Israel revises down the death toll in the October 7 Hamas assault; WHO expresses concern over reports of Gaza hospital attacks.

Israel has officially revised the death toll from the October 7 Hamas attack to 1,200, according to a statement by the Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Lior Hayat. Initially, Israel reported at least 1,400 casualties in the surprise assault by Hamas militants in control of the Gaza Strip. Hayat, critical of Unesco, stated that Hamas was responsible for “about 1,200” deaths, acknowledging that the toll might change as bodies are identified.

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Amidst the conflict, thousands of Palestinians sought refuge in Gaza City’s largest hospital but fled south for safety after reported strikes in and around the compound. Hospitals, considered safe zones, face strain due to Israeli claims that Hamas has positioned its military infrastructure within Gaza City’s hospitals and neighborhoods, including setting up a command center at Shifa Hospital.

The Haman-run health ministry in Gaza reported at least three strikes hitting the courtyard and obstetrics department of Shifa Hospital, with the Israeli army attributing one strike to a misfire by militants targeting nearby troops. The World Health Organization (WHO) expressed extreme distress over reports of airstrikes near Al-Shifa Hospital, revealing that 20 out of Gaza’s 36 hospitals, including a pediatric hospital, are non-operational due to strikes.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus emphasized concern for the safety of patients, health workers, and those sheltering in hospitals, calling for immediate protection and urging both sides to respect international humanitarian law. Residents seeking refuge in hospitals now face the dilemma of staying in overcrowded and at-risk facilities or navigating the perilous streets of Gaza City, compounded by challenges in accessing essential supplies through humanitarian corridors.

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