In the aftermath of a devastating Israeli airstrike in Gaza on Monday, the Palestinian territory faced one of its deadliest nights during the 11-week-old conflict between Israel and Hamas. At a funeral in Gaza, mourners touched white shrouds containing the bodies of at least 70 people reportedly killed by an Israeli airstrike targeting Maghazi in the center of the besieged strip.
The airstrikes, which began hours before midnight and persisted into Monday, inflicted heavy casualties, particularly in Maghazi, where Palestinian health officials stated that many of the victims were women and children. Additional airstrikes in al-Bureij and al-Nusseirat claimed eight lives, and another Israeli airstrike in Khan Younis in southern Gaza resulted in 23 deaths, bringing the total Palestinian fatalities overnight to more than 100.
Reports indicated that residents faced intensified air and ground shelling, making it one of the worst nights since the conflict began. Pope Francis, in his Christmas message, expressed sorrow for the children dying in wars, including Gaza, referring to them as the “little Jesuses of today” and condemning Israeli strikes for causing an “appalling harvest” of innocent civilians.
As residents sought shelter and assistance, the Palestinian Red Crescent shared footage of wounded residents being transported to hospitals, highlighting the challenges posed by Israeli airstrikes on main roads.
The Israeli army, while committing to minimizing harm to civilians, stated that it was reviewing the reported incident in Maghazi. Meanwhile, Hamas denied the Israeli accusation of operating in densely populated areas or using civilians as human shields.
In Bethlehem, the traditional birthplace of Jesus, Christmas celebrations were subdued, with clergy canceling festivities. Palestinian Christians held a candle-lit Christmas vigil, praying for peace in Gaza amid the absence of the usual large tree and nativity scenes placed amid rubble and barbed wire in solidarity with the people of Gaza.