Gaza death toll surpasses 25,000: Gaza Health Ministry

The death toll in Gaza has reached over 25,000 people, local health officials said Sunday, as Israel presses forward with its campaign to eliminate the threat of Palestinian militant group Hamas.

The Gaza Health Ministry on Sunday said 25,105 people have died in the coastal enclave, while over 62,600 others have been wounded since Hamas launched its surprise assault in southern Israel on Oct. 7. This number included the 178 bodies brought to Gaza’s hospitals since Saturday, the Health Ministry added.

The overall death toll is believed to be higher as several bodies remain under the rubble from Israeli strikes or in places where medics are unable to reach them, Health Ministry spokesperson Ashraf al-Qidra said, per the Associated Press.

The Health Ministry does not distinguish between civilians and combats when tallying deaths, but said about two-thirds of those killed in Gaza were women and minors, the news wire added.

The numbers come more than 100 days since the start of the war, sparked by Hamas’s incursion into Israel that left about 1,200 people dead, mostly civilians. An estimated 250 people were taken hostage during these attacks and Hamas released about 100 hostages during a week-long cease-fire in November.

Israel responded to the Oct. 7 attacks by quickly launching a major counteroffensive in Gaza that has included attacks by air and a ground invasion into northern Gaza. With much of the northern part of the enclave leveled by Israel’s attacks, Israeli forces have moved their focus to the southern city of Khan Younis and refugee camps in central Gaza, the AP reported.

The Israeli military claims to have killed about 9,000 militants, though it has not provided evidence, and said 195 of its soldiers have been killed, the news wire said.

The violence in Gaza has forced an estimated 85 percent of Gaza’s population, equal to about 1.9 million individuals, from their homes and into overcrowded shelters and hospitals, where food, water and medical supplies continue to dwindle, the United Nations said last week. About nine in 10 Palestinians are eating less than one meal a day, the World Food Program said last month.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has largely rejected international calls for a cease-fire, maintaining Israel will not stop its offensive until achieving “complete victory” over Hamas and seeing the return of the remaining hostages.

The remaining hostages are believed to be held captive in Hamas’s intricate and deep underground tunnels and Israel has only been able to rescue one hostage since the war’s beginning, the AP said. Hamas has said several have been killed in air strikes or failed rescue operations.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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