A Palestinian boy, who was wounded in an Israeli strike, lies on a bed at Shifa hospital in Gaza City on Sunday. Reuters

Thousands could die if supplies run out as Israeli ground offensive looms, Gaza hospitals warn

Medics in Gaza warned Sunday that thousands could die if hospitals packed with wounded people run out of fuel and basic supplies, as civilians struggled to find food, water and safety ahead of an expected Israeli ground offensive in the war sparked by Hamas’ deadly attack last week.

Israeli forces, supported by a growing deployment of US warships in the region, positioned themselves along Gaza’s border and drilled for what Israel said would be a broad campaign to dismantle the Palestinian Hamas group. A week of blistering airstrikes have demolished entire neighbourhoods but failed to stem Hamas rocket fire into Israel.

The Gaza Health Ministry said 2,329 Palestinians have been killed since the fighting erupted, more than in the 2014 Gaza war, which lasted over six weeks. That makes this the deadliest of the five Gaza wars for both sides. More than 1,300 Israelis have been killed, the vast majority of them civilians killed in Hamas’s Oct. 7 assault. This is the deadliest war for Israel since the 1973 conflict with Egypt and Syria.

Israel dropped leaflets over Gaza City in the north and renewed warnings on social media, ordering more than 1 million Palestinians – almost half the territory’s population – to move south. The military says it is trying to clear away civilians ahead of a major campaign against Hamas in the north, including in what it said were underground hideouts in Gaza City. Hamas urged people to stay in their homes.

The military said on Sunday that it would refrain from targeting a single route south from 10am to 1pm, again urging Palestinians to leave the north en masse. The military offered two corridors and a longer window the day before. It says hundreds of thousands have already fled south.

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