THE death toll in the Middle East continues to rise, with Israeli airstrikes hitting targets in Gaza City as raging battles between Israel and Hamas entered Day Six.
The Hamas health ministry says the death toll has risen to at least 1 354, with dozens killed since Thursday morning after a massive Israeli bombardment of the enclave.
Fears have grown for Gaza’s 2.4 million residents now enduring the 5th war in 15 years in the long-blockaded territory, which has also seen Israel cut off water, food and power supplies.
Israeli Energy Minister Israel Katz vowed that the total siege of Gaza will continue until the hostages are freed.
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) says it is in contact with Hamas and Israel as part of efforts to facilitate the release of hostages taken into Gaza.
The ICRC also believes the humanitarian situation inside the Gaza Strip could become unmanageable without a way to get supplies into the besieged territory.
ICRC Regional Director for the Near and Middle East Mr Fabrizio Carboni said the organisation as a neutral intermediary is ready to conduct humanitarian visits, facilitate communication between hostages and family members and facilitate any eventual release.
Meanwhile, Syrian state media has reported that Israeli strikes knocked Syria’s two main airports out of service in the first such attack since a weekend Hamas assault on Israel triggered fierce fighting.
Israeli strikes have repeatedly caused the grounding of flights at airports in the capital Damascus and the Northern City Aleppo which are controlled by the government of war-torn Syria.