Gaza deaths soar as Israel says war to last ‘many more months’

A displaced Palestinian man and child are pictured in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on Dec. 27, 2023. (AFP)
A displaced Palestinian man and child are pictured in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on Dec. 27, 2023. (AFP)
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Updated 27 December 2023
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Gaza deaths soar as Israel says war to last ‘many more months’

A displaced Palestinian man and child are pictured in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on Dec. 27, 2023. (AFP)
  • A strike hit a house near Al-Amal hospital in Khan Yunis, killing 22 people and wounding 34, the Gaza health ministry said
  • Heavy firefights also raged again around Gaza City in the north, while an air strike wounded 11 people near Rafah

GAZA STRIP: The Hamas-run Gaza Strip’s health ministry said Wednesday the death toll from the war with Israel now tops 21,000, with a spokesman reporting 195 deaths over 24 hours.
Israel again pounded Gaza with air strikes and shelling after its military chief warned the war raging with Hamas since the Palestinian group’s October 7 attacks will last “many more months.”
Explosions lit up the sky over the southern Gaza city of Khan Yunis — a focus of heavy urban combat since the Israeli army said it had largely gained control over Gaza’s north.
A strike hit a house near Al-Amal hospital in Khan Yunis, killing 22 people and wounding 34, the Gaza health ministry said.
Heavy firefights also raged again around Gaza City in the north, while an air strike wounded 11 people near Rafah, a far-southern city crowded with internally displaced people, witnesses said.
Gaza’s spiralling humanitarian crisis has amplified calls for an end to the hostilities.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has repeatedly vowed to keep up the campaign to destroy Hamas, a group blacklisted as a “terrorist” organization by the United States and the European Union.
“This war’s objectives are essential and not simple to achieve,” armed forces chief Herzi Halevi said Tuesday. “Therefore, the war will continue for many more months.”
The conflict erupted when Hamas gunmen attacked southern Israel, resulting in the deaths of about 1,140 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally based on Israeli figures.
Palestinian militants also took around 250 hostages, 129 of whom remain in captivity, Israel says.
Israel retaliated with a relentless bombardment and a siege of Gaza followed by a ground invasion from October 27.
The campaign has killed at least 21,110 people, according to the latest toll issued by Gaza’s health ministry, about two thirds of them women and children.
Israel’s army blames Hamas and its allied armed groups for the high civilian death toll, charging that fighters hide in schools, hospitals and other civilian infrastructure, or in tunnels below them.
The army said the number of Israeli soldiers killed inside Gaza had risen to 164.
Israel on Tuesday returned the bodies of 80 Palestinians killed in Gaza, after checking there were no hostages among them, via the Red Cross, sources in the health ministry said.
An AFP photographer witnessed a digger lowering the human remains in blue body bags into a mass grave in Rafah.
Gaza’s 2.4 million people have suffered severe shortages of water, food, fuel and medicines, with only limited aid entering the territory.
An estimated 1.9 million Gazans have been displaced, the UN says.
AFPTV footage showed Palestinians who had been sheltering in a UN-run school in central Gaza’s Nuseirat refugee camp fleeing south, seeking safety from the bombardment.
Displaced Gazans “don’t know where to go,” said one of them, declining to be named. “First, we’re displaced to Nuseirat, then to Rafah.”
Even schools “are no longer safe” in Gaza, said the man.
“A solution must be reached... Implement a ceasefire instead of bringing in aid.”
Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas, in an interview on Egyptian television, charged that the Gaza war “goes beyond a catastrophe and a genocide.”
“Netanyahu’s plan is to get rid of the Palestinians and the Palestinian Authority,” said Abbas, who is based in the occupied West Bank.
The UN Security Council, in a resolution last week, called for the “safe and unhindered delivery of humanitarian assistance at scale.”
The resolution, which did not call for an immediate end to the fighting, effectively leaves Israel with operational oversight of aid deliveries.
In Rafah, hundreds turned up at the Abdul Salam Yassin water company carrying baskets, pulling handcarts and even pushing a wheelchair stacked with bottles to queue for clean water.
“This was my father’s cart,” said Rafah resident Amir Al-Zahhar. “He was martyred during the war. He used it to transport and sell fish, and now we are using it to transport fresh water.”
Elsewhere in Rafah, people split logs and stacked kindling as the lack of fuel forced them to burn wood for cooking and to keep warm.
Internet and telephone services that were cut on Tuesday were gradually being restored in central and southern areas of Gaza, the Palestinian telecommunications company Paltel said on X, formerly Twitter.
Violence has also flared across the West Bank, with more than 310 Palestinians killed by Israeli troops or settlers since October 7, the health ministry there said.
An Israeli operation in a refugee camp in the northern West Bank killed six people early Wednesday, it said, with the army saying it had struck the Nur Shams camp from the air.
The war has reverberated across the Middle East, drawing in armed groups backed by Israel’s arch foe Iran in Lebanon, Iraq, Syria and Yemen.
An Israeli air strike on a Lebanon border town killed a Hezbollah fighter, the group said Wednesday, with state media reporting two of his relatives were also killed.
Hezbollah later Wednesday said it launched a barrage of 30 rockets toward northern Israel “in response to the enemy’s repeated crimes.”
In Syria, an Israeli strike Monday killed Iranian general Razi Moussavi, a senior commander in the Quds Force, the foreign operations arm of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.
Iran has vowed to avenge the death of Moussavi, whose body was due to be repatriated for burial after memorial prayers at the Shiite holy sites in Iraq on Wednesday.
Yemen’s Houthis have repeatedly fired at Israel and at passing cargo ships in the Red Sea in attacks in solidarity with Hamas.
US military forces shot down more than a dozen Houthi attack drones and several missiles, the Pentagon said, reporting no casualties or damage.
Israel’s military said Tuesday a fighter jet over the Red Sea had intercepted “a hostile aerial target that was on its way to Israeli territory.”


Yemen’s Houthis say they downed US drone over Al-Bayda province

Yemen’s Houthis say they downed US drone over Al-Bayda province
Updated 3 sec ago
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Yemen’s Houthis say they downed US drone over Al-Bayda province

Yemen’s Houthis say they downed US drone over Al-Bayda province
DUBAI: Yemen’s Houthis downed a US MQ-9 drone over Al-Bayda province in southern Yemen, the Iran-aligned group’s military spokesperson Yahya Saree said in a televised statement on Tuesday.

Funeral procession for Iran’s President Raisi starts

Funeral procession for Iran’s President Raisi starts
Updated 37 min 17 sec ago
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Funeral procession for Iran’s President Raisi starts

Funeral procession for Iran’s President Raisi starts
  • Mourners set off from a central square in the northwestern city of Tabriz

TEHRAN: Thousands of Iranians walked sombrely through the streets on Tuesday for the funeral procession of President Ebrahim Raisi and seven members of his entourage who were killed in a helicopter crash.
Waving Iranian flags and portraits of the late president, the mourners set off from a central square in the northwestern city of Tabriz, where Raisi was headed when his helicopter crashed on Sunday.


Israeli army raids West Bank’s Jenin, Palestinians say seven killed

Israeli army raids West Bank’s Jenin, Palestinians say seven killed
Updated 36 min 36 sec ago
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Israeli army raids West Bank’s Jenin, Palestinians say seven killed

Israeli army raids West Bank’s Jenin, Palestinians say seven killed
  • Among the Palestinians killed was a surgical doctor, the head of the Jenin Governmental Hospital said

JENIN: Israeli forces raided Jenin in the occupied West Bank on Tuesday in an operation that the Palestinian health ministry said killed seven Palestinians, including a doctor, and left nine others wounded.
The army said it was an operation against militants and that a number of Palestinian gunmen were shot. There was no immediate word of any Israeli casualties.
The health ministry account of the casualties was quoted by the official Palestinian news agency WAFA.
Among the Palestinians killed was a surgical doctor, the head of the Jenin Governmental Hospital said. He was killed in the vicinity of the hospital, the director said.
The West Bank is among territories Israel seized in a 1967 Middle East war. The Palestinians want it to be the core of an independent Palestinian state. US-sponsored talks on a two-state solution to the decades-old conflict broke down in 2014.


Dubai DXB airport sees record 2024 traffic after 8.4% rise in Q1

Dubai DXB airport sees record 2024 traffic after 8.4% rise in Q1
Updated 21 May 2024
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Dubai DXB airport sees record 2024 traffic after 8.4% rise in Q1

Dubai DXB airport sees record 2024 traffic after 8.4% rise in Q1
  • Dubai airport welcomed around 23 million passengers in January-March period, operator says 
  • India, Saudi Arabia and Britain were top three countries by passenger volumes in first quarter

DUBAI: Dubai’s main airport expects to handle a record passenger traffic this year after an 8.4% rise in the first quarter compared with a year earlier, operator Dubai Airports said on Tuesday.

Dubai International Airport (DXB), a major global travel hub, welcomed around 23 million passengers in the January-March period, the operator said in a statement, noting that the uptick was partly driven by increased destination offers by flagship carrier Emirates and its sister low-cost airline Flydubai.

“With a strong start to Q2 and an optimistic outlook for the rest of the year, we have revised our forecast for the year to 91 million guests, surpassing our previous annual traffic record of 89.1 million in 2018,” CEO Paul Griffiths said in the statement.

Dubai is the biggest tourism and trade hub in the Middle East, attracting a record 17.15 million international overnight visitors last year.

Its ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum last month approved a new passenger terminal in Al Maktoum International airport worth 128 billion dirhams ($34.85 billion).

The Al Maktoum International Airport will be the largest in the world with a capacity of up to 260 million passengers, and five times the size of DXB, he said, adding all operations at Dubai airport would be transferred to Al Maktoum in the coming years.

DXB is connected to 256 destinations across 102 countries. In the first quarter, India, Saudi Arabia and Britain were the top three countries by passenger numbers, Dubai Airports added. ($1 = 3.6729 UAE dirham) 


Israel, Hamas reject bid before ICC to arrest leaders for war crimes

Israel, Hamas reject bid before ICC to arrest leaders for war crimes
Updated 21 May 2024
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Israel, Hamas reject bid before ICC to arrest leaders for war crimes

Israel, Hamas reject bid before ICC to arrest leaders for war crimes
  • Israel slams as a ‘historical disgrace’ the demand to arrest their leaders for war crimes
  • US President Joe Biden denounces the ICC bid as ‘outrageous’

RAFAH, Palestinian Territories: Israel and Hamas, engaged in heavy fighting in the Gaza Strip, both angrily rejected on Monday moves to arrest their leaders for war crimes made before an international court.

The International Criminal Court’s prosecutor Karim Khan said he had applied for arrest warrants for top Israeli and Hamas leaders over the conflict.

Israel slammed as a “historical disgrace” the demand targeting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, while the Palestinian militant group Hamas said it “strongly condemns” the move.

Israel’s top ally the United States joined the condemnation, while France said it supported the court’s independence and its “fight against impunity.”

Netanyahu said he rejected “with disgust The Hague prosecutor’s comparison between democratic Israel and the mass murderers of Hamas.”

Khan said in a statement that he was seeking warrants against the Israeli leaders for crimes including “wilful killing,” “extermination and/or murder,” and “starvation.”

He said Israel had committed “crimes against humanity” during the war, started by Hamas’s unprecedented October 7 attack, as part “of a widespread and systematic attack against the Palestinian civilian population.”

Khan also said the leaders of Hamas, including Qatar-based Ismail Haniyeh and Gaza chief Yahya Sinwar, “bear criminal responsibility” for actions committed during the October 7 attack.

These included “taking hostages,” “rape and other acts of sexual violence,” and “torture,” he said.

“International law and the laws of armed conflict apply to all,” Khan said. “No foot soldier, no commander, no civilian leader — no one — can act with impunity.”

The warrants, if granted by the ICC judges, would mean that any of the 124 ICC member states would technically be obliged to arrest Netanyahu and the others if they traveled there, a point noted by EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell.

However, the court has no mechanism to enforce its warrants.

US President Joe Biden denounced the ICC bid as “outrageous” and said “there is no equivalence — none — between Israel and Hamas.”

Germany agreed, with a foreign ministry spokesman saying the warrants gave “a false impression of equivalence.”

Biden also rejected accusations in a separate tribunal, the UN International Court of Justice, where South Africa has alleged that Israel’s war in Gaza is genocidal.

“What’s happening is not genocide,” Biden told a Jewish American Heritage Month event at the White House on Monday.

South Africa welcomed the move at the ICC.

The war ground on unabated, with Israeli forces battling Hamas in Gaza’s far-southern city of Rafah, as well as in other flashpoints in central and northern areas.

Israel defied international opposition almost two weeks ago when it sent troops into Rafah, which is crowded with civilians and which the military has described as the last Hamas stronghold.

Netanyahu has vowed to keep fighting Hamas in Gaza until the Iran-backed Islamist group is defeated and all remaining hostages are released.

The United Nations said more than 812,000 Palestinians had fled Rafah, near the Egyptian border.

“The question that haunts us is: where will we go?” said Sarhan Abu Al-Saeed, 46, a desperate Palestinian resident. “Certain death is chasing us from all directions.”

Witnesses said that Israeli naval forces had also struck Rafah, and medics reported an air strike on a residential building in the city’s west.

The military said Israeli troops were “conducting targeted raids on terrorist infrastructure” in eastern Rafah, where they had found “dozens of tunnel shafts” and “eliminated over 130 terrorists.”

The war broke out after Hamas’s October 7 attack on Israel, which resulted in the deaths of more than 1,170 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally based on Israeli official figures.

Hamas also took about 250 hostages during the attack, of whom 124 remain in Gaza including 37 the army says are dead.

Israel’s retaliatory offensive against Hamas has killed at least 35,562 people in Gaza, also mostly civilians, according to the Hamas-run territory’s health ministry.

The Israeli military said on Monday the bodies of four hostages retrieved from Gaza last week had been found in tunnels under Jabalia in the north.

Israeli forces have been fighting in northern and central areas previously declared largely cleared of militants, with the military saying its troops had killed 200 militants in Jabalia.

Israel has imposed a siege on the long-blockaded Gaza Strip, depriving its 2.4 million people of normal access to clean water, food, medicines and fuel.

The suffering has been eased only by sporadic aid shipments by land, air and sea, but truck arrivals have slowed to a trickle amid the Rafah operation.

The European Union warned that 31 of Gaza’s 36 hospitals are no longer functioning and that the rest are “on the verge of collapse, with more than 9,000 severely injured people at risk of dying.”

Air strikes continued across Gaza, including on Gaza City in the north, the military said.

Gaza’s civil defense said the bodies of eight dead, along with several wounded, were retrieved after an air strike on the Sheikh Radwan neighborhood of Gaza City.

US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan met Netanyahu on Sunday and told him Israel must link the military operation against Hamas with a “political strategy” for Gaza’s future.

Washington has pushed for a post-war plan for Gaza involving Palestinians and supported by regional powers, as well as for a broader diplomatic deal under which Israel and Saudi Arabia would normalize relations.