Gaza hospitals overwhelmed by 60,000 wounded Palestinians as Israeli deadly strikes continue- as it happened

Ahram Online , Thursday 18 Jan 2024

On the 104th day of the Israeli War on Gaza, a UN health emergency expert warns Palestinians are dying every day in Gaza’s overwhelmed remaining hospitals which can’t deal with the estimated 60,000 injured people and daily arrival of hundreds more hurt, while a doctor with the International Rescue Committee called the situation in Gaza's hospitals the most extreme she had ever seen.

Rafah
This picture taken on January 18, 2024 from Rafah shows smoke billowing over Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip during Israeli bombardment. AFP

22:00 Israel has broken international law with its "relentless" bombardment of Gaza that has levelled neighbourhoods and killed thousands of Palestinians, says rights expert Francesca Albanese, the UN special rapporteur on the Palestinian territories.

Albanese told a Madrid news conference that while Israel has the right to self-defence, international humanitarian law must be respected "to protect people who are not actively involved in combat".

This meant distinguishing between combatants and civilians and ensuring military attacks are proportionate to avoid excessive harm to civilians, she added.

"Instead, what has happened is over 100 days of relentless bombing – the first two weeks using 6,000 bombs per week, bombs of 2,000 pounds, in highly crowded area," Albanese said.

"Most hospitals have been made dysfunctional. A good number of them, the major ones, have been closed, bombed or taken over by the army. People are dying now not only because of the bombs but because there is not sufficient health infrastructure to cure them of wounds.

"The number of kids who get amputated every day is shocking, one or two limbs. During the first two months of this (war) 1,000 kids were amputated without anaesthesia. It is a monstrosity," she added.

19:30 President Joe Biden said Thursday that US and British military strikes against Yemen's Houthis would continue, because the Iran-backed rebels were still attacking shipping in the Red Sea.

"When you say 'working, are they stopping the Houthi?' No. Are they going to continue? Yes," Biden told reporters at the White House when asked if the strikes were working.

The United States has launched several rounds of air strikes against Houthi targets, including missile and drone facilities, since an initial barrage by US and British forces hit targets in Yemen last Friday.

But the Houthis have continued to strike international shipping in attacks they say are in support of Palestinians in Gaza, most recently striking a US-owned bulk cargo carrier.

Washington re-designated the Houthis as a "terrorist group" on Wednesday and carried out strikes on 14 Houthi missiles later the same day.

18:40 Israeli influencer Shita Hakdosha has posted a video of himself with a group of soldiers laughing and eating popsicles while discussing the bombardment of Gaza. In the video, Hakdosha can be heard saying, "We're bombing Gaza," followed by a remark about wanting to enjoy his popsicle.

This incident occurred within the context of inflammatory rhetoric used by some Israeli officials during the Israeli war on Gaza. Statements dehumanizing Gaza's residents and suggesting extreme actions have raised concerns about the intent and treatment of Palestinians.

Numerous Israeli officials had similar genocidal comments publicly which have drawn severe public backlash and are being used as a key component of South Africa’s case accusing Israel of genocide at the UN World Court.

With the ground offensive getting underway in late October, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu cited the Bible in a televised address: “You must remember what Amalek has done to you.” Amalekites were persecutors of the biblical Israelites, and a biblical commandment says they must be destroyed. South Africa argued that the remarks showed Israel's intent to commit genocide against Palestinians.

Two days after the Hamas operation, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said Israel was “fighting human animals,” in announcing a complete siege on Gaza.

Deputy Knesset speaker Nissim Vaturi from the ruling Likud party wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter, that Israelis had one common goal, “erasing the Gaza Strip from the face of the earth.” Israeli Heritage Minister Amichay Eliyahu, from the far-right Jewish Power party, suggested that Israel drop a nuclear bomb on Gaza and said there were “no uninvolved civilians” in the territory.

Israeli soldiers were caught on video making similar remarks as they sang and danced in the early days of Israel’s ground offensive.

On 7 Oct., a journalist wrote on X that Gaza should become “a slaughterhouse” if the roughly 250 captives held by Hamas were not returned.

18:00 The European Parliament on Thursday called for a "permanent ceasefire" in Gaza -- but on condition that all Israeli hostages are released immediately and Hamas dismantled."

The parliament called in a resolution "for a permanent ceasefire and to restart efforts towards a political solution provided that all hostages are immediately and unconditionally released and the terrorist organisation Hamas is dismantled".

The non-binding resolution was backed by 312 lawmakers, with 131 voting against and 72 abstaining.

The 27-nation EU has struggled to come up with a unified position on the conflict, with some countries such as Germany staunchly backing Israel and others being more pro-Palestinian.

Those splits played out at the European Parliament. The centre-right European People's Party opposed an initial demand for an unconditional ceasefire, arguing that restricted Israel's right to defend itself.

"Calling for a permanent ceasefire in Gaza as proposed in the resolution undermines Israel's right to self-defence and further endangers the life of the hostages," the group said.

17:00 Saudi Arabia is unable to pursue talks about a landmark deal to recognise Israel until there is a ceasefire in Gaza, the kingdom's ambassador to the United States said Thursday.

"I think the most important thing to realise is the kingdom has not put normalisation at the heart of its policy. It's put peace and prosperity at the heart of its policy," Princess Reema bint Bandar al-Saud told a panel at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

"The kingdom has been quite clear. While there is violence on the ground and the killing persists, we cannot talk about the next day."

Earlier this week, also in Davos, Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan said Riyadh was still "certainly" open to the possibility of future ties with Israel, but also stressed the need for a ceasefire and the creation of a Palestinian state.

"We don't see any real sign that any strategic objectives that Israel has claimed are... coming any closer," he added.

Princess Reema elaborated on the Saudi position on Thursday, saying that "cooler heads must prevail".

"There's trauma and pain on both sides. I can't take that back. But what we can do is ceasefire now."

16:00 The European Union will adopt sanctions Monday against Hamas in response to the Palestinian group's deadly October 7 attack on Israel, France said Thursday.

Brussels will adopt "a regime of sanctions against Hamas", French foreign ministry spokesman Christophe Lemoine told reporters, saying they would target "individuals and transfers of funds".

14:30 Israeli President Isaac Herzog said normalizing ties between Israel and Saudi Arabia is a key element of ending the war in Gaza and a game-changer for the entire Middle East.

“It’s still delicate, it’s fragile, and it will take a long time, but I think that it is an opportunity to move forward in the world and the region towards a better future,” Herzog said at the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in the Swiss town of Davos.

This comes days after Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan  said on a Davos panel that the kingdom agreed “regional peace includes peace for Israel.” 

“But that can only happen through peace for the Palestinians, through a Palestinian state,” Bin Farhan said.
US State Secretary Antony Blinken reiterated in a talk at Davos that a pathway to statehood for Palestinians could help improve Israel’s security and its relations with other countries in the region.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his right-wing government, however, are opposed to the concept of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

14:00 The Israeli occupation forces have been obstructing the movement of ambulances and paramedics during their ongoing raid on the city of Tulkarm and its Nour Shams refugee camp.

The situation in Tulkarm remains volatile, with the Palestinian health ministry reporting the death of 28-year-old Palestinian Mohamed Abu Awad on Thursday after he had been fatally shot in the abdomen. The death toll in Tulkarm has risen to six since Wednesday morning.

In addition to the loss of lives, the raid has resulted in the arrest of numerous camp residents, including teenagers as young as 16, according to reports from Wafa. The two-day operation has seen widespread destruction, including the bombing of a home, the burning of a mosque, and the destruction of shops.

Amid these grave circumstances, reports have emerged of hundreds of people being severely beaten, leading to their hospitalization.

 

 

13:30 Veteran Palestinian journalist Wael Al-Dahdouh, who was recently injured in Gaza, has arrived in Qatar for medical treatment. Egypt authorities facilitated Al-Dahdouh's entry into Egypt at the Rafah border crossing on 16 January, from where he travelled to Doha. 

Al-Dahdouh, the Gaza bureau chief for Al Jazeera, has experienced immense personal loss during the ongoing war, with several family members killed by Israeli strikes. 

On 7 January, Wael’s son, Hamza Al-Dahdouh, a journalist and camera operator for Al-Jazeera, was killed in an Israeli drone strike along with freelance journalist Mustafa Thuraya.

This came less than a month after Wael himself was injured and his cameraman Samer Abu Daqqa killed in an Israeli drone strike while they were covering Israeli shelling of a UN school sheltering displaced people in Khan Younis.

In late October Al-Dahdouh was informed on air that his son, daughter, one-and-a-half-month-old grandson, and wife were killed in an Israeli airstrike on the Strip. 

Al-Dahdouh, who became known to millions of viewers around the world since 7 October for covering the stories of the untold human cost of the relentless Israeli bombardment of the Gaza Strip on thousands of his neighbours in the Strip, collapsed in tears upon hearing the news about his own immediate family while covering the Israeli airstrikes.

Beyond individual experiences, the sheer number of journalists who have been killed or injured is staggering, especially when compared to other conflicts.

According to Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor, 113 journalists were killed in Gaza between 7 October and 14 January.

This makes it the deadliest conflict for media workers since the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) began keeping records in 1992.

The International Federation of Journalists recorded that around three quarters of all deaths of media professionals worldwide in 2023 have been in Gaza.

 

 

12:00 Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that sustainable peace in the Middle East is unattainable without the creation of the state of Palestine.

“Without the creation of the state of Palestine, Palestinians will continue to feel discriminated against and live in injustice,” Lavrov said in a press conference in Moscow, adding that he hopes Israeli leaders will eventually come to the same conclusion.

He added that he will address the United Nations Security Council next week about proposals for “collective efforts” to solve the Middle East crisis.

Russian Foreign Minister also said that the United States should stop strikes against Houthis in Yemen to aid a diplomatic resolution to a standoff over the rebel group's attacks on merchant vessels.

"The most important thing now is to stop the aggression against Yemen, because the more the Americans and the British bomb, the less willing the Houthis are to talk," Lavrov said.

11:00 US Secretary of State Antony Blinken told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that ultimately there is no military solution to Hamas and that the Israeli leader needs to recognize that or history will repeat itself and violence will continue, the US NBC reported citing anonymous US officials.

The officials said the Biden administration is trying to lay the groundwork with other Israeli and civil society leaders in anticipation of an eventual post-Netanyahu government. In an attempt to work around Netanyahu, Blinken also met individually with members of his war Cabinet and other Israeli leaders, including opposition leader and former Prime Minister Yair Lapid, officials told NBC.

The Biden administration and Netanyahu’s divisions over Israel’s handling of its war in Gaza, as well as the Israeli leader’s refusal to consider U.S. proposals for a post-war Gaza, have only become more pronounced since Blinken’s last visit to Israel, according to senior administration officials.

The secretary of state returned to Washington, the officials said, having been rebuffed by Netanyahu on all but one of the administration’s asks: an understanding that Israel would not attack Hezbollah in Lebanon.

Netanyahu also rejected an offer by Saudi Arabia to normalize relations as part of a Gaza reconstruction agreement only if Israel agrees to provide Palestinians with a pathway to statehood, the officials said.

10:15 India’s navy said that it responded to a drone attack call from a vessel in the Gulf of Aden and that the ship’s crew were safe, with a fire on board under control.

The ship was flagged from the Marshall Islands, Reuters reported.

On Wednesday, the American forces targeted 14 missiles that were ready to launch in Yemen after Washington re-designated the Iran-backed Houthi rebels as a "terrorist" entity for their attacks on merchant vessels in the Red Sea.

The Houthis -- who have already faced multiple rounds of air strikes in response to their targeting of international shipping -- struck a US-owned bulk cargo carrier in the wake of the designation announcement, and vowed to continue attacks they say are in support of Palestinians in Gaza.

10:00 A Palestinian youth has been killed by Israeli occupation forces in the ongoing aggression against the city of Tulkarm and its two camps in the occupied West Bank for the second day in a row, WAFA news agency reported.

Local sources said that Israeli troops blew up a house burned another, and severely beat several civilians, amid widespread destruction of the infrastructure in Tulkarm.

In Ramallah, in the occupied West Bank, WAFA reported that two Palestinians have been injured by live fire from Israeli forces, which it says “searched and inspected a Red Crescent vehicle during the raid”.

Meanwhile, Israel has detained 48 Palestinians overnight and this morning in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

Israel has detained 6,000 Palestinians from the occupied territory since 7 October.

9:30 Israeli strikes killed dozens more people overnight, the Palestinian health ministry said Thursday, including the southern city of Khan Yunis and Palestinian refugee camps in central Gaza.

The ministry said 93 people had been killed, including 16 in a single strike on a house in the southern city of Rafah, where many people have fled.

At least 24,448 Palestinians, most of them women, children, and adolescents, have been killed in Israeli bombardments and a ground offensive, according to the latest figures from the health ministry.

The renewed strikes came as medicine for captives and fresh aid for civilians entered the Palestinian territory under a newly brokered deal, mediator Qatar said.

 

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