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War on Gaza Day 20: Biden Questions Gaza Death Toll, EU Drafts Call for Ceasefire

October 26, 2023
Photo: destruction in Gaza. Photo credit: Anadolu Agency
Photo: destruction in Gaza. Photo credit: Anadolu Agency

As the conflict enters its 20th day, Israel’s assault on the Gaza Strip has killed over 6,500 people, forcing hundreds of thousands more to escape the strip’s damaged homes.

Gaza’s health ministry announced on Wednesday, October 25 that 6,546 people have been killed and 17,439 injured as a result of Israeli artillery and airstrikes. Women and children make up the majority of these casualties, with 2,704 minors among the dead.

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) also announced on Wednesday that a “close proximity strike” severely damaged a UN school in Rafah that serves as a refuge for 4,600 people. The organization also stated that since October 7, 38 of its workers—half of them were UNRWA teachers—have been confirmed dead in Gaza.

In the occupied West Bank community of Burin, Palestinian farmers were beaten by armed Israeli settlers.

US President Joe Biden condemned the attacks on Palestinian civilians in the West Bank by Israeli settlers, as he compared the attacks to “pouring gasoline to fire.” He also referred to the 1993 Oslo Accords, stating that Israelis are attacking Palestinians in places that they’re entitled to be.

The latest in a string of settler violence in the West Bank occurred on Wednesday, October 25 in the South Hebron Hills area when settlers opened fire in warning when challenged by unarmed anti-settlement demonstrators.

In another incident that happened on Wednesday, Israelis attacked Palestinians who were gathering olives outside the northern West Bank. It is stated that some of their goods and equipment were stolen and destroyed.

Biden Skeptical of Gaza Death Toll

US President Joe Biden declared his skepticism towards the numbers of casualties published by the Gaza Ministry of Health in a joint press conference with Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese on 25 October.

“I have no notion that the Palestinians are telling the truth about how many people are killed […] I have no confidence in the number that the Palestinians are using,” Biden said.

“I’m sure innocents have been killed, and it’s the price of waging a war,” he added.

Biden had previously claimed to have “confirmed” images of babies allegedly beheaded by Hamas, in reference to reports by the Israeli army that remain unconfirmed.

He reiterated his full support for Israel and its “right and […] responsibility to respond to the slaughter of their people” but noted that “Hamas does not represent the vast majority of the Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip or anywhere else.”

EU Ceasefire Draft

Leaders of the European Union have agreed to call for “humanitarian corridors and pauses” in Gaza, which follows weeks of discussions, according to its latest draft text.

An official declaration will be announced on Thursday, 26 October, in Brussels after a summit of leaders.

The European Union has witnessed its most intense disagreements in recent weeks over the conflict, with an early clash between the European Council president Charles Michel and the European Commission president Ursula von der over the lack of humanitarian concerns in Gaza.

Netanyahu to “Give Answers”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced, for the first time, on Wednesday that he would have to “give answers” for security lapses exposed in the 7 October attacks by Hamas.

“The fault will be examined and everyone will have to give answers, including me,” Netanyahu said.

Netanyahu has faced sharp criticism over the past few days due to his handling of the crisis and his failure to return Israeli hostages.

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