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Israel bombs Gaza as pressure mounts to protect civilians

2023-12-04  Correspondent

Israel bombs Gaza as pressure mounts to protect civilians

GAZA STRIP - Israel struck Gaza targets Sunday in its war on Hamas sparked by the 7 October attacks as international concern mounted over the spiralling civilian death toll on the third day after the end of a week-long truce. More than 15 200 people have been killed in the besieged Palestinian territory, according to Hamas, in more than eight weeks of fighting that resumed after the ceasefire ended early Friday.

The UN humanitarian agency OCHA said at least 160 Palestinian deaths were reported in two incidents in northern Gaza Saturday: the bombing of a six-storey building in Jabaliya refugee camp, and of an entire block in a Gaza City neighbourhood.

Repeated bursts of heavy automatic weapons fire were heard Sunday over an AFPTV livecam which showed dark smoke rising over northern Gaza. Gaza’s Hamas government on Saturday said 240 people had been killed since the truce expired.

“I cannot find words strong enough to express our concern over what we’re witnessing,” the head of the World Health Organisation, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said Sunday on X, formerly Twitter, demanding a “Ceasefire. NOW.”

Israel has vowed to destroy Hamas, while the militant group has ruled out more hostage releases until a permanent ceasefire is agreed. “We have said it from day one: the price to pay for the release of Zionist prisoners will be the release of all our prisoners – after a ceasefire,” Saleh al-Arouri, deputy head of Hamas’s politburo, said on Saturday evening.

Israel’s army, after focusing on northern Gaza in recent weeks, has struck more targets in the territory’s south and issued warnings to Palestinians trapped there to seek what it said would be safe zones. Hamas and Islamic Jihad announced “rocket barrages” against multiple Israeli cities and towns including Tel Aviv, and Israel said two of its soldiers had died in combat, the first since the truce ended.

In a summary of activity issued on Sunday, the military said a drone strike had “eliminated” five Hamas militants.

Fighter jets and helicopters had also struck “tunnel shafts, command centres and weapons storage facilities” while naval forces hit Hamas vessels and weapons, it said.

At least seven people were killed in an Israeli bombing early Sunday near Gaza’s southern border with Egypt, the Hamas government said. Israel’s ally the United States, which provides it with billions of dollars in military aid annually, has intensified calls for the protection of Gaza’s civilians.

“Too many innocent Palestinians have been killed,” Vice President Kamala Harris told reporters at UN climate talks in Dubai. In a new estimate, OCHA said around 1.8 million people in Gaza, roughly 75 percent of the population, had been displaced, many to overcrowded and unsanitary shelters.

Nasser hospital in the southern Gaza city of Khan Yunis overflowed with both the wounded and the dead. Jumana Murad said her son Mohammad, 19, was killed as he tried to help women and children out of a tent inside a school. 

- Nampa/AFP

2023-12-04  Correspondent

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