© Reuters. A flare falls over Gaza, amid the continued battle between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, as seen from southern Israel, December 24, 2023. REUTERS/Violeta Santos Moura
By Nidal al-Mughrabi, Bassam Masoud and Dan Williams
CAIRO/GAZA/JERUSALEM (Reuters) -Israeli airstrikes killed at the very least 78 individuals in Gaza, Palestinian well being officers mentioned, in one of many besieged enclave’s deadliest nights of Israel’s 11-week-old battle with Hamas.
Strikes that started hours earlier than midnight persevered into Christmas Day on Monday. Residents and Palestinian media mentioned Israel stepped up air and floor shelling in opposition to al-Bureij in central Gaza.
Pope Francis lamented that Jesus’ message of peace was being drowned out by the “futile logic of battle” within the very land the place he was born.
No less than 70 individuals have been killed in an Israeli airstrike focusing on Maghazi in central Gaza, well being ministry spokesperson Ashraf Al-Qidra mentioned, including that many have been girls and youngsters.
The Israeli military mentioned it was reviewing the report of a Maghazi incident and was dedicated to minimising hurt to civilians. Hamas denies the Israeli cost that it operates in densely populated areas or makes use of civilians as human shields.
The Palestinian Pink Crescent revealed footage of wounded residents being transported to hospitals. It mentioned Israeli warplanes have been bombing essential roads, hindering the passage of ambulances and emergency automobiles.
Medics mentioned an Israeli airstrike in Khan Younis in southern Gaza killed eight Palestinians.
Clergy cancelled celebrations in Bethlehem, the Israeli-occupied Palestinian West Financial institution metropolis the place Christian custom says Jesus was born in a steady 2,000 years in the past.
“Tonight, our hearts are in Bethlehem, the place the Prince of Peace is as soon as extra rejected by the futile logic of battle, by the conflict of arms that even immediately prevents him from discovering room on the earth,” the pope mentioned, presiding at Christmas Eve Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome.
Palestinian Christians held a candle-lit Christmas vigil in Bethlehem with hymns and prayers for peace in Gaza, as an alternative of the same old celebrations.
There was no giant tree, the same old centrepiece of Bethlehem’s Christmas observances. Nativity collectible figurines in church buildings have been positioned amid rubble and barbed wire in solidarity with the individuals of Gaza.
Hamas and smaller militant ally Islamic Jihad, each sworn to Israel’s destruction, are believed to be holding greater than 100 hostages from amongst 240 they captured throughout their Oct. 7 rampage by way of Israeli cities, once they killed 1,200 individuals.
Since then, Israel has besieged the slim Gaza Strip and laid a lot of it to waste, with greater than 20,400 individuals confirmed killed, in keeping with authorities in Hamas-ruled Gaza, and hundreds extra believed useless below the rubble.
The overwhelming majority of the two.3 million Gazans have been pushed from their houses, and the United Nations says situations are catastrophic.
Since a week-long truce collapsed initially of the month, combating has solely intensified on the bottom, with battle spreading from the north of the Gaza Strip to the total size of the densely populated enclave.
The Israeli navy mentioned on Sunday that two of its troopers had died previously day, bringing to 158 the quantity killed since floor operations started on Oct. 20.
“This can be a tough morning, after a really tough day of combating in Gaza,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu informed his cupboard on Sunday. “The battle is exacting a really heavy value from us. Nevertheless, we have now no selection (however) to proceed to struggle.”
He mentioned in a video message that troops would struggle deeper into Gaza till “complete victory” over Hamas.
Israel has been below stress from its closest ally the US to shift operations to a lower-intensity section and scale back civilian deaths.
On Saturday, Israel’s navy chief of employees mentioned his forces had largely achieved operational management within the north of Gaza and would develop operations additional within the south.
However residents say combating has solely intensified in northern districts.
Diplomatic efforts, mediated by Egypt and Qatar, on a brand new truce to free the remaining hostages held by militants in Gaza have yielded little public progress, though Washington described the talks final week as “very critical.”
Islamic Jihad mentioned a delegation led by its exiled chief Ziad al-Nakhlala was in Cairo on Sunday. His arrival adopted talks attended by Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh in latest days.
The militant teams have mentioned they might not focus on any launch of hostages until Israel ends its battle in Gaza, whereas the Israelis say they’re prepared to debate solely a pause in combating.