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Israel intensifies attacks on Gaza after US veto of UN resolution

Mourners react next to shrouded bodies of relatives killed following Israeli strikes, at Khan Yunis's Nasser hospital in the southern Gaza Strip on December 9, 2023. (Photo by AFP)

Israel has intensified its all-out war on the Gaza Strip after its staunch ally, the United States, vetoed a UN Security Council demand for an immediate ceasefire in the besieged Palestinian territory.

After Washington vetoed the resolution on Friday, Israeli warplanes struck parts of the Gaza Strip in relentless bombardment Saturday, hitting more than 450 targets in the blockaded territory over the last 24 hours, according to the regime’s military.

The full death toll from the past 24 hours of attacks is unclear, but two hospitals in central and southern Gaza have so far received the bodies of a total of 133 people from Israeli bombings.

The Gaza health ministry said that over a 24-hour period, 71 dead and 160 wounded had arrived at Al-Aqsa Hospital in Deir al-Balah.

It said that 62 bodies were also taken to Nasser Hospital in the main southern city of Khan Younis.

"We believe the number of martyrs under the rubble might be greater than those received at hospitals," the ministry spokesperson Ashraf al-Qidra told Reuters.

The news agency also released footage showing extensive damage from a strike on a mosque in the territory.

The health ministry called for an urgent opening of the Rafah border crossing with Egypt to save the lives of some 7,000 people, who have been wounded over the past 24 hours.

“The Palestinians are dying in Gaza and not allowed to receive treatment abroad. This is outrageous,” said the general director of the health ministry Munir al-Barsh.

He said that there are more than 46,000 wounded people in Gaza, but only 388 of them were allowed to leave through the Rafah crossing to receive medical treatment abroad.

In the meantime, families in northern Gaza were posting messages on the internet pleading with emergency crews to venture into Gaza City to rescue loved ones still trapped there.

"We appeal to the Red Cross and the civil emergency to immediately go to Attallah house. People are besieged inside their house in Jala street in Gaza City, near Zaharna building. The house is on fire," wrote members of one family.

“Attacks from air, land, and sea are intense, continuous and widespread,” UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told the Security Council before the US veto of the resolution.

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 warned that Gaza was at a "breaking point” with the humanitarian support system at risk of collapse.

The UN chief also said that he feared “the consequences could be devastating for the security of the entire region.”

The US veto of the resolution has sparked outrage across the world with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas saying that the move made Washington “complicit” in war crimes in Gaza.

The Palestinian representative to the UN Riyad Mansour also decried Washington for blocking a ceasefire in Gaza, saying, "If you support it (this war) you are supporting crimes against humanity.”

"This is a terrible day for the Security Council," Mansour said, describing the veto as "a turning point in history".

Russia's deputy envoy to the UN, Dmitry Polyanskiy, said "Our colleagues from the USA have literally before our eyes issued a death sentence to thousands, if not tens of thousands, more civilians in Palestine."

The medical charity Doctors Without Borders (MSF) said Security Council inaction made the body "complicit in the ongoing slaughter.”

Moreover, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said "By continuing to provide Israel with weapons and diplomatic cover... the US risks complicity in war crimes."

Israel’s UN envoy Gilad Erdan however, praised Washington “for standing firmly by our side."

In the meantime, the administration of President Joe Bidehas asked Congress to approve the sale of 45,000 shells for Israel’s Merkava tanks. The potential sale is worth more than $500 million. The US State Department is pushing the congressional committees to quickly approve the transaction.

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