A week-long truce between Israel and Hamas ended abruptly, leading to renewed hostilities in Gaza. Health officials in the region reported the first casualties shortly after the truce expired.
An AFPTV livecam captured scenes of heavy smoke engulfing northern Gaza, accompanied by sounds of gunfire and explosions within 90 minutes of the truce’s conclusion at 0500 GMT.
Israel’s military initiated airstrikes on Hamas targets in Gaza, confirmed by AFP journalists who witnessed bombings in the territory’s north and south.
Director Marwan al-Hams from Al-Najar hospital in Rafah reported nine fatalities in the city, including four children, while two children lost their lives in air raids in Gaza City, as confirmed by Dr. Fadel Naim from Al-Ahli hospital.
A Hamas source stated the armed wing’s readiness to “resume combat” and protect Gaza, leading to intense fighting in parts of Gaza City.
The resumption of hostilities followed Israel’s interception of a rocket launched from Gaza, marking the first incident since the truce began on November 24.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office cited Hamas’ violation of the truce as the reason for renewed fighting. A statement reiterated Israel’s commitment to specific goals: releasing hostages, eliminating Hamas, and ensuring Gaza poses no threat to Israeli residents.
Statement by the Prime Minister’s Office:
The Hamas-ISIS terrorist organization has violated the outline. It has not met its obligation to release all of the women hostages today and has launched rockets at Israeli citizens.
— Prime Minister of Israel (@IsraeliPM) December 1, 2023
Sirens signaling potential missile attacks sounded near Gaza’s neighboring communities, leading Israeli authorities to reinstate security measures, including school closures.
Concurrently, talks facilitated by Qatari and Egyptian mediators continued despite the renewed conflict.
During the truce, hostages were exchanged for Palestinian prisoners, and aid was delivered to Gaza, which is reeling from dire shortages of essentials and displacement affecting around 80% of its population.
The recent events occurred after an attack initiated by Hamas on Gaza’s border with Israel on October 7, resulting in casualties and abductions, prompting Israel’s retaliation with airstrikes and ground operations in Gaza.
Efforts to extend the truce were encouraged by US diplomat Antony Blinken, emphasizing the need to protect Palestinian civilians in case of resumed combat.
Meanwhile, concerns persist regarding civilian safety in Gaza, as the region faces a humanitarian crisis exacerbated by the ongoing conflict.
The escalation of violence has also heightened tensions in the West Bank, where numerous Palestinians have been killed, according to Palestinian health authorities in Ramallah.
The New York Times reported Israeli authorities were aware of Hamas’ plans for an attack in October but viewed it as aspirational. Despite a warning and evidence of a training exercise aligned with the plan, it was not considered an imminent threat.