GAZA CITY: Israel continued its relentless airstrikes in the northern Gaza Strip, targeting areas of Jabalia on Sunday, as reported by residents and Palestinian media. The Israeli military claimed almost complete operational control over northern Gaza and hinted at plans to expand its ground offensive. Residents of Jabalia reported continued aerial bombardment and shelling from Israeli tanks, which reportedly advanced further into the town.
The Gaza health ministry reported a grim escalation in casualties, with 166 Palestinians killed in the past 24 hours, bringing the total Palestinian death toll to 20,424, mostly women and children. Many more have been injured, with concerns about bodies trapped under rubble, leading to a displacement of almost all of Gaza’s 2.3 million people.
Meanwhile, the Israeli military stated that nine soldiers were killed in the past day, marking 155 combat losses since the initiation of military operations on October 7.
The conflict has triggered international concern, with the White House confirming discussions between US President Joe Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Biden emphasized the critical need to protect civilians and discussed the importance of allowing safe movement away from conflict areas.
Efforts to mediate a ceasefire continue, with Egyptian and Qatari mediators engaging with both conflicting parties. The Palestinian Islamic Jihad group sent a delegation to Cairo for talks on ending the Israeli aggression. Meanwhile, reports suggest that the United States dissuaded Israel from expanding its military campaign, particularly against the Hezbollah group in Lebanon.
Netanyahu, speaking at a weekly cabinet meeting, dismissed reports of external influence on Israel’s operational considerations. The UN Security Council, after contentious discussions, issued a statement urging steps for humanitarian access to Gaza but avoided calling for an immediate end to the war.
Israel’s Military Operations Turn Gaza into Ruins
Gaza, with vast areas in ruins, has been grappling with dire shortages of water, food, fuel, and medicine due to the Israeli siege, which only marginally eased by the limited arrival of aid trucks. The United Nations reports that 80% of Gazans have been displaced, seeking shelter in makeshift tents, with many forced to the south of Gaza as ground fighting intensifies.
The head of the UN refugee agency, Filippo Grandi, has called for an end to the suffering, urging a humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza as the only way forward to deliver aid, release hostages, prevent further displacement, and halt the loss of lives.
Amid the ongoing Israeli brutalities, Christmas celebrations in the occupied West Bank, traditionally a festive occasion, are subdued this year. Church leaders decided to forego “any unnecessarily festive” celebrations in solidarity with Gaza residents.
As the Israeli military campaign enters its third month, a displaced Gazan, Ahmad al-Burawi, living in Rafah, expressed a simple desire: “We just want to return to our lands, that is all. We want a solution… People are dying.”