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Israeli strike one of war’s most deadly

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26 December 2023, The Age / AP / Reuters, by Wafaa Shurafa, Samy Magdy

DEIR AL-BALAH: Dozens of people have been killed in Gaza in one of the deadliest strikes of the Israel-Hamas war.

The strike hit the Maghazi refugee camp, east of Deir al-Balah on Sunday. Gaza Health Ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Qidra said at least 60 people had been killed and the toll was likely to rise.

An AP reporter on the scene watched bodies and wounded being carried in, including children.

In Egypt, tentative efforts continued on a deal for another exchange of hostages for Palestinians held by Israel.

Israel’s leaders have acknowledged the ‘‘very heavy price’’ of the war after 15 soldiers were killed in combat at the weekend.

The mounting death toll among Israeli troops – 154 since the ground offensive began – could erode public support for the war, which was sparked when Hamasled militants stormed communities in southern Israel on October 7, killing about 1200 people and taking 240 hostages.

The war has devastated parts of Gaza, killed about 20,400 Palestinians and displaced almost all of the territory’s 2.3 million people. The Health Ministry in Gaza said 166 people had been killed in the coastal enclave over the past day.

‘‘The war exacts a very heavy price from us, but we have no choice but to continue fighting,’’ Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said.

In a televised speech, Israeli President Isaac Herzog appealed for the country to remain united. ‘‘This moment is a test. We will not break nor blink,’’ he said.

There has been widespread anger against his government, which many criticise for failing to protect civilians on October 7 and promoting policies that allowed Hamas to gain strength over the years.

Netanyahu has avoided accepting responsibility for the military and policy failures.

Five Israeli hostages killed in Hamas captivity have been recovered from tunnels in north Gaza, the military said, showing footage of a white-tiled bathroom and workroom linked by dark concrete-lined passages.

The publication left open the question of how they had died, with chief military spokesperson Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari saying post-mortems were pending.

‘‘We will brief the families and then, depending on what they approve, the public,’’ he said.

Hamas has previously said some hostages died in Israel’s shelling of Gaza. It has also threatened to execute hostages.

Efforts towards negotiations continued. The head of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Ziyad al-Nakhalah, arrived in Egypt for talks. The militant group, which also took part in the October 7 attack, said it was prepared to consider releasing hostages only after fighting ended. Hamas’ top leader, Ismail Haniyeh, had travelled to Cairo for talks days earlier.

Israel’s offensive has been one of the most devastating military campaigns in recent history. More than two-thirds of the 20,000 Palestinians killed have been women and children, according to the Health Ministry in Gaza.

Elsewhere, the Palestinian Red Crescent said a 13-year-old boy had been killed in an Israeli drone attack while inside al-Amal Hospital in Khan Younis.

Article link: https://todayspaper.smedia.com.au/theage/shared/ShowArticle.aspx?doc=AGE20231226&entity=Ar02700&sk=F62F0C3D&mode=text
Article source: The Age / AP / Reuters| Wafaa Shurafa, Samy Magdy | 26.12.23

2024-05-08 07:04:10.000000