Inside Ashraf al-Qudra’s cramped office in Shifa hospital, the phone never stops ringing. With over 1,060 people killed and more than 6,000 wounded, counting the dead is a full-time occupation for the 41-year-old spokesman for Gaza’s emergency services. Since the operation began on July 8, Qudra has been sleeping just two hours a night on a mattress in his office, his staff updating him round-the-clock on the latest victims of the Israeli offensive. His first experience of a major conflict between Israel and Hamas was in November 2012, when 177 Palestinians and six Israelis were killed in an eight-day confrontation. This time, he admits, the conflict has definitely affected him emotionally.
I see corpses and body parts all the time. But what really gets to me is the sight of women and children who’ve been killed.
Ashraf al-Qudra, spokesman for Gaza’s emergency services
Figures released by the U.N.’s humanitarian agency OCHA indicate nearly three-quarters of the victims were civilians and around a quarter of them children. And it says 18 hospitals, clinics and medical centers have been hit and damaged by Israeli shelling. Israel has lost 43 soldiers, and three civilians have been killed by cross-border projectiles. After initially rejecting an Israeli offer Saturday for a 24-hour truce, Hamas said Sunday that it had agreed to hold fire ahead of the Eid al-Fitr holiday, but as Israel’s Cabinet met to discuss the offer and the ongoing war, rockets rained down on southern Israel and Israeli strikes could be heard in Gaza.