JERUSALEM - Health officials in Hamas-run Gaza reported on Monday more than 24,000 deaths in the war with Israel which has sent shockwaves across the region, as the fighting passed the grim 100-day milestone.
Deadly violence in the Israeli-occupied West Bank and along Israel's border with Lebanon as well as strikes by US forces and Iran-backed Yemeni rebels in the Red Sea have raised fears of an escalation beyond the Gaza Strip.
The war, sparked by Palestinian attacks on Israel, has created a humanitarian catastrophe for the 2.4 million people in the besieged strip, the United Nations and aid groups warn, and reduced much of the territory to rubble.
The health ministry in Gaza, ruled by Hamas since 2007, reported more than 60 "martyrs" overnight, in what the group's media office described as "intense" Israeli bombardment across Gaza.
The Hamas government media office said two hospitals, a girls' school and "dozens" of homes were hit.
Hospitals in Gaza have been hit repeatedly since the war erupted, and the World Health Organization (WHO) says most of them are no longer functioning.
The Israeli military accuses Hamas militants of operating out of civilian facilities or from tunnels under them, a charge the Islamist group denies.
AFPTV footage showed smoke billowing over Khan Yunis, southern Gaza's main city, as explosions could be heard from nearby Rafah, on the territory's southern border with Egypt.
The army said its forces had struck "two terrorists loading weapons into a vehicle" in Khan Yunis and raided "a Hamas command centre" there and seized weapons.
In central Israel, which has been largely spared the current violence, a suspected car ramming attack on Monday killed one woman and injured at least 12 other people, police said, announcing the arrest of two Palestinian men.
'NOT ENOUGH FOR A HUMAN BEING'
Hamas's 7 October attack that triggered the war resulted in about 1,140 deaths in Israel, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally based on official figures.
The militants also seized about 250 hostages, 132 of whom Israel says remain in Gaza, including at least 25 believed to have been killed.
Vowing to destroy Hamas, Israel launched a relentless military campaign that has killed at least 24,100 people in Gaza, mostly women and children, according to the territory's health ministry.
The UN says more than three months of fighting have displaced roughly 85 percent of the territory's population, crowded into shelters and struggling to get food, water, fuel and medical care.
"My daughter can't sleep, she always tells me she's freezing," said Hanin Odwan, one of many displaced to makeshift camps in Rafah, where Palestinians huddled together around small fires to keep warm.
Echoing earlier warnings of a fast-approaching famine, UN agencies said in a joint statement that "a fundamental step change in the flow of humanitarian aid into Gaza is urgently needed".
The WHO, World Food Programme (WFP) and UNICEF called for "safer, faster" supply routes to be opened, warning that the current levels of aid "fall far short of what is needed to prevent a deadly combination of hunger, malnutrition and disease".
The WFP said an aid convoy brought food to the territory's north on Thursday, the first such delivery since a one-week truce ended on 1 December.
Cindy McCain, the WFP's director, said: "People in Gaza risk dying of hunger just miles from trucks filled with food. Every hour puts countless lives at risk."
On Sunday, thousands of Palestinians swamped two aid trucks delivering flour and tinned food to warehouses in Gaza City, an AFP correspondent said.
"We are only eating rice, but rice is not enough for a human being," said 53-year-old Omar al-Shandogi.
Israel has faced international pressure over surging civilian casualties in Gaza, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is under intense domestic pressure to account for political and security failings surrounding the 7 October attacks.
On the war's 100th day on Sunday, hundreds of Israelis gathered in Tel Aviv for events urging action to rescue the remaining hostages.
"One hundred days and they are still abandoned there," said Amit Zach, a graphic designer.
Violence involving regional allies of Iran-backed Hamas - considered a "terrorist" group by the United States and the European Union - has surged since the war began.
In Yemen, the US military said its fighter jets had shot down a cruise missile fired at an American destroyer in the Red Sea.
Attacks by Yemen's Huthi rebels, who say they act in solidarity with Gaza, have disrupted shipping in the vital maritime trade route, triggering strikes in recent days by US and British forces.
On the Israel-Lebanon border, Israeli forces and Hamas ally Hezbollah have traded near daily fire.
A missile strike on Sunday killed two Israeli civilians, medics said, and three militants who had crossed in from Lebanon died in a gun battle, according to the army.
International efforts to avoid escalation on Sunday saw China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi visiting Egypt, where he called for "an international summit for peace" and Palestinian statehood.
Australia's top diplomat Penny Wong is due in the region this week to support "diplomatic efforts towards a durable peace in the Middle East", her office said.
In Turkey, a staunch supporter of the Palestinian cause, authorities have accused Israeli footballer Sagiv Jehezkel of "incitement" after he celebrated a goal with a message written on a wrist bandage, which read "100 days. 07/10" along with a Star of David.
A Turkish court on Monday released the player, who local media said was expected to return to Israel.
In a testimony to the police, reported by private news agency DHA, 28-year-old Jehezkel - sacked by his Turkish team after Sunday's match - said he "believes that this 100-day period should end now. I want the war to end".