Israel faces mounting outrage over Gaza war

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Israel has faced mounting international pressure Monday over the rising civilian death toll and destruction of hospitals in Gaza as it pressed on with its strikes in the besieged Palestinian territory.

The United Nations Security Council was set to vote Monday on a new resolution calling for an “urgent and sustainable cessation of hostilities” in Gaza.

The health ministry in the Hamas-run territory says more than 18,800 people, mostly women and children, have died in Israel’s campaign in Gaza. It said dozens were killed in Israeli strikes on Sunday.

Following months of fierce bombardment and fighting, most of Gaza’s population have also been displaced and people are grappling with shortages of fuel, food, water and medicine.

Fewer than one-third of Gaza’s hospitals are partly functioning, according to the U.N., with the World Health Organization denouncing on Sunday the impact of Israeli operations on two hospitals in the north of the territory.

WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the agency was “appalled by the effective destruction” of the Kamal Adwan hospital, where Israeli forces carried out a multi-day operation against Hamas.

Outside the hospital courtyard, which showed tank and bulldozer tracks, Abu Mohammed, who came to look for his son, stood crying.

“I don’t know how I will find him,” he said, pointing to the debris.

The Israeli army pulled out of the hospital on Sunday after an operation lasting several days, claiming it had been used as a command and control centre by Hamas.

Israel said that before entering the hospital it had negotiated safe passage for the evacuation of most of the people inside.

The WHO also said Israeli bombing had reduced the emergency department at the Al-Shifa hospital to “a bloodbath”.

The Hamas-run health ministry said an Israeli strike on Sunday hit Nasser hospital in southern Gaza’s main city of Khan Yunis, killing one person and injuring seven others.

And the ministry said Israeli forces had stormed Al Awda hospital in northern Gaza on Sunday and detained medical staff following several days of siege and bombing.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu again vowed to “fight until the end” on Sunday, promising to achieve the aims of eliminating Hamas, freeing all hostages and ensuring that Gaza will never again become “a centre for terrorism.”

Near Gaza’s northern border crossing at the Israeli city of Erez, the Israeli army said it had uncovered the biggest Hamas tunnel so far.

An AFP photographer reported that the tunnel was large enough for small vehicles to use.

Israel said the tunnel cost millions of dollars and took years to construct, featuring rails, electricity, drainage and a communications network.

Calls for truce 

The Israeli government has come under growing pressure from the international community to pause the fighting and do more to protect civilians.

The United Nations estimates that 1.9 million Gazans — around 80 percent — have been displaced by the war.

“I would not be surprised if people start dying of hunger, or a combination of hunger, disease, weak immunity,” said Philippe Lazzarini, head of the United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees.

Gazans have also faced repeated communications outages but on Sunday Gaza’s main telecoms firm said mobile and internet service had been gradually restored.

French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna was in Israel on Sunday, where she called for an “immediate and durable” truce.

France separately condemned an Israel bombardment that killed one of its foreign ministry officials in Gaza.

Qatar, which helped mediate a truce last month that saw 80 Israeli hostages exchanged for 240 jailed Palestinians, said there were “ongoing diplomatic efforts to renew the humanitarian pause”.

But Hamas said on Telegram it was “against any negotiations for the exchange of prisoners until the aggression against our people ceases completely”.

U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin was in Kuwait on Monday as part of a regional trip that will include stops in Israel and Qatar, which brokered a previous ceasefire deal.

 ‘Daily humiliation’

Israel is also facing calls from the families of hostages, to either slow, suspend or end the military campaign.

There are 129 hostages still in Gaza, Israel says, and relatives again rallied in Tel Aviv to call for a deal to bring them home after the army admitted to mistakenly killing three of the captives in Gaza.

One hostage already freed, German-Israeli Raz Ben-Ami, 57, spoke of the “daily humiliation, mental, physical”, she endured, including one meal a day and no proper toilets.

The conflict in Gaza has also seen violence spiral in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

The Palestinian health ministry said Israeli forces killed five Palestinians on Sunday morning at a West Bank refugee camp.

Israel’s army said air strikes had targeted militants who had endangered soldiers.

Health officials say more than 290 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces or settlers in the West Bank since the war erupted.

Syria strikes 

Fears continued to grow that the conflict in Gaza could engulf the wider region.

Israel carried out air strikes near Damascus on Sunday, wounding two Syrian soldiers, the Syrian defence ministry said.

Israeli forces and Iran-backed Hezbollah militants are exchanging regular fire across Israel’s northern border with Lebanon.

Yemen’s Iran-backed Huthi rebels, saying they want to pressure Israel, have launched attacks on passing vessels in the vital Red Sea shipping zone, forcing major companies to redirect vessels.

Israel primarily targets Iran-backed forces and Hezbollah fighters, as well as Syrian army positions in the country, and has stepped up such attacks since October 7.

Gaza violence,

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