Israel pushes further into S. Gaza despite UN cease-fire calls - M5 Dergi
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Israel pushes further into S. Gaza despite UN cease-fire calls

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Israel on Monday pushed deeper in and around Khan Younis, the southern Gaza Strip’s main city, despite repeated U.N. calls for an immediate cease-fire to avert a humanitarian catastrophe.

The fighting in Khan Younis comes as Israel refocuses its more than two-month war effort to the south after pounding northern Gaza and driving the majority of the Palestinian enclave’s 2.3 million people from their homes.

Amid reports of a “catastrophic” health situation in Gaza from the World Health Organization (WHO), Palestinian activists called for a global strike Monday as part of a coordinated effort to pressure Israel into a cease-fire.

“It is time – WORLDWIDE TOTAL STRIKE,” urged one call. However, it was unclear whether the effort would catch on globally or have an impact on Israel’s war plans.

The 193-member United Nations General Assembly was likely to vote on Tuesday on a draft resolution demanding a cease-fire, diplomats said Sunday.

On Friday, the United States vetoed a U.N. Security Council proposal demanding an immediate cease-fire for humanitarian reasons.

The U.S. vote was criticized by Arab foreign ministers on Sunday at an international conference in Doha, the capital of Qatar, which played a key role in negotiating the cease-fire late last month.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said he would “not give up” appealing for a cease-fire.

“I urged the Security Council to press to avert a humanitarian catastrophe and I reiterated my appeal for a humanitarian cease-fire to be declared,” Guterres said. “Regrettably, the Security Council failed to do it, but that does not make it less necessary.”

The fighting began on Oct. 7 when Israel retaliated to a Hamas incursion with immeasurable ferocity, killing over 17,700 Palestinians, mostly women and children, and injuring nearly 50,000 others.

Israeli casualties, in comparison, are at around 1,200, while 240 people were taken hostage by Palestinian resistance groups

About 100 of the Israeli hostages were freed during a weeklong truce that ended on Dec. 1.

On Sunday, residents of Khan Younis said tanks had reached the city’s main north-south road. Warplanes were attacking an area to the west.

Epidemic threat

Guterres said the city, with a population of around 626,000, could be on the verge of collapse with the possibility of epidemic diseases engulfing it.

Israel and Hamas, in the meanwhile, engaged in a war of words Sunday.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a televised statement that dozens of Hamas fighters had surrendered. Hamas rebutted the claim and said it had destroyed 180 Israeli military vehicles. It did not provide evidence, however.

Meanwhile, hospitals in Gaza were at maximum capacity with dead and injured Palestinians, according to the main Nasser hospital in Khan Younis.

While the world’s attention has been riveted on the military action in the Gaza Strip, worries of the war spreading were further fed by fighting between Israel and Iran-backed Hezbollah in Lebanon.

Syria’s army also reported it had shot down Israeli missiles fired toward the capital Damascus from the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights on Sunday evening.

Other missiles not intercepted caused some damage, the army said in a statement. The Israeli army declined to comment.

Ayman Safadi, the foreign minister of Jordan, accused Israel of “a systematic effort to empty Gaza of its people” and pushing them to leave the territory.

The head of the United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA) Philippe Lazzarini has also accused Israel of laying the groundwork for the mass expulsion of Gazans across the territory’s border into Egypt.

Israeli government spokesperson Eylon Levy called the accusation “outrageous and false” saying his country was defending itself.”

Source: AA

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