Dozens of people from the same family have been killed in the Jabalia refugee camp, the Palestinian foreign minister has said, as Israel continued to bombard the besieged Gaza Strip in the hours after an agreement was reached for a truce that was expected to go into effect on Thursday.
Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki said on a visit to London on Wednesday that 52 members of one family were killed in the Jabalia refugee camp in northern Gaza.
“Only this morning, from the Qadoura family in Jabalia, 52 people have been wiped out completely, killed,” he said.
“I have the list of the names, 52 of them. They were wiped out completely from grandfather to grandchildren.”
In southern Gaza, Al Jazeera’s Tareq Abu Azzoum said that heavy strikes continued on Wednesday in the lead-up to the humanitarian pause.
“These areas are considered to be ‘safe places’ to flee to from the north,” he said after an Israeli strike left a residential building in Khan Younis “completely destroyed”.
“But they are experiencing the same level of Israeli bombardments.”
Separately in Khan Younis, the bodies of more than 100 Palestinians originally held at the al-Shifa Hospital in northern Gaza, which has been repeatedly raided by Israeli forces, were buried in a mass grave.
The agreement between Israel and Hamas, the Palestinian armed group that governs Gaza, comes after nearly seven weeks of war in the besieged territory that has killed thousands and displaced hundreds of thousands of others.
Key details of the agreement remain unclear, but it is expected to include the release of 50 civilian hostages held in Gaza, the release of 150 Palestinians detained in Israeli prisons and a four-day halt to hostilities in Gaza. The pause is expected to coincide with an influx of humanitarian aid into the besieged enclave.
United Nations chief Antonio Guterres described the agreement as “an important step in the right direction,” but added that “much more needs to be done to end the suffering”.
The deal, expected to come into effect on Thursday morning, has been welcomed by rights groups and political leaders as a sign of potential progress towards the end of the fighting, which began on October 7 when Hamas launched an attack on southern Israel that killed about 1,200 people, according to Israeli officials.
Israeli authorities have said that most of the victims were civilians and that Palestinian armed groups also took about 240 others captive during the attack.
Israel promised to dismantle Hamas and unleashed a devastating assault on Gaza that has wiped out entire neighbourhoods and killed more than 14,500 people, according to Palestinian authorities, including more than 5,600 children.
Alongside the bombardment, Israel has severely restricted supplies of food, electricity, fuel, and water for the Strip’s more than 2.3 million residents, with international aid groups warning of a humanitarian catastrophe.
Medical officials have warned that disease could spread amid dire conditions and contaminated water.
Refugee camps, UN schools, and hospitals sheltering the displaced have all been targeted, and a trickle of humanitarian assistance coming through the border crossing with Egypt has not been enough to address the scale of suffering.
Aid groups say a key ambition is to get help to northern Gaza, which has been largely inaccessible and where nearly all hospitals stopped working during a blistering air and ground offensive by Israeli forces.
“The entire humanitarian sector is ready to scale up once everything is set,” said Tommaso Della Longa, a spokesman for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.
Israeli authorities have stressed that the temporary pause to the fighting will not mean an end to the war.
“We are at war, and we will continue the war until we achieve all our goals: to destroy Hamas, return all our hostages and ensure that no entity in Gaza can threaten Israel,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a recorded message.
Israeli military spokesman Daniel Hagari said the implementation of the agreement was a “complex process that may take time”.
Officials from Arab countries welcomed the truce and said they hoped it could lead to further agreements in the future.
Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud also welcomed the truce, but insisted that increased humanitarian assistance resulting from the deal “must remain in place and must be built upon”.
Qatari official Mohammed al-Khulaifi, who helped broker the deal, said that he hopes the agreement will lead to a “bigger agreement and a permanent cease of fire”.