In a televised address on Friday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pledged to dismantle Hamas, emphasizing that the intense airstrikes on Gaza were just the initial phase of Israel’s reaction to the recent attacks by Hamas.
His threat came as thousands of Palestinians fled to southern Gaza in search of refuge after Israel warned them to evacuate ahead of a possible ground offensive in Gaza, where the death toll from Israeli air strikes has surged to at least 1,900, according to the local health ministry.
“We will destroy Hamas,” he added, saying Israel has widespread international support for the operation, according to AFP.
Meanwhile, UN chief Antonio Guterres has appealed for the protection of basic human rights, stressing that “even wars have rules” and warning against using hostages as human shields.
“The situation in Gaza has reached a dangerous new low,” Guterres said ahead of a Security Council meeting on the volatile situation.
“We need immediate humanitarian access throughout Gaza, so that we can get fuel, food and water to everyone in need,” he said, adding that the blockaded enclave’s health system was on the brink of collapse.
The week-long Israeli bombardment of the Gaza Strip has killed at least 1,900 people, including 614 children, the health ministry has said.
Some 370 women were among those killed in the seven days of air strikes. Around 7,696 people have been wounded.