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India has recorded the world’s highest number of coronavirus-related deaths in a single day.

It announced a further 6,148 fatalities on Thursday – after the state of Bihar discovered 3,929 unreported deaths.

Bihar, one of India’s poorest states, revised its death toll after being directed to by Patna High Court.

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Mass COVID graves along the Ganges

The court has been hearing a petition alleging that the number of deaths in the state has been under-reported and inconsistent during the country’s second wave of COVID-19.

“All facts must be verified from all sources,” the court’s chief justice said.

Mangal Panday, Bihar’s health minister, said: “We are open to revising the figures if people come forward with genuine papers. Our real intention is to help and not to hide anything. We are not ruling out some names that are still missing.”

More on Covid

There have been allegations that India under-reported deaths in April and May when it was hit by a severe second wave of infections.

In April, Sky News investigated the under-reporting of deaths at various crematoriums in the national capital, Delhi, and in Ghaziabad in Uttar Pradesh.

Findings showed huge discrepancies in the actual numbers compared with those given by the authorities.

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India’s COVID crisis: ‘I wish she was still with us’

One of the reasons is the large number of deaths that happened in people’s homes and not in hospitals, which were inundated beyond capacity.

Deaths outside medical facilities do not appear to have been tallied in government figures.

The Delta variant of COVID-19 – first discovered in India – has spread into rural areas. Many deaths have happened in villages and small towns where public health facilities are inadequate or virtually non-existent.

Sky News found hundreds of teachers in Uttar Pradesh died within a few days of being put on election duty.

While the teachers’ union has accounted for more than 1,600 deaths, the state government has acknowledged only three due to coronavirus.

There are also reports and videos of hundreds of unaccounted shallow graves along the banks of the river Ganges.

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And you thought your COVID test was difficult?

Last month dozens of bodies were found floating along the river in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, and again most were unaccounted for and unidentified.

India is the second worst-affected country after the United States, having recorded more than 29 million COVID cases, while more than 360,000 people have died.

The vaccination drive which began on 16 January has been slow and mired in controversy, with not enough doses being produced.

India has administered more than 235 million shots so far – less than 5% of the estimated adult population of 950 million has been fully vaccinated.

Those who have only been jabbed once amount to 14% of the population.

Principal scientific adviser K. VijayRaghavan has warned that a third wave of infections is “inevitable”.

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Israel-Hamas war: The truce has ended – why have negotiations stalled and what will Israel do now?




Israel-Hamas war: The truce has ended - why have negotiations stalled and what will Israel do now?

Within half an hour of the latest truce ending on Friday, Israeli fighter jets were bombing Gaza, and Hamas was firing salvos of rockets into Israel.

Although the Israel Defence Forces had been preparing for a resumption of their ground offensive if further truces could not be agreed, both sides are motivated to progress the release of hostages.

So why have the negotiations stalled and war resumed?

One of the IDF’s objectives is to liberate hostages, and the truces have proven an effective way to achieve this objective.

However, the IDF also wants to destroy Hamas, and is determined to resume military operations if the hostage negotiations stall.

Hamas knows it is no match militarily for the IDF, but is using the hostages as leverage to ensure its survival through extended ceasefires.

The initial focus was on releasing Israeli women and children, with three Palestinian prisoners released for every hostage liberated.

More on Israel-hamas War

However, the next category of hostages will include young males and foreign nationals held, and Hamas will place a greater value on these hostages before considering their release.

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Israel’s military has begun Phase 2 of its offensive

The IDF soldiers will probably be the most prized hostages held by Hamas, and although Hamas might drip-feed their release, they only need a handful of IDF hostages – plus maybe a couple of foreign nationals – to maintain a credible negotiation capability.

Hamas once held an IDF soldier for five years and only agreed an exchange in return for over 1,000 Palestinian prisoners – one of which was Yahya Sinwar, who is now the leader of Hamas in Gaza.

Read more: Who are the first 79 Israeli hostages released by Hamas?

Aftermath of explosions in Gaza Strip following end of ceasefire
Aftermath of explosions in Gaza Strip following the end of the ceasefire

Meanwhile, Israel appears primarily focused on destroying Hamas, and although any truce will be welcome if it liberates hostages, the IDF will not tolerate any prevarication by Hamas.

Although Israel has resumed its combat operations, the military objectives will likely remain unchanged: destroying Hamas and liberating all hostages.

The second phase of its ground offensive appears to be focused on southern Gaza, where the population density is higher.

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Israel launches strikes on Gaza as truce ends

The IDF admits the casualties will be greater during Phase 2 – for both the IDF and the Palestinian civilians.

Israel claims to have killed 5,000 Hamas fighters in the first phase of the war, but in total more than 15,000 Palestinians have lost their lives since the start of the conflict – and that ignores those bodies yet to be discovered in the rubble.

If Israel’s military objective remains to destroy Hamas and they have killed 20% of the fighters to date, then by extrapolation the next phase of the conflict could result in another 60,000 Palestinian lives lost – not accounting for the increased risk due to the greater population density in the south of Gaza.

Benjamin Netanyahu in Gaza
Pressure is steadily growing on Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to end the war

Read more:
Blinken tells Israel it needs ‘clear plan’ to protect civilians
Israel accuses Hamas of violating truce deal – military operations resume

Any such dramatic increase in the levels of civilian casualties or escalation of the humanitarian crisis in Gaza will be of grave concern to the international community.

Even the US – Israel’s closest ally – is using increasingly cautionary language and urging restraint. It will be very difficult for Israel to maintain international support for a prolonged offensive in pursuit of its military objectives.

Regardless, Israel is clearly not prepared to let Hamas seize the initiative.

Israel supports an extension to the truce in exchange for hostages, leaving Hamas to choose between negotiation or war.

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Fighting resumes in Gaza

Qatari mediators are continuing their efforts to negotiate a fresh agreement, and we should expect periodic pauses in the hostilities as fresh agreements are reached and more hostages are released.

However, these are increasingly frustrating times for Israel who, despite overwhelming military superiority and securing the release of more than 100 hostages, are fast losing the initiative in this conflict.

Despite mounting a determined and aggressive ground offensive into Gaza, Israel has not destroyed Hamas, has yet to free all hostages, and is facing increasing calls to end the war.

Despite the devastation, the conflict has done little to resolve the underlying issues that polarise opinions in the region.

However, from the horrors of war, the opportunities for a lasting peace emerge, but only with international commitment and leadership will lasting progress be made.

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The ceasefire between Israel and Hamas is over, and now Gazans have to flee once more for safety




The ceasefire between Israel and Hamas is over, and now Gazans have to flee once more for safety

Plumes of smoke rise once again into the clear skies over Gaza.  

Artillery boomed and jets screamed through the skies above us as the skyline to the north of the strip filled with smoke as buildings and Hamas targets were pounded by the Israeli military.

Loudspeakers blared out warnings of incoming Hamas rockets.

Follow the Israel-Hamas conflict live as military operations begin again

We hit the ground as Iron Dome interceptors halted their path – explosions reverberated around the near-deserted streets of the Israeli town of Sderot.

The war has started again. It was always a matter of when not if.

Israel says the ceasefire was broken by Hamas firing the first rockets, while Hamas says Israel kept saying no to the offers they were making during negotiations to extend the ceasefire.

Either way, the war has resumed. And for civilians caught up in it, who started it again is probably of little consequence.

53-year-old Gaza resident Yousif Ligi thought the truce would hold. And then woke up to the bombs in his neighbourhood.

“There is no safe place, we do not know where to go. Wherever we go they bomb it. How long will this bombing continue? Find us a solution with whatever means,” he said, looking dazed.

Families fleeing further south in Gaza
Families fleeing further south in Gaza

Read more:
Can Israel destroy Hamas without killing thousands more?

Images of the Israelis who’ve been freed so far

Sky News teams filming in the north and south of the Gaza Strip sent messages saying the intensity of the bombing is as bad as it’s ever been.

Soon they began to send us pictures from inside Gaza.

It’s a familiar scene now.

Streets filled with smoke and dust as bombs begin to fall, people rushing to search for loved ones and neighbours trapped in the rubble, desperately scrabbling by hand.

Houses and apartment blocks smashed to pieces.

The bodies of the dead, shrouded in white, laid together.

In one scene a woman gently strokes the body of a relative, watched on by a little girl.

Woman in Gaza strokes a covered body while a little girl watches
Woman in Gaza strokes a covered body while a little girl watches

Woman prays over a covered body in Gaza
A woman prays over a covered body in Gaza

We don’t know who they are.

Inside the hospitals the staff struggle to deal with a new influx of injured from the bombardment. Gurney after gurney rushed into the emergency rooms.

The medical centres in Gaza are already stretched to breaking point.

With negotiations around extending the ceasefire deadlocked, in many ways it was inevitable hostilities would resume.

The question now though is what happens to the hundreds of thousands of people in the south.

This is the greatest concern for the international community.

Already there is a mass exodus further to the south.

Families fleeing further south in Gaza
Families fleeing further south in Gaza

Our team in Gaza filmed as people left the city of Khan Younis, many of them had already been forced from their homes by the fighting in the north at the start of the war.

Some left by horse and cart, others in cars packed full carrying entire families – and any possessions that can cram on board.

Others reduced to escaping by foot.

One displaced Gaza resident, Sana Abdulkarim, walking with her sons and daughters, told us they feel “lost”, and don’t know where to find safety.

“We are scared that what they have done in the north, they will do in the south as well,” she said.

The family plans to go to Rafah, on the border with Egypt.

“We can’t find shelter anywhere else, where shall we go? We don’t know where to go. We will go to the first school, we don’t have to be inside, we can sit in the playground, what else can we do? What else can we do?”

In conflicts like this, the importance of schools as safe zones is inestimable.

An IDF leaflet with a QR code that has an interactive map of Gaza on it
An IDF leaflet with a QR code that has an interactive map of Gaza on it

Smoke near the Jabilia camp in Gaza
Smoke near the Jabalia camp in Gaza

The IDF has been dropping leaflets with a QR code that links to an interactive map that has Gaza divided into block numbers.

They say the map will help residents navigate the war zone and evacuate safely.

But thousands remain in the north.

And at one school in the Jabalia refugee camp near Gaza City, our cameras filmed a fire caused by an Israeli airstrike.

It was next to classrooms now full of people seeking shelter and is far from the relative safety of the south.

As the fighting intensifies, it’s hard to imagine how people like this could possibly even move.

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Israel accuses Hamas of violating truce deal – military operations set to resume




Israel accuses Hamas of violating truce deal - military operations set to resume

Israel’s military has resumed combat in Gaza after accusing Hamas of violating the seven-day truce.

A spokesperson for Israel Defence Forces said: “Hamas violated the operational pause and in addition fired toward Israeli territory.”

Around 30 minutes after the ceasefire was due to end, the Israeli military said its fighter jets were striking Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip.

Israel-Gaza latest: Follow live

Images on social media showed large plumes of dark smoke rising over the densely built-up Jabalia refugee camp.

IDF spokesperson Daniel Hagari said multiple rockets had been launched from Gaza towards Israel.

The ceasefire was due to expire at 7am local time (5am UK) on Friday – with the IDF claiming it was “ready” and willing to continue military operations.

A total of 79 Israeli hostages have been released by Hamas over seven consecutive days, with hundreds of Palestinians freed from prisons in exchange.

About 140 hostages remain in Gaza.

Reaching agreements on hostage releases appeared to be getting harder as most women and children had already been released.

International mediators – including diplomats from Qatar, Egypt and the US – had been working to extend the temporary truce.

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