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UN Official Says Gaza ‘Uninhabitable’ as Heavy Fighting Continues

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The Sinjar family mourns relatives killed in the Israeli bombardment of the Gaza Strip, Friday, Jan. 5, 2024. (AP/Fatima Shbair)
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At least six people were killed in an apparent Israeli airstrike on a home in the southern Gaza city of Rafah overnight. Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians have crammed into Rafah, one of the areas where Israel has told people to seek refuge. However, Israeli forces continue to strike all parts of the besieged territory.

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant says several thousand Hamas fighters remain in northern Gaza, where entire neighborhoods have been blasted into rubble. Heavy fighting is also underway in central Gaza and the southern city of Khan Younis, where Israeli officials say Hamas’ military structure is still largely intact.

Meanwhile, the United Nations’ humanitarian chief says Gaza has become “uninhabitable” and “a public health disaster is unfolding.”

Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack from Gaza into southern Israel killed around 1,200 people, and some 250 others were taken hostage. Israel’s air, ground, and sea assault in Gaza has killed more than 22,400 people, two-thirds of them women and children, according to the Health Ministry in the Hamas-ruled territory. The count does not differentiate between civilians and combatants.

Currently:

— Hezbollah leader says his group must retaliate for suspected Israeli strike in Beirut.

— Families in Gaza search desperately for food and water.

— Israeli defense minister lays out vision for next steps of Gaza war.

— Find more of AP’s coverage at: https://apnews.com/hub/israel-hamas-war.

ISRAELI MILITARY TO INVESTIGATE FAILURES CONNECTED TO OCT. 7 ATTACK

JERUSALEM — The Israeli military says it is preparing an investigation into failures connected with the Oct. 7 Hamas attack that triggered the ongoing war against the Islamic militant group.

The army’s chief spokesperson, Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari, said Friday that the military is still planning the investigation. But he said it would include a look at the chain of command, decision-making, and former officials.

He said the investigation aims “to improve the army” and is not meant to replace any future external investigations.

Israeli military, intelligence, and political leaders have come under heavy criticism for being caught off guard.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has so far rejected calls for an investigation, saying the government must focus on the war and answer questions later.

Ilan Dalal, the father of Guy Gilboa-Dalal, who was kidnapped on Oct. 7 in a cross-border attack by Hamas at the Nova music festival, stands next to a photo of his son during a news conference at the site in Re’im, southern Israel, Friday, Jan. 5, 2024. (AP/Maya Alleruzzo)

UNAUTHORIZED JEWISH SETTLEMENTS HAVE INCREASED, WATCHDOG GROUP SAYS

JERUSALEM — With the world’s attention focused on the war in Gaza, Jewish settlers have quietly established an unprecedented number of unauthorized outposts in the occupied West Bank, according to a new report from Peace Now, an Israeli watchdog group.

The report found that settlers have built nine unauthorized settlement outposts since the start of the war. The group estimates it’s the largest number of settlements built over a three-month time frame since outposts began to be established in the 1990s.

Most of the new outposts are primitive. Most consist of only a few tents and an Israeli flag, the report said. But many such outposts have evolved into more permanent developments over the years, often with tacit government support.

Israel’s government is dominated by supporters of the settler movement. Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich, a hardline settler leader, holds special authority over settlement planning.

Some 500,000 Israelis live in West Bank settlements in addition to 200,000 others in east Jerusalem. The Palestinians seek both areas, captured by Israel in 1967, as parts of a future state.

GAZA HAS BECOME ‘UNINHABITABLE,’ UN HUMANITARIAN CHIEF SAYS

UNITED NATIONS – The United Nations humanitarian chief says Gaza has become “uninhabitable” three months after Hamas’ horrific attacks against Israel and “a public health disaster is unfolding.”

Martin Griffiths said in a statement Friday that “people are facing the highest levels of food insecurity ever recorded (and) famine is around the corner.”

And Gazans are “witnessing daily threats to their very existence – while the world watches on,” he said.

The U.N. undersecretary-general for humanitarian affairs said tens of thousands of people, mostly women and children, have been killed or injured, families are sleeping in the open as temperatures plummet, and areas where Palestinians were told to relocate have been bombed.

The few partially functioning hospitals are overwhelmed and critically short of supplies, infectious diseases are spreading, and amidst the chaos some 180 Palestinian women are giving birth every day, he said.

Griffiths reiterated U.N. demands for an immediate end to the war and the release of all hostages, declaring, “It is time for the international community to use all its influence to make this happen.”

He said the humanitarian community is facing an “impossible mission” of supporting more than 2 million people in Gaza while aid workers are killed, communications blackouts continue, roads are damaged, truck convoys are shot at, and vital commercial supplies “are almost non-existent.”

Gaza has shown “the worst of humanity,” Griffiths said, and it’s long past time for the war to end.

FRANCE AND JORDAN AIRDROP MEDICAL AID INTO GAZA

PARIS — France announced that a French and a Jordanian military transport aircraft airdropped 7.7 tons of medical aid to a Gaza Strip field hospital during a joint operation.

“The humanitarian situation remains critical in Gaza,” French President Emmanuel Macron said Friday on X, formerly Twitter. “In a difficult context, France and Jordan delivered aid to the population and to those who are helping them.”

The operation overnight Thursday to Friday was meant to deliver medical aid to the Jordanian field hospital of the southern city of Khan Younis.

The airdrop, a first from a Western country in the Gaza strip, had been agreed during Macron’s recent visit to Jordan, where he met with King Abdullah II last month, the French presidency said.

Both C-130 planes had French and Jordanian troops onboard as the operation was closely coordinated, the French presidency said.

ISRAELI ALLY GERMANY PRESSES FOR BETTER PROTECTION OF CIVILIANS IN GAZA

BERLIN — Germany’s foreign minister is insisting ahead of a trip to the Middle East that “Israel must do more for the protection of the civilian population” in its war against Hamas in Gaza.

Annalena Baerbock reiterated staunch ally Germany’s solidarity for Israel in its fight against “blind terror” and underlined its right to defend itself.

But she called for more “humanitarian pauses” and said Friday that “peace can’t be won if the prospect of a life in dignity dries up, if Gaza is uninhabitable after the war.”

Baerbock said there must be no postwar occupation of the Gaza Strip, no expulsion of Palestinians, and no reduction of the territory’s size, but “at the same time there must no longer be any danger to Israel from the Gaza Strip.”

The minister is due to depart Sunday on a trip to Israel, the West Bank, Egypt, and Lebanon.

 

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