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Sunday, July 21, 2024

Over 109 Palestinians killed since ceasefire ended – Gaza

The pause in fighting saw 110 Israelis and 240 Palestinians released to their respective territories

At least 109 Palestinians have been killed since the conclusion of a week-long ceasefire, the Gaza Ministry of Health reported on Friday. Hundreds more have been wounded as Israel resumed its high-intensity bombardment of the enclave.

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) confirmed it had struck more than 200 targets since the ceasefire expired at 7am local time on Friday, noting that the assault has resumed across ground, air, and sea on both north and south Gaza, including the cities of Khan Younis and Rafah.

Read more: Surge in prices of basic necessities causes distress in Gaza

After releasing 110 hostages during the ceasefire, Hamas still holds 137 captives, Israeli government spokesperson Eylon Levy told reporters on Friday, promising to deliver “the mother of all thumpings” to the Palestinian militants for “failing to release all the kidnapped women.” The vast majority – 126 – are Israelis.

Israel released about 240 Palestinian women and children held in Israeli jails during the ceasefire. According to NBC, 80% of the prisoners identified as eligible for release had never been convicted of a crime, and many of those had not even been charged, held instead under a controversial practice known as administrative detention.

Read more: US lectures Israel over Gaza war – leaks

The IDF, which resumed bombing just minutes after the pause expired, claimed Hamas had fired off rockets in violation of the truce. The militant group countered that West Jerusalem had “persistently” rejected further offers of hostage releases that could have prolonged the ceasefire.

Efforts by the US, France, and other Israeli allies to extend the pause in fighting were unsuccessful.

After weeks of failed negotiations aimed at reaching a temporary cessation of hostilities to facilitate a prisoner exchange and the distribution of humanitarian aid in Gaza, the two sides agreed to a four-day Qatari-brokered ceasefire starting November 24. Israel initially pledged to release 150 Palestinian prisoners in exchange for 50 of the approximately 240 hostages taken by Hamas, vowing to extend the ceasefire by one day for every ten prisoners released.

Over 15,000 Palestinians have been killed and more than 30,000 wounded since Israel declared war on Hamas in response to the militants’ October 7 attack, Palestinian ambassador to the UN Riyad Mansour told the UN General Assembly on Tuesday, noting that the Gaza Health Ministry had stopped reporting exact casualty counts as Israeli bombing had decimated its hospital system while rendering the retrieval of bodies from the rubble prohibitively dangerous. Nearly 80% of the enclave’s 2.1 million people have been forced out of their homes, he said, accusing Israel of waging “a full-fledged war against Palestine and its people.

Israel, which lost 1,200 citizens in the October 7 attack, reiterated on Friday that its goals are “releasing our hostages, eliminating Hamas, and ensuring that Gaza can never again threaten the people of Israel.