GAZA CITY: The relentless Israeli bombardment of Gaza continued on Monday, exacerbating the already dire conditions for Palestinian civilians in the besieged enclave. The death toll from Israeli attacks in Gaza has now surpassed 20,424, mostly women and children, since the conflict started on October 7, with no apparent end in sight to the violence.
Christmas festivities in Bethlehem, the revered birthplace of Jesus Christ in the occupied West Bank, were significantly impacted by the conflict. The usually vibrant streets saw only a handful of worshippers and tourists amid the ongoing Israeli violence.
Israel has declared its commitment to crush Hamas and has launched a military campaign in Gaza involving extensive aerial bombardment. The Gaza health ministry reported that an Israeli airstrike killed at least 70 people on Christmas Eve at the Al-Maghazi refugee camp. The Israeli army stated it is “reviewing the incident” and taking steps to minimize harm to civilians.”
Tragically, ten members of a single family were killed in an Israeli strike on their house in the Jabalia camp in northern Gaza, according to the health ministry. In a separate attack, the ministry reported 18 people were killed in an overnight strike on Khan Younis.
Israel Continues Relentless Attacks on Gaza
There was no respite on Christmas Day, as the Israeli army continued ground, air, and sea operations, striking several localities. An Israeli strike in the central Al-Zuwaida area of Gaza killed at least 12 Palestinian people, mostly women and children, according to the health ministry.
In southern Gaza, heavy bombings through the night in Rafah and Khan Younis exacerbated the already dire situation. Gazans in Rafah waited for food distribution, expressing desperation and a sense of “real hunger.”
Vast areas of Gaza lie in ruins, and its 2.4 million people face critical shortages of water, food, fuel, and medicine. Approximately 80% of Gazans have been displaced, seeking refuge in makeshift tents to shield against the winter cold amid Israeli bombardments.
International calls for a ceasefire have intensified, with the head of the UN refugee agency, Filippo Grandi, urging a humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza. World Health Organization (WHO) chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus also renewed calls for a ceasefire, labeling the decimation of the Gaza health system as a tragedy.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stated that the war was exacting a “very heavy price,” acknowledging the mounting death toll among soldiers.