Published: 09:49, December 31, 2023 | Updated: 09:49, December 31, 2023
Israeli forces kill dozens of Hamas militants in Gaza City
By Xinhua

Palestinians conduct rescue work at destroyed buildings after Israeli airstrikes in Gaza City, Oct 25, 2023. (PHOTO / XINHUA)

JERUSALEM/GAZA - The Israeli ground troops, backed by aircraft, have killed dozens of "terrorists" during operations in Gaza City over the past day, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said Saturday morning.

In a statement, the IDF said the air forces, directed by ground troops, struck more than 15 armed militants in Gaza City within three hours. Additionally, fierce battles were going on, and more Hamas militants were killed.

In northern Gaza's Beit Lahia, the Israeli troops dismantled two Hamas military compounds, where they located numerous weapons, explosive devices, guns, military equipment, and communication devices before the strike, the statement added.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said that nearly 180,000 people in Gaza suffer from upper respiratory infections, while there are 136,400 cases of diarrhea, with half of them reported among children under the age of five

The IDF also stated on Friday that it has started military operations in southern Gaza's Khirbat Ikhza'a region, from where Hamas launched its attack on Israel on Oct 7, resulting in casualties and the abduction of civilians to Gaza.

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As the Israeli army intensified its military campaign in Gaza, Osama Hamdan, a Hamas politburo member, denied on Saturday Israeli media reports of talks unfolded on a new hostage deal in exchange for another temporary ceasefire in the enclave.

Hamdan told Al Jazeera that Hamas had informed mediators that a permanent ceasefire is the militant group's major priority and that there is currently "no talk of releasing hostages before the fighting stops."

Meanwhile, at least 165 Palestinians were killed in Israeli air and ground attacks on the Gaza Strip during the past 24 hours, said the Gaza-based Health Ministry on Saturday.

It raised the death toll of Palestinians to 21,672 since the conflict broke out on Oct 7, the ministry added. 

Also on Saturday, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) warned of the intensification of infectious disease spread in the Gaza Strip, which suffered a lack of humanitarian aid and subsequent disastrous repercussions.

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The spread of diseases in Gaza has intensified, especially due to the recent mass displacement throughout southern Gaza and the need for some families to move several times, OCHA said in a statement.

The agency added that this situation increases pressure on the already overwhelmed Palestinian health system, which is struggling to meet the enormous needs of the population at a time when the majority of hospitals across the strip are out of service.

It explained that nearly 180,000 people suffer from upper respiratory infections, while there are 136,400 cases of diarrhea, with half of them reported among children under the age of five.

Meanwhile, 55,400 people have had scabies, 5,330 have chickenpox, 42,700 suffer from skin rashes, and 126 suffer from meningitis.

Israeli armed forces and tanks are seen in Israel's border with Gaza on Dec 27, 2023. (PHOTO / XINHUA)

The statement pointed out that 1.9 million people in Gaza, or approximately 85 percent of the whole population, have become internally displaced, including those who are forced to move frequently to seek refuge.

It added that the lack of food and survival items and poor hygiene exacerbate the already difficult living conditions of the displaced and prompt the spread of diseases.

The UN office said that due to the major security incidents that occurred in the vicinity of the Kerem Shalom crossing since it was partially reopened on Dec 17, humanitarian aid through this crossing between Israel and Gaza was suspended during the past four days.

Meanwhile, 81 trucks loaded with food and medicine entered Gaza through the Rafah crossing with Egypt on Friday, the office added.

READ MORE: Health Ministry: Palestinian death toll in Gaza tops 21,000

However, the aid convoys could face multiple challenges in their delivery. The UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees said the Israeli forces opened fire Friday on an aid convoy that was returning from northern Gaza in a route designated by the Israeli army, leading to damage to one vehicle.

The World Food Program warned a few days ago that the Palestinian enclave is facing the fifth stage of acute food insecurity and that the risk of famine is increasing daily amid intensified conflict and restricted humanitarian access.