast majority of those have not been successful in reaching their destination. Each one of those, obviously, is intended to kill Israelis.”
According to the UN, eight weeks of war have displaced an estimated 1.7 million people in Gaza, or more than two-thirds of the population.
According to Fadel Naim, chief doctor at Gaza City’s Al-Ahli Arab hospital, his morgue received 30 bodies on Saturday, including seven children.
“The planes bombed our houses: three bombs, three houses destroyed,” Nemr al-Bel, 43, told AFP, adding he had counted 10 dead in his family and “13 more still under the rubble”.
The population is short of food, water and other essentials, and many homes have been destroyed. UN agencies have declared a humanitarian catastrophe, although some aid trucks did arrive Saturday.
“Homes, hospitals and other infrastructure critical to the survival of the civilian population have suffered colossal destruction,” said Pascal Hundt, head of operations in Gaza for the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).
“Current conditions do not allow for a meaningful humanitarian response, and I fear will spell disaster for the civilian population,” he added.
According to the Palestine Red Crescent Society, Israel urged NGOs not to bring supply convoys via the Rafah border crossing from Egypt when the truce between Israel and Hamas collapsed on Friday.
However, the organization announced on Saturday that its Egyptian colleagues had managed to transport over a number of vehicles.