Stories of horror - but some of hope - come out of Gaza as global protests call for end to Israeli carnage against Palestinians - as it happened

Ahram Online , Saturday 9 Dec 2023

On the 64th day of its war, Israel targeted a declared safe zone in Rafah, killing over 10 people in their homes, while relentlessly bombarding Khan Younis with artillery and airstrikes. Global solidarity protests in support of Palestinians took place in various world capitals, just one day after the US vetoed a resolution calling for a ceasefire at the UN Security Council.

Pro-Palestinian activists
Pro-Palestinian activists and supporters wave flags and carry placards during a National March for Palestine in central London on December 9, 2023, calling for full ceasefire in the war in Gaza. AFP


23:00 Susan, a 20-year-old mother from Gaza, was reunited with her twin baby girls in a hospital in Egypt on Thursday - almost two months after she last saw them.

The two baby girls were among 28 premature babies who were evacuated on 28 November from Al-Shifa Medical Complex to Egypt - after Israel besieged, bombed then ransacked the place, sending it out of service.

On Saturday, in a video posted on the X account of the World Health Organization regional office for the Eastern Mediterranean, Susan looks with love at her girls as they are being fed and warmly taken care of by Egyptian medical staff.

Susan says: "We are humans like everybody else."

"This war has to end!" she adds.

More than 50,000 Palestinian women in Gaza are pregnant.

Many Palestinian mothers have delivered their babies to this world without anaesthesia - due to the Israeli blockade on medical supplies to the strip - only to be welcomed by the sounds of Israeli bombs.

22:00 Quds News Network released a video depicting a Palestinian boy in the Al-Zeitun district in northern Gaza telling chronicles of five days of humiliation and brutality in Israeli detention after being arrested along with other family members by the Israeli army.

The boy speaking in the video appeared to be marked with the number '145' in red on the back of his hand, indicating the Israeli army was numbering its detainees, in a scene out of the catalogue of the SS numbering of prisoners in Nazi concentration camps.

Ahram Online could not independently verify the content of the video.

On Thursday, chilling videos and images circulated on social media platforms depicting Israeli soldiers stripping naked scores of Palestinian men before hauling them into trucks and taking them to unknown destinations shocked many around the world.

21:30 The Iraqi Hezbollah has claimed responsibility for the mortar attack on the US embassy in Baghdad on Friday.

At least three rockets targeted the US embassy in Baghdad's Green Zone at dawn on Friday, landing on the outskirts of the district housing government and diplomatic buildings, an Iraqi security official said.

A US military official speaking on condition of anonymity told AFP that alarms had gone off and that "likely impact sounds" could be heard near the US embassy and Union III base, where troops from the international anti-jihadist coalition are stationed.

This is the first reported attack against the United States embassy in the Iraqi capital since Israel's war on the Gaza Strip began in early October, raising regional tensions and fears of a wider conflict.

Since mid-October, there have been dozens of rocket or drone strikes by pro-Iran groups against American or coalition forces elsewhere in Iraq as well as in Syria.

There are roughly 2,500 US troops in Iraq and about 900 in Syria as part of so-called efforts to prevent a resurgence of the Islamic State group.

19:00 The Palestinian health ministry in Gaza said Saturday that the death toll in Israel's war on the strip had risen to at least 17,700, mostly women and children.

"The crimes and genocide against the people of Gaza are beyond any description... Ending Palestinian existence with American and European support is inhuman," ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Qudra said, adding that 48,780 people had also been wounded in the war.

18:30 Tens of thousands of people took to the streets in a massive protest in central London on Saturday afternoon calling for an immediate ceasefire in the Israeli war on Gaza.

The demonstration was led by Palestinians, Arabs, and Jewish organizations which rejected the Israeli genocidal campaign on the Gaza Strip.

It comes less than a day after the UK abstained in the vote on a draft resolution in the United Nations Security Council calling for an immediate ceasefire in the Israeli war on Gaza.

The resolution, which was submitted by the UAE, garnered the support of 13 members of the UNSC but failed to pass after the US used its veto power on the council to give more time to the Israeli military campaign on the strip.

17:00  Pro-Palestinian climate activists held a demonstration in the Blue Zone at the COP28 on Saturday calling for an immediate ceasefire in the Israeli war on Gaza.

16:30 The EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said the bombing campaign on Gaza is one of the most intense in history, according to Al Jazeera.

The levels of destruction in the strip are comparable to the destruction suffered by German cities in World War II, added Borrell.

He called for measures to end the violence against the Palestinians, warning that this violence makes the two-state solution more difficult.

Firefights battle flames in a building hit by an Israeli strike in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip on December 9, 2023. AFP

16:00 The Gaza City Municipality warned that 500,000 Palestinians who remain in the city in northern Gaza are facing a dire situation after all but three water wells operate on a very limited basis as fuel ran out.

Meanwhile, UNICEF repeated its call for an immediate ceasefire to save the children in Gaza from more deaths and injuries.

15:20 Israeli forces shot and killed a Palestinian man in the West Bank on Saturday and another succumbed to his wounds from an Israeli raid the day before, health officials said.

The Palestinian Health Ministry said a 25-year-old man died of his wounds Saturday after being shot during an arrest raid in the Faraa refugee camp on Friday, bringing the death toll there to seven.

Among those killed was a local commander of the Al Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade, Ahram Online could not verify this report independently. 

Also Saturday, Israeli occupation forces killed a 25-year-old Palestinian near the city of Hebron. The circumstances of the shooting were not immediately clear. The Israeli military did not respond to a request for comment.

The deaths brought to 274 the number of Palestinians killed in the occupied territory since the start of the Israeli war on Gaza two months ago.

15:00 A senior UN official told Reuters news agency that a new process for inspecting aid for Gaza at the Karem Abu Salem (Kerem Shalom) crossing is being tested, but efforts to get permission for trucks to enter through the crossing and ramp up relief are still continuing.

Under the new system, trucks would come to the crossing with Israel, Gaza and Egypt for the first time from Jordan, before entering Gaza from Rafah, about 3km (1.86 miles) away.

But Carl Skau, deputy executive director of the WFP, said the trucks would need to be allowed to enter Gaza directly through Kerem Shalom to alleviate an increasingly desperate situation in the coastal strip.

Until now, limited quantities of aid have been delivered from Egypt through the Rafah crossing, which is ill-equipped to process large numbers of trucks. Trucks have been driving more than 40km (24.9 miles) south to Egypt’s border with Israel before returning to Rafah, leading to bottlenecks and delays.

14:25 Turkish President Recep Erdogan said that America's veto against the ceasefire in Gaza "demonstrates once again that the world is bigger than the five permanent members of the Security Council."

"The United Nations Security Council demand for ceasefire is rejected only by US veto. Is this justice?" he said, highlighting the necessity for reform the Security Council.

Erdogan also denounced the Israeli government, emphasizing that "the unlimited support it receives from Western nations allows it to commit brutal atrocities and massacres that bring shame to humanity."

13:40 Climate activists rallied for a joint 'climate justice' and 'ceasefire now' march, demanding an end to the Israeli war on the Gaza Strip, at the United Nations climate summit in Dubai.

Here are some of the images coming in via news agency from Dubai.


13:15 The Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said the US veto of a UN Security Council resolution demanding a humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza makes it "complicit in genocide, ethnic cleansing, war crimes against the Palestinians."

He deemed the US stance as "aggressive and unethical," describing it as a “blatant violation of all humanitarian values and principles.” He held the United States responsible “for the bloodshed of Palestinian children, women, and elderly in Gaza by the Israeli occupation forces,” a statement released by the presidency said.

12:00 The Israeli occupation army has called on civilians in the north of the Strip to evacuate to “known shelters” west of Gaza City. It also said that fighting in the south continues, but that civilians can pass through a road west of Khan Younis.

There is also going to be a four-hour “tactical suspension of military activities” in certain areas of the southern city of Rafah, it added in a message on X.

Instructions from the Israeli army have generated chaos and fear among civilians who have repeatedly said that no place is safe as Israeli air strikes continue to pound the entire strip, from north to south.

Areas and routes that have been indicated as safe in previous weeks have then been struck multiple times.

11:50 An Israeli strike on the southern city of Khan Yunis killed six people, while five others died in a separate attack in Rafah, the Health ministry said.

It added that, over a 24-hour period, 71 dead and 160 wounded had arrived at Al-Aqsa hospital in Deir al-Balah city following persistent bombings.

The Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades said it fired rockets Saturday towards Reim in southern Israel.

11:40 In a video conference with journalists, international organizations depicted a bleak picture of what Save the Children called the "horrors" unfolding in the Gaza Strip.

"The situation in Gaza is not just a catastrophe, it's apocalyptic... with potentially irreversible consequences on Palestinian people," said Bushra Khalidi of Oxfam.

"Israel safe zones within Gaza are a mirage," she added.

Only 14 of the 36 hospitals in the Gaza Strip are currently functioning in any capacity, according to UN humanitarian agency OCHA, and little aid is reaching those in need.

"Those who survived the bombardment now face imminent risk of dying of starvation and disease," said Alexandra Saieh of Save the Children.

"Our teams are telling us of maggots being picked from wounds and children undergoing amputations without anesthetic," lining up by the "hundreds" for a "single toilet" or roaming the streets in search of food, she added.

"There are simply no safe spaces in Gaza, and we've seen this since the (Israeli) directive... calling on people to flee northern Gaza to the south," said Shaina Low of the Norwegian Refugee Council.

Sandrine Simon of the Medecins du Monde (Doctors of the World) said: "Gaza's hospitals are becoming morgues. That's unacceptable."

Doctors Without Borders president Isabelle Defourny said: "We are working in Al-Aqsa hospital, receiving an average of 150 to 200 war-wounded patients daily... since the first of December."

Defourny spoke of "indiscriminate carnage."

10:41 The Director of UNRWA Affairs in Gaza Thomas White described his trip to a UN distribution centre in Rafah on Friday, saying: "All you could hear was air strikes going into the city." 

He told the BBC a guesthouse he shared with colleagues was hit last night and described a "desperate situation" for Palestinians.

Thomas White said that a ceasefire was crucial. "Here in Rafah we have hundreds of thousands of people who are living in the open," he explained. "There is a lack of water. Everyone in the street is asking for flour to feed their children."

"Our shelters have well over 7,000 people. There are hundreds using the one toilet for example."

"If the bombs aren't going to kill them, it is the disease, or for those living out on the streets, it'll be the exposure."

10:00 The United States finds itself increasingly diplomatically isolated as it shields its ally, Israel.

Countries worldwide and international aid agencies have vehemently criticized Washington for its use of the veto to block a UN resolution that urged a ceasefire in Gaza, the occupied Palestinian territory devastated by more than two months of brutal Israel's war.

Russia slammed the US and UK for respectively voting against and abstaining from the vote to support the resolution, saying they are "complicit to merciless Israeli bloodbath."

Dmitry Polyanskiy, deputy charge d’affaires of the Russian Federation, told the UN security council after the vote failed, that the US's obstruction of a ceasefire is an American death sentence against thousands or maybe dozens of thousands of Palestinians in Gaza.

"One can speak cynically with nice empty words about democracy, human rights, women, peace, security, rules, order, as much as you like. However, the real value of those we have just witnessed when two members of the security council preferred to remain complicit to the merciless Israeli bloodbath," he said.

The US veto marks "a turning point in history," stated Riyad Mansour, permanent observer of the State of Palestine to the UN.

"Instead of enabling this council to fulfill its mandate by unequivocally demanding an end to two months of massacres, the perpetrators are granted more time to continue their crimes. How can such actions be justified? How can anyone justify the annihilation of an entire population?" questioned Mansour.

China's representative at the Security Council also expressed disappointment over the resolution's failure, stating that "endorsing the ongoing conflict contradicts the professed concern for the lives and safety of individuals in Gaza."

"What is the message we are sending Palestinians if we cannot unite behind a call to halt the relentless bombardment of Gaza?" Deputy UAE UN Ambassador Mohamed Abushahab asked the council.

"Indeed, what is the message we are sending civilians across the world who may find themselves in similar situations?"

Saudi Arabia's Minister of Foreign Affairs Faisal bin Farhan said it does not seem to be a priority for the international community to end the war in Gaza.

Human Rights Watch said: "By continuing to provide Israel with weapons and diplomatic cover as it commits atrocities, including collectively punishing the Palestinian civilian population in Gaza, the US risks complicity in war crimes."

"With this veto, the US government is shamefully turning its back on immense civilian suffering, staggering death toll, and unprecedented humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza. And civilians are paying the price with their lives," Executive Director of Amnesty International Paul O'Brien posted on X.

"We are appalled at the failure of the UN Security Council to authorize a resolution demanding a humanitarian ceasefire and unconditional release of hostages held in Gaza," said seven aid agencies in a joint statement.

"Security Council members cannot ignore the horrific conditions in Gaza. Action must be guided by the urgent humanitarian imperative to stop fighting, rather than politics," declared Action Against Hunger, CARE International, Mercy Corps, Norwegian Refugee Council, Oxfam International, Plan International, and Save the Children International in their statement.

9:38 Iran warned of the threat of an "uncontrollable explosion" of the situation in the Middle East after the United States vetoed a UN Security Council resolution calling for a ceasefire in the Gaza war.

​"As long as America supports the crimes of the Zionist regime (Israel) and the continuation of the war... there is a possibility of an uncontrollable explosion in the situation of the region," Iran's Minister of Foreign Affairs Amir-Abdollahian told UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in a phone call, according to a foreign ministry statement.

The Iranian FM praised the UN chief's decision to use Article 99 of the UN Charter as a "brave action to maintain international peace and security."

"The Israeli regime's claim that Hamas has violated the ceasefire is completely false," Amir-Abdollahian told Guterres, adding that US support for Israel "has made it difficult to achieve a lasting ceasefire."

Iran's top diplomat also appealed for the immediate opening of the Rafah border crossing with Egypt to enable humanitarian aid to be sent into the Gaza Strip.

9:05 The ministerial delegation assigned by the Joint Arab-Islamic Extraordinary Summit expressed profound "dismay" over the US veto, blocking a United Nations Security Council resolution calling for ceasefire in the Gaza Strip.
According to a joint statement published by Egypt’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the foreign ministers reiterated their call on the US to shoulder its responsibilities and take necessary measures to compel Israel to immediately ceasefire.

The ministers reaffirmed their united opposition to the continuous aggression by Israeli occupation forces against Palestinians in Gaza, urging an immediate and comprehensive ceasefire.

They advocated for the removal of obstacles restricting humanitarian aid entry into the territory.

The foreign ministers firmly rejected all forced displacement actions carried out by the occupation, stressing the importance of abiding by international law and preventing such actions at all levels, as detailed in the statement.

9:00 Recent hours have witnessed a significant escalation in Israel's attacks on Khan Younis, marked by relentless artillery shelling and aerial bombardment on the city's eastern and central areas.

Israeli forces continued to advance towards the city centre, near Nasser Hospital, intensifying an already tense situation.

This morning, reports from Al Jazeera confirmed Israel's targeted killing of an entire family of 13 members.

Israel’s air and ground attacks initially focused on the northern third of Gaza, leading hundreds of thousands of residents to flee south.

A week ago, Israel expanded its ground assault into central and south Gaza, where nearly the territory’s entire population of 2.3 million Palestinians are crowded, many of them cut off from humanitarian supplies.

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