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Israel-Hamas war: Dozens killed in refugee camp strike

Published December 25, 2023last updated December 25, 2023

The Hamas-run Health Ministry said an Israeli strike on the Maghazi refugee camp killed 70 people. Meanwhile, Israeli strikes on Gaza have continued into Christmas Day. DW has more.

An Israeli army tank driving inside the Palestinian enclave amid continuing battles between Israel and the militant group Hamas on December 24, 2023
Israel said it was looking into reports of an airstrike on a refugee camp which Hamas's Health Ministry said killed dozensImage: Menahem Kahana/AFP
Skip next section What you need to know

What you need to know

  • Israel has been accused of striking the Maghazi refugee camp in central Gaza
  • The IDF said it is reviewing the incident
  • Israeli strikes on Gaza have shown no sign of letting up on Christmas morning, according to Palestinian sources
Skip next section Israeli airstrike in Syria kills senior Iranian Revolutionary Guards member, Iran says
December 25, 2023

Israeli airstrike in Syria kills senior Iranian Revolutionary Guards member, Iran says

Iran's state television announced that a senior adviser in Iran's Revolutionary Guards had been killed in an Israeli airstrike in Syria, according to Reuters.

Iran's state television interrupted its regular news broadcast to announce the news, describing Sayyed Razi Mousavi as one of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards’ oldest advisers in Syria.

It said he had been "among those accompanying Qassem Soleimani", the Iranian Quds Force commander who was killed by a US airstrike in Iraq in 2020.

The adviser was responsible for coordinating the military alliance between Syria and Iran, Reuters reported citing three sources.

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi said the assassination of Mousavi showed "weakness" on the part of Israel and warned Israel "will certainly pay the price" according to Iranian state media.

The reports could not be independently verified.

Skip next section Relatives of hostages shout over Netanyahu in Knesset
December 25, 2023

Relatives of hostages shout over Netanyahu in Knesset

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressed the Knesset parliament on Monday, vowing to bring Hamas hostages home but saying that "more time" was needed. 

Hostages' families had been invited to attend the session. 

As Netanyahu spoke, one voice from the viewing gallery shouted "we don't have time," before the families began to chant, "Now! Now! Now!" The visitors prominently showed posters depicting their loved ones and banners and other messages.

Israeli families campaign for safe return of Gaza hostages

"We wouldn't have succeeded up until now to release more than 100 hostages without military pressure," Netanyahu said during a speech in Israel's parliament. "And we won't succeed at releasing all the hostages without military pressure."

Israel says it believes some 129 hostages are still held by Hamas, which is classified by multiple countries as a terrorist organization. They were abducted on October 7 when Hamas gunmen attacked southern Israel. Around 110 hostages have already been  freed during a one-week cease-fire at the end of November in exchange for the release of Palestinians in Israeli prisons.

Netanyahu said military field commanders had told him during a visit to Gaza on Monday that they needed more time to finish their mission. 

"I just came back from Gaza," a separate statement from his Likud party quoted him as saying. "We're not stopping, we're continuing to fight and we're intensifying the fighting in the coming days. It's going to be a long war that's not close to ending." 

Israel's Netanyahu faces pressure at home and abroad

Skip next section 'Absolute chaos and absolute misery' at Shifa Hospital, WHO official tells DW
December 25, 2023

'Absolute chaos and absolute misery' at Shifa Hospital, WHO official tells DW

Sean Casey, the World Health Organization (WHO) emergency team coordinator, spoke to DW from Rafah in Gaza about conditions at the Shifa Hospital in Gaza City

He said he'd seen "hundreds of patients streaming in pretty constantly" during his visits last week.

Gaza: Maghazi refugee camp hit by Israeli strikes

"Patients being rolled in on stretchers along the street. Patients being carried in by their family members, being brought in on donkey carts, and even on trolleys. Hundreds of patients on gurneys, on the floor. Family members desperately crying out for assistance and a very, very small team of doctors and nurses," he said. "Only five or six doctors, five or six nurses and some volunteers from the community, some paramedics, medical students, nursing students — trying to care for these patients."

"It's absolute chaos and absolute misery," Casey said. 

Casey was told that as many as 50,000 displaced persons were trying to shelter in or around the hospital building, in the hope that it might be safer from bombardment. 

"There's no safe place in Gaza, not anywhere in Gaza at the moment. But it's considered one of the safest options," he said. 

The crowding, the lack of shelters and sanitation, and shortages of safe drinking water and food led to "serious concerns" about the risks of disease, he said.

The WHO, the UN's health authority, conducted fact-finding missions to Gaza's barely functioning hospitals over the weekend.

WHO chief Tedros Adhanaom Ghebreyesus called for urgent attempts to provide more food and potable water to Shifa Hospital, saying "relentless hostilities and massive numbers of wounded people have brought its capacities to its knees." 

Skip next section Pope pushes for Middle East peace in Christmas message
December 25, 2023

Pope pushes for Middle East peace in Christmas message

Pope Francis on Monday highlighted the humanitarian plight of Palestinians in Gaza while calling for an immediate end to hostilities and the release of all hostages.

"My heart grieves for the victims of the abominable attack of 7 October, and I reiterate my urgent appeal for the liberation of those still being held hostage," the 86-year-old pontiff said in his traditional Urbi et Orbi message.

"I plead for an end to the military operations with their appalling harvest of innocent civilian victims, and call for a solution to the desperate humanitarian situation by an opening to the provision of humanitarian aid," Pope Francis told thousands who  gathered in Saint Peter's Basilica in the Vatican.

"May it (peace) come in Israel and Palestine, where war is devastating the lives of those peoples. I embrace them all, particularly the Christian communities of Gaza and the entire Holy Land," Francis said.

The pope's message came amid reports of continued fighting in Gaza on Christmas Day.

In 2015 the Vatican signed an accord recognizing a Palestinian state and has had full and formal diplomatic relations with Israel since 1993.

Skip next section Israel's war cabinet to review an Egyptian truce proposal
December 25, 2023

Israel's war cabinet to review an Egyptian truce proposal

Israel's war cabinet may discuss on Monday a proposal presented by Cairo for a truce to end the war, Israeli media reported, citing unnamed government officials.

The proposal puts forward three phases leading to a possible end of the conflict.

The first phase would involve a two-week ceasefire, subject to extension, which would see the release of 40 Israeli hostages, namely women, children and elderly men, in exchange for some 120 Palestinian prisoners. 

The second phase would center around Cairo-hosted talks to end the division between the Palestinian factions Fatah — which runs the Israeli-occupied West Bank — and Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip. 

Talks are then supposed to lead to the formation of a technocratic government to oversee humanitarian aid and Gaza reconstruction efforts, and eventually pave the way for elections.

The third phase would focus on a full cease-fire and comprehensive deal to release Israeli hostages and Palestinian prisoners along with a full Israeli military withdrawal from the Gaza Strip. Under the deal, those internally displaced by the war would be allowed to go back to their homes.

The United Nations reports that close to 2 million people have been displaced in Gaza and around 40% of all housing has been destroyed by Israeli bombardment. 

It is still unclear how the deal will be perceived by the Israeli government which has said its goal is to wipe out Hamas and keep military control over the enclave after the war.

Leaders of Hamas have visited Egypt during the past few days. Cairo has been involved in mediation since the start of the war alongside Qatar.

Skip next section Israeli military reports strikes on Hamas targets in Gaza
December 25, 2023

Israeli military reports strikes on Hamas targets in Gaza

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) on Monday said that its forces had struck several targets belonging to the militant Hamas group.

In an update on social media platform X, formerly Twitter, the IDF said naval troops had struck Hamas positions it identified as being close to IDF forces.

Gaza: Israeli military releases new footage of tunnel system

According to the update an Israeli fighter jet also attacked a Hamas commander in the Khan Younis area along with militants said to be armed with a rocket.

The IDF said it also located weapons and explosive devices during operations in Beit Lahia.

The targets of the IDF strikes on Monday could not be independently verified. Israel frequently says that it targets Hamas operatives but many Palestinian civilians have been killed as a result of bombing.

Skip next section Strikes in Gaza continue into Christmas Day
December 25, 2023

Strikes in Gaza continue into Christmas Day

Fighting in Gaza continued on Christmas Day with officials in Hamas-run enclave reporting new Israeli airstrikes on Monday.

The AFP news agency reported that there had been 50 strikes in central areas of the Palestinian territory, citing authorities there.

The Reuters news agency also reported that Israel had stepped up air and ground shelling in Al Bureij in central Gaza.

Skip next section Hamas-run Health Ministry says Israeli strike on refugee camp left scores dead
December 25, 2023

Hamas-run Health Ministry says Israeli strike on refugee camp left scores dead

An Israeli airstrike hit the Maghazi refugee camp in central Gaza, killing at least 70 people, according to the Hamas-run Health Ministry.

The ministry spokesperson Ashraf al-Qidra said the death toll is likely to rise.

Israel's military spokesperson's office told the Reuters news agency that it was looking into the report.

Authorities in Gaza report that over 20,000 people have been killed by Israeli military since the start of the conflict, which began after the militant Hamas group carried out an attack on southern Israel on October 7, killing over 1,100 people.

Hamas' military wing is classified as a terrorist organization by the US, EU, Israel and others.

rmt/ab (AFP, Reuters, dpa, AP)