On the Al Jazeera news network, which continued to broadcast from Gaza on Saturday, a spokesman for the Hamas-controlled Gaza Health Ministry read a statement saying that 377 Palestinians had been killed by Israeli strikes in “recent hours,” raising the ministry’s death toll in the territory to 7,703, of which 3,195 were reported to be children. While the ministry has released information identifying the victims, the figures could not be independently verified.
The United Nations estimates that around one million of the more than two million residents of Gaza have been displaced from their homes.
Israel has acknowledged the civilian toll of its airstrikes, but says it cannot reach its ultimate goal of ousting Hamas and its leadership without dismantling a network that operates above and below ground, often woven into residential areas.
Mr. Netanyahu’s reference on Saturday to a war of independence was most likely intended as a rallying cry for Israelis, for whom the young state’s triumph against its Arab neighbors in 1948 is a cherished national story.
But for Palestinians, that time holds grim memories. About 700,000 Palestinian Arabs fled or were expelled from their homes during the wars surrounding Israel’s founding, an event their descendants refer to as the Nakba, or catastrophe.
One goal of Israeli policy is “to expel the Palestinian people” and “repeat the Nakba of 1948,” Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority, claimed in a televised speech on Saturday night.
Over the past week, under the accumulated trauma of Israeli airstrikes, Gaza residents say the bombs have come mostly without warning and have hit indiscriminately, leading to the feeling that imminent death is inevitable.
“You can’t imagine the feeling,” said Nayrouz Qarmout, a Palestinian author who lives in the Gaza Strip. “You are not safe. All places are targets, so you think of dying at any time.”
Reporting was contributed by Eric Schmitt, Yousur Al-Hlou, Raja Abdulrahim, Aaron Boxerman, Farnaz Fassihi, Adam Goldman, Helene Cooper, Justin Scheck, Tamir Kalifa, Karen Zraick, Hiba Yazbek, Vivian Nereim, Euan Ward and Victoria Kim.