Gaza death toll from Israeli airstrikes surpasses 20,000 people, says Hamas

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There is a sense of urgency to find a peaceful resolution as the death toll rises and humanitarian efforts become more desperate, ITV News Correspondent Emma Murphy reports

  • Hamas’ top leader is in Cairo, Egypt for talks on the war in Gaza.

  • Israel's President Isaac Herzog said his country is ready for another humanitarian pause “in order to enable the release of hostages."

  • The UN Security Council is looking to get more desperately needed aid into Gaza.

  • Half of Gaza's population is starving and residents are often going entire days without eating, the UN's World Food Programme said.

  • The UN Security Council was due to vote on Wednesday on a Gaza resolution, after it was pushed back due to ongoing negotiations, but talks have now been further delayed.

The number of people killed by Israeli strikes in Gaza has surpassed 20,000, the Hamas government has said on messaging app Telegram.

Around 1.9 million people, 85% of the population, are believed to have been driven from their homes by the fighting, while half of the people in Gaza are thought to be starving, according to the UN's World Food Programme.

Wednesday's figures were announced by the government media office, while previous death tolls have come from the Hamas-run health ministry in the territory.

Meanwhile Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh is in Cairo, Egypt, discussing the conflict in Gaza. The possibility of a second ceasefire and further hostage swaps are thought to be on the table.

There has been global consensus that fighting needs to stop, but the United States vetoed a previous resolution proposal while the UK opted to abstain.

The United Arab Emirates put forward resolution currently being discussed, which it said would seek “urgent and sustainable cessation of hostilities."

Palestinians comfort a crying man who lost relatives under the rubble of a house destroyed in an Israeli airstrike in Gaza City. Credit: AP

Talks were scheduled for Tuesday but then postponed to Wednesday due to background negotiations taking place.

Egypt and Qatar have been key mediators between Hamas forces and Israel since the militant group rampaged across southern Israel on October 7, triggering the current war, and indirect talks have recently relaunched.

The previous ceasefire was extended to last a total of seven days, during which Hamas released 110 people from Gaza, and 240 Palestinians were freed from Israeli prisons.

Mr Haniyeh's visit to Cairo came just a day after Hamas fired rockets that set off air-raid sirens in central Israel.

The move is believed to have been a display of power by the terrorist group, in the ten-week war that has devastated much of northern Gaza.

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