WEST BANK: Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas stressed on Monday that he rejects Israel’s plans to “separate, occupy, cut off or isolate any part of the Gaza Strip,” which is “an integral part of the Palestinian state,” according to a statement by the official Palestinian News Agency (WAFA).
“It’s necessary to immediately stop the aggression against the Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip, and spare civilians from the scourge of bombing and destruction carried out by Israel,” Abbas said in a phone call with U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris.
He also called for U.S. intervention to “prevent the attacks, murders, house demolitions, and expulsion of Palestinian residents in the West Bank, Jerusalem, and the Jordan Valley areas that are witnessing silent and planned annexation by Israel.”
In the phone talk, Abbas also expressed his readiness to work for the implementation of the two-state solution based on international legitimacy resolutions, which should start with Palestine’s gaining of full membership in the United Nations, and the convention of the International Peace Conference.
Displaced Palestinians who fled from Khan Yunis build shelters in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, December 4, 2023. /CFP
Humanitarian crisis worsening in Gaza
The Palestinian death toll has risen to 15,899 as a result of the Israeli attack on the Gaza Strip since October 7, the Hamas-run health ministry said Monday.
Ashraf al-Qedra, the spokesman of the ministry, said during a press conference in Khan Yunis, south of the Gaza Strip, that the number of injured people has risen to more than 42,000, with 70 percent of the victims being children and women.
Al-Qedra accused Israel of escalating its targeting of hospitals and health facilities, noting that it destroyed 56 health institutions, arrested 35 medical personnel, and rendered the health system in the Gaza Strip completely incapacitated.
The Israel Defense Forces (IDF), meanwhile, said Hamas had deliberately embedded itself among civilians so that Gazans would bear the consequences of “Hamas atrocities.”
“Our war is against Hamas, not the people of Gaza. We are taking extensive measures to mitigate harm to the civilians that Hamas uses as shields,” the IDF said in an X post on its official account Monday evening.
Palestine Telecommunications Company PLC (Paltel) said on Monday that all telecom services in Gaza City and north Gaza Strip have been lost due to the disconnection of main elements of our network in light of the “ongoing aggression.”
Early on Monday, Israel ordered Palestinians to leave parts of Gaza’s main southern city, Khan Younis. But residents said that areas which they had been told to go to were also coming under fire, Reuters reported.
In the territory’s northern part, the official Palestinian news agency WAFA said at least 50 people were killed in an Israeli air strike that hit two schools sheltering displaced people in the Daraj neighborhood of Gaza City.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres appealed to Israel to avoid further action that would make the already dire humanitarian situation in Gaza worse, and to spare civilians from more suffering.
“For people ordered to evacuate, there is nowhere safe to go and very little to survive on,” UN spokesperson Stephane Dujarric said.
Smoke rises following an Israeli strike in Al-Quazah, Lebanon, December 4, 2023. /Xinhua
Lebanon-Israel border witnessed increased tension
Six Lebanese civilians were injured on Monday in Israeli artillery and missile shelling targeting several border areas in southern Lebanon, according to Xinhua, citing Lebanese military sources.
The sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that two Lebanese citizens were seriously injured as a result of an Israeli air-to-surface missile hitting their vehicle near the village of Shaqra.
The sources noted that Israeli drones and warplanes carried out 12 raids in southwest Lebanon, destroying four houses and causing damage to over 35 others.
According to the sources, Israeli heavy artillery bombed the outskirts of 24 towns and villages in southwest Lebanon and 11 in the southeast of the country.
Lebanon also launched several surface-to-surface missiles toward northern Israel, but were intercepted by the Israeli Iron Dome.
The Israeli media also reported that three Israeli soldiers were injured in Shtula.
The Lebanon-Israel border witnessed increased tension since October 8 after Lebanese armed group Hezbollah fired dozens of rockets toward Shebaa Farms in support of the Hamas attacks on Israel the previous day, prompting the Israeli forces to respond by firing heavy artillery toward southeastern Lebanon.