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Israel Kills at Least 100 Palestinians in Christmas Eve Attacks

Several people remained under rubble as of Christmas morning after Israeli airstrikes.

Palestinians mourn their relatives, killed in an overnight Israeli strike on the Al-Maghazi refugee camp, during a mass funeral at the Al-Aqsa hospital in Deir Al-Balah, in the southern Gaza Strip, on December 25, 2023.

Casualties

  • 20,424+ killed* and at least 54,036 wounded in the Gaza Strip.
  • 303 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.
  • 489 Israeli soldiers killed since October 7, and at least 1,952 injured.

*This figure was confirmed by Gaza’s Ministry of Health on December 24. Due to breakdowns in communication networks within the Gaza Strip, the Ministry of Health in Gaza has been unable to regularly and accurately update its tolls since mid-November. Some rights groups put the death toll number closer to 28,000 when accounting for those presumed dead.

Key Developments

  • UNRWA says 142 employees killed in Israeli bombardment in Gaza Strip since October 7.
  • UNRWA warns it is struggling to provide health care for 50,000 pregnant women in Gaza.
  • WHO chief calls for ceasefire and decries Israel’s destruction of Gaza health system.
  • Geneva-based Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor accuses Israeli forces of turning Palestinian schools in Gaza Strip into “settings for brutal crimes against civilians.”
  • Israeli military says 162 killed in armed battles with Palestinian fighters since late October.
  • Israeli forces recover five bodies of captives in a tunnel in Gaza, and Hamas says it killed 48 Israeli soldiers and destroyed 35 military vehicles since Thursday.
  • Pope Francis says during Christmas Eve mass: “Tonight, our hearts are in Bethlehem, where the Prince of Peace is once more rejected by the futile logic of war.”
  • Israeli jailers beat and tortured Nael al-Barghouti, the longest-serving Palestinian prisoner, during his transfer from Ofer Prison in western Ramallah, to Gilboa Prison in northern Israel.

Israel Bombs Homes in Khan Younis and Al-Maghazi, Killing 100 Palestinians

At least 100 Palestinians were killed in Israeli air strikes in Khan Younis and Al-Maghazi refugee camp, most of them were family members on Sunday night.

Israeli forces bombed two houses in east of Khan Younis, killing 23 people, and injuring dozens on Sunday evening. Warplanes targeted the Saleh family house in the Ma’an area, and several Palestinians remain under the rubble as of Monday morning.

In the Al-Amal neighborhood, west of Khan Younis, Israeli forces bombed a house killing Yahya Mahmoud Jawaher and his brother Abdul Rahim on Sunday night, Wafa news reported.

In Al-Maghazi, a refugee camp in central Gaza, Israeli airstrikes and artillery shelling killed at least 70 Palestinians when it bombed four houses on Sunday night, most of them women and children.

Palestine’s Civil Defence said it recovered the bodies of eight people and 14 injured from under the rubble on Sunday night in the Al-Bureij refugee camp after it was shelled by Israeli artillery.

Al-Bureij was severely damaged following Israeli forces detonating numerous buildings in the past weeks. Israel carpet bombed the area surrounding Abu Hilo school in Al-Bureij and fired smoke bombs in the area.

On Sunday, Gaza’s Ministry of Health said that at least 20,424 Palestinian martyrs have been killed and 54,036 injured in Israeli bombardment since October 7. An estimated 8,000 Palestinians are reportedly also still missing under the rubble, according to Palestine’s Red Crescent Society.

Gaza’s government media office said on Sunday that 103 journalists have been killed in Israeli bombings since October.

UNRWA Says 142 Employees Killed as It Struggles to Provide Care for Pregnant Women

On Sunday, the UN Palestinian refugee agency (UNRWA) announced that 142 employees have been killed in Israeli bombardment in the Gaza Strip since October 7.

“In this somber moment, it’s hard to wish those celebrating ‘Merry Christmas’, with ongoing loss, grief and destruction,” the UN agency said in a statement.

“Our teams are doing the impossible to help people in need. We mourn the loss of more UNRWA colleagues killed in Gaza, now 142, the majority with their families,” it added.

UNRWA has been calling for a ceasefire in the Gaza Strip to ease the humanitarian crisis and provide aid, water, food, and medicine to hospitals and shelters in the enclave. The UN Security Council resolution last week was welcomed by UNRWA.

Juliette Touma, a spokesperson for UNRWA said that “only time will tell what real difference this resolution is going to make, and it needs to increase the humanitarian assistance into Gaza.”

“Without a truce, the UN resolution may do little for Gaza,” Touma added.

UNRWA warned that it is struggling to provide health care for 50,000 pregnant women in the Gaza Strip.

“There are an estimated 50,000 pregnant women in the Gaza Strip, with over 180 giving birth every day,” it said in a statement.

“UNRWA doctors and midwives are doing everything possible to provide care for post-natal & high-risk pregnant women at the 7 [out of 22] operational UNRWA health centers,” it added.

Last week, nine out of the 36 hospitals and healthcare centers were partially operating in the Gaza Strip. The World Health Organization’s chief, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, called for a ceasefire and condemned the destruction of Gaza’s health system.

“The decimation of the Gaza health system is a tragedy,” he wrote on X on Sunday.

“In the face of constant insecurity and inflows of wounded patients, we see doctors, nurses, ambulance drivers and more continue striving to save lives,” Tedros said.

He confirmed that WHO is adamant in calling for a “ceasefire now.”

Euro-Med: Israeli ‘Crimes Against Civilians’ Taking Place at Gaza Schools

On Monday, the Geneva-based Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor accused Israeli forces of turning Palestinian schools in the Gaza Strip into “settings for brutal crimes against civilians.”

Euro-Med said in a report, “the Israeli occupation continues to violate schools that have been converted into shelters for tens of thousands of displaced people, committing grave violations including extrajudicial killings, arbitrary arrests, torture, and intimidation of civilians.”

Euro-Med said that Israeli forces stormed Al-Rafi’I school in Jabalia over the weekend, arresting tens of Palestinians and forcing them to strip down to their underwear before taking them to unknown destinations.

The group added that Israeli forces bombed Palestinian schools from the air since October, however, in recent weeks it resorted to storming them in various towns, including north of Gaza, Khan Younis, and Al-Bureij. This has been accompanied by destroying the schools’ walls and gates with gunfire and tank shells.

“These attacks were unjustified and targeted innocent civilians who had sought refuge in shelter centres after receiving Israeli orders to evacuate their homes and residential areas,” Euro-Med said in a statement.

The group collected several testimonies from survivors who were sheltering in the schools when Israeli forces attacked and stormed them.

In Shadia Abu Ghazala school in Jabalia, Euro-Med said that Israeli forces carried out field executions, where nine bodies were found following Israeli forces withdrawal from the area on December 13.

Youssef Khalil told Euro-Med that two Israeli soldiers opened fire at his family, killing them in Shadia Abu Ghazala school while they were sheltering in one of the classrooms. Khalil was later arrested along with other Palestinians, subjected to beatings during his detention before being released.

He found his family members in a state of decomposition when he returned to the school, alongside other bodies of Palestinians killed in the area.

“The ongoing operations of killing, physical elimination, and systematic destruction of buildings and facilities have no explanation or justification other than being part of deliberate acts of revenge,” the Euro-Med stated.

“Civilians choosing to remain in evacuation areas do not lose their protection, and it is prohibited to target them under any pretext,” it added.

Israeli Forces Recover Five Captives’ Bodies as Hamas and Islamic Jihad Target Troops in Gaza

On Monday, the Israeli military announced that 162 soldiers have been killed in armed battles with Palestinian fighters since the late October ground invasion of the Gaza Strip. In total, 489 soldiers have been killed since October 7.

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday afternoon that “the war is exacting a very heavy price on us; however, we have no choice but to continue to fight.”

Thousands of Israelis have been protesting for the past weeks in Tel Aviv, calling on Netanyahu to step down and for a general election in Israel.

Netanyahu added that “we are continuing with full force until the end, until victory, until we achieve all of our goals: the destruction of Hamas, the return of our hostages and ensuring that Gaza will never again constitute a threat to the State of Israel.”

So far, Israeli forces have failed to rescue or return any of the captives held by Hamas alive to Israel. Last week, Israeli soldiers shot dead three of those captives in Gaza after misidentifying them as Palestinians.

On Sunday, the military spokesperson said Israel recovered five bodies of captives from a Hamas tunnel in Gaza. Israel also released video footage of the Palestinian tunnel and said it killed 8,000 Palestinian fighters since October 7, a figure drawn from “accounts of targeted strikes and battlefield tallies as well as the interrogations of captives.”

On Saturday, Hamas said that it feared five Israeli hostages were killed in Israeli bombardment of Gaza after it lost contact with the group in charge of them.

Hamas’ military spokesperson, Abu Ubaida, said in a message on Sunday that in the past four days, Palestinian fighters have killed 48 Israeli soldiers, injured dozens, and completely or partially destroyed 35 military vehicles across various areas in the Gaza Strip.

Hamas also released video footage of targeting Israeli soldiers in north Gaza. In the Tel Al-Zaatar neighborhood, Hamas sniper shot at Israeli soldiers, while in west Beit Lahia, fighters fired a Kornet anti-tank missile at Israeli soldiers barricading inside a building and on another force inside a home in Beit Hanoun.

Islamic Jihad’s Al-Quds Brigades announced that it targeted three Israeli military vehicles with RPG missiles and a planted bomb in the Al-Zaytoun and Al-Shuja’iya neighborhoods in Gaza.

Hamas also welcomed the decision to limit Christmas celebrations to prayers and religious rituals in Palestine.

“The holidays of our Christian people come this year amid a continuing fascist aggression launched by the occupation [forces] against all components of our Palestinian people targeting all both mosques and churches,” Hamas said in a statement.

Instead of a decorated tree in Manger Square opposite the Church of Nativity in Bethlehem, the Palestinian Authority’s Ministry of Tourism organized an artwork piece called “Nativity under the Rubble” to symbolize the agony and destruction in Gaza.

On Sunday evening, Pope Francis led a Christmas Eve mass at St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican and said “Tonight, our hearts are in Bethlehem, where the Prince of Peace is once more rejected by the futile logic of war.”

Longest Serving Palestinian Prisoner, Nael al-Barghouti, Tortured by Israeli Jailers

Israeli forces raided towns and villages in the occupied West Bank and Jerusalem overnight and arrested several Palestinians from Hebron, Qalqilya, Tubas, Jerusalem, Ramallah, Tulkarem, and the Jordan Valley.

In a joint statement, the Prisoners’ Affairs Authority and the Palestinian Prisoners’ Club said that “testimonies from recently released detainees in Gaza revealed gruesome details of torture and abuse by the occupying army upon them, with their bodies bearing signs of abuse.”

They added that the “prisoner Nael al-Barghouti, 66, had been tortured during his transfer from Ofer Prison in western Ramallah, to Gilboa Prison in northern Israel.”

Barghouti was released from prison in 2011 after spending 34 years. However, in 2014 Israeli forces rearrested him. He has currently spent 44 years in total in Israeli jails.

“[He] was brutally beaten with batons and rifles and the assault on him and his fellow prisoners continued for three consecutive hours,” the statement added.

The Club said that Israeli forces arrested 4,696 Palestinians from the occupied West Bank and Jerusalem since October 7.

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