Israel steps up war as Hamas says Gaza deaths near 10,000

Israeli forces pushed on with intense strikes targeting Palestinian militants in Gaza on Monday as the war neared one month and the Hamas-run health ministry's death toll approached 10,000 inside the besieged territory.

Determined to destroy Hamas whose October 7 attack left 1,400 dead in Israel and saw over 240 hostages taken, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has vowed no letup despite mounting international calls for a ceasefire.

Ground forces have flooded the northern half of the Gaza Strip and tightened an encirclement of Gaza City even as hundreds of thousands of civilians remain there despite Israeli evacuation orders.

Gaza's Hamas-run health ministry said Monday more than 200 people had died in "overnight massacres" -- a day after reporting a total death toll of more than 9,770, mostly women and children.

Israel's ally the United States has sent its top diplomat Antony Blinken on a whirlwind Middle East tour that has been marked by strong condemnation of Israel, including on his latest stop Turkey.

The heads of major United Nations agencies issued a joint statement calling for a ceasefire inside the territory of 2.4 million people where an Israeli siege has cut off most water, food and fuel supplies.

"For almost a month, the world has been watching the unfolding situation in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory in shock and horror at the spiralling numbers of lives lost and torn apart," said the statement released Sunday.

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