MORE than 31,000 people have now been killed in Gaza and more than 72,000 wounded since October 7, the region's health ministry has said.

Around 72% of the victims are children and women, the ministry added with the death toll including 25 Palestinians who died from malnutrition and dehydration.

In a post on its Telegram page, the ministry said: “In the past 24 hours, the Israeli occupation committed eight massacres against families in the Gaza Strip, resulting in 85 martyrs and 130 injuries.”

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It comes as anti-war demonstrations took place across Israel on Saturday night with police using water cannons to prevent protesters from blocking a highway in Tel Aviv after they broke through a police barrier.

Demonstrators demanded an end to the bombardment of Gaza, the release of captives being held there and immediate elections in Israel.

Speaking to Al Jazeera, one demonstrator said: “The only victory is to stop the war, to save the lives of 20 or 30,000 more innocent Gazans and more than 100 hostages.”

Elsewhere, the Civil Defence Department said at least nine Palestinians, including children, were killed in an Israeli air strike on a house in Gaza City late on Saturday.

Footage shared by the civil defence showed emergency service workers pulling out the dead and injured trapped in the collapsed house. One rescuer was seen holding a dead infant, before placing the limp body on a sofa amid the wreckage.

Elsewhere, the bodies of 13 people, including women and children, were taken to the main hospital in the central town of Deir al-Balah on Sunday, according to an Associated Press journalist.

Relatives said the 13 were killed by Israeli artillery fire towards a large tent camp for displaced Palestinians in the coastal area east of the southern city of Khan Younis.

Meanwhile, US efforts got under way to set up the temporary pier in Gaza for the sea deliveries.

US Central Command said a first US Army vessel, the General Frank S Besson, left a base in Virginia on Saturday and was on its way to the Eastern Mediterranean with equipment for pier construction.

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American officials said it is likely to be weeks before the pier is operational.

The sea corridor is backed by the EU together with the United States, the United Arab Emirates and other countries. The European Commission has said that UN agencies and the Red Cross will also play a role.

A ship belonging to Spain’s Open Arms aid group is expected to make a pilot voyage to test the corridor as early as this weekend. The ship has been waiting at Cyprus’s port of Larnaca.

Open Arms founder Oscar Camps has said the ship, which is pulling a barge with 200 tons of rice and flour, will take two to three days to arrive at an undisclosed location.

A member of the charity World Central Kitchen, which is also involved in the test run, said in a post on X, formerly Twitter, that once the barge reaches Gaza, the aid will be offloaded by a crane, be placed on trucks and driven to northern Gaza, which has been largely cut off from aid shipments.

Senior aid officials have warned that air and sea deliveries cannot make up for a shortage of supply routes on land.