Egypt now using Karm Abu Salem border crossing to send more aid to Gaza as deadly Israeli war on strip continues - as it happened

Ahram Online , Wednesday 13 Dec 2023

As the genocidal Israeli war on Gaza enters its 68th day, Israeli airstrikes and heavy artillery bombardment struck both Rafah and Khan Younis, killing 23 Palestinians in an area supposed to be a safe zone for evacuations. The UN is pushing for an immediate ceasefire while the Palestinian foreign minister accuses Israel of starving Gaza's 2.3 million residents.

Young Palestinians rest under a makeshift tent at a camp for displaced people in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip where most civilians have taken refuge, on December 13, 2023. AFP


23:00 Egypt started Tuesday to use the Karm Abu Salem border crossing for processing aid to speed up its delivery through the Rafah border crossing to Palestinians in the besieged Gaza Strip.

“Since yesterday, the passage of humanitarian and relief aid trucks -- [awaiting in] Egypt -- can now be processed at the Karm Abu Salem border crossing with Gaza/Israel on their way to be delivered through the Rafah border crossing to the strip under an agreement made with the Israeli side,” Diaa Rashwan, Head of the Egyptian State Information Service, stated on Wednesday.

"This is in addition to the Al-Ouga crossing, as has been the case,” Rashwan added.

22:00 Some of the crucial details of Israel’s narrative claiming Hamas committed mass atrocities on 7 October were simply false and a result of Israel's desire to obtain public and international support for violent retaliation against Gaza, according to an investigation conducted by the French newspaper Libération.

The newspaper’s investigation published on 12 December stated: “No heads were cut off, no children were placed in ovens, no pregnant women’s stomachs were cut open, and no children’s hands were tied behind their backs,” but pointed out that “only one infant was killed out of 40 minors killed in the attack.

Read the full Ahram Online report

20:30 In a defiant message from  Doha, Ismail Haniyeh, the head of the Hamas Political Bureau, rejected any discussion of an arrangement for the future of Gaza after the Israeli war on the strip that does not include Hamas.

"Any bet on arrangements in Gaza without Hamas and the resistance is an illusion and a mirage," said Haniyeh.

"We are open to discussing any ideas or initiatives that could lead to stopping the aggression," he added.

"We call on the peoples of our Arab and Islamic nations to expand the scope of their action in proportion to the scale of the aggression and we value the popular and international movement in support of Palestine and its people in various cities and capitals of the world."

"All suffering will remain engraved in our memories and its perpetrators cannot be forgotten or forgiven," Haniyeh concluded.

19:30 The Israeli army on Wednesday said that 10 Israeli soldiers were killed during fighting in the Shujaiya neighbourhood of Gaza City on Tuesday, the deadliest day for the Israeli military since their ground invasion of Gaza began. 

The update comes after an earlier statement on Tuesday said at least eight soldiers had been killed in the fighting, including an Israeli senior officer who commanded a forward base for the Golani infantry brigade.

"What happened in Shujaiya yesterday was very hard," the Israeli chief of staff said on Wednesday. 

On Tuesday evening, Al-Qassam Brigades released a statement saying its fighters inflicted casualties on Israeli forces in Shujaiya during fierce battles throughout the day.

Since the beginning of Israel's ground invasion 115 Israeli soldiers have been killed and 600 injured, Israeli army figures released Wednesday said.

According to the official figure, at least 444 Israeli soldiers were killed since 7 October and 1,682 wounded, 135 in serious condition.

The rest suffered moderate and light injuries.

However, some Israeli media have estimated that at least 5,000 soldiers were injured since the start of the ground.

18:30 The Palestinian health ministry in the Gaza Strip on Wednesday said the death toll from the Israeli war on Gaza has risen to 18,608 and the figure for the wounded has climbed to over 50,594.

Ministry spokesman Ashraf Al-Qudra affirmed that more than 70 percent of the victims of Israeli airstrikes and bombardment are women and children.

17:30 National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan will travel to Israel on Thursday to meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other top officials amid mounting international pressure over its war in Gaza, the White House said.

Sullivan will travel to Israel on 14 December and 15 December to meet with Netanyahu, his cabinet and President Isaac Herzog "to discuss the latest developments in Israel and Gaza," according to a White House statement.

On Tuesday, US President Joe Biden said Tuesday the Israeli administration was opposed to a two-state solution with the Palestinians and urged Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to "change" his government.

Biden's comments to Democratic donors revealed a rare rift with Netanyahu after weeks in which the US leader has backed Israel's war on Gaza, financially and militarily, and used the US veto power in the UNSC to prevent the passing of a resolution calling for an immediate ceasefire.

"This is the most conservative government in Israel's history," he said, adding that the Israeli government "doesn't want a two-state solution."

Biden added that Israel was starting to lose support around the world and that Netanyahu "has to strengthen and change" the Israeli government to find a long-term solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

16:30 Egypt reiterated on Tuesday its categorical rejection of any Israeli attempts to voluntarily or forcibly displace Palestinians outside Gaza.

In a statement, the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs noted that all Israeli practices on the ground confirm Israeli intentions to impose the forced displacement of Palestinians outside their territories.

Egypt stressed that Israeli practices in the Gaza Strip constitute a clear violation of the rules of international law and international humanitarian law, and contravenes Israel’s responsibilities as the occupying power under Article 49 of the Geneva Conventions.

Furthermore, Egypt demanded Israel immediately cease the bombardment and targeting of Palestinian civilians as well as cease the imposition of conditions and circumstances that turn the Gaza Strip into an unviable, unsafe, and unstable area for Palestinians.

The ministry's statement came in response to the recent statements made by the Israeli Minister of Strategic Affairs Ron Dermer regarding "encouraging Palestinians in the Gaza Strip to voluntarily migrate outside the strip."

15:50 At least 18,608 people have been killed and 50,594 injured in Israeli strikes on Gaza since 7 October, according to the latest figures issued by the Palestinian health ministry.

15:40 Video and images obtained by Al Jazeera show bodies of Palestinians killed by Israel piled up inside the Shadia Abu Ghazala School in Al-Faluja area, west of the Jabalia refugee camp in northern Gaza.


14:45 The Palestinian health ministry said it had exhausted its supply of children's vaccines and warned of "catastrophic health repercussions."

The ministry called on international institutions to deliver urgently needed vaccines "to prevent disaster."

Tedros Ghebreyesus, head of the World Health Organization, warned Sunday that "Gaza's health system is on its knees and collapsing," with 14 of 36 hospitals only partially functioning and supplies running low.

"The risk is expected to worsen with the deteriorating situation and approaching winter conditions," he said.

14:40 Saudi Minister of Foreign Affairs Prince Faisal bin Farhan bin Abdullah held discussions with his Iranian counterpart Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, primarily centered on the Israeli war on Gaza and related developments, Saudi News Agency reported.

Both officials emphasized the international community's imperative role in securing a ceasefire and safeguarding civilian lives.

They met during the Human Rights High-Level Event commemorating the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

14:10 A group of left-wing Israeli organizations submitted a letter to United States President Joe Biden, asking that he encourage Israel to stop military operations in the Gaza Strip and to continue administering aid, Israeli newspaper Jerusalem Post reported.

The letter accuses Israel of not complying with the US instructions to act in self-defense in accordance with international law and the rules of war. 

The group argues that “Israel’s policy has driven the humanitarian crisis in Gaza to the point of catastrophe - not only as an inevitable outcome of the war."

The letter stated that most of the civilian population does not have access to safe drinking water in Gaza.

It also addressed the number of civilian casualties, which exceeded 18,000 Palestinians killed by Israel’s army in Gaza.

“Allowing humanitarian aid into Gaza is not a gesture of goodwill on Israel’s part but one of its obligations,” the letter said.

13:00 The Russian foreign minister called on UN chief Antonio Guterres to organize an international conference to find a lasting solution to the Israeli war on Gaza.

"The only way for this problem to be solved forever, and to be solved in a just way, is to hold an international conference with all five permanent members of the UN Security Council," Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told Russian senators.

He said the conference should include representatives of countries from the Arab League, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, and the Gulf Cooperation Council.

12:58 The United Nations humanitarian office said that Gaza faced a "public health disaster" due to the collapse of its health system and the spread of disease caused by overcrowding.

"We all know that the health care system is or has collapsed," said Lynn Hastings, the U.N. Humanitarian Coordinator for the Occupied Palestinian Territory.

"We've got a textbook formula for epidemics and a public health disaster."

The United Nations and aid groups have sounded the alarm about the spread of infectious disease in Gaza, where the internal displacement of 85% of the population has caused overcrowding in shelters and other temporary living facilities.

WHO has reported a sharp uptick in acute respiratory infections, diarrhoea, lice, scabies, and other fast-spreading diseases.

The Palestinian foreign minister said that Israel is weaponizing food and starving Gaza deliberately.

"As we speak, at least 1 million Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, half of them children, are starving, not because of a natural disaster or because of lack of generous assistance waiting at the border," Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki told a UN event to mark the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

"No, they are starving because of Israel's deliberate use of starvation as a weapon of war against the people it occupied."

"Half of Gaza is now starving," said Mustafa Barghouti, a Palestinian politician who heads the Union of Palestinian Medical Relief Committees, which has 25 teams working in Gaza.

He said 350,000 people had infections, including 115,000 with severe respiratory infections, and lacked warm clothes, blankets, and protection from the rain.

"To add insult to injury, we have 46,000 injured people who cannot be treated properly because most of the hospitals are not functioning," he said.

12:50 Forcibly displaced Palestinians in Rafah, southern Gaza, endure dire conditions as they seek shelter under makeshift tents, sheets, and plastic covers, battling relentless rain.

Here are images depicting life in Gaza's displacement camps.

A Palestinian man prepares food for his family outside his tent at a camp for displaced people in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, AFP

The situation in the north remains equally dire. 

Anas Al-Sharif, reporting from Gaza, just shared footage of a boy carrying the body of a child amid of the floods that submerge the streets in Jabalia refugee camp.

لا حول ولا قوة إلا بالله #مخيم_جباليا

— أنس الشريف Anas Al-Sharif (@AnasAlSharif0) December 13, 2023

12:25 The EU chief Ursula von der Leyen backed imposing sanctions on terrorist Israeli settlers responsible for attacks on Palestinians in the occupied West Bank.

"I am in favour of sanctioning those involved in the attacks in the West Bank. They must be held accountable. This violence has nothing to do with the fight against Hamas and must stop," the European Commission president told EU lawmakers.

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 Josep Borrell said on Monday.
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.

The EU move comes after the United States said last week it would refuse visas to settlers behind a wave of violence in the West Bank.

12:15 Two missiles fired from territory held by Yemen's Houthi rebels missed a commercial tanker loaded with Indian-manufactured jet fuel near the key Bab El-Mandeb Strait on Wednesday, a US official said.

It is the first time they have targeted an energy shipment heading to the Suez Canal.

An American warship also shot down a suspected Houthi drone flying in its direction during the incident, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss intelligence matters, The Associated Press reported.

The assault on the tanker Ardmore Encounter further escalates a campaign by the Houthis targeting ships close to the Bab El-Mandeb Strait and also widens the international impact of the Israeli war raging in the Gaza Strip.

The Marshall Islands-flagged tanker was traveling north toward the Suez Canal in the Red Sea, satellite tracking data analyzed by AP showed. The vessel was on its way from Mangalore, India, and had an armed security crew aboard it, according to data transmitted by the ship.

Those guards opened fire to drive off skiffs loaded with men trying to board the vessel, the private intelligence firm Ambrey said.

12:00 A young girl was killed after being struck by a bullet fired from an Israeli drone while at a shelter center in Khan Younis, in southern Gaza, Al Jazeera reported.

11:45 Strong winds, torrential rain, and flooding have further complicated the lives of forcibly displaced Palestinians in Gaza as Israel continues its bombardment of the besieged strip.


11:00 Israel’s occupation army has begun pumping seawater into Gaza's tunnels, according to US officials briefed on the Israeli military’s operations, Wall Street Journal reported.

Israel believes some captives are being held inside tunnels.

In reported recordings between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and released captives and their families leaked last week, Israelis angrily told Netanyahu that they feared flooding the tunnels, which is in an early stage, would kill their relatives.

The US president did not address the Israeli approach directly but said that assertions have been made that “there are no captives in any of these tunnels…But I do not know that for a fact.”

There are growing concerns that using seawater could endanger Gaza’s freshwater supply. 

10:30 Several viral videos and photos of Israeli soldiers behaving in a derogatory manner in Gaza have emerged in recent days, creating a headache for the Israeli occupation army as it faces an international outcry over its tactics and the rising civilian death toll in its war on Gaza.

Such videos are not a new or unique phenomenon. Over the years, Israeli soldiers — and members of the US and other militaries — have been caught on camera acting inappropriately or maliciously in conflict zones.

But critics say the new videos, largely shrugged off in Israel, reflect a national Israeli mood that has little empathy for the plight of Gaza's civilians.

“The dehumanization from the top is very much sinking to the soldiers,” said Dror Sadot, a spokeswoman for the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem, which has long documented Israeli abuses against Palestinians.

The videos seem to have been uploaded by soldiers themselves during their time in Gaza.

In one, a soldier has moved Muslim prayer rugs into a bathroom. In another, a soldier films boxes of lingerie found in a Gaza home. Yet another shows a soldier trying to set fire to food and water supplies that are scarce in Gaza.

In a photo, an Israeli soldier sits in front of a room under the graffiti that reads: “Khan Younis Rabbinical Court.” 

In another photo, a soldier poses next to words spray-painted in red on a pink building that read, “Instead of erasing graffiti, let’s erase Gaza.”

A video posted by conservative Israeli media personality Yinon Magal on X, formerly Twitter, shows dozens of soldiers dancing in a circle, apparently in Gaza, and singing a song that includes the words, “Gaza we have come to conquer. … We know our slogan – there are no people who are uninvolved.” 

Other videos have surfaced, including the ransacking of the toy store, apparently in the northern area of Jebaliya, in which a soldier smashes toys and decapitates a plastic figurine.

Osama Hamdan, a top Hamas official, aired the video of the soldier in the toy shop at a news conference in Beirut. He called the footage “disgusting.”

10:10 The Palestinian Journalists Syndicate said that its Freedoms Committee monitored and documented the occupation’s closure of eight media printing properties, according to WAFA.

It said that forces seized and destroyed their equipment during incursions in the governorates of Hebron, Bethlehem, Ramallah, and Al-Bireh, since 7 October.

Committee Head Mohammed Al-Laham said in a statement that the occupation behaves like bandits, stealing, damaging, and destroying media property.

He noted that the occupation forces refused to hand over any books or documents they stole from the printing presses, without showing a warrant.

Al-Laham estimated the value of the losses at about $1 million.

9:35 During the night the UN General Assembly passed a resolution calling for a humanitarian ceasefire by a vote of 153 in favour. 

Here's how countries voted:

Ten voted against, 23 abstained and seven did not record a vote. 

Here are the countries that voted against: 

Austria, Czechia, Guatemala, Israel, Liberia, Micronesia, Nauru, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay and the United States.

9:27 Secretary General of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Hussein Al-Sheikh stressed that US President Joe Biden must transform his words into actions and call for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza.

"US President Biden's statements yesterday must transform into actions, starting with calling for an immediate ceasefire and putting forward a comprehensive political plan based on international legitimacy and international law, ending the occupation and establishing an independent Palestinian state," Al-Sheikh said in a post on X. 

On Tuesday, Biden said he told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that Israel was losing international support because of its “indiscriminate bombing” and that Netanyahu should change his government, which is dominated by far-right parties.

Israel and the United States on Tuesday showed their sharpest public disagreement yet over the conduct and future of the war on Gaza as the two allies became increasingly isolated by global calls for a cease-fire.

9:15 Israeli army raids on Jenin and the Jenin refugee camp in the occupied West Bank have been continuing for 29 hours, and there are still no signs of it ending.

Videos showed one residential home being surrounded by the Israeli army, Al Jazeera reported from Ramallah in the occupied West Bank.

The Palestinian Prisoner’s Society said that up to 100 Palestinians have been arrested in the raid so far.

Raids are also taking place across the West Bank in the cities of Nablus, Hebron, Bethlehem, and the Ramallah outskirts.

The UN reports that Israeli forces demolished Palestinian-owned buildings in Anata and Marj Naja in the occupied West Bank on Tuesday.

This year, a total of 1,001 Palestinian-owned structures have been demolished in the occupied West Bank, leading to the displacement of at least 1,870 people, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

9:05 Israel reported the loss of eight additional soldiers in the conflict in Gaza, among them a lieutenant colonel who previously commanded the Golani infantry regiment.

The army stated that a total of 115 soldiers have died since Israel initiated ground operations in Gaza on 20 October, according to Israeli media.

Meanwhile, the Al-Qassam Brigades said on its Telegram channel that it targeted an Israeli tank in the Maan area of Khan Younis.

9:00 The Palestinian health ministry reported Wednesday that at least another 50 people were killed in the latest wave of Israeli air strikes across Gaza.

Israeli airstrikes and heavy artillery hit east Rafah, killing eight members from one family in an area presumed to be a safe zone.

In Khan Younis, near Al-Nasser hospital, Israeli strikes targeted a residential home, killing another eight Palestinians, every single member of the Al-Amoudi family.

Artillery also targeted the Al-Tuffah and Al-Daraj neighbourhoods in the central strip.

Just hours earlier, the UN general assembly passed a resolution calling for a ceasefire by a vote of 153 in favour, 10 against, and 23 abstentions.

The US was the only major power that voted against the resolution.

Israel has killed more than 18,400 Palestinians in Gaza, mostly women and children since 7 October.

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