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More Than 70 Members Of A Family Killed In Gaza After Israeli Airstrike

New Delhi:

More than 70 members of a family were killed in Gaza after an Israeli airstrike, including a veteran UN aid worker. Despite growing calls for restraint and for more aid to reach war-stricken Palestinians, Israel showed little sign of modulating its 11-week-old “Operation Swords of Iron” —  aims to crush Hamas.

Fighting is now centred on Gaza City and the southern city of Khan Yunis, both considered strongholds of the Palestinian militant group that carried out bloody October 7 raids into Israel.

Issam al-Mughrabi, 56, was killed with his wife, five children, and dozens of other relatives in a bombing near Gaza City, the UN Development Programme (UNDP) said in a statement.

“I am deeply saddened to announce the death of our UNDP colleague and his family in Gaza today. The airstrike also reportedly killed more than 70 members of his extended family,” said Achim Steiner, head of the UNDP.

“For almost 30 years, Issam has worked with UNDP through our Programme of Assistance to the Palestinian People. He will be remembered as a beloved member of the team,” he said.

He also called for an immediate ceasefire as the scale of death and destruction inside Gaza is blocking the delivery of desperately needed aid.

“The UN and civilians in Gaza are not a target. This war must end. No more families should endure the pain and suffering that Issam’s family and countless others are experiencing,” Mr Steiner wrote.

Israel’s offensive in Gaza has been one of the most devastating military campaigns in recent history, displacing nearly 85% of Gaza’s 2.3 million people and leveling wide swaths of the tiny coastal enclave. More than a half million people in Gaza — a quarter of the population — are starving, according to a report this week from the United Nations and other agencies.

The US has regularly backed Israel’s right to defend itself but has grown increasingly critical of the suffering of Gaza’s civilians amid a soaring death count and a humanitarian crisis in the enclave.

US President Joe Biden spoke to Israel’s hawkish Prime Minister Netanyahu on Saturday about “the critical need to protect the civilian population including those supporting the humanitarian aid operations”, the White House said.

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