WHO repeats call for ceasefire in Gaza war; Egypt sets up relief camp in Khan Younis - as it happened

Ahram Online , Wednesday 27 Dec 2023

In the war's 12th week, Israeli forces extended their ground offensive to encompass urban refugee camps in central Gaza as six Palestinians were killed in the West Bank.

Red cresent
Egyptian Red Crescent leads efforts in bringing humanitarian aid to Gaza. Courtesy of the ERC


23:00 The Egyptian Red Crescent has begun establishing a refugee relief camp in Khan Younis, in southern Gaza, Al-Qahera News reported on Wednesday.

The camp is being set up per the directives of the Egyptian leadership as part of Egypt’s efforts to mitigate the humanitarian crisis in Gaza and accommodate thousands of Palestinians who were driven out of their homes in northern Gaza due to Israeli bombardment.

The first phase of the camp, which includes the construction of 300 tents to accommodate over 1,500 people, is nearing completion.

Egypt has spearheaded efforts to deliver humanitarian aid to the 2.4 million Palestinians in Gaza through the Rafah border crossing who have been under Israeli bombardment and blockade Since the start of the Israeli war on Gaza.

One million out of 1.8 million displaced people across Gaza have sought shelter in 99 facilities run by the UNRWA in the south, including in Khan Younis and Rafah.

22:00 The population of Gaza is in "grave peril", the head of the World Health Organization warned Wednesday, citing acute hunger and desperation throughout the Palestinian territory.

"What we urgently need, right now, is a ceasefire to spare civilians from further violence and begin the long road towards reconstruction and peace," said WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

The WHO said it delivered supplies to two hospitals on Tuesday -- one in the north and one in the south -- with 21 out of 36 hospitals in the Gaza Strip no longer functioning at all.

Tedros called on the international community to take "urgent steps to alleviate the grave peril facing the population of Gaza and jeopardising the ability of humanitarian workers to help people with terrible injuries, acute hunger, and at severe risk of disease".

In a statement, the WHO said its staff reported Tuesday that the need for food "continues to be acute" across the Gaza Strip, while "hungry people again stopped our convoys today in the hope of finding food".

"WHO's ability to supply medicines, medical supplies, and fuel to hospitals is being increasingly constrained by the hunger and desperation of people en route to, and within, hospitals we reach.

21:00 Battles between Israel and Hezbollah continued on the northern front on Wednesday

Hezbollah said it targeted the settlement of Kiryat Shmona in northern Israel with 30 rockets in response to deadly Israeli airstrikes on Bint Jbeil in south Lebanon on Tuesday.

Today, hundreds of Lebanese buried a Hezbollah fighter and two civilians who were killed in the Israeli airstrike on two homes in Beit Jbeil.

Hezbollah also said it launched drone and rocket attacks on Israeli forces deployed in the occupied Shebaa Farms, confirming direct hits.

The Lebanese resistance also reported targeting Israeli artillery positions in Khirbet Maar and Hadab Al-Bustan in the Western Galilee in addition to a new command centre near the Israeli naval base in Ras al-Naqoura, added Hezbollah.

On the other side, the Israeli army said it had intercepted eight out of 18 missiles launched from Lebanon towards the Western Galilee.

Israel also launched rocket attacks in southern Lebanon on the outskirts of Al-Jebbayn, Tayr Harfa, Dhaira, Yarine, Al-Naqoura, Aita al-Shaab, and al-Hamames south of Al-Khiam, according to Lebanese media.

20:00 The Israeli army announced that two officers, including a deputy platoon commander, and a soldier in the Givati Brigade were killed in fierce battles in Gaza on Wednesday.

The 84th Givati Brigade (Highland Brigade) is an Israel Defense Forces infantry brigade formed in 1947.

During the 1948 war, it was involved in capturing and ethnically cleansing various Palestinian villages.

Before Israel's 2005 withdrawal from Gaza, the Brigade was stationed within the Gaza Strip.

Retired Major General Wasef Erekat, who is based in Ramallah, stressed to Al Jazeera that the Israeli army has not been able to establish control over northern Gaza and was forced to withdraw its troops and tanks outside major population centres after it took heavy casualties amid valiant resistance from Palestinian fighters. 

Meanwhile, Daniel Hagari, the spokesperson of the Israeli army, announced that the army added a fresh brigade to its military operations in Khan Younis in southern Gaza.

Last week, the Israeli army withdrew Company 13 in the Golani Brigades from northern Gaza after the elite force suffered 40 percent losses in personnel and gear in heavy battles.

19:00  A video posted on Quds News Network captured joyful moments for the children of Gaza in one of the displacement camps

Kindergarten-age kids sing and dance Dabka as they own the moment!

More than half of the 2.4 million population in the Gaza Strip are children under the age of 18.

18:00 We have not received any fuel shipments since the end of last October, as the municipal services continue to deteriorate, announced the Gaza City Municipality on Wednesday.

We received promises from UNICEF yesterday about fuel delivery, but we confirm that we have not received anything so far, added the municipality.

Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians have refused to leave Gaza City and other parts of northern Gaza despite relentless Israeli bombardment and a near-total blockade on the entry of all food, water and fuel to relief residents in the area. 

On Tuesday, the United Nations named an outgoing Dutch minister Sigrid Kaag as its humanitarian coordinator for Gaza following last week's watered-down Security Council resolution which called for aid to be delivered to the strip "at scale.

Kaag's appointment comes as the people of Gaza face a dire humanitarian emergency, with aid slowed to a trickle by Israel's continued bombardment of the strip.

She will start work on 8 January, the UN said in a statement

Israel has allowed the entry of tens of trucks carrying humanitarian aid to Gaza through the Rafah border crossing, nowhere near what the civilian population needs to stay alive.

It has blocked most aid from reaching northern Gaza.

17:00 Egypt’s President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi and Jordan’s King Abdullah II discussed on Wednesday the latest developments in the region, especially in the Gaza Strip, stressing the need to refrain from expanding the conflict, which threatens security and stability both regionally and globally.

Both leaders discussed, during a meeting in Cairo, the humanitarian situation in the strip, where major destruction of infrastructure and facilities occurred, reaffirming their complete rejection of all attempts to liquidate the Palestinian cause and forcibly displace the Palestinians inside or outside their lands.

El-Sisi and Abdullah II also called on the international community to push for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza and for an uninterrupted delivery of sufficient humanitarian aid to ease the tragic situation and the suffering of people in the strip.

Furthermore, they emphasized the necessity of a just and comprehensive settlement, leading to the establishment of an independent Palestinian state on the 4 June 1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as its capital, following the relevant decisions of international legitimacy

16:00 German Hapag-Lloyd announced on Wednesday it will not resume its use of the Suez Canal describing it as "too dangerous" despite a US-led multinational naval operation announced earlier this month to protect shipping from attacks by Houthi rebels in Yemen.

Accordingly, the shipping giant affirmed that it would continue to reroute its ships via the Cape of Good Hope despite the Suez Canal being the fastest and shortest route for global shipments.

"We continuously assess the situation and plan a next review on Friday," a spokesperson for the German container shipper said on Wednesday.

According to a recent Alphaliner report, Hapag-Lloyd is the fifth largest container shipping company in the world, which handles 1,963,934 containers per year (6.4 percent share of global shipping).

This comes as Houthi rebels continue to launch drone attacks against Israeli ships and ships heading toward Israel around the Bab Mandab Strait in what they described as acts of solidarity with the Palestinians amid the Israeli war on Gaza.

On Monday, Shipping firm Maersk said that it’s preparing to allow vessels to resume sailing through the Red Sea, thanks to the start of a US-led multinational naval operation.

15:00 An Israeli operation in a Palestinian refugee camp in the north of the occupied West Bank left six people dead and several others wounded early Wednesday, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health.

"Six martyrs killed by the occupation (Israel) and some who were seriously wounded were transported to the Thabet Thabet government hospital in Tulkarem," the ministry said in a short statement.

According to the official Palestinian news agency Wafa, six people were killed by Israeli air strikes on the Nur Shams refugee camp near the town of Tulkarem, where Israeli soldiers were also deployed.

This brings the number of Palestinians killed in the West Bank since the start of the war to 300.

EDITORS NOTE: Graphic content / Mourners attend the funeral of Palestinians killed during an Israeli raid on the Nur Shams refugee camp near the town of Tulkarem in the occupied West Bank on December 27, 2023. AFP

14:00 On Wednesday, the Palestinian health ministry in the Gaza Strip reported that the death toll in the Palestinian territory has reached at least 21,110 since the outbreak of the war on 7 October. The ministry added that, within the last 24 hours alone, 195 individuals lost their lives. Additionally, the total number of wounded individuals has reached 55,243 since the commencement of the conflict.

13:40 Paltel, the Palestinian telecommunications company, reports a gradual restoration of internet and telephone services in the central and southern areas of Gaza. 

"We would like to announce the gradual restoration of telecom services in the central and southern areas of Gaza Strip after a blackout caused by the ongoing aggression" Paltel announced on X. 

On Tuesday, for the fourth time since the start of the war on Gaza, all telecommunications were interrupted. During blackouts, Gazans rely on eSIMs to stay connected.

13:00 Hamas denied, on Wednesday, the statements made by a spokesperson for the Iranian Revolutionary Guard that the Al-Aqsa Flood offensive against Israel was carried out by the movement in retaliation for the assassination of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani.

In a press statement, Hamas stated: "We have repeatedly affirmed the motives and reasons for the Al-Aqsa Flood operation, foremost among them the dangers threatening the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem.

The movement added: "We affirm that all actions of Palestinian resistance are in response to the presence of the occupation and its continuous aggression against our people and sanctities."

The spokesperson for the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, Ramadan Sharif, stated today that the Al-Aqsa Flood operation was one of the retaliatory operations for the assassination of Qassem Soleimani at the beginning of 2020 in a US attack, adding that “these retaliations will continue."

On Monday Iran announced that a senior general with Iran's Revolutionary Guards, Rezi Mousavi, was killed in an Israeli strike in Syria.

"Our revenge for the death of the martyr Rezi Mousavi will come and it will be a very hard blow to the Zionists," Sharif said.

11:30 Negotiations mediated by Egypt and Qatar to end the Israeli war in Gaza grapple with mounting complexities as recent media leaks purporting a three-phased proposal from Cairo appear to be somewhat detached from the actual core of the discussions, according to sources close to the negotiations.

10:00 A Hezbollah fighter was killed in an Israeli airstrike on a border town in south Lebanon, as stated by the group on Wednesday. State media also indicated that two of the fighter's relatives lost their lives in the attack. Lebanon's National News Agency reported that "enemy warplanes raided a house... in the center of the town of Bint Jbeil" late at night, resulting in the death of a man, his brother, and his wife.

On Tuesday, Israel's military confirmed that nine Israeli soldiers were wounded by an anti-tank missile. The conflict has claimed over 150 lives on the Lebanese side, including several civilians and journalists, while on the Israeli side, at least four civilians and nine soldiers have been reported killed since the onset of the War on Gaza on October 7. 

09:30 The Israeli army says one officer and two soldiers were killed in the northern Gaza Strip on Tuesday. Israel claims that the total number of soldiers killed since the start of ground operations in Gaza has reached 164, though these figures could not be independently verified.

09:00 Early on Wednesday, an Israeli operation in a Palestinian refugee camp in the northern part of the occupied West Bank resulted in the death of six Palestinians and left several others seriously wounded, as reported by the Palestinian Ministry of Health.

The ministry stated, "Six martyrs killed by the occupation and some who were seriously wounded were transported to the Thabet Thabet government hospital in Tulkarem". The casualties were reportedly a result of Israeli airstrikes on the Nur Shams refugee camp near the town of Tulkarem, where Israeli soldiers were also deployed, according to the official Palestinian news agency, Wafa.

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