Israel targets Gaza refugee camps as US approves new weapons sale- as it happened

Ahram Online , Saturday 30 Dec 2023

On the 85th day of the Israeli war, refugee camps in central Gaza face relentless Israeli airstrikes and artillery attacks, especially in the east as the occupation forces increase by 30,000 soldiers to expand operations towards Rafah, fierce battles persists in the center, while the US approves new sale of munitions to Israel.

War on Gaza
A drone image shows thousands of tents used by forced displaced Palestinians in Rafah, in Israel s genocidal war on Gaza. AP

19:00 The armed wing of the Palestinian Liberation Front (PFLP) Abu Ali Mustafa Brigades announced that an Israeli soldier that was held captive by the group in Gaza was killed in an Israeli airstrike following a failed attempt to free him..

The group is still holding the body of the slain soldier, the Brigades' spokesperson said, disclosing no details of when the soldier was captured, or where he was being held at the time of the strike.

The Israeli military spokesperson's office declined to comment.

The PFLP is the second biggest faction of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) after Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah party.

Unlike Fatah, the PFLP does not recognize Israel and supports a one-state solution for both Palestinians and Jews.

17:45 Israeli forces shot dead a Palestinian man, Mohammed Masalmeh, in the occupied West Bank, the Palestinian health ministry said.

The Israeli military said soldiers "neutralized" a driver who rammed a car into a military post near Fawwar refugee camp, south of Hebron.

The incident comes a day after Israeli troops shot dead another Palestinian who the military said rammed a car into people near Hebron, wounding four according to medics.

More than 520 Palestinians have been killed in the West Bank this year by Israeli security forces and settlers, according to a health ministry toll, at least 317 of them since Israel's war on Gaza erupted on 7 October.


17:30 A total of 50 aid trucks, including four fuel trucks, entered the Gaza Strip through the Rafah crossing, Egyptian news outlet Al-Qahera News reported.

In addition, 18 Palestinians wounded in ongoing Israeli attacks crossed from the strip to receive treatment in Egyptian hospitals.

According to the channel, 250 foreigners stranded in Gaza were also evacuated through the Rafah crossing.

Since 7 October, Israel has put over 2.4 million Palestinians in Gaza under a complete blockade, cutting off all water, food, fuel, and medicines supplies.

It also has created hurdles delaying the delivery of aid for the Rafah crossing, the only point between the strip and Egypt.

Since the start of the war, Egypt has called on the international community to pressure Israel to keep the Rafah border crossing permanently open to allow for the delivery of aid.

Egypt has received dozens of wounded Palestinians for treatment in its hospitals as the Israel was has knocked most medical facilities in Gaza out of service.

17:00 Medical personnel at Nasser Hospital in Khan Younis said they were facing severe shortages.

"The hospital is receiving a lot more [patients] than its capacity, in fact we are functioning at 300 percent of our... capacity," doctor Ahmad Abu Mustafa said in footage shared by the World Health Organization (WHO).

"The beds are full... and we are basically short on all sorts of medicine supplies."

The severe shortages come as Israel has refused to allow adequate aid to be delivered to the 2.4 million Palestinians in Gaza despite a recent United Nations Security Council resolution mandating such delivery. 

Accordingly, the health ministry appealed to the international community for more support, including greater assistance in evacuating more patients.

The ministry added that Israeli bombardment has put 23 hospitals and 53 health centres out of service, while 104 ambulances have been destroyed.

16:15 Hamas condemned the US approval of a $147.5 million sale of high-explosive artillery munitions and related equipment to Israel.

The United States announced the sale of the 155mm artillery munitions on Friday under an emergency provision that waives the normal requirement for a congressional review.

Hamas said the sale was "clear evidence of the American administration's full sponsorship of this criminal war".

President Joe Biden's administration "conspicuously aligns itself with and actively supports all atrocities perpetrated" by Israel, the resistance group said in a statement.

Those wartime atrocities, it added, have led to the "ruthless killing of children and civilians, forced displacement of residents, and the systematic destruction of civilian life" in Gaza.

Earlier this month, the United States used the same emergency provision to approve the sale of nearly 14,000 rounds of 120mm tank ammunition to Israel.

Israel requested that 155mm fuses, primers and charges be added to previous foreign military sale cases, increasing their estimated total cost from $96.51 million to $147.5 million and requiring a new notification, according to a statement from the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency.

The secretary of state has determined that "an emergency exists that requires the immediate sale to the government of Israel", the statement said.

15:55 The Japan Broadcasting Corporation (NHK) uncovered evidence of the destruction of at least 10 cemeteries in the Gaza Strip by Israeli forces attacks. NHK has analyzed satellite imagery from across Gaza and assessed the harm to local cemeteries.

The photos show 28 burial places across the enclave. The 10 disfigured sites are spread from north to south.

An aerial view shows that a gravesite near the southern city of Khan Younis had no damage as of 6 December.

But two weeks later, graves had been cleared from a 2,500 square meter area and several vehicles parked on the site.

Human rights group says Israel systematically violates the sanctity of the dead and international humanitarian law.

15:14 Hamas issued a statement applauding the decision of Palestinian Christians who have chosen to curtail this year's festivities, by focusing on religious rituals amidst the ongoing Israeli aggression.

"This conscious choice reaffirms their unwavering kinship with our people in the Gaza Strip who are being subjected to the brutal Zionist aggression, echoing a collective commitment of our people, all Muslims and Christians, to stand firm in defense of our land and the preservation of its identity," the statement said.

The statement highlighted the unprecedented and inhumane atrocities carried out the Zionist forces, stressing the disturbing "international silence and complicity," particularly emphasizing the American administration, "a partner in these crimes and gross violations." 

14:51 The death toll of the Palestinians killed by Israel, since the war stared in 7 October, rises to 21,672. Another 56,165 have been wounded, the health ministry said.

14:00 At least 165 Palestinians have been killed and over 200 were wounded in Israeli strikes in central Gaza during the past 24 hours, the health ministry said.

13:22 The director of the UN aid agency UNRWA, Juliette Touma, said that "the humanitarian needs on the ground have continued to massively grow".

"We continue to have restrictions to access areas in the Gaza Strip where we should access regularly, like the north of the Gaza Strip," BBC reported.

"There's very, very little commercial supplies coming into Gaza and there's no market, so more and more people are depending by the day, by the hour, on organisations like UNRWA."

"It’s safe to say that every single person in Gaza, a population of 2.2 million people is impacted one way or another."

Israel says it’s not limiting aid, and that the problem lies with its distribution.

10:58 At least 45 Palestinians have been killed in an Israeli airstrike targeting several homes in the Al-Maghazi refugee camp in central Gaza.

10:40 The Al-Qassam Brigades published footages showing mortar shelling targeting the Israeli occupation forces within the Gaza Strip.

The Brigades also reported the destruction of an Israeli Merkava tank using an explosive device north of the Al-Bureij refugee camp in central Gaza.

Meanwhile, the Al-Quds Brigades said they are engaged in intense battles against enemy soldiers north and east of Khan Younis city.

In parallel, Israeli occupation warships heavily shelled the shores of Deir al-Balah and Khan Younis.

According to an Al Jazeera correspondent, Israeli forces have conducted airstrikes on the center of Jabalia refugee camp in northern Gaza.

Israeli forces have been attempting to seize control of Jabalia, but are encountering robust resistance from Palestinian fighters.

10:30 Here are some of the most recent photos coming from Gaza.

A Palestinian man evacuates a wounded girl from the site of an Israeli strikes on the Zawayda area of the central Gaza Strip. AFP

A Palestinian man carries the body of a child after it was unearthed from the rubble of a building following an Israeli strike on the Zawayda area. AFP

Israeli army vehicles are seen near the Gaza Strip border. AP

A picture taken from Rafah shows smoke billowing over Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip during Israeli bombardment. AFP

10:20 The UNICEF said that it delivered at least 600,000 doses of vaccines to Gaza on Friday to protect children in the besieged Palestinian territory from diseases.

The move comes as illnesses spiral across the territory, which lacks clean water and basic medical supplies.

Few details about the delivery process were made public by UNICEF, which announced the news on platform X.

The group said that more than 16,800 infants have missed one or more routine vaccines and that it will work with the WHO and UNRWA to deliver the arriving vaccines.

Israeli officials confirmed the arrival of tens of thousands of vaccines for such diseases as polio, tuberculosis, measles, and hepatitis, in coordination with UNICEF.

10:05 The Municipality of Gaza has taken to social media questioning UNICEF about the pledged fuel for operating water pumps in the strip.

“Sorry for any inconvenience, but can we know where is the fuel to operate the water pumps? You promised to deliver it during the last truce; we haven’t received it yet,” it said.

“You may know children are dying in Gaza, and you can’t give them a sip of water!”

9:10 Tens of thousands of displaced Palestinians are once again fleeing towards the south. Intense Israeli tank fire and aerial bombing hit the southern Gaza city of Khan Younis on Friday night killind at least 180 Palestinians over the past 24 hours.

Previously sheltering those displaced from the north, this region has now become a focal point for Israel’s ground assault.

The United Nations humanitarian office saya that approximately 100,000 more displaced individuals have sought refuge in the already overcrowded southern border city of Rafah.

There’s a growing fear among the more than one million Palestinians displaced in Rafah, as well as the 300,000 residents, that the operation will likely expand to include parts of Rafah.

From the eastern side and from the southern part of Khan Younis into the main entrance of Rafah city, people have no other options to seek refuge.

The UN says more than 85 percent of Gaza's 2.4 million people have fled their homes, with many now going hungry and braving the winter rains in makeshift tents.

9:05 For the second time this month, the Biden administration is bypassing Congress to approve an emergency weapons sale to Israel as Israel continues to prosecute its war against Gaza under increasing international criticism.

The United States on Friday announced the approval of a $147.5 million sale of 155mm high-explosive artillery munitions and related equipment to Israel under an emergency provision that waives the usual congressional review.

The same provision was used earlier this month to approve the sale of nearly 14,000 rounds of 120mm tank ammunition to Israel.

Israel requested that 155mm fuses, primers and charges be added to previous foreign military sale cases, increasing their estimated total cost from $96.51 million to $147.5 million and requiring a new notification, the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency said in a statement.

The secretary of state said that "an emergency exists that requires the immediate sale to the government of Israel" of the weaponry, thereby waiving the normal requirement for review by Congress, according to the statement, which said the munitions will come from US Army stocks.

9:00 A correspondent for Al-Quds Today TV, Jaber Abu Hadrus and several members of his family have been killed in an Israeli airstrike on the Al-Nusairat refugee camp in the heart of the Gaza Strip early Saturday. Others were injured in the attack.

With his death, the toll of journalist killed by Israel in Gaza, rises to 106 journalists since the start of the war.

Gaza government's media office previously accused Israel of deliberately targeting journalists in an attempt to "obscure the truth and suppress the Palestinian narrative."

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