Israel vows to continue war on Gaza, with or without world support

Published December 14, 2023
occupied West Bank: An Israeli soldier aims his weapon towards an ambulance of the Palestinian Red Crescent Society as it waits at a military checkpoint following an overnight army raid in Jenin, on Wednesday.—AFP
occupied West Bank: An Israeli soldier aims his weapon towards an ambulance of the Palestinian Red Crescent Society as it waits at a military checkpoint following an overnight army raid in Jenin, on Wednesday.—AFP

GAZA: In the face of international outcry and pressure from its staunchest ally in Washington, Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen declared on Wednesday his government’s determination to continue its war on Gaza “with or without international support”.

A day earlier, US President Joe Biden had called on Tel Aviv to change the conservative government that was making things difficult and losing international support by carrying out indiscriminate bombing of Gaza. In addition, the UN General Assembly overwhelmingly backed a non-binding resolution for a ceasefire.

A ceasefire at the current stage would be “a gift” to Hamas, Cohen was quoted as telling a visiting diplomat by his ministry, adding that it would allow the group to return and threaten the residents of Israel,”

PM Benjamin Netanyahu also said that Israel would persevere.

“We will continue until the end. There is no question at all. I say this in light of great pain, but also in light of international pressure. Nothing will stop us. We are going until the end, until victory, nothing less than that,” he said in a video statement.

But Hamas political leader Ismail Haniyeh said on Wednesday that any plan for post-war Gaza that does not involve the Palestinian militant group “or the resistance factions is a delusion”.

The death toll in the Palestinian territory had risen to at least 18,608, and at least 50,594 people have been wounded.

Tuesday was one of the deadliest days for the Israeli military in its two-month-long Gaza campaign, with 10 of its soldiers killed, including a colonel commanding a forward base and a lieutenant-colonel commanding a regiment.

With much of the enclave laid to waste, conditions dire and more than 18,500 Palestinians killed in the Israeli army’s air and ground assault,

Warplanes, meanwhile, again bombed the length of Gaza and aid officials said the arrival of winter rain worsened conditions for hundreds of thousands sleeping rough in makeshift tents.

In Rafah, in Gaza’s south where hundreds of thousands of people have sought shelter, the bodies of a family killed in an overnight air strike were being laid out in the rain in bloodied white shrouds, including several small children. One, the size of a newborn, was wrapped in a pink blanket.

At a tent camp in Rafah, Yasmin Mhani said, “Our house was destroyed, our child was martyred and I remain facing it all. This is the fifth place we have had to move to, fleeing from one place to another, with nothing but a t-shirt on,” she said, hanging wet clothes outside her tent.

In the south, Israeli forces storming Khan Yunis advanced in recent days to the city centre. The Israelis were using bulldozers to destroy a road near the Khan Yunis home of the Hamas leader in Gaza, Yahya Al-Sinwar, Abu Abdallah, a father of five who lives 2km from the city centre, told Reuters.

Hospitals in the north have largely stopped functioning altogether. In the south, they have been overrun by dead and wounded, carried in by the dozen throughout the day and night.

“Doctors including myself are stepping over the bodies of children to treat children who will die,” Dr Chris Hook, a British physician deployed with medical charity MSF at Nasser hospital in Khan Yunis, told Reuters.

In addition, the health ministry said that Israeli forces have opened fire at hospital rooms, raising fears for the safety of 12 children in paediatric care. “The occupation (Israeli) forces have tightened the siege and the targeting of Kamal Adwan hospital, firing at patient rooms and courtyards,” ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Qudra said in a statement.

“We fear the death of 12 children in paediatric care who are already deprived of milk and are without life support equipment.”

Published in Dawn, December 14th, 2023

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