Exhausted Palestinians desperate for war to end as Israel presses attacks on Gaza

AFP , Saturday 30 Dec 2023

After nearly three months of deadly strikes, incessant displacements and sputtering humanitarian aid, "exhausted" the Palestinians in Gaza say they are desperate for an end to the fighting as Israel's war looks set to grind on into the new year.

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


The Israeli occupation army kept up its attacks across the length of the Gaza Strip on Friday in the face of mounting international pushback, with UN chief Antonio Guterres reiterating his call for "an immediate humanitarian ceasefire", and South Africa initiating a case against Israel in international court.

The World Health Organization, meanwhile, warned of the growing threat of infectious diseases as fighting displaces more and more Gazans, forcing them ever further south towards the already-overcrowded city of Rafah.

"Enough with this war! We are totally exhausted. We are constantly displaced from one place to another in cold weather," said 49-year-old Um Louay Abu Khater from a camp in the southern border city.

"The bombs keep falling on us every day and night. We expect missiles (at any moment), while others are preparing for New Year's Eve celebrations."

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.

An Israeli siege imposed after October 7, following years of crippling blockade, has led to dire shortages of food, safe water, fuel and medicine, with aid convoys offering only sporadic relief.

The UN agency for Palestinian refugees said Friday that one such convoy had come under fire from Israeli forces the day before.

Ahmed al-Baz, 33, said the year drawing to a close had been "the worst in my life".

"It was a year of destruction and devastation," he said. "We went through hell and encountered death itself."

"We just want the war to end and start the new year at our homes, with a ceasefire declared," he added.


A Hamas delegation was in Cairo on Friday to discuss an Egyptian plan proposing renewable ceasefires, a staggered release of captives for Palestinian detainees in Israeli jails, and ultimately an end to the war, sources close to Hamas say.

Speaking to AFP on condition of anonymity, a Hamas official said the delegation would give "observations" on the proposal and seek "guarantees for a complete Israeli military withdrawal" from Gaza.

Israel has yet to formally comment on the Cairo plan, but Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told families of captives on Thursday that "we are in contact" with the Egyptian mediators and promised the captives that "we are working to bring them all back".

The US news outlet Axios and the Israeli outlet Ynet, both citing unnamed Israeli officials, reported that Qatari mediators had told Israel that Hamas was prepared to resume talks on new hostage releases in exchange for a ceasefire.

In Rafah, 27-year-old Youssef Ahras told AFP he hoped the negotiations could "stop the bloodshed... because the price of war is so high".

"I don't know a lot about the political aspects because as locals, we are busy with our essential needs," he said.

Israel's genocide 


South Africa on Friday filed an application at the International Court of Justice to start proceedings against Israel for "genocidal acts against the Palestinian people in Gaza".

In its filing, it asked the court to "protect against further, severe and irreparable harm to the rights of the Palestinian people".

Responding on the social media platform X, Israeli foreign ministry spokesman Lior Haiat wrote that "Israel rejects with disgust the blood libel spread by South Africa and its application".

South Africa has long been a vocal supporter of the Palestinian cause, with the ruling African National Congress (ANC) party often linking it to its own struggle against apartheid.

Pretoria has strongly condemned Israel's war and has recalled all its diplomats from the country, with Israel in turn recalling its ambassador in South Africa.

Key Israeli ally the United States, meanwhile, announced on Friday the approval of a $147.5 million sale of 155mm high-explosive artillery munitions and related equipment to Israel from US Army stocks.

The secretary of state determined that "an emergency exists that requires the immediate sale" of the weaponry, thereby waiving the normal requirement for review by Congress, the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency said in a statement.

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