Jerusalem, Oct 10 (EFE).- The death toll from a brutal conflict between Israeli security forces and Palestinian militants rose to nearly 1,600 on Tuesday morning as overnight Israeli airstrikes devastated the Gaza Strip after Israel imposed a complete blockade on the enclave.
Both sides have seen thousands of dead or injured in the escalating conflict, which began when heavily armed Hamas militants launched a multi-pronged offensive on Saturday, infiltrating Israel and killing hundreds, including civilians and security personnel, and abducting around 100.
According to Palestinian authorities, Israeli strikes on the enclave since Saturday have resulted in nearly 700 deaths, including 140 children, and close to 4,000 more wounded.
Many of those in Gaza hospitals have suffered severe burn injuries and amputations of limbs.
Israeli airstrikes have reduced several residential buildings and mosques to rubble, displacing nearly 74,000 people who are now sheltering in schools, according to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency.
In Israel, the death toll has reached 900, with over 2,600 wounded, as reported by local media citing health sources.
While the Israeli health ministry has not disclosed the exact number of fatalities, it has stated that 376 of the wounded are in critical condition.
As Israel intensified its bombing of the blockaded enclave throughout Monday night, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant announced that the government had ordered a tightening of the siege on Gaza, home to over 2.3 million people.
Gaza has been under blockade by Israel and Egypt since the Islamist Hamas group seized power in 2007.
“Nothing is allowed in or out. There will be no fuel, electricity, or food supplies,” he said in a press statement. “We fight animals in human form and proceed accordingly.”
The Israeli military claimed to have regained control over communities near the Gaza Strip.
“We are in control of all towns and communities in the south. There could be more terrorists in the area, and we are continuing to clear it,” said IDF spokesperson Daniel Hagari.
He added that Israeli forces conducted “wide-scale aerial strikes” and “thousands of terrorist targets have been struck, and hundreds of terrorists have been neutralized.”
Israel said that it bombed 500 targets of Palestinian militias in Gaza overnight as fighting raged in several places in parts of Israel where militants were holed up.
“In a wave of night attacks, the IDF (Israel Defense Forces) attacked more than 500 strategic targets of the terrorist organizations in the Gaza Strip,” the Israeli military said in a statement.
Hamas, designated a terrorist group by the United States and the European Union, stated that it continued to fire rockets toward the southern Israeli cities of Ashdod and Ashkelon in response to the Israeli airstrikes.
The Islamist group threatened on Monday night to “publicly” execute Israeli civilian hostages if Israel continued its indiscriminate shelling of the strip.
“Any attack on innocent homes in Gaza without prior warning and alarm will be met with the public execution of a hostage,” said Abu Obeida, spokesperson for the Al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, in a statement. “The execution will be of civilian hostages, not military hostages, and will be broadcast online.”
The Islamist group claimed that Israel’s retaliatory bombings have killed at least four Israeli hostages.
During their incursion into Israeli territory, the fighters of the Islamist group kidnapped 100 people, carrying out shootings, massacres, and abductions of civilians and security forces.