Israel pummels central Gaza, dozens more Palestinians killed

    Israel pummels central Gaza, dozens more Palestinians killed

    December 27, 2023 10:07 pm | Updated December 28, 2023 06:20 pm IST – CAIRO/GAZA/JERUSALEM

    Displaced Palestinians take shelter at a school in Deir al-Balah in the central Gaza Strip on December 27, 2023, amid continuing battles between Israel and the militant Hamas group.

    Displaced Palestinians take shelter at a school in Deir al-Balah in the central Gaza Strip on December 27, 2023, amid continuing battles between Israel and the militant Hamas group.
    | Photo Credit: AFP

    Israeli forces pounded 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 October 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.

    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 October 20 to 166.

    The Hamas armed wing 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.

    The World Health Organization 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 Ihistory, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has responded with an assault that has laid much of Hamas-ruled 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.”

    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 militant fighters 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,” U.N. 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.

    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 U.S. 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 militants 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.

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