Israeli warplanes have struck parts of the Gaza Strip in relentless bombardments, including some of the dwindling slivers of land Palestinians had been told to evacuate to in the territory’s south.
The latest strikes came a day after the United States vetoed a United Nations resolution demanding an immediate humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza, despite it being backed by the vast majority of Security Council members and many other nations.
The vote in the 15-member council was 13-1, with the UK abstaining.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said before the vote: “Attacks from air, land and sea are intense, continuous and widespread.”
He said Gaza residents “are being told to move like human pinballs – ricocheting between ever-smaller slivers of the south, without any of the basics for survival”.
Mr Guterres told the council that Gaza was at “a breaking point” with the humanitarian support system at risk of total collapse, and that he feared “the consequences could be devastating for the security of the entire region”.
Gaza’s borders with Israel and with Egypt are effectively sealed, leaving Palestinians with no option other than to try to seek refuge within the territory.
The overall death toll in Gaza since the start of the war has surpassed 17,400, the majority of them women and children, according to the health ministry in Hamas-controlled Gaza, which does not differentiate between civilians and combatants in its count.
A study published by an Israeli newspaper, meanwhile, has found the aerial bombing campaign by Israel in Gaza is the most indiscriminate in terms of civilian casualties in recent years.
Civilians make up 61 per cent of Gaza deaths from airstrikes, it found, with the civilian proportion of death higher than the average in all world conflicts in 20th century.