Israelis and Palestinians end dark year, with no end in sight to war


The world has for months watched on in horror as the long-running Israel-Palestinian conflict exploded into the bloodiest Gaza war after Hamas launched its unprecedented attack on Oct 7.

The Palestinian gunmen overwhelmed Gaza’s high-tech border fence and burst into southern Israel in an attack that left about 1,140 people dead, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally based on official figures.

The surprise attack – in which Hamas militants committed atrocities and dragged off some 250 hostages – blindsided and infuriated Israel and sparked a devastating military response.

Heavy bombardment and a ground invasion launched three weeks into the war, have reduced vast areas of Gaza to a ruined wasteland and killed at least 21,822 people, mostly women and children, according to the health ministry.

More than 55,000 people have been injured, it said, at a time when most Gaza hospitals are either out of service or damaged and overwhelmed.

The Israeli army says 172 of its soldiers have been killed inside Gaza, and Netanyahu said Israeli forces had killed about 8,000 “terrorists” so far.

Days ago, Israel said soldiers had destroyed the Gaza City hideout, connected to a vast tunnel system, of Hamas’s Gaza leader Yahya Sinwar, whom they have labelled a “dead man walking”.

“EPIC HUMAN SUFFERING”

As the war has raged, UN chief Antonio Guterres has condemned the “epic human suffering” and “collective punishment” of Palestinian civilians.

He and other world leaders have repeatedly called for a ceasefire while Israel has vowed to push on until Hamas is defeated, a position backed by its powerful ally the United States.

Netanyahu stressed again that “the war will continue for many months until Hamas is eliminated and the hostages are returned”.

“We will guarantee that Gaza will no longer pose a threat to Israel,” he told a news conference on Saturday.

On Sunday, he vowed: “We will continue our defensive war, the justice and morality of which is without peer”.



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