Israel-Hamas conflict: Hostage families hold 24-hour rally

Thousands of Israelis have taken to the streets calling for the release of hostages being held in Gaza by Hamas and for PM Netanyahu to resign

Israeli troops killed four gunmen attempting to infiltrate Israel from Lebanon, the military said (representative image) (photo: DW)
Israeli troops killed four gunmen attempting to infiltrate Israel from Lebanon, the military said (representative image) (photo: DW)


Gaza authorities say 125 people killed in past 24 hours

The total number confirmed to have been killed in Gaza since the start of the war has increased to 23,968, with 125 people having been killed and 265 wounded during the previous day, according to the Hamas-run Health Ministry.

The ministry said it had recorded more than 60,000 wounded in Gaza since fighting erupted following Hamas' October 7 terror attack on Israel.

Gaza's Health Ministry does not distinguish between civilian and combatant casualties. Israel sometimes questions the trustworthiness of the figures, given Hamas' influence over Gaza's Health Ministry, but the UN and other observers have said the figures proved generally reliable in the past.

Hamas is classified as a terrorist organization by the US, EU, Israel and others.

China, Egypt call for cease-fire in Gaza amid Red Sea tensions

China and Egypt are concerned about the expansion of the conflict in the Middle East, the countries' foreign affairs ministers said Sunday.

China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi met his Egyptian counterpart Sameh Shoukry in Cairo.

In a joint statement afterwards, they said they are closely following developments in the Red Sea.

They made the remarks in the wake of US-UK air strikes on Houthi rebel positions in Yemen on Friday and another US strike on Saturday. 

The two ministers also called for a cease-fire in Gaza and urged an immediate end "to all acts of violence, killing and targeting of civilians and civilian establishments." 

The top Chinese diplomat added, "it is necessary to insist on the establishment of an independent, fully sovereign state of Palestine on the 1967 borders, with east Jerusalem as its capital."

Thousands rally calling for release of hostages

The families of hostages held by Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip kicked off a 24-hour rally in Tel Aviv, calling on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government to bring their loved ones home.

Thousands of people took part in the demonstrations in Tel Aviv.

The crowds carried a massive banner that read: "And the world remains silent," and chanted that the hostages must be released "Now, now, now."

The rally took place on the eve of the 100th day of their captivity.

Hamas and other Gaza militants captured some 250 people during its deadly October 7 attack on southern Israel and killed 1,200 people, most of them civilians.

Hamas is designated as a terrorist organization by several countries, including Israel, Germany and the United States.

While around 100 hostages were released during a temporary truce in November, 132 remain held in Gaza, including the remains of about two dozen who died or were killed.

There hasn't been much progress toward a new deal to release hostages.

Their families want the government to prioritize bringing the abductees home.

Some Israelis have accused Netanyahu of not doing enough toward this end and called for his resignation.

Gaza misery 'staining our shared humanity,' UN says

The UN on Saturday decried the humanitarian situation in Gaza as fighting there has now continued for almost 100 days.

The war first broke out on October 7, when Hamas carried out terror attacks on Israel, killing about 1,140 people, mostly civilians.

The militant outfit also took around 250 hostages, 132 of whom Israel says remain in Gaza, including at least 25 believed to have been killed.

Hamas is designated as a terrorist group by the US, Germany and several other countries. 

In response to the October 7 attacks, Israel launched a military operation targeting Hamas in Gaza. 

The chief of the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, Philippe Lazzarini, said during a trip to Gaza that the "massive death, destruction, displacement, hunger, loss and grief of the last 100 days are staining our shared humanity." 

While decrying the "horrific attacks that Hamas and other groups carried out against people in Israel," Lazzarini also noted the "largest displacement of the Palestinian people since 1948."

He said due to the war, many Palestinians "will carry lifelong scars, both physical and psychological. The vast majority, including children, are deeply traumatized.  

"People live inhuman conditions, where diseases are spreading, including among children," Lazzarini said. "They live thorough the unlivable, with the clock ticking fast towards famine."  

Lazzarini said a "humanitarian cease-fire is still not in place to stop the killing of people in Gaza and enable the safe delivery of food, medicine, water and shelter."

"It is time we restore the value of human life," he concluded.   

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Published: 15 Jan 2024, 9:40 AM