Israel kills over 200 Palestinians; 8 Israeli soldiers die in heavy fighting with the resistance

Ahram Online , Sunday 24 Dec 2023

As Israel's brutal war on Gaza enters its 79th day, more than 200 Palestinians were killed in the past 24 hours. Meanwhile, the Palestinian resistance intensified its battle with the occupation forces in the northern strip, killing at least 8 Israeli soldiers across the strip.

war on gaza
Palestinians wounded in the Israeli bombardment of the Gaza Strip arrive at the hospital in Deir al Balah, AP


18:00 Thousands of Moroccans marched through Rabat, Morocco's capital, in support of Palestinians, calling for an end to the war on Gaza which has killed at least 20,424 people in the Palestinian territory.

The crowd in Rabat of about 10,000 people denounced what protest leaders called a "war of extermination" as well as the normalization of relations between Morocco and Israel.

The protesters were called to the streets by a disparate group of organizations backing the Palestinian cause, including left-wingers and members of the Islamist Justice and Charity movement.

They marched along Mohammed V Avenue in the heart of the city, beneath banners declaring "Stop the war of extermination in Gaza, stop normalization".

In 2020, Morocco joined a number of Arab countries in establishing diplomatic and trade relations with Israel under the US-brokered Abraham Accords.

As part of the deal, Rabat received US recognition for its claim to sovereignty over the disputed territory of Western Sahara.

On Mohammed V Avenue, numerous protesters wielded banners condemning the "destruction of hospitals" in Gaza and Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank.

Posters called for "free Palestine" and to "save Gaza".

The crowd chanted slogans lauding the "resistance of the Palestinian people" and directed particular fury at the United States for its support of Israel's war against Hamas.

"When you bomb massively without distinction between military targets and civilians, including babies -- that is a genocide. We must call a spade a spade," said Jihane, a 27-year-old protester.

17:00 The head of the World Health Organization (WHO) Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus decried the 'decimation' of Gaza health system

Ghebreyesus said that the health system in Gaza was being destroyed and reiterated his call for a ceasefire.

He also hailed Gaza's medical workers who continue their work under increasingly dire circumstances.

"The decimation of the Gaza health system is a tragedy," he posted on X, formerly Twitter. "We persist in calling for CeasefireNow."

"In the face of constant insecurity and inflows of wounded patients, we see doctors, nurses, ambulance drivers, and more continue striving to save lives," he said.


The UN health agency has long been sounding the alarm about the state of health care since the bloodiest-ever war in Gaza erupted.

WHO warned that even as healthcare needs soar, only 38 percent of pre-conflict hospital beds remained available in the Palestinian territory and only 30 percent of original health staff were still working.

At the same time, hospitals, protected under international humanitarian law, have repeatedly been hit by Israeli strikes since the war erupted.

As of December 20, WHO had registered 246 attacks on health care in Gaza, including hospitals and ambulances, resulting in 582 deaths and 748 injuries.

16:05 Hamas reiterated its plea to the International Committee of the Red Cross to intervene and disclose the status of numerous Palestinians from the Gaza Strip "who were captured and detained by the Zionist occupation forces under ambiguous circumstances," the group said in a statement. 

This appeal comes after the recent release of nearly 20 Palestinians who bore evident signs of torture and mistreatment.

Additionally, the movement urged human rights organizations to record the accounts of the released Palestinians, intending "to present these testimonies to the relevant international courts, and to hold the leaders of the Zionist entity accountable for their fascist behavior against our people and innocent civilians," added the statement.

15:58 A delegation from the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) movement has arrived in Cairo for talks with Egyptian security officials. 

Led by the group's Secretary-General Ziad Nakhaleh, the delegation will discuss ways to end the Israeli aggression on Gaza. 

Another delegation of Hamas, headed by Ismail Haniyeh, is already in Cairo for similar talks with Egyptian officials on a ceasefire in Gaza and a prisoner exchange.

Last week, Nakhalah told Al Jazeera that the prisoner exchange deal will adhere to the principle of "all for all" and will be carried out through a political process agreed upon by Palestinian factions, primarily Hamas.

15:17 Photos captured by news agencies show wounded Palestinians who were detained by the Israeli army during their attacks in the northern Gaza Strip. The men released via the Karem Abu Salem crossing, now await treatment for their injuries at Al-Najjar hospital in Rafah.

Earlier, Palestinians in Gaza who have been detained and taken to Israel have strongly criticized Israel's procedures and interrogation methods.

A Gaza resident identified as Brahim shared with the DPA news agency that he endured torture during his four weeks of detention. Brahim, hailing from Beit Lahia, detailed the distressing journey to Israel where he and dozens of others from his neighborhood were blindfolded, hands tied, and had to lower their heads in a military lorry.

"We didn't know whether we would be killed or what the army would do to us," he recalled, recounting instances where he and fellow prisoners were repeatedly forced to undress.

The Israeli officials, who interrogated Brahim in Arabic, asked him hundreds of questions about Hamas, its leaders, activities, and the tunnels in the Gaza Strip, he continued. 

He detailed being subjected to various forms of physical and psychological torture, He said he was sometimes accused of lying and was often beaten.

After several weeks, the Israeli army brought Brahim back to the Gaza Strip. On the return journey, he said soldiers beat him and threatened to kill him soon.

Similarly, a 39-year-old woman named Hind from Gaza City is also said to have been abused in captivity in Israel. "Men and women from the Israeli army beat me all over my body," Hind told dpa.

During her three-week detention, Hind and other detainees struggled without access to basic necessities like food, water, and toilets.

Footage of at least 100 Palestinian men stripped down to their underwear, blindfolded, and made to kneel by Israeli forces on the street or in sandy locations, have sparked international outrage and triggered concerns about Israel's rights violations or degrading treatment.

14:45 Egypt's Minister of Foreign Affairs Sameh Shoukry and his Portuguese counterpart João Cravinho emphasized the critical need for the prompt and complete implementation of the recent UN Security Council resolution. This resolution entails the establishment of a mechanism aimed at expediting the delivery of humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip.

In a phone conversation, the ministers deliberated on the current situation in the Gaza Strip, acknowledging the worsening humanitarian conditions of the Palestinians in the Strip.

They also discussed the imperative international initiatives required to stop the ongoing war and mitigate its consequences.

13:46 Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday that the Gaza war was exacting a "very heavy price" as the toll of soldiers killed in fighting mounted.

"This is a difficult morning, after a very difficult day of fighting in Gaza," he said after the army announced 14 soldiers had been killed in the Palestinian territory since Friday.

"The war is exacting a very heavy price... but we have no choice but to keep fighting," he added in a statement.

The mounting death toll among the Israeli occupation army is likely to play an important factor in Israeli public support for the war. 

Even if Israelis have been supportive of the Israeli invasion, there has been widespread anger against Netanyahu's government.

On Saturday night, thousands of people demonstrated in pouring rain in Tel Aviv, chanting “Bibi, Bibi, we don’t want you anymore,” referring to Netanyahu by his nickname.

Netanyahu has avoided accepting responsibility for the military and policy failures leading up to Hamas' offensive, saying he would answer tough questions once the war is over.

13:16 "Without a truce, the UN Security Council Resolution may do little for Gaza," the UNRWA said.

"It is welcome, but only time will tell what real difference this resolution is going to make, and it needs to increase the humanitarian assistance that has been going into Gaza," Juliette Touma, UNRWA's Director of Communications emphasized.


The immediate appointment of a special coordinator for aid to Gaza and the initial steps to be taken are yet unclear.

After 11 weeks of war, international concern heightens over the more than two million inhabitants of Gaza, displaced and enduring overcrowded and unsanitary conditions in apartments, shelters, hospitals, schools, and makeshift camps.

At least 20,424 Palestinians have been killed by Israel and 54,036 injured since 7 October, according to the latest death toll.

13:05 Palestinians continue to mourn their relatives killed in the Israeli bombardment.

Here are some of the most recent photos coming in from Gaza.

12:48 The Israeli army says another soldier has been killed in Gaza, bringing the death toll since Friday to 14.

12:00 The Israeli Channel 12 aired an interview featuring two freed captives from Gaza, Chen and Agam Goldstein (a mother and daughter), sharing their experiences. They mentioned that their Palestinian captors engaged in exercising, joking, and playing with them.

The two reported some remarkable interactions with their Palestinian guards. "They wanted us happy, they tried to supply food, sometimes we helped make the food," Chen said.

Agam would keep up with her workout routine, which she said her captors commended her on, and there was even an arm wrestling competition between Chen and one of the guards.

“He — the younger one — brought a towel, because he’s not allowed to touch me,” Chen said.

Agam, the daughter, added, "Women are regarded as sacred to them."

The mother humorously recounted receiving parenting advice from the captors regarding raising her daughter.

11:35 Hamas refuted Israel's claims of discovering weapons in a school in Gaza City. "The assertion by the criminal spokesperson of the Zionist occupation about finding weapons in school is part of the deceptive and misleading approach used by the Zionist enemy to justify their massacres of innocent civilians and the destructive aggression that has devastated the infrastructure and facilities in the besieged Gaza Strip," the group said in a statement on its Telegram channel.

"These allegations only highlight the failure of the occupation army and the losses faced by the soldiers of Al-Qassam Brigades," the statement added.

Israeli claims in Gaza remain unverified.

A recent investigation by The Washington Post discredited Israel's narrative justifying the assault on Al-Shifa hospital by proving the absence of a command and control centre.

"The evidence provided by the Israeli government fails to support the hospital's usage as a command and control centre," said The Washington Post's analysis, incorporating open-source visuals, satellite imagery, and all publicly released Israeli army materials.

The investigation found no immediate evidence of military use by the resistance in the rooms connected to the tunnel network discovered by the Israel occupation army. "None of the five hospital buildings identified by Hagari appeared to be connected to the tunnel network," the report clarified. "There is no indication that the tunnels were accessible from within hospital wards."

11:05 One more journalist was killed in Gaza during Israeli attacks, as reported by the Gaza Media Office.

The death of Ahmad Jamal Al Madhoun, the deputy director of Al Rai news agency, brings the tally of journalists killed by Israel to 101 since the war began in October.

11:00 The Palestinian Commission of Detainees Affairs and the Palestinian Prisoners Club reported that Israeli forces have arrested at least ten Palestinians, including a woman, in the occupied West Bank between Saturday evening and Sunday morning.

The arrests were conducted in Nablus, Bethlehem, Jenin, Hebron, and Tulkarm, where extensive Israeli raids and sabotage operations targeted infrastructure.

This brings the total number of arrests since 7 October to around 4,695. The detained individuals were taken from their homes, at military checkpoints, those coerced into surrendering, and some were apprehended as hostages, the commission said.

10:47 Al-Qassam Brigades announced targeting two additional Israeli Merkava tanks on the outskirts of Jabalia city in northern Gaza.

Hamas’ military wing also said its fighters shelled Israeli troops in Jabalia and the Jabalia refugee camp.

Palestinians reported heavy Israeli bombardment and gunfire Sunday morning in Jabalia, an area north of Gaza City that Israel had previously claimed to control.

Sounds of explosions and gunfire echoed across the town with Israeli warplanes flying over the area, they said. 

“There are bombings and fierce battles during the night,” said Assad Radwan, a Palestinian fisherman from Jabalia. “Sounds of explosions and gunfire never stopped.”

10:00 US President Joe Biden spoke with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Saturday, calling it a long and private conversation.

This discussion followed the Biden administration's recent move, once again shielding Israel in the diplomatic arena, by watering down a UN Security Council resolution that called for immediately speeding up aid deliveries to desperate civilians in Gaza, but not for a cease-fire.

“I did not ask for a ceasefire,” Biden said of the call. Netanyahu’s office said the prime minister “made clear that Israel would continue the war until achieving all its goals.”

9:35 Iran's deputy foreign minister dismissed US accusations that Tehran was involved in attacks by Yemeni rebels on commercial ships, saying the group was acting on its own.

Yemen's Houthi rebels have launched more than 100 drone and missile attacks, targeting 10 merchant vessels in the Red Sea, linked with Israel, in solidarity with Palestinians in Gaza, under Israeli brutal attacks.

On Friday, the White House released US intelligence claiming that Iran provided drones, missiles, and tactical intelligence to the Houthi, who control vast parts of Yemen including the capital, Sanaa.

"The resistance (Houthi) has its own tools... and acts in accordance with its own decisions and capabilities," said Ali Bagheri, Iran's deputy foreign minister.

"The fact that certain powers, such as the Americans and the Israelis, suffer strikes from the resistance movement... should in no way call into question the reality of the strength of the resistance in the region," he told Mehr News Agency.

The United States said it shot down four drones headed towards a US destroyer in the southern Red Sea that were launched from Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen on Saturday.

“These attacks represent the 14th and 15th attacks on commercial shipping by Houthi militants since 17 October,” US Central Command (Centcom) said in a post on X.

9:10 A 13-year-old displaced child has been killed at Al-Amal Hospital, a Palestinian Red Crescent Society (PRCS) medical facility in Khan Younis, after being shot by an Israeli drone while inside the hospital building, the PRCS just reported.

9:00 Israeli strikes in Gaza have killed more than 200 people in 24 hours, Palestinian officials announced.

Meanwhile, the Israeli army said eight soldiers had been killed in Gaza, bringing the total toll to 154 since it began ground operations on 20 October.

During the night, residential areas in Deir Al-Balah city, including regions where residents from Bureij and Nuseirat refugee camps were forced to evacuate, faced intense Israeli bombardment, destroying their homes.

Rescue efforts to locate people beneath the rubble are currently ongoing.

In the eastern part of the Gaza Strip, the Israeli army persisted in aggressively demolishing agricultural lands and homes, particularly in eastern Khan Younis, including in the Shujayea and Zeitoun neighborhoods.



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