A further 126 Palestinians and nine Israeli soldiers have been killed in the Gaza Strip while four Hezbollah members are also dead as war in the Middle East overshadowed the visits of foreign diplomats on Tuesday.
The Hamas-controlled health authority in Gaza said 241 had also been injured in the Gaza Strip within the last 24 hours.
The number of Palestinians killed since the start of the war has risen to 23,210, the authority added, with 59,167 people injured in the three-month onslaught. The figures could not be independently verified.
“I have never seen so many amputees in my life, also children,” World Health Organization representative for the Palestinian Territories, Rik Peeperkorn, told reporters, adding that limbs could be saved under normal circumstances.
Terrorists from Islamist Hamas and other extremist groups murdered more than 1,200 people in Israel on October 7 and kidnapped some 240. Since then, the Jewish state has been carrying out heavy airstrikes on the sealed-off coastal area and has also been conducting a massive ground offensive.
The nine Israeli soldiers were killed in three separate incidents in the Gaza Strip, the military said, adding that the incidents occurred on Monday.
Six of the soldiers died in an explosion intended to destroy a workshop used by Hamas militants to manufacture rockets.
Since the start of the Israeli ground offensive at the end of October, 185 servicemen and women have been killed and more than 1,000 others injured, according to Israeli army numbers. A total of 519 servicemen and women have been killed since October 7.
Meanwhile, at least four members of the pro-Iranian Hezbollah movement were killed in southern Lebanon on Tuesday.
“Today in the north we eliminated the Hezbollah commander of the air unit in southern Lebanon, Ali Hussein Barji, with the help of an aircraft,” army spokesman Daniel Hagari announced, confirming earlier reports from Lebanon.
Barji had been in command of dozens of drone attacks on Israel, Hagari added. The army published a video recorded by an aeroplane in which the explosion of a vehicle can be seen.
The Hezbollah press office confirmed the death but denied he was a commander.
Hezbollah also said their fighters attacked an Israeli border post in Malikiyah. According to Lebanese sources, Israeli forces retaliated by shelling a cluster of Lebanese villages, leaving three militants dead.
On Monday, Hezbollah said an Israeli drone hit and killed Wissam al-Tawil, a high-ranking Hezbollah military commander.
As the war again threatened to expand to more fronts, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken began talks about the explosive situation in the Middle East with Israeli leaders.
He was greeted by Israeli President Isaac Herzog and met Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as well as his counterpart Israel Katz in Tel Aviv.
Blinken spoke of “incredibly challenging times for Israel, for countries in the region, and especially for people who continue to suffer.”
President Herzog thanked Blinken for his country’s “steadfast commitment to Israel’s safety and to making sure that Israel wins this war, because it’s a war that affects international values and the values of the free world.”
In light of the hearing on the Gaza war before the International Court of Justice, which begins on Thursday, Herzog said of South Africa’s accusation that Israel is committing genocide: “There’s nothing more atrocious and preposterous than this claim.”
He added: “Actually, our enemies, the Hamas, in their charter call for the destruction and annihilation of the State of Israel, the only nation-state of the Jewish people.”
Blinken called for the prevention of further civilian casualties in the Gaza Strip and more humanitarian aid when meeting Netanyahu, while British Foreign Secretary Lord Cameron said he is “worried” Israel may have acted in breach of international law in the conflict.
In Egypt, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock also urgently called for new humanitarian ceasefires to supply the suffering Palestinian population with aid.
During her visit to the Rafah border crossing between Egypt and Gaza, a UN relief agency warned that the war must not reach the south of the Gaza Strip.
“This conflict cannot come to Rafah on a large scale,” said Gemma Connell, head of the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in Gaza.
The demarcation line between Egypt and Gaza runs through the city of Rafah. Before the Gaza war, around 280,000 people lived in Rafah on the Palestinian side of the border. Now 1.5 million are seeking protection there from the fighting.
Israel’s army says it is now concentrating on destroying Islamist Hamas structures in the centre and south of the Gaza Strip. There are already airstrikes in Rafah every night, said Connell.