Israel and the US face growing isolation over Gaza as offensive grinds on with no end in sight

AP , Tuesday 12 Dec 2023

Israel and the United States were increasingly isolated as they faced global calls for a cease-fire in Gaza, including a non-binding vote expected to pass at the United Nations later on Tuesday. Israel has pressed ahead with an offensive against Gaza that it says could go on for weeks or months.

A picture taken from southern Israel near the border with the Gaza Strip on December 12, 2023, shows smoke billowing during Israeli bombardment of the Palestinian territory amid ongoing battles with the Hamas militant group. AFP


Israeli strikes overnight and into Tuesday in southern Gaza — in an area where civilians have been told to seek shelter — killed at least 23 people, according to an Associated Press reporter at a nearby hospital.

Most of the 23 dead brought into the Rafah hospital overnight were from three families, hospital records show.In northern Gaza, the aid group Doctors Without Borders said a surgeon in the Al-Awda hospital was wounded Monday by a Israeli shot from outside the facility, which has been under “total siege” by Israeli forces for a week. 

Israel has already brought unprecedented death and destruction to the impoverished coastal Palestinian territory, killing more than 18,200 Palestinians, more than two-thirds of them women and children, and over 80% of the population of 2.3 million have fled their homes.

Much of northern Gaza has been obliterated, and hundreds of thousands have fled to ever-shrinking so-called safe zones in the south. The health care system and humanitarian aid operations have collapsed in large parts of Gaza, and aid workers have warned of starvation and the spread of disease among displaced people in overcrowded shelters and tent camps.

In a briefing with The Associated Press late Monday, Israeli occupation Defense Minister Yoav Gallant refused to commit to a firm timeline but signaled that the current phase of heavy ground fighting and airstrikes could stretch on for weeks and that further military activity could continue for months.

He said the next phase would be lower-intensity fighting against “pockets of resistance” and would require Israeli troops to maintain their freedom of operation. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said Israel will maintain security control over Gaza indefinitely.

The U.N. secretary-general and Arab states have rallied much of the international community behind calls for an immediate cease-fire. But the U.S. vetoed those efforts at the U.N. Security Council last week as it rushed tank munitions to Israel to allow it to maintain the offensive.

A non-binding vote on a similar resolution at the General Assembly scheduled for Tuesday would be largely symbolic.

The Israeli military claimed Tuesday that its aircraft targeted rocket launching posts throughout Gaza and that ground troops had found 250 rockets, mortar shells, and rocket-propelled grenade launchers in a raid.

Israeli officials have said some 7,000 Hamas resistance fighters have been killed and that 500 militants have been detained in Gaza the past month, claims that could not be verified.

At least 104 Israeli soldiers have been killed in the Gaza ground offensive, the occupation army says.

Hamas says it still has thousands of reserve resistance men and on Monday it fired a barrage of rockets that wounded one person and damaged cars and buildings in a Tel Aviv suburb. The attack set off sirens in the city, where Gallant's office and the military headquarters are located.

Two months of airstrikes, coupled with a fierce ground invasion in Gaza, Israel has killed over 18,200 Palestinians, roughly two-thirds of the dead are women and children.

The actual toll is likely higher, as thousands are missing and feared dead under the rubble, and efforts to maintain the count have been hindered by the collapse of the health sector in the north.

With Israel allowing little aid into Gaza and the U.N. largely unable to distribute it amid the fighting, Palestinians face severe shortages of food, water, and other basic goods.

Israel has forced people to flee to what it says are safe areas in the south, yet continue to bomb in and around the southern city of Khan Younis — Gaza's second largest — pushing tens of thousands toward the city of Rafah and other areas along the border with Egypt.


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