Israeli forces have continued to pound several areas across the besieged Gaza Strip, killing dozens of Palestinians, as residents reported overnight attacks in Rafah in the south of the enclave.

Israeli attacks in Gaza killed 60 Palestinians and injured 140 in the latest 24-hour reporting period, Gaza’s Health Ministry said on Wednesday.

It said that many victims remained trapped under the rubble as ambulances and medics were unable to reach them.

Residents said fighting intensified in the Tal as-Sultan neighbourhood in western Rafah, where tanks were also trying to force their way north amid heavy clashes. The armed wings of Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad said their fighters attacked Israeli forces with antitank rockets and mortar bombs.

Since early May, ground fighting has focused on Rafah, abutting Egypt on Gaza’s southern edge, where around half of the enclave’s 2.3 million people had been sheltering after fleeing other areas. Most have since had to flee again.

Al Jazeera’s Hani Mahmoud, reporting from Deir el-Balah, said the previous 24 hours were “violent, bloody, and quite brutal for Palestinians in Gaza”.

“There have been more attacks on densely populated areas, whether it is in the northern part of the Strip, the central area of Nuseirat or further to the southern parts of Gaza, where the Israeli military is still operating aggressively, destroying and systematically demolishing residential homes in Rafah city,” Mahmoud said.

Medics said two Palestinians were killed in one Israeli missile attack in Rafah.

The Israeli military said in a statement its forces killed a Hamas fighter and that jets struck dozens of targets in Rafah overnight, including fighters, military structures and tunnel shafts.

Later on Wednesday, an Israeli attack killed eight Palestinians and wounded others near the northern Jabalia camp, one of the Gaza Strip’s eight historic refugee camps, the Palestinian Wafa news agency reported.

In the Nuseirat refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip, tank shells struck an apartment, killing at least five people and wounding others, medics said.

More than eight months into Israel’s assault on Gaza, international mediation backed by the US, Qatar and Egypt has failed to yield a ceasefire agreement. Hamas says any deal must bring an end to the war and full Israeli withdrawal from Gaza, while Israel says it will accept only temporary pauses in fighting until Hamas is eradicated.

‘Dehydration and starvation’

In the northern Gaza Strip, Palestinians complained of a severe lack of food and soaring prices. Health officials said thousands of children were suffering from malnutrition, which has already killed at least 30 since October 7.

“There is only flour and canned food, there is nothing else to eat, no vegetables, no meat, and no milk,” said Abu Mustafa, who lives in Gaza City, with his family.

Their house was struck in the past week by an Israeli tank shell, which destroyed most of the upper floor.

“Apart from the bombing, there is another Israeli war taking place in northern Gaza, starvation. People meet in the street and many can’t recognise one another because of weight loss and older looks,” Abu Mustafa told the Reuters news agency.

Al Jazeera’s Mahmoud said that “many parts of Gaza are already struggling on a daily basis with forced dehydration and starvation”.

“Even if we say … the bomb stops falling, people are going to die because of the dire situation in Gaza,” he said.

The Gaza Strip remains at high risk of famine, though delivery of some aid has limited the projected spread of extreme hunger in northern areas, a global monitor said on Tuesday.

More than 495,000 people across the Gaza Strip are facing the most severe, or “catastrophic”, level of food insecurity, according to an update from the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) a global partnership used by the United Nations and aid agencies.

Meanwhile, the United Nations aid chief said demands for unimpeded humanitarian access to the Gaza Strip still stood.

“We want all those crossing points open, we want safety and security protocols, we want deconfliction which we can rely on, and that we want aid workers and health institutions not being victims of the war,” Martin Griffiths, who heads the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), told reporters in Geneva on Wednesday.

He also called for a ceasefire.

Griffiths said he was concerned by the possible spread of the Gaza war across the region, including to the occupied West Bank.

The West Bank, where the internationally recognised Palestinian Authority exercises limited self-rule under Israeli occupation, has already suffered its worst unrest for decades in parallel with the assault in Gaza due to a rise in mass arrests by Israeli forces and a spike in Israeli settler violence.

The UN human rights office said that 528 Palestinians, including 133 children, have been killed by Israeli security forces or settlers in the West Bank since the assault on Gaza began, and has “serious concerns of unlawful killings” in some cases.

“We are worried about the potential for further tragedy and deaths and the events in the West Bank, as well as, of course, the threats and the possibilities [of conflict] in Lebanon,” Griffiths said.

“There’s a lot of preparedness on the aid side. That’s not the problem,” he said. “The problem is stopping this war getting worse and stopping the people of Palestine from their right to their future. That’s the worry that I think we should all have.”

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