UN says displaced in Gaza tops 187,500 as territory is sealed off

More than 187,500 people have been displaced in Gaza since the escalation of the conflict between Israel and Hamas, according to the United Nations.

The report from the UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) comes amid ongoing Israeli airstrikes and the military wing of the militant Hamas group saying it will kill one Israeli civilian captive any time civilians are targeted in their homes in Gaza “without prior warning”.

The Israeli military put the death toll in Israel at more than 900 people on Monday evening with the Health Ministry in the Gaza Strip saying more than 680 people have been killed following the unprecedented Hamas attack on Saturday, with more than 3,700 people wounded.

UNRWA, the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, said it is hosting more than 137,000 people in schools across the territory.

Israel Palestinians Daily Photo Gallery
Ultra-Orthodox Jewish men inspect a damaged road after it was hit by a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip, in the West Bank Jewish settlement of Beitar Illit on Monday (Maya Alleruzzo/AP)

Catherine Russell, executive director of UN children’s agency Unicef, called for the “immediate and safe released of any children being held hostage in Gaza”.

She said: “With the humanitarian situation rapidly deteriorating, humanitarian actors must be able to safely access children and their families with lifesaving services and supplies – wherever they may be.

“I remind all parties that in this war, as in all wars, it is children who suffer first and suffer most.”

Israel’s military said a deputy Israeli commander, identified as Alim Abdallah was among the dead after being killed in clashes on the northern border with Lebanon.

Israel Palestinians Daily Photo Gallery
Relatives mourn people killed in an Israeli air strike in Gaza City on Monday (Fatima Shbair/AP)

Lebanon’s Hezbollah militant group said five of its members were killed by shelling into southern Lebanon and it retaliated with a volley of rockets and mortars at two Israeli army bases across the border.

The Israeli military also said it struck two tunnels used by Hamas militants to enter Israeli territory .

An airstrike in Gaza City also killed two Palestinian journalists early on Tuesday, according to the Palestinian news agency Wafa who identified them as editor Saeed Al-Taweel and photographer Mohammed Sobih.

Israel increased airstrikes on the Gaza Strip on Monday as it sealed the territory off from food, fuel and other supplies.

Israel Palestinians Daily Photo Gallery
Destruction made by a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip is seen in Ashkelon, Israel on Monday (Ohad Zwigenberg/AP)

In a video statement on Monday, Israel’s foreign minister warned Hamas against harming any of the hostages who were taken from Israel and are being held in Gaza.

Eli Cohen said Israel was committed to bringing the hostages home “in the spirit of mutual responsibility”.

He said: “We demand Hamas not to harm any of the hostages. This war crime will not be forgiven.”

The Israeli military said it had largely gained control in the south after the initial attack caught its vaunted military and intelligence apparatus completely off guard and led to fierce battles in its streets for the first time in decades.

“We have only started striking Hamas,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a nationally televised address. “What we will do to our enemies in the coming days will reverberate with them for generations.”

Hamas and other militants in Gaza say they are holding more than 130 soldiers and civilians snatched from inside Israel.

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