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Israel-Palestine: Gaza and Jenin bombed as Netanyahu braces for 'possible war' with Palestinian Authority

Meanwhile, UN General Assembly set to vote on a ceasefire resolution as aid distribution across Gaza all but stops
A mourner reacts next to the bodies of Palestinians killed in Israeli strikes at Abu Yossef Al-Najar hospital, in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip 12 December 2023 (Reuters)
A mourner reacts next to the bodies of Palestinian children killed in Israeli strikes at Abu Yossef Al-Najar hospital, in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip 12 December 2023 (Reuters)

Israeli air strikes killed scores of Palestinians across Gaza and the West Bank on Tuesday as the UN decried the latest “unconscionable” Israeli attacks on health workers and the UN General Assembly was set to vote on a ceasefire resolution.

Fighter jets pummelled homes in Khan Younis and Rafah in the early hours of the morning, killing dozens of civilians. 

Among those killed was Abeer Harb, a young woman from Gaza who lost her fiance, Ismael Dwaik, in Israeli air strikes over a year ago. 

The 25-year-old told Middle East Eye at the time that she promised Dwaik before his burial that she “would not marry anyone and wait for our wedding party to be thrown in heaven”.

The latest strikes took the death toll to over 18,400, most of them children and women, the health ministry said.

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More than 50,000 have been wounded and thousands more are missing and believed to be trapped dead under rubble. 

Meanwhile, fierce clashes between Israeli ground troops and Palestinian fighters continued across the Palestinian enclave, particularly east of Gaza City and Khan Younis. 
Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, said its fighters destroyed several tanks and killed at least 11 Israeli soldiers in close-quarters combat in Shejaiya neighbourhood, one of the group’s main strongholds. 

Middle East Eye could not independently verify the claims by Hamas or the Israeli army. 

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The Israeli military in the morning announced the death of a reservist who was wounded in Gaza fighting last month, bringing the number of soldiers killed since the start of the ground invasion to over 105. 

The military added that its forces struck several Hamas rocket launchers, found some weaponry, and killed at least three Hamas fighters in the Gaza City area.

In the West Bank, the army launched a large-scale raid on Jenin City and its refugee camp.

At least six Palestinians have been killed in the ongoing incursion, including a 13-year-old boy prevented from reaching a hospital by Israeli forces, according to the Palestinian health ministry. 

Four of those killed were hit in a drone strike. Israel said it targeted people affiliated with armed groups. Witnesses said the men were not armed. 

"We ran to the site of the explosion to find all the young men on the ground bleeding. Three of them were dead and the others were seriously injured," Yacoub Abdullah, a resident of Jenin, told MEE. 

Netanyahu talks war with the PA 

Amid the escalation in Gaza and the West Bank, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu unleashed a scathing rebuke of the Palestinian Authority.

In a recorded statement published on X, Netanyahu said he will not let Israel repeat the “mistake” of the Oslo Accords, and that Gaza will neither be “Hamastan nor Fatahstan”. 

Earlier, he was quoted on the Israeli public broadcaster as saying that Israel was preparing for a possible war with the PA in the West Bank.

“It can’t be that after the enormous sacrifice of our citizens and fighters, we will let into Gaza those who teach terror, support terror, finance terror,” he said. 

Hussein al-Sheikh, a senior PA and Fatah leader, said Netnayhu’s remarks “confirm his war against all Palestinians”.

"We say to Netanyahu that Oslo died under the treads of his tanks, sweeping through our cities, villages, and camps from Jenin to Rafah,” al-Sheikh posted on X.

People inspect the site where four Palestinians were reportedly killed in an Israeli drone strike in the Jenin refugee camp in the occupied West Bank during a raid on 12 December 2023 (AFP)
People inspect the site where four Palestinians were reportedly killed in an Israeli drone strike in the Jenin refugee camp in the occupied West Bank during a raid on 12 December 2023 (AFP)

Netnayhu’s comments appeared to address what he called “disagreements” with the United States about the post-war plans. 

US President Joe Biden on Monday alluded to differences he had with Netanyahu. 

Speaking at a White House reception for the Jewish Hanukkah festival, he said he once wrote to Netanyahu that he loves him “but I don't agree with a damn thing you had to say”.

"It's about the same today," Biden added.

“Yes, there is a disagreement when it comes to ‘the day after Hamas,’ and I hope we will come to an agreement here too,” Netanyahu said on Tuesday.

Aid distribution 'largely stops'

Back in Gaza, the humanitarian situation continued to deteriorate. 

Following a siege for several days, Israeli forces raided Kamal Adwan Hospital in northern Gaza on Tuesday, the Palestinian health ministry said.

Medical staff, including the hospital director Dr Ahmed al-Kahlot, were detained and subjected to interrogations. 

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Kahlot said earlier there were 12 children in intensive care, six premature babies, 100 medical personnel and 3,000 displaced people inside the hospital. 

Elsewhere, the World Health Organization said a mission to deliver medical aid and evacuate critically ill people days ago was stopped for prolonged checks by Israeli forces, leading to the death of one patient. 

Palestinian paramedics were briefly detained and interrogated, with one staff member made to kneel at gunpoint, according to WHO. 

“Obstructing ambulances and attacks on humanitarian and health workers are unconscionable,” the UN agency said. 

In a separate statement, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) warned that aid distribution has “largely stopped” outside of the Rafah governorate. 

“A humanitarian ceasefire is needed urgently,” OCHA said.

UN ceasefire resolution   

As calls for de-escalation grow, the UN General Assembly was set to hold a vote on a ceasefire resolution later on Tuesday. 

The vote comes after a United States veto blocked a similar resolution at the UN Security Council on Friday. 

Resolutions by the 193-member General Assembly are not binding but the vote, which is expected to be heavily in favour of a ceasefire, will build political pressure on Israel and its main ally the US.

Meanwhile, an attack by the Houthi group on a Norway-flagged Israeli-bound chemical tanker has raised more alarm over the freedom of navigation on the Red Sea. 

The Yemeni group has vowed to block any ships heading to Israel if aid is not allowed into Gaza. 

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