Israel intensifies Gaza bombing as pregnant women suffer from malnutrition

UN warns that 40 per cent of Gazans could face famine

A man injured in an Israeli bombardment is treated at Al Aqsa Martyrs Hospital in Deir Al Balah in central Gaza on Saturday. AFP
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Israel continued to pummel Gaza with air strikes over the weekend as the UN warned the enclave is in dire threat from famine.

A fierce wave of Israeli air and artillery strikes bombarded central Gaza overnight Sunday, with dozens killed in the areas of Al Zawayda, Maghazi, and Nuseirat.

“Shelling continued all night, and we were waiting for the morning to come so we could leave the area,” Jihad Safadi from the Buraj camp in central Gaza told The National.

“People were killed in front of our house. No one can reach them. The Israeli quadcopter shoots towards anyone who tries to reach them,” she added, referring to the unmanned military drones used by the military.

Twelve people at least were killed and others, mostly children, were injured when an Israel aircraft attacked a house belonging to the Abu Jumaa family in the Al Zawayda area, according to medics.

At least three members of the Salem family were killed in the Al Sawarha neighbourhood of the Nuseirat refugee camp, reported medics, and five members of the Shahadeh family were killed in the Maghazi refugee camp.

Several other citizens were injured from the Hamada family after their house was targeted by Israeli forces to the west of the Nuseirat refugee camp.

Riham Al Washahi, who had fled Al Shatee refugee camp in northern Gaza to the Nuseirat refugee camp, said that Palestinians had no hope in the war ending.

“The problem is that we were waiting for any truce or ceasefire, but it seems that they are continuing the war and there’s no hope of stopping,” she said.

The latest strikes came after at least 165 people were killed and 250 wounded in 24 hours up to Saturday afternoon, according to Gaza's Hamas-run Ministry of Health.

Israel's military has pushed deeper into central and southern Gaza over the weekend, pressing forward with its ground invasion.

On Saturday, Al Quds Brigades fighters said they had engaged in battles in the north and east of Khan Younis.

In central Gaza's Deir Al Balah, Israeli boats launched “intense attacks” near the beach, Palestinian outlet Al Awdah reported.

Several wounded people arrived at Al Aqsa Martyrs Hospital in Deir Al Balah after air strikes hit the area.

More than 21,822 people have been killed in Gaza since Israel launched its ground and air offensive in the enclave, the vast majority – about 70 per cent – of whom are women and children.

The Israeli army on Sunday announced the death of two more of its soldiers, bringing the official total of killed troops since the assault began to 172.

Famine and malnutrition

The war in Gaza has created a humanitarian crisis.

More than 40 per cent of Gaza’s population is at risk of famine, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) announced on Sunday, as the assault on the besieged enclave nears its third month.

“Every day is a struggle for survival, finding food and water. We need regular supplies and safe and sustainable humanitarian access to the Gaza Strip,” the agency tweeted alongside a video that showed crowds of people running and clambering on to an UNRWA aid convoy – a now-common sight as Gazans grow increasingly desperate for food and basic necessities.

On Saturday, Gaza's Ministry of Health said that about 50,000 pregnant women were suffering from malnutrition and health complications.

Ministry spokesman Dr Ashraf Qudra said that those with high-risk pregnancies sheltering in health centres are lacking clean drinking water, proper hygiene, food and health care.

“More than 900,000 children taking shelter are exposed to the dangers of severe cold, dehydration, malnutrition, respiratory and skin diseases and a lack of inoculations for newborn children,” he said.

Drone video shows thousands of tents for displaced Palestinians in Rafah

Drone video shows thousands of tents for displaced Palestinians in Rafah

Thousands of Palestinians have fled to Buraj camp in central Gaza, despite overcrowding there.

Resident Rami Abu Mosab said sounds of gunfire echoed across the camp overnight on Friday, followed by heavy air strikes on Saturday.

Drone footage showed a vast camp of thousands of tents and makeshift shacks set up on what had been empty land on Rafah’s western outskirts next to UN warehouses.

Many other Palestinians have fled south to Rafah, on the border with Egypt, arriving in carts and on foot.

Those who were unable to find space in the already overwhelmed shelters have put up tents on roadsides that are slick with mud from winter rains.

Updated: December 31, 2023, 1:01 PM