‘Operation Al-Aqsa Flood’ Day 84: Gaza at ‘catastrophic threshold’ of famine, West Bank marks ‘deadliest year on record’ for Palestinian children
Israel faces growing tensions between the war cabinet and the far-right coalition government as Egypt presents a ceasefire proposal. Meanwhile, Israeli forces kill at least three Palestinians in occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank.

Mondoweiss Palestine BureauDecember 29, 2023
People struggle to recover bodies and survivors from under the rubble of a building hit by an Israeli airstrike on Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, December 28, 2023. (Photo: by Bashar Taleb/APA Images)
People struggle to recover bodies and survivors from under the rubble of a building hit by an Israeli airstrike on Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, December 28, 2023. (Photo: by Bashar Taleb/APA Images)
Casualties:

21,507 killed* and at least 55,915 wounded in the Gaza Strip.
316 Palestinians killed in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem.
*This figure is the latest confirmed by Gaza’s Ministry of Health as of December 29. Due to breakdowns in communication networks within the Gaza Strip, the Ministry of Health in Gaza has been unable to regularly and accurately update its tolls since mid-November. Some rights groups put the death toll number closer to 30,000 when accounting for those presumed dead.

Key Developments

Deadly airstrikes pummel several areas across Gaza, killing 187 people in 24 hours.
Fighting continues to rage on between Israeli ground troops and Palestinian armed groups, as Israeli army announces an expansion of operations in Khan Younis.
U.N. says hunger in Gaza has passed “catastrophic threshold,” as UNRWA estimates 40 percent of the population is at risk of famine while aid barely trickles in.
Health and human rights groups denounce Israel’s continued targeting of Al-Amal Hospital in Khan Younis and Kamal Adwan Hospital in Beit Lahia amid systematic attacks on the health care system in Gaza.
Palestinians who were detained in northern Gaza report threats, violence, and humiliation at the hands of Israeli forces.
Hamas delegation heads to Cairo on Friday to discuss Egyptian proposal for ceasefire, reiterates call for complete cessation of Israeli aggression in Gaza, and for Palestinians to determine the shape of their own political future.
Israeli leadership torn between war cabinet and far-right elements of coalition government, who refuse to consider possibility of Palestinian Authority involvement in Gaza.
Leaked Israeli High Court draft ruling indicates one of most contested clauses of Netanyahu’s judicial overhaul could be struck down, reigniting internal Israeli disputes.
Thousands of demonstrators call for release of hostages in Jerusalem i culmination of five days of protests, Israeli army releases probe into killing of three Israeli hostages by own soldiers.
Israel continues to shell southern Lebanon and Syria, armed groups in neighboring countries respond.
U.S. forces intercept Yemeni drone and missile in Red Sea.
Israeli forces shoot and kill a Palestinian man allegedly responsible for stabbing attack at checkpoint near Jerusalem on Thursday, raids home and detains relatives.
Palestinian killed by Israeli forces in southern occupied West Bank on Friday following alleged car-ramming attack.
Israeli forces detain more than 15 Palestinians during violent overnight raids, as U.N. raises the alarm about the rising violence in the occupied West Bank.
Peace Now warns Israel is expanding illegal settlements in northern and southern West Bank “in the shadow of war.”
Hundreds of protesters in Times Square hold mock funeral procession on Thursday to denounce killing of thousands of Palestinian children by Israeli forces in Gaza.
Gaza continues to suffer

Twelve weeks into the Israeli rampage in the Gaza Strip, airstrikes continue to flatten the small Palestinian territory, killing dozens as fighting rages on between Israeli ground forces and Palestinian resistance fighters.

Deadly Israeli airstrikes were reported since Thursday afternoon in Rafah and Khan Younis in southern Gaza, as well as in the Nuseirat, al-Bureij, and al-Maghazi refugee camps in central Gaza, and in Beit Hanoun and the Gaza City neighborhood of Sheikh Radwan in northern Gaza.

The Palestinian Ministry of Health in Gaza reported at midday on Friday that at least 187 people had been killed and 312 wounded in the span of 24 hours, raising the total toll to at least 21,507 killed and at least 55,915 wounded in the Gaza Strip since October 7.

Meanwhile, Palestinian groups reported ongoing fighting in the area of Khan Younis, Khuza’a, al-Bureij, Tal al-Zaatar, and various areas in Gaza City – contradicting Israeli claims that the northern Gaza Strip is under full army control.

The Israeli army has meanwhile announced its plans to expand its operations in Khan Younis, where tens of thousands of internally displaced civilians have fled since October. More than 1.9 million internally displaced Palestinians in what was already one of the most densely populated areas on earth continue to be squeezed into ever tinier slivers of land, with an estimated 100,000 people fleeing to Rafah in recent days alone.

Israel confirmed the death of one Israeli soldier on Thursday, bringing the official toll of the ground invasion in Gaza to 168 soldiers — although a government gag order prevents Israeli media from reporting on the full scope of military casualties.

The humanitarian catastrophe Israel has deliberately inflicted on Gaza through its refusal to allow in sufficient aid and its destruction of essential infrastructure has begun to affect its own troops as well. At least one soldier has died as a result of a fungal infection likely due to exposure to sewage leaks, with Israeli media reporting that more soldiers could also suffer from similar infections.

The impact on Israeli troops pales in comparison to the devastation wrought on Palestinians, who are starving and suffering from a host of injuries and preventable illnesses amid a complete collapse of the medical system.

The Gaza Ministry of Health announced that 20 patients were scheduled to leave Gaza on Friday to receive medical treatment in Egypt, but noted that many more were in dire need of care they were unable to receive in the bombarded enclave. “Our urgent priority is to evacuate for treatment abroad 5,000 wounded with serious and complex cases to save their lives,” Gaza Ministry of Health spokesperson Ashraf al-Qidra said.

The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reported that only 76 trucks of aid were allowed into the Gaza Strip on Thursday, far below the pre-October 7 average of 500 trucks a day.

“You think getting aid into Gaza is easy? Think again,” U.N. Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Martin Griffiths posted on X on Friday, listing stringent inspections, bombardments, damaged roads, and desperate civilians crammed into smaller and smaller areas as only some of the obstacles making the delivery of these small amounts of food, medicine, and other essential items even more difficult.

On Friday morning, an UNRWA official reported that Israeli forces fired at an aid convoy in northern Gaza, even as it was driving on “a route designated by the Israeli army,” damaging one vehicle.

According to UNRWA, 40 percent of Gaza’s 2.3 million inhabitants are “at risk of famine.” The U.N. has meanwhile activated a Famine Review Committee for Gaza “due to evidence surpassing the acute food insecurity Phase 5,” described as the “catastrophic threshold.”

Israel has meanwhile continued to target Palestinian health facilities and workers, notably the Al-Amal Hospital in Khan Younis and Kamal Adwan Hospital in the northern Gaza town of Beit Lahiya in northern Gaza, prompting condemnation from Palestinian human rights organizations.

A Palestine Red Crescent Society (PRCS) paramedic who was detained by Israeli forces in Jabalia said soldiers held him and other paramedics for hours with their hands tied behind their backs, and heavily beat them, including on their heads and “sensitive areas,” and that one of his colleagues was repeatedly hit with rocks. He added that Israeli bulldozers ran over ambulances, destroying them completely. PRCS says at least eight of its staff members are still detained by Israeli forces.

Al-Qidra said on Thursday that Israel was detaining at least 99 health personnel in “harsh conditions of torture, starvation, and exposure to extreme cold.”

The Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) meanwhile shared the testimony of one of its researchers, Ayman Lubbad, who was detained by Israeli forces for a week earlier this month.

“Men and boys as young as 14 were instructed to strip and kneel in the street […] They inappropriately photographed us while we were half-naked and forced some of us to dance,” Lubbad said. “Upon learning that I work for a human rights organization, the interrogator threateningly said: ‘I will teach you your rights very well in prison.’”

Egyptian proposal to be discussed amid internal Israeli turmoil

Amid the carnage, Egypt reiterated on Thursday that it was awaiting responses to its framework proposal to obtain a ceasefire in Gaza, a hostage swap agreement, and map out future Palestinian governance after the war.

A Hamas delegation was due in Cairo on Friday to discuss the proposal. In a press conference on Thursday, the Palestinian group said it was open “to any ideas or proposals to stop the aggression completely and finally on our people in the Gaza Strip,” but that there would be no deal to release Israeli hostages until Israeli pummeling of Gaza ceased.

It nonetheless stressed that “the management of Palestinian affairs is a Palestinian internal decision, and it is the decision of the Palestinian people alone, and our people will not accept a leadership that comes to them on the back of a Zionist or American tank.”

“Our people today want a national leadership that carries the project of liberation and commits to resistance in all its forms to achieve national goals,” Hamas added.

Meanwhile, Israeli Finance Minister and far-right extremist settler Bezalel Smotrich dug in his heels on Friday following reports that the U.S. was pressuring Tel Aviv to release Palestinian Authority tax revenue it has been withholding since October 7.

Because Israel controls all international borders with the occupied Palestinian territories, it collects customs and other forms of revenue on behalf of the Palestinian Authority, the nominal political body operating in the occupied West Bank. However, Israel has repeatedly withheld these taxes over the years as a punitive tactic, regardless of whether the P.A. is involved.

“As long as I am Finance Minister, not a single shekel will go to the Nazi terrorists in Gaza,” Smotrich wrote on X.

Smotrich is involved in growing tensions within Israeli leadership, as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been facing pressure from the war cabinet — which includes himself, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, and opposition leader Benny Gantz — and his far-right coalition government. A war cabinet meeting that had been scheduled for Thursday to discuss scenarios for “the day after” the war was postponed after Smotrich opposed its discussion of any future in which the PA might play a role.

Netanyahu was facing a slew of corruption charges and internal dissent due to his attempt to hijack the judicial system before the war.

The Israeli High Court is reportedly set to strike down a key part of the prime minister’s controversial judicial overhaul, according to a draft ruling leaked on Thursday, bringing back to the fore a national debate that had been effectively silenced since October 7.

Netanyahu is now also facing pressure for his handling of the hostage situation. Thousands of protesters rallied in Jerusalem on Thursday night, calling for the release of hostages.

An estimated 130 people are still believed to be held by Hamas and other Palestinian groups in Gaza as bargaining chips to obtain the release of thousands of Palestinians imprisoned by Israel. While 105 hostages were released during a six-day truce in November, Israel has since failed to release more hostages through combat operations.

The Israeli army released on Thursday the results of its internal investigation into the killing of three Israeli hostages by Israeli forces earlier this month while they were waving a white flag. The probe found that soldiers shot at the hostages who were calling for help, despite their commander having ordered them not to shoot. The Times of Israel nevertheless reported that “the soldiers involved in the incident were not expected to be dismissed or to stand trial due to their actions.”

‘Deadliest year on record’ for children in the West Bank

At least three Palestinians have been killed in the occupied West Bank since Thursday, as confrontations between Israeli forces and Palestinians were reported in several areas during military raids.

A Palestinian man identified as Ahmad Alyan was killed after allegedly carrying out a stabbing attack at the Israeli military checkpoint of Mizmoria between Jerusalem and Bethlehem on Thursday night, reportedly injuring two Israeli police officers. Israeli forces later raided his family’s home in the occupied East Jerusalem neighborhood of Jabal al-Mukaber, detaining his parents and sister.

An alleged car-ramming attack took place near the illegal Israeli settlement of Otniel on Friday afternoon, with the driver killed on the spot by Israeli forces. The P.A. Ministry of Health identified the driver as Amr Abdel Fattah Abu Hussein, and said he was killed east of the Palestinian town of Dura.

Another Palestinian, identified as 38-year-old Muhammad Sayel Al-Jundi from the town of Yatta, was shot and killed by Israeli forces at a checkpoint between Hebron and Bethlehem on Thursday night. WAFA news agency did not provide more detail on the circumstances surrounding his death.

Israeli forces have continued to violently raid Palestinian towns and villages across the West Bank, provoking clashes in al-Faraa refugee camp, Balata refugee camp, Qalqilya, Rafat, Kafr Aqab, and Ain al-Sultan refugee camp.

At least three Palestinians were wounded during the Israeli raid in al-Faraa, and another five were detained, in addition to 14 other Palestinians detained overnight across the occupied West Bank. Israeli forces also seized children’s toys in a raid in the southern city of Hebron, WAFA reported.

In East Jerusalem, Israeli forces once again fired rubber-coated metal bullets, tear gas, and skunk water at worshippers seeking to pray at the Al-Aqsa Mosque on Friday.

The spike in violent Israeli repression in the West Bank since October 7 has led the UN to raise the alarm in a report released on Thursday.

“The use of military tactics means and weapons in law enforcement contexts, the use of unnecessary or disproportionate force, and the enforcement of broad, arbitrary and discriminatory movement restrictions that affect Palestinians are extremely troubling,” UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk said. “The violations documented in this report repeat the pattern and nature of violations reported in the past in the context of the long-standing Israeli occupation of the West Bank. However, the intensity of the violence and repression is something that has not been seen in years.”

UNICEF Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa Adele Khodr meanwhile said on Thursday that 2023 was the “deadliest year on record for children in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem,” with 83 children killed since October 7 alone.

“Children living in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, have been experiencing grinding violence for many years, yet the intensity of that violence has dramatically increased,” Khodr said. “The suffering of children in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, must not fade into the background of the current conflict — it is part of it.”

As Israeli state violence rages on, the settler colonial enterprise continues advancing in violation of international law. Israeli settlers expanded a road in the World Heritage site of Battir near Bethlehem on Thursday, seeking to further entrench a settler outpost built in the area in recent years.

Peace Now released a new report on Thursday on the expansion of the Battir outpost, as well as the expansion of the Homesh settlement in the northern West Bank “in the shadow of war.”

“While Israel is at war, Smotrich and his colleagues are asserting facts on the ground that may open up another front in the West Bank,” Peace Now wrote. “If we don’t stop the dream of settlement in the northern West Bank and in Battir, we will wake up to the nightmare of settlements in the Gaza Strip.”

Before you go - We need your help. Mainstream media’s wilful complicity in the genocide of Palestinian people is a reminder of just how vital our work at Mondoweiss is. This article and our extensive coverage since October 7 have been made possible by readers like you who donate to keep our reporting free and independent.

With your support, we will continue covering the ongoing events in Gaza and across Palestine, as well as amplifying the Palestine movement worldwide. Together, we will make sure to keep reporting Palestinian stories, even when the rest of the world looks away.

Support our critical work with a donation today.

https://mondoweiss.net/2023/12/operation-al-aqsa-flood-day-84-gaza-at-catastrophic-threshold-of-famine-west-bank-marks-deadliest-year-on-record-for-palestinian-children/
‘Operation Al-Aqsa Flood’ Day 84: Gaza at ‘catastrophic threshold’ of famine, West Bank marks ‘deadliest year on record’ for Palestinian children Israel faces growing tensions between the war cabinet and the far-right coalition government as Egypt presents a ceasefire proposal. Meanwhile, Israeli forces kill at least three Palestinians in occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank. Mondoweiss Palestine BureauDecember 29, 2023 People struggle to recover bodies and survivors from under the rubble of a building hit by an Israeli airstrike on Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, December 28, 2023. (Photo: by Bashar Taleb/APA Images) People struggle to recover bodies and survivors from under the rubble of a building hit by an Israeli airstrike on Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, December 28, 2023. (Photo: by Bashar Taleb/APA Images) Casualties: 21,507 killed* and at least 55,915 wounded in the Gaza Strip. 316 Palestinians killed in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem. *This figure is the latest confirmed by Gaza’s Ministry of Health as of December 29. Due to breakdowns in communication networks within the Gaza Strip, the Ministry of Health in Gaza has been unable to regularly and accurately update its tolls since mid-November. Some rights groups put the death toll number closer to 30,000 when accounting for those presumed dead. Key Developments Deadly airstrikes pummel several areas across Gaza, killing 187 people in 24 hours. Fighting continues to rage on between Israeli ground troops and Palestinian armed groups, as Israeli army announces an expansion of operations in Khan Younis. U.N. says hunger in Gaza has passed “catastrophic threshold,” as UNRWA estimates 40 percent of the population is at risk of famine while aid barely trickles in. Health and human rights groups denounce Israel’s continued targeting of Al-Amal Hospital in Khan Younis and Kamal Adwan Hospital in Beit Lahia amid systematic attacks on the health care system in Gaza. Palestinians who were detained in northern Gaza report threats, violence, and humiliation at the hands of Israeli forces. Hamas delegation heads to Cairo on Friday to discuss Egyptian proposal for ceasefire, reiterates call for complete cessation of Israeli aggression in Gaza, and for Palestinians to determine the shape of their own political future. Israeli leadership torn between war cabinet and far-right elements of coalition government, who refuse to consider possibility of Palestinian Authority involvement in Gaza. Leaked Israeli High Court draft ruling indicates one of most contested clauses of Netanyahu’s judicial overhaul could be struck down, reigniting internal Israeli disputes. Thousands of demonstrators call for release of hostages in Jerusalem i culmination of five days of protests, Israeli army releases probe into killing of three Israeli hostages by own soldiers. Israel continues to shell southern Lebanon and Syria, armed groups in neighboring countries respond. U.S. forces intercept Yemeni drone and missile in Red Sea. Israeli forces shoot and kill a Palestinian man allegedly responsible for stabbing attack at checkpoint near Jerusalem on Thursday, raids home and detains relatives. Palestinian killed by Israeli forces in southern occupied West Bank on Friday following alleged car-ramming attack. Israeli forces detain more than 15 Palestinians during violent overnight raids, as U.N. raises the alarm about the rising violence in the occupied West Bank. Peace Now warns Israel is expanding illegal settlements in northern and southern West Bank “in the shadow of war.” Hundreds of protesters in Times Square hold mock funeral procession on Thursday to denounce killing of thousands of Palestinian children by Israeli forces in Gaza. Gaza continues to suffer Twelve weeks into the Israeli rampage in the Gaza Strip, airstrikes continue to flatten the small Palestinian territory, killing dozens as fighting rages on between Israeli ground forces and Palestinian resistance fighters. Deadly Israeli airstrikes were reported since Thursday afternoon in Rafah and Khan Younis in southern Gaza, as well as in the Nuseirat, al-Bureij, and al-Maghazi refugee camps in central Gaza, and in Beit Hanoun and the Gaza City neighborhood of Sheikh Radwan in northern Gaza. The Palestinian Ministry of Health in Gaza reported at midday on Friday that at least 187 people had been killed and 312 wounded in the span of 24 hours, raising the total toll to at least 21,507 killed and at least 55,915 wounded in the Gaza Strip since October 7. Meanwhile, Palestinian groups reported ongoing fighting in the area of Khan Younis, Khuza’a, al-Bureij, Tal al-Zaatar, and various areas in Gaza City – contradicting Israeli claims that the northern Gaza Strip is under full army control. The Israeli army has meanwhile announced its plans to expand its operations in Khan Younis, where tens of thousands of internally displaced civilians have fled since October. More than 1.9 million internally displaced Palestinians in what was already one of the most densely populated areas on earth continue to be squeezed into ever tinier slivers of land, with an estimated 100,000 people fleeing to Rafah in recent days alone. Israel confirmed the death of one Israeli soldier on Thursday, bringing the official toll of the ground invasion in Gaza to 168 soldiers — although a government gag order prevents Israeli media from reporting on the full scope of military casualties. The humanitarian catastrophe Israel has deliberately inflicted on Gaza through its refusal to allow in sufficient aid and its destruction of essential infrastructure has begun to affect its own troops as well. At least one soldier has died as a result of a fungal infection likely due to exposure to sewage leaks, with Israeli media reporting that more soldiers could also suffer from similar infections. The impact on Israeli troops pales in comparison to the devastation wrought on Palestinians, who are starving and suffering from a host of injuries and preventable illnesses amid a complete collapse of the medical system. The Gaza Ministry of Health announced that 20 patients were scheduled to leave Gaza on Friday to receive medical treatment in Egypt, but noted that many more were in dire need of care they were unable to receive in the bombarded enclave. “Our urgent priority is to evacuate for treatment abroad 5,000 wounded with serious and complex cases to save their lives,” Gaza Ministry of Health spokesperson Ashraf al-Qidra said. The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reported that only 76 trucks of aid were allowed into the Gaza Strip on Thursday, far below the pre-October 7 average of 500 trucks a day. “You think getting aid into Gaza is easy? Think again,” U.N. Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Martin Griffiths posted on X on Friday, listing stringent inspections, bombardments, damaged roads, and desperate civilians crammed into smaller and smaller areas as only some of the obstacles making the delivery of these small amounts of food, medicine, and other essential items even more difficult. On Friday morning, an UNRWA official reported that Israeli forces fired at an aid convoy in northern Gaza, even as it was driving on “a route designated by the Israeli army,” damaging one vehicle. According to UNRWA, 40 percent of Gaza’s 2.3 million inhabitants are “at risk of famine.” The U.N. has meanwhile activated a Famine Review Committee for Gaza “due to evidence surpassing the acute food insecurity Phase 5,” described as the “catastrophic threshold.” Israel has meanwhile continued to target Palestinian health facilities and workers, notably the Al-Amal Hospital in Khan Younis and Kamal Adwan Hospital in the northern Gaza town of Beit Lahiya in northern Gaza, prompting condemnation from Palestinian human rights organizations. A Palestine Red Crescent Society (PRCS) paramedic who was detained by Israeli forces in Jabalia said soldiers held him and other paramedics for hours with their hands tied behind their backs, and heavily beat them, including on their heads and “sensitive areas,” and that one of his colleagues was repeatedly hit with rocks. He added that Israeli bulldozers ran over ambulances, destroying them completely. PRCS says at least eight of its staff members are still detained by Israeli forces. Al-Qidra said on Thursday that Israel was detaining at least 99 health personnel in “harsh conditions of torture, starvation, and exposure to extreme cold.” The Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) meanwhile shared the testimony of one of its researchers, Ayman Lubbad, who was detained by Israeli forces for a week earlier this month. “Men and boys as young as 14 were instructed to strip and kneel in the street […] They inappropriately photographed us while we were half-naked and forced some of us to dance,” Lubbad said. “Upon learning that I work for a human rights organization, the interrogator threateningly said: ‘I will teach you your rights very well in prison.’” Egyptian proposal to be discussed amid internal Israeli turmoil Amid the carnage, Egypt reiterated on Thursday that it was awaiting responses to its framework proposal to obtain a ceasefire in Gaza, a hostage swap agreement, and map out future Palestinian governance after the war. A Hamas delegation was due in Cairo on Friday to discuss the proposal. In a press conference on Thursday, the Palestinian group said it was open “to any ideas or proposals to stop the aggression completely and finally on our people in the Gaza Strip,” but that there would be no deal to release Israeli hostages until Israeli pummeling of Gaza ceased. It nonetheless stressed that “the management of Palestinian affairs is a Palestinian internal decision, and it is the decision of the Palestinian people alone, and our people will not accept a leadership that comes to them on the back of a Zionist or American tank.” “Our people today want a national leadership that carries the project of liberation and commits to resistance in all its forms to achieve national goals,” Hamas added. Meanwhile, Israeli Finance Minister and far-right extremist settler Bezalel Smotrich dug in his heels on Friday following reports that the U.S. was pressuring Tel Aviv to release Palestinian Authority tax revenue it has been withholding since October 7. Because Israel controls all international borders with the occupied Palestinian territories, it collects customs and other forms of revenue on behalf of the Palestinian Authority, the nominal political body operating in the occupied West Bank. However, Israel has repeatedly withheld these taxes over the years as a punitive tactic, regardless of whether the P.A. is involved. “As long as I am Finance Minister, not a single shekel will go to the Nazi terrorists in Gaza,” Smotrich wrote on X. Smotrich is involved in growing tensions within Israeli leadership, as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been facing pressure from the war cabinet — which includes himself, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, and opposition leader Benny Gantz — and his far-right coalition government. A war cabinet meeting that had been scheduled for Thursday to discuss scenarios for “the day after” the war was postponed after Smotrich opposed its discussion of any future in which the PA might play a role. Netanyahu was facing a slew of corruption charges and internal dissent due to his attempt to hijack the judicial system before the war. The Israeli High Court is reportedly set to strike down a key part of the prime minister’s controversial judicial overhaul, according to a draft ruling leaked on Thursday, bringing back to the fore a national debate that had been effectively silenced since October 7. Netanyahu is now also facing pressure for his handling of the hostage situation. Thousands of protesters rallied in Jerusalem on Thursday night, calling for the release of hostages. An estimated 130 people are still believed to be held by Hamas and other Palestinian groups in Gaza as bargaining chips to obtain the release of thousands of Palestinians imprisoned by Israel. While 105 hostages were released during a six-day truce in November, Israel has since failed to release more hostages through combat operations. The Israeli army released on Thursday the results of its internal investigation into the killing of three Israeli hostages by Israeli forces earlier this month while they were waving a white flag. The probe found that soldiers shot at the hostages who were calling for help, despite their commander having ordered them not to shoot. The Times of Israel nevertheless reported that “the soldiers involved in the incident were not expected to be dismissed or to stand trial due to their actions.” ‘Deadliest year on record’ for children in the West Bank At least three Palestinians have been killed in the occupied West Bank since Thursday, as confrontations between Israeli forces and Palestinians were reported in several areas during military raids. A Palestinian man identified as Ahmad Alyan was killed after allegedly carrying out a stabbing attack at the Israeli military checkpoint of Mizmoria between Jerusalem and Bethlehem on Thursday night, reportedly injuring two Israeli police officers. Israeli forces later raided his family’s home in the occupied East Jerusalem neighborhood of Jabal al-Mukaber, detaining his parents and sister. An alleged car-ramming attack took place near the illegal Israeli settlement of Otniel on Friday afternoon, with the driver killed on the spot by Israeli forces. The P.A. Ministry of Health identified the driver as Amr Abdel Fattah Abu Hussein, and said he was killed east of the Palestinian town of Dura. Another Palestinian, identified as 38-year-old Muhammad Sayel Al-Jundi from the town of Yatta, was shot and killed by Israeli forces at a checkpoint between Hebron and Bethlehem on Thursday night. WAFA news agency did not provide more detail on the circumstances surrounding his death. Israeli forces have continued to violently raid Palestinian towns and villages across the West Bank, provoking clashes in al-Faraa refugee camp, Balata refugee camp, Qalqilya, Rafat, Kafr Aqab, and Ain al-Sultan refugee camp. At least three Palestinians were wounded during the Israeli raid in al-Faraa, and another five were detained, in addition to 14 other Palestinians detained overnight across the occupied West Bank. Israeli forces also seized children’s toys in a raid in the southern city of Hebron, WAFA reported. In East Jerusalem, Israeli forces once again fired rubber-coated metal bullets, tear gas, and skunk water at worshippers seeking to pray at the Al-Aqsa Mosque on Friday. The spike in violent Israeli repression in the West Bank since October 7 has led the UN to raise the alarm in a report released on Thursday. “The use of military tactics means and weapons in law enforcement contexts, the use of unnecessary or disproportionate force, and the enforcement of broad, arbitrary and discriminatory movement restrictions that affect Palestinians are extremely troubling,” UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk said. “The violations documented in this report repeat the pattern and nature of violations reported in the past in the context of the long-standing Israeli occupation of the West Bank. However, the intensity of the violence and repression is something that has not been seen in years.” UNICEF Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa Adele Khodr meanwhile said on Thursday that 2023 was the “deadliest year on record for children in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem,” with 83 children killed since October 7 alone. “Children living in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, have been experiencing grinding violence for many years, yet the intensity of that violence has dramatically increased,” Khodr said. “The suffering of children in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, must not fade into the background of the current conflict — it is part of it.” As Israeli state violence rages on, the settler colonial enterprise continues advancing in violation of international law. Israeli settlers expanded a road in the World Heritage site of Battir near Bethlehem on Thursday, seeking to further entrench a settler outpost built in the area in recent years. Peace Now released a new report on Thursday on the expansion of the Battir outpost, as well as the expansion of the Homesh settlement in the northern West Bank “in the shadow of war.” “While Israel is at war, Smotrich and his colleagues are asserting facts on the ground that may open up another front in the West Bank,” Peace Now wrote. “If we don’t stop the dream of settlement in the northern West Bank and in Battir, we will wake up to the nightmare of settlements in the Gaza Strip.” Before you go - We need your help. Mainstream media’s wilful complicity in the genocide of Palestinian people is a reminder of just how vital our work at Mondoweiss is. This article and our extensive coverage since October 7 have been made possible by readers like you who donate to keep our reporting free and independent. With your support, we will continue covering the ongoing events in Gaza and across Palestine, as well as amplifying the Palestine movement worldwide. Together, we will make sure to keep reporting Palestinian stories, even when the rest of the world looks away. Support our critical work with a donation today. https://mondoweiss.net/2023/12/operation-al-aqsa-flood-day-84-gaza-at-catastrophic-threshold-of-famine-west-bank-marks-deadliest-year-on-record-for-palestinian-children/
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‘Operation Al-Aqsa Flood’ Day 84: Gaza at ‘catastrophic threshold’ of famine, West Bank marks ‘deadliest year on record’ for Palestinian children
Israel faces growing tensions between the war cabinet and the far-right coalition government as Egypt presents a ceasefire proposal. Meanwhile, Israeli forces kill at least three Palestinians in occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank.
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