Hamas tells Israel it ‘arrived too late’ to tunnel; forces arrest doctors at Al-Awdeh Hospital – Mondoweiss


Casualties

  • 19,453+ killed* and more than 52,286 wounded in the Gaza Strip.
  • 301 Palestinians killed in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem
  • Israel revises its estimated October 7 death toll down from 1,400 to 1,147.
  • 461 Israeli soldiers killed since October 7, and at least 1,831 injured.

*This figure was confirmed by Gaza’s Ministry of Health on December 19. Due to breakdowns in communication networks within the Gaza Strip, the Ministry of Health in Gaza has not been able to regularly and accurately update its tolls since mid-November. Some rights groups put the death toll number closer to 20,000.

Key Developments

  • UN official Martin Griffiths says aid workers “do not have places of safety from which to operate, where people can gather safely to receive aid and be protected” in Gaza.
  • Gaza Ministry of Health says Israeli forces turned Al-Awdeh Hospital into military barracks, arresting 240 people, 40 medical staff, 40 patients, and 120 displaced Palestinians.
  • Adel Zurob one of 94 Palestinian journalists killed in Gaza since October 7.
  • Israeli official denies military targeted Holy Family Catholic parish, claiming “no churches, no Christians” in Gaza Strip.
  • Al-Qassam Brigades released video of firing a Kornet missile on Israeli Humvee in Beit Lahia; released video of three elderly Israeli captives pleading with government to free them.
  • Palestinian Prisoners Club says Israeli forces arrested 4,605 people in West Bank and Jerusalem since October 7.
  • Doctors without Borders (MSF) warns of increased death toll in West Bank and Jenin, following repeated Israeli raids and damages to hospitals and healthcare centers.

UN official says Gaza needs ‘special tribunal’ to investigate Israeli conduct

The atrocities Israel committed in the Gaza Strip may need a UN special tribunal, said Martin Griffiths, the UN’s under-secretary-general for humanitarian affairs.

Griffiths told The Financial Times in an interview that he has dealt with conflicts and natural disasters in Libya, Afghanistan, Syria, and Sudan, and yet the situation in Gaza, where 136 UN workers have been killed in Israeli bombardment, is by far the worst.

“None of the normal, sound foundations you see across the world for humanitarian operations in places like Syria and Afghanistan exist for us in Gaza. We do not have places of safety from which to operate, where people can gather safely to receive aid and be protected,” he said.

Griffiths added that the death toll in the Gaza Strip will rise sharply when the dust of war settles and rescue teams start to dig under the rubble to retrieve bodies of the slain.

Griffiths said that Israel was not “precise” in its military operations in the south of Gaza, contradicting its promises to the U.S., while President Biden commented that the Israeli military conducted “indiscriminate bombing” of the Palestinian enclave.

“The impunity that goes along with the choosing of war as your first option has never been greater,” Griffiths continued.

“And the impunity for killing humanitarian aid workers has never been greater; Impunity we have seen rampant in this war.”

“Maybe there is a need for a special tribunal [for Gaza],” he added.

Israeli forces raid Al-Awdeh Hospital and arrest hundreds of Palestinians 

On Tuesday morning, Gaza’s Ministry of Health spokesperson, Ashraf Al-Qidra, said that Israeli occupation forces turned Al-Awdeh Hospital into a military barracks, arresting 240 people, 40 medical staff, 40 patients, and 120 displaced Palestinians.

Israeli forces had been surrounding Al-Awdeh Hospital for days in Jabalia, north of Gaza City. The area has been a battleground since late October between occupation forces and Palestinian resistance fighters. However, targeting hospitals is one of Israel’s military tactics to push Palestinians to southern towns of the Gaza Strip.

Hospitals have been a lifeline for thousands of people, whether to receive medical treatment or as shelters from the Israeli indiscriminate assaults.

The Al-Awdeh Hospital said on Tuesday morning that the facility had run out of water, food, and medical supplies.

“[Israeli forces] are preventing the movement between departments. They also arrested six hospital staff, including the hospital director Dr. Ahmed Muhanna,” the hospital said.

On Tuesday morning, Jabalia Medical Center received the bodies of 16 Palestinians and treated 70 wounded in Israeli air strikes on Jabalia.

Wafa news agency reported several Israeli attacks on Palestinian hospitals in the Gaza Strip in the past 24 hours.

On Monday, four people died in the Al-Ahli Hospital in Gaza City due to the lack of medical supplies to treat their injuries after Israeli forces stormed the hospital for the second day in a row.

Wafa reported that Israeli forces arrested 150 people from Al-Ahli Hospital and left the wounded out in the cold. It also detained two doctors and blocked ambulances from entering or exiting the premises as tanks and military vehicles were stationed in the nearby Palestine Square.

In Al-Shifa Hospital, the Israeli forces arrested five Palestinians, including an elderly woman and a child. Israel bombed a bridge that connects departments in the Al-Shifa medical complex and arrested dozens of people in the past few days, killing at least 26 people. 

Since November, Al-Shifa has been under constant Israeli attack, whether through bombing, storming, or crushing and bulldozing its walls and courtyards, where hundreds of Palestinians have been sheltering.

On Tuesday, the Ministry of Health announced that 19,453 Palestinian martyrs were killed in the Israeli aggression on the Gaza Strip, while 52,286, most of whom are women and children, have been injured. At least 200 people were killed in Israeli bombings in the past 24 hours alone.

In Rafah, Israeli forces bombed the houses of the Zurob, Attiya, and Abdel-Al families, killing at least 30 people.

Adel Zurob is one of the 94 Palestinian journalists killed in the Gaza Strip since October 7.

Zurob was killed along with 14 members of his family in Rafah. Israeli bombing also killed eight members of the Attiya family and three members of the Abdel-Al family on Tuesday morning, while injuring dozens more.

An Israeli airstrike on the Nuseirat refugee camp killed five children from the Abu Ghazal family in the Al-Hasayna area, and dozens of injured were treated at Al-Aqsa Hospital. Israeli forces also raided the house of the Shaheen family in Al-Bureij refugee camp, south of Gaza City, killing a number of people.

Israeli forces also pummelled Khan Younis in the central Gaza Strip with artillery shells and air raids overnight. In Deir Al-Balah in the central Gaza Strip, Israeli air raids destroyed two houses and killed nine people, five of them children, according to Wafa.

Israeli official claims ‘no churches, no Christians’ in Gaza Strip

Following an attack on the Holy Family Catholic church over the weekend, in which two Palestinians were killed by Israeli snipers in Gaza’s Al-Zaytoun neighborhood, the British Liberal Democrat MP Layla Moran said she fears her family won’t survive in Gaza until Christmas.

“I fear my family under siege by Israeli forces in a church in Gaza will not survive until Christmas, between the snipers and the lack of water,” Moran, the first MP of Palestinian descent in the House of Commons, told The Guardian.

“This time next week will be Christmas Eve…I don’t understand how the Israeli military think this is a good idea. It shouldn’t matter that they’re Christians, but I would ask US president Joe Biden, who himself is a professed Catholic, is this what he would want for his family?” she said.

However, an Israeli official denied that the Israeli military targeted the church. The Deputy Mayor of Jerusalem, Fleur Hassan-Nahoum, claimed that there were no Christians nor churches when asked about the attack on the Holy Family parish on the LBC radio show on Tuesday morning. 

“I saw the reports this morning. The church? There are no churches in Gaza,” Hassan-Nahoum said.

“Yes, unfortunately there are no Christians because they were driven out by Hamas,” she added. 

There are an estimated 1,000 Palestinian Christians living in the Gaza Strip. A third of the community had left since 2007 when Israel put the enclave under a brutal siege.

The assault on the Holy Family church drew widespread international condemnation and was described as a “senseless attack.” On October 19, Israeli forces bombed the Greek Orthodox Church in the center of Gaza City, which housed hundreds of Palestinians, killing 18 people.

Qassam Brigades tell Israel army ‘you arrived late,’ Israeli captives plead, ‘Don’t let us grow old here’

Hamas’s Izz Al-Din Al-Qassam Brigades released several videos of fighters firing the 105mm Al-Yaseen anti-tank shells on Israeli occupation forces in the Gaza Strip.

Al-Qassam first released a video of firing a Kornet missile on an Israeli Humvee in Beit Lahia, which was set on fire by the attack. This is one of the first reports of the use of the Kornet, a Russian anti-tank guided missile, by Palestinian fighters in Gaza.

Al-Qassam also released a video of three elderly Israeli male hostages, pleading with their government to exhaust all efforts to free them from Hamas captivity. 

“We are the generation who built the foundation for the creation of Israel. We are the ones who started the IDF military. We don’t understand why we have been abandoned here,” one of the captives said.

“You have to release us from here. It does not matter at what cost. We don’t want to be casualties as a direct result of the IDF’s military airstrikes. Release us with no conditions,” he added.

At the end of the video, all three captives said in unison: “Don’t let us grow old here.”

Israel’s military spokesperson, Daniel Hagari, described the video as a “criminal, terrorist video.”

“Chaim, Yoram, and Amiram, I hope that you hear me this evening. Know this, we are doing everything, everything, in order to return you back safely,” Hagari added. There are 130 Israeli captives held by Hamas who shunned calls to release them unless Israel ceases bombing the Gaza Strip.

Al-Qassam also released another video appearing to mock Israel’s discovery of a tunnel near the Erez Crossing, north of Gaza City.

The tunnel, large enough to accommodate vehicles and almost 4km long, was shown to the media over the weekend.

Hamas titled the video, “You arrived late. The mission was accomplished,” showing footage of its surprise attack on October 7 on Erez Crossing, in which it used the tunnel to stage its cross-border raids on Israeli settlements and military bases north of the Gaza Strip.

In another video compilation, Hamas fighters fire anti-tank shells on Israeli soldiers in Gaza City, killing and injuring several soldiers. (Link to all the videos).

On Tuesday morning, the Israeli military said that nine soldiers were killed in battles with Palestinian fighters in the Gaza Strip. At least 461 Israeli soldiers have been killed since October 7, and 1,831 have been injured.

Israeli forces arrest more than 4,500 Palestinians in West Bank since October 7

In the occupied West Bank and Jerusalem, Israeli forces arrested 30 Palestinians from the towns of Hebron, Qalqilya, Ramallah, Jenin, Jericho, and Salfit.

According to a joint statement on Tuesday by The Commission for Prisoners and Ex-Prisoners’ Affairs and the Palestinian Prisoners Club, Israeli forces arrested 4,605 Palestinians in the West Bank since October 7. Some of them were later released.

Most of the arrests were at homes and military checkpoints, while a number of Palestinians handed themselves in following threats from Israeli intelligence.

“[Israeli] occupation forces continue to carry out widespread acts of abuse, severe beatings, field investigations, and threats against detainees and their families,” The Commission and Prisoners’ Club said.

In total, Israeli forces or settlers killed 301 Palestinians in the West Bank and in Jerusalem. On Monday, four Palestinians were killed in the Al-Faraa refugee camp in Tubas during an Israeli raid of the city. 

Doctors without Borders (MSF) warned last week of the increased death toll in the West Bank, specifically in the Jenin area, following repeated Israeli raids and damage to hospitals and healthcare centers.

“Throughout the military incursion,” MSF said, referencing Israeli raids in Jenin, “[we] witnessed the obstruction of ambulances and the targeting of healthcare facilities, elements that have become commonplace in the months that followed.”

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