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Israeli attacks in Gaza add to heavy Palestinian toll in war on Hamas


Israeli attacks in Gaza add to heavy Palestinian toll in war on Hamas © Reuters. Smoke rises over Gaza following an Israeli airstrike, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, as seen from southern Israel, December 27, 2023. REUTERS/Amir Cohen


By Nidal al-Mughrabi, Bassam Masoud and James Mackenzie

CAIRO/GAZA/JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Israeli forces pounded central Gaza by land, sea and air and Palestinian authorities reported dozens more deaths, with the U.N. health agency saying thousands of people were trying to flee the fighting.

Israel remains resolved to wipe out the Palestinian militant group Hamas in response to the militant group’s Oct. 7 attack on Israel, despite international calls for a ceasefire and easing of a worsening humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip.

Israeli planes carried out three strikes in Al Nuseirat in central Gaza, killing seven people and wounding several others, medics said late on Wednesday.

The U.N. World Health Organization said its staff had seen tens of thousands of people fleeing heavy strikes in Khan Younis and the Middle Area on foot, on donkeys or in cars. Makeshift shelters were being built along the road, it said on Wednesday.

On the diplomatic front, where international pressure on Israel has grown, French President Emmanuel Macron told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a call of the need to work towards a durable ceasefire with the help of regional and international partners, the French Presidency said.

A Gaza health ministry statement said an Israeli airstrike killed 20 Palestinians on Wednesday near Al-Amal Hospital in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip. There was no immediate comment from the Israeli military.

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

Residents in the central Gaza Strip said with nightfall, Israeli tank shelling intensified east of Al-Bureij and Al-Maghazi where tanks have been trying to force their way through.


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

The war erupted after Hamas killed 1,200 people and captured 240 hostages in a cross-border rampage on Oct. 7, the deadliest day in Israel’s history. The Netanyahu government’s response has laid much of Hamas-ruled Gaza to waste.

The Gaza health ministry said the recorded toll in the enclave was 21,110 killed and 55,243 wounded in Israeli attacks.

Nearly all of Gaza’s 2.3 million people have been driven from their homes.


Many Western and Middle Eastern governments have expressed concerns about the conflict broadening, including on Israel’s northern border with Lebanon. On Wednesday, Hezbollah fired more rockets and weaponised drones than it has in any previous day, security sources said.

The Israeli military said its warplanes had targeted Hezbollah military sites and other places in Lebanon, and cabinet minister Benny Gantz said the situation must change.

“If the world and the Lebanese government don’t act in order to prevent the firing on Israel’s northern residents, and to distance Hezbollah from the border, the IDF will do it,” he told a press conference, referring to the Israel Defence Forces.

In Washington, U.S. President Joe Biden said that U.S. military strikes in Iraq on Monday aimed to deter Iran and Iran-backed militia groups from attacks on American personnel and bases. A drone attack by Iran-aligned militants earlier on Monday had wounded three Americans.

An increasing number of confrontations have taken place between Israeli forces and Palestinians in the occupied West Bank since the war began, and on Wednesday six Palestinians were killed by a drone strike during an Israeli raid in Tulkarm, the Palestinian health ministry said.

The Israeli military said its forces came under attack from militants there who threw explosive devices at them during a counter-terrorism operation. The attackers were struck by an Israeli air force aircraft, it said.

The confrontation took place in the Nour Shams refugee camp in Tulkarm, a flashpoint city on one of the main crossing points into the West Bank.

Witnesses said the six men killed were sitting together in the early hours of the morning but were not involved in clashes with Israeli forces.

“We heard the sound, and the screaming, our house is nearby so we came out to see,” said Izzaldin Assaili, a resident who lives nearby.

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