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Christmas Bloodshed: Israeli Airstrikes Kill Dozens, Gaza Officials Report

Story Highlights
  • The delegation would restate the group's position that any exchange of hostages must result in the freedom of all Palestinian prisoners in Israel
  • Most of the 2.3 million people who live in Gaza have been forced to leave their homes, and the UN says the situation is terrible.

Pope Francis spoke out against the war in the Holy Land. On Christmas Eve, at least 78 people were killed by Israeli airstrikes in the Gaza Strip, making it one of the deadliest nights in Israel’s 11-week war with Hamas.

From hours before midnight on Christmas Eve until Christmas Day on Monday, Israel was hit by strikes. Residents and Palestinian media in the area said that Israel increased shelling from the air and the ground against al-Bureij in central Gaza.

Ashraf Al-Qidra, a spokesman for the health ministry, said that an Israeli airstrike on Maghazi in central Gaza killed at least 70 people, most of whom were women and children.

As the Israeli army looked over the report of an incident in Maghazi, it said it was committed to keeping civilians as safe as possible. Israel says that Hamas operates in areas with lots of people and uses civilians as human shields. Hamas denies this.

The Palestinian Red Crescent put out video of the hurt people being taken to hospitals. It said that Israeli warplanes were bombing the main roads that connect central Gaza, making it hard for ambulances and other emergency vehicles to get through.

Medics said that eight Palestinians were killed in a separate Israeli airstrike in Khan Younis in the southern part of Gaza.

In Bethlehem, the Israeli-occupied Palestinian city in the West Bank where legend says Jesus was born in a stable 2,000 years ago, celebrations were called off.

“Tonight, our hearts are in Bethlehem, where the Prince of Peace is once more rejected by the pointless logic of war, by the clash of arms that still can’t find room in the world,” Pope Francis said at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome on Christmas Eve.

Early this morning, Palestinian Christians in Bethlehem held a Christmas vigil with prayers for peace in Gaza and songs lit by candles.

There wasn’t a big tree, which is usually the focal point of Christmas celebrations in Bethlehem. To show support for the people of Gaza, nativity scenes were set up in churches amidst the rubble and barbed wire.

A TERRIBLE Christmas

Since the beginning of the month, when a week-long ceasefire ended, fighting on the ground has only gotten worse. The war has spread from the north of the Gaza Strip to the whole densely populated area.

Ten Israeli soldiers were killed in the last day, after five were killed the day before. This is the most soldiers the Israeli military has lost in two days since early November.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told his cabinet on Sunday, “This is a hard morning after a very hard day of fighting in Gaza.” “The war is exacting a very heavy cost from us; however we have no choice (but) to continue to fight.”

He later said in a video message that troops would keep fighting throughout Gaza until they had “total victory” over Hamas.

There has been a lot of pressure on Israel from its closest ally, the US, to change its operations to a phase with fewer civilian deaths.

Israel’s military chief of staff said on Saturday that his troops had mostly taken control of operations in the north of Gaza and would do more in the south.

But people who live there say the fighting has gotten worse in the northern districts.


Egypt and Qatar are mediating talks on a new truce to free the remaining hostages held by militants in Gaza. The talks have not made much progress, but Washington called them “very serious” last week.

Islamic Jihad, a smaller militant group that works with Hamas, said that its leader Ziad al-Nakhlala was in Cairo on Sunday with a group of people representing the group. His arrival came after talks that Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh had recently.

So far, the militant groups have said they won’t talk about freeing the hostages until Israel stops its war in Gaza. For their part, Israel says they are only willing to talk about a short break in the fighting.

The delegation would restate the group’s position that any exchange of hostages must result in the freedom of all Palestinian prisoners in Israel, “after a ceasefire is achieved,” the official said.

Both Hamas and Islamic Jihad have sworn to destroy Israel. More than 100 hostages are still thought to be being held by them, out of the 240 they captured during their killing spree through Israeli towns on October 7.

Since then, Israel has surrounded and destroyed much of the Gaza Strip. According to the authorities in Hamas-run Gaza, more than 20,400 people have been confirmed killed, and many more are thought to be buried under the rubble.

Most of the 2.3 million people who live in Gaza have been forced to leave their homes, and the UN says the situation is terrible.

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