The Gaza Strip is currently experiencing some of the most intense fighting in the ongoing war, with Israel escalating its offensive shortly after the UN Security Council passed a resolution urging more aid and urgent steps toward a sustainable ceasefire.
Over 100 people were killed in Israeli airstrikes on Sunday, including at least 70 in bombings targeting a residential block in the Maghazi refugee camp. Despite being designated as an “evacuation zone,” Deir al-Balah was also hit.
The situation is dire, with footage showing injured children and numerous casualties. The conflict has taken a heavy toll on both sides, with casualties reported on both the Israeli and Palestinian fronts. Despite a UN resolution calling for a ceasefire, the fighting has intensified, and a proposed Egyptian ceasefire plan has reportedly been rejected by Hamas and Islamic Jihad.
The humanitarian situation is worsening, with the UN warning of starvation for a quarter of Gaza’s population. Israel, however, continues its military operations, emphasizing the goal of achieving “complete victory” over Hamas.
Christmas celebrations across Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories were canceled in solidarity with the people of Gaza. Instead of the usual festivities, Palestinian Christians held subdued masses with prayers for peace. The Reverend Louis Salman expressed the somber atmosphere in Bethlehem, attributing it to the suffering of the children in Gaza and criticizing decision-makers for inaction.
The conflict’s toll is evident in the casualties on both sides, with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu acknowledging a “very heavy cost” for Israel, including 15 soldiers killed in intense ground skirmishes with Hamas. Despite international pressure and criticism, Israel remains committed to its military approach, with Netanyahu stating that military pressure is essential for securing the release of hostages held by Hamas.
The UN Security Council’s resolution, calling for urgent action and a ceasefire, has not deterred the ongoing violence. Israel’s military operations have expanded into the southern half of the Gaza Strip, raising concerns for the safety of the densely populated territory’s 2.3 million residents. The UN warns that a quarter of the population is starving, and aid distribution is hampered by the fighting, lack of fuel, and usable roads.
Efforts for a ceasefire, mediated by Egypt and Qatar, have faced challenges, and a proposed three-stage plan has been rejected by Hamas and Islamic Jihad. The international community, including the United States, has called for a shift away from large-scale military operations in favor of more targeted approaches. However, Israel continues to pursue its military objectives, emphasizing the need for military pressure to achieve its goals.
As the conflict persists and the humanitarian crisis deepens, there is a growing urgency for diplomatic solutions and international intervention to address the root causes and bring about a sustainable resolution to the longstanding Israeli-Palestinian conflict.