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‘Operation Al-Aqsa Flood’ Day 61: US Believes Israel’s Gaza Invasion Could Last Until The End Of January

Above photo: Palestinians bury the dead bodies of Palestinian families in a mass grave on Dair El-Balah Central of Gaza Strip on December 6, 2023. Omar Ashtawy/APA Images.

Israeli forces approach Khan Younis as the destruction of north Gaza continues.

Despite Israeli hopes of neutralizing Palestinian rocket capability in the early days of the war, resistance fighters are still launching rockets on Tel Aviv.

Casualties

  • 15,899+ killed*, including 6,150 children, and 42,000 wounded in the Gaza Strip.
  • 262 Palestinians killed in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem
  • Israel revises its estimated October 7 death toll down from 1,400 to 1,147.

*This figure was confirmed by the Gaza Ministry of Health on December 5. However, due to breakdowns in communication networks within the Gaza Strip (particularly in northern Gaza), the Gaza Ministry of Health has been unable to regularly and accurately update its tolls since mid-November. Some rights groups put the death toll number closer to or above 20,000.

Key Developments

  • Israeli bombed Jabalia’s center and Block 2 residential neighborhood with a barrage of white phosphorous and smoke shells.
  • Israeli forces block the burial of 100 bodies inside Kamal Adwan hospital in Beit Lahia as they shoot at people in the area, according to the Ministry of Health’s director general.
  • A number of medical staff in Gaza were arrested when they tried to flee to the south from Gaza, Kan news reported.
  • The PA’s Minister of Health said that only four hospitals in north Gaza are partially operating and are in dire condition under Israeli fire and bombardment, with no ability to perform surgeries.
  • Some 117,000 cases of acute respiratory infection were recorded by the Ministry of Health; 50,000 cases of skin disease, 86,000 cases of diarrhoea and severe dehydration in children under the age of five.
  • U.S. officials told CNN that it would take until the end of January before Israeli forces transition to “lower-intensity, hyper-localized strategy” to target Hamas in southern Gaza.
  • Qatar’s Emir: “It is a disgrace on the international community to allow this heinous crime to continue for more than two months.”
  • A UN official confirmed that there is no single safe place in the Gaza Strip from Israeli bombardment, including facilities carrying the UN flag.
  • Two Palestinians were killed, and a third succumbed to his wounds in the past 24 hours in the occupied West Bank.
  • A Palestinian was shot from a close range by Israeli soldiers, an incident filmed by Palestinians in the town of Khirbet Qalqas, south of Hebron.

Khan Younis Is Under Israeli Siege As Warplanes Bomb North Gaza Neighborhoods

Israeli forces went through their “most intense day” of battle as they approached the Gaza Strip’s second-largest city of Khan Younis on Tuesday afternoon. The occupation forces had been attempting to control the Khan Younis governorate since Friday and reach the seaside street of Al-Rashid. Khan Younis is split into a zone east of Salah El-Din Street, where the towns of Al-Qarara, Abasan, Khuza’a, and Bani Suheila are located, and to the west lays the city of Khan Younis, Nasser Hospital, and the town of Al-Mawasi.

Israeli forces have bombed most of these locations in the past 24 hours to pave the way for tanks to drive and cut Salah El-Din Street, a tactic it employed in southern Gaza at the start of the ground incursion in late October.

Overnight, Israeli forces heavily bombed the Jabalia refugee camp north of Gaza City, killing and injuring hundreds of people. Wafa news agency reported that a residential neighborhood, known as Block 2 in the center of Jabalia, was bombed with a barrage of white phosphorous and smoke shells.

Jabalia’s Falasteen School, where hundreds of people are taking shelter, was targeted by air strikes. Israeli forces also pummelled Gaza City and its environs, including Al-Nafaq Street, and Gaza City’s Al-Yarmouk and Al-Sahaba neighborhoods, killing at least ten people.

In central Gaza’s Nuseirat refugee camp, at least six people were killed and dozens injured in an Israeli air strike on two houses, and three were killed when a house in Khan Younis refugee camp was bombed.

Munir Al-Bursh, the Ministry of Health’s director general, told Al-Jazeera on Wednesday morning that 100 bodies are still inside Kamal Adwan Hospital in Beit Lahia, and that Israeli forces that surround the complex are not allowing medical staff to bury the dead as they are shooting at people endeavoring to move in the area.

Bursh added that all of northern Gaza had run out of medical services on Wednesday morning.

Israel’s Kan news reported that a number of medical staff in Gaza were arrested when they tried to flee to the south from Gaza on Wednesday.

Mai Keileh, the Palestinian Authority’s (PA) Minister of Health, said on Tuesday evening that nearly 15,800 people in the Gaza Strip have been killed since Israel’s bombardment campaign started on October 7, and that over 1,240 people have been killed since December 1 alone — when the “temporary humanitarian truce” ended.

Wafa news agency estimated the figure at 16,250 people killed in the Gaza Strip and occupied West Bank as thousands of people are reportedly missing or under the rubble, and Israeli forces are upping military raids on Palestinian towns.

Keileh said that 70 percent of the 40,000 injured people are women and children. She said that 20 hospitals are currently out of service in the Gaza Strip, and the operating medical facilities had seen a sharp rise in bed occupancy, which reached 210 percent amid the shortage of medical staff, medical supplies, and fuel.

Only four hospitals in northern Gaza are partially operating in dire conditions under Israeli fire and bombardment and have no ability to perform surgeries.

Keileh said that 250 health workers were killed and at least 30 were arrested, while dozens of healthcare centers ceased to operate completely.

“Kamal Adwan Hospital is under a strict siege by the Israeli occupation army, who fire intensely at the hospital and patients,” Keileh said.

“There is no safe passage for [the patients] to exit, and this is a warning of a new massacre against them,” she added.

Currently, 80 percent of the population in the Gaza Strip is internally displaced. Some 117,000 cases of acute respiratory infection were recorded by the Ministry of Health; 50,000 cases of skin disease, 86,000 cases of diarrhoea and severe dehydration in children under the age of five, and 1,000 cases of Hepatitis A short-lived liver infection.

Israel’s Military Invasion Of Southern Gaza Could Last Until The End Of January

U.S. officials believe that Israel’s bombardment and ground invasion in the southern Gaza Strip could continue until the end of January.

U.S. officials told CNN that it would take several weeks before Israeli forces transition to a “lower-intensity, hyper-localized strategy” to target Hamas resistance fighters in southern Gaza.

CNN also reported that Israel’s initial plan for the northern Gaza Strip was to “level” it entirely in a large-scale land, sea, and air incursion. However, U.S. officials’ warnings altered their plan.

On day 61 of the war, fighting is continuing in northern Gaza despite Israel’s repeated announcements that it has controlled parts of it, including Beit Hanoun and Jabalia.

Qatar, which brokered the one-week temporary pause along with Egypt between Israel and Hamas, said that it was pushing for another truce and a permanent ceasefire.

Qatar’s Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani said, “it is a disgrace on the international community to allow this heinous crime to continue for more than two months, where the systematic and purposeful killing of innocent civilians continue, including women and children.”

“We will continue to make effort with other regional and global players to have a permanent ceasefire established and all the aggression against the Palestinian people come to a halt,” he added during a summit for the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) in Doha.

A UN official confirmed that there is no single safe place in the Gaza Strip from Israeli bombardment, including facilities carrying the UN flag, despite a U.S. State Department spokesman urging Palestinians to “go to the UN-designated sites that are on Israeli lists as deconfliction zones.”

However, the UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said on Tuesday: “Let’s be clear. There are no UN-designated safe zones in Gaza. All my senior colleagues have been very clear, including the Secretary-General [Antonio Guterres] saying there are no safe places in Gaza.”

Dujarric added that UN facilities, which include UNRWA schools, where “thousands and thousands and thousands of people, men, women and children who are trying to stay alive and get some food or get some water… those places that fly the UN flag are not safe either.”

Hamas Video Shows Fighters Monitoring Israeli Soldiers

Palestinian resistance factions released on Tuesday footage of Palestinian resistance fighters allegedly targeting Israeli occupation forces in the Gaza Strip.

Hamas’ armed Izz El-Din Al-Qassam Brigades released a video monitoring Israeli soldiers from a tunnel using a periscope camera. Israeli soldiers were stationed in tents in Juhr Al-Dik, and early on December 4, Hamas said that it “blew up” 60 soldiers by planting three anti-personnel bombs around them in central Gaza.

It is unclear what happened to the soldiers after the video was filmed, and Hamas did not issue a further statement. Hamas also fired a barrage of rockets on Tel Aviv on the 60th day of fighting. Israeli leaders hoped that they could at least neutralize Hamas’s rocket capabilities in the first days of the war.

On Tuesday, the Qassam Brigades said that it destroyed, completely or partially, 24 military vehicles and fired 114 mm short-range Rajum rockets at Israeli forces stationed in Khan Younis.

On Wednesday morning, Hamas said it fired Rajum rockets on the Kissufim settlement to the west of the Khan Younis governorate.

The Islamic Jihad’s Al-Quds Brigades released a video compilation on Tuesday afternoon of fighters confronting Israeli tanks and military vehicles east of Khan Younis in the past days. The Al-Quds Brigades also said that it fired mortar shells on Israeli forces near the Sheikh Nasser area, east of Khan Younis, and attacked an infantry unit near Al-Dhilal mosque, also in Khan Younis.

On Wednesday, Israel announced that 408 soldiers have been killed since October 7.

Local media also reported that Israel intercepted a surface-to-surface missile over the Red Sea, near the city of Eilat.

Daniel Hagari, the military spokesperson, said: “The target did not cross into Israeli territory, and did not pose a threat to civilians. The warning was activated according to policy.”

Three Palestinians Killed In West Bank, Dozens Arrested

Two Palestinians were killed, and a third succumbed to his wounds in the past 24 hours in the occupied West Bank.

Two weeks ago, Ahmad Nazmi Ghanem, 30, was severely injured by shrapnel when Israeli forces fired a drone missile during a raid of Tulkarm and succumbed to his wounds on Wednesday.

Since October 7, Israeli forces have killed 44 Palestinians in Tulkarem, including 19 from Tulkarem camp, Wafa reported. In total, 262 Palestinians were killed in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

On Wednesday, Moaz Ibrahim Zahran, 23, from Al-Faraa refugee camp, and Abdul Rahman Imad Khaled Bani Odeh, 16, from the town of Tammoun, were killed by Israeli forces, who also arrested almost 40 people overnight, Wafa reported.

In Jenin, Israeli forces launched a raid that lasted for almost eight hours on Tuesday afternoon, arresting 20 people and damaging the city roads and infrastructure.

A Palestinian was shot from close range by Israeli soldiers in the town of Khirbet Qalqas, south of Hebron. Wafa identified the Palestinian as Tariq Al-Ghazawi, 34, a man with special needs, who was shot by a soldier at point-blank range, injuring him in the thigh. A video documents the shooting, which was witnessed by several bystanders.

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