As the conflict in Gaza rages on, the toll on civilians continues to rise, with devastating consequences for both Palestinians and Israelis. The recent Israeli strike on the Maghazi refugee camp in central Gaza has claimed the lives of at least 68 Palestinians, including 12 women and seven children. The total Palestinian death toll now stands at roughly 20,400, with almost all of the territory’s 2.3 million people displaced.
The situation is dire, as witnessed by Associated Press journalists at a nearby hospital where frantic Palestinians carried the dead and wounded, including a baby. The heartbreaking scenes underscore the widespread impact of the war on innocent civilians, who find themselves in harm’s way with no safe haven in Gaza.
On the Israeli side, the death toll among soldiers has reached 154 since the ground offensive began. The mounting casualties among Israeli troops may pose challenges to public support for the war, despite the country’s stated goals of crushing Hamas’ governing and military capabilities and securing the release of hostages.
Amid the ongoing conflict, Christmas Eve in Bethlehem was hushed, with holiday celebrations canceled. In neighboring Egypt, tentative efforts for a hostage exchange continued, emphasizing the complexity of the geopolitical landscape surrounding the crisis.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu acknowledged the heavy price of the war but asserted that there is no choice but to continue fighting. The international community has increasingly criticized Israel’s offensive, calling for a humanitarian ceasefire and expressing concerns about the civilian death toll.
Efforts toward negotiations persist, with the head of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad arriving in Egypt for talks. However, the situation remains complex, and Hamas, a key player in the conflict, shows no signs of capitulating.
The Israeli military reported the completion of the dismantling of Hamas’ underground headquarters in northern Gaza, part of a broader operation targeting the tunnel network and top commanders.
The conflict has taken a severe toll on Gaza, with more than two-thirds of the 20,000 Palestinians killed being women and children, according to the Health Ministry. Recent Israeli airstrikes that killed 90 Palestinians, including dozens from an extended family, highlight the devastating impact on civilian populations.
International pressure continues to mount, with the United Nations Security Council passing a resolution calling for the speedy delivery of humanitarian aid and the release of hostages. The World Health Organization has emphasized the tragic consequences for the Gaza health system, urging a humanitarian ceasefire.
As the conflict unfolds, concerns about a wider regional conflict persist, with reports of Houthi-controlled areas in Yemen launching drones and anti-ship ballistic missiles. The situation remains fluid, with the hope for a peaceful resolution dwindling as the human cost of the conflict continues to rise.