More than 100 Palestinians killed in Israeli air strikes in Gaza

Scores of people are reportedly trapped under the rubble of two destroyed residential towers

Palestinians flee after an Israeli air strike in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, December 20, 2023. Reuters
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At least 100 Palestinians have been killed in Israeli strikes in the Gaza strip since Tuesday, including at least 50 in the Al Rimal area of Gaza city, Wafa, the Palestinian news agency, reported.

Among the dead is a three-week-old girl, Princess Aisha, who was killed in an Israeli air strike that crushed her family home in Rafah on Tuesday.

Her extended family was asleep when the pre-dawn strike flattened their apartment building, said Suzan Zoarab, the baby's grandmother and a survivor of the blast.

The attack in Al Rimal destroyed two residential towers and rescuers were searching through the rubble for 50 people missing.

The Israeli attacks continued despite mounting global pressure for a humanitarian ceasefire as the death toll from a more than two-month-old military operation in the Palestinian enclave rose to nearly 20,000.

In another area, most of those dead and missing in Al Rimal were from the Salem family, members told The National.

They said the area had been surrounded by Israeli tanks.

Mohammed Moeen Salem, a resident of Al Rimal, said he went out to get food three days ago and was unable go back to his home.

"The area was under siege by the Israelis so I went to stay at one of the UNRWA schools," he said, referring to the UN agency for Palestinian refugees.

“I was shocked when I heard the news. I went to the area to find that Israeli bulldozers destroyed everything after the bombing, and there are people under the rubble still," he said.

Israel launched its attacks after the Hamas militant group that rules Gaza killed about 1,200 people and took more than 200 hostage in raids on southern Israel on October 7.

The Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza says Israel's military response has killed 19,667 people, mostly women and children.

“The Israeli army is turning the hours of this day into successive massacres that have affected all areas of the Gaza Strip without exception, killing about 100 martyrs and hundreds of injuries so far,” said health ministry spokesman Ashraf Al Qudra.

"Al Ahli Arab Hospital in Gaza stopped its service as a result of the targeting and siege and the arrest of a number of medical staff, the wounded and the displaced," he said.

Fadel Naim, head of the orthopaedic surgery department at the hospital – one of the last functioning medical centres in northern Gaza, said it stopped working after the Israeli army stormed it on Tuesday.

Israeli military spokesman Daniel Hagari said on Tuesday that troops were expanding their operations in Khan Younis in southern Gaza, where civilians were told to flee to when the army launched its ground operations against Hamas.

"We must dismantle Hamas, and it will take as long as needed," he said.

Another 13 people were killed and dozens injured when Israeli shelling hit the home of the Abu Aisha family in Deir Al Balah in central Gaza.

Updated: December 20, 2023, 2:58 PM