GAZA CITY (Dispatches) -- An estimated 300 people were martyred in a single Israeli attack on a residential block in the Gaza Strip on Saturday, according to the Palestinian civil defense.
Hundreds more are feared wounded, the spokesperson for the civil defense in Gaza, Mahmoud Basal, told Al Ghad TV, after 50 residential buildings were leveled by Israeli fighter jets.
Residents say up to 1,000 people lived in the targeted area in Shujaiya, a densely populated neighborhood in eastern Gaza City.
Troops on the ground directed airstrikes on several targets, including a mosque.
“The numbers are huge,” Basal said. “At least 300 are dead and many more are missing under the rubble.”
Basal added the civil defense teams do not have the means nor the equipment to handle the “massacre”.
Among the martyrs was prominent Palestinian scientist Sufyan Tayeh and his family, the Palestinian higher education ministry announced on Saturday.
Tayeh, who was president of the Islamic University of Gaza, was a leading researcher in physics and applied mathematics.
Israel’s hardline prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu instructed one of his closest aides to explore ways to “thin out” Gaza’s population, the Israel Hayom newspaper reported.
According to the Israeli daily, Netanyhu instructed Ron Dermer, his minister of strategic planning and a close aide, to have a plan for the “day after” in Gaza and, if necessary, one that “enables a mass escape [of Palestinians] to European and African countries” by opening sea routes out of the strip.
The secret plan, seen by Israel Hayom, is being tightly circulated “due to its obvious explosiveness”, said the report, adding that “Netanyahu sees this as a strategic goal”.
The plan will aim to bypass expected U.S. and Egyptian opposition. Unless Egypt starts shooting Palestinians crossing into the country, Cairo’s “determined resistance” can be overcome, it added.
The report also foresees global outrage without outlining the repercussions for the occupying regime of Israel.
The Zionist regime has placed Gaza under a blockade since 2007, tightly controlling how much food, water and electricity the territory receives and whether any residents can leave the strip.
The Israeli military has published several maps ordering Palestinians in Gaza to leave their homes and head towards what it calls “shelter centers”, though no such secure and safe areas exist in the besieged strip.
Palestinians in a number of zones in northern Gaza’s Jalabiya, Shujayya and Zeitoun were told to move to Daraj and Tuffah areas of Gaza City.
Those in several zones in southern Gaza’s Khirbat Ikhza’a, Abasan, Bani Suheila and Ma’an were instructed to head for Rafah near the border with Egypt.
The map effectively splits the Gaza Strip into countless isolated islands. Many Palestinian being forced to move have already been displaced several times.
In the past, the zones Israel designated as safer have proved just as deadly.
Meanwhile, Israeli forces and Hezbollah fighters exchanged fire across the Lebanese border on Saturday in a second day of clashe after the collapse of a truce in Gaza between Hamas and Israel.
Hezbollah said in a statement that one of its fighters was martyred. Three people in south Lebanon were martyred by Israeli shelling on Friday in south Lebanon, according to Lebanon’s state news agency. Hezbollah said two of the martyrs were its fighters.
Hezbollah said it fired rockets towards at least five Israeli positions on Saturday afternoon.
Shelling from Israel hit close to the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) headquarters near the coastal town of Naqoura and around the border village of Rmaych, and later around two other villages, Labbouneh and Yaroun, a UNIFIL spokesperson, said.
The Zionist military said it carried out shelling near Naqoura after spotting “unusual activity” in the area.
Following the eruption of the war on Oct. 7, Hezbollah has mounted near-daily rocket attacks on Zionist positions at the frontier, while Israel waged air and artillery strikes in south Lebanon. But the border was largely calm during the week-long truce in the Gaza war.
It has been the worst fighting since the 2006 war between the occupying regime of Israel and Hezbollah, a Hamas ally.
Just over 100 people in Lebanon have been martyred in Israeli aggression.