Desperate Gazans Seek End to War as Israel Presses Offensive

Sat Dec 30 2023
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GAZA STRIP (Palestinian Territories): After nearly three months of deadly strikes, continuous displacements and sputtering humanitarian aid, now exhausted Gazans say they are desperate for an end to the fighting as Israel’s war against Hamas looks set to grind on into the year 2024.

The Israeli army continued with its campaign across the length of the Gaza Strip Friday in the face of mounting international pushback, with UN chief Antonio Guterres reiterating his call for “an immediate humanitarian ceasefire”, and South Africa initiating a case in international court accusing Israel of ‘genocidal acts’ in Gaza.

The WHO, meanwhile, warned of the growing threat of infectious diseases as fighting displaces more and more Gazans, forcing them ever further south towards the already-overcrowded city of Rafah.

According to the UN, more than 85 percent of Gaza’s 2.4 million people have fled their homes, with many now going hungry and braving the winter rains in makeshift tents. Israeli siege imposed after October 7, following years of crippling blockade, has led to severe shortages of food, safe water, medicine and fuel, with aid convoys offering only irregular relief.

The UN agency for Palestinian refugees Friday said that one such convoy had come under fire from Israeli forces the day before, without causing any casualties.

Negotiations

Hamas’s October 7 attacks on Israel triggered the war in Gaza. Israel’s relentless military campaign since then has killed over 22,000 people, mostly women and children, according to the health ministry in Hamas-ruled Gaza. On the other hand, Israel’s army admits 168 soldiers have been killed inside the territory.

ALSO READ: Hamas Official Say no Captives to be Freed Without Truce in Gaza

On Friday, a Hamas delegation was in Cairo to discuss an Egyptian plan proposing renewable ceasefires, a staggered release of hostages for Palestinian prisoners, and ultimately an end to the war, according to the sources close to Hamas.

A Hamas official said the delegation would give “observations” on the proposal and seek “guarantees for a complete Israeli military withdrawal” from Gaza. Israel has yet to formally comment on the Cairo plan.

‘Genocide’ claim

South Africa filed an application on Friday at the International Court of Justice accusing Israel of ‘genocidal acts’ in Gaza. It seeks proceedings against Israel for what it said were “genocidal acts against the Palestinian people in Gaza”.

In its filing, the country asked the court to “protect against further, severe and irreparable harm to the rights of the Palestinian people”.

Responding on the social media platform X, Israeli foreign ministry spokesman Lior Haiat wrote that “Israel rejects with disgust the blood libel spread by South Africa and its application”.

South Africa has strongly condemned Israel’s response to the Hamas attacks and has recalled all its diplomats from Israel, with Israel in turn recalling its ambassador in Pretoria.

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