Israel Vows to Continue Gaza Offensive as Palestinians Death Toll Surpasses 18,608

Wed Dec 13 2023
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GAZA CITY: The Gaza health ministry reported on Wednesday that the death toll from the Israeli bombardments in the Palestinian territory has surged to at least 18,608, mostly women and children. The health ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Qudra added that 50,594 people have been wounded in the ongoing Israeli violence, highlighting the devastating impact on the civilian population.

Amid the escalating crisis, the head of the UN Palestinian refugee agency UNRWA, Philippe Lazzarini, expressed grave concern, stating that the agency’s ability to provide services in Gaza is on the verge of collapse. More than 130 UNRWA staff have been killed in Israeli attacks in the besieged Palestinian enclave, adding further strain to the humanitarian response. Reports indicate that no medical services are available in northern Gaza, with the Al-Ahli Arab Hospital at full capacity and unable to provide medical assistance.

Israel’s Foreign Minister Eli Cohen declared that agreeing to a ceasefire in Gaza at this stage would be a mistake, asserting that Israel will continue its bombardments, regardless of international support. Cohen argued that a ceasefire would be a “gift to Hamas” and could allow it to regroup and threaten Israel.

Meanwhile, EU chief Ursula von der Leyen backed the imposition of sanctions on “extremist” Israeli settlers responsible for attacks on innocent Palestinians in the occupied West Bank. Von der Leyen emphasized that the rise in violence by these Israeli settlers undermines the prospects for lasting peace and could exacerbate regional instability.

The United Nations humanitarian office warned that Gaza is on the brink of a “public health disaster” due to the collapse of its health system. Lynn Hastings, the UN Humanitarian Coordinator for the Occupied Palestinian Territory, described the situation as a “textbook formula for epidemics and a public health disaster.”

Russia Calls for UN Conference to Resolve Israel-Palestinian Conflict

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov urged UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Wednesday to organize an international conference aimed at finding a lasting and just solution to the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.

Moscow, advocating for the creation of a Palestinian state, emphasized the need for a comprehensive dialogue involving all five permanent members of the UN Security Council.

Lavrov proposed that the conference should include representatives from the Arab League, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), emphasizing the crucial role the UN should play in convening such a forum.

“The only way for this problem to be solved forever, and to be solved in a just way, is to hold an international conference with all five permanent members of the UN Security Council,” Lavrov stated during discussions with Russian senators.

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