- Recent Developments:
- Palestinian Authority’s Abbas accuses Washington of complicity in Israeli war crimes over UN veto
- Israel says the militants launched the attack from schools in northern Gaza
- Deir al-Balah Hospital was damaged in the strike, which demolished the mosque next door
GAZA/CAIRO, Dec 9 (Reuters) – Israel struck the Gaza Strip from north to south on Saturday, in an escalating phase of its two-month war against Hamas. From the universal demand for a cease-fire.
Thirteen of the Security Council’s 15 members voted for a resolution calling for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire that was blocked by Washington. Britain did not vote.
Since a cease-fire collapsed last week, Israel has expanded its ground campaign into the southern Gaza Strip. At the same time, it has been reported that fighting between the two sides has increased in the north.
Residents of Khan Yunis said on Saturday that Israeli forces were ordering people to evacuate from another district west of where the Israelis attacked earlier this week, suggesting that a further attack could be imminent.
Most of Gaza’s 2.3 million residents have already been forced from their homes, many having fled multiple times. As fighting erupted across the territory, residents and the UN The agencies say there is nowhere to go safely, though Israel denies this.
Israel has blocked the escape along the main north-south route along the spine of the narrow region, driving them toward the Mediterranean coast.
In Khan Yunis, the dead and wounded kept arriving at Nasser Hospital throughout the night. A doctor ran out of the ambulance with the limp body of a little girl in a pink track suit. Inside, injured children rolled on the tiled floor and cried as nurses ran to comfort them. Outside, bodies were lined up in white blankets.
A house in the city caught fire overnight.
Zainab Khalil, 57, who moved with 30 of her relatives and friends to Khan Yunis, west of Israeli positions, said troops ordered people in nearby Jalal Street to leave, “so it’s time for them to move against our area as well. We’ve been hearing shelling all night.”
“We don’t sleep at night, we are awake, we put the children to sleep, we are awake for fear of bombing the place, we have to carry the children out and run. Another tragedy begins during the day, and that is: how to feed the children?”
Nasser and another southern hospital, Al Aqsa in Deir al-Balla, reported 133 dead and 259 wounded among them in the past 24 hours, already raising the official toll to nearly 17,500, with many thousands more missing and presumed dead.
Footage obtained by Reuters from inside Jaffa Hospital, another hospital in Deir al-Balah, showed extensive damage from the strike at a nearby mosque. The destroyed ruins of the mosque were visible through the windows.
There were no new figures on the dead and wounded from other parts of Gaza on Saturday, including the entire northern region, where hospitals have stopped functioning and ambulances are often unable to reach the dead.
“We believe that the number of martyrs under the rubble may be higher than those received in hospitals,” Health Ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Qitra told Reuters.
Fighting in the north is most intense in parts of Gaza City and settlements on its northern edge, where large explosions can be seen across Israel’s fence.
Northern Gaza families posted messages online, pleading with emergency teams to rescue loved ones still trapped inside Gaza City.
“We appeal to the Red Cross and Civil Emergency to go to the Attalla house immediately. People are trapped inside their house near Zaharna building on Jala Street in Gaza City. The house is on fire,” Attalla family members wrote.
The Israeli military said it fought militants who attacked troops from schools in the Beit Hanoun and Shejaya districts on the northern edge of Gaza City. It released footage it said a lieutenant colonel used to store weapons inside a primary school classroom.
A US veto makes Washington complicit
Israel began its campaign to destroy the Hamas rulers of Gaza. Militants from the Iran-backed Islamist group stormed the Gaza border fence on October 7, killing 1,200 people and taking 240 hostages on a rampage in Israeli towns.
Israeli forces say they are limiting civilian casualties by providing maps showing safe areas, and accuse Hamas of hiding in their midst and harming civilians, a charge the militants deny. The Palestinians say the campaign has turned into a scorched-earth war of vengeance against an entire population as densely populated as London.
Washington says it has asked Israel to do more to protect civilians in the next phase of the war. This week, Foreign Secretary Anthony Blinken said there was a “gap” between Israel’s promises to protect civilians and the results on the ground. But Washington continues to support Israel’s position that a ceasefire would benefit Hamas.
“We do not support this resolution’s call for an unsustainable ceasefire, which will only sow the seeds for the next war,” Robert Wood, deputy US ambassador to the UN, told the Security Council before Washington’s veto was invoked.
Ezzat El-Reshiq, a member of Hamas’s political bureau, condemned the US veto as “inhumane”. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who lost control of Gaza to Hamas in 2007, said the veto made the US complicit in Israeli war crimes.
Israel’s UN ambassador Gilad Erdan said in a statement: “A ceasefire is only possible if all hostages are returned and Hamas is destroyed.”
Bassam Massoud and Salem Mohammed in Gaza, Nidal al-Mughrabi and Dan Williams in Cairo, Emily Rose and Henriette Sacker in Jerusalem, Humera Pamuk and Simon Lewis in Washington, Michael Nichols in New York and Reuters Bureau of Photography Editing by William Maclean
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