Israel-Hamas war rages on; U.S. arranging flights to get Americans out of Israel

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Police officers evacuate a woman and a child from a site hit by a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip, in Ashkelon, southern Israel, Saturday, Oct. 7, 2023. (TSAFRIR ABAYOV / AP)

The U.S. State Department announced Thursday it is arranging evacuation flights to help Americans leave Israel – as the war with Hamas escalates and the death toll in the conflict climbs. Israel is devastating Gaza with strikes and preparing a ground invasion of the Palestinian territory in response to Hamas’ brutal weekend attack on Israeli civilians.

As of Thursday afternoon, Israel’s military said Hamas’ attack killed more than 1,200 people, including at least 27 Americans, and left some 3,200 people wounded. At least 1,537 people in Gaza, including 447 children, have been killed by Israel’s retaliatory strikes, the Gaza Ministry of Health said, adding that more than 6,600 others were wounded. Fourteen U.S. citizens are missing, National Security Council coordinator for strategic communications John Kirby said.

Neighborhoods across Gaza have been flattened during Israel’s response to Hamas’ attack over the weekend.

The scale of Israel’s counterattack led a group of independent experts at the United Nations to warn – while condemning the “horrific” war crimes committed by Hamas – that “indiscriminate military attacks against the already exhausted Palestinian people of Gaza” amounted to “collective punishment.” 

“This is absolutely prohibited under international law and amounts to a war crime,” they added.

Meanwhile, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke from Israel on Thursday while the U.S. Secretary of Defense, Lloyd Austin, will be in Israel on Friday.

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