Amid Discussions Of Truce Extension.
As leaders discuss extending the temporary truce, Israeli forces kill two children, including an 8-year-old boy, in the occupied West Bank. Meanwhile, Gaza is still facing a grave humanitarian crisis, with children on the frontline.
- 15,000+ killed*, including 6,150 children, and 33,000 wounded in the Gaza Strip.
- 240 Palestinians killed in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem
- Israel revises its estimated October 7 death toll down from 1,400 to 1,200
*This figure has been confirmed by the government media office in Gaza. However, due to breakdowns in communication networks within the Gaza Strip (particularly in northern Gaza), the Gaza Ministry of Health has not been able to regularly update its tolls. Some rights groups put the death toll number closer to 20,000.
- 8-year-old Adam Samer Al-Ghoul and 15-year-old Basil Suleiman Abu Al-Wafa were shot dead by Israeli forces during a large-scale raid in Jenin, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health in the West Bank.
- Israel is looking into another extension on the truce, which was expected to end on Wednesday, reported the Israeli Broadcasting Corporation.
- A source close to Hamas said the group is willing to extend the truce by an additional four days, reported AFP news agency.
- OCHA: The amount of aid entering Gaza is still “insufficient to meet the extensive needs.”
- Israel’s former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak is calling for the removal of Netanyahu, calling him “unfit to lead” as he “can’t manage” the complexity of the current situation in the country, and he “must go before the consequences of his flaws become irreversible.”
- Israel is still denying Palestinians from returning to their homes in the north of Gaza or from visiting the sea in certain parts of the Strip.
- Following the release of 12 captives, including 10 Israelis from Gaza, thirty Palestinian prisoners were freed and returned to their homes in occupied East Jerusalem and the occupied West Bank on Tuesday as part of the fifth prisoner swap.
- On Tuesday, the US said they airlifted 54,000 pounds of humanitarian aid for Palestinians in Gaza.
- Following Elon Musk’s visit to Israel on Monday, Hamas spokesperson Osama Hamdan invited him to Gaza so he could “see the scale of the massacres.”
- Every day in Gaza, where 55% of the besieged enclave’s exports are agricultural products, they lose $1.6m in farm production as a result of Israeli bombardment, says the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics.
- Jordan cancels Christmas festivities in solidarity with Palestinians in Gaza, says the Jordan Council of Church Leaders. The Palestinian city of Bethlehem and the birthplace of Jesus Christ has also announced its plans to cancel Christmas celebrations in the city.
Israel Mulls Over Potential Extension Of Truce
While many of the people in Gaza are spending Wednesday, the last day of the temporary truce, trying to collect basic necessities like food and cooking oil in preparation for the Israeli bombardment to resume, political leaders are discussing yet another extension.
Under the four-day truce deal, which began on Friday and has already been extended by two more days, Hamas has released 60 of about 240 captives from the Gaza Strip, and Israel has released 180 Palestinian political prisoners, all women and children.
Another round of hostage exchanges is expected to take place on Wednesday evening.
Ghazi Hamad, a member of Hamas’s political bureau, says the group has been working “very hard” with the mediating countries to “reach a compromise” and “extend the ceasefire.”
Hamas’s leadership was ready to enter deep negotiations about “a comprehensive deal” that would see the release of all the Palestinian prisoners for all the captives in Gaza, Hamad told Al Jazeera.
On Wednesday, US lawmaker Rashida Tlaib similarly called for the release of all Palestinian political prisoners and captives held inside Gaza.
“Every innocent civilian should be released and reunited with their family, no matter their faith or ethnicity,” she said, “Failure to do so demonstrates their refusal to view Palestinians as equal human beings who deserve the same rights, freedom and human dignity.”
Within Israel, families of Israeli hostages have been for weeks protesting for their government to do more to secure the release of their relatives in Gaza, including a permanent ceasefire and an “all for all exchange”, which would see the release of all Palestinian prisoners from Israeli jails, who now number over 8,000, in exchange for the release of all Israeli captives, both soldiers and civilians.
However, far-right Israeli National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir has called on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to allow Israeli forces to resume fighting in Gaza to “crush Hamas” in a post on x.
‘Everywhere You Look, There Is A Child In Need’
The humanitarian crisis in Gaza continues to worsen as people die from a lack of medical care, risks of infection skyrocket, and nearly 80% of the population has been left homeless.
Despite the increase of supplies entering Gaza since the ‘humanitarian pause’ began, the volume of incoming commodities is insufficient to meet the extensive needs, says the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).
Aid groups are calling for the immediate re-opening of more crossing points, including for the entry of commercial goods.
“Everywhere you turn is a child incredibly in need,” UNICEF spokesperson James Elder told Al Jazeera while standing outside the Nasser Medical Complex in Khan Younis in southern Gaza.
“Multiple children with amputations, little boys and little girls who six, seven weeks ago were playing football with their friends.”
Elder praised the “incredible, brave, tireless health workers who are working around the clock” to tend “to every child they can.”
However, “doctors are having to make decisions they shouldn’t have to make,” he said.
“It will only be enough if these nail-biting pauses are extended into a ceasefire, into a lasting peace. We cannot possibly think that the destruction of Gaza and the killing of children is going to create peace in the region. That’s utterly nonsensical,” Elder concluded.
In a video shared by Doctors Without Borders (MSF), plastic and reconstructive surgeon Hafez Abukhussa, based in Khan Younis, says he has been working “non-stop” since October 7.
“Can you imagine receiving 100 to 200 patients a day, sometimes 500 patients a day?” he asked, adding that most of his patients are women and children.
Despite the pressure and shortage of supplies at the hospital in Khan Yunis, Abukhussa said: “We know we are in danger at any time, but we will keep doing the same.”
“We are calling for the increase of fuel supplies to the strip,” EU Commissioner Janez Lenarcic told journalists in Brussels. “The humanitarian access should be based on the needs and not on some restrictions.”
“The ceasefire must be extended indefinitely,” Lenarcic said.
Calls For Ceasefire Swell
In light of the deteriorating circumstances in Gaza and continued disapproval from the American public about the role the US is playing in Israel’s war on Gaza, the US government narrative is ever so slightly shifting.
Many social media users speculated that US President Joe Biden had indirectly called for an end to the war in a carefully crafted social media post on X on Wednesday.
“Hamas unleashed a terrorist attack because they fear nothing more than Israelis and Palestinians living side by side in peace. To continue down the path of terror, violence, killing, and war is to give Hamas what they seek,” said Biden.
“We can’t do that,” continued Biden, who has previously refused to call for a lasting ceasefire in the Gaza Strip.
On Tuesday, US Senator Peter Welch was the second senator to call for a ceasefire and an end to the war, adding to the mounting pressure on Biden to call for a permanent ceasefire.
“I fully support Israel’s right to pursue those who ordered and carried out the attacks of October 7. But Israel must not do so in a way that leads to massive civilian casualties and the large-scale destruction of civilian infrastructure in Gaza. This will only incite more enemies against Israel and the US,” Welch said in a statement calling for indefinite ceasefire.
Similarly, Sheikha Alya Ahmed Saif Al Thani, the Qatari ambassador said she hopes “that this humanitarian truce will lead to a sustained and durable ceasefire that will put a stop to the war machine and the bloodshed,” while addressing the UN General Assembly.
‘For The Israeli Government, The Priority Is Not Security’
Political analyst Mohammed Cherkaoui told Al Jazeera the Netanyahu government has not been able to achieve any of its military objectives but is still looking for a “zero-sum victory” against Hamas.
“This is the debate in Israel now. After two months, nothing has materialized except massive Palestinian deaths. But there is zero gain in terms of a victory for Israel,” Cherkaoui, a professor of conflict resolution and diplomacy at George Mason University, continued.
Similarly, Hamas spokesperson Osama Hamdan stated that Israel has “failed miserably” both militarily and politically in Gaza and that none of the state’s objectives have been reached, reported Al Jazeera.
He also claimed that the number of Israeli soldiers killed and wounded during the ground invasion was higher than the Israeli military claims. When the fighting resumes, “enemy’s losses” will increase in the coming days, warned Hamdan.
Addressing the UN General Assembly on Tuesday, Palestinian ambassador Riyad Mansour called on the UN to reaffirm its “permanent responsibility towards the question of Palestine” and for the end of the “grave and historic injustice [Palestinians] have borne for over 75 years, since the start of the Nakba”.
“For the Israeli government, the priority is not security; it is the destruction of the Palestinian nation,” Mansour added.
Two Children Killed In Large-Scale Military Raid In Jenin
As the temporary truce between Hamas and Israel in Gaza continues, Israeli forces have continued their violent attacks on Palestinians in the occupied West Bank.
Overnight on Tuesday and well into Wednesday, Israeli forces conducted a “massive arrest campaign” on Jenin Refugee camp, forcing citizens in the Damj neighborhood from their homes amid violent confrontations, reported Wafa news agency.
So far, at least two children have been killed during the violent military incursion, 8-year-old Adam Samer Al-Ghoul and 15-year-old Basil Suleiman Abu Al-Wafa. CCTV footage released of the moment 8-year-old Adam was killed show the young boy turning and running away along with some other boys, when he is shot down with his back turned, before being dragged out of the street by another boy. Adam was reportedly shot in the head.
Christos Christou, the international president of Doctors Without Borders, was at Khalil Suleiman Hospital in Jenin when Israeli forces launched a large-scale raid on the city.
“It has already been two-and-a-half hours that we are trapped in our hospital here in Jenin,” Christou said in a video posted on x.
“There is no way for any of the injured patients to reach the hospital and there is no way for us to reach these people,” he added that Israeli military vehicles blocked the entrances to the hospital and have prevented ambulances from leaving.
“Two Palestinians died of wounds while ambulances could not reach them,” he said; it is unclear if he was referring to the two young boys reported killed by the Ministry of Health.
The Palestinian Red Crescent (PRCS) emergency services said that the Israeli army arrested an injured Palestinian from inside a PRCS ambulance at the entrance of Jenin Governmental Hospital.
A Message From Hisham Awartani
Hisham Awartani, one of the three Palestinian university students who were shot and injured in Vermont in an apparent hate crime, released a statement saying that the “hideous crime” did not happen in a vacuum, calling attention to the worsening situation in the West Bank.
“I am but one casualty in a much wider conflict,” he said in his statement, which was read at a vigil at Brown University, where he studies.
“Had I been shot in the West Bank, where I grew up, the medical services which saved my life here would have likely been withheld by the Israeli army. The soldier who would have shot me would go home and never be convicted,” said Awartani, who is still in hospital,
“Any attempt like this is horrific, be it here or in Palestine.”