Palestinians ‘suffering like no other’ in modern times – Day 71

Palestinians ‘suffering like no other’ in modern times – Day 71

Israel still targeting journalists, lying about it; Israel forces killed Israelis with white flags – then Israeli military chief claims “Israeli forces don’t kill people with white flags”; hostage negotiation possibility; more on women gunned down in church; more on Gazans buried alive on hospital grounds; major Israeli raid on West Bank town of Tulkarm – 5 killed, including a teenager; Netanyahu’s latest plan; Ben-Gvir’s latest antics; humanitarian update.

Palestinians ‘suffering like no other’ in modern times: >Al Jazeera’s senior political analyst Marwan Bishara states that the “collective punishment” of Palestinians in Gaza is continuing unabated.

They have cut off communications longer than before. Not only are they starving people but also denying them medical help, clean water, electricity and communication,” he said. “People in Gaza are suffering like no people have ever suffered before in modern times. It’s documented. It’s in plain sight.

Top stories from Gaza

Mourners attend the funeral of Al Jazeera cameraman Samer Abu Daqqa, who according to the Arabic broadcaster, was killed by an Israeli drone strike Friday while reporting on the bombing of a school sheltering people in Khan Younis in the Gaza Strip, Dec. 16, 2023.
Mourners attend the funeral of Al Jazeera cameraman Samer Abu Daqqa, who according to the Arabic broadcaster, was killed by an Israeli drone strike Friday while reporting on the bombing of a school sheltering people in Khan Younis in the Gaza Strip, Dec. 16, 2023. (photo)

Cameraman Samer Abudaqa’s ‘assassination’ referred to ICC: Al Jazeera cameraman was killed by an Israeli drone attack while reporting on the bombing of a school in the southern Gaza Strip. In a statement on Saturday, the Qatar-based network said it instructed its legal team to “urgently” refer the case to the International Criminal Court.

IDF: We tried to send an ambulance to Al Jazeera photographer who was wounded in Khan Yunis: The Israeli military told CNN that “as soon as we learned of Abu Daqa’s injury, we authorized the ambulance to arrive at the scene and even cleared a safe route for him, but the ambulance traveled on a different road, which was damaged by the bombings.” According to the army, a bulldozer was even sent to the scene to clear a path for the ambulance. Abu Daqa died of his wounds on Friday.

IDF story doesn’t match eyewitness: According to Al Jazeera’s correspondent Wael Dahdouh, who was injured along with Abudaqa in the Israeli attack (19:25 GMT), after the explosion, Dahdouh said he pressed on his wounds and walked out of the area to get help, but by the time he reached an ambulance, medics said they could not return to the site of the attack because it was too dangerous.

Subsequent efforts to coordinate a safe passage to send rescuers for Abudaqa were delayed, Dahdouh said, adding that one ambulance that tried to reach the cameraman came under fire.

RECOMMENDED VIEWING: Samer Abu Daqqa laid to rest: Al Jazeera journalist was killed in Israeli drone strike
Palestinian journalist Mohammed Balousha
Palestinian journalist Mohammed Balousha (social media)

Palestinian journalist films himself bleeding out: Palestinian journalist Mohammed Balousha filmed himself bleeding out after reportedly being shot in both legs by an Israeli sniper and then denied access to medics. He had been wearing a press vest.

Balousha is the journalist who filmed the premature babies that Israeli soldiers left to die at Al-Nasr hospital, has been targeted and shot by an Israeli sniper and is bleeding alone in a room.

He filmed two [disturbing] videos – one moments after the shooting.

Palestinian journalist Mohammed Balousha first filmed himself  as he was bleeding out after being shot in both legs by an Israeli sniper and then denied access to medics. He was in a clearly marked press vest.

Mohammed filmed the second update after regaining full consciousness 6 hours after he was targeted. He was able to crawl to safety and wrap his own wounds, then call for help. He was told that medics would not be able to reach him before morning because it was too dangerous.

Journalism in Gaza: The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) says about three-quarters of all media-worker deaths in 2023 have been in Gaza.

They have mainly been Palestinians covering Israel’s war on Gaza as international news outlets have been prevented from entering the enclave by the Israeli military.

(L) Nahida was killed by an Israeli sniper in the compound of the Church of the Holy Family in Gaza; her daughter Samar (R) was killed while attempting to aid her mother.
(L) Nahida was killed by an Israeli sniper in the compound of the Church of the Holy Family in Gaza; her daughter Samar (R) was killed while attempting to aid her mother.

More on 2 women shot in Gaza church: An Israeli sniper ‘shot in cold blood’ mother and daughter in the Holy Family Catholic Church in Gaza Saturday. What we know about the incident, according to the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem:

An Israeli sniper shot Nahida and Samar, a Christian mother and a daughter, as they walked to the Sisters’ Convent. One of the women was killed as she tried to carry the other to safety. No belligerents were on the premises. The convent is home to 54 disabled displaced people and has been a known place of worship since the start of the war. Seven more people were wounded in the same attack.

Two other air raids hit the convent’s home, making it inhabitable. The dozens of people sheltering inside have been displaced again.

IDF claims “threats” in the area of the church: An IDF spokesman said of the incident, “[O]n Saturday at noon, an event took place in the area of the Latin Church in the Shujaiyeh neighborhood. This investigation shows that the IDF forces…in the area, acted in the face of threats they identified in the area of the church.”

Pope Francis deplores Israeli killings of civilians at Gaza church: Pope Francis has condemned the killing by the Israeli army of two Palestinian Christian women who had taken refuge in a church complex, suggesting Israel was using “terrorism” tactics in Gaza. In his weekly blessing, he said,

I continue to receive very grave and painful news from Gaza. Unarmed civilians are the objects of bombings and shootings. And this happened even inside the Holy Family parish complex, where there are no terrorists, but families, children, people who are sick or disabled, nuns…

Some would say ‘It is war. It is terrorism.’ Yes, it is war. It is terrorism.

RECOMMENDED READING: ‘War is stupid and I want it to end’: Injured Palestinian children speak

Shots ring out during health ministry press conference at Kamal Awdan Hospital: Footage obtained and verified by Al Jazeera shows Palestinian health officials holding a news conference in northern Gaza running for cover as the sound of what is believed to be Israeli gunfire is heard nearby. Munir al-Bursh, director-general of the Ministry of Health in Gaza, was delivering a statement, surrounded by nine other medical officials and personnel outside the Kamal Adwan Hospital when the incident happened.

Palestinians assess damage following an Israeli raid at Kamal Adwan Hospital
Palestinians assess damage following an Israeli raid at Kamal Adwan Hospital (photo)

Israeli bulldozers destroy much of Kamal Adwan Hospital, bury alive people sheltering around it: According to witnesses and the Health Ministry, bulldozers were used to destroy a great deal of the hospital facility. A vast majority of the hospital’s infrastructure has been destroyed. They were also used to dig out bodies of people buried during the past nine days when the hospital was surrounded by the Israeli military.

The bulldozers also crushed people sheltering in the tents inside the courtyard of the hospital. Some 20 people were found dead and buried under the rubble.

According to Palestinian Minister of Health Mai Alkaiia, the occupation forces deliberately removed the wounded from Kamal Adwan Hospital into the open in extremely cold weather and assaulted medical staff, posing a serious threat to the lives of the wounded and patients.

She pointed out that the Israeli army destroyed the southern part of the hospital, and 12 infants are still inside the incubators in the hospital without water or food. The Israeli army has reportedly prevented their evacuation, according to medical staff testimonies.

RECOMMENDED READING: Hospital bulldozed and shelled: Kamal Adwan was only hospital in northern Gaza

PA health minister seeks probe into deadly Israeli raid on Gaza hospital: Palestinian Health Minister Mai al-Kaila has called for an “urgent probe” after Israeli forces were accused of crushing Palestinians, including wounded patients, using bulldozers in the yard of Kamal Adwan Hospital in northern Gaza.

On Saturday, doctors and other witnesses said Israeli forces bulldozed tents housing displaced Palestinians near the hospital – one of the 11 hospitals still functioning inside Gaza since Israel launched its military offensive on October 7 – and crushed them to death.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) is also calling for a UN probe into reports that “Israeli forces in Gaza bulldozed medical tents with injured Palestinians inside, allegedly burying civilians alive”. The US-based advocacy group is appealing for an investigation into witness reports of what happened at Kamal Adwan Hospital on Saturday.

Graves razed during the Israeli ground offensive are seen in the Faluja neighbourhood in the Gaza Strip on 13 December 2023
Graves razed during the Israeli ground offensive are seen in the Faluja neighbourhood in the Gaza Strip on 13 December 2023 (photo)

Palestinians appalled by Israeli razing of Gaza cemeteries: Israeli military bulldozers have reportedly wrecked several burial grounds in northern areas of the strip during its ongoing ground incursion. After tanks withdrew earlier this week from some of the cemeteries and surrounding areas, returning residents are starting to assess the scale of destruction left behind. “[They] left nothing in its place,” Abed Sabah, a Gaza-based journalist, told Middle East Eye.

According to the New York Times, Israeli forces damaged or destroyed at least six cemeteries in the northern Gaza Strip over the last few weeks. Footage taken by local journalists in other cemeteries showed apparent bulldozer tracks and displaced headstones. The soldiers were filmed shooting across the cemetery and even fired a grenade launcher.

In addition to razing the cemetery, the rights group said the Israeli army vandalised some graves and “stole dead bodies believed to belong to Palestinian activists”.

Intentional attacks on cemeteries and other places of religious significance could be considered war crimes.

RECOMMENDED VIEWING: Gaza’s elderly face war, displacement and medicine shortages

Reports from northern Gaza that Israel is carrying out mass detentions of thousands, ill-treatment, and forced disappearances. They include more than 100 women and girls, most rounded up as they attempted to move south or were taken during operations conducted on their homes, hospitals, schools and other places of refuge. OHCHR in the occupied Palestinian territory also said:

  • Reports claim children as young as 12 and people as old as 70 are among those detained.
  • Reports suggest many of the detained were subjected to serious ill-treatment, which in some instances may amount to torture.
  • Credible information was also received about 140 women and girls arbitrarily detained and being held in undisclosed locations.
  • Civilians have been killed, including in apparent extrajudicial executions, in places of refuge, particularly schools.

Palestinian Commission of Detainees Affairs says female prisoners from Gaza tortured: The Palestinian Commission of Detainees and Ex-Detainees Affairs said that women arrested by the Israeli army from the Gaza Strip were subjected to torture and brutal abuse. According to a testimony from one of the prisoners, the Israeli prison administration deliberately singled out female detainees from Gaza for the worst type of treatment.

The Commission said that all the female prisoners in the Gaza Strip had their clothes confiscated and replaced them with summer clothes. They were subjected to many beatings and assaults, in addition to non-stop insults, with some of them spending seven days outdoors in the rain and in the cold.

Gaza ‘completely isolated’ during telecom blackout: UN: The UN agency for Palestinian refugees says a communication blackout in Gaza has persisted since Thursday night local time. “Once again, Gazans find themselves completely isolated – cut off from their loved ones and from the rest of the world,” the agency said.

West Bank and Jerusalem

Israeli forces deploy during a raid on Balata, a Palestinian refugee camp in Nablus
Israeli forces deploy during a raid on Balata, a Palestinian refugee camp in Nablus (photo)

After massive raid on Jenin, next stop is Tulkarm: The Israeli occupation forces started Saturday a large-scale offensive into the city of Tulkarm in the occupied West Bank, according to local sources. A large contingent of the Israeli occupation forces accompanied by heavy bulldozers stormed the city in what seems to be a large-scale military offensive.

Israeli occupation forces have killed five Palestinians in Tulkarm so far: at least two of the victims were killed in a drone strike. Several were left bleeding, as the occupation forces prevented ambulance access to the camp.

Simultaneously, the Israeli occupation forces initiated widespread arrests, infrastructure destruction, and declared the camp a closed military zone as large-scale forces stormed the city and the refugee camp from multiple directions.

The Palestinian Red Crescent reported that the Israeli forces obstructed emergency medical teams from entering Nour Shams camp to reach a critically injured person with a head injury, despite coordination with the International Committee of the Red Cross. Furthermore, a volunteer paramedic was arrested by Israeli forces from inside an ambulance, the sources added.

RECOMMENDED VIEWING: Israel raids in the occupied West Bank: Dozens of military vehicles enter Tulkarem

Defense for Children International-Palestine reports that Israeli forces shot and killed a 16-year-old Palestinian boy in the central occupied West Bank Saturday night.

Atallah Ziyad Atallah Badaha, 16, was shot in the chest by Israeli forces as he stood in front of his house watching confrontations between Israeli forces and Palestinian youth.

He was shot from a distance of about 150 meters (492 feet) away. He was pronounced dead shortly after.

74 Palestinian children have been killed in the occupied West Bank since October 7, according to documentation collected by DCIP, when the Israeli military began a full-scale military offensive on the Gaza Strip dubbed Operation Iron Swords.

RECOMMENDED VIEWING: This is what 24 hours of our lives in Gaza look like

On possible hostage negotiations

Israeli PM Netanyahu hints captive talks ongoing: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appeared to confirm new Qatar-mediated negotiations are under way. >Netanyahu sidestepped a question at a news conference about a meeting on Friday in Europe between his lead negotiator and the Qatari Prime Minister. However, he confirmed he had given instructions to the negotiating team.

However, the Israeli prime minister pledged to continue intense fighting in Gaza after Israel’s military killed three captives. “Only military pressure will lead to the release of the hostages. My heart is bleeding after last night’s tragedy,” he said.

Hamas reaffirms it won’t enter captive talks until Israel stops attacks: The group says it will not enter any negotiations on further exchanges of prisoners without an end to Israeli attacks. “Hamas reaffirms its stance not to conduct any negotiations to exchange prisoners unless the Zionist aggression against our people stops once and for all,” the group said, adding that the message had been passed on to all mediators involved.

Chances for a deal seem slim as the Israeli war cabinet made it clear that it has no intention to stop the fighting in the strip.

On Israel’s killing of Israeli hostages

Signs calling for help found in Gaza building next to where three Israeli hostages were accidentally shot by IDF.
Signs calling for help found in Gaza building next to where three Israeli hostages were accidentally shot by IDF. (photo)

Israeli army finds ‘SOS’ signs put up on Gaza building by hostages accidentally killed by soldiers: Following the errant killing of three Israeli hostages by the IDF, searches were conducted in the building near the scene of the incident, where signs calling for help, apparently made from leftover food, were discovered, the army said.

Based on the investigation, it appears that the three hostages stayed, at least for some time, in the building where the signs were found.

Israeli killing of captives shows ‘failure to protect human life’: Speaking to Al Jazeera, Sahar Khamis, of the Washington, DC-based Middle East Council on Global Affairs, said the killing of three Israeli captives by Israeli forces underscores “indiscriminate” tactics used by the military in Gaza.

The killing “really shows there has been some kind of failure on the part of the Israeli army to protect human life”, she said.

“In that particular case, of course, we saw these three people were shirtless and raising white flags, one of them was screaming in Hebrew.” The incident sheds light on how Israel approaches non-combatants in the fighting, she added.

IDF chief after errant killing of hostages waving white flags: “We don’t shoot people waving white flags, even if they’re Gazans”: IDF Chief of Staff Herzl Halevi referred to the incident in which three hostages were accidentally shot in the Gaza Strip by Israeli forces, and told soldiers in Gaza that “even if two Gazans with a white flag surrender, we will not shoot them. Even those who fight, lay down their weapons and raise their hands – we capture and do not shoot.”

‘Shoot first, ask later’: HRW on Israeli forces killing captives: The killings of the three shirtless captives bearing a self-made white flag by Israeli forces in Gaza underscores “Israel forces’ longstanding practice of shooting first, asking later”, said Omar Shakir, Israel and Palestine’s director for Human Rights Watch.

The incident also shows Israel’s “track record of unlawfully firing at unarmed people who pose no threat without impunity – even those waving white flags”, Shakir said in a post on X.

Other news from Israel

Israel’s Netanyahu ‘proud‘ of preventing Palestinian statehood, labels Oslo Accords ‘fateful mistake’: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that he was “proud” of preventing the emergence of a Palestinian state during a press conference on Saturday.

“I’m proud that I prevented the establishment of a Palestinian state because today everybody understands what that Palestinian state could have been, now that we’ve seen the little Palestinian state in Gaza,” referring to the Hamas attacks on Israel that killed around 1,140 people and took around 240 hostages.

Netanyahu, centre, chairs a cabinet meeting at the Kirya, which houses the Israeli Ministry of Defense, in Tel Aviv
Netanyahu, centre, chairs a cabinet meeting at the Kirya, which houses the Israeli Ministry of Defense, in Tel Aviv (photo)

Ben-Gvir stands behind officer who beat photojournalist: The far-right Israeli minister described one of the border officers suspended after the incident as “outstanding”. He said he was working to restore the officer to duty after he was suspended along with another following the assault. Photojournalist Mustafa al-Haruf was filming Friday prayers in occupied East Jerusalem when officers began beating him as they demanded journalists leave the area. A video of the disturbing beating is here.

Ben-Gvir responded to the opening of the Karem Abu Salam crossing for aid trucks, by writing a letter urging the security cabinet to convene and re-discuss the decision. The far-right politician has repeatedly opposed the move.

Israel is planning to build an underground ‘anti-tunnel wall’ near the Egypt-Gaza border, according to Israeli media. According to Israeli Army Radio, an Israeli delegation has already traveled to Egypt for talks on the construction of the wall. However, Egypt has repeatedly denied the presence of underground tunnels in the border area with Gaza.

News from US and elsewhere

US legislator Ilhan Omar responds to Israel’s killing of captives: In a post on X, the progressive congresswoman wrote:

The white flag was enshrined in international law over 100 years ago as a universal symbol of surrender. Shooting someone with a white flag is a war crime, not a mistake.

This is a reminder that Netanyahu and his cronies’ cruel siege of Gaza is only putting Israeli and international hostages’ lives at more risk, along with the 2+ million Palestinians in Gaza who are being terrorized. Ceasefire now.

UberEats Canada faces backlash for recategorizing Palestinian restaurants as Israeli: Hamsa Farhat, event producer and humanitarian activist from Canada posted a video criticizing UberEats Canada for the move. She called it a ‘Zionist’ decision, accusing UberEats of aligning with controversial political stances. She urges UberEats to fix the problem or face boycotts from all communities, not just the Palestinians.

RECOMMENDED READING: Boycotts and protests – how are people around the world defying Israel?

Humanitarian situation in Gaza

Desperate Palestinians seize boxes of water from aid truck
Desperate Palestinians seize boxes of water from aid truck (photo)

Crowd rushes aid truck arriving into Gaza: Live footage from the Rafah crossing in Gaza shows a large group of people jumping onto an aid truck to secure supplies. Individuals can be seen tossing aid boxes out of the truck and into the waiting crowds below.

The UN has been warning that people in Gaza have become so “desperate for food” that they are stopping aid trucks and immediately eating what they find. The deputy head of the UN World Food Program on Thursday also confirmed that about half of all people in Gaza “are starving”, with no idea where their next meal is coming from.

RECOMMENDED READING: One heart can not bear two Nakbas

Al-Shifa Hospital a ‘bloodbath’, WHO says: A WHO team has described the emergency department at the largest hospital in Gaza as a “bloodbath” and in need of “resuscitation”, with hundreds of wounded people inside and more arriving every minute.

“WHO staff said that the emergency department is so full that care must be exercised to not step on patients on the floor,” the UN agency said adding that “patients with trauma injuries were being sutured on the floor, and limited to no pain management is available”.

Al-Shifa Hospital, located in north Gaza, has been repeatedly targeted by Israeli forces since the war began on October 7. A team from WHO and other UN agencies was able to deliver medical supplies to the hospital on Saturday. According to the WHO team at al-Shifa, “tens of thousands” were using the facility grounds for sheltering.

The emergency ward of Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City, November
The emergency ward of Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City, November (photo)
RECOMMENDED VIEWING:  John Mearsheimer on Israel’s ‘punishment campaign’

On 16 December, 121 trucks carrying humanitarian supplies and four tankers of fuel entered Gaza. This is well below the daily average of 500 truckloads (including fuel and private sector goods) that entered every working day prior to 7 October.


Palestinian death toll: OCHA reports at least 18,710* (~18,413 in Gaza* (70% women and children), and at least 297 in the West Bank). This does not include an estimated 8,000 more still buried under rubble. Euro-Med Monitor reports 24,711 Palestinian deaths.

*IAK does not yet include 471 Gazans killed in the Al Ahli hospital blast since the source of the projectile is being disputed; although much evidence points to Israel as the culprit, experts are still looking into the incidentIsrael is blocking an international investigation. Israel killed more Palestinians in a little over a month after Oct. 7 than in all the previous 22 years combined.

Palestinian injuries: 58,607** (including at least 55,000 in Gaza** and 3,607 in the West Bank). **NOTE: it is impossible to provide an accurate number of injuries in Gaza due to the ongoing bombardment and communication disruption. 

It remains unknown how many Americans are among the casualties. in Gaza**. About 1.9 million people have been displaced (about 85% of the population).

Reported Israeli death toll ~1,147  (7 killed in West Bank, 121 in Gaza), including 32 Americans, and 5,431 injured, approximately 36 children).

NOTE: It is unknown at this time how many of the deaths and injuries in Israel may have been caused by Israeli soldiers; additionally, since Israel has a policy of universal conscription, it is unknown how many of those attending the outdoor rave a few miles from Gaza on stolen Palestinian land were Israeli soldiers.

Find previous daily casualty figures and daily news updates hereFor more news, go here and here. Live broadcast news from the region is here.

Hover over each bar for exact numbers.


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