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Israel launches airstrikes in Southern Gaza in response to Hamas’ warning on hostages

Israel launched airstrikes in southern Gaza after Hamas demanded prisoner releases. The conflict has left Gaza’s health system on the verge of collapse.

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In a tense escalation of the ongoing conflict in the region, Israel launched airstrikes on southern Gaza’s main city, Khan Yunis, on Monday (11 Dec).

The strikes came in response to Hamas’ warning that no Israeli hostages would leave Gaza alive unless their demands for prisoner releases were met.

The crisis was triggered by Hamas when the group carried out a devastating attack on Israel on 7 October, resulting in the deaths of 1,200 people, according to Israeli figures. They also took approximately 240 hostages back to Gaza.

Israel responded with a military offensive that has left much of Gaza in ruins and claimed the lives of at least 17,997 people, the majority of whom were women and children, according to the Hamas-run health ministry.

Reports indicate that the Israeli airstrikes on Monday targeted Khan Yunis, while Palestinian militants from Islamic Jihad claimed to have destroyed a house where Israeli soldiers were searching for a tunnel shaft.

The Israeli army reported rocket fire from Gaza into Israel on Monday, and fierce fighting had occurred on Sunday around Gaza City and Khan Yunis.

Hamas reiterated on Sunday that Israel would not see the release of their hostages without an exchange, negotiation, and meeting the resistance’s demands.

According to Israel, there are still 137 hostages in Gaza, while activists claim that around 7,000 Palestinians are in Israeli jails.

Months of intense bombardment and clashes have left Gaza’s health system on the brink of collapse, with most hospitals no longer functioning and nearly two million people displaced.

At the start of the conflict, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) issued an evacuation order for all communities north of the Wadi Gaza, including Gaza City, leading to the movement of hundreds of thousands of residents from northern Gaza towards the south.

Despite instructing civilians to relocate southward, Israel continued to conduct airstrikes in those designated areas that it told people to go to.

Al-Shifa hospital in Gaza City, a critical medical facility, lies in ruins, with approximately 30,000 people seeking refuge amid the devastation after Israeli forces raided the hospital last month.

Mohammed Daloul, one of the displaced residents, lamented, “Our life has become a living hell, there’s no electricity, no water, no flour, no bread, no medicine for the children who are all sick.”

The United Nations estimates that 1.9 million of Gaza’s 2.4 million people have been displaced from their homes, with approximately half of them being children.

Humanitarian organizations continue to press Israel for greater protection of civilians in the conflict.

Mapping software deployed by Israel’s army to minimize civilian casualties was criticized as inadequate by Lynn Hastings, the UN humanitarian coordinator for the Palestinian territories.

Hastings argued that a unilateral declaration of “safe zones” by an occupying power does not guarantee safety.

Only 14 out of Gaza’s 36 hospitals are operating at any capacity, according to the United Nations’ humanitarian agency OCHA. The World Health Organization has warned that Gaza’s health system is on the verge of collapse, calling for immediate, unimpeded aid deliveries.

Israel’s army chief, Herzi Halevi, stated on Sunday that significant force was being used in Gaza, claiming “significant achievements” in the war. The military reported striking more than 250 targets in 24 hours, including a Hamas military communications site, underground tunnel shafts, and a Hamas military command centre in Gaza City’s Shejaiya neighbourhood.

Israel has reported 98 soldiers killed and around 600 wounded in the Gaza war. National Security Adviser Tzachi Hanegbi claimed that approximately 7,000 “terrorists” have been killed.

Amid the ongoing conflict, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres expressed concern about the Security Council’s authority and credibility being undermined after the United States blocked a ceasefire resolution on Friday. He vowed not to give up on pursuing a resolution to the crisis.

Qatar, where Hamas’s top leadership is based, indicated that it is working on a new truce similar to the week-long ceasefire mediated last month, which resulted in the exchange of 80 Israeli hostages for 240 Palestinian prisoners and humanitarian aid. However, Israel’s continuous bombardment is narrowing the window for success, according to Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken rejected calls for a ceasefire on Sunday, citing concerns about Hamas’ continued existence and intentions. He acknowledged the devastating human toll of the conflict on innocent civilians.

There are growing concerns about regional escalation, with frequent cross-border exchanges between Israel and Lebanese militants and attacks by pro-Iran groups against US and allied forces in Iraq and Syria.

Syria’s state news agency reported Israeli strikes near Damascus late Sunday, with air defence systems preventing significant damage. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights war monitor indicated that the strikes targeted Hezbollah sites in the Sayeda Zeinab district and near Damascus airport.

Meanwhile, Yemen’s Iran-backed Huthi rebels issued a threat to attack any vessels heading to Israel unless more aid is allowed into Gaza, adding to the complexities of the ongoing crisis.

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Hamas wanted war !! Now Palestinians & moos friends asking the whole world to stop war ? Are they playin victim cards again calling Israel terrorists? What do you think?

If Nethanyahu is not stopped, more militant groups are going to join in and the war will escalate. No middle eastern country is going to be safe including Israel as some senators in the US are calling for American troops stationed in the Middle East to return home.

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