15 bodies from same family recovered from rubble of bombed house in Jabalia

Smoke rises following an Israeli bombardment in the Gaza Strip, as seen from southern Israel, Saturday, Dec. 16, 2023. (AP)
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Updated 01 January 2024
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15 bodies from same family recovered from rubble of bombed house in Jabalia

  • Since Israel imposed a siege at the outset of the war, Gazans have been facing dire shortages of food, water, fuel and medicine — eased only by aid trucks, about 120 of which entered on Sunday

GAZA: Israel warned the Gaza war would continue throughout 2024 as unrelenting strikes killed dozens in the Palestinian territory, and Hamas fired a rocket barrage at the stroke of midnight.
Israeli military spokesman Daniel Hagari said that some 300,000 army reservists would get a break from the war to prepare for the “prolonged fighting” ahead.
The army “must plan, understanding that we will be required for additional tasks and warfare throughout this year,” Hagari said as the conflict sparked by the October 7 Hamas attacks raged on.
Heavy artillery fire again pounded Gaza, killing at least 24 people, Health Ministry officials there said, with attacks reported across the length of the territory.
In the besieged Gaza Strip, where the UN says 85 percent of the population has been displaced, 20-year-old Hamdan Abu Arab said he hoped “2024 will be better.”
“We used to go out and enjoy our time on the last day of the year,” he recalled.
“But this New Year’s Eve, there are only missiles and the remains of people.”
According to the Health Ministry, 15 bodies from the same family were recovered on Monday from the rubble of a bombed house in Jabalia in the northern Gaza Strip.
“It’s the worst year of our lives. They have killed our sons,” said Sami Hamouda, 64. “Every new day is like the previous one: bombings, death, and mass killings.”
Hamas marked the start of the year by firing a rocket barrage at Israel in what it called a “response to the massacres of civilians.”
AFP journalists in Tel Aviv witnessed missile defense systems intercept rockets overhead as some revelers ran for cover and others kept up the party with a shrug.
“My heart was pounding,” said one, Gabriel Zemelman, 26, shortly after the rocket fire.
“It’s terrifying. You just saw the life we live. It’s crazy.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned on Saturday that the fighting would last “many months until Hamas is eliminated and the hostages are returned.”
Hagari said the army was “adapting the planning of the force deployment in Gaza and the reserve system. Some of the reservists will return to their families and employment this week.
“This will significantly ease the burden on the economy and allow them to gather strength for the upcoming activities in the next year, as the fighting will continue and they will still be required.”
Since Israel imposed a siege at the outset of the war, Gazans have been facing dire shortages of food, water, fuel and medicine — eased only by aid trucks, about 120 of which entered on Sunday.
“We are exhausted ... We were displaced five times during this war,” said 29-year-old Bassam Hana.
“We hope things improve in 2024 and we live just like any other human being. Currently, we live like animals.”
One Palestinian man, Bilal Emad Abu Haykal, recounted how, weeks ago, Israeli tanks rolled up outside his home in northern Gaza’s
Beit Lahia.
He was told to head south but was then stopped on the road by soldiers, who took the men’s clothes ahead of questioning them, he said, recounting that “we stayed on the road without any food or water.”
“When they took us, the buildings here were still standing. But when we returned at night, we found the houses in ruins or on fire.
“All was turned into ruins or destroyed; I didn’t even recognize the streets of Beit Lahia — destruction that I cannot describe.”
Hagar, in a briefing on Sunday, said several militants “were killed and subdued during the battles in Khan Younis,” the main southern city, earlier in the day.
“We are continuing to handle the underground tunnels and to strike the rocket launching array, to reduce rocket fire into the State of Israel,” he said, adding that “dozens of aircraft are in the skies of Gaza at any given moment.”
International mediators have continued efforts toward a new pause in fighting.
The Israeli army said Sunday night it had intercepted two “hostile aircraft” flying from Syria toward northern Israel.

 


Iran calls for joint action by Islamic nations to stop Gaza war

Updated 4 sec ago
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Iran calls for joint action by Islamic nations to stop Gaza war

  • Israel’s military offensive on Gaza has killed at least 37,337 people so far

TEHRAN: Iran’s Acting Foreign Minister Ali Bagheri Kani has called for joint action on the part of Islamic countries to pressure Israel into ending its brutal military activities in Gaza, which have devastated most of the enclave and killed thousands of Palestinians there.

Israel’s military offensive on Gaza has killed at least 37,337 people, mostly civilian women and children, since the Oct. 7 Hamas attack, according to the Hamas-run Health Ministry in Gaza.

Humanitarian supplies for millions of Palestinians displaced by the conflict have been squeezed despite the Israeli military declaring it would “pause” fighting daily around a southern route to facilitate aid flows.

The Iranian official also spoke with his Afghan counterpart Amir Khan Muttaqi via telephone on Sunday, with the two discussing bilateral relations as well as the situation in war-ravaged Gaza.

Kani reiterated Iran’s readiness to help Kabul resolve its challenges and achieve growth, Iran’s news agency IRNA reported.


Kuwaiti citizen detained for alleged involvement in extremist group

Updated 9 min 45 sec ago
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Kuwaiti citizen detained for alleged involvement in extremist group

KUWAIT CITY: The Public Prosecution in Kuwait has ordered the detention of a citizen on charges of joining a group aimed at illegally undermining the country’s basic systems, state news agency KUNA reported on Sunday.

The individual is also accused of receiving training in making explosives and preparing poisons for illicit purposes, as well as planning to leave the country to fight with the group, though he was unable to do so.

The Public Prosecution interrogated the accused and presented him with the charges, according to a statement released on its official account on X. Investigation procedures are ongoing.


Yemen’s Houthis announce new maritime operations in support of Gaza

Updated 13 min 14 sec ago
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Yemen’s Houthis announce new maritime operations in support of Gaza

  • The Houthis declared that attacks on Israel-linked shipping will persist until Israel ends its war on Gaza and lifts the siege on Palestinian territories

SANAA: The Houthi militia’s army spokesman, Yahya Saree, announced on Sunday that an American destroyer and two Israel-linked ships were targeted in recent operations in the Red and Arabian seas.

Saree said that the US destroyer was hit by ballistic missiles in the Red Sea, while the two ships — Captain Paris and Happy Condor — were targeted in the Arabian Sea using naval missiles and drones, respectively.

He stated that these ships were targeted because they were en route to ports in Israeli-occupied territories.

Saree reaffirmed Yemen’s stance, declaring that attacks on Israel-linked shipping will persist until Israel ends its war on Gaza and lifts the siege on Palestinian territories.

He also emphasized that the Yemeni army would continue to defend its territory against US-UK “aggression,” referring to joint airstrikes by the two Western nations, which the latter claim were launched to protect international shipping.

The Houthis have rejected these claims, asserting that their military operations in international waters, ongoing since mid-November, only target Israeli ships or vessels heading to Israeli-occupied ports.


Lull in Gaza fighting as Biden urges truce in Eid message

Updated 20 min 37 sec ago
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Lull in Gaza fighting as Biden urges truce in Eid message

  • In a holiday message late Sunday, US President Joe Biden called for the implementation of a ceasefire plan he outlined last month

GAZA: Israel struck Gaza on Monday and witnesses reported blasts in the besieged territory’s south, but fighting has largely subsided after a day of relative calm and as Muslims marked Eid Al-Adha.
In a holiday message late Sunday, US President Joe Biden called for the implementation of a ceasefire plan he outlined last month, saying it was “the best way to end the violence in Gaza” and to help civilians suffering “the horrors of the war between Hamas and Israel.”
A daytime “pause” for aid deliveries announced at the weekend by Israel’s military around a southern Gaza route appeared to be holding, while elsewhere in the Palestinian territory an AFP correspondent said strikes and shelling have decreased.
In Gaza City, medics at Al-Ahli hospital said at least five people were killed in two separate air strikes, and witnesses reported tank shelling in the southern neighborhood of Zeitun.
At least one strike hit Bureij refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip, residents said.
Palestinian officials in the far-southern city of Rafah reported tank shelling early on Monday, before the start of the daily “local, tactical pause of military activity” announced by the army.
It said the pause “for humanitarian purposes will take place from 8:00 am (0500 GMT) until 7:00 p.m. (1600 GMT) every day until further notice along the road that leads from the Kerem Shalom crossing to the Salah Al-Din road and then northwards.”
An Israeli official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told AFP “there was no change” in the military’s policy and stressed fighting “continues as planned.”
An army spokeperson told AFP the pause was in effect on Monday, and the military in a statement said troops were still operating in Rafah and central Gaza, reporting “close-quarters combat” that killed several militants.
Witnesses told AFP they could hear blasts in Rafah’s city center and west on Monday morning.


A map released by the army showed the declared humanitarian route extending up to Rafah’s European Hospital, about 10 kilometers (six miles) from Kerem Shalom.
Mahmud Basal, spokesman for the civil defense agency in the Hamas-ruled territory, said that apart from the deadly Gaza City strikes overnight, “the other areas of the Gaza Strip are somewhat calm.”
He reported military movements and gunfire in parts of Rafah as well as Bureij camp in central Gaza.
On Sunday, the first day of Eid Al-Adha, or the feast of the sacrifice, the spokesman said “calm has prevailed across all of Gaza.”
The United Nations has welcomed the Israeli announcement of the pause, although “this has yet to translate into more aid reaching people in need,” said Jens Laerke, spokesman for the UN humanitarian agency OCHA.
He called for “further concrete measures by Israel to address longstanding issues” on humanitarian needs.
Gazans “urgently need food, water, sanitation, shelter, and health care, with many living near piles of solid waste, heightening health risks,” Laerke said.
Dire shortages of food and other essentials in the Gaza Strip have been exacerbated by overland access restrictions and the closure of the key Rafah crossing with Egypt since Israeli forces seized its Palestinian side in early May.
The military said the pause was in effect as part of efforts to “increase the volumes of humanitarian aid” following discussions with the United Nations and other organizations.
It was announced a day after eight Israeli soldiers were killed in a blast near Rafah and three more troops died elsewhere, in one of the heaviest losses for the army in more than eight months of war against Hamas militants.


The war was triggered by Hamas’s unprecedented October 7 attack on southern Israel that resulted in the deaths of 1,194 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally based on Israeli official figures.
The militants also seized 251 hostages. Of these, 116 remain in Gaza, although the army says 41 are dead.
Israel’s retaliatory offensive aimed at wiping out Hamas has killed at least 37,337 people in Gaza, also mostly civilians, according to the territory’s health ministry.
Egyptian, Qatari and US mediators have been pushing for a new Gaza truce, so far without success.
Washington has been pressing Israel and Hamas to formally accept Biden’s truce plan, which would allow an initial six-week pause to fighting.
“I strongly believe that the three-phase ceasefire proposal Israel has made to Hamas and that the UN Security Council has endorsed is the best way to end the violence in Gaza and ultimately end the war,” the US president said.
The only previous truce lasted one week in November and saw many hostages released in exchange for Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails, while increased aid flowed into Gaza.
Hamas has insisted on the complete withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza and a permanent ceasefire — demands Israel has repeatedly rejected.


Netanyahu disbands his inner war cabinet, Israeli official says

Updated 26 min 26 sec ago
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Netanyahu disbands his inner war cabinet, Israeli official says

  • The prime minister had faced demands from the nationalist-religious partners in his coalition

JERUSALEM: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has dissolved the six-member war cabinet, an Israeli official said on Monday, in a widely expected move that came after the departure from government of the centrist former general Benny Gantz.
Netanyahu is now expected to hold consultations about the Gaza war with a small group of ministers, including Defense Minister Yoav Gallant and Strategic Affairs Minister Ron Dermer who had been in the war cabinet.
The prime minister had faced demands from the nationalist-religious partners in his coalition, Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich and National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir, to be included in the war cabinet, a move which would have intensified strains with international partners including the United States.
The forum was formed after Gantz joined Netanyahu in a national unity government at the start of the war in October and also included Gantz’s partner Gadi Eisenkot and Aryeh Deri, head of the religious party Shas, as observers.
Gantz and Eisenkot both left the government last week, over what they said was Netanyahu’s failure to form a strategy for the Gaza war.