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Civilians, children pay heavy price in Israel-Hamas conflict

‘Maybe this is the last message from me.’

A group of people stand to the side of a dead body covered wrapped in a white cloth and laid on the ground on a white tarp. Mohammed Zaanoun/TNH

“Maybe this is the last message from me,” says Mohammed Zaanoun, a photojournalist sheltering inside a Gaza City hospital as thuds of Israeli rocket strikes can be heard nearby.

The 37-year-old took shelter in al-Shifa, Gaza’s largest hospital, on Wednesday night, shortly after Gaza’s only power station ran out of fuel.

Civilians on both sides have paid a heavy price since militants from Hamas and Palestine Islamic Jihad launched a deadly assault inside Israel on 7 October.

Israel says the militants killed at least 1,300 people and wounded more than 3,000. Israeli officials have said children are among the dead, but have not released a precise toll. Civilians and children are also reported to be among some 100 to 150 hostages kidnapped by the militants.

James Elder, from UNICEF, said Palestinian authorities say 326 children have been killed in Gaza – among the 1,300 killed in Israeli airstrikes. Israel says it has recovered the bodies of some 1,500 Palestinian militants in Israel since Saturday. 

The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) say many Israelis were “brutally butchered”. Some were gunned down after attending a music festival; others were killed or kidnapped from their homes. Some were reportedly trapped inside when militants set houses alight.

The images and video footage on both sides are harrowing: Palestinian infants and children lying dead or dying in hospitals after Israeli airstrikes, while photographs of dead Israelis flood social media, and family members of hostages plead for their release.

As an Israeli ground assault in Gaza looms, fears of a deepening humanitarian crisis inside Gaza are fast becoming a reality. 

Israel says fuel, water, and food supplies will be blocked until hostages are released. It cut off the electricity it provides to the territory soon after the militants launched their assault. 

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) warns that hospital generators in Gaza could run out of fuel today. At least 338,000 people have been displaced within Gaza since Israeli airstrikes began, according to Palestinian officials. Israeli authorities have not yet agreed to a humanitarian corridor. 

The New Humanitarian spoke to Zaanoun for an inside look at what’s happening on the ground in Gaza. With fuel supplies dwindling and electricity failing, he – like many – feared the world will know even less about what’s happening just as Israel is ramping up its military assault.

Here’s what Zaanoun (Instagram: @m.z.gaza) had to say.

*** Warning: This video includes images of wounded children that viewers may find disturbing.

Edited by Paisley Dodds. Video editing by Ciara Lee.

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