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Israel continues bombing Gaza refugee camps, says war 'not close to conclusion'
Israel's war on Gaza has entered its 81st day with a no let-up in the airstrikes that have killed tens of thousands of Palestinians so far. Early this morning, Israeli aircraft launched a series of intense strikes targeting the Bureij, Maghazi, and Nusseirat camps in the eastern central area of the Gaza Strip.
The Israeli military's continued indiscriminate attacks killed and injured many people, with the majority being women and children.
On the ground, heavy fighting continued between Palestinian fighters and Israeli forces, which have made incursions into several areas of the Gaza Strip amid fierce resistance by Hamas and other armed groups.
International observers and humanitarian organizations continue to express concern over the escalating violence and its devastating impact on the civilian population. At least 20,674 people have been killed so far - most of them women and children, and 54,536 injured according to figures from the Palestinian health ministry.
Israeli sources say an anti-tank missile launched during the escalating fighting between Hezbollah and the Israeli army struck near a Greek Catholic Church in northern Israel.
Adviser and spokesperson for Holy Land churches, Wadie Abunassar, said that the missile did not directly hit the church, but impacted a nearby shed, resulting in injuries to an 87-year-old man.
Abunassar added that while the exact condition of the injured man is not clear, his injuries are not considered life-threatening.
The Israeli finance ministry said that the war on Gaza is expected to incur an extra cost of $14 billion for Israel over the next year, widening the country's budget deficit.
In a briefing to the Knesset, Israel's parliament, Itay Temkin, Deputy Budget Commissioner of the ministry, said that this escalated expense will nearly triple the nation's budget deficit, with the conflict anticipated to persist until at least February.
According to the ministry's breakdown, the projected additional expense, amounting to 50 billion shekels ($14 billion), comprises 30 billion shekels ($8.3 billion) allocated for security purposes and another 20 billion shekels ($5.6 billion) for civilian and miscellaneous costs.
Israeli army chief of staff, Herzi Halevi, said Israel plans to expand military operations into southern and central Gaza, and that the war is expected to continue for "many more months."
During a press conference in southern Israel, Halevi stated, "I just left the Gaza Strip, I met the troops in the north of the Strip. I was impressed by the way the forces are fighting, working, and achieving the goals we set for them. The IDF is close to completing the dismantling of the Hamas battalions in the northern Gaza Strip."
"We eliminated many terrorists and commanders, some of them surrendered to our forces and we took hundreds of prisoners. We destroyed many underground infrastructures and weapons," Halevi added.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan are scheduled to meet on Tuesday with Ron Dermer, Israel's Minister for Strategic Affairs.
The meeting will discuss the Gaza war and negotiations on the release of Israeli hostages currently held by Hamas, The White House said in a statement.
A UN humanitarian deployed to Gaza reported a lack of space for displaced Palestinians, describing the situation as a "human chessboard."
Most of the population, after being displaced multiple times, continue to face attacks even at sites Israel claims as safe.
"People were heading south with mattresses and all of their belongings in vans and in trucks and in cars in order to try and find somewhere safe," Gemma Conell reported.
"There’s so little space left here in Rafah that people just don’t know where they will go, and it really feels like people being moved around a human chessboard because there’s an evacuation order somewhere."
Listen to Gemma Connell from @UNOCHA in Gaza.— Humza Yousaf (@HumzaYousaf) December 26, 2023
We are witnessing an indiscriminate massacre happening in front of our very eyes.
I urge the ICC to investigate every potential breach of international law and hold those responsible to account.
These scenes should shame us all. pic.twitter.com/KhvK2ttY7n
An explosion has been reported close to the Israeli embassy in India. The New Delhi police are investigating this incident, according to the news channel NDTV.
Israel's foreign ministry has stated that the cause of the explosion is still unidentified.
There have been no reports of any injuries resulting from this incident.
#BREAKING India's New Delhi police are investigating a reported blast near the Israel embassy.— Clash Report (@clashreport) December 26, 2023
Israeli Foreign Ministry says an explosion occurred 100 meters away from the embassy.
No casualties reported. pic.twitter.com/C6GhitfAKM
The main telecom company in Gaza, Paltel, said on Tuesday that telephone and internet connections have been cut across the besieged and heavily bombardment enclave.
أهلنا الكرام في الوطن الحبيب،— Paltel (@Paltelco) December 26, 2023
نأسف للإعلان عن انقطاع كامل لخدمات الاتصالات الثابتة والإنترنت مع قطاع غزة الحبيب، بسبب استمرار العدوان.
طواقمنا الفنية تعمل على استعادة الخدمات رغم خطورة الظروف الميدانية.
حماكم الله وحمى بلادنا#أبقوا_غزة_على_اتصال #KeepGazaConnected
The United Nations said Tuesday it was "gravely concerned" by Israel's continued bombardment of the central Gaza Strip and urged Israeli forces to take all available measures to protect civilians.
"We are gravely concerned about the continued bombardment of Middle Gaza by Israeli forces... all attacks must strictly adhere to the principles of international humanitarian law, including distinction, proportionality and precaution," UN Human Rights Office spokesman Seif Magango said in a statement.
Witnesses report "unprecedented" violence in the last 24 hours in Khan Younis in southern Gaza.
We are gravely concerned about the continued bombardment of #Gaza by Israeli forces, which has reportedly claimed over 100 Palestinian lives since Christmas Eve. Israeli forces must take all measures available to protect civilians.— UN Human Rights (@UNHumanRights) December 26, 2023
Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi will visit Ankara on 4 January to meet his Turkish counterpart Tayyip Erdogan for talks likely to focus on the situations in Gaza and Syria as well as bilateral ties, a Turkish official said on Tuesday.
Teadquarters of the Palestinian Red Crescent Society (PRCS) in Khan Younis, Gaza, has been targeted by Israeli artillery shelling on Tuesday, the organisation wrote on X.
The attack, which struck the upper floors of the building, has resulted in several injuries among displaced individuals seeking shelter there.
The PRCS headquarters has been serving as a refuge for thousands of internally displaced persons in the war on Gaza.
🚨 Urgent: Artillery shelling targets the upper floors of the PRCS headquarters in #KhanYounis, causing several injuries among the displaced individuals, as thousands of IDPs are sheltering in the building.#Gaza#NotATarget ❌ pic.twitter.com/zCHyva5Pu7— PRCS (@PalestineRCS) December 26, 2023
The health ministry in Gaza said on Tuesday that at least 20,915 people have been killed in the Palestinian territory since the war with Israel broke out on October 7.
The ministry said another 54,918 people have been wounded in more than 11 weeks of fighting.
Two security sources told Reuters that a drone was intercepted near Dahab, a resort city along Egypt's Red Sea coast, on Tuesday.
The sources were unable to verify the drone's origin.
Egypt's Al Qahera News TV earlier reported that explosions had been heard in the vicinity of Dahab.
Witnesses quoted by Al Qahera News TV claimed, "A flying object was downed approximately 2 km from Dahab's shores."
Earlier in December, Egyptian air defences were reported to have destroyed a suspected drone near Dahab, according to security sources.
This incident follows an increase in attacks by Yemen's Iran-aligned Houthis on Red Sea shipping, in response to Israel's military actions in Gaza.
Israel's Defence Minister Yoav Gallant said that Israel has been engaged in "a multi-arena war" since 7 October, to Haaretz has reported.
At a Foreign Affairs and Defence Committee hearing, Gallant stated, "in a multi-arena war, from the beginning we were attacked from seven fronts - Gaza, Lebanon, Syria, Israel, Iraq, Yemen and Iran. We have already reacted and acted in six of these fronts, and I say here in the most explicit way: anyone who acts against us is a potential target, there is no immunity for anyone."
Israeli forces killed 17-year-old Ahmad Yousef Yaghi and 31-year-old Ibrahim Majid Abdel Majeed Al-Titi during a raid at the al-Fawwar refugee camp in the West Bank, the Palestinian news agency Wafa reported on Tuesday.
The raid also injured one Palestine, local medical sources told Wafa.
Overnight raids have been conducted by Israeli forces in Bethlehem, Tulkarem, and Qalqiya.
🇵🇸🇮🇱 EXPLOSIVE RAID IN WEST BANK | WEAPONS LAB FOUND— Mario Nawfal (@MarioNawfal) December 26, 2023
Intense overnight raid in Nur Shams Camp, IDF and Border Police detained several Palestinians, amid gunfire and explosions.
A significant haul of weapons, IEDs, and an explosives lab discovered and destroyed.
Source: Times… pic.twitter.com/E4u9Xz6mUT
An Israeli soldier died and 10 other Israeli soldiers were infected with an infectious fungus in the soil of Gaza, the Israeli Broadcasting Corporation "Kan" reported on its website on Tuesday.
The soldier who died had reportedly arrived at the "Assuta" Hospital in Ashdod about two weeks ago with a severe limb injury. At the hospital, it was diagnosed that he had contracted a resistant fungus on the battlefield.
Professor Gilah Rahav, the head of the Israeli Association for Contagious Diseases and the former director of the Contagious and Infectious Diseases Unit at Sheba Medical Center in Israel, said in a radio interview this morning that there are about 10 soldiers who were wounded in Gaza during battles and have been infected with these soil-borne fungi in the enclave. She added that these fungi had not been seen in previous wars.
Rahav pointed out that the contaminated fungi might have originated from soil contaminated with sewage water.
Next week, the Association for Contagious Diseases will hold an emergency session regarding these fungi, with the participation of epidemiology experts from the Israeli military.
Rivers of sewage, dirty water and toxic air: The environmental disaster unfolding in Gazahttps://t.co/6SsTOkmGFo— Euronews Green (@euronewsgreen) December 20, 2023
The Israeli military has announced a brief pause to its operations in two areas of Deir el-Balah, in central Gaza, for what it claims are humanitarian reasons.
This temporary halt in combat is set to last four hours, having begun at 10 AM local time (08:00 GMT).
Former Israeli Chief of Staff Dan Halutz said that Israel has lost its war against Hamas, suggesting that a change in leadership, specifically the resignation of Netanyahu, is necessary for "victory".
He expressed these views during a discussion with anti-government protestors in Haifa, and his remarks were broadcasted on Israeli Channel 14.
🔻Hebrew channel 7: The former chief of staff, Dan Halutz: “We lost the war against Hamas, and our victory will be in ousting Netanyahu.” pic.twitter.com/sTdH3h3HuD— Warfare Analysis (@warfareanalysis) December 26, 2023
The Israeli military announced that two of its soldiers were killed in battles in northern Gaza, bringing the death toll to 156.
כוחות זרוע הים, כוחות היבשה וחיל האוויר ממשיכים בלחימה משותפת ברחבי רצועת עזה. לוחמי זרוע הים תקפו מספר מטרות טרור של חמאס, ביניהן, חוליות מחבלים שזוהו בקרבת כוחותינו, מחבלים שהסתתרו במבנים סמוכים לכוחותינו, מוצבים צבאיים וכן עמדות מהן זוהה ירי לעבר כוחותינו >> pic.twitter.com/QCYRSYiKco— צבא ההגנה לישראל (@idfonline) December 25, 2023
Three security sources and Iranian state media reported that Sayyed Razi Mousavi, a high-ranking advisor in Iran's Revolutionary Guards, was killed in an Israeli airstrike near Damascus on Monday.
According to Reuters, Mousavi played a key role in managing the military collaboration between Syria and Iran.
Israeli military spokesperson Daniel Hagari stated, "I won't comment on foreign reports, these or others in the Middle East."
"The Israeli military obviously has a job to protect the security interests of Israel," he added
BREAKING Israel assassinated General Sayyed Razi Mousavi, the coordinating IRGC officer, Chief of Staff of the Al-Quds Force, & friend to Soleimani. This occurred in Aqraba in Damascus, Syria. The IRGC has said that Israel’s “Zionist regime” will pay for the crime. pic.twitter.com/ngXwFVgVwZ— Fiorella Isabel (@FiorellaIsabelM) December 25, 2023
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in a statement on Monday, refuted any suggestions that Israel might cease its military violence against Gaza.
“We are not stopping. We are continuing to fight, and we will be intensifying the fighting in the coming days, and the fighting will take long and it is not close to concluding,” he said