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Israel Continues Gaza Bombardments     12/09 07:45

   Israeli warplanes struck parts of the Gaza Strip overnight into Saturday in 
relentless bombardments, including some of the dwindling slivers of land 
Palestinians had been told to evacuate to in the territory's south.

   RAFAH, Gaza Strip (AP) -- Israeli warplanes struck parts of the Gaza Strip 
overnight into Saturday in relentless bombardments, including some of the 
dwindling slivers of land Palestinians had been told to evacuate to in the 
territory's south.

   The latest strikes came a day after the United States vetoed a United 
Nations resolution demanding an immediate humanitarian cease-fire in Gaza, 
despite it being backed by the vast majority of Security Council members and 
many other nations. The vote in the 15-member council was 13-1, with the United 
Kingdom abstaining.

   "Attacks from air, land and sea are intense, continuous and widespread," 
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said before the vote. Gaza residents 
"are being told to move like human pinballs -- ricocheting between ever-smaller 
slivers of the south, without any of the basics for survival."

   Guterres told the council that Gaza was at "a breaking point" with the 
humanitarian support system at risk of total collapse, and that he feared "the 
consequences could be devastating for the security of the entire region."

   Gaza's borders with Israel and Egypt are effectively sealed, leaving 
Palestinians with no option other than to seek refuge within the territory. The 
overall Palestinian death toll in Gaza has surpassed 17,400, the majority of 
them women and children, according to the Health Ministry in the 
Hamas-controlled territory, whose counts do not differentiate between civilians 
and combatants.

   Israel holds Hamas responsible for civilian casualties, accusing the 
militants of using civilians as human shields, and says it's made considerable 
efforts with its evacuation orders to get civilians out of harm's way. It has 
said 93 Israeli soldiers have died since the ground offensive began.

   On Saturday, the Israeli military said its forces fought and killed Hamas 
militants and found weapons inside a school in Shijaiyah in a densely populated 
neighborhood of Gaza City. It said soldiers discovered a tunnel shaft in the 
same neighborhood where they found an elevator, and in a separate incident, 
militants shot at troops from an U.N.-run school in the northern town of Beit 
Hanoun. Hamas said Saturday it had continued its rocket fire into Israel.

   Residents reported airstrikes and shelling in Gaza's north and south, 
including the city of Rafah, which lies near the Egyptian border and where the 
Israeli army had ordered civilians to move to.

   Two hospitals in central and southern Gaza received the bodies of a total of 
133 people from Israeli bombings over the past 24 hours, the Health Ministry 

   Israel has been trying to secure the military's hold on northern Gaza, where 
furious fighting has underscored heavy resistance from Hamas. Tens of thousands 
of residents are believed to remain despite evacuation orders, six weeks after 
troops and tanks rolled in during the war sparked by Hamas' deadly Oct. 7 raid 
targeting civilians in Israel.

   About 1,200 people, mostly civilians, were killed in the Hamas raid, and 
more than 240 taken hostage. A temporary truce saw hostages and Palestinian 
prisoners released, but more than 130 hostages are believed to remain in Gaza.

   On Saturday, a kibbutz that had come under attack on Oct. 7 announced that 
25-year-old hostage Sahar Baruch had died in captivity. His captors said Baruch 
was killed during a failed rescue mission by Israeli forces early Friday. The 
Israeli military has only confirmed that two soldiers were seriously wounded in 
an attempted hostage rescue and that no hostages were freed.

   More than 2,200 Palestinians have been killed since the Dec. 1 collapse of 
the truce, about two-thirds of them women and children, according to Gaza's 
Health Ministry.

   With only a trickle of humanitarian aid getting into just a few parts of the 
Gaza Strip, residents were reporting severe food shortages.

   "I am very hungry," said Mustafa al-Najjar, sheltering in a U.N.-run school 
in the devastated Jabaliya refugee camp in northern Gaza. "We are living on 
canned food and biscuits and this is not sufficient."

   While the adults can cope with the hunger, "it's extremely difficult and 
painful when you see your young son or daughter crying because there are hungry 
and you are not able to do anything," he said.

   Despite growing international pressure, the Biden administration remains 
opposed to an open-ended cease-fire, arguing it would enable Hamas to continue 
posing a threat to Israel. Officials have expressed misgivings in recent days 
about the rising civilian death toll and dire humanitarian crisis, but have not 
pushed publicly for Israel to wind down the war, now in its third month.

   "We have not given a firm deadline to Israel, not really our role," deputy 
national security adviser Jon Finer told a security forum a day before the U.S. 
veto in the U.N. Security Council. "That said, we do have influence, even if we 
don't have ultimate control over what happens on the ground in Gaza."

   Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant argued that "a cease-fire is handing a 
prize to Hamas, dismissing the hostages held in Gaza, and signalling terror 
groups everywhere."

   A delegation of foreign ministers from mainly Arab nations and Turkey was in 
Washington to push the U.S. to drop its objections to an immediate cease-fire. 
Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi said Friday ahead of a meeting with 
Secretary of State Antony Blinken that Israel's bombardment and siege of Gaza 
is a war crime that is destabilizing the region.

   Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan said the U.S. veto showed Washington's 

   "The American political system is now helpless on issues related to Israel. 
Therefore, Israel acts recklessly on this issue and continues its oppression.," 
Fidan told Turkey's state-run news agency Anadolu and broadcaster TRT.

   Fidan and the Palestinian, Saudi, Indonesian, Egyptian, Jordanian, Qatari 
and Nigerian ministers met with Blinken to press for an end to the fighting, 
while the group is to meet Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Foreign 
Minister Melanie Joly on Saturday.

   As fighting resumed after a brief truce more than a week ago, the U.S. urged 
Israel to do more to protect civilians and allow more aid to besieged Gaza. The 
appeals came as Israel expanded its blistering air and ground campaign into 
southern Gaza, especially Khan Younis, sending tens of thousands more fleeing.

   "It was a night of heavy gunfire and shelling as every night," Taha 
Abdel-Rahman, a Khan Younis resident, said by phone early Saturday.

   Airstrikes were reported overnight in the Nuseirat refugee camp, where 
resident Omar Abu Moghazi said a family home was hit, causing casualties.

   Israel has designated a narrow patch of barren coastline in the south, 
Muwasi, as a safe zone. But Palestinians who have headed there portrayed a grim 
picture of desperately overcrowded conditions with scant shelter and poor 
hygiene facilities.

   "We didn't see anything good here at all. We are living here in a tough 
cold. There are no bathrooms. We are sleeping on the sand," said Soad Qarmoot, 
who was forced to leave her home in the northern town of Beit Lahiya.

   "I am a cancer patient," Qarmoot said late Friday as children circled a wood 
fire for warmth. "There is no mattress for me to sleep on. I am sleeping on the 
sand. It's freezing."

   Imad al-Talateeny, a displaced man from Gaza City, said the area lacks basic 
services to accommodate the growing number of displaced families.

   "I lack everything to feel a human," he said, adding that he had a peaceful, 
comfortable life before the war in Gaza City. "Here I'm not safe. Here I live 
in a desert. There is no gas, no water. The water that we drink is polluted 

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