Israel bombs Gaza and raids West Bank towns after UN resolution

A strike on homes in Al Nuseirat refugee camp killed 18 Palestinians

Anger and grief as victims of Israeli bombardment are taken to a hospital at Deir Al Balah in the central Gaza Strip on December 20, 2023. AFP
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The Israeli army bombed Gaza and raided towns in the occupied West Bank, as the UN Security Council passed a resolution calling for safe aid passages in the strip and for creating the conditions for a “sustainable cessation of hostilities”.

Israeli strikes on homes in Al Nuseirat refugee camp in the north killed 18 people, the Palestinian state news agency (Wafa) reported.

In a separate attack, a water desalination plant was destroyed in the town of Jabalia north of the Gaza Strip by Israeli shelling, Wafa added.

On Friday evening, as the vote on the Security Council resolution was under way, Israeli forces began shelling near the Palestinian Red Crescent-run Al Amal hospital in the southern city of Khan Younis.

“We saw the fire with our own eyes”, Osama Al Kahlout, who heads the Red Crescent's operations room in the south told The National, adding that the shelling was just “five metres away”.

“The staff, the displaced and the children were very frightened.”

About 14,000 people have taken shelter at Al Amal and the Red Crescent's headquarters adjacent to it.

Mr. Kahlout said shrapnel landed on the roof of the hospital.

“This is a dangerous indicator. We worry that what happened to Al Shifa hospital will happen to us next.”

Meanwhile, the UN Development Programme (UNDP) reported that one of its staff members and his family were killed in Israeli attacks near Gaza city.

UNDP administrator Achim Steiner said Issam Al Mughrabi, 56, his wife Lamya’a, 53, and his children Mohammad, 32, Suad, 30, Lama, 27, Luai, 23, Obaideh, 13, are among the dead.

The strike also reportedly killed more than 70 members of the wider Al Mughrabi family, the statement added.

More than 20,000 men, women and children have been killed since October 7.

“No more families should endure the pain and suffering that Issam's family and countless others are experiencing,” Mr Steiner said.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres emphasised that Israel's offensive in Gaza is creating “massive obstacles” in the distribution of aid inside the enclave.

“An effective aid operation in Gaza requires security, staff who can work in safety, logistical capacity, and the resumption of commercial activity,” he said on Saturday on social media platform X.

Mr Guterres earlier said 136 UN members of staff have been killed since the war in Gaza began on October 7.

“Something we have never seen in UN history,” he said.

In the occupied West Bank, Israeli forces raided towns and cities on Friday and in the early hours of Saturday, Wafa reported.

Tanks were seen in Jenin, Hebron, Nablus and Jericho, and other places.

In Jenin, an exchange of fire took place between Israeli forces and militants as tanks were stationed “around the Jenin government hospital”, Wafa said.

Israeli snipers took positions on residential buildings overlooking Jenin camp. One man was arrested.

Power to Jenin camp and a number of areas of the city was cut off as the raid began, Wafa said, quoting eyewitnesses.

The strikes in Gaza and the raids in the West Bank happened after the UN Security Council adopted a resolution aimed at increasing aid and setting the conditions for a reduction in violence, as the world body said Israel's assault on the Palestinian enclave is pushing it towards famine.

After four postponements this week, the UAE-crafted resolution received 13 votes in favour and two abstentions from the US and Russia.

The adopted text calls for “urgent steps to immediately allow safe and unhindered humanitarian access, and also for creating the conditions for a sustainable cessation of hostilities”.

The World Food Programme has warned that “widespread famine looms”. More than half a million people in Gaza – a quarter of the population – are starving, according to the UN.

“Four out of five of the hungriest people anywhere in the world are in Gaza,” noted Mr Guterres at a press briefing in New York.

Updated: December 23, 2023, 8:19 AM