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Israeli forces raid a West Bank refugee camp as troops expand the Gaza offensive

Relatives mourn over the body of a loved one killed during Israeli bombardment at Nasser Hospital in Khan Yunis
Relatives mourn over the body of a loved one killed during Israeli bombardment at Nasser Hospital in Khan Yunis Copyright AFP
Copyright AFP
By Euronews with AP, AFP
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All the latest developments from the Israel Hamas war.

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Two hundred and forty-one Palestinians have been killed in the last 24 hours in Israeli shelling of Gaza, according to the Hamas-run Ministry of Health.

The ministry also reported that 20,915 people had been killed and more than 54,5918 injured since Israel began its bombing campaign in response to the October 7th attacks in southern Israel.

Most of those killed were civilians.

The Israeli army has also announced the death of five soldiers in Gaza, bringing the total number of its troops killed since the start of its ground offensive on October 27th to 161.

Israel launched heavy strikes across central and southern Gaza overnight and into Wednesday after broadening its offensive against Hamas to more areas where the military had told Palestinians to seek shelter earlier in the war.

Residents reported heavy bombing in the built-up Bureij refugee camp in central Gaza, in the southern city of Khan Younis and in the southern town of Rafah, areas where tens of thousands have sought refuge as much of northern Gaza was pounded to rubble.

The Israeli military’s latest evacuation orders cover an area of central Gaza that was home to nearly 90,000 people before the war and now shelters more than 61,000 displaced people, mostly from the north, according to the U.N. humanitarian office.

Despite growing international pressure for a pause or end to the conflict, the Israeli government says it expects its offensive to last for "many months".

Trucks full of bodies delivered to Palestinian authorities

Israel returned bodies recovered from northern Gaza to Palestinian officials on Tuesday, with a truck carrying dozens of dead in blue body bags loaded in a container.

The bodies were held by Israeli forces in northern Gaza in their ongoing ground incursion into the besieged Palestinian enclave. They were transferred back to the local authorities for burial.

The truck carrying the intact and tattered bodies was seen driving through the Kerem Shalom crossing on the border with Israel, escorted by UN vehicles.

Medics unload the bodies of Palestinians killed in fighting with Israel and turned over by the Israeli military during a mass funeral in Rafah, Gaza Strip, Tuesday, Dec. 26.
Medics unload the bodies of Palestinians killed in fighting with Israel and turned over by the Israeli military during a mass funeral in Rafah, Gaza Strip, Tuesday, Dec. 26.Fatima Shbair/Copyright 2023, The AP. All rights reserved

UN appoints new head of humanitarian mission

Four days after the adoption of a Security Council resolution demanding the "large-scale" delivery of humanitarian aid to Gaza, where 85% of the population has been displaced, the United Nations has appointed the outgoing Dutch Minister, Sigrid Kaag, to coordinate this mission.

The announcement by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres comes five days after the adoption of a UN Security Council resolution calling for the "large-scale" delivery of humanitarian aid to the narrow strip of land where almost 2 million people, or 85% of the population, have been displaced. Most of those still in Gaza are in desperate need of food, water and medicine.

Despite the resolution, no significant progress has been made in terms of the entry of humanitarian aid in recent days, and negotiations on a truce appear to have stalled.

Guterres said Kaag, who speaks fluent Arabic and five other languages, “brings a wealth of experience in political, humanitarian and development affairs as well as in diplomacy” to her new post.

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She is expected to start on January 8th.

Iran issues new threat to Israel

The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps of Iran warned on Wednesday that Tehran would retaliate for Israel's assassination of one of its commanders with "direct action", aided by its ideological allies in the region.

On Monday, Tehran accused Israel of assassinating Brigadier General Razi Moussavi, a senior commander of the Quds Force, the foreign operations branch and elite unit of the Guardians, who was killed in Syria.

"Our response to Moussavi's assassination will be a combination of direct action and others carried out by the resistance front," Revolutionary Guards spokesman Ramazan Sharif said on Wednesday, according to the local Mehr press agency.

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The "resistance front" is the term used in Iran to encompass the government in Syria, Lebanese Hezbollah, Palestinian Hamas, Iraqi groups and the Houthi rebels in Yemen, who are close to Iran and opposed to Israel.

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