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World

Israel attacks central Gaza, kills dozens more Palestinians

  • Israeli forces have killed 195 Palestinians and wounded 325 in the past 24 hours, bringing recorded toll to 21,110 killed and 55,243 wounded since Oct. 7
Published December 27, 2023
Photo: AFP
Photo: AFP

CAIRO/GAZA/JERUSALEM: Israeli forces attacked central Gaza by land, sea and air on Wednesday and Palestinian authorities reported dozens more deaths in the 11-week-old conflict after Israel’s military chief said the war on Hamas would grind on for months.

Reflecting Israeli resolve to wipe out Hamas despite growing international calls for a ceasefire, Israel’s Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi said the fighting would last “many months” and there were no “magic solutions” or “shortcuts”.

The Gaza health ministry said Israeli forces had killed 195 Palestinians and wounded 325 in the past 24 hours, bringing the recorded toll to 21,110 killed and 55,243 wounded in Israeli attacks in the coastal territory since Oct. 7.

A telecommunications outage in much of the enclave hit efforts to reach Palestinian casualties overnight but was gradually coming back online at mid-morning.

Israel PM says Hamas must be destroyed for peace

In central Gaza’s Al-Maghazi district, five Palestinians were killed in one air strike, medics said, while to the north in Gaza City health officials said the bodies of seven Palestinians killed overnight arrived at Al Shifa Hospital.

Residents also reported heavy fighting east and north of Al-Bureij district and in the nearby village of Juhr Ad-Deek, where they said Israeli tanks are stationed.

Israel’s military on Wednesday reported three more soldiers killed in action in Gaza, bringing total military losses in the enclave since ground operations began on Oct. 20 to 166.

The Hamas said its fighters attacked four Israeli bulldozers and a tank in the northern part of Khan Younis, the main city in southern Gaza and the scene of heavy fighting for several days.

Israeli intensified its raids this week, particularly in a central area just south of the waterway that bisects the Gaza Strip. The Israeli army told civilians to leave the area, though many said there was no safe place left to go.

 A plume of smoke rises over the southern Gaza strip following an Israeli bombardment.  AFP
A plume of smoke rises over the southern Gaza strip following an Israeli bombardment. AFP

The World Health Organization (WHO) released footage taken mostly on Monday and Tuesday at several Gaza hospitals, with WHO emergency medical team coordinator Sean Casey saying Gaza’s health capacity was 20 percent of what it was 80 days ago.

Since Hamas killed 1,200 people and captured 240 hostages in a cross-border rampage on Oct. 7 that was the deadliest day in Israel’s history, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has responded with an assault that has laid much of Gaza to waste.

Nearly all the enclave’s 2.3 million people have been driven from their homes, many several times.

‘It’s a bloodbath’

“There’s blood everywhere in these hospitals at the moment,” said Casey, adding that nowhere in Gaza was safe.

“We’re seeing almost only trauma cases come through the door and at a scale that’s quite difficult to believe, it’s a bloodbath as we said before, it’s carnage.”

Hamas says 200 killed in 24 hours of Israeli strikes on Gaza

The Israeli military said it was continuing to strike what it called terror targets in Gaza, at one point using its navy to hit suspects deemed to pose a threat to ground troops.

In the Shejaia district of Gaza City an Israeli attack on Hamas on foot caused secondary explosions, indicating the area was rigged with explosives to attack soldiers, a military statement said.

“We are gravely concerned about the continued bombardment of Middle Gaza by Israeli forces, which has claimed more than 100 Palestinian lives since Christmas Eve,” UN Human Rights Office spokesperson Seif Magango said on Tuesday.

Gaza authorities buried 80 unidentified Palestinians on Tuesday whose bodies were handed over by Israel through the Kerem Shalom border crossing, the health ministry said.

 A truck carrying people fleeing the central Gaza Strip arrives in Rafah in the south.  AFP
A truck carrying people fleeing the central Gaza Strip arrives in Rafah in the south. AFP

According to the Islamic Waqf, or religious affairs ministry, the bodies were collected from the northern part of the Gaza Strip.

Israel says it is doing what it can to protect civilians, and blames Hamas for putting them in harm’s way by operating among them, which Hamas denies. But even Israel’s closest ally the US has said it should do more to reduce civilian deaths from what President Joe Biden has called “indiscriminate bombing”.

Six youths were killed in the West Bank city of Tulkarm in an Israeli raid, the Palestinian health ministry said. An Israeli military statement on the incident said Israeli forces on a counter-terrorism operation came under attack by Hamas who threw explosives devices at them. The attackers were struck by an Israeli air force aircraft, it said.

Residents said the youths were not fighters nor militants and were far away from areas where clashes had erupted.

US-Israeli talks on war ‘day after’

In Washington, White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan and Israel’s Strategic Affairs Minister Ron Dermer on Tuesday discussed planning for what happens when the war ends, including governance and security in Gaza.

 A picture taken in the southern Lebanese village of Meiss El-Jabbal, near the border with Israel, shows the rubble and damaged buildings following Israeli bombardment, amid ongoing cross-border tensions as fighting continues between Israel and Hamas in Gaza.
AFP
A picture taken in the southern Lebanese village of Meiss El-Jabbal, near the border with Israel, shows the rubble and damaged buildings following Israeli bombardment, amid ongoing cross-border tensions as fighting continues between Israel and Hamas in Gaza. AFP

The two also discussed efforts to bring home the remaining hostages and a transition to a different phase of the war to focus on Hamas leaders, a US official said.

The United States has pressed Israel in recent weeks to scale down its war to a more targeted operation. But Washington is still seen in the region as a supporter of Israel and US forces have been attacked by fighters in the Middle East.

UN welcomes Israel-Hamas deal as ‘important step’

In an interview with Egyptian TV, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said Israel intended to stay in Gaza after the war “but the whole world does not agree with it”.

He said the US could “order” Israel to agree that Gaza become part of a future Palestinian state.

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