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Gaza: Israel resumes fighting, kills dozens as truce expires

Gaza: Israel resumes fighting, kills dozens of Palestinians following truce expiry
4 min read
01 December, 2023
Israeli military jets have killed at least 32 Palestinians in Gaza early on Friday as Tel Aviv resumed its military campaign in the territory, following the end of a week-long truce with Hamas.
Israel has struck many sites in Gaza on Friday, such as the Rafah refugee camp, following the truce's expiry [Getty/file photo]

Fighting resumed in Gaza on Friday immediately after the expiry of a week-long truce between Israel and Hamas, with the first fatalities reported minutes later, according to health officials in the Palestinian territory.

An AFPTV live cam showed a heavy cloud of grey smoke rolling over northern Gaza, and apparent sounds of automatic weapons fire and explosions within the first 90 minutes after the truce expired at 0500 GMT.

Israel's military said fighter jets were "currently striking" Hamas targets in Gaza, and AFP journalists reported air strikes in the north and south of the territory.

Marwan al-Hams, the director of Al-Najar hospital in Rafah in southern Gaza, where many Palestinians fled after being told by Israel to leave the north of the territory, said strikes killed at least nine people in the city, including four children.

Elsewhere, two children were killed in air raids on Gaza City, said Fadel Naim, a doctor with Al-Ahli hospital in the city.

At least 32 people have been killed so far, health ministry officials in Gaza said.

A source close to Hamas told AFP the group's armed wing had received "the order to resume combat" and to "defend the Gaza Strip", with heavy fighting reported in parts of Gaza City.

The office of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said fighting had restarted after claims that Hamas "violated" the truce.

"Upon the resumption of fighting, we emphasise: The Government of Israel is committed to achieving the goals of the war: Releasing the hostages, eliminating Hamas and ensuring that Gaza never again constitutes a threat to the residents of Israel," it said in a statement.

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Despite the resumption of fighting, talks between Qatari and Egyptian mediators were "ongoing", said a source briefed on the talks.

During the seven-day truce dozens of hostages were freed in exchange for Palestinian prisoners, and more aid entered Gaza where about 80 percent of the population is displaced and grappling with shortages of food, water and other essentials.

On Thursday, US top diplomat Antony Blinken, meeting Israeli and Palestinian officials, called for the pause in hostilities to be extended, and warned any resumption of combat must protect Palestinian civilians.

Other world leaders, and aid groups, had also sought an extended pause.

The truce had paused fighting that began on October 7, where Israeli bombardment has killed close to 15,000 Gazans. Israel went on to bomb schools, refugee camps, hospitals and other infrastructure, rendering almost half of the territory's buildings unhabitable.

During the truce brokered by Qatar with support from Egypt and the United States, 80 Israeli hostages were freed in exchange for 240 Palestinian prisoners.

More than 20 foreigners, most of them Thais living in Israel, were freed outside the scope of the agreement.

After meeting leaders in Israel and the occupied West Bank, Blinken said Washington wants "to see this process continue to move forward".

"We want an eighth day and beyond."

A source close to Hamas said the group backed another extension and mediators were working to prolong the pause, but the negotiations appeared to have failed.

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Israel had made clear it viewed the truce as a temporary pause to secure the release of hostages.

"We swore to eliminate Hamas, and nothing will stop us," Netanyahu said in a video released by his office, after meeting with Blinken.

His government has come under increasing pressure, however, to account for how it will protect civilians in the territory, which is under a complete siege, with no way for people to escape.

Blinken had warned that any resumed military operation by Israel "must put in place humanitarian civilian protection plans that minimise further casualties of innocent Palestinians".

Specifically, Israel must "clearly and precisely" designate areas "in southern and central Gaza, where they can be safe and out of the line of fire", he said.

Despite Blinken's words, the US has not threatened to withdraw military aid for Israel's brutal onslaught.

International bodies have called for more time to get medical supplies, food and fuel into Gaza, where an estimated 1.7 million people have been forced from their homes, amid fears of a second Nakba, or catastrophe.

The truce had allowed people to return to the ruins of their homes to pick through the rubble for remaining belongings and provided a sense of safety after weeks of daily bombardment.

"We are afraid that the truce will end, so the problems and the bombings will start again," Gaza City resident Mohamad Naasan told AFP.

The violence in Gaza has also prompted increased raids in the occupied West Bank, where Israeli forces and illegal settlers have killed nearly 240 Palestinians since October 7, according to the Palestinian health ministry.