Israeli raids continue on Gaza, Palestinian president meets US envoy - as it happened

Ahram Online , Friday 15 Dec 2023

On the 70th day of the Israeli war on Gaza, ongoing raids on south Gaza and Kamal Adwan Hospital continue amid mass protests for a ceasefire. International outrage grows louder, with rare criticism from the US as Israel has killed more than 18,787 Palestinians and wounded at least 50,000.

 Khan Younis
Palestinians mourn relatives killed in the Israeli bombardment of the Gaza Strip outside a morgue in Khan Younis on Friday, Dec. 15, 2023. AP


20:30 The head of the UN’s refugee agency (UNHCR), Filippo Grandi expressed concern about the potential of thousands of displaced Palestinians in Gaza seeking refuge in Egypt as Israel’s military operations progress further south,saying Gaza war ‘must not’ turn into a refugee crisis.

“I want to be clear: what is already a massive displacement crisis within Gaza must not turn into yet another refugee crisis,” he said at the Global Refugee Forum in Geneva.

“Many more [people] have been displaced into an already impoverished corner of an already tiny sliver of land. That violence must stop.”


20:20 Al Jazeera's cameramna and editor Samer Abu Daqqa has been killed in Israeli strikes after approximately five hours of bleeding without access to medical care due to the Israeli siege of a school-shelter in Khan Younis.

He was initially injured by Israeli bombardment, and medical teams were prevented by Israeli forces from immediately reaching him, Al Jazeera reported.

Abu Daqqa had been “suffering for more than a couple of hours,” and “bleeding on the ground,” as medical teams could not immediately get to him, Al Jazeera earlier said.


19:33 The Palestine Red Crescent Society (PRCS) released a video featuring testimonials depicting the hardships faced by displaced Palestinians from northern to southern Gaza under the Israeli strikes.

The video sheds light on the exacerbated suffering, "of displaced Palestinians from northern Gaza especially children, increases at PRCS headquarters in Khan Younis due to the dire humanitarian conditions, lack of aid, and the cold weather."

Hassan describes the difficult situation, explaining: "It is cold, and the water floods from beneath us. We try to find something to elevate our clothes on a surface to prevent the water from reaching them. We are looking for a box to place our mattresses on, so that water flows beneath and isolates it from the cold ground."


18:26 Doctors Without Borders/ Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) reported that its "teams are witnessing a shocking increase in Israeli attacks against civilians in Jenin," in the occupied West Bank.

"Attacks on healthcare have also increased dramatically and become systematic," the group further added in a thread on X.

"This year has been the deadliest year for Palestinians in the West Bank."


18:25 Al Jazeera’s Tareq Abu Azzoum, reporting from Rafah, says the ambulance had to receive prior “approval” from Israeli occupation forces before it could reach camerman, Samer Abu Daqqa, wounded in an Israeli drone attack in Khan Younis.

Abu Daqqa had been “suffering for more than a couple of hours,” and “bleeding on the ground,” as medical teams could not immediately get to him, Abu Azzoum said.

His medical condition remains unclear at this time. According to Al Jazeera bureau chief in Gaza Wael Dahdouh, who was also injured in the attack, Abu Daqqa was “critically injured.”

Many Palestinians from the central and northern parts of Gaza have sought shelter in Khan Younis since the war began in October. Many have now been pushed by Israel further south towards the strip’s southernmost city of Rafah after Israel intensified its attacks in Khan Younis.

In late October, Wael Dahdouh lost four of his family members in an Israeli air raid.

His family had been seeking refuge in Nuseirat camp in the centre of Gaza when their home was bombed by Israeli forces, killing his wife, his 15-year-old son, his seven-year-old daughter, and his grandson, who died in hospital hours later.


18:10 UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres emphasized, "Palestine refugees are enduring levels of suffering that are unparalleled and unprecedented."

This was conveyed in his concluding statements at the second Global Refugee Forum.


18:05 Here are some of the photos coming in today from Gaza.

A Palestinian boy cries for his relatives who were killed in the Israeli bombardment of the Gaza Strip, at Nasser hospital in Khan Younis, AP.

Palestinians pull a body of a child out of the rubble of a residential building destroyed in an Israeli airstrike, in Rafah, AP.

Palestinians look at the destruction after an Israeli strike on residential buildings in Rafah, AP.


18:00 The World Health Organization (WHO) welcomed the Israeli decison to open Karm Abu Salem crossing as "good news."

Speaking to reporters in Geneva, Dr Richard Peeperkorn, WHO representative in Gaza, praised the opening but said there were hospitals that were difficult to reach in the north of the strip that still needed essential medical supplies. 

Peeperkorn said "How can we make sure that these (aid) trucks can go everywhere in Gaza, not just to the south but also to the north?" 


16:45 The International Federation of Journalists also said it is “deeply shocked” to hear that Al Jazeera journalists have been injured while covering an earlier Israeli attack on a school turned into a shelter. The president of the Committee to Protect Journalists, Jodie Ginsberg says the Israeli war on Gaza war is “the deadliest conflicts for journalists” that the media watchdog has documented in the past 30 years.

“The international governments’ failure to push for an end to this conflict is increasingly creating a real sense of abandonment amongst the community and particularly amongst the journalist community in Palestine and the region,” she told Al Jazeera.

The International Federation of Journalists also said it is “deeply shocked” to hear that Al Jazeera journalists have been injured while covering an earlier Israeli attack on a school-shelter.

“We condemn the attack and reiterate our demand that journalists’ lives must be safeguarded,” it said in a post on X.

At least 56 Palestinian and three Lebanese journalists and media workers have been killed by Israel since October 7, according to figures compiled by the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).


16:15 Israel approved the entry of aid into the Gaza Strip through the Karm Abu Salem crossing, the Israeli prime minister’s office said on Friday. 

This will be the first direct entry of aid entering from Israel into Gaza since 7 October.

Israel undertook this step during a visit by US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan, who pressed officials to reopen the crossing.

Before the war, the Karm Abu Salem crossing, located in the southern corner of Gaza, at its border with Israel and Egypt, had been the primary commercial route for goods entering and exiting Gaza.

Israel has sealed off its commercial and pedestrian entry points into Gaza, compelling humanitarian aid to pass through Egypt's Rafah crossing.


15:45 The Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas told US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan that the Israeli attacks on the Palestinian people, especially in Gaza, must stop.

He emphasizes that the Gaza Strip is an "integral part" of the Palestinian state, rejecting any plans by the occupation forces to separate or isolate it from the Palestinian territory.


14:58 Wael Al-Dahdouh, Al Jazeera bureau chief in Gaza, and cameraman Samer Abu Daqqa, were injuried while reporting on an Israeli strike at a school-turned-shelter in the southern city of Khan Younis.

Dahdouh was wounded in his right arm by shrapnel in the drone strike, while Abu Daqqa remains trapped inside Farhana School and has not yet been transported to the hospital, Al Jazeera reported. 

​“The ambulance finds it very difficult to get to him and to save him,” Al Jazeera’s Hani Mahmoud reported from Rafah, further south.

He said witnesses describe heavy shelling and gunfire in the area that makes it difficult to remove casualties.

In the occupied Jerusalem, the Israeli occupation police brutally assaulted Mustafa al-Kharouf, a photographer from Anadolu Agency.

Turkish television aired footage of the incident in the Wadi al-Joz neighborhood following the denial of entry to worshippers at the Al-Aqsa Mosque.

In the video shown by CNN Turk, an Israeli army officer is observed striking the photographer on the head with a weapon, while another officer grabs him by the neck, forcing him to the ground.

Subsequently, Al-Kharouf was subjected to repeated violent kicks to the head while lying on the ground.

The photographer was transported to the hospital for treatment.



14:50 Israeli government officials have affirmed that humanitarian aid will transit through Egypt's Karm Abu Salem crossing, the Israeli Broadcasting Authority reported.

The goods will undergo inspection on the Israeli side before being transported to a compound approximately 70 meters within Gaza, according to the report.

At the compound, the aid will be unloaded before undergoing a return inspection via the Karm Abu Salem crossing.

Egypt said it started to use the Karm Abu Salem for processing aid to speed up its delivery to Palestinians in the besieged Gaza Strip.


13:50 A joint statement issued by over a dozen countries, through the British government, has strongly condemned the escalation of extremist settler violence against Palestinians in the occupied West Bank, deeming it utterly "unacceptable."

“Proactive steps must now be taken to ensure the effective and immediate protection of Palestinian communities. Israel’s failure to protect Palestinians and prosecute extremist settlers has led to an environment of near complete impunity in which settler violence has reached unprecedented levels,” said the statement.

Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, the European Union, Finland, France, Ireland, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and Britain collectively called for action.

Since the beginning of war on Gaza in October, terrorist settlers have perpetrated more than 343 violent attacks, killing eight Palestinians, injuring over 83, and displacing 1,026 Palestinians from their homes and villages.

EU chief Ursula von der Leyen, on Wednesday, supported imposing sanctions on terrorist Israeli settlers responsible for assaults on Palestinians in the occupied West Bank.

This move by the EU follows the United States' recent announcement refusing visas to settlers linked to a wave of violence in the West Bank, marking a rare reproach to its close ally, Israel.


13:47 A ballistic missile fired from rebel-held territory in Yemen struck a Liberian-flagged cargo ship Friday in the Red Sea near the Bab el-Mandeb Strait, an assault that apparently sought to target a vessel struck earlier, a U.S. defense official said.

The Swiss-owned ship, which was flying under a Liberian flag, was struck near the Bab el Mandab Strait, according to the official, who identified the vessel as the MSC Palatium III.

The missile was apparently aimed at the al Jasrah, another cargo ship struck by a projectile earlier in the day.

Another missile launched in the salvo missed both ships.

The US official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to the Associated Press, said it remained unclear if anyone was hurt in the attack.

The attacks further escalate a campaign by the Houthi, who have claimed responsibility for a series of missile assaults in recent days in response to the Israeli war on Gaza.


13:45 New videos emerge of Israeli soldiers' derogatory treatment of Palestinians, now in the occupied West Bank.

A recent video circulated on social media showcases Israeli soldiers parading blindfolded Palestinian detainees, accompanied by an Israeli children’s song soundtrack.

Multiple viral videos and images capturing derogatory behavior by Israeli soldiers in Gaza have surfaced, adding to the growing international outcry against the Israeli occupation army.

While not an isolated case, such recordings spotlight a recurring issue. Over the years, instances of inappropriate conduct or hostility by Israeli soldiers have been documented.

"The fact that people can laugh, cheer and mock any type of wrongdoing that we observe in this war, when in fact what is happening in Gaza should outrage anyone, should make us all rethink our values," UNRWA chief Philippe Lazzarini said.

Access the entirety of his address at Geneva press conference right here.

13:00 The death toll from an Israeli attack near an UNRWA school-shelter in Khan Younis has risen to 33, as confirmed by officials at the Nasser Medical Complex speaking to Al Jazeera.

Hospitals in Deir el-Balah, Khan Younis, and Rafah have reported additional casualties following strikes in the early hours of the morning.


12:45 The Al-Quds Brigades, an armed wing of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad resistance movement, has targeted Israeli occupation forces northwest of Gaza City “with a barrage of mortar shells”, the group said in a statement.

12:40 Israel “should fully occupy” Gaza after the war, Israeli media has reported the far-right Israeli Heritage Minister Amihai Eliyahu as saying.

“Anyone who is today selling the idea that [Palestinians] can go back to running things doesn’t remember what happened on [October 7],” Eliyahu also told Kan Radio.

When asked about the suspension of the reserve soldiers who was filmed singing in Hebrew on a mosque loudspeaker in the West Bank, Eliyahu said: “It’s as if for our morals we are not willing to be a little cruel. To win, you need a little cruelty. To win, you have to be a little scary.”


12:38 There are reports of a heavy exchange of fire in the eastern part of Rafah city, Al Jazeera reported. 

Israel's ground attacks is meeting stiffer resistance fierce battles rage throughout Gaza on Friday, witnesses said, according to Reuters.

Residents reported fighting in Sheijaia, Sheikh Radwan, Zeitoun, Tuffah, and Beit Hanoun in north Gaza, east of Maghazi in central Gaza and in the centre and northern fringes of the main southern city of Khan Younis.


Hospitals in Deir al-Balah, Khan Younis and Rafah reported a new influx of dead and wounded early on Friday including two children.

At least, four people were killed in an Israeli air strike on a house in Rafah and Israeli tanks were shelling targets just east of the city near the Egyptian border, medics and witnesses said.

"The Gaza Strip turned into a ball of fire overnight, we could hear explosions and gunshots echoing from all directions," said Ahmed, 45, an electrician who was speaking to Reuters from a shelter in a central area of the strip.

A Palestinian child wounded in the Israeli bombardment of Gaza arrives at a hospital in Rafah, AP


12:10 Israel retrieved the bodies of two occupation soldiers who were held as prisoners of war by Hamas.

Both individuals served in the Israeli army, holding the ranks of corporal and sergeant respectively.

They were both seized on 7 October from their military base.


12:00 During his visit to Israel, US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan reiterated Washington's support for Tel Aviv's brutal war on Gaza. He emphasized a shift in the conflict, focusing on precise targeting of Hamas leadership and intelligence-driven operations in the next phase of the war.

“The conditions and the timing for that was obviously a subject of conversation that I had with prime minister Netanyahu,” the war cabinet, Israel’s military leaders and the defence minister, Sullivan said in a news conference.

However, he said the US wanted to see results from Israel in regard to its intent to avoid civilian casualties in Gaza.

"What we have consistently said is that Israel has the intent to make sure that it is drawing those distinctions [between civilians and military targets] clearly and in a sustainable way and we want to see the results match up to that," he said.

"Ultimately, the control of Gaza, the administration of Gaza, the security of Gaza, has to transition to the Palestinians," he added, saying the US did not think it "made sense" for Israel to reoccupy Gaza in the long term.

The US official will meet the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, in the West Bank later on Friday. 

“We will discuss ongoing efforts to promote stability in the West Bank, including through efforts to confront terrorism, to support the Palestinian Authority security forces through the US security co-ordinator for Israel and the Palestinian Authority,” Sullivan said.

“Through ongoing efforts to revitalise and revamp the Palestinian Authority and through initiative to hold extremist settlers accountable for violence against Palestinian civilians.

Reiterating US support for a two-state solution, which Israel opposes, he said: "The Israeli people need and deserve to live in peace and security with their neighbours in a region that is integrated, dynamic and stable."

Jewish protesters in the United States organised demonstrations for a ceasefire in Gaza across eight major cities, blocking roads in some places. “On the 8th night of Hanukkah, 8 cities, 8 bridges,” activist group Jewish Voice for Peace wrote of the protests on social media.

Meanwhile, a 51-year-old middle school teacher in the US, Benjamin Reese was arrested after he threatened to “behead’” a Muslim child offended by an Israeli flag hung in the classroom.

Demonstrators gather to shut down the Spring Garden Street Bridge during a Pro-Palestinian rally in Philadelphia, AP

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