Israel Continues Strikes on Gaza as Pressure Mounts to Protect Children

On Sunday, Israel carried out fatal bombardments in Gaza, despite international appeals for more civilian protection and the resumption of an expired truce with the Palestinian militant group Hamas.

The Israeli army said it had carried out more than 400 attacks in Gaza since a ceasefire broke down on Friday, with the Hamas administration claiming at least 240 deaths.

Hamas and the Palestinian group Islamic Jihad reported “rocket barrages” against a number of Israeli cities and towns, including Tel Aviv, while Israel announced the deaths of two troops in action, the first since the truce’s breakdown.

According to the Hamas-run administration, at least seven individuals were killed in an Israeli bombing near Gaza’s southern border with Egypt early Sunday.

According to the official Palestinian news agency Wafa, Israeli strikes also hit the Nuseirat refugee camp in central Gaza late Saturday, killing at least 13 Palestinians.

US Vice President Kamala Harris slammed the mounting civilian toll in Israel’s eight-week conflict, which began with an unprecedented attack on October 7.

“Too many innocent Palestinians have been killed,” she told reporters at UN climate talks in Dubai.

“Frankly, the scale of civilian suffering and the images and videos coming from Gaza are devastating.”

An estimated 1.7 million people in Gaza — more than two-thirds of the population — have been displaced by war, according to the United Nations.

“I cannot find words strong enough to express our concern over what we’re witnessing,” the head of the World Health Organization, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said on Sunday on X, formerly Twitter.

Fadel Naim, chief doctor at the Al-Ahli Arab hospital in Gaza City, said his morgue had received 30 bodies on Saturday, including seven children.

“The planes bombed our houses: three bombs, three houses destroyed,” Nemr al-Bel, 43, told AFP, adding he had counted 10 dead in his family and “13 more still under the rubble”.

Gazans are in desperate need of food, water, and other necessities, and many homes have been destroyed. Although several supply trucks arrived on Saturday, UN agencies have declared a humanitarian disaster.

According to the Palestine Red Crescent Society, Israel urged non-governmental organizations not to bring aid convoys across the Rafah border crossing from Egypt when the truce expired.

However, the organization announced on Saturday that its Egyptian colleagues had managed to bring a number of trucks over.

 Israel withdraws negotiators

According to Israeli police, Hamas fighters stormed through Gaza’s militarized border into Israel on October 7, killing approximately 1,200 persons, predominantly civilians, and kidnapping approximately 240 Israelis and foreigners.

In response, Israel pledged to destroy Hamas and launched an air and military campaign that killed over 15,000 people, largely civilians, according to Hamas officials in Gaza.

A week-long truce arranged with Qatar’s assistance and supported by Egypt and the US resulted in the release of 80 Israeli hostages in return for 240 Palestinian inmates.

But the truce fell apart, with both parties blaming each other for breaking its terms.

Israel claimed that Hamas attempted to launch a rocket before the ceasefire expired and that it failed to produce a list of more hostages for release.

Israeli officials left Doha on Saturday after striking a stalemate in discussions aimed at resuming hostilities.

According to the Israeli army, 137 captives are still being held in Gaza.

Yoav Gallant, Israel’s Defense Minister, told reporters on Saturday that further military action was needed to “create the conditions that push (Hamas) to pay a heavy price, which is the release of hostages.”

For the first time, Israeli prisoners released from Gaza spoke publicly on Saturday, pressing their government to secure the release of the remaining inmates.

“The moral obligation of this government is to bring them home immediately, without hesitation,” said Yocheved Lifschitz, 85, who was released by Hamas in October, before the truce deal.

French President Emmanuel Macron has called for “stepped-up efforts to reach a lasting ceasefire” in order to liberate the hostages, allow more supplies in, and ensure Israel’s security.

He questioned Israel’s stated war objectives, stating that if “total destruction of Hamas” in Gaza is the goal, “the war will last ten years.”

 ‘Total victory’

But Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the war would continue “until we achieve all its aims” including eliminating the Islamist movement.

“Our soldiers prepared during the days of truce for total victory against Hamas,” he said in Tel Aviv on Saturday, at his first press conference since fighting resumed.

“There is no way to win except by continuing the ground campaign,” Netanyahu told reporters, underscoring that this would be done while “observing international law”.

According to the IDF, Israel’s air, naval, and ground troops have hit around 400 targets in Gaza since the ceasefire ended.

According to previously available military numbers, the total is roughly in line with the daily average number of strikes prior to the suspension.

According to the military, warplanes attacked “more than 50 targets in an extensive attack in the Khan Yunis area” of southern Gaza.

Separately, an Israeli armoured battalion “eliminated terrorist squads and directed fire against terrorist targets in the northern Gaza Strip,” according to the IDF.

The Israeli army says troops shot dead a Palestinian at a checkpoint in Nablus after he “drew a knife and started to advance towards them.”

Syria said that Israel conducted air strikes near Damascus on Saturday.

Iran’s Revolutionary Guard accused Israel of killing two of its personnel on a “advisory mission” in Syria.

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