Israel intensifies bombing Gaza as UN debates ceasefire resolution - as it happened

Ahram Online , Tuesday 12 Dec 2023

On the 67th day of the war, Israel occupation army heavily bombards Khan Yunis and Rafah in the south, while also targeting Jabalia and Shejaiya in the north, as the UN General Assembly gears up to vote on a non-binding resolution for an immediate ceasefire, following the US veto at the Security Council.

war on Gaza
Palestinian children wounded in the Israeli bombardment of the Gaza Strip are brought to the hospital in Deir al Balah, Dec. 2023, AP


23:30 The Pentagon announced Tuesday that Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin will travel to Israel, Bahrain and Qatar next week as the U.S. continues to press allies to commit to an international maritime task force to protect commercial ships in the Red Sea as those ships have come under increased attacks.

Austin will also meet with his defense counterparts in Tel Aviv to show continued U.S. support for Israel’s right to defend itself but also press the need for Israel to avoid more civilian casualties in Gaza.

Late Monday, a land-based cruise missile launched from Houthi-controlled Yemen hit the Motor Transport ship STRINDA, causing a fire. The USS Mason, a destroyer, responded to assist the ship.


22:15 Riyad Mansour, the Palestinian ambassador to the United Nations, told U.N. reporters Tuesday that Arab and Islamic ambassadors have been mobilizing support for the resolution and expect it will get a significantly higher number of votes than their Oct. 27 resolution, which called for a “humanitarian truce” leading to a cessation of hostilities. That resolution was the first U.N. reaction to the Gaza war, and the vote was 120-14 with 45 abstentions.

“I think it will send a message to Washington and to others,” Mansour said, adding that a demand from the United Nations, whether it’s the Security Council or the General Assembly, should be looked at as binding. “And Israel has to abide by it, and those who are shielding and protecting Israel until now should also look at it this way, and therefore act accordingly," he said.

Unlike Security Council resolutions, General Assembly resolutions are not legally binding. But the assembly’s messages “are also very important” and reflect world opinion, U.N. spokesperson Stephane Dujarric said Monday.

20:00 President Joe Biden says he’s told Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that Israel risks losing international support because of “indiscriminate bombing” during its war on Gaza, but that he’s not sure the country’s staunchest conservative leaders are getting the message.

Speaking at a fundraiser for his reelection campaign in Washington on Tuesday, Biden said, “Israel has a tough decision to make.” He added of Netanyahu, “I think he has to change his government. His government in Israel is making it very difficult.”

“One of the things that Bibi understands,” Biden said “is that Israel’s security can rest on the United States. But, right now, it has more than the United States. It has the European Union, it has Europe, it has most of the world supporting them. But they’re starting to lose that support by indiscriminate bombing that takes place.”

Biden also called out Itamar Ben-Gvir, the leader of a far-right Israeli party and the minister of national security in Netanyahu’s governing coalition. Ben-Gvir opposes a two-state solution and has called for the Israel to reassert control over all of the West Bank and Gaza.

Biden suggested that he wasn’t sure Ben-Gvir and Netanyahu’s war Cabinet understand the implications of the ongoing bombing.

The president also said he urged Netanyahu not to “make the same mistakes” the U.S. made after Sept. 11, saying the U.S. military response landed it in a long war in Afghanistan and “there’s no reason we did so many of the things we did.”

19:15 The Israeli army announced on Tuesday that they had retrieved the bodies of two captives from Gaza in an operation that killed two Israeli soldiers.

Soldiers retrieved the bodies of Eden Zakaria, 27, who was kidnapped from the music festival near Kibbutz Re’im, and Ziv Dado, 36, a soldier serving near the Gaza border. Dado was killed on October 7 and his body was taken to Gaza. Zakaria was wounded on October 7, and it was unclear if she was taken alive or dead to Gaza, according to reports on Israel’s Channel 12.

During the operation to rescue the bodies, two soldiers, Gal Meir Eizenkot and Eyal Meir Berkowitz, were killed. Gal Eisenkot is the son of Gadi Eizenkot, who served as military chief of staff from 2015 to 2019 and sits on the war cabinet.

17:30 White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan said he will speak with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu about timetables for ending major combat in Gaza when he visits Israel later this week.

Sullivan said he would be carrying President Joe Biden’s thoughts on the matter and would also be looking to hear from Netanyahu and Israeli officials on the issue.

“The subject of how they are seeing the timetable of this war will certainly be on the agenda for my meetings,” Sullivan said Tuesday during an appearance at a forum hosted by the Wall Street Journal.

Sullivan suggested that at some point Israeli forces would shift toward more focused operations to achieve their objectives.

“It doesn’t have to be that you go from that to literally nothing in terms of putting pressure on going after Hamas targets, Hamas leadership, or continuing to have tools in your toolbox to try to secure the release of hostages,” he said. “It just means that you move to a different phase from the kind of high-intensity operations that we see today.”

Sullivan said he would also speak to Netanyahu about his recent comments that Israeli army would maintain open-ended security control of Gaza after the war ends.

Sullivan reiterated the Biden administration's position that it does not want to see Israel reoccupy Gaza or further shrink its already small territory. The administration has repeatedly called for a return of the internationally recognized Palestinian Authority and the resumption of peace talks aimed at establishing a Palestinian state alongside Israel.

“I will have the opportunity to talk to Prime Minister Netanyahu about what exactly he has in mind with that comment, because that can be interpreted in a number of different ways,” Sullivan said. “But the U.S. position on this is clear.”

15:25 Israel has killed 18,412 people and injured 50,100 other in Gaza since the begining of the war on 7 October, the Palestinian health ministry reported in its daily tally.

14:16  Israel has imposed a near-total siege on Gaza-inflicting collective punishment on over 2 million people, half of whom are children, the UNRWA said.


13:50 Nine injured Palestinians have crossed from Gaza into Egypt via the Rafah crossing to seek medical treatment at Egyptian hospitals, as reported by Al-Qahera News TV channel.

Moreover, over 300 individuals holding dual citizenship have also entered through Rafah.

Additionally, 40 humanitarian aid trucks and five fuel trucks dispatched from Egypt have entered Gaza via the terminal.


12:20 The health ministry in the Gaza Strip sayas that the Israeli forces are raiding Kamal Adwan hospital in the north of the Palestinian territory.

"Israeli occupation forces are storming Kamal Adwan hospital after besieging and bombing it for days," ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Qudra said in a statement.

11:50 Puma will end its sponsorship of Israel's national football team next year, a spokesperson for the German sportswear firm said on Tuesday, according to Reuters.

"While two newly signed national teams - including a new statement team - will be announced later this year and in 2024, the contracts of some federations such as Serbia and Israel will expire in 2024," said the spokesperson in an emailed statement.

The news was reported by the Financial Times.

The company says the decision, planned since last year, is unrelated to boycott calls against it amid Israel’s war on Gaza, and is part of Puma's new "fewer-bigger-better strategy."

The Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement had called for a boycott of the sportswear firm over its sponsorship of the Israeli team.

Puma first signed its contract with the Israeli team in 2018.

Since then, the company has faced boycott calls from activists, since the Israeli Football Association includes teams based in Jewish-only settlements in the occupied West Bank, which are illegal under international law.

Boycott calls have grown stronger and expanded to more firms and products following Israel's brutal war on the Gaza Strip.


11:00 Of the 105 Israeli occupation soldiers killed in the Gaza Strip during its ground offensive in Gaza, 20 were killed by friendly fire and other accidents, according to The Times of Israel reporting on data released by the Israeli army.

Thirteen of the soldiers were killed by friendly fire due to mistaken identification, including in airstrikes, tank fire, and gunfire.

One soldier was killed by gunfire aimed at another target and another two were killed by misfires.

Two soldiers were killed when they were run over by armoured vehicles.

Two soldiers were killed by shrapnel from explosives intentionally set off by Israeli forces.

The war has led to the killing of 433 Israeli soldiers and the wounding of at least 1,645 more.

However, some reporting by an Israeli newspaper suggests this number could be higher.


10:10 Sky News' reporter Mark Stone confronted the US State Department Spokesperson Matthew Miller over the American response to the Israeli detention of Palestinian children and men who were stripped to their underwear, blindfolded, and crowded into trucks.

Others were forced to sit in lines on bombed-out streets, surrounded by tanks and soldiers.

"We found those images deeply disturbing and we are seeking more information, both about the nature of the images and, of course, why they are public in the first place," Miller responded when asked if he found such images appropriate.

Al Jazeera interviewed a group of former detainees, including several children and elderly people, who said that they were separated from the women, ordered to strip, and then beaten and imprisoned by the Israeli army.

One of the older members of the group stated that prisoners were subjected to mock executions.

Other videos depict Israeli soldiers engaging in mockery, looting, and vandalizing properties.

In one footage, a soldier rummages through women’s lingerie within an upturned room, referring disrespectfully to the previous occupant as a “slut” while off-camera, he inquires, "Who wants a [lingerie] set."

Another video shows a soldier blowing up a building, dedicating the action to his daughter.

10:00 The European Union will work on introducing sanctions against Israeli extremist settlers who commit acts of violence against Palestinians in the occupied West Bank, the bloc's foreign policy chief said.

Josep Borrell’s comments come amid growing concern that Israel is not doing enough to prevent hardcore settlers from launching attacks on Palestinians.

United Nations data has shown a sharp increase in attacks by terrorist settlers against Palestinians since 7 October — though European and US diplomats have expressed concerns for years about such violence and the sense it frequently goes unpunished by Israel.

Borrell's remarks also follow the announcement last week of a new visa policy by the United States targeting the same violent individuals.

The State Department will be able to apply the policy to both Israelis and Palestinians who are responsible for attacks in the West Bank, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said last week.

American citizens represent 15 percent of the overall settlement population.

Borrell did not give details of possible EU sanctions, but Reuters said officials believed it would involve travel bans to the bloc. 


9:45 A surgeon was wounded after being shot from outside a hospital in northern Gaza that is surrounded by Israeli forces, Doctors Without Borders said.

The aid group said the shooting occurred Monday at Al-Awda Hospital, and that five hospital staff at Al-Awda Hospital, including two of its own doctors, have been killed while caring for patients since the start of the war.

The United Nations humanitarian office, known as OCHA, said a convoy delivering medical supplies to the north for the first time in more than a week came under fire on the way to another hospital over the weekend.

The convoy evacuated 19 patients but was delayed for inspections by Israeli occupation forces on the way south. OCHA said one patient died and a paramedic was detained for hours.

Tens of thousands of Palestinians have remained in northern Gaza, even after Israel's evacuation orders and as airstrikes have leveled entire neighborhoods.

Very little humanitarian aid has been allowed into northern Gaza, and the health system has all but collapsed.


9:35 The Israeli occupation forces killed four Palestinians in the occupied West Bank city of Jenin on Tuesday, the Palestinian health ministry reported.

At least one other is thought to have been seriously wounded.

​The ministry did not provide further details on the fatalities, while the Palestinian Red Crescent Society said they were killed in a drone strike on the Old City.

Videos emerged from inside the city, showing several bodies lying on the ground, and people gathered around them, BBC reported.

At least 275 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces and settler attacks in the occupied Jerusalem and West Bank, Palestinian officials say, as violence has escalated in the territory since the outbreak of the Israeli war on Gaza on 7 October.

An AFP photographer saw Israeli military vehicles entering Jenin refugee camp on Tuesday and a drone flying above.

Israeli forces "continue to storm Jenin camp and ambulance crews are prevented from entering to deal with medical cases without prior coordination," the Red Crescent said in a statement.


09:32 The World Health Organization said Tuesday that a patient had died in an emergency convoy en route to a Gaza City hospital, during repeated and lengthy Israeli checks.

WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at the weekend that the UN health agency and its partners had managed to deliver essential trauma and surgical supplies to the Al-Ahli hospital and to transfer 19 critical patients.

But on Tuesday, he provided more details about the high-risk mission, saying on X, formerly Twitter, that the WHO was "deeply concerned about prolonged checks and detention of health workers that put lives of already fragile patients at risk."

"Due to the hold-up, one patient died en route, given the grave nature of their wounds and the delay in accessing treatment," he said.

The UN estimates 1.9 million of the territory's 2.4 million people have been displaced by the war, half of them children.

Humanitarian leaders fear the besieged territory will soon be overwhelmed by disease and starvation.

Saturday's WHO-led mission brought desperately needed aid to Al-Ahli hospital, which had been "substantially damaged" and was in acute need of oxygen and essential medical supplies plus water, food, and fuel, as well as additional health personnel.

Tedros had described it as a "very high-risk mission in the vicinity of active shelling and artillery fire."

On Tuesday, he said the convoy was stopped twice at the Wadi Gaza checkpoint on the way to northern Gaza and on the way back, adding that some Palestinian Red Crescent staff were detained both times and questioned for several hours.

"As the mission entered Gaza City, the aid truck carrying the medical supplies and an ambulance were hit by bullets," he said.


9:30 A missile fired by Yemen's Houthi group slammed into a Norwegian-flagged tanker in the Red Sea off the coast of Yemen near a key maritime chokepoint, the Houthi and authorities said Tuesday.

The assault on the oil and chemical tanker Strinda expands a campaign by the group targeting ships close to the Bab Al-Mandeb Strait into now striking those that have no clear ties to Israel.

That potentially imperils cargo and energy shipments coming through the Suez Canal and further widens the international impact of the now-raging devastating Israeli war on Gaza.

Houthi military spokesperson Brig. Gen. Yahya Saree issued a video statement saying the rebels only fired on the vessel when it “rejected all warning calls.”

The US military's Central Command issued a statement Tuesday saying an anti-ship cruise missile “launched from a Houthi-controlled area of Yemen” hit the Strinda.

The private intelligence firms Ambrey and Dryad Global had earlier confirmed the attack happened near the crucial Bab Al-Mandeb Strait separating East Africa from the Arabian Peninsula.

The Strinda was coming from Malaysia and was bound for the Suez Canal and then on to Italy with a cargo of palm oil, Belsnes said. Saree alleged without offering any evidence that the ship was bound for Israel.

The Houthis have carried out a series of attacks on vessels in the Red Sea and also launched drones and missiles targeting Israel because of its war on Gaza.

In November, Houthis seized a vehicle transport ship linked to Israel in the Red Sea off Yemen.

The rebels still hold the vessel near the port city of Hodeida. Separately, a container ship owned by an Israeli billionaire came under attack by a drone in the Indian Ocean.


9:00 Israel continued its bombing of Gaza amid ongoing fierce resistance, with confrontations reported in central Gaza and witnesses detailing deadly strikes in the south.

Strikes targeted Gaza’s main southern cities of Khan Younis and Rafah, both bearing the brunt of the war and providing shelter to tens of thousands seeking refuge from Israel's genocidal war.

Dozens more were injured in the strike on a family home in the Al Zuhur neighbourhood, the Wafa news agency said.

Israeli strikes overnight and into Tuesday in southern Gaza killed at least 23 people, including six children.

Most of the 23 dead brought into the Rafah hospital overnight were from three families, hospital records show.

Since the start of the war in early October, Israel has killed over 18,200 Palestinians, mostly women and children.

Simultaneously, the Israeli occupation army continued its assault on the northern areas of Jabalia and Shejaiya, where homes lie in ruins.

A Palestinian from Khan Yunis, follows his father who is carrying the wrapped body of his daughter Sidal who was killed overnight while sleeping in a tent from a shrapnel that hit her in the head following Israeli bombardment in Rafah on December 12, 2023. AFP

Palestinians mourn their relatives killed in the Israeli bombardment of the Gaza Strip, at the hospital Rafah, December 12, 2023. AP
Forty humanitarian aid trucks and five fuel trucks, delivered from Egypt, arrived in Gaza through the Rafah crossing, Al-Qahera News TV channel reported on Tuesday.

Additionally, nine injured Palestinians arrived in Egypt through the Rafah crossing to receive medical treatment in Egyptian hospitals.

More than 300 dual citizenship holders also arrived in Rafah.

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