Israeli strike kills 76 members in one Gaza family: Rescue officials

AP , Saturday 23 Dec 2023

An Israeli airstrike killed 76 members of an extended family, rescue officials said Saturday, a day after the U.N. chief warned again that nowhere is safe in Gaza and that Israel's ongoing war on Gaza is creating “massive obstacles” to the distribution of humanitarian aid.

Palestinians mourn relatives killed in the Israeli bombardment of the Gaza Strip, outside a morgue,
Palestinians mourn relatives killed in the Israeli bombardment of the Gaza Strip, outside a morgue, in Khan Younis. AP


Friday's strike on a building in Gaza City was among the deadliest of the Israeli war, now in its 12th week, said Mahmoud Bassal, a spokesman for Civil Defense department. He provided a partial list of the names of those killed — 16 heads of households from the al-Mughrabi family — and said the dead included women and children.

Among the dead were Issam al-Mughrabi, a veteran employee of U.N. Development Program, his wife, and their five children.

“The loss of Issam and his family has deeply affected us all. The U.N. and civilians in Gaza are not a target,” said Achim Steiner, the head of the agency. “This war must end.”

Israel has killed more than 20,000 Palestinians and wounded 53,000 others, according to health officials in Gaza.

On Friday, the U.N. Security Council adopted a watered-down resolution that calls for immediately speeding up aid deliveries to desperate civilians in Gaza.

The United States won the removal of a tougher call for an “urgent suspension of hostilities” between Israel and Hamas. It abstained in the vote, as did Russia, which wanted the stronger language. The resolution was the first on the war to make it through the council after the U.S. vetoed two earlier ones calling for humanitarian pauses and a full cease-fire.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres reiterated his longstanding call for a humanitarian cease-fire. He expressed hope that Friday’s resolution may help this happen but said “much more is needed immediately” to end the ongoing “nightmare” for the people in Gaza.

He told a news conference that it's a mistake to measure the effectiveness of the humanitarian operation in Gaza by the number of trucks.

“The real problem is that the way Israel is conducting this offensive is creating massive obstacles to the distribution of humanitarian aid inside Gaza,” he said. He said the prerequisites for an effective aid operation don’t exist — security, staff that can work in safety, logistical capacity especially trucks, and the resumption of commercial activity.

Israel’s aerial and ground attacks has been one of the most devastating wars in recent history, displacing nearly 85% of Gaza’s 2.3 million people and leveling wide swaths of the tiny coastal enclave. More than half a million people in Gaza — a quarter of the population — are starving, according to a report this week from the United Nations and other agencies.

Shielded by the Biden administration, Israel has so far resisted international pressure to scale back. The occupation army  spokesman, Daniel Hagari, said late Friday that forces are widening the ground offensive “to additional areas of the strip, with a focus on the south.” He said operations were also continuing in the northern half of Gaza, including Gaza City, the initial focus of Israel's ground offensive.

The army said Saturday that it carried out airstrikes in several locations of Gaza City. 

In the aftermath of the U.N. resolution, it was not immediately clear how and when aid deliveries would accelerate. Currently, trucks enter through two crossings — Rafah on the border with Egypt and Karm Abu Salem (Kerem Shalom) on the border with Israel.

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