Israel vows to continue Gaza war despite international pressure for ceasefire

A day after the UN overwhelmingly backed a non-binding resolution for a ceasefire, more strikes hit the Palestinian territory and battles raged

By AFP

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Israeli soldiers prepare to return to the Gaza Strip on December 13, 2023 amid ongoing battles with Hamas. — Photo: AFP
Israeli soldiers prepare to return to the Gaza Strip on December 13, 2023 amid ongoing battles with Hamas. — Photo: AFP

Published: Thu 14 Dec 2023, 8:51 AM

Last updated: Thu 14 Dec 2023, 8:54 AM

Israeli leaders said on Wednesday that they intend to press ahead with the Gaza Strip war against Hamas, despite coming under increasing international pressure, including from key ally the US.

The war, now in its third month, was launched after the unprecedented October 7 attacks on Israel by Hamas that Israeli officials say killed 1,200 people, mostly civilians.

It has left Gaza in ruins, killing more than 18,600 people, mostly women and children, according to the enclave's health ministry, and causing "unparalleled" damage to roads, schools and hospitals.

The day after the UN General Assembly overwhelmingly backed a non-binding resolution for a ceasefire, more strikes hit Gaza and battles raged, especially in Gaza City, the biggest urban centre, and Khan Yunis and Rafah in the south, AFP correspondents said.

Winter rain lashed the territory, where the UN estimates 1.9 million of Gaza's 2.4 million population have been displaced, living in makeshift tents as supplies of food, drinking water, medicines and fuel run low.

The UN warned the spread of diseases — including meningitis, jaundice and upper respiratory tract infections.

Ameen Edwan said his family was camped out with thousands in the grounds of the Al Aqsa Martyrs hospital in central Gaza.

"Rainwater seeped in. We couldn't sleep. We tried to find nylon covers but couldn't find any, so we resorted to stones and sand" to keep the water out, he said.

The WHO said 107 humanitarian aid trucks entered Gaza from Egypt, well below the daily average of 500 before October 7.

In Israel, air raid sirens wailed in Sderot and other southern communities near Gaza as Palestinian militants fired rockets, most of which were intercepted.

Sirens also sounded in Ashdod city north of Gaza.

The army said an air strike had hit a militant cell in Gaza City's Shejaiya district "that was en route to launch rockets toward Israel".

'How will we live?'

In Khan Yunis, a family mourned father of seven Fayez Al Taramsi, killed in a strike.

"How are we going to live after him?" one of his daughters said, crying and clutching his bloodied shirt. "He brought us to life."

In the October 7 attack -- the deadliest in Israel's 75-year history -- Hamas also seized around 240 hostages.

Determined to destroy Hamas and bring the hostages home, Israel began its devastating aerial and ground offensive.

It has lost 115 soldiers, including 10 on Tuesday, its deadliest day since the ground assault began on October 27.

Hamas released dozens of hostages in exchange for Palestinian prisoners held by Israel during a week-long truce last month, but others have been found dead.

Israel's embassy in Romania on Wednesday announced the death of Israeli-Romanian Tal Haimi, 41, who was held in Gaza.

The UN General Assembly passed a resolution Tuesday demanding a ceasefire, backed by 153 of 193 nations -- surpassing the 140 or so that have routinely condemned Russia for invading Ukraine.

While Washington voted against, the resolution was supported by allies Australia, Canada and New Zealand, who, in a rare joint statement, said they were "alarmed at the diminishing safe space for civilians in Gaza".

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