Israel bombed the southern Gaza Strip intensively on Tuesday night, while international pressure for an “immediate ceasefire” is growing on Netanyahu’s government.

The southern Gaza Strip came under intense Israeli bombardment overnight, despite international pressure for an immediate ceasefire in the Palestinian territory where famine is looming.

Besieged Gaza is in desperate need of aid and the United States said it would continue airdrops, despite pleas from Hamas to stop the practice after the Islamist group said 18 people had died trying to reach food packages.

A fireball lit up the night sky in the southern city of Rafah, the last remaining urban centre in Gaza not to have been attacked by Israeli ground forces. About 1.5 million people are crammed in the area, many having fled south towards the border with Egypt.

The sound of explosions was also heard and smoke was seen rising in Gaza City in the north, where Israeli troops have been attacking the city’s largest hospital for more than a week.

The fighting went on unabated two days after the UN Security Council passed its first resolution calling for an “immediate ceasefire” and urging the release of the roughly 130 hostages Israel says remain in Gaza, including 34 captives who are presumed dead.

Israeli forces have also surrounded two hospitals in Khan Younes, where the health ministry said 12 people, including some children, were killed in an Israeli strike on a camp for the displaced.

The Palestinian Red Crescent has warned that thousands were trapped in the Nasser hospital in Khan Younes and “their lives are in danger”.

‘Man-made famine’

Underscoring the desperation of civilians trapped by the fighting, Hamas has asked donor countries to stop their airdrops after 12 people drowned trying to recover parachuted food aid from the sea off Gaza’s Mediterranean coast.

Hamas and the Swiss-based Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor also said another six people were killed in stampedes trying to get aid.

“People are dying just to get a can of tuna,” Gaza resident Mohamad al-Sabaawi told AFP, holding a can in his hand after a scramble over an aid package.

The war, triggered by Hamas’s unprecedented October 7 attack on Israel, has shattered Gaza’s infrastructure and aid agencies say all of its 2.4 million people are now in need of humanitarian help.

Israel’s retaliatory campaign against Hamas has killed at least 32,414 people in Gaza, most of them women and children, according to the health ministry in Gaza.

Officials from the two warring sides are in indirect mediated talks in Qatar aimed at agreeing on a ceasefire and the release of hostages.

However, both Hamas and Netanyahu said the talks were failing and blamed each other, but Qatari foreign ministry spokesperson Majed al-Ansari said this week the talks were “ongoing”.

Adel Zaanoun, Fiachra Gibbons, with AFP