Israel and U.S. increasingly isolated as world’s nations unite to back ceasefire
A dog darts out of the way as a lone Israeli tank storms across Palestinian land in Gaza on Monday. | AP

RAFAH, Gaza Strip (AP)—Israeli forces carried out strikes across Gaza overnight and into Tuesday as they pressed ahead with a war that officials say could go on for weeks or months, even as global calls for a ceasefire left both Israel and its main ally, the United States, increasingly isolated.

The war has already brought unprecedented death and destruction to the impoverished coastal enclave, with much of northern Gaza obliterated, more than 18,000 Palestinians killed, and over 80% of the population of 2.3 million pushed from their homes.

The health care system and humanitarian aid operations have collapsed, and aid workers have warned of starvation and the spread of disease among displaced people in overcrowded shelters and tent camps.

Strikes overnight and into Tuesday in southern Gaza—in an area where civilians have been told by Israel to seek shelter and safety—killed at least 23 people, including seven children and six women, according to hospital records and an Associated Press reporter who saw the bodies arrive at a hospital.

Islam Harb’s three children were among those killed overnight when Israeli airstrikes flattened four residential buildings in the town of Rafah on the Egyptian border. The family was sharing their home with nine displaced people, he said.

“My twin girls, Maria and Joud, were martyred, and my little son, Ammar, also martyred,” he said.

In central Gaza, the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital in Deir al-Balah received the bodies of 33 people killed in strikes overnight, including 16 women and four children, according to hospital records. Many were killed in strikes that hit residential buildings in the built-up Maghazi refugee camp.

A Palestinian man holds the body of his son, killed by Israeli forces. He and others are waiting outside the morgue of the Al-Aqsa Hospital in Gaza, Tuesday, Dec. 12, 2023. | AP

In northern Gaza, Israeli forces stormed the Kamal Adwan Hospital, ordering all men, including medics, into the courtyard, said Ashraf al-Qidra, spokesman for the Health Ministry in Hamas-run Gaza.

The U.N. humanitarian office said the hospital has 65 patients, including 12 children in intensive care and six newborns in incubators. Some 3,000 displaced people are sheltering there, it said, all awaiting evacuation because of severe shortages of food, water, and electricity.

The military says it is rounding up men in northern Gaza as it searches for Hamas fighters. Photos and videos circulating online show groups of detainees stripped to their underwear, bound and blindfolded, and some who have been released say they were beaten and denied food and water.

At another hospital in northern Gaza, the aid group Doctors Without Borders said a surgeon was wounded Monday by a shot fired from outside the facility, which it says has been under “total siege” by Israeli forces for a week.

There was no immediate comment from the military on either incident in the north.

The U.N. secretary-general and Arab states have rallied much of the international community behind calls for an immediate cease-fire. But the U.S. vetoed those efforts at the U.N. Security Council last week and instead rushed tank munitions to Israel to allow it to maintain the offensive.

A nonbinding vote on a similar resolution at the General Assembly is scheduled for Tuesday. It is expected to pass with an overwhelming majority of the world’s nations backing it, but it will be largely symbolic.

In a briefing with the AP on Monday, Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant signaled that the current phase of heavy ground fighting and airstrikes could stretch on for weeks and that further military activity could continue for months.

But many experts consider Israel’s aims to be unrealistic, pointing to Hamas’ deep base of support among many Palestinians in Gaza, as well as the occupied West Bank, who see it as resisting Israel’s half-century of military rule.

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Najib Jobain
Najib Jobain

Associated press, Gaza Senior Producer.

Samy Magdy
Samy Magdy

Samy Magdy is a Cairo-based correspondent for the Associated Press, covering Egypt, Yemen, Libya, and Sudan.

Wafaa Shurafa
Wafaa Shurafa

Wafaa Shurafa, a video producer in Gaza working for AP, helps cover major news stories in Gaza and oversees all video coverage in Gaza.