The death toll in Gaza has surpassed 10,000 people, the Hamas-run health ministry said Monday after nearly one month of bombardment by Israel whose offensive against Palestinian militants showed signs of intensifying. Determined to destroy Hamas whose October 7 attack left 1,400 dead in Israel, most of them civilians, and saw over 240 hostages taken according to Israeli officials, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has vowed no letup despite mounting calls for a ceasefire. “The unfolding catastrophe makes the need for a humanitarian ceasefire more urgent with every passing hour,” UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told reporters at UN headquarters. The dead in Gaza include more than 4,000 children, the health ministry said. Some 292 people were killed in a barrage overnight that hit two paediatric hospitals and Gaza’s only psychiatric hospital, it said. “These are massacres! They destroyed three houses over the heads of their inhabitants — women and children,” Mahmud Meshmesh, resident of Deir al-Balah in central Gaza, told AFP. “We have already taken 40 bodies out of the rubble,” he said as crowds prayed around corpses wrapped in white shrouds. Israel’s ally the United States sent its top diplomat Antony Blinken on a whirlwind Middle East tour that wrapped up on Monday in Turkey, where again his host pressed for an Israeli ceasefire, which Washington has declined to endorse. US President Joe Biden has called into question the validity of the Gaza health ministry’s numbers, though a Pentagon spokesman acknowledged on Monday that civilian casualties are “in the thousands”. Israeli officials accuse Hamas of building tunnels underneath hospitals, schools and places of worship in Gaza to hide fighters, store arms and ammunition, and plan attacks — charges the militant group has denied. Ground forces with tanks have flooded the northern half of the Gaza Strip and tightened an encirclement of Gaza City, effectively splitting the territory in two. The Israeli army said on Monday it had pounded Gaza with “significant” strikes on 450 targets, having said last week it had already hit over 12,000. “We will be able to dismantle Hamas, stronghold after stronghold, battalion after battalion, until we achieve the ultimate goal, which is to rid the Gaza Strip — the entire Gaza Strip — of Hamas,” Israeli army spokesman Jonathan Conricus said. A top Hamas official in Lebanon, Osama Hamdan, said the group, which fired 16 rockets from Lebanon towards northern Israel on Monday, would never accept a puppet government in Gaza and that “no force on Earth could annihilate” it. – Evacuations resume – Israeli troops and Hamas fighters have engaged in fierce house-to-house combat in densely populated north Gaza, where the UN says the war has sent some 1.5 million people fleeing to other parts of the territory. Netanyahu, who has rejected any talk of a ceasefire until hostages are returned, said on Monday Israel was “fighting the battle of civilisation against barbarism”. He vowed to minimise civilian casualties and accused Hamas of “doing everything in its power to keep them (civilians) in harm’s way”, according to an official readout following a meeting with Bulgarian Prime Minister Nikolay Denkov. Israel has air-dropped leaflets and sent text messages ordering Palestinian civilians in northern Gaza to head south. A US official said Saturday at least 350,000 civilians remained in the worst-hit areas. The Rafah crossing between the Gaza Strip and Egypt reopened Monday to allow the evacuation of foreigners and dual nationals, the Hamas government said, ending a two-day closure prompted by a dispute over the passage of ambulances. A convoy including four ambulances arrived in Egypt via the Rafah crossing on Monday, the International Committee of the Red Cross said. On his regional tour, Blinken called for “humanitarian pauses” while rejecting Arab countries’ demands for a ceasefire. After meeting his Turkish counterpart Hakan Fidan on Monday, Blinken said Washington was working “very aggressively” to expand aid for trapped civilians in Gaza, but he did not provide details before boarding a flight to Japan. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was travelling across his country’s remote northeast on Monday, apparently snubbing Blinken. NATO member Turkey, which is allied to the Palestinians but also has ties with Israel, has said it is recalling its ambassador to Israel and breaking off contacts with Netanyahu. – West Bank unrest – The United States has bolstered its forces in the region, deploying two carrier strike groups and other assets to drive home its message that regional actors should not seek to take advantage of the unrest. The Pentagon said Monday a US nuclear-powered Ohio-class submarine was in the Middle East to help prevent war from widening. Some Ohio-class submarines are armed with nuclear-tipped ballistic missiles, while others are configured to carry more than 150 Tomahawk cruise missiles, and the Pentagon did not specify which was in the region. The war has exacerbated tensions in the occupied West Bank, where more than 150 Palestinians have been killed in clashes with Israeli forces and settlers since it started, according to the Palestinian health ministry. In Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem, a 20-year-old Israeli border policewoman died after a knife-wielding Palestinian assailant stabbed her in front of a police station, the force said. The assailant, identified by police as a 16-year-old Palestinian from east Jerusalem, was killed. And elsewhere in the West Bank, Israeli forces killed six Palestinians on Monday, according to the Ramallah-based Palestinian health ministry. The Israeli military said Monday it had arrested prominent Palestinian activist Ahed Tamimi, 22, in a raid in her West Bank town of Nabi Salih on suspicion of “inciting violence and terrorist activities”. The case against her appeared to centre on claims she called for the massacre of Israelis in explicitly violent terms, referring to Hitler, though her mother said the allegation was false. Overall, the army said more than 1,350 Palestinians had been arrested across the West Bank since October 7, with “over 850 of them affiliated with Hamas”.