Truce ends, Israel kills over 100 in Gaza – Mondoweiss

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Casualties

15,000+ killed*, including 6,150 children, and 33,000 wounded in the Gaza Strip.

247+ Palestinians killed in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem

*This figure was confirmed by the government media office in Gaza earlier in the week. However, due to breakdowns in communication networks within the Gaza Strip (particularly in northern Gaza), the Gaza Ministry of Health has not been able to regularly update its tolls. Some rights groups put the death toll number closer to 20,000.

Key Developments

  • Truce breaks down on Friday morning after seven days, Israel resumes bombardment of besieged Gaza Strip, killing more than 100 Palestinians in span of a few hours.
  • Israeli army puts out puzzling map dividing Gaza Strip into more than 2,000 fragments, calls on Palestinian refugees who earlier fled northern Gaza to now leave Khan Younis, seeking to push them into smaller pockets of land. 
  • Hostage swap on Thursday night see exchange of ten Israeli hostages, including two Palestinian citizens of Israel, with 30 Palestinian women and children.
  • Israeli official tells Reuters that remaining hostages could be released through continued negotiations or “by other means”.
  • New York Times report says Israeli army and intelligence knew about Hamas plans to carry out October 7 attack a year in advance, but dismissed it as unlikely.
  • Israeli forces shoot and kill a Palestinian who allegedly carried out a car-ramming attack in the West Bank.
  • Army raids take place across the West Bank, as armed confrontations with Palestinian resistance fighters are reported in several areas.
  • Israeli settlers carry out a number of attacks on Palestinians across the West Bank, including under army protection in Masafer Yatta.
  • Israeli armed forces seize a Palestinian home in southern West Bank village and declare it a military outpost, leaving family homeless.
  • One Israeli civilian is killed by friendly fire in Jerusalem on Thursday after he tried to shoot at Palestinian attackers before being mistaken for one by soldiers. 
  • Blinken tells Israeli war cabinet it only has “weeks” left of war before Washington pulls the plug, says violent Israeli settlers will be banned from U.S. visas.
  • Tel Aviv summons Spanish ambassador, recalls its own envoy to Madrid after Spain’s prime minister expresses “doubts” that Israel is abiding by international law.
  • UN inquiry opens into violations of international law in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories since October 7.
  • Norway’s International Commission of Jurists files complaint to Norwegian government against Israeli leaders for “complicity in crimes against humanity.”

Gaza: Truce ends, bombardment restarts with devastating effect

A fragile, seven-day truce came to an end on Friday morning. According to Mondoweiss counting, Israel killed at least 20 Palestinians in Gaza, the West Bank, and East Jerusalem during the temporary ceasefire, while detaining more Palestinians than were released during the hostage swap that took place during the same period. Throughout the ceasefire, Israel repeatedly stated its intention to resume the war, but ultimately accused Hamas of breaking the terms of the truce today.

Qatar, which has led mediation efforts between Israel and Hamas, expressed “deep regret at the resumption of the Israeli aggression against Gaza” on X (formerly Twitter), while adding that negotiations were still ongoing to return to another temporary pause in fighting.

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres also lamented the end of the ceasefire, writing on the social media platform that “the return to hostilities only shows how important it is to have a true humanitarian ceasefire.”

Senior Hamas spokesperson Osama Hamdan told Al Jazeera that “every day in the past seven days of the temporary ceasefire, Israel was acting in a way to undermine the whole process.” However, he added that “the solution is not to have a truce. The real solution is to find mechanisms to put an end to this occupation.”

Israeli forces resumed their relentless pummeling of the Gaza Strip on Friday, with at least 109 Palestinians killed by airstrikes since Friday morning. Israeli bombardment pummeled the tiny Palestinian enclave, and WAFA reported airstrikes in Jabalia refugee camp in northern Gaza, in the Bureij, Nuseirat, and Maghazi refugee camps in central Gaza, in the Shuja’ya, Assqoula, and al-Zaytoun neighborhoods in Gaza City, and in Rafah, Khan Younis, Abasan, and Yibna refugee camps in the southern Gaza Strip, as well as along the coast.

Meanwhile, aid is no longer entering through the Rafah crossing with Egypt.

The Ministry of Health spokesperson in Gaza, Ashraf al-Qidra, warned on Friday that the health situation was “extremely catastrophic” due to Israeli forces’ targeting of medical facilities and severe shortages in medical supplies, particularly in northern Gaza, where very little aid has been received during the truce. “The remaining three hospitals in Gaza and the north are small and not qualified to receive large numbers of wounded,” Qidra stated.

Fighting between armed Palestinian resistance groups and Israeli ground forces meanwhile started anew in the northern Gaza Strip and Gaza City. Sirens were meanwhile heard in the Gaza envelope as Palestinian groups said they fired rockets into southern Israel. Al Jazeera quoted Israeli army sources as saying that five soldiers had been moderately or mildly injured by a mortar strike near Nirim. Anti-rocket sirens were also reportedly sounding in northern Israel, near Lebanon.

Intent on showing the world its magnanimity as it restarts bombing a traumatized, injured, and starving people, the Israeli army made public on Thursday a map of Gaza divided into numbered zones, which it said were individual areas that it would use to notify Palestinian civilians of active fighting, calling on Palestinians to follow their instructions and evacuate said areas when requested.

While Mondoweiss could not individually count the zones identified on the map, it saw areas labeled as high as 2,280. If there are indeed this many numbered zones mapped out in Gaza, which is only 365 square kilometers, it would make the average zone a mere 160 square meters — making it difficult for Palestinians to keep track of where they are on this map, while making it easy for Israeli forces to argue that civilian deaths are justified if Palestinians do not comply with their evacuation orders. 

It is worth noting that United Nations agencies had previously rejected “unilateral proposals to create ‘safe zones’” in Gaza — a rebuke of Israel’s ongoing pressure to push more civilians into an increasingly smaller portion of an already small enclave without providing them with actual safety.

Al Jazeera reported on Friday that Israeli forces had dropped leaflets over Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip, where hundreds of thousands of Palestinians have been internally displaced, calling on civilians to evacuate even further to Rafah. Israeli authorities have made no secret of their desire to ethnically cleanse Gaza and force Palestinians into Egypt, an option Cairo has rejected.

Meanwhile, UNICEF spokesperson James Elder, who is currently in Khan Younis, called the current bloodshed a “war on children,” noting that airstrikes were hitting close to Nasser Hospital in the city, where many have taken refuge.

Last moments of the truce: hostage swap, insufficient humanitarian aid, journalist shot

Thursday saw a final hostage swap before the collapse of the temporary truce. Thirty Palestinians — eight women with Israeli citizenship, and 22 children from the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem — and eight Israelis, including two Palestinian citizens of Israel, were released.

One of the Palestinians released on Thursday night was Saif al-Din Darwish from the Bethlehem-area Aida refugee camp, who at 14 years old is believed to have been the youngest Palestinian currently detained in Israeli prisons (Palestinian children younger than him have been imprisoned in the past). 

As has been the case each time Palestinians from Jerusalem have been released, Israeli forces raided their homes ahead of their release, threatening their families.

In total, Hamas has released 110 hostages, 86 Israelis and 24 foreigners, while 240 Palestinians detained by Israel have been released.

Human rights group Adalah has noted that 13 Palestinian citizens of Israel who were released as part of the hostage swap had been detained after posting on social media expressing solidarity with Gaza, adding that the charges against them had not been dropped.

Al Jazeera quoted Israeli government spokesperson Eylon Levy as saying on Friday that Hamas was still holding 137 hostages in Gaza. Mediation efforts hit a dead end on Thursday as Israel reportedly requested the release of an Israeli mother and her two young children, who Hamas says have been killed by Israeli airstrikes.

Israeli Foreign Ministry Deputy Director General Oded Joseph meanwhile told Reuters that the remaining hostages could be released “by other means,” without elaborating.

“Naturally, we would reach a point where again we would want to find a way to make sure all our kidnapped are released,” The news agency quoted him as saying in the UAE, which is hosting the COP28 U.N. climate summit. “Part of it might of be out of, sort of, discussions, but part of it could be by other means.”

A Palestinian man succumbed on Thursday to wounds sustained a day earlier during the truce while inspecting the state of his home in Beit Hanoun, as it had been seriously hit by Israeli airstrikes. Israeli forces have killed at least three Palestinians who were seeking to return home during the truce.

Israeli snipers meanwhile shot and wounded Palestinian journalist Abd al-Rahman al-Kahlout on Thursday. 

UN agency OCHA meanwhile reported that the amount of aid brought into the Gaza Strip on the last day of the truce remained insufficient, noting that the amount of cooking gas that entered in the past week was only a third of what would have usually entered Gaza before October. 

“Queues at a filling station in Khan Younis have reportedly extended for about two kilometers, with people waiting at them overnight,” the agency wrote in its daily report on Thursday.

West Bank: One Palestinian killed amid clashes, raids, demolitions, and forceful expropriation 

Israeli forces shot and killed a 25-year-old Palestinian identified as Karam Bani Odeh in the occupied West Bank’s Jordan Valley on Thursday, preventing ambulances from reaching him. Palestinian resistance groups claimed online that Bani Odeh had injured two Israeli soldiers in a car-ramming attack earlier in the day.

Israeli settlers, sometimes accompanied by soldiers, carried out several attacks on Palestinian villages in the past 24 hours, setting cars on fire in the Nablus-area village of Jalud, blocking the entrance to the Salfit-area village of Deir Ballout, and attacking a village in Masafer Yatta, in the Hebron governorate.

Meanwhile, Israeli armed forces raided a number of villages, towns, and refugee camps across the occupied West Bank, causing confrontations in Beita, Arraba, Ain al-Sultan, Tuqu’, and Beit Fajjar. Israeli forces reportedly shot and injured Palestinians in Arraba, Idhna, and Kafr Qaddum, with other raids reported in Beitunia and Hebron.

Israeli armed forces meanwhile forcibly seized a family home in the southern West Bank village of Karma, leaving its inhabitants homeless as they declared the house to now be a military outpost. Israeli forces also demolished several rooms and water tanks in a tiny Palestinian hamlet in the Jenin area.

Israeli killed by friendly fire in Jerusalem, NYT reveals Israeli military knew about October 7 plan

One of four Israelis killed on Thursday during an attack by two Palestinians in West Jerusalem was shot by Israeli soldiers who reportedly mistook him for an attacker.

The family of Yuval Doron Castleman, who died on the eve of his 38th birthday, said he was “executed,” Times of Israel reported.

Castleman, a civilian, had reportedly rushed to the scene with his firearm and shot at the two Palestinians — who were themselves killed — before himself being shot. “Video from the scene showed [Castleman] then throw away his gun, fall on his knees and raise his hands in the air while shouting ‘don’t shoot.’ He was then shot again,” the newspaper wrote.

These revelations come after Israeli government officials used the attack in Jerusalem as a pretext to continue the distribution of thousands of assault rifles to Israeli civilians since October 7. 

“Weapons save lives,” right-wing extremist and Israeli National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir wrote on X on Thursday morning, before news of the friendly fire casualty emerged.

Meanwhile, The New York Times published an explosive report on Friday revealing that Israeli military and intelligence had been aware of Hamas’s October 7 attack plan for more than a year before it occurred. A blueprint laying out plans for Hamas drones, paragliders, and ground troops to enter southern Israel had been widely circulated among Israeli military leaders but had been brushed off as unrealistic.

These latest revelations may very well further threaten Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has already come under fire from political opponents and allies alike for his failure to prevent October 7, and for his handling of the hostage crisis, on top of his pre-existing corruption cases and controversial campaign to overhaul the judiciary.

Meanwhile, Israeli media continues to report that Washington is increasing pressure on Israel, even as the impact has yet to be felt by Palestinians on the ground.

While Israel previously said that it was planning to wage war on Gaza for another two months at least, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken reportedly told Israel’s war cabinet on Thursday that it only had “weeks” left of fighting at the current level due to growing pressure on U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration, the Times of Israel reported.

Blinken also reportedly said that the United States would soon impose visa bans on extremist Israeli settlers committing violence on Palestinians in the occupied West Bank, Reuters wrote.

All Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem violate international law.

That same day, Tel Aviv summoned the Spanish envoy to Israel and recalled its own ambassador to Spain, after Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said he had “genuine doubts” regarding whether Israel was complying with international humanitarian law in Gaza, and called for the European Union to recognize a Palestinian state. Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Eli Cohen called Sanchez’s remarks “outrageous,” Israeli media reported.

Meanwhile, the United Nations Human Rights Council opened on Thursday with a call for submissions to its investigation into violations of international law in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories since October 7.

The United Nations Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem and Israel, “invites States and individuals, groups, and organizations to submit information concerning possible crimes committed by any armed actors, including both State and non-State actors, since 7 October 2023, including attacks against and killing and injuring of civilians, including children, attacks on civilian structures and objects, hostage-taking, use of civilians, including children, as human shields, sexual and gender-based violence, collective punishment (including denying access to and availability of essential resources and services), starvation, incitement to violence (ethnic, political, religious), the dissemination of misinformation/disinformation, and other actions constituting a crime under international law.”

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